Category Archives: New House

Seeing Things In a Different Light

lampWhat a difference a few hours make….

Matt and I went to our new home at about 2:00 PM, primarily to meet the cable installer. You see, having reliable, high-speed Internet is a necessity for Matt in our new house.  He plans to work from home some days and without it …>bzzt!<… that would be nearly impossible.

Anyway, it’s almost a cliché, but the cable guy was quite late (but still within the 2-hour window).  He worked almost 4 hours getting our 3 connections readied.  The sun had long since gone over the yardarm, and dusk was setting in.  So I started turning on lights. Some lights.  All lights. Dimmable and not.  And what I found was: I really like the feel of our home in the evening and night.

I especially like the soft lighting in the kitchen afforded by the under-counter task lights and the nightlight feature on the microwave.  Sounds crazy; but I can very much see relaxing in the living room bathed only by the soft light from those fixtures.

The tone will change in a couple of weeks when we move, bringing with us our “occasional lamps.”  But I think I’ll still like the microwave nightlight and the under-counter lights.

(Read more about our new house.)

T Minus 28 Days

The more-than year-long odyssey is about over. In June 2012 we went to closure on foreclosure we bought, spent a couple months or so finalizing the design of a major addition, and began construction just when the weather turned crisp — no, cold.  The major part of our construction was in the dead of winter.  Mercifully, the hard freeze held off long enough to permit footings to be poured.

Footers in the Snow

Footers in the Snow

Fortunately, we had done a lot of the site prep work before the weather turned cold.  This included taking down some trees; demo’ing an old, dangerous “deck/patio” out back (pictured below); and installing new windows and siding on the old (original) house.

Westwoods-IMG_0916-OldPatioThere is now a wooden deck across the back of the house from the Master Bedroom to the sun room. It would have cost too much to tear out and rebuild this terrace — and integrate it into the new design; and we would still be left with a maintenance nightmare (note the greenery shooting up between the bricks).

Some odd juxtapositions appeared at various times during the building process.

  1. One was the Amazing Mobile Toilet (seen below in what is now our kitchen).  A little explanation is needed:  We demo’d a powder room in the original house, and the contractors kept the toilet for possible use in either the new powder room in the upstairs office or a new downstairs bathroom. It kept appearing in the Kitchen and dining room throughout the project and was really the only place to sit down on the job site.

    Why yes, that IS a toilet in our kitchen!

    Why yes, that IS a toilet in our kitchen!

  2. Another was the Bobcat in our garage. Yes, it is in West Virginia; but it’s not that kind of bobcat.  The equipment was being used to “grade” the garage floor; and in between sessions, the workers left it inside.

    Our pet Bobcat.

    Our pet Bobcat.

The whole process felt like we were in the middle of a This Old House project. (In fact, I often thought that our project would have been a great Project House for that show; but they usually work on old houses, an ours was only about 12 years old.)  Instead of Richard, we had Don. Instead of Tommy, we had Scott.  But I think we had the best crew. Evar.  You can see their (and others’) handiwork in some pictures I’ll post later.

We had a great team working on the house.  Because of the late start, most of the outside work — setting the footers, laying the foundation, doing framing and roofing — occurred in the coldest months of the year. Bless them all for working diligently in those conditions.  And not just the cold, but the wind! My god, the wind!  It was unusually windy up at the site in the early months of the year.  The constant sound of flapping Tyvek™ greeted us each time we visited the site.  The crew spent many hours re-securing the covering until the siding could go on.

It was particularly windy the day they hoisted the garage walls into place. This video gives some idea of the wind.

So, in exactly 1 month we’ll be living in our new home.  It was a long time coming, and an experience I’ll never forget; but we’ll be HOME.

Stay tuned for more posts.

Previous posts in this series.

Making a Good Showing

If you think it’s great to have lots of things, it’s been too long since you’ve moved.

