March’ing Along

If I have another title with that kind of pun in it, I may have to delete this blog altogether, because I’m somewhat disgusted in myself.  Nevertheless…

Today is March 10th.  The last two months have been extremely productive, and the first ten days of March have been not exception. I am at an exciting period in this process where it seems like there is always new progress taking shape that has a significant impact.  Gone are the days of hours of work – patching, sanding, patching, sanding, patching, sanding – that seemed to yield no results.

Here is the overview of what has taken place in March the last ten days…

The bathroom floor was tiled.

The tile was purchased at Mernard’s back in the fall and has been collecting dust in various locations ever since, being moved from room to room, constantly in the way of other work.  On March 1st, it was time for them to be laid.  Back when the tile was purchased, I had been searching for a design slightly different than just a typical grid pattern of same-sized square tile.  I saw this somewhere, and it didn’t seem like it would be hard to replicate.  The primary concern with this lay out was knowing where to begin in the room that would avoid having a lot of tiny pieces in places, as the room isn’t a perfect rectangle.  Channeling high school assignments that would have made my teachers beam to see them used, I mapped out the pattern to scale on a piece of graph paper (1 square = 2 inches).

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I then cut out a replica of the room made to the same scale.  By laying the sheet with the hole for the room cut out on top of the sheet with the floor pattern mapped, you could shift the room around until you found the setup that incorporated the best layout with the fewest awkward, tiny pieces.  This made it easy to know not only how many tiles we needed of each size (smaller ones were 6 x 6 inches, larger ones were 12 x 12 inches), but also where to lay the first tiles and build out from there.

Following the diagram, the tile turned out exactly as I pictured it:

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Yesterday, the grout was laid in the bathroom, which really brought a flow to the swirls of colors in the tiles.

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The Bathroom Light Fixture Was Hung.

With the tile laid and grout drying, I kept with the theme of pulling long-ago purchased items from their boxes and installing them by hanging the bathroom light fixture.

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This light fixture was probably the most uncharacteristically-Kyle purchase I have made for the house.  I’m definitely a traditionalist and am generally not into the sleek, modern look.  For some reason, this light fixture caught my attention of all the basic, traditional globe ones in the aisle, and I thought it would go with the clean, modern look I am going for in the bathroom.  At the same time, I don’t think it’s completely over the top like can happen when people try too hard to go modern.

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I vacillate back and forth between thinking “What a great decision, it’s perfect!” and “Are you sure that’s not too much?”.  Today, I’m the former.  Tomorrow, probably the latter.  I don’t think I will settle on a final decision until the mirror and vanity are installed which, I’m glad to be able to say, shouldn’t be more than another week or two.  I seriously cannot wait to have a functional first floor bathroom again.  In my attempts to resist letting these renovations overtake my life, I still tend to go out and have fun every Friday night and most Saturday nights.  Showing up at the house to work for the day by 730 or 830 the morning after means a lot of bottled water is consumed; sometimes eight or nine over the course of the day.  This, in turn, results in repeated trips down to the basement to the only bathroom that is currently operational, and then back up to resume working.  I swear that this frustration is only 30% laziness; it’s 70% about convenience and time.

This is where the bathroom is as of today:

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 If the bathroom truly was the #1 priority, it could probably be done in a day or two.  All that really remains to be done is:

  • tiling of the shower walls
  • grouting of shower walls
  • installing vanity
  • installing toilet
  • hanging the mirror
  • hanging towel rack, hand towel holders, etc
  • hanging curtain bar and curtain
  • reattaching baseboards

So close… and yet so far.

More Floor Was Laid.

My dad and I keep pushing forward with the floor,and it truly is spreading through the house where before it was only done in the kitchen.  A couple weekends ago, we knocked out the floor in the hallway.

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Although it was a relatively small area compared to the kitchen, the hallway itself took nearly an entire Sunday.  The more door frames involved, the more complicated and detailed cuts need to be made.  Between the basement door, the closet, the bedrooms, and the bathroom, there are five doors in this tiny space for a total of ten frames.  Hence, this area of approximately 50 square feet, which is relatively minimal, required without a doubt the most attention, calculations, and special cutting of anything we had done previously.  It was frustrating to see such a small space consume an entire day, but the end result was pleasing, as the hallway really is the center of the house.

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 By this point, I think my dad and I have become pretty damn good at laying the floor.  We encounter small setbacks and patches that require more attention, but for the most part, we have a system going and are significantly faster than we were when we started.  My primary frustrating was that I felt like we were spending too much time selecting the pieces for each row between actually stapling them down.  I had a middle of the night epiphany a couple Sunday’s ago that this was something I could take care of on a week night and save the valuable weekend time with my dad around for actually laying the floor, as opposed to selecting the pieces.

With Erica having finished busy season, she took a few days off and spent them in Northern Kentucky.  One weeknight, we laid out the entire floor in the front bedroom- laying out the pieces, checking the seams, inspecting for flaws, etc.  After an hour, when we had the entire floor laid out, we labeled each piece with a letter and a number – the letter being the row (from the bathroom wall to the street wall), the number being the order of the piece in the row (from the closet to the driveway wall).  We taped each row’s pieces together and stacked them neatly where they could be grabbed, untaped, and laid in no time.

