Monday, March 18, 2013

Closer and Closer

For the last, oh, six months, Abby and I have believed (on and off) that we were no more than two or three weeks from moving into our house; okay, maybe a month, but you know what I mean.  From the time we were in England and knew we just had to order our appliances right then and there, from the confines of our hotel room, to any number of times when if only one thing wouldn't hold us up, we've been living under that illusion for what seems like forever.  Well, we've reached that precipice again, folks: on Friday, I have taken the day off from work so that I can meet the guy from Zippy Shell at the house and unload all of our stuff that we had in storage.  Into the house.  We won't be moving into the house this Friday, but our stuff will be.  Or about 50% of our stuff.  But that's for sure.  And so far, it seems that most everything is cooperating with us. Mark even rearranged the schedule of what the crew is going to be doing to accommodate the move; he was going to stain the porch last week, but that would have meant postponing some other things that involving using the front door, so I think he's going to wait until we're in Florida in a couple of weeks.  So we arrived at the house on Saturday morning, fully prepared for a letdown, and were more than pleasantly surprised.  How surprised?  Well, when I walk around the Bungalow now, I tend to take out my BlackBerry before I go in, open up the notebook app, and take note of all the things I need to tell Mark he needs to fix or to change or to just do.  This time?  Only four things, plus a compliment.  I've never written a compliment in my BlackBerry notes app for Mark before.  A corner has been turned.  The last corner.  I hope.

Going back a few months, do you remember when the crew diligently was working on restoring the 49 windows in the house?  45 of them were salvageable, and the crew spent weeks making sure each of the looked perfect, and was painted the exact color of black Abby wanted.  It might sound like nothing, but remember each window has latticework on it, is more than 115 years old, and yeah, there are 45 of them.  They looked gorgeous.  The only problem was that once they went in, the drywall followed, and all this white glop got all over them.  And sure, white drywall glop can be washed off, but they had been perfect!  And then, there was the problem of the windows being way too far forward, in front of the drywall, because of the difference in thickness between the new drywall and the old wallboard on lathe.  There were jagged edges and steep cliffs and big ol' holes with insulation popping out around every window.  Things were not pretty.  On Saturday?  Things were pretty: white glop gone; insulation tucked; edges sanded; windows beautiful.  And even the window ledges, which were oddly populated with boards from the old kitchen cabinetry (which had been in what is now Lola's room, if you can remember that far back), were halfway done; they're taking the extra wood flooring and installing it on the window sills.  The problems have been fixed, and what little problems are left are easily fixable.

Can you tell which part is brushed nickel and which part is chrome?
Yeah, I thought you could...
Next up are the bathroom mistakes from a week ago, when the upstairs vanity was set to a height where a little person would have to stoop to brush his teeth, and both bathroom mirrors blocked any possible use of the electric outlets.  Well, the vanity has been reset to the highest point possible while still retaining use of the faucet, and not only have the outlets been moved away from the mirrors, but the walls have been filled in, sanded, and repainted.  The toilets still aren't set, and for some reason they didn't notice that they mixed up the bathtub controls by putting half of the chrome set with the other half of the brushed nickel set in one bathroom and vice versa in the other... but the problems have been fixed, and what little problems are left are easily fixable.

Our kitchen, with cabinets about 80% installed
The professional closet has gone in in my bedroom, and Abby painted the walls (a surprise while I was on my business trip) the same blue as Isaac's stripes; I love it.  (The closet disappoints a bit, because I thought it would be a bit more hotel-like than it is, but I'm assured I'll appreciate the modifiable shelving once I actually have to put clothes into it.)  The fireplace has come in, and is waiting patiently next to the hearth to be installed; I'm hoping we don't have to do too much to the chimney before it can go into use, but even if so, it won't be until fall when we'd really want to start using it in earnest.  The kitchen cabinets have once again caught a snag-- measurements of one cabinet that touches the back of the fireplace are off by a half an inch or so, so the whole thing has to wait a few more days to be completed; but the bottom cabinets are all in, which means we can go ahead with the countertop measure.  And the space looks terrific.  I had been worried about the kitchen feeling cramped once everything was in, but it doesn't feel that way, and it'll actually open up more than it is now, once the backsplash gets cut down following countertop installation.  

We've bought a ton of things.  Abby bought all of the doors: four used doors for the upstairs doorways, so the older look of that area will stay intact; 13 new doors for the downstairs doorways, so everything down there will match.  All the downstairs doors match, with what are called "five-lite" designs-- five squares cut into the door going vertically; the bedroom and guest room doors have beveled glass in those squares, while everything else is just solid wood. That way, the family room won't lose all of the natural light from the southern side (kids' rooms) of the house, and so that (hopefully) the guest room won't feel like too much of a cave.  We haven't bought doorknobs yet-- we have to buy 20 sets!-- but we have a design picked out, and we just have to make sure we're buying the right number of ones that lock, ones that don't lock, and ones that are "dummy knobs" just for show.  We also have to find out whether the second door of the french doors into the guest room will open-- Abby says they won't, but I'm not so sure, and I want them to because I want to be able to open the doors together to air out the room when nobody's in there.  We'll have to ask Mark.