-Dawn Sundstrom, Missionary in Kandern,   Germany Area

In a bit of poetic happenstance, this little thought arrived today via email from my daily “Thought for the Day” subscription.  It is quite apropos, .given that I am nearing the end of Pre-List Decluttering.  Tomorrow our Realtor® will take pictures to include in our MLS listing and the packet that will provided to visitors at our Open House on Sunday.

So today I am busy tidying up those last, straggling bits of clutter.  I envision stuffing things in closets, dumping stuff in boxes, and otherwise making the un-photogenic accoutrements of everyday life invisible. The key will be finding all this stuff when the dust settles, the house is sold, and we begin the final stage of packing prior to The Move.

Some things I noticed during this weeks-long process:

  1. Your house changes. We took a couple of small pieces of furniture out of the breakfast area in our kitchen and moved one cart.  The room echoes now. Weird.
  2. Our near-naked fridge

    Our near-naked fridge

    Your things change. We now have a white refrigerator!  Well, it was always white; but now that nearly all the magnets on the front and sides are gone, it almost looks like a white floor model. Almost. I’ve kept only a about 10 small magnets, just to keep it from looking like a real floor model.

  3. Muscle memory is real.  I’ve moved some things in the kitchen — for example, moved the Kleenex from the plant stand shelf to the kitchen desk.  Every time I need a Kleenex, I instinctively move toward the window (where the plant stand was), then put on the brakes to head toward the desk.  That’s just one example.
  4. Freecycle is your friend. I’ve used Freecycle.org® for several years, and this de-cluttering period was no exception.  I encourage you to check it out.  It is better than putting perfectly good items in the trash; and it’s better than keeping them around just because you can’t find a way to get rid of them.  One of the last things to go before the house is listed was the aforementioned plant stand.  I will take a break until we have a final contract on the house. Then I will start up again and get rid of things we don’t want to move to our new home.
  5. Letting go is OK. Of all the “lessons” I’ve learned during this exercise, perhaps the most important was that it’s OK to get rid of things. Really OK.  I noted in a blog post a couple of weeks ago that I’d been holding on the some magazines from the early Internet days.  They made the move from our previous home; but I vowed they wouldn’t make the move this time. The same goes with old magazines and books I’ll never read again, and with “hobby” stuff that I’ll never partake in again. It’s quite freeing to be rid of that stuff.  (Of course, I tried to Freecycle most of it. Books went to the local Book Sale and Library. Magazines were recycled. Done. And Done!)

So, I’m hoping that our house makes a good showing — has some “glamour shots,” if you will — that will help it to sell quickly. We are doing our level best to put our house’s best face forward.

Now it’s up to the buying public.

Paintin’ Da House Red (Well, Not Really)

We visited the house in West Virginia Friday and were greeted with the whirr of an air compressor that the painters were using to spray  primer on the walls and ceilings.  Next step: PAINTING!

This is a huge state-change in the process.  The house has moved from studs and drywall (new addition) or painted and mural-ed walls (old part) to brand new Benjamin Moore white primer.

One wall in the living room has transformed from this:

Not just a mural, but bright yellow walls...

Not just a mural, but bright yellow walls… [see note]

To this:

Look! A white wall!

Look! A white wall!

The new white walls really make the room look much bigger.  We had the old gas fireplace enclosure and surrounding cabinets ripped out.  We will be putting in a vent-free propane fireplace and custom bookshelves in that space later on.  Both will be less deep than the cabinets were. They took up valuable space…and weren’t very attractive either.

When we began this project our building team said that as the process unfolded the size of the house would feel larger, then smaller, then larger. (And so on.)  When the footers were poured, the dimensions felt small. After the walls went up, the rooms felt large,  After the drywall, some rooms felt smaller, others larger.  As I noted above, the living room looks much larger with white paint over that mural and the cabinets removed. In the case of the sun room, the addition of white paint has made it look a bit smaller.

