Monday, February 2, 2015

Let There Be Light...and Stairs!


First and foremost, thanks to one and all who helped promote the special pricing on Out to Lunch. The winners of Big Delicious Life have all been notified and claimed their copies, but even if you didn't win, I really appreciate your assistance, the promotion was a success, so fingers crossed that there will be other special offers coming down the pike!

Now on to other news, its time for a house update.

The boring parts:  We have passed electrical inspection for the basement, and the plumbing inspection, just waiting on the framing inspection and we will have the holy trinity of signatures.  This will happen this week and on Friday they insulation people are coming to spray foam the areas that get the spray, and then next week they will do the soundproofing insulation for the walls between rooms and the ceilings.

That doesn't mean all is without glitches.  Somewhere in the shifting of current electrical wires around and about, we seem to have accidentally connected too many things to one circuit, so if we try and use our toaster or our electric teakettle in the outlet where they live, it blows not only the whole kitchen, but the pantry, kitchen library, butler's pantry, hallway, both bathrooms, and Charming Suitor's mancave.  Not terribly convenient, especially since CS's go-to breakfast is a toasted english muffin and French press coffee, and I live on tea all day.  And we appear to have lost the connect for CS's clothes closet altogether, which is less than ideal.  But all will get fixed this week, and of the possible snafu's, it is minor.  We also had a small gas leak fixed in the wine cellar.  I'm really glad we caught this, because the seal that was leaking is right above where a fan will be circulating the air.  Let's just have a moment to imagine it had leaked in three months.  Gas.  In a wall.  With electricity.  In a room full of booze.  So we are deeply grateful that our house will not become the world's largest Molotov cocktail.

I do want to take a brief moment to chat about renovations and cost vs. value, and making smart decisions, because a big part of why I am bringing you all along with us on this journey is in hopes that it may inspire you to your own projects, but also provide some guidance.

Budgets are always tight, and it is so tempting to not want to spend a lot of money on stuff you can't see...after all, what is sexier?  A fabulous luxurious marble tile on a bathroom wall, or the backing board it gets glued to?  However, your marble tile won't be so sexy if you don't use the proper foundation and it ends up falling off the wall or having to get ripped off to deal with a mold problem behind it.  Infrastructure is EVERYTHING.  You can always come back in a few years having saved some more money to upgrade finishes and fixtures, but your infrastructure needs to be right the first time, or you are in for a life of misery.

Hence the insulation discussion.  Would it be a lot cheaper to use batt instead of spray foam?  Yep.  Would it be as good, long lasting, maintenance and worry free?  Nope.  Could we technically skip the soundproofing on the between-room walls and the ceilings and save a bundle?  Of course.  And since it is just the two of us living here, it is certainly tempting, especially as we are simultaneously picking out bits and bobs for the bathroom, and choosing some major furniture (more on that soon).


We are trying to create a home that will stand the test of time, and be a truly wonderful place for family and friends to gather and celebrate.  This means that when the guest bedrooms, which flank each other, are full, we know those occupants will prefer not to be forced to overhear every breath (or snore) from the next room.  If someone chooses to watch TV, it should not prevent other people from sleeping.  So we are eyes on the prize, making the hard decisions, and even when it isn't fun, we are keeping our focus on infrastructure first and everything else will have to fall into place and into budget once that is done.  I genuinely believe we will be happier in the long run, and cannot recommend it enough as a philosophy you should adopt for yourselves, whether renovating a single room or a whole house.

Speaking of infrastructure, feast your eyes on THIS:

Chickens, meet Staircase.  Staircase is about one of the happiest things to occur in recent memory.  This particular Staircase leads from our current living room on the first floor into the basement.  There used to be a staircase here which was removed a year ago in order to be able to do the gut renovations on the basement.  This has meant a full year of having to go outside, thru two doors with sets of locks, to get downstairs into the basement.  And since the basement is where the extra fridge and chest freezer and wine fridge all live, that has meant an enormous (and often cold) pain in the ass.  To be able to simply open a door and head downstairs feels like a world of luxury, and my trainer will be happy to know that I keep inventing reasons to use it.  It is crazy exciting.  And for a temporary staircase, quite lovely.  We can't do the final stairs until we open the whole building top to bottom, which is about 15-16 months out yet, so for the time being, these are our basement access, and I love them with my whole heart.

Know what else I love?


These are the recessed can lights in the ceiling of the hallway.  Let me explain to you why this is so amazing.

This building was fairly state of the art for 1907, and was equipped with both gas AND electricity for light.  But it was still ages before light was terribly important, and so the ceiling fixtures are few and far between, usually just one dead center in each room.  As we are currently on the first floor, with a northern exposure, and flanked by other houses, the light in here is pretty bad.  There is only so much one can do with lamps, and not only does it always feel dim in here, the quality of the light isn't great.  Case in point?  I bought a fabulous set of napkins in a rich chartreusey green.  I figured they would be a great pop of color with some of my more muted tablecloths, the linen and white and pale gray ones.  And in the store?  Perfect.  In the dining room?  Mustard yellow.  Not kidding.  One of my best party tricks is to walk people around with the stupid napkins.  Kitchen?  Green.  Dining room?  Diaper contents.

So to see actual can lights not only installed but ILLUMINATED?  Amazing.  Especially since this is the basement, so good lighting makes the difference between  cavelike and gloomy and dungeon-y and warm and cozy and welcoming.

Stay tuned, my Chickens, because things are going to really start to speed up in the coming up?  We're going to begin talking about some actual FURNISHINGS.  Be still my heart.

Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath

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