This post could have also been titled “Decisions, decisions” – because that’s what it’s felt like for the past month. Once we had the plans finalized back in July, there was quite a bit of time where we were waiting to actually get the permits, and then demolition happened and walls went up – but there weren’t actually very many new decisions during that time period.
That has all changed. Most nights after putting our 17 month-old to bed, we spend about 2 hours buying fixtures or reviewing decisions our contractor asked us to make. To give you a taste of decisions we’ve been making (and the things that have been difficult about those decisions):
- All bathroom fixtures that go in the wall and not into a cabinet/vanity (What finish? What style? One shower head or two? Rain shower or no? Handheld or no? How many gallons per minute? What f**king valve do we need?)
- Tubs (Cast iron – so basically a big Dutch Oven? Porcelain-enameled steel – what is that? Vikrell tubs – aren’t those for Norse gods?)
- Position of bathroom fixtures (On which side does the shower door swing? Exactly how high is the shower handle? Do you want lights above the mirror or on the sides? Oh, and how tall is that mirror you haven’t thought about let alone purchased going to be so we can center everything on it?)
- Location of outlets and light switches (Let’s put it there – oh wait, that wall has the ductwork so there’s no space.)
- Which lights are on the same switch or a different switch (Should this light turn on with the other hallway lights or as part of the dining room?)
- Framing decisions (Is the stair wall open or railing? What do we do with the space under the stairs? Should it be two closets or one double-door closet? Should the doorway have arches?)
Not that we’re griping – this is what we signed up for. For me, the risk of getting something very wrong – or very right! – is very exciting, and makes this whole experience feel weighty and educational at the same time.
[Kripa: He says “weighty and educational” and I say “stressful and all-consuming”. But he’s right – don’t tell him I said that – this is what we signed up for. And we are in a lot of ways extremely lucky to be able to do it.]
OK, enough yammering – on to the pictures and videos!
Before you watch any of the videos, a brief warning: Kripa’s voiceovers definitely sound like she was hastily recruited to be a CIA informant and is whispering to handler over a concealed corsage mic but no one told her what her actual assignment is so she’s just winging it.
[Kripa: I can neither confirm nor deny this.]
New windows are in! These are new Marvin windows throughout the house – only the kitchen French doors aren’t installed yet.
[Kripa: UGH. First major design DISASTER. I thought I had ordered the windows SDL (simulated divided light) which means the grilles are outside the glass. Something got lost in translation, perhaps because we had gotten different quotes, but I missed it and they showed up as GBG (grilles between glass). It’s a stylistic choice only, with the slight function advantage of GBG being easier to clean. So, disaster is a little dramatic because overall the windows are beautiful and make a big difference to the house, especially from the outside. I squared my shoulders and moved on.]
The area from the dining room (on the right in the photo below, mostly not shown) flows into the informal living and the kitchen, and when walking around it just feels big and open – which was a feeling we really wanted and our architect David Ruffing put a lot of time into capturing, so I’m very pleased to have that reaction to the space as it’s coming together.
The showers are framed out, which gives a much better sense of what the bathrooms will actually look like. Here’s the first floor bath:
The doorway for the rear French doors that come off the kitchen into the back yard is all framed out – and the opening feels massive! The other back window is installed (you can see it on the right in the next picture), which is already giving the first floor more light than it previously had.
I’m full-on adulting – because I am loving this pantry. It’ll have a counter with space for coffee accessories (grinder, espresso machine, etc.) and a built-in beverage fridge (read: beeeeeeeer fridge), so I expect to be spending some quality time in this pantry.
Let’s head up stairs!
When you come up the stairs, there will be a railing on your right, and looking over the railing you’ll see the laundry closet and mechanical room. We decided to do stacked washer/dryer, so the laundry closet will have another ~6′ for storage. I have no idea what we’re going to do with all that space – I guess lots of detergent?
The skylights are not installed yet, but the two windows around the 2nd floor cutout that looks down onto the dining room already lets in a good bit of light.
I had no idea what kind of tubs to buy, so I looked at our current condo and saw they were Bootz. And since Bootz made me feel like it was nineteen-nineteez-cool-to-add-a-Z-to-everything, I went with Bootz. And it feelz great.
The back left bedroom has a big east facing window (and a smaller north facing window you can’t see in the picture below), and I love the lighting. Even with the real addition still standing and casting shade, the room feels bigger than it actually is.
Kripa caught the trains going by in both directions – how cool!
Let’s head back to the master bedroom…
The master is split into two parts by a see-through fireplace, with the smaller sitting room on the left and the main bed area on the right. Here’s a look:
You might remember that the master closet is between the master bedroom and the master bath. Let’s take a look:
Kripa’s plan is to refinish the house’s original clawfoot tub (wait – is it the house’s tub, or ours?). Our contractor Martin brought it upstairs to position it for the plumbing, so it’s our first look at where it’ll go. We originally thought about centering it on the window, but a combination of plumbing fixture preferences and wanting to give more walking room around the vanities led to us nudging it back a bit.
You might notice something at the bottom of the stairs there. That is our water main – it comes in the front of the house and up through the new cement floor, and has to be within 2 feet of the front of the house – so that’s where it ended up. We’re thinking we do a bookcase or something to make it look slightly more natural (and leaves the ability to operate the water main if ever needed).
The basement has a main living space we’re calling the rec room. It’s defined by the structural beam that will have a soffit around it, which you can see in this video:
[Kripa: OK, you’ll notice in the basement videos I do not narrate. This is because the lovely gentleman working in the basement were at the time listening to – wait for it – “The Boy is Mine” by Brandy and Monica. It was too amazing not to have uninterrupted in the background. Also, if you don’t know that 1998 gem, go YouTube it please, millennial.]
Kripa wanted a reading nook under the stairs with a built-in light, so I’ve lost my secret room and/or secret storage space for this to-be-designed nook. Womp womp.
Another Bootz tub – gotta stay cleanz boyz!
While the next video shows the framed out basement bedroom, it also highlights the new floor that was poured. The ceiling height it just over 7′ 6″, so for a basement it does not feel at all claustrophobic.
The mudroom from the back door is framed out now – and it is BIG. We’ll have plenty of room for all of our mud.
And now for the part of the house I’m most excited about: the studio bedroom which we’re used as an INDOOR WOODSHOP. The woodshop now features a ceiling power outlet for a dust filter. It also has a single large closet which makes the layout much easier for me – with the closets, I can feed 8′ boards straight down the center of the shop through a table saw or planer and have some room to spare. We also added a power outlet inside that closet – not conventional, but will likely be helpful down the road for the woodshop.
That’s the update for now. Next is to get the rough-in inspection, and then insulation – then DRYWALL! My impression from HGTV is that once drywall goes up it feels done but takes forever to actually finish, so that’s where I’m setting my expectations.