Miscellaneous Updates

We are slightly snowed in here. (Okay, we could get out, but it’s too cold to make much of an effort.) So, it’s a good moment to catch up on a few more mundane details.

First, Spouse finally decided that Baldwin locks met his standards. So, as I write, twenty nine separate door knobs/locks and deadbolts are winging their way here. We chose the Tobin Passage Lever. The metal is termed “slate.”

The other big issue is lighting. Much of the main floor seems particularly dark. We are moving the fixture in my office from the wall to the center of the ceiling. We are adding fixtures to Mom’s bedroom, sitting room, and the master bedroom because all of those rooms have one small fixture on one side of the room. We are replacing the fixture in the laundry room so we can actually see the stains we are treating. To date, we have no plans to improve the ceiling fan/light in the living room, but we are aware that the room is essentially a cave. (Truthfully, we haven’t been able to find a way to turn the fan light on yet. We suspect a remote went for a walk.)

The questions for Spouse and I are how many lumens are enough, what type of LED bulbs are available to meet the lumen need, and what fixture will hold them? Because my office is for art, needlework, reading, and writing, I’ve said that I want enough light to be able to perform surgery. I tried to suggest to Spouse that this display was moving in the right direction for my office.

Nothing exceeds like excess, right?

Spouse and I did a test this past weekend with a shop light and found that 4000 lumens leaves no dark corners in my office on a dark, rainy night. I figure that a dimmer switch can be added later for less dark days.

With that information, Spouse researched and found this bulb, capable of almost 1300 lumens.

The issue then becomes finding a fixture that will hold several of these. That took us to Seattle Lighting. They had some rather unique choices.

Spouse really liked this wall mount.
We thought this would be cute for middle and youngest sons’ bedroom, but decided to pass.
Given Spouse’s preference for blue, I thought this Chihuly-meets-Spaghetti-Factory number would be perfect for his office. Suffice it to say, he passed.
This inverted bowl caught my eye. It makes a statement, but I’m not sure exactly what.

After all of that, we ended up in track lighting because it’s the rare fixture that will take LED bulbs that produce that large amount of lumens. Suffice it to say, I suspect we will end up with fairly utilitarian, maneuverable, white track lights in the darkest rooms. Something like one of these:

Then again, I’m not the sort to meditate on the aesthetics of light fixtures. I say, “Let there be light!”

Bits of Progress during Snowpacolypse 2019

A surprisingly strong snow storm has slowed life considerably here. Seven inches fell at our current home last Sunday night, and another six are expected tonight. Schools and colleges have been closed several days in the past week. If grocery stores are any indicator, they have been packed with grumpy people pushing heavily laden carts through mildly ransacked aisles.

That said, the snow provided the perfect opportunity to test the roof insulation.

We are pretty sure that rectangular shape to the left on the roof is a badly insulated attic door. Future project!

It is surprising any progress has been made at the house, especially considering the house sits downhill on steep drive that can be tricky to navigate in these icy conditions. Still, I have a few bits of progress to report.

The carpet is essentially gone from the house now and residing in this large, mildly damp pile in the garage.

Good riddance!

I think this rather large hole in the garage wall is evidence that work has begun on the two electric car chargers that will be installed in the garage.

Work has begun framing the wall that will enclose my office.

And these large holes in the floor upstairs represent the new lighting fixture and light switch in my office downstairs.

I know, a hole. How exciting. But it means I wont be reading by Braille in my office.

Finally, significant progress has been made on the fireplace.

When it’s completely done, I’ll post a before and after pic.

On the gardening front, I added two lilac shrubs to the orchard in the garage because, you know, there are several inches of snow outside, so of course!

If construction doesn’t end soon, I will have a nursery in the garage

Last of all, for anyone interested, here’s a better picture of my jutting kitchen cabinet under which my Ikea hack of the previous post will reside.


Bookmarking a Future Project

Today, I’m going to take a moment to bookmark a project for future reference. Behind the scenes here, there are neat lists and random scraps of paper galore with ideas for fixes and projects we want to consider later. However, for the time being, we are strictly limiting our focus to those projects that are either mandatory before we can move or best completed before six people and a menagerie are underfoot. That said, I’m pretty sure this blog will have plenty of fodder for years to come from the looks of the lists.

One side of the kitchen has a small wall space sandwiched between the kitchen entry and the staircase leading upstairs. The previous owners chose to put what I think was intended as sort of a free-standing china cabinet that protrudes into the walkway. (Of the thousand shots I have of the house so far, this is the best I’ve got of this cabinet.)

