Sunday, August 10, 2014

The House Is Done!!!

So...ahem...I'm embarrassed to realize that it hasn't been the 3 or 4 weeks I thought it had been since I last posted. Nope, it's been 3 MONTHS. Uh, sorry about that. So here's your update: 

We moved in June 1.

 The house isn't done.

 The house probably won't be done for a long time.

 The important things in the house are all done. The things which did not get done are just "frosting" not "toilets." In other words, the house is very functional and we can live without the things that didn't get done until such time as more money materializes out of thin air.

 The things that did not get done are: the garage doors (still bent up, 2 of 3 won't open), the bog (someday it will be a beautiful waterfall and pond), the landscaping (we did a little bit, but there's still 80% to be done), the loft (it's there and carpeted but no railing and no stairs/ladder), the spiral staircase (hindsight tells me we should have left it in and remodeled it, but instead it's just gone and will someday be replaced), the back deck (outside the master there used to be a patio but now it's a pile of rubble. Very attractive), the garage (the shiz-covered walls bear the last remaining signs of how nasty this house was before, floor still unstained), and the entire exterior (more on that in a minute). And there are a dozen or so loose ends such as missing closet doors, a range hood that's not vented, etc. I know it may seem like a lot didn't get done, but the list of what DID get done is even more impressive. So overall we feel like the house is in a good place and we are loving it.

We are not loving the new over-sized a/c bill to go with our new over-sized house.

We also didn't love the various plumbing issues that cropped up when the city's irrigation water main sprung a leak under our park strip or when my yard maintenance guy accidentally hooked the irrigation water pipe and culinary water pipe together causing, oh, about a million gallons of culinary water to dump down the irrigation pipe for a month. And no, that's not an exaggeration. When they guy came to my door to tell me our water usage was high, he didn't mention that it was literally ONE MILLION GALLONS high. I won't show you the bill that just came for that. I will give you 3,358.20 hints.  But let's keep this post positive.

Moving on to the awesome parts, I'm about to start doing a room by room before-and-after series. It won't be daily, but hopefully at least several times a week. Here's the first one....

House Exterior Before and After!

If you check it out, please leave a comment and tell me what you think!

Before-and-After -- Exterior

Ok, so it's finally time for a few before-and-after shots!  You've all waited so patiently.  And here's the first one: the exterior.

So this was our house when we bought it:

Hard to even see the house, huh?  It's nearly covered by the big plum trees, and bushes, and Chinese elms.  I can't remember just what exactly made me decide I wanted to see the inside! But for some reason, we called the realtor.  And the rest is history!

Overgrown is a good way to describe it.   Weeds, weeds everywhere!  Those dang Chinese elms start up and grow to 10 ft tall in a few weeks, so imagine 7 years of being left to grow.  But the lawn, of course, did not flourish.  Big Daddy does not look happy about the amount of yard work he is in for.


And the backyard looked like this...

 More overgrown shrubs and bushes...

More weathered paint and weedy cracks in the cement.

And, of course, The Bog.  What was probably once a lovely water feature had grown so thick with algae that Daphne actually thought it was grass and tried to walk across it! And...fell in. Up to her thighs in nasty, brackish water.  

And off the master bedroom, the one-time....?  Patio?  Who knows.  Now just a pile of rubble and a crooked, rotted column.

So that's what we fell in love with.  Somehow we looked at that house and thought, "Yep, that's the house for us!"  But we were both somehow overcome by the same vision while looking at this house, the same dream of what could be.  So we took the plunge.

Not long after having our offer accepted, you may remember that we had our architect friend Aaron Inowye of Inowye Design draw up a plan for us to turn our 90's monstrosity into a pseudo-craftsman-Cape Cod-ish thing.  The design looked like this:
It included covering all the stucco with hardie-plank, adding wood shakes to a few sections, lowering the peak on the turret, expanding the porch, adding a few decorative gables, and putting on thick white trim wherever possible.   So the house would go from this:

 to this.

Unfortunately, none of this exterior stuff happened.  We spent so much money and time on the inside that the exterior had to get put on the back burner.  Someday we'll have money again, like maybe just before our children graduate high school, and we can use their college funds to fix up the outside.  But for now the exterior looks about the same.

We did manage to cut down the huge plumb tree blocking the front, killed off some of the weeds, and we added in sod (hooray!).  But the rest of that will have to wait too.  Anyway, here's what we're living in today...


The front porch doesn't have the nice pillars and such from the drawing yet, but there's a new door, new porch lights, some batten board to cover up where the old window used to be, and a fresh coat of paint.


We built on a covered porch on the back, so there's a nice shady spot to sit in the afternoon and evening.  And the 1 ratty old door + 2 windows to the back yard became 2 new French doors and 1 window. Here's the new patio space:

The backyard and The Bog have been slightly thinned out.  You can see some of the water now if you look really closely. Well, not the water water, but the algae on top of the water.