My twist doorbell
And I bought a doorbell.  For $60.  Okay, I know it's dumb to spend $60 on a doorbell, but I am the doorbell guy-- probably a result of five years worth of ringing doorbells on my paper route as a kid-- and I want to have a cool doorbell on my house.  Well, I found one: a twist doorbell with a design from the 1890s, which is when the house was built.  Instead of pushing a button and hearing a ding or a bing-bong, you grab a knob, twist, and hear a brrrrring!  I fully admit I'm a dork, but I think the thing is so cool looking, and I used my parents' birthday money to get it, so sue me.  Hopefully the historical folks won't have too much of a fit over it, since although it's from the right decade, it's from a style of house that's a bit more upscale, and was more popular on the west coast than the east coast.  But I want it, so there.

Our kitchen sink
Last night we sat down and, amazingly, agreed on and purchased both a kitchen sink and a kitchen faucet in about 45 minutes.  Shocking, seriously.  Abby wanted a squared-off sink, with actual corners at the bottom rather than rounded edges.  I wanted one basin, and I wanted it to be mounted underneath the countertop rather than with a ridge on top.  We found two we liked, one was too big to fit on the cabinet, decision made.  Next was the faucet.  Abby wanted a "bridge faucet," which has the spigot and the two handles coming up out of the counter independently, but with a connecting piece between the three.  I wanted modern, clean lines.  And neither of us wanted to spend an arm and a leg.  We found it, along with the sink, on, and the decision was made.  She went to take a shower, and before I ordered them both, I Googled both of their serial numbers, and found both identical things on other websites cheaper.  So when she got out of the shower, not only did we have our sink and our faucet, but we saved almost $100 on the pair.

Sconce for the upstairs bathroom
Lighting.  Lighting has been the bane of our existence.  It has been weeks since we've gotten anything done with lighting.  We already chose sconces for the kitchen and the front porch, and hanging fixtures for the foyer and the dining room.  But the damn bathroom sconces have been eluding my poor, dear wife, who has probably spent about 48 hours (no lie) of her life in front of a computer screen poring over bathroom sconces of every shape, size, texture, color, make, model, and flavor.  But this weekend-- a breakthrough.  We have our bathroom sconces, and I am really happy, because everything she had been leaning toward was just a bit too farmy for my taste-- kind of like when we had to choose a girl's name when she was pregnant with Lola.  And no, folks, we didn't end up with a Regan on our bathroom walls.  (For those of you who don't understand the reference, you will eventually hear the story of how we literally changed the name of our daughter when she was already three months old at some point...)  I'll post the pics here, and you decide for yourself, but let me just say I'm very happy with the choices.

Sconce for the downstairs bathroom
Everything else?  It's going in.  Fireplace I already mentioned.  Light fixtures as they are delivered.  Doors too.  Water heater is big and bulky, and takes up way more space than we had hoped, especially since we originally were told we could have one of those teeny tiny ones, but we can build an enclosure for it in the mudroom, continue the wall across, and have built-in storage where we were originally thinking of getting something funky like lockers or something.  The glass doors for the showers will be measured this week.  And come Friday, that Zippy Shell will be emptied into the house.  Granted, the stuff will all go into the storage room and the guest room, but we will have stuff in the house, and it it will be good.  Soon thereafter?  We're currently appealing to Abby's dad and brother to come up for a few days from North Carolina with their pickup truck to help us with moving stuff from our DC attic up to the house, as well as helping with some IKEA runs-- we have at least three desks and some other lovely Swedish stuff picked out that'd complete a bunch of the rooms, and the truck would do it a lot easier than the Prius... although our car is certainly up to the task if necessary.

The water heater is inside, but the box we build
will likely have to be about the same size as the
box it's in.  :(
Cars are another thing we'll have to work on.  People are continually parking in our spaces.  Usually it's just sedans from the nearest neighbors who actually live in their places already, but yesterday it was an actual trailer that was parked in one of our spaces, and I was not having it.  I wrote a pleasant-enough note (with crayon on contractor paper) and put it on the car's windshield asking them to stop parking in our space, but I  wrote a big sign that read "Please move this from our parking space immediately" in big letters and taped it to the front of the trailer.  I understand these people may have gotten used to parking in the unused spaces while no one lived in the house, but they've got my address on them, and they're mine.  I don't want to be the jerk who has to call the tow truck, but c'mon now, read the sign!  Luckily, after a long, drawn-out listserve-based debate on parking spaces elsewhere in the community, one of the leaders of the homeowners' association mentioned (without me asking) that people should stop parking in our spaces as well, since we were so close to moving in.  So I've got some backup...

Anyhow, that's where we stand right now.  In four days, we will hopefully have belongings other than my grandmother's piano and some pants hangers I bought at IKEA in the house. In five days, we'll have a countertop measure.  In twelve days we'll jump on a plane for Florida.  And in fewer than twelve days, I hope, we may actually get to a spend our first night ever in the State of Maryland.  We're that close.

Exterior lighting on our front porch.  And it turns on, too!

The newly-raised upstairs bathroom vanity

Our downstairs bathroom vanity outlets.
Now with more space to, you know, plug stuff in!

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