I recently happened on this Ikea hack, which I think might make a terrific addition, providing added storage and warding off the inevitable bumps that will result from the cabinet’s position. Even better, this is a fun project I can do with Spouse! I’m already envisioning a gray paint and faux marble top to match the kitchen island .

The plans and ideas just keep coming, and the fun is just beginning!

Days 2 and 3

Now the changes are coming rapidly.

No more carpet in the living room. What exactly did they do to the floor? Nevermind, I really don’t think I want to know.
Spouse’s office floor has been sealed.
And mine, too!
Evidence of the future outlet in the kitchen island that will bring it up to code and be so handy for using cooking appliances in the kitchen
Say goodbye to the wall sconces in my office!
Mom’s shower, tub, and fan are gone . . .
But not forgotten.
I can imagine that this is endearing us to the neighbors. I have to ask, wasn’t there some place safe in the house or garage? Really?

This hole beneath the master bath tub keeps getting bigger for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me. By the way, the tub, despite its resemblance to a sarcophagus, is staying.

Goodbye, rec room carpet.

I’ve decided to spare everyone (including myself) the pictures that Spouse took while using a black light to identify the pet stains. Suffice it to say, we are going to seal everything, and we aren’t going to salvage any carpet. Sigh.

Last, but not least in my mind, which is yearning for spring and gardening, the future orchard grew to nine trees with the addition of an apricot, a lapin cherry, a nectarine and a plum.


It is such a relief to see things moving forward, and I’m starting to see glimmers of the house I see in my mind’s eye. Very exciting.

Let the Demolition Commence!

Last Friday, we finally signed a contract with our contractor for a portion of the projects, with the idea that work could begin while we work out the details on other projects. And work definitely began today!

Our kitchen is currently wrapped in plastic..
The carpet is gone from Spouse’s office.
And my office.
They moved the toilet and removed the shower doors in preparation for removing Mom’s tub.
Mom’s window seat is officially history, and she gained an electrical outlet. Who knew?
The master bath has been covered in plastic and cardboard and the tub moved to gain access to correct plumbing issues, although we are considering a different tub because Spouse hates this one.

On a somewhat less exciting note, we made a couple of major purchases for the new house this past weekend.

Fruit trees!

The humble beginnings of our new fruit orchard: a semi dwarf Fuji apple, two semi dwarf black tartarian semi sweet cherries, and a 3 in 1 pear. (Not pictured: a Frost peach.)

Finally, our painters are coming from California and will live in the house while they repaint, so they will need beds. At the same time, our two youngest sons have outgrown twin beds (the middle one now stands over both is father and me!), and their bedroom in the new house will accomodate two queens, so we decided to upgrade this weekend while Costco had a sale.

Spouse and middle son lugging the first of two mattress and box springs upstairs to the attic storage.

We are now the proud owners of an attic full of mattresses.

I guess the best closer for this post is, “What a difference a day (or two) makes!”

Well, So Much for That

In the last post, I proudly evidenced our choices thus far. I should have known I was tempting fate. Shortly after that, our contractor (Is he ours? We can’t seem to get the details of the contract finally ironed out so work can actually begin.) pointed out our choice of fireplace stone would cost significantly more because it needed to be pieced together, rather than arriving in easily installed pre-fabricated squares.

Firep[ace rock choices
The choices. . . .

For whatever reason, that triggered some need to revisit the carpet because, well, why not?

The end result:

Nantucket Stacked Stone by El Dorado Stone with Rustic Revival in Fedora Grey.

Or, to get a closer look:

So, this is what the carpet looked like originally, huh?

We also made a bit of progress on paint colors.

On the top, Behr’s Cyper Grape

Mom would like a much ligher shade of Cyber Grape for one wall in each of her rooms.

On top, Behr’s Pure Turquoise

Similarly, I want a lighter shade of the Pure Turquoise in my office.

Somehow, choosing shades of grey for the remainder of the house is not nearly as exciting.

Finally, we are starting to notice a slightly perplexing trend. We frequently stop by the house to make certain everything is as it should be. While we haven’t found anything that caused significant concern, we seem to find things we would not expect. First, it was the water heater letting loose a full stream of water at the front of the house. A second time, Spouse found one of the garage doors open. Nothing had been disturbed that we could find, but we’d guess it had been open for more than a day. This past Saturday, we pulled in to be greeted by these to exuberant individuals.

The quality of the photo conveys the level of excitement our arrival engendered.

