Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We're IN!

On the 11th of June, several of our dearest friends came to our house to brave a storm of cat hair and dust. We packed the U-Haul, and, in the midst of still-ongoing last-minute contractor repairs, moved in to our new home in Holy Cross.

I thought I'd get goosebumps typing it, but it's all been such a blur, and the first week, especially, was so chaotic that I am just relieved and a bit tired, even. Simon said of our now-official home-ownership, "It'll never be finished, will it?" and it certainly feels that way. Today he is off buying a stud finder so we can hang curtains. I'll be unpacking clothes and books. This weekend we plan to deliver barge board to a furniture-maker on the Northshore who will make us a dining table, and we are crossing our fingers that we will have enough money to afford a new fence.

No, it'll never be "over," but I am loving the initial nesting, at least. My favorite room is the kitchen, which shouldn't surprise me, since I spent forever and ever designing it. My biggest dilemmas (after the layout, which I drew and redrew at least a dozen times) were whether to install matching upper and lower cabinets. I don't generally like upper cabinets, but I'd seen a couple of kitchens where the uppers were white and lowers were wood, and I really liked it. The uppers from the place where we got the lowers were crazy-expensive, though, so we had some IKEA cabinets delivered, which, even with the additional cost of delivery, saved us a lot of money.

I also agonized over appliances. I've just never considered myself a "stainless" kind of girl--too bourgeoisie--but the white appliances were all textured and generally less attractive, and I am not going to lie about wanting everything to look good (and last long). Because our countertops are black, I didn't want the high-contrast of white, either, so stainless it was. (We did get all Energystar appliances--and we had some serious sticker-shock, but we are sickly in love with our appliances. Gawd, we're so old. Or yuppy-fied. Or American. Whatever it is, we're it.)

Anyways, if you are at all interested in hearing/talking about any or all of our layout and design choices, I am happy, happy, happy to discuss every last decision--and to hear advice for ways to improve. I researched every little thing, all of it, and I could have continued to do it for ages...

...Here's the other side of the kitchen (plus cat Ray):
The hoosier on the left is an antique from England, complete with menus for the 1930's British homemaker. How does this sound for a "Plain Winter Day Menu Dinner": Cold beef; Tomato Sauce; Mashed potatoes; West riding pudding"? Breakfast, anyone? "Porridge; Potted meat on toast, breakfast sausage; toast; lemon marmalade." Mmmm. Potted meat. Simon says no one eats potted meat, really, just like hardly anyone actually eats SPAM, but we have both gotten a kick out of these Brit-ahem-feasts, and I am happy we bought the hoosier for pantry-space, too.

I want to take pictures of every room in the house, but this is the only one that is really unpacked and clutter-free. All the rest are filled with boxes. I'll post more pictures as we settle more. And I will write more about what it's like to live down here, one block from the levee, on a quiet cul-de-sac, with my wonderful neighbors and a sense that things can--and are--getting better. (Hint: it's wonderful.)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

As Promised: Happy Post with Pictures of Progress

Here they are: happy pictures of progress.
The kitchen. Sink's in. Countertops are done (but covered in cardboard). IKEA uppers are installed. Walls are STILL not painted green. (We are getting the impression that they're trying to avoid/ignore that we asked for "Serengeti Plain" green. Will ask tomorrow, as this neutral-stuff is nice for some, but lacks life in my book.)
The sink and faucet (Kohler Smartdivide Langlade cast iron sink and Delta Talbot faucet.) The house across the street on the right is painted the same green we want our walls to be. In fact, we used that house as our "inspiration." The black countertops mimic their screens. Our white sink and upper cabinets: their trim. Our wooden cabinets, their doors. I suppose this may sound like an odd way to approach kitchen design, but I like the idea of bringing outside views in, and so there you go. (We will NOT be bringing the dumpster view inside, and can't WAIT for it to be gone gone gone.)

This is the guest room door, as seen from the kitchen (the dark brown is exposed bargeboard, the grey to the left is the plaster covering the brick chimney). Most of our doors are lifeless new ones, but we have reused old ones when possible, and I asked that they be sanded but left unpainted. When they sanded, the workers left the original paint in the "grooves," and I really love how it came out. The trim is Sherwin William's Extra White, and I think it will all look really wonderful once it's cleaned up (they do scrape all the out-of-the-lines painting on transom windows, right?)
Here I'm not so sure I like the unfinished look as well. This is the mantel in the guest bedroom. I'm thinking it could look nice if I clean up the sanding a little and then paint the plywood in the middle the same color as the trim. I'd REALLY like to get one of those pretty wrought-iron screen-thingies to cover the center part, but money ain't gonna let that happen. I don't know what the heck will happen with the hearth... I can't tell what it's made of, or what it was meant to look like. This is where a preservation-person would be helpful.

Here's the mantel and door in the master bedroom. I still love the color we chose for the walls (SW's Waterscape). Since this mantel isn't a particularly nice one (it lacks the pretty flower-thingy and all that detail), I'm thinking I'll ask them to paint it the trim color. I definitely want to get one of those iron screens in here. (I'll have to find a picture). No one else seems to be a fan of the leftover wallpaper on the chimney, but I love it and have asked them to leave it. I'll try to clean up the torn edges so they're a little less jagged, but I just love it. I guess I like elements of the house that tell a story of its past.

The guest bathroom, which I once thought was the smallest bathroom ever, now looks much, much better and bigger with the tub and toilet in. The tub will have a shower kit attachment soon. Here's a question: should I use a clear vinyl curtain that hangs inside the tub, alone (which would allow you to see through to the rear wall) or cover it with a fabric one that hangs outside? I've always thought the fabric ones hide the tub and make the whole operation seem like a giant shower curtain on legs rather than a clawfoot tub with a shower-attachment, but I have strange design notions (like painting everything practically the same color... I'm already thinking I'd like this bathroom to be a more lively something.)
It's hard to believe that the tub you see above is the same one you see below...
Finally, here is the dining room, with our Pottery Barn "Cassandra" chandelier and a lonely IKEA Ogla chair. Once we have a dining table, we'll lower the chandelier, but there was some bad news, so most furniture may have to wait... You can see the wood ceilings we exposed here. I love them. I worried they'd be too dark or "lodgy," but the 12-foot ceilings seem to have taken care of that.

Okay, so the bad news: we've run out of money. This means that we will be living in our beautiful home with sofas and beds, but no tables or chairs. Who needs tables or chairs, though, right?

Tomorrow the refrigerator arrives, the time-painting gets finished, and I continue avoiding packing by spending lots of time on the phone with insurance agents, security companies (any recommendations?) and the person who will hopefully refinance our construction loan for one with a better rate (now that we're moving in and all.)

Happy post! Good night!