Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hardwood Floors

I was so happy to see hardwood throughout most of the house when we first walked through it. Our current house is almost entirely hardwood and I love it, so I knew I wanted hardwood in the new house as well. I also wanted a dark stain, and luckily we'd have the perfect opportunity to change the finish while the house was empty before we moved in. It's basically impossible to do anything to the floors once you live in the house, so we seized this opportunity to get them finished the way we want them.

The previous finish on the floors was an orange-y medium wood tone that you see a lot in houses in this area from the 20s and 30s. Like this: 

I don't hate this color, but since I've lived with it in my current house for 7 years, I was ready for something different. I also feel that this color reads very warm and I'm using more cool tones in this house.

Luckily, most of the boards themselves were in really good shape and didn't need to be replaced. There were just a few places where we had to use new wood, and those repairs went really quickly. 

The process of refinishing is a painstaking one, and unfortunately it's also extremely inconvenient in terms of scheduling: refinishing requires the whole job site to be closed down for over a week, with no other workers allowed in during that time. This hurt a lot since we are getting down to the wire before our move, and there's really no good time to do it. 

I think we made the best decision we could given our constraints, and I'm okay with the trade-off being that there will still be guys working on other things after we move in. 

As I mentioned, I wanted a darker finish without any red/orange to it, so what we ended up using was a custom-mixed stain (because I always have to be difficult) that's about 3 parts Minwax Jacobean to 1 part Minwax Ebony.

Having never met me before, the floor guys tried to convince me I didn't really want a dark finish, but in the end I think they realized I know what I want :)

So, the process for the floors was this: on day 1 (Monday), a team of two guys sands all the floors down to raw wood. Day 2 (Tuesday) the same guys apply stain in a very specific pattern throughout the house, then the stain is left to dry for two full days. Then for the next three days (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) they applied a coat of poly sealer, one coat each day.

After the last coat of poly sealer is applied, the floor is again left untouched for two days before people can walk on the floor, but only without shoes. Here's what the floors looked like after that:

This close-up shows what is pretty close to the true color: 

I don't love how super-shiny they are right now, but I'm sure they will dull down in no time. 

The floor people recommend waiting two full weeks to move in furniture, which is not very realistic in my opinion considering we already had the house closed for a full week. So, we're going to pretend we didn't hear that recommendation and continue with our plan to move in this Thursday (!!!!!). Anyway, let's get real: we have a whirling dervish toddler and a dog, so it's not like the floors are going to stay perfectly pristine for long anyway (nor do I want them to). 

I think the floors look really pretty with the wall color and are going to look amazing with the navy/emerald color palette I'm bringing in with the furniture and art. 

There's a ton of wood trim in the house too, which I left the original color for now. 

The contrast between the wall trim/crown molding and the floors doesn't bother me, and if it does down the road, I can always get it re-stained. It's much easier to do that while we live in the house than the floors would be, so I think we'll just cross that bridge if and when we get there.

This was a big check off on the to-do list and I'm so happy we decided to get the floors done before the move. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Modern Bathrooms - Huzzah!

The sorry state of the bathrooms in this house has been well-documented previously. They were in rough shape, so we took them down to the studs, basically. Now that they are so close to being back together and functional, it's almost enough to make me want to throw a party.  

The first floor bathroom was one that we initially thought wouldn't need a lot of work, but then as we got into it the changes needed just kept adding up. First, we had to put a support beam through the wall, then that ruined the plaster and so we had to dry wall, then the base tiles got messed up, so we had to replace those. It kind of spiraled in a really bad way. 

But, the upside is that I got to make a BIG statement in here and really make the room a showpiece:  

The wallpaper is Scalamandre Zebras in Serengeti Green, and it very nearly caused my wallpaper hanger to never speak to me again. The scale of the zebras is huge, so that combined with the fact that each strip needed to be trimmed on both sides caused her a lot of headaches. But, she got it done, and did a really great job (Lori at the Hangups, if anyone is looking for someone. Please tell her I sent you so maybe she'll start to forgive me a little bit :))

I am obsessed with this wallpaper and have loved it ever since I saw the red version in Margot's room in The Royal Tenenbaums:

Gwynnie is my spirit animal. 

On the bottom half of the wall, it previously was patterned white plaster, so although subtle, there was enough design that it could stand up to the wallpaper. The plaster was a casualty of all the structural work that had to be done, so we drywalled over what used to be a nice historical detail.

