It has been a full four weeks since my last update on the progress on our home. After many tedious punch list items, we are fully complete inside, and have moved back in.
Home Choice came through! Marvin Windows sent one of their factory technicians to go through the entire house and tweak everything. They worked on every window to make sure that they were working easily and smoothly. All the screens work great now, and locks work perfectly. It is amazing the difference that this tweaking had. Home Choice has our replacement doors for the basement on order as well as one window that was not as ordered, and those should be here and installed soon. We are really happy with the finished product, and are glad that we have had a happy ending with the issues we were having with the windows. Schmid and Rhodes needs to be commended on their efforts to get all of this coordinated and making sure that it was all perfect.
The process went really smoothly….with a few minor hic-cups. The biggest time waster was the final coats of floor finish. The floor finisher did not ask what sheen level we wanted…..and considering that they installed our living room floor when we moved in 8 years ago, I didn’t think to tell them. The antique floors we have are finished with tung oil. I had put a touch up coat on the living room floor and steps a few years ago, and just used the basic Minwax tung oil finish. It renewed the floors beautifully, and gave them their original glossy sheen. Bobby and I, at the advice of Schmid and Rhodes, planned a short trip to Asheville duing the time the finish was to be applied so we would be out of the fumes. Well, the plan did not work as planned. When we came home, our floors had a matte finish on them, so ALL of the floors had to be re-coated with a glossy tung oil. Who knew that tung oil came in sheen levels? It was always shiny before, so I never thought about asking. Just goes to prove that the only stupid question is the un-asked question.
The wallpaper was installed in the basement, and it is lovely. Bill Armstrong did an amazing job on this. The stripes make for a really casual look that is perfectly appropriate as an area just off the pool, and the grasscloth texture makes it feel really cozy.
The new glossy navy paint in the master bedroom is amazing. It is one of my favorite rooms now. The paint, coupled by several re-purposed pieces of furniture, and a new grouping of art in this room have really given it a facelift.
Dan Border and his crew were diligent painters, and in the end re-coated every piece of trim in the house. Everything looks fresh and pretty…..but this is one of the things that added days to the process. The floor finishers got the tung oil finish on the base boards and stair risers, so then those had to be re-coated. Things like this just really slowed down the process. The paint is silky smooth, and now that it is complete, our door detail really pops.
Shoe molding was another pain that took time. You can’t put down shoe molding until the floors are fully finished….and since they all had to be re-done, we were late with that. The finish carpenters did a great job though, and the molding looks great now, and you cannot tell that the floors we just put down were not original. Even the trim around the kitchen island proved to add a beautiful detail to the island itself. Another molding detail was the mantle in the basement. The “wall” had been installed for a couple of weeks, but the installation of the completed mantle really dressed up the space, and gave new life to the fireplace. John McGilvray did an amazing job with this. It looks amazing.
The electronics installation proved to be more complicated than anyone imagined. We are using the RTI remote control on some of the lights, and we discovered that since we live in an older home…..not every switch was grounded, so we had to do a considerable amount of re-wiring to get the lighting controls to work properly. Now, we can control lots of lights in the house from the iPad and from the iPhone. It is great, and super convenient. The television in the basement works on these same iPad controls, as does the 7 Sonos systems that were installed to give us sound throughout the house and pool and deck areas. The sound is amazing, and the fact that you can control it from your phone is just….well….cool. Paul McKee and his crew at Audio Video by Design did an amazing job putting this system together, and it was a real trick to do in a house that was built as ours was.
Final installation of lighting trim kits was another punch list detail. It just seemed like that nothing was getting fully
complete. The workers would do 90%, and then move on to something else. Maybe there was some logic in it somewhere, but it was hard for me to see. We got the counter top in the basement bathroom, and the sidesplashes could not be installed until the wall fabric was applied, so that was one more little detail that had to come later. The sink was installed with the Toto label showing…..I didn’t like that, so it had to be re-installed backwards to cover up the label. Lighting in the new cabinet was installed….but the color was wrong so it had to be re-ordered. Shelves were installed in the cabinets, and we discovered that with some of the electronics, we needed some modifications so those had to be made. John McGilvray did a great job with those final details, and everything is now fitted perfectly. A missing vent cover, a missing switch plate cover, a missing door handle…..all these little things just took time to take care of. We were 98% complete on Friday, February 17.
