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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

almost there

The baseboards are fixed. They look lovely. In addition to fixing the baseboards that needed fixing and installing the ones they hadn't gotten to yet, yesterday the flooring people installed the flooring and baseboards in the master bedroom. It is very, very strange to wake up and swing my feet over to a real floor.

We're moving our office tonight, and they're coming back tomorrow to do the very last bits - the guest room and finishing off the stairs. And they're going to clear up some of the dust, which is why I'm going to wait to take a picture until then, so you can all see the floors in a relatively clean state. Much prettier that way.

The need to replace the front door has moved to the top of our list of priorities, as the old one is set very low - so low, in fact, that right now we can't use it, as it would scrape the new floor. It's also practically falling apart, so we knew we needed to replace it anyway. But the giant piece of cardboard protecting the floor in front of it is pretty unsightly, and we need to be able to use it at least once in a while even if we do normally use the back, so we're bumping it up to the top of the to-do list. Don has to write a paper for one of his graduate school classes this weekend, but I'm hoping that next weekend he and his dad might be able to replace the door. We went to the store last night and picked out a lovely door, so the decision-making part is done.

Other things to do as soon as we can: window trim and crown molding. More on those later, I think.

Monday, March 08, 2010

one step forward...

I don't have any pictures today. Hopefully I will a little later in the week, but I was too busy to take any this weekend. We suffered a little bit of a setback on Friday, when we came home from dinner to discover that the baseboards had been installed in a hurry and had some pretty major issues - issues enough, in fact, to prevent us from moving our office downstairs as planned.

Essentially, the drywall in the office didn't go all the way to the floor. The drywallers assured us that it wouldn't be a problem, as the gap would be covered by the baseboards. While this is in theory true, the problem is that since there wasn't any drywall there, there wasn't anything to support the bottom half of the baseboard, and when the installers tried to nail them up, they wound up slanting inward at the bottom and looking all kinds of messed up. That was the major issue - there were a few other trouble spots that I think came from the installers doing the baseboards last, late in the evening and kind of in a hurry to finish.

So we called the flooring guy, who promised that a) he'd come out today and inspect and b) they would fix everything. He's not here yet, but his crew is, and they're already taking off the slanty baseboards in order to put some support behind them. They're also working on the master bedroom - they're perfectly willing to move the furniture in there around while they work, so we don't even have to move it ourselves. We do still have to move the office ourselves - they don't want the responsibility of moving our computers and all of the jewelry supplies - but it's a relief not to have to move the bedroom back and forth.

We plan on moving the office on Tuesday night (Don has class tonight until late, alas) and hopefully we'll still be completely done with the floors and baseboards this week. And I have to say - the baseboards might have been a minor issue, but the floors themselves look amazing. We were able to have our gaming group over on Sunday! It's an auspicious start.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

straight from the cameraphone

New stairs. (Cat installation priced separately.)

Friday, March 05, 2010

color choices

We went to Home Depot last weekend to pick up a few things and also get paint swatches to choose colors for the upstairs rooms. I told Don that it felt very strange to be looking at paint colors "for real" - rather than me just dragging him to go poke at them, when he isn't even close to ready to think about them yet because paint is such a long way off. He laughed at me and reminded me that we'd already chosen - and painted! - the downstairs colors, so I should be over it. I'm not.

Even more surreal - and this one is from both of us - is going to Home Depot and not having to park near the contractor entrance, or get a gigantic cart. We're not used to just walking in the doors like normal people yet.

Here's the color palette upstairs, minus the color on the landing (which is the same light brown/beige as in the living and dining rooms):

From left to right: Yellow for the middle bedroom, hopefully to be a nursery very soon; a warm gray with hints of plum for the guest bathroom; a purple-plum color called "Gypsy Magic" for the guest room; a deep greenish blue called "Nature Retreat" for the master bedroom, and a lighter shade from the same swatch for the master bath.

I hope they all look good on the walls!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

naming names

I was going to write a romantic paean to my electrician, but then I realized that it might be creepy.

Instead, I'll just note that I don't recommend contractors by name on this site until a) they've completed their work here and received their money and b) they have done such a good job that I have absolutely no hesitation in naming them. You'll note that up until now the only such name I've posted was the dumpster company.

That said, my electrician is Vince Madden from Madden Electric, and he is absolutely fantastic. Baltimore Magazine feels the same way. He (and his crew - ask for Miguel!) did an amazing job here, and we couldn't be happier. Call him. Use him. Feel free to tell him we sent you.