I didn't want to leave the bottom half a boring plain sheet of drywall, so I drew up a quick molding pattern and my contractor executed it. It's hard to see in the picture above, but it's three rectangles, two vertical ones on either side of the window, and a horizontal one below the window, which we painted the same color as the wall so it would look more modern (Wall Color is Benjamin Moore Martha's Vineyard). Side note: does anyone else pick paint colors based on how well they like the name? 

We also refinished the floor in this bathroom, which made a world of difference. I like the original marble so much that I was intent on keeping it, and I'm so glad we did:

Even though it's many, many years old, I think the white tile with dark grout and herringbone pattern look super modern.

We couldn't install the new sink and toilet in this bathroom yet because it's being used for storage while we refinish the wood floors in the rest of the house.

The sink I chose was this one from Signature Hardware in a shiny chrome finish:

Luciana Console Sink with Brass Stand - Bathroom

I like that it combines modern and vintage elements in a really pretty way.

I lusted after the marble version of this sink from RH, but just couldn't pull the trigger on a $2K powder room sink. I'm sure B is grateful for that.

The toilet in the powder room will be the same Kohler Memoirs model I'm using throughout the house:
Simple and pretty - it'll do! 

We've also been making great progress in E's bathroom:

It's fully wallpapered, tiled, and the fixtures are installed. All we're missing is the medicine cabinet and vanity light.

Oh, and the plumber has to switch around the temperature labels on the taps. 

I feel guilty about asking him, since he already changed them once. He initially put the English hot and cold on them, obviously mistaking me for a sane person, so now I have to inform him that Chaud is hot, not cold. 

E's bathroom is looking really pretty, and I love the combination of the tiled floor with the wallpaper.

I also found the most perfect shower curtain for E (from Ballard): 
Audree Pom Pom Shower Curtain

Black pom-pom trim and a monogram?! Be still my heart! It's going to be the perfect finishing touch on this room.

Her vanity was one I found at Home Decorators in a pretty white with feminine details and a marble top. The only downside was it came with some basic brushed nickel pulls that I swapped out for more substantial chrome ones. I think it looks really good with the new hardware!

I'm glad that E's bathroom is in such good shape, since she's going to be sharing it with mommy and daddy for about a week after we move in. The master bath is coming along, but there's still a LOT to do in that room, and with the job site closed for a full week for floor refinishing, it's just not going to happen before moving day.

Hopefully in the next blog I can share at least a few pictures of the master bath as the plan starts to come together.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Starting to look like a place where humans could live

We're making progress in the kitchen and boy does it feel good to see the pieces start to come together. Here's an update on where the kitchen is today.

Cabinets are mostly installed.

There were a few that got damaged during transport, so those are being rushed and will be installed as soon as we receive them. It's bothersome to see just the one cabinet hanging here, but its twin will be arriving soon.

The stove and hood will be installed as soon as we tile this area, which of course can't be done until the new cabinet arrives. It's so annoying how all the pieces have to go in order and when one thing is off it throws off EVERYTHING. Serenity now has been my mantra lately. 

A few of the pulls are on back order as well, so we have to wait about another 3-4 weeks for them to arrive. I chose a really streamlined brushed brass pull from Lewis Dolan. 

I hemmed and hawed about going with the brushed brass vs. sticking with the "safer" chrome or nickel. However, I absolutely love how the brass looks against our light grey cabinets, and now I'm so glad I chose this finish. I also used the same pulls on the drawers and cabinets. I've never been a fan of the little knobs you sometimes see used, so I decided to keep it consistent throughout the kitchen. I really like how they look and am happy I made this choice.

The quality of Lewis Dolan is second-to-none and I'd absolutely recommend this brand of pulls for anyone in the market. 

The big white farmhouse sink has been installed and looks absolutely beautiful. 

I knew I wanted a sink like this when I started picturing the kitchen in my mind. It fits the style of the house perfectly, and just looks gorgeous. I also like that it's nice and big. I chose a sink with a single opening rather than a divided one. Let's be honest - I rarely do anything more with dishes in the sink than give them a quick rinse before they go in the dishwasher, so I decided I'd rather have one big sink than two little ones.

And the faucet, I mean, come on - it's gorgeous!  I can't even with it. I knew I wanted a bridge faucet, but one with a more contemporary look. This Rohl model fit the bill perfectly. I chose chrome for the finish because, well, I like shiny things :) I'm not one to get all hung up about all the finishes matching. We'll have black, chrome, and brass in this kitchen, and I think it will all work together beautifully. 

