Thursday, August 28, 2014

English Chestnut Floors

Just received a photo from our floor refinishers!

Lovely stain color, isn't it?  So glad we tested different stains, because I had another color in mind before, but this one is perfect.

Also, this photo shows something that was very worrisome to us originally- half of this room is oak and half is maple!  We chose this stain specifically because it seemed to blend oak and maple rather well on our sample pieces, and I am so pleased at the large-scale result.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

We Have Walls!

Finally!  We have actual, paintable walls without giant sledgehammer holes in them!

Obviously, they need a good coat of primer over the plaster skimcoat, and then some nice paint over that, but this but this is a big improvement, a long time in coming.  In related news, now that the walls are solid again, the floor refinishers have started.  They almost finished sanding yesterday, so today they're just touching up certain areas and then applying the stain we chose.

Also, I made some delicious "Tomato Shortcake" with garden tomatoes and whipped goat cheese.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Color Study: Farrow + Ball "Clunch"

Farrow + Ball describes "Clunch" as the  "chalk stone building blocks used in East Anglia."

I hope to use this color in the living room.  It seems like the perfect off-white, because it is warm without being too yellow or too beige.  I painted a sample on the wall this week, to see it in different lights.  There's something very lovely about this paint, it just looks old, in an aged, historic way.

It's also a favorite color of Phoebe Howard and John Derian, so that's exciting!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Craigslist Find!

FOUND on Craiglist: the perfect bathroom sink vanity!

This was purchased from a contractor who had no interest in it (we get the best stuff from contractors, including our marble fireplace and our Kohler double-basin farmhouse sink).  These guys get hired to re-do a bathroom for a new McMansion someone bought in Winnetka or Lake Forest, and the owners of the house just ask the contractor to take the leftover materials with him.

So, I am the proud new owner of a marble sink vanity with chrome console legs, and a Grohe faucet.  This is an $1,500+ sink and faucet setup, which I bought for $200.  Really proud of myself on this one.  Also, the matble is not nearly as dark or yellow as it appears in these pictures.  The second picture is most accurate to the color of the marble.

This will go in a Powder Blue and "Old White" bathroom.  These colors:

Also, that is not my house in the above pictures, it's the contractor's warehouse-- though my house does look very similar right now, just without the yellow paint.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Choosing a Wood Stain for Chicago Red Oak

Our house has original hardwood floors made out of red oak, like many other similar era Chicago homes. We also have maple in the kitchen. To make the floors blend as well as possible,  we were advised to test several stains. We chose Minwax stains to test: "Special Walnut" , "English Chestnut" and "Early American". Below is a picture of each, in that order, top to bottom.  Left board is oak, right board is maple.
Minwax Special Walnut on top, Minwax English Chestnut center, and Minwax Early American on Chicago red oak and maple
Isn't this a GREAT picture??

They do all look reasonably similar, but here are the differences I noticed.  Both "Special Walnut" on the top and "Early American" on the bottom pick out the grain by making it darker.  In the walnut, the grain is almost black.  This immediately steered me in the direction of the middle color, because oak wood has a much more defined grain than maple.  If I'm trying to match the two, I want the grain to be as subdued as possible.  

I did not at all like the color of the "Early American" on the bottom, it was an yellowy-brown that was very rustic-looking.  So I immediately ruled it out.  While I liked the color of the Special Walnut on the oak, I didn't like how black the grain became.  

So the middle option it is - "English Chestnut".  This color has just the slightest bit of red in it, though it's still definitely in the brown spectrum.  It looks really great in the evening.  Also, it's pretty similar to the existing stain that is currently on the original hardwood (from what I can tell from the beat-up. paint-spattered, pre-sanding floor).  I think it does a great job of matching the oak and maple, and I think it will look really nice with our light grey kitchen cabinets.