What? You mean I can’t come inside?

At first, we assumed that they were probably our next door neighbors’ dogs. They certainly seemed at home at the house, coming in the garage and finding a nerf ball that they bandied about as if it really belonged to them. The red one even dashed through the front door for a quick look around. From their familiarity, we assumed they would just meander to their rightful home. After a while however, when we realized that they were sleeping on the front step, we decided to investigate a bit more thoroughly. It turns out they lived .7 miles away, and their owner had been out looking for them all night after a horse broke their Invisible Fence. That is when we started to notice the chewed up faucet protector in the back yard and the now demolished nerf ball in the front yard. While waiting for their owners, they apparently occupied themselves by pulling out some kind of shrub by the front door and started to work on a second faucet protector. (Fortunately, I’m pretty sure I intended to pull that shrub myself so that worked out for the best.)

Although I’m glad they are back with their rightful owners, I have to say I enjoyed meeting them and am already wondering what will greet us on our next house check.

Where Do We Start?

Despite our best intentions, renovations are off to a slow start. This is partly due to the winter holidays and partly due to difficulty finding reputable contractors to do the work during a housing boom.

Even so, we checked off our first box on the endless t0-do list: our second garage door now has a garage door opener. From humble beginnings, right?

Probably the cleanest this garage will ever be.

After this heady initial success, little else has changed. That said, we’ve made many choices.

Rock for the living room fireplace:

ES_Bluffstone_Coos Bay_prof_nationwide
Coos Bay from El Dorado Stone.

Satin nickel toilet paper holders:

I know. The excitement of renovation can be overwhelming at times. Still this house has a strange absence of these holders.

Satin nickel locks with flipper handles:

The cats thank us for those flipper handles.

Lighting is a huge issue in this house. Several rooms,, including my office, my mom’s bedroom and sitting room, and the laundry room are very dark. (Given some of the laundry, I’m wondering if that might not be a blessing in disguise?) To exacerbate the lack of natural light in the dark Pacific Northwest, someone placed the only mounted light fixtures way off to the side of each room. So, my office had two small wall sconces on one wall and no other mounted fixtures. We are moving the mount to the center of the ceiling in my room and looking for a fixture that will maximize the area covered in light. This one has possibilities:

Product Image 2
Since I will only have one fixture in my office, this one allows me to direct light to the places I need it most.

And one of the most hotly debated items thus far has been . . . wait for it. . . towel racks. So far, we are going going with this lovely number because Spouse has well reasoned arguments about the stablility of the mounting design.

That said, we are sorely tempted by the option of a heated towel rack suggested by our friend, JoAnne. As luxurious as the idea of warm towels sounds in the middle of a cold, wet Pacific Northwest winter, we are having issues with their placement in the bathrooms because they need power and traipsing the length of the bathroom while dripping to reach the rack seems less than ideal.

We are replacing several doors inside and outside of the house and adding a final wall to enclose my office that will have double glass doors. To that end, the master bedroom doors that open on the back deck and my office doors will be “full lite.” That is, they will have no grid pattern.

Instead of clear glass, we’ve chosen “glue chip,” which is far more attractive than its name suggests.

Glue Chip glass

Finally, we chose our new carpet. We unanimously chose the center carpet, “Tradewinds” because the dark grey speckles blend nicely with the grey tones that will predominate, but it has a slightly warmer undertone well suited to our beige furniture, the hardwood flooring that will remain, and the dirt that will inevitably be tracked in from the property.

I don’t think this picture does any of these samples justice, but it’s what I’ve got.

Currently, we are debating the relative merits of a traditional hot water heater and a tankless hot water heater. The latter costs fifty percent more, and we can’t find reliable data proving that it will should last as long as a tradition water heater. At the same time, the tankless is far more energy efficient. I bet you will be waiting with bated breath to hear the results.

In the meantime as we are spending more time in our new home with various professionals, more issues are coming to our attention. Suffice it to say, I suspect some people should not be allowed to watch DIY television.

Master bath tub faucet ready to convert into a fountain

That’s all for now, folks!

And So It Begins. . . .

Today marks the ending of a journey eight years in the making that took my husband, myself, our sons, my mother, and many pets from California to the Pacific Northwest. For the past five years, we’ve painstakingly searched for the right house and property for our family. About a month ago, we finally turned off our Redfin searches, and today our realtor, whose patience is legendary, handed us these.

Today also marks the beginning of a new journey to turn this empty shell of house that contained the story of another family for so long into our home.

Let the journey begin!