Good To Be Home

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 fireplace in our new basement space

The fireplace in our new basement space

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.

Master bedroom

Master bedroom

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.

New vanity, bowl, and well as the wool plaid walls, in the basement bathroomFinal 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.

A bright place to sit and read in the new basement space. The grasscloth wallpaper is from Phillip Jeffries.

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.

The new rug provides a unifying backdrop for the room, and the addition of the cocktail table with a shelf helps to hold a collection of books.

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… 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.