Now that the priming is almost done I’ll be looking forward to seeing some (some) color on the walls.

After the painting, the flooring and tiling team will come in.  And, after at least ndthe kitchen floor is laid, the cabinets, counter top, and appliances will be installed.

Things are really taking shape at the West Virginia house!

[NOTE: some people like that mural; but really, it doesn’t “fit” with our decor; and, now that the cabinets are gone, it would be floating in midair. And that’s just not right.]

Follow our progress on Flickr or our other posts here on Patchwork Jumble.

Walls! We Have Walls!

8854693338_6a416d7a1a_m(1)

In the Great Room, looking into the Sun Room in the distance.

(Third in a series of posts about construction of our new home.  See the others here.)

Not a very glamorous picture up there, is it? But it looks beautiful to me!  After all these months, we finally have walls — real walls — instead of studs.

We can finally get a sense of the spaces.  I was afraid that the rooms would look smaller after drywall was installed; I was wrong.  The rooms actually seem bigger.  🙂

Some style gets added, too.  Here’s the stariway before the drywall:

Before the drywall..

Before the drywall..

Here it is after:

Stairwell after the drywall.

Stairwell after the drywall.

It’s going to look pretty cool with the railings, etc., that we picked.

I also liked the way they drywalled the passageway over the gu est room which leadsfrom Matt’s upstairs office to the large storage space over the garage.  Pretty neat, huh?

Our upstairs "tunnel"

Our upstairs “tunnel”

We didn’t see any of the the drywall being hung. When we visited, the crew was applying drywall compound to the seams in preparation for painting.  How do they reach the topmost seams on a 9′ ceiling? Why, with drywall stilts of course!  Here’s a clip one member of our crew doing just that:

The next thing on the critical path is for me to pick paints.  Headed to the Benjamin Moore store one last time.  Now that I know what my floors, tiles, cabinets, and counter top are, I can pick colors with more confidence.  More on that later.

Stay tuned!

The Kitchen Breakthrough

Second in a series:

Oh what a long, strange trip it’s been getting to a final plan for our new kitchen.  You see, about 5 feet of the kitchen was created by extending the dimensions into the new part of the house.  Ever since framing began, we could only “see” about 3/4 of the future kitchen, and for much of the time it was the location of windows and other demolition detritus.  (See picture below.)

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

Then, a month or so ago, after all the roofing and windows were in, the wall dividing the “old” house and the “new” house was busted down.  We finally  after we saw the “new part” — that approximately 5-foot addition to the “old” house — but we still couldn’t visualize a possible layout.

Our first glimpse.

Our first glimpse of the 2-ft. addition and the 2-ft pantry space.

Nothing seemed to work.  By fits & starts we moved through a preliminary kitchen design (thanks to our ever-patient Home Depot kitchen designers).  The U-shaped main part of the kitchen (where the cooktop, sink, & double oven are) was pretty much set.  Only minor tweaks remained.  It was that run of cabinets next to it and a low, desk-like work counter opposite that that was the sticky wicket.

I always wanted a pantry, but our first design seemed unworkable.  It featured a a long, skinny pantry space that had constricted access to where the shelves would be.  We worked with our architect to come up with alternative designs for that area.

Our penultimate design was not too satisfactory. Beause the original plan’s pantry was difficult to access, we eliminated it totally, eliminated the wall framing it, and substituted the pantry cabinet.  Well, that sufficied, but it did not satisfy, know what I mean?

During that day’s site visit, I had made an offhand comment about orienting the pantry 90° from the original design. But none of us pursued this at the time. I fretted about that darn pantry cabinet all evening and into the night.  So I sat down the next morning and worked on trying to define that small space (approximately 100″ x 84″ x 100″).  It was like a breakthrough! An epiphany!

Have a look at the PDF file (linked below) to see the new design for the portion of the kitchen that was giving us such fits:

KitchenPlan 4-28-13

I think we’ve bridged the gap, busted through the impasse, and now have a winner design.