The perimeter counters are honed black granite. Here's a close-up shot of those:

The texture and finish on these guys is just lovely and works so well with the grey and brass.

I wanted to do more of a statement on the island though, so we went with a super thick quartzite here:

This finish is also honed, and it's a seriously beautiful slab. It took an army to install this bad boy, but I'm so, so happy with how it turned out.

We also used the same quartzite on this little butler's pantry area. 

I think the backsplash here will be tiled. I've been toying with wallpapering it, but I'm pretty sure my wallpaper lady hates me at this point (let's just say there's been some wallpaper drama...) so I might skip that. Also, I'm not sure how functional wallpaper would be here since this is likely going to be our wine/drinks area during dinners and parties.

Also, right across from the butler's pantry is the breakfast nook, and I went with a patterned upholstery on the banquette we're installing here, so I wouldn't want the patterns to compete. 

The banquette is this one from Ballard, in their Arden custom fabric, and I can't wait to see how it looks in the kitchen:

Coventry Corner Bench and two 36" Benches

One fun element we're adding in a few places in the kitchen are these corbels. 

There will be two that go under the upper cabinets on the butler's pantry, and then another two on a cookbook shelf we've installed on the wall above where the banquette will go.

The next thing I have to decide on for the kitchen is barstools. For the longest time I was sure I wanted the bistro style from Serena & Lily:

I think these are so cute, and I like how the wicker brings a warmth to the kitchen, which is full of hard surfaces and sharp angles. 

I also really like this style from Restoration Hardware, and it's a total bargain at <$200:
Madeleine Armless Stool

But, I hate it when barstools are uncomfortable, so maybe I want them to be upholstered, which doesn't really work with either of these styles. 

And, I do love the all black errything option from RH, which would tie nicely with the black counters and banquette:

Vintage French Round Upholstered Stool

I also have toyed with the idea of doing a fun color for the barstools, since the kitchen is so neutral. I probably won't, but how fun would these world market numbers be in the right space? Love. 

Obviously I have yet to make up my mind on this topic, but I need to decide soon. Moving day is now less than 2 weeks out (yikes!). 

We've also been making really good progress on the bathrooms, including the install of the wallpaper that has caused my wallpaper lady to swear me off forever. Pretty pictures of that coming soon!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Making Progress - the basement

Although there are a lot of areas in the house that are getting a lot of work, the basement is by far the biggest project. Since it's a large basement, our contractor characterized the work we're doing here as essentially building a house within a house. Kind of daunting when you think of it that way, but he's right - there's a kitchen/bar area, a bathroom, and several other rooms for dedicated use throughout the space, just like what you'd have if you were building a house from scratch. 

The stairs to the basement had to be re-built in order to bring them up to code, so the photo here shows our new staircase (it's really hard to take good photos due to the low light in the basement, sorry): 

It was amazing to me how quickly the guys put this staircase together. I realize they do this sort of thing every day, but it was still very impressive how quickly and perfectly it came together.

The stairs open up into a hallway, which is what you see at the bottom of the stairs (the top of the photo below, since the photo was taken looking down). 

Right across from the stairs to the right is the bathroom:

The shower has been installed, and the other plumbing is roughed-in, with fixtures to be added in another month or so. It's actually a pretty good-sized bathroom and we're going quite a bit more modern in here than the rest of the house, so I'm really excited to see it all decorated and put together. 

We've had a team of electricians working in the basement practically every day for the past couple of weeks. There is SO much electrical work to do down here. We're adding about a million recessed can lights, as well as several other fixtures and of course all the electronics needed for the TV equipment, etc.  

Between all the lighting we're adding and the clean new windows, the basement should start brightening up soon!  

Next to the bathroom is the craft room. It's basically a big box, and will be finished either in a fun color or with some sort of detail on the wall. Still deciding.

Continuing past the craft room is the bar area. 

This view is from the TV/Family area looking at what will eventually be the bar. This area has been tweaked a few times as I try to get the design just right. It's important to me that it look like a bar and not just like another kitchen in the basement. It's surprisingly hard to do when working with a full-size refrigerator and lots of cabinets! But, I'm happy with where we landed on this space and think it will look great once it starts coming together.

Here's the current design, with that window on the back wall above being the back of the bar:

I think the backsplash will be mirrored or shiny tile to give it a different look from the kitchen and the cabinets will be stained wood. 