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 For some reason, anyone who hears that we did remarks on what an “erica idea” it was, or how it was “clearly done by an accountant.”  I guess prosecutors have a reputation for being scatterbrained, impulsive, and disorganized.  Nevertheless, she was a huge help in getting this system implemented, so even though she didn’t even know exactly why we were going over to the house, I guess I will just let everyone credit her for my method.  (eye roll).

Not to pat mysel…. I mean ERICA… on the back, but I was astounded how effective this system was.  The time spent picking pieces and organizing them was spent actually laying the floor, and my dad and I were able to knock out the front bedroom in no time on Saturday.

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With the front bedroom floor laid, baseboards and crown molding are all it needs to be finished.  Late in the day yesterday, we moved across the hall and started taking the floor into the back bedroom.

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Since the decision to start on the guest bedroom floor was spur of the moment, I didn’t get to institute “Erica’s” system from the front bedroom that was such a success.  Hopefully, I will get over there one night this week to lay everything out and get it organized so that it’s ready to go for the weekend.  I can admit though with 100% honesty and zero sarcasm that laying the floor out alone won’t be nearly as easy and certainly not as enjoyable as it was having her with me to do the other room.

A Closet Door in the Back Bedroom Was Installed.

As we were starting to lay the floor in the back bedroom, we needed to go ahead and get the door frames nailed into the closet we’ve added to make the right cuts to the floorboards.  Seeing a door hanging in the closet that has never been anything but empty gave it more of a look of “completion” than I have ever seen in there before.

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 After seeing how good it looked with just one in, I cannot wait to get the door nailed into the left closet and get the full effect of this completely re-imagined portion of the room /  house.

The Hallway Fixture and Pendant Lights Over the Island Were Hung.

At the end of a long Sunday laying floor, we were in need of some quick and satisfying progress, so more light fixtures came out of their hiding places in the front closet.  The pendant lights over the island and the fixture in the hallway were specifically purchased because of their similar look.  The hallway light proved to be the perfect size for that space, although it definitely does not allow for pictures that actually depict what it looks like.

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This fixture doesn’t really produce the same glow as the sun; that’s just how it comes across on my iPhone.  I am pleased with how it looks and fits in the hallway.  Still, this was nothing compared to how happy I was with the pendant lights.

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As soon as I hung them, they added a whole new layer of depth to the kitchen.

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I was beyond thrilled with the pendant lights, and I honestly was blown away by how significant of an effect something so small and simple as a light fixture can have on a room.  After seeing them hung, I couldn’t wait to see how they looked with the granite top on the island.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long….

The Granite Slab for the Island Was Installed. 

When we saw the price tag that our contact at Home Depot was quoting for the island top, it was pretty apparent that I was going to be going the remnant route; especially in light of the success my brother had had finding one for his own house.  This decision worked out so well.

On a rainy Friday during my lunch hour, my mom and I visited a granite company in Newport; total flop.  They were disinterested in helping, their selection wasn’t good, and their pricing structure was full of hidden fee after hidden fee.  I don’t feel the need to post the name of the company and shame them publicly, but if you’re actually in the market for granite yourself, I’d be glad to share it with you directly to spare you the time of going there.

Our second stop was to Ohio Valley Solid Surface in Wilder, KY, just off Licking Pike / AA between Newport and 275 in Wilder.  Complete success.  We dealt with a phenomenal saleswoman named Molly who was completely enthusiastic and personally walked us around the yard of granite remnants instead of the eye roll and point in a general direction that we got at the Newport company.  Within about 10 minutes, we came across a slab that was a swirled mixture of a vast range of colors.  To date, we have identified greys, whites, blacks,  blues, and greens.  Their pricing structure was completely upfront where you paid one flat rate for the slab, edging, and installation instead of multiple added fees onto a seemingly reasonable price that jumped with each addition.

Last week, Ohio Valley came to install the granite for the island.  To say that I am 100% happy with the result would be an understatement.  I am 150% happy.

ImageIt is the perfect center to the kitchen.  I was amazed by how different it looked- in a positive way- in the kitchen than it did in the slab yard.  The green paint on the walls pulls out the greens in the granite that were relatively subtle before.

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I’m anxious to see what effect it has when the perimeter counters are installed on Friday, which are from a line sold at Home Depot called “absolute black.”  Lots of things lately have had a “wow” effect, but getting the granite for the island installed had a “HOLY SHIT! THIS WORK ZONE IS LEGITIMATELY TURNING INTO A HOUSE!” effect.

As you can see, the last couple weeks have been big ones.  As my dad would say, things are really “starting to move forward in giant leaps.”  He assured me for months that this stage would come, and this time, he was telling the truth.  With each day of work, there is something new and significant to appreciate and take a sense of accomplishment from.  My only hope is that we can sustain this rapid progress we have seen in the first ten days of March over the next 4-6 weeks and drag this thing across the finish line.

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