(I’ll send pictures of the finished product.)

Stay tuned for more updates on the project.

Taking a Walk & Going Upstairs

Second in a series about building our new house.

Our New House

Our New House (R-to-L is: Laundry room, bathroom, 2nd bedroom, entry (bump-in), kitchen, great room, entry (hidden in this picture), garage). Matt’s office is above the great room.

The day we’ve waited for: being able to walk from one end of our new home to the other.

My husband Matt and I are adding a new addition to an existing house, and the contractors left the adjoining wall intact until just last week.  Extensive work had been done on the old part and the new part was constructed after that was done.  The photo above shows the old portion with new siding (except for a small part with is still the green stucco board).

So, Matt and I “took a walk” from the old house down to the new section. (“Down,” because the Great Room will be “sunken,” separated from the kitchen/dining room by 1 or 2 steps.) It was great to finally get a sense of the final sweep of the house. It was also a relief to not need to use  a 2×12 plank to get up into the Great Room.  (I don’t like heights — particularly when coupled with narrow walkways; but I needed helping hands to go up & down the plank, even though it was not particularly high.)

A week later I visited the site.  By then the stairway to the 2nd floor had been installed, so I was able to see Matt’s office upstairs and walk across the passageway from his office to the storage area above the garage, (an area affectionately dubbed “the Bonus Room”. We don’t have a basement, so most of our long-ish term storage will be above the garage.) The “Bonus Room” is huge.  It is above a 2-car garage that has had an additional 5 or so feet added to the rear. So, yes, we can store a fair amount up there.

Here’s the passageway:

Not-So-Secret Passageway

Not-So-Secret Passageway

Here’s the back half of the “Bonus Room.” (My camera was acting up during the “photo shoot” Tuesday; so I actually didn’t get a panoramic photo of the Bonus Room.)

Bonus Room (well, only 1/2 of it)

Bonus Room (well, only 1/2 of it)

That’s all for now.  Coming soon:  Designing the kitchen.

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As I mentioned in my last post, when this saga began I decided to record the progress with photos and videos.   You can see them in my Flickr set.  I will keep adding until the project is completed.

New Category, New Home, New Experiences

Well, critical mass has been reached, so it’s time to blog about it.

All the walls & roofing are up* for our new house!

We bought a house last summer and are having it renovated. The house was a nominal 3-bedroom house — “nominal,” because the 3rd bedroom was approximately the size of a postage stamp.

Among other shortcomings, the kitchen needed to be redone, there was no garage, and there wasn’t sufficient room for activities we like to engage in.

So the answer was to build an addition that would give us an informal gathering place (a.k.a “Great Room”), a guest bedroom, a garage, and a quiet place for my husband to work when he’s telecommuting.

Because of the relative shallowness of rocks in the area, we could not dig a basement, not without blasting anyway.  Doing so was out of the question both financially as well as to prevent any damage to the existing house.  Soooo, we also needed to create lots of storage space above ground in the new structure.

We worked extensively with our architect to wring every last bit of space out of the design. Although the house is on 2.1/4 acres, we didn’t want the house to be too big.  Construction began in the fall on renovating the existing structure and beginning prep work for the new addition and garage.

So now we have actual vertical and horizontal spaces.  Most of the roof sections are covered now. (Well, only a few were left to cover yesterday. They probably are all covered today.)

There are so many things to do with the new house (pick appliances, paint, floor coverings, etc., etc., etc.). We need to get our current home ready for sale, which involves major decluttering and dealing with collections (such as approximately 60 linear feet of books — and those are just the ones in common areas, our individual home offices are another story).

When this saga began, I decided to record the progress with photos and videos.   You can see them in my Flickr set.  I will keep adding until the project is completed.

*UPDATE:  I just heard from my future neighbor who reports that, probably because of the windy conditions at the site, the roofing is NOT yet completed.