The next processes went very smoothly. I had scheduled Duct Doctor to clean all the ducts and HVAC systems in the house on the 17th. It had been 8 years since they had been fully cleaned, and with all the construction dust, I knew we would never get rid of the house dust if we did not do this. They did an amazing job, and at this point, we have little to no house dust. Over the weekend we started cleaning. We had the entire upstairs complete by Sunday, and on Monday I started working with our house keeper Janette on the main floor. We cleaned all the kitchen cabinets fully, and re-organized in the process. It is amazing what we were able to eliminate, and just pulling everything out lets you really see what you have so it can be put back together in a better way. We polished floors, washed walls and trim, and had everything on the main floor cleaned by Monday afternoon. The window washers came on Tuesday…..and were here for two full days. They say it won’t take so long next time…..just the construction clean was really involved. The windows are shining now, and they really look great. On Tuesday, Janette and I worked again and this time cleaned the basement, starting in the laundry room and storage closet. Those areas are also well arranged now and more functional. We washed all the moldings and floors. Carpeting upstairs was also cleaned on Tuesday.
Wednesday is when the house started coming together. The rugs that had been out for cleaning and repair all were re-installed, along with the new living room rug and repurposed sisal rug in the basement. Randy Vaden took care of the rug installation, and as always did a perfect, pristine job. Pads fit perfectly, and everything is perfectly square. He also did an amazing job applying the velvet border to our living room rug, and leather to the re-purposed sisal rug in the basement. Prestige Cleaners had taken our draperies out when we moved out, and stored them for us. I didn’t have them “cleaned” but they did thoroughly vacuum them and got rid of all the dust. They came on Wednesday and reinstalled them, so the rooms really started to look complete. Paul McKee and his crew spent all day Wednesday working on the audio video system tweaking it for final install. They worked until about 8:00! Less than 15 minutes after they left, we had a power surge, and the entire system went out in the whole house. No cable. No internet. No phone. This was just typical of the construction process……and it seemed like it was all related to the new system, but it wasn’t. Thursday, I had to spend the afternoon here getting the problems fixed with Charter Cable and TDS Telecom.
Friday, February 24, was really a great day. We started loading the trucks with everything that had been stored, and had the first load here by 10:00. We had 5 box truck loads and about 3 van loads to get everything back in the house. Mike Croft and his delivery crew were amazing. They are so careful with everything, and I don’t think we scratched one piece….or dinged any trim in the move in process. We knew where most things were going, but this was our opportunity to really think about where things would end up, and we did a fair amount of “trying out” on items to make sure we were getting them in the best place. As a result, there are lots of pieces with new homes within our house.
Saturday, Bobby and I spent all day working on the art. We pulled all the art that had been stored in the upstairs bath and powder room out, and started playing with where everything would go. There were certain pieces that went back exactly where they were before, but many others moved around. We hung, and hung, and hung. We tried things in different places….and edited the collection in the process. What we ended up with looks really great, and it showcases our collection better than it has been before. During this work, we were also placing lamps and a few key accessory pieces….but the main focus was art.
Sunday, Bobby and I worked on accessories. We really tried to limit the number of pieces that were on display, and what was left over, would go in either the new cabinet in the living room, or the new cabinet in the basement. This worked really well. We got to showcase some of our most favorite things, while at the same time being able to display virtually all of our treasures.
The process of installing rugs and draperies one day, furniture the next, then artwork, then lamps and accessories was really perfect. It allowed you to see the rooms develop. In a typical move, the house gets cluttered with empty and full boxes, art and accessories sitting everywhere, as well as things that should never be “on display” sitting out. By doing this move the way we were able to do it eliminated all of that and you could really see what you were doing. As a result, this project came together really quickly.
It was rewarding to do this for us. We install jobs all the time, and get to experience the joy that clients have with the finished product, but it is truly rewarding to do it for yourself….and when you are complete, be able to call it home. One of my clients told me a while back that her builder gave her words of advice years ago on the building process. You will forget how messy it was. You won’t remember what a pain it was. You will forget what the headaches were, and you will forget the things that had to be done two or three times. You will even forget how much it cost…..but you will never forget if you like it……so it is really important to LIKE what you are doing. In retrospect, I’m not sure there is anything I would do differently.
Now, the final phase of the project. The slate roof. We are having a bit of an issue in matching the existing slate, so it has been decided that instead of trying to match it, we will replace it. This has brought up an entirely new concern in that our custom color clad windows were designed to coordinate with the roof we currently have…..so color is very important. Schmid and Rhodes is working to find a solution to the problem, and hopefully tomorrow we will have the perfect sample for the slate.