I don't know...that probably doesn't look any different to you!  I swear, it's way more dramatic in real life.

The exterior in the back looks the most different.  There is an addition sticking out where it used to be flat.  The second 3-panel window/door/window combo is gone in place of just a large picture window (the one from the front of the house as a matter of fact).  And you can see where we brought the roof line across to create the covered patio here.   (Well, you can kind of see it behind all those Chinese elms shoots!)


So that's the exterior.  Right now it looks a lot like the house did in the beginning.  (Original pic from late 90's below.  Minus the peach stucco, Thank Goodness.)



Someday we'll do the whole Cape Cod/craftsman thing.  Probably right about the time that stucco becomes super popular again with our luck.  But for now the house is going to stay pretty much like this.  

Friday, May 2, 2014

Let There Be Light!

You'd think designing and decorating a house would be so much fun!  And for some people--people who are really decisive--it probably is.  But you know what?  A lot of the choices I've had to make for the house have been more stressful than fun!  For one thing, I'm not super in tune with my style.  That is to say, I know what I don't like.  But I don't always know what I DO like until I see it.   And I often have to see it in context to know if I like it.  And sometimes I like a couple of different things that are nothing alike--like I really like modern, but I also like antiques.  So then I'm confused!   I also worry about making a really important choice and not knowing if it's the right choice.  Trying to choose paint colors, for example, nearly gave me a nervous breakdown.  I was so sure I'd end up hating what I chose!  And carpet...what if it didn't end up matching the walls?  Or the furniture we need to put in there that we haven't even bought yet??  Even the tile...there were so many beautiful choices, but tile is so expensive that it took so much of the fun out of it.  And then there was the whole grout issue.... But now it's time to choose lighting, and I'm actually really enjoying it! For some reason these choices don't seem nearly so life and death.  And somehow I seem to be honed in on what I like more when it comes to lights. So here are some of the lights I've picked...

The first thing I chose, I actually picked last summer before I ever even found this house!  I was on the Parade of Homes tour in SLC and saw a house with the most lovely white kitchen.

 In it were these amazing aqua seeded-glass pendants.  I FELL. IN. LOVE!   I took several pictures just in case I ever needed them.  So flash forward a few months later when we discovered and bought Little Pink House III, and I found out I was going to be able to create my perfect white kitchen (just like the one in the picture); I knew I HAD to try to find those blue pendants!   So I searched and searched through pages of pendants on google and....I found them!  They were at Ballard Designs.  So as soon as they had a sale, I swooped in and bought 5: one for above the kitchen sink, one for above the window seat, and 3 for above the island.  And I've held onto them since December!  Finally they're installed.  And they're so lovely, don't you think??

The second light I chose, I also chose way back in December, though I just finally ordered it last week.  In fact, I think it was the first thing I actually decided to buy for the house.   When I saw this chandelier, I knew it would look stunning in my master closet.  So when it was due to arrive last week at the new house, I waited with baited breath.  Only I didn't see it the day it was supposed to arrive.  Or the next day.  The third day I was about to do a tracking search on it, but then I found it...installed in my office!  Whoops, I have no idea why the electrician thought it went there.  But it looked so nice, I let it stay and ordered another one for my closet.  

This is the light I got for most of the rest of the rooms in the house--this white linen drum light.  It looks more golden when turned on.  But you can see it below turned off, along with the vanity lights that will go in most of the bathrooms.

Here it is turned on.

This is a more flush mounted version of the drum light that goes in some of the more utilitarian areas, like the pantry and laundry room.

The guest bath has this ceiling light and this vanity sconce:

 And the outdoor lights are going to be these pewter lanterns.  (Did you know that at least 98% of all outdoor lights look like lanterns of some kind?  It's true!  Unless you want some really ultra-modern tube or something, lanterns are IT.)

Pippa's black and white bathroom got this girly crystal vanity light...

(From Lowe's mix-and-match collection.  You choose any bar you want with any light covers you want.  I love it!  Though I think it needs smaller light bulbs).

This will be the chandelier for the dining room.

And the giant brass chandelier in the entry that we took down will either be spray painted turquoise and put back up (if I have my way)  ...

or replaced with something else (If Big Daddy has his way).  Maybe something like this.  

But who wants to spend an extra $700-1000 on a chandelier??  Not me!

The rest of the lighting is all recessed lighting.  When we bought the house they were this awful yellowed plastic.  Now they're pure white.  I really wanted stainless steel cans but the lighting guy looked at me like I was asking him to build me a space ship to Neptune when I suggested that.  And even though I assured him that they do exist, when I came to the house one day, they were all put in....white.  So I guess I'm getting white!

