Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Flooring Progress

I spent most of last week painting the front porch railings and Doug finally finished the sections that curve around to meet the stair railings. They are really cute and clever and as soon as they're up I'll post a picture. I still have to paint them so I'll be doing that as soon as my knees recover from the flooring work we did over the weekend.

We completely finished the living/dining room and the kitchen. Doug also took care of some of the cabinet details that were related to the flooring. I did most of the measuring and cutting with the mighty miter saw. Our white oak floating floor is by Kahrs, for anyone who happens to be interested, and it comes in 8 foot lengths that sometimes snap together and other times need to be encouraged with a chunk of wood and a hammer. I dubbed Doug the "floor whisperer" because whenever I couldn't get a piece of flooring to fit together easily, he would come over, kneel down, and do some magic wiggling between the two floor pieces until they obeyed. Then I would walk down the length to flatten out the seam. While Doug was working in the kitchen I would cut the lengths for him and also slip in a few pieces in the living room. We ended up finishing both rooms at about the same time.

Tomorrow I'll wrap up a few painting details and hopefully get started on the Bona Traffic polyurethane coating for the kitchen floor. I'll be happy to get back to some low impact activities after all of the wood banging I was engaged in over the weekend.*




*I'm quite aware that the more crude among you might be somewhat entertained by my choice of words. Go ahead, be entertained. You'll certainly be having more fun than I did!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

foam core reality

I often feel like a hypocrite writing this mostly happy little blog about all of the wonderful experiences that we've had since we began building Doug's fantasy house. Now I know full well that I have been a participant in this venture, and in spite of the fact that I never ever thought it was realistic, it is as much my house as it is his and so it is as much my problem as it is his. It always has been.

I know that Doug believes with all of his heart that he wanted to do this for me and for us, or so he says, but the truth is I didn't want to do it this way for a number of really important and practical reasons. It has always made me feel uncomfortable. The fancy things in this house are inappropriate for our income level, especially considering the fact that Doug's insistence that we do it ourselves has enormously reduced both of our incomes. I've been absolutely miserable not being able to work the kinds of gigs I used to do. I loved my life before this house fiasco began. I feel like I've been sentenced to hard labor for three years - so far.

When we were deciding what to do way back in the fall of 2005, I wanted to have the insurance company do the normal thing, which would be to restore our house - that's what they were going to do. They said it would take six months. Our house was nearly completely paid for so we could have used a home equity loan to cover the additional costs of bringing the basement up to code and to get our addition finished in a minimal and affordable kind of way. And by hiring professionals to do the work, however sloppy that might have ended up being, as least we could get back on track as quickly as possible. It seemed to me to be the most reasonable way to deal with the aftermath of the fire.

We had a very nice life together before the fire. We both had gigs doing what we loved most - playing nearly every night and travelling. But we disagreed about what should be done about the house. I felt very uneasy about Doug's plan. I didn't want my old house to go away - I wanted it to be repaired, which the insurance company expected to do. His plan involved a lot of work for him, I mean us. I had just finished painting the exterior of our house a couple of months before the fire. It was not as much work as the first time I did it, but it was still pretty exhausting. I wasn't in the mood to do more, and why should I be? I'd rather live in an apartment than paint another house. I knew from years of experience how Doug's projects never seemed to get finished for one reason or another. And I knew that ultimately Doug would never be satisfied with anyone else's work.

I found myself not really trusting that it would work out with the two builders we attempted to use and I'm quite unhappy to say that I was right. I didn't enjoy thinking we were headed for financial disaster as we planned, well mostly I planned, this absurdly lavish house full of all kinds of ridiculous and amazing things that neither of us had ever had or needed before.

Doug, not surprisingly, was completely overwhelmed on a daily basis by all of the unnecessary complexities of being tour manager, a job we had mutually decided would be unwise for him to do again considering everything else we were suddenly having to deal with. It was impossible to talk sense into him when he made the decision after that, while I was away for several months, to be tour manager again after all.

So you can probably imagine how it went whenever I tried to suggest a more conservative plan for our house while we were out on the road that fall. He was so stressed out once again by all of his various duties that he wasn't able to seriously consider that it might be better in this particular situation to be practical and unambitious for once. He basically told me that what I wanted was not an option. "That's just how it is - we have no other choice." Nice.

So I gave up and went along with him and his fancy ideas. I hated myself for feeling so negative about "our" dream house. On the other hand I didn't feel like it was appropriate for us to have a dream house. Just a plain old house would have been fine with me. One that we could live in sooner rather than later.

I've always been completely happy living in a hotel or a cruise ship cabin. But since it seemed that I apparently had no idea that we could afford all this, or even how little time it would take, I decided that I would attempt to disguise my feelings of negativity as much as I possibly could and just devote myself to this lovely project known as Foam Core Fantasy until it drives itself into the ground. And I guess that is what this little blog is all about.

Friday, July 3, 2009

finally back to work

Not much has happened over at the house since I last posted back in March. I thought we'd get back to it as soon as I finished school, but alas, my whip-cracking attempts were in vain. That has been rather discouraging for the past month.

Finally this past week we have resumed work and I'm very pleased with what we have accomplished. I think what got things moving again was the fact that our replacement cabinet arrived and we needed to take down the one that was too big so that we could put the new one in.

It's pretty clear to me now what needs to be done when and in what order. If we actually see each little project through to the end instead of just flitting around, things will begin to seem like they are leading in a particular direction, in other words, our house might eventually be finished.

So this week I have been buying moulding and painting it and Doug has been measuring and cutting. It's been nice to ease back into working on the house without killing ourselves. We'll do some more of that later I'm sure.

Here are a few pictures that show some of the more recent developments. I found these two old leaded glass windows at an antique store for pretty cheap and they fit nicely into the pass-through and let a little more light in to our somewhat shady kitchen. Doug installed them and put the trim around the outside and I painted them.

I think we managed to get a sort of "old house" look by adding them in. You can click on the picture below to see the trim details. Doug did a really good job assembling it. I'm very happy with the way it looks and especially with the fact that it is finished!

This is the old too-tall cabinet. It's really nice, but it's HUGE and it was a different size from what we ordered. They don't want it back so we are going to try to figure out whether we can use it somewhere else. That yellow stripe is a packing strap so the doors wouldn't open while we were carrying it upstairs.
I don't know why my camera makes all of these colors look more vivid than they actually are. The upstairs certainly looks bright and cheery! It is, but not this bright. This is looking down the hall from our oh-so-purple bedroom. The purple is really not as scary as it looks here. The color actually changes and looks good in all different kinds of light.

The lights on the ceiling of our bathroom are kind of cool looking.

The lights on the wall don't match the ceiling lights at all, but they still look good together so it works out.

I just love my little round laundry room sink. It is the perfect depth for washing things by hand.

Next time I hope to have some pictures of the new kitchen cabinet that Doug installed today. It looks so much better now that the height matches the cabinets in the rest of the room.