Alfonso Marina Ebanista
Time Traveling in Mexico with Alfonso Marina
Progress is moving a little slowly since the last post…..but the work that has been done is amazing! We have our new tv cabinet in the office 90% installed…..minus about two days worth of electronics installation. At this point, in my opinion, BIGGER IS BETTER! Wow! What a difference 17′ of glossy black cabinetry can make in a space! Instead of shrinking the space, the floor to ceiling cabinet has truly blown the roof off our room! It is amazing the lift this cabinet gives to the space. This is going to house so much of our collection of antique accessories, it is unbelievable! Plus, it will hold all of the electronics for tv and sound for the entire house, as well as a fax machine AND printer for the office. I am so excited to be getting this piece in our home. It truly is a beautiful marriage of form and function. John McGilvray and his crew have worked tirelessly to complete this, and they have done an amazing job. The effect that the air conditioning soffit had in the room has been completely eliminated, and this room has started to feel larger, more cozy, and it now has details that are consistent with the rest of the house.
So in addition to the nearly completed cabinet, the ceiling, crown, and base moldings are complete in the office…..so tomorrow, Dan Border and his crew will start putting the finishing touches on ceiling and trim paint. Hopefully by mid week we will be ready for wallpaper in this room.
Max Wood Floors worked ON SATURDAY to complete the floors in the kitchen and den. The floors are fantastic, and they did a really great job of fitting them together perfectly. It really has given these rooms the patina they lacked before. We have trim work details like shoe molding in both the kitchen and the den to complete. In the kitchen, the trim work will be a little more difficult since we have to marry a slightly lower new floor to the position of the cabinets. This can be overcome with new base pieces on the cabinets, and a new molding at the base of the island. Once again, John McGilvray and his crew will be rescuing us from what could have otherwise been a tricky predicament.
Dan Border and his painting crew are making steady progress. The upstairs bedrooms are in the process of getting their new colors, and windows still continue to be completed. They are doing a great job……and delivering a silky smooth finish. The former “green” bedroom, will still be called the green bedroom…..but the walls have gone from green to cream. The master bedroom is getting a much more dramatic treatment. We had a neutral tan tone in the bedroom that was matched to the toile wallpaper behind the bed, and a perfect blend with the carpet. I wanted to change the color to give us a fresh look, and really wanted to do a lighter color. What I realized…..as I lived in an empty house for the past two months…..it wasn’t the lightness of the color I disliked. It was the fact that the color was so blah. Just beige…..it wasn’t dramatic or exciting, and it really didn’t add anything to the room. I am not opposed to light wall colors, and we have lots of them in our house, but in the master bedroom, the color just seemed to be flat. Our solution……GLOSSY NAVY BLUE! Can’t wait to see this going up tomorrow. The painters are stealthy, and don’t make a huge mess, and are quite while they are here, so it is sort of difficult sometimes to tell exactly where they have been…unless they are making a major change in wall color, which they have done today.
Home Choice continues to disappoint on the window front. Andy, the guy who has done such an amazing job installing the windows and putting up the window trim is M.I.A. He was here Wednesday of last week for part of the day, and it is now Tuesday and he is no where to be found and will not return Seth’s (our job foreman) phone calls. Sounds really professional, right? In an effort to get our job complete, Seth and Schmid and Rhodes have enlisted the help of John McGilvray to complete the window trim in the house. There isn’t a lot left to do….just a little bit of molding on the upstairs windows, and about half of the new dining room window. Seems like Home Choice would want to be finished with this job…..but that doesn’t seem to be the way they operate. John is anticipating completion tomorrow!
This week, our goals are to complete painting in the office, finish electrical work and get all recessed lighting installed, get electronics installed in the office, get new counter top in the basement bathroom, get wallpaper installed in the basement bathroom and office, get trim work complete in kitchen and den, and hopefully get painting complete in the upstairs bedrooms.
LOTS of progress over the past week. The mess seems to have grown today….but that is part of the progress. Great strides have been made in the former office space. The random width V-groove ceiling is completely installed, and the painting is well under way. We have crown molding now in the office space, and the backboards for the fireplace are installed. For the backboards of the fireplace, we used 8″ wide V-groove and installed it horizontally. I think this is going to be a great effect once the mantle is in place. Still to do is to paint the existing brick gloss black. John McGilvray of McGilvray Woodworks is responsible for building the beautiful cabinet as well as installing our wood ceilings and mantle. He has also done a fantastic job on the custom baseboard and crown in the office.