Something like this could be cool:

We're having the bar area custom-built since I have some specific design details in mind and really want to make the most of the space we've got. Fortunately our contractor has access to some phenomenal woodworkers and the cost of having a fully custom-built bar was pretty comparable to what semi-custom cabinets would have been. The front of the bar will be about 10 feet long, so there's plenty of room for 4 barstools, and will look really modern/industrial.

The framing for the TV and fireplace unit is complete as you see in the picture below: 

The middle section where the TV and fireplace go protrudes 4 inches beyond the bookshelves, which will go on either side. This entertainment unit is being built by the same craftsman who is building the bar, which is great. The bookshelves will be stained wood and the middle section will be painted. 

The last section of the basement is this area, which is the game area, looking through to the exercise room. The saw below is basically right where the ping-pong/pool table will go. 

Next week drywalling should start in the basement and it will actually start looking like a finished space. Can't wait!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Making Progress - the upstairs

The upstairs to the house is coming right along, with lots of new walls and drywall dust everywhere. Here's a shot of the stairway leading to the upstairs: 

Not a lot of work has occurred here yet, but the walls are soon to be painted the same Revere Pewter as most of the house, the stairs will be refinished the same shade as the rest of the floors, and I've ordered a custom sisal runner to be installed on the stairs. This is basically a family space, since the stairs aren't really visible in the main living areas, so I'm not doing anything too over the top here. 

Here's a shot of the upstairs landing, soon-to-be playroom area, with a bathtub in it (temporarily): 

It's nice to see this area mostly all cleaned out and ready for some fun toys to be added.

Next, E's room has been painted the mostly lovely shade of pale pink:

It's "Ballet Slippers" from Benjamin Moore, and I just love it. I also adore the architectural detail in E's room. I think it's so beautiful. All we need to do here now is refinish the floors, and install a closet system and then we're ready for that little dumpling to move in! 

Here's a view of the hallway outside E's room (power tools and all): 

That is a new wall, with the door to E's new bathroom on the left. The doors you can just barely see on the right are the new laundry room doors, so basically that whole area was torn down and is now being rebuilt.

We're making good progress here. Here's a shot of E's bathroom. The vanity is getting installed, and the tub/shower is also in: 

Next up here is tile, then wallpaper. I'm so excited for this adorable wallpaper we're using in E's bathroom:

It's from Anthropologie, and is called "C'est Magnifique!" which is just perfect. I've also been picking up some very fun Paris-themed accessories for E's bathroom. Hope she loves it!

This is a kind of blurry shot of the laundry. It will be a small room, but it should be super functional with cabinets and hanging racks installed on the walls. I've also chosen a really pretty cobalt blue tile with white grout to dress up this utilitarian space just a little bit. 

The master bedroom is honestly looking pretty rough right now, so I didn't take a lot of pictures of it. You can kind of see some of the disarray in this shot of our bathroom below: 

The master bath, however, is shaping up nicely! The picture above shows our custom vanity that was built, due to some funky measurements we had to work with. I designed it, and am super happy with how it turned out. Of course it needs to be painted, and get counters, sinks, and hardware all installed! I'll try to get a better detail shot of the bottom and feet, which turned out really pretty.

Of course the good old Jack and Jill shower was ripped out with extreme prejudice, and now the space below is where our gorgeous new shower will go: 

I picked out a big rainfall shower head as well as another sprayer shower, so it should be a definite step up from our current situation. 

The tub (previously seen in the upstairs hallway) is going here:

I originally wanted a freestanding tub, but the space just didn't really allow for that, so I've switched to a built-in tub. We're doing some really pretty molding detail on the outside, and the surround will be a combination of black granite and glossy black paint, so I think that will do nicely.

Here's a better shot of the tub: 

It's a Kohler model, and I like how clean-lined and contemporary looking it is, while still being nice and oversized. 

The last space upstairs that's being worked on is the master closet: 

It's quite a bit bigger than this picture shows, so we have some decent real estate with which to work. In here we're installing new carpet (hence the torture-chamber floors), and a massive storage system. This closet needs to be super duper functional so it can handle an obscene amount of bags and shoes, not to mention both B's and my clothes. I'm finalizing the design of this space soon, and will hopefully have some prettier pictures to share soon!

Next, I'll show some updated pictures of the basement, where at least 50% of the time and effort has been spent over these past few weeks.