This weekend was a blur of putting up walls-- we are so close to having all the holes patched!  We will probably be finished tonight and then it's on to plaster- which is much nicer than demo and cutting and patching.  I tried to make nice food to keep us going, I made steak and caprese for lunch one day, and Jamaican chicken with peach salsa for dinner the next.  Also, the weather was unseasonably cool, which made it nice for working.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Paint Colors

So, it's actually time to start deciding on paint colors.  Doesn't seem like it, but it is.  After we plaster the walls, we can paint them, and it will be easiest to do some before they are refinished -- since a drip here and there will be sanded off during the refinishing.

I didn't realize until today that I honestly haven't done my homework with paint colors.  I started off with what I knew: I loved my MSL240 grey dining room in the apartment, so I would do the dining room that color.  Then I realized that I have chosen that color for the kitchen, and that I have officially 0 other colors picked out.  

I like using this platform for brainstorming [sorry if you actually read it] so I'm just going to free-associate some paint colors here.  

Predominately, I choose Martha Stewart and Farrow+Ball paints.  I like the quality of Benjamin Moore, but their library of colors is too unedited, and I find it confusing to hunt through for the perfect shade of whatever.  Drawing from those paint colors, here are some palettes for the different rooms.

Martha Stewart "Sharkey Grey" and "Tailor's Chalk"

Walk-In Closet:
Martha Stewart "Magnolia Grandiflora" and "Pebble"

Living Room:
Farrow + Ball "Shaded White"

Powder Room:
Farrow+Ball "Stony Ground"

Upstair's Guest Bath:
Martha Stewart "Pebble"

Entryway stairwell:

Benjamin Moore "Linen White"

Master Bedroom:
Benjamin Moore "Elephant Gray" and Martha Stewart "Pink Granite"

Master Bath:
Farrow+Ball Shaded White

I'm looking at tons of neutral colors for the walls.  In my past apartment, the rooms were small, so I did a decorator's trick of creating darker "jewel box" rooms that open into large-feeling white rooms.  In this house, all the rooms are generously-sized, and I guess I like to highlight that with the light colored paint and add color through linens and furnishings.

If there was a room that I would choose to get a wash of color, it would be the entryway foyer.  I'm very fond of wallpaper in entryways, but I haven't seen any that I like well enough yet.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Progress Report: Walls and Floors

 I haven't been compelled to take many pictures lately, because I think the house is really ugly right now, as we are "patching it up" after the new electric was put in.  Personally, I find it the hardest to look at right now.  Before it was torn up, it was fine, and while it was torn up, it was also fine, because I could see all the great, old-fashioned construction techniques which I think are beautiful in their own way.  But now, as we patch, I am exhausted by the work of it and definitely underwhelmed by the appearance.  This is the part where I have to trust that Ben will make it all look nice in the end.

In good news, the floor guys started today.  They are doing repairs right now on wood that is stained beyond sanding.  This is mainly dark watermarks underneath the radiators from 95 years of occasional leakage.  There are also some broken boards in the swinging doorway threshold between the kitchen and dining room.  In order to preserve the floors as much as possible, the boards are being removed individually and replaced as necessary: staggered in with the original wood.

We have purchased some salvaged floorboards from the salvage warehouse.  Although I don't know exactly how old they are, their appearance is definitely similar in era to our existing floorboards.  Once all the repairs are installed, it will all be sanded down and stained together, and should match really nicely.

Upstairs, things are just as crazy right now: No, we are not treating Ebola in here.  That is the Master Bath under construction.

Here's what it looks like now.  I actually see a lot of potential for this room, with its large windows, walk-in shower, and wood floors.  Needs walls though!

Below are pictures of one of our two functioning rooms- we are down to three usable rooms- a bedroom, a bathroom, and this "living room".

It's actually the front sunroom with all of our best furniture stuffed into it so it doesn't get dusty.  I stenciled the floor awhile ago, but I never posted the pictures on the blog since we had to shove all the furniture in the room the same day I finished.

It just doesn't feel like home until we can re-hang the chandelier and stop living out of one bedroom!