Paul McKee with Audio Video By Design has done an amazing job of getting all the wiring installed for house sound and the new tv….and my favorite new toy, CAMERAS! We will now be able to see what is going on all over our house from anywhere in the world that we have i-phone service!
All of the windows are installed, and window trim is nearing completion. Andy from Home Choice, and all the guys from Schmid and Rhodes are really doing a great job and making sure we are happy with every single detail. I have been a little disappointed in the window ordering process from Home Choice. Schmid and Rhodes is taking care of all the errors with the window order so that I do not have to deal with the vendor…..and I am most appreciative of that, but the owner of Home Choice did not listen to our requests, and several mistakes were made that will ultimately cost him money. There were no divided lights on the functional doors in the office, so those have to be replaced. Over the front door, the window panes are a different size than the ones on the rest of the front of the house, so those two panels have to be replaced. Our new dining room window was to be fully stationary, and the panels open…..this isn’t a big deal….just there was no need to have these functional, and now we have to take an extra measure to secure them. Our screens are fantastic phantom screens that slide from the side, and completely disappear into the window frame when open…..but that was a pricey detail. We had selected specific places where we thought it would make sense to use them, but we have ended up with them on almost every window….again, an expense we weren’t counting on. None of these things really make that much of a difference, and the quality of the product is amazing….but a little communication from Home Choice would have been appreciated. Still….even as I write….no call from the owner apologizing for the mistakes. My words of advice here…..go over your window order multiple times to look for errors. Our order appeared to be written correctly, but there were changes made to what we approved that we were never informed about.
Above is our new mantle back board made from horizontal V-Groove paneling…..partially concealed behind a mountain of bookcase parts!
My FAVORITE thing in the renovation thus far is the new dining room window. Schmid and Rhodes did an AMAZING job of removing brick from the outside of the house to be able to enlarge this window. I always felt that the dining room window shortened the view of the outside. We have put a lot of effort over the past few years into making the backyard really special, and it was simply disconnected from the main floor of the house. The new TALLER window really has made a huge difference, and just pulls you toward it so the backyard becomes a real feature of the main floor.
After living with no floor in the kitchen and den for a month now, the antique heart pine flooring started going down today….and it looks GREAT! This is what we should have done when we moved in 8 years ago. I think it is “aging” our house beautifully. This will be the perfect touch to make us feel like we have always lived here….and that the floors are original.
The large cabinet in the office should be complete by Monday, and next week, we should be complete with painting in the office. Counter tops get installed in the office bathroom on Wednesday, and Bill Armstrong….our wallpaper installer, will start hanging the fabric on the walls in the bathroom on Thursday, and work until finished on the grass cloth wallpaper for the office. Painting should start on the walls in the upstairs bedrooms next week. We have a move in date set at this point…..TWO WEEKS! Keep your fingers crossed that we make it. There are a lot of loose ends to tie up before then, and a whole lot of cleaning….but I think we can do it, if we continue to see progress like was made this week!
It has been about 10 days since my last update. We have been working at a couple of out of town markets, and honestly, the progress has been really slow.
One good thing happening was that the kitchen island marble did get honed, and it looks amazing. When we originally put the marble top on the island, I let the installer talk me out of honing the stone. I knew it would perform better….but he didn’t want to do it because it wouldn’t have as much depth to the color….and I was tired of the building process and didn’t want to argue. Lesson learned….we should have honed it. It was highly susceptible to any sort of acidic substance, leaving un-polished rings everywhere. Well, the honing did the trick, and the surface looks lovingly aged, and all the rings are gone. It should have been like that 8 years ago when we moved in.
Over the weekend, only about half of the ceiling was out. Today, it got progressively work. Evidently, that is what happens when you try to straighten out 44 years of unevenness. It will be level when we are done, and hopefully the effort will be worth it.
We do have the final mantle design complete for the basement, and hopefully that will be installed within a week.
A lot of electrical work has happened. The recessed lights are totally installed in the basement…..other than the ones that had to be removed due to the ceiling being torn out. We added spot lights over the beds in the two upstairs guest rooms.
There were no overhead lights in there, and this way, there will be at least one light that can come on and be effective with a flip of the switch inside the door. We also added a couple of portrait lights in the den to help even out the light in that room. It is probably the darkest room in our house, and this will be a greatly welcome addition.
At this point, almost all of the windows are in…..but nothing is trimmed. Painters are starting to work on windows, and again, nothing is complete. The ceiling has been removed in the basement, so we are ready for the new tongue and groove ceiling…..I hope. The laundry room got this same treatment, and it is installed.