We also had dusk-activated lights installed along the stairways and hallways for the kids at night.  I'm very exited about that since our current hallway lights are plug-in nightlights that always seem to go missing!  These lights are built in.  They are that blue-ish LED color, though, which I'm not in love with.  I'll have to see if they can change them out for normal warm light.  

Anyway, that is the lighting for the new house.  What do you think?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wood Floors

So, the remodel is coming along really well.  For the most part.  One of my favorite developments of late is the hard wood floors.   Little Pink House III already had hardwood floors on the main floor.  And, surprisingly, they were in pretty good shape (miraculous, really, considering the state of the rest of the house).  They weren't the trendy wide planks. Not even the mainstream medium planks; they were the traditional, even old-fashioned skinny planks of red oak.  But they were not terribly scratched or dented.  And skinny red-oak planks are pretty classic.  So we decided to refinish them rather than rip them out and start over.

So our flooring guy, Josh, and his crew came over and patched some spots that had to be cut to fix pipes/vents, fill in holes from the previous island configuration, add wood to the office and new dining room, and remove hardwood from the old half of the enlarged family room (where we will put in carpet).  

Next we got to choose a stain.  Right now ΓΌber dark floors are very a la mode.  (Meaning "of the fashion" not "with ice cream" in case you're not up on your French translations.) (Although, now that I think of it, my floors are covered in ice cream often enough that you could use either meaning really).   So that was our first thought--VERY dark.  Espresso dark. But then we've also seen a few examples of floors done with a grey stain.  Sort of Cape Cod beach house looking.  It was intriguing.  And after every person we know with dark wood floors had told us that dark wood floors are of the devil (dirt-wise) we though maybe grey night be a better option.  Or a lighter brown.  Yes, indecisive is a good word for us.  So we had Josh paint us a bunch of swatches:

Immediately, we both decided we hated the grey.  It was very blue and brown.  Red Oak is a very grainy wood with a lot of light and dark variation.  And it seemed that the light spots turned very blue but the dark spots kept a lot of their brown.  And overall, instead of seeming beachy like it might on hickory or maple, it just looked hideous.

The two lighter brown stains were...blah.  Safe, practical, and pretty boring.  They look the same in this picture, but the one on the far left "spice brown" is more cool and the one 2nd to the right "dark walnut" is more red.   

The white glaze was thrown in on a whim.  And we both were immediately intrigued by it.  It also carried a sort of beach house look, but somehow more clean and modern.  And Josh The Floor Guy said that white is surprisingly good for floors in terms of not showing dirt. Probably the best of all of the colors, he said.  So that made us even more interested in the white.  But it also tended to look just a little bit unfinished. And we worried that people would wonder if we even had the floors stained.  We also wondered if we had the balls to carry off something that bold and unconventional. warranted some thought.

And then there was the black "Ebony".  Although we were both immediately drawn towards it because all the pictures in our minds and on our Houzz accounts had dark wood floors, it was VERY dark.   And very cool, not a warm espresso color.    And then there were all the horror stories about every speck of dust and every crumb of any kind standing out like dandruff on a priest.  So we just weren't sure.

A day or two later, Big Daddy had gone to lunch at a local favorite called The Dodo.  And as he looked down at their floors, he realized they were the exact size and type of wood as our floors, and the color was PERFECT.  So he snapped a picture, we sent it to Josh, and Josh made up a concoction all his own to produce a lighter warmer shade of brown than the Ebony, but darker and more dramatic than the medium browns.   With 2 parts Spice Brown and 1 part Ebony....

We saw the swatch and loved it.  It looked just right to us.  So we gave the go ahead.  And within a couple of days, our hardwood floors were done!

Behold!  Spiced Ebony!!

It actually turned out quite a lot lighter in real life than in this picture.  It looks VERY dark here, but in real life it turned out surprisingly light.  Almost too light.  At first we were both like, ""  But the more we look at it, the more we like it.   It's light enough to be classic and timeless, but dark enough to be striking.  I can't wait to see how it looks with furniture!

Maybe this picture is more accurate?

And one surprise... 


We chickened out on doing the whole house, but we both liked the idea enough to do one room in it.  So Josh built in a threshold piece to divide the entry from the office and put on the white glaze.   And we love it!  Way more than I expected to.  In fact, now I kind of wish we'd done the whole house in it!  Hahaha.  Oh well.  I do love the color we chose.  And now I know that in some future world where I refinish or install wood floors again, the white glaze is beautiful and I don't need to be such a chicken!

Next up?  Carpet!