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Renovation Schedule

I hesitate to put any of this down on paper, since everything seems to take longer than expected, but I'm really looking forward to things coming together very soon:

Aug 11: Finish downstairs walls, plumbers finish the plumbing
Aug 12: Pulling carpet staples, carpet tack nails, and screws from hardwood floors.
Aug 13-18: Downstairs hardwood floors get professionally refinished
August 17-25: Build, upstairs foyer arch, walls go up in upstairs, tile master bath shower.
Aug 19-25: Polyurethane dries and hardens on floors downstairs, can't walk on them.
September 1: Kitchen cabinets are delivered
September 1-5: Kitchen is installed, appliances are delivered
September 26: Kitchen countertops are installed

There is light at the end of the tunnel!

Kitchen Design

Tour the kitchen with a collage! Is it amateur hour? Yes, I think it is.

Butler's Pantry / Prep Area

 Sink Wall

Turn 180-degrees, Stove Wall

An Entire Weekend of Putting Up Walls

Ben and I worked straight through the weekend.  It is an unbelievable amount of work to patch all the holes left in the walls from re-doing the electric.  One can see in the video that our walls were a swiss-cheese of holes left from threading stiff metal conduit into the ceilings, switches, and plugs. So, we have to patch all those holes to make our house look like less of a burnt-down shanty.

I cut the drywall pieces- I found that task to be quite easy, same skillset as cutting a pattern to sew a dress.  You measure the hole in the wall, you cut the drywall to fit-- making sure you're measuring from straight edges.

Then you attach the drywall to the studs by sinking screws a little deeper than the surface-- these will all be covered with plaster eventually.

Next you patch the edges of the hole with joint compound, which is like a cement that hardens into place and is just a filler.  The pretty, smooth plaster stuff goes over the top of this.

And, just like that, you've covered one hole!  Now just repeat 400 times and you will be done.  Oh, and did I mention that we are on an incredibly strict deadline and have to have this all done by Wednesday so that the hardwood floor guy can come and refinish the floors because he doesn't have another opening until OCTOBER?

I did find the time this weekend to go to the salvage warehouse while Ben saw a Saturday morning patient, and I bought a toilet!  A used toilet! And I had a hurried appointment at the countertop store to get my measurements in for a quote for some countertops, while I was totally over-caffeinated and covered in plaster joint compound.  So, this weekend was not really the highlight of my life, but it was productive.

In good news, the plumbers finished the all-new copper piping to every single bathroom, including the one that we are currently using, and I just took the best shower of my life to date with the most amazing water pressure rinsing a pound of drywall dust out of my hair. And I ate Farmer's Market raspberries and peaches, which were exceptional.

Master Bath Design

Last week, I decided to put my vision together collage-style for our new master bathroom.  It's an intimidating room for me, because everything will be purchased new and put in roughly at the same time.  Usually, I have existing pieces of furniture or lighting that I plan to put into a room, but for this one, because it is a bathroom, it's all new.  So it's a bit difficult to keep a cohesive vision when you haven't seen any elements in the flesh and you're not adding one piece, you're adding a whole set of fixtures.

Here's what I came up with.  Although I am apparently terrible at piecing a dozen different pictures together, I like seeing it all together, and I found this very useful when purchasing the faucets for the vanities.

Here is a stock picture of the faucets we have ordered.  I love faucet stock images- so clean and neat!

Found in the Walls: A Barbershop Sign

Behind the kitchen cabinets, being used as a backing board, was this old barbershop sign.  Also a bunch of license plates that may have been used as shims.  This is a little shady to me-- constructing walls out of garbage -- but these cabinets were put in during the 1970's, so there's that.  Hopefully nothing else is built out of garbage.

Monday, August 4, 2014

What can I find at Zara Home?

1. Crystal pitcher. $59
2. Monogram pillow, $19.
3. Frame, $35. 
4. Mirrored frame, $20.
5. Wicker hamper, $59.
6. Towel set, $6.90 to $39.

What can I find at UO?

1. Swing arm curtain rod with crystal finial, I think these would be lovely on the bedroom French doors.

2. Paddywax candles are very good quality.
3.  I already have this table.  I love this table.
4.  Cute rug.  I would use it as a bathmat.  I appreciate rugs that say things, for some reason.