As noted by my plumber raptures in a previous post, there will be at least one more named recommendation to come here - but he's not done yet, so I won't publish his name publicly until our contract is complete. If you're looking for a plumber in the Baltimore area, I'm happy to recommend him privately - drop me an email at jamailac at gmail dot com and I'll give you his contact information. If you want to know which contractors I am NOT recommending, and why, I will also provide that information by email.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Once we'd painted the office, we realized (somewhat belatedly) that there was something else we should take care of before the floors came. When we ran the plumbing for the new bathrooms, we left the original stack in place. It was cast iron, and very large. So large, in fact, that for some strange reason it stuck out of the base of the office wall. We'd notched around in when we installed the subfloors, and told the drywallers to just cut around it if they couldn't get it flush. They did so, and we realized that it really looked much worse than we thought it would:

The original plan was to just leave it, since we intended to put bookshelves in front of that area anyway. But we've been revising our bookshelf plans now that the end is in sight, and there may not be one at that exact spot. And besides, what about when we go to sell the house? Savvy buyers won't be fooled by a strategically-placed potted plant - even if I was capable of keeping one alive long enough to get the house on the market. And, more immediately, we both hated it. And we live here, and will be doing so for a while. So we called our fantastic plumber, and asked him to come out and take a look. He gave us a huge break on pricing, and replaced not only the bit in the picture, but all of the ancient cast iron pipe in the basement below for several feet straight down and an extra branch out for a price that was seriously, amazingly low. And he did it the day after I called him. (Okay, it was the day after that, but he could have done it the next day if I hadn't had to go to the office.) We had to get it done really fast because the flooring was due to be delivered, and it was no problem. He and his crew are the absolute best.

Once they'd replaced the pipe with one that would fit inside the wall all the way down, I patched the hole in the drywall. You can see the patch in the picture below - it isn't repainted yet, but you can see that not only is there no gaping hole in the wall anymore, but the flooring installers will be able to install all the way to the wall. Everybody's happy.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

a studious color

Before the flooring was delivered, we made an effort to get the downstairs painted. As I mentioned before, we paid a painter to paint everything that is the same color, but the office gets its own color, so I painted it myself.

We chose an absolutely gorgeous olive green called "Carriage House" by Behr, and I think it's the perfect color for an office/library. It's going to look amazing with the brown floors and a big wall of brown bookshelves (can I tell you how excited I am about the prospect of unpacking my books?)

Monday, March 01, 2010

exciting things afoot

No pun intended in the title, but guess what's sitting in my dining room right now?


Hardwood flooring, baby! A lot's been going on here lately, and I've been really, really bad at keeping up. I'm getting some pictures uploaded and some posts written up right now, but I had to share this immediately. These boxes - and another pile the same size in the office, and a smaller one in the living room - were delivered this morning by our flooring guys. Installation starts Thursday morning. I snuck a sample out of one of the boxes so that you could all get a glimpse of the flooring we chose:

It's prefinished hardwood, three-quarter inch red oak in a color called 'gunstock'. Don tells me it's called that because it is in fact the color used for those wood bits on guns (clearly I am out of my depth in this discussion).

Things we looked for when we were choosing wood and color:

-Hardness. Not only am I the clumsiest person on earth, we plan on having children and dogs both in this house, so the floors have to stand up well. Don originally wanted pine, which is what his parents have, but for this quality oak was the way to go for us (we never had any interest in any of the exotic hardwoods, for what it's worth - they're not suited to the house or the neighborhood).

-Grain. We both wanted a strong grain - we saw a lot of wood with only a very light grain pattern, and it frustrated us because we want our wood to scream "Hey! I'm wood!" and not look like laminate.

-Brown but not red. I can't tell you how many times I've pointed at a wood sample and Don has wrinkled his nose and shaken his head, saying "Too red!" I love cherry wood and mahogany tones but I can see his point. The floors should be relatively neutral and go with whatever we choose to accent them with, and red tones don't always go with everything (ask my mother the redhead). If you ask me, the wood we wound up with still has a little hint of red (as you can see in the poorly-lit picture above), but it's brown enough to suit him finally and I love it, so we're happy.

-Prefinished. We're living here and don't plan on moving out - there's no way we'd be able to deal with having the floors finished here. There is nothing anybody could say to me that would outweigh the huge pro of ease of installation with prefinished wood. And the finish is guaranteed for far longer than we plan to be in this house - if the next owner wants to refinish them, fine.

A few other things swayed our decision on which supplier/installer to use, like warranty, wood grade, and of course price, but they weren't things that we went into the process determined about.

I'm looking forward to seeing this stuff installed! The plan is to complete the downstairs, stairs, and landing on Thursday and Friday, then have us move our office downstairs. That'll empty out two of the three upstairs bedrooms, which can then have their floors installed on Monday, whereupon we'll move our bedroom into one of them and the master suite will be finished off. Given our scheduling luck, I make no promises that it will actually happen that way, but that's the plan!