**If you stopped by, leave a comment!  I'd love to know what you think.**

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I hate grout.  Hate it with a burning passion.  If you've ever had tile, you'll know that grout is a complete nightmare.  It is always dirty, so hard to clean, rough, stained, traps dust and spills.....I'm not even close to being a germ-o-phobe, but the thought of what is down in those cracks gives me the heebie-jeebies.  And then there's how it looks.  Even though I steam clean (AKA sterilize) my floor regularly, nothing seems to make it look better.  I've tried everything!  Bleach, Lemi-Shine, even scrubbing it with Comet and a toothbrush.  But it still always looks grimy and stained.   Tile is also cold.  And really hard underfoot.  So when we bought Little Pink House III and began renovations, I was pretty determined not to have any tile in it.  But, the alternatives were wood (not good in wet areas like bathrooms) and laminate flooring (ew!).  So I decided to take another look into the tile option.

The upside of tile is that it can be really beautiful.  So the appearance of the tile itself wasn't an issue.  But that grout!  So when I went to tile stores, I asked around:  What products were there that could make tile more user friendly?  Less rough?  Less prone to staining?  Easier to clean?   I got several answers.  The first was, make your tile joints a lot smaller.  Back in the day, people used these giant  1/4" grout joints.  But for almost all tile, you can get away with 1/8" or sometimes even 1/16".  Done!  Then, as for grout products, I was told:  1) Epoxy.  This is a combination of grout and epoxy.  It has a more smooth plastic feel.  It doesn't stain at all so it stays looking nice and it's easy to clean.  BUT it was a nightmare to work with, I was told.  And at almost $200 a bucket, doing 5 bathrooms, a laundry room, and a mud room was out of the question.  2) Polyurethane grout.  Same idea.  Made of polymers mixed with grout.  Smooth, stain free.  But about half the price.  Still, at $100 a bucket I was looking at a fortune just for grout.  3) Finally, on the advice of a very knowledgeable tile guy at my tile store, we found that mixing the sealant in WITH the grout, and some other special additive, made the grout really even in color without the usual staining caused by sealing it, and it responds way better to cleaning.  I had my doubts.  I still do.  I still think I may end up tearing my hair out over this amount of tile I just put in.  But he seemed pretty sure I'd like the result so....I went tile shopping.

For the master bathroom tile, Big Daddy and I chose a cream colored, shiny modern tile. 13x35, so pretty big slabs.  It has a sort of bamboo-ish stripe pattern to it.  I love it!  It will go on the bottom half of the shower and the tub skirt.

We paired that with 3x6 sea glass subway tile for the top half of the shower, the tub backsplash and the vanity backsplash, 1x1" sea glass mosaic tile for the shower floor, and Big Daddy chose a dark brown slightly linen striped 12x24" for the floor.


The tile in the master bath is all finished.  Do you want a sneak peak??  (The walls are still not painted and the floor is dusty, so obviously it'll look better than this when it's all finished and clean.)

Pippa's bathroom upstairs got a retro look with black and white hex tile.  I need to pick out a fun, whimsical towel/shower curtain design that won't be too busy for this polka dot look.  Any ideas?

Daphne and Beck's bathroom got a very modern 24x24" beige linen tile.  It was on sale for $2/square foot! And because it was such a deal, we splurged and bought this absolutely gorgeous aqua hex tile for the backsplash.

The upstairs laundry I chose black and white checkered 12x12" tile just like in my laundry currently.  Only it turns out that the one I bought is SUPER smooth and shiny.  I'm a little afraid of the cleaning prospects. Just see how dusty it is now!  However, since no one else ever does laundry but me, once the construction is over and the floor is carpeted, it will probably stay a lot cleaner.

The main floor powder room and mud room both got a really cool grey 12x24 inch tile with a glossy stripe pattern in it.   It has a little bit of brown tones in the stripes, which will go well with the brown hardwood floors just outside the mudroom and powder room.

And then on a whim we decided to tile the entire back wall of the powder room with a gorgeous lantern patterned tile.   It will be so amazing when the lights are in and the shiny red vanity is installed!

The only room remaining untouched is the basement bath.  Big Daddy chose a wood-look tile called Eclipse Olive. It looks like this...

And the general look of the room we're trying to achieve is this.  Very spa-like.  (Only minus all the fancy shower heads and steam thingies.  This is a GUEST bath not an actual spa!  Sheesh.)

Unfortunately, we've fun out of money to finish this bathroom so it'll have to wait until some future date when money shows up again.  Probably 2019.

The fireplaces, also, will have to wait. They had these horrible faux marble and faux granite surrounds, both mauve!  So those got ripped out and will be replaced with a lovely herringbone pattern, maybe like this (but probably not limestone = EXPENSIVE!)  Someday....

Of course, the kitchen backspash will be tile too.  I'm pretty set on a penny tile or an oval penny tile.  But since the kitchen doesn't exist yet (supposedly its going in on Thursday), I just haven't gotten my brain that far.  I'll update on that later.

Anyway, that, my friends, is how tile came back into my life.  I will report back later on whether the measures we took to make my life less plagued by grout were successful or not!