Sunday, March 31, 2013

What is your everything?

I don't know if I should admit this or not, but one of my favorite shows is "The Rachel Zoe Project".  Half of you probably don't know who Rachel Zoe is (she is a fashion stylist and designer), and the other half of you may not be able to stand her "whiny personality" (as my husband describes it).  However, I enjoy watching the process of styling, and I respect the fact that she is successful at what she loves to do.  One of the entertaining aspects of the show (and something that may have made her more famous than her styling) is that she is always coming up with catch phrases to describe how much she loves a garment.  Last year, it was - "I die" or "Bananas".  Her most recent phrase is - "This is everything."  When I first heard her say that I thought, "Really? That dress is your everything?"  And although I think she would say that she loves her son more than fashion, she would probably admit that it's a close call.

It made me stop and think, "What is my everything?"  What do I get really excited about?  What do I get really upset about?  What do I worry about?  What do I think about when I wake up in the middle of the night?  Lately, it has been my house renovation.  It has been my "everything".  And I can tell you that it's a difficult, elusive, never-ending master.  I've learned that it's much better to be content with what you have than to try to reach perfection with your house, because you will never be finished.

Before my house, it was artistic outlets - fashion, painting, sewing, photography, blogging.  I still really enjoy all of those activities, but they each make for a very shallow "everything".  Art and fashion can express substance, but they can't be the substance.  You do reach the finish line in art (as opposed to house decorating), but the satisfaction of the art piece only lasts for moment.  Then you must create again to fill the void.

Today (Easter) is the most popular day to go to church, but I doubt that God is "everything" to many people.  It's just too easy to ignore God (at least in the good times), and there are too many things screaming for our attention.  This morning in church, the pastor said that we can't have a moderate view of Jesus, because Jesus made a lot of claims that didn't leave that option open to us.  The pastor's statement made me think that often I just want a moderate amount of Jesus in my life.  But Jesus didn't really leave that option open to us either.  He continually asked people he met to make him their "everything".

God was the first artist, the first fashion designer, the creator of relationships, the creator of talent and work.  He thinks all of that is good.  But he didn't mean for any of that to be my "everything".  He's the only one that has enough substance for me to soak up for a lifetime.  He's the only one with enough beauty and goodness to never lack for depth.  He's the only one I can't suffocate with my needs.  He's the only one that offers enough love to fill my soul.  He's the only one that is worthy to be my "everything".  


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Day 29

I can totally see how they renovate a whole house in one weekend on those television shows, because everyone is super fast when they are here working.  But when we are waiting on the trim or the doors or the countertops, nothing happens.  And when they are waiting on me to make a decision on paint color, nothing happens.  So today, in my quiet house, I looked at paint.

We have an assortment of grays and grayish greenish blues.  I actually like the wall like this. But since Greg will never agree to this paint treatment, I will have to use it as inspiration for an art piece.

Grays are hard to get right on the wall.  They so easily look too blue or too silvery or too much like putty.  And they look totally different in different lights.  The top contender so far is Coventry Gray by Benjamin Moore (second one from the left on the top row), because we could use it in the living room and the kitchen.  That would help connect the two spaces.  I really like Cloudy Day (by the molding) and Silver Mink (the big greenish blueish blob in the middle), but I don't think we could use either in the kitchen due to too many other colors already going on.  The Pewter (second from left on bottom) may end up in our laundry room as a backdrop to white shelves.

I'm going to see how they look tonight and hopefully love one of them.  I was at the paint store so many times today that they said, "See you tomorrow," when I left around 3:00.  I hope I don't have to see them tomorrow.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Day 26*

We have cabinets -

I know the base cabinets look black in this photo, but they are actually "gunmetal blue" and look very pretty in real life.  All of the handles and trim have not arrived yet, so there is still some work to be done.  But I'm glad the cabinets were the correct size.

I also finally got my acrylic chairs -

CB2 vapor barstool

 The countertops should be installed this week.  I decided on the Caesarstone Pebble Gray.  Now, I just need to decide on paint color...

* - Initially, I was only counting the days of actual construction, because I was so impressed at how fast they were going.  However, I am now counting every day since the beginning of this project, because it feels like this has been our life forever.  We might be lonely when we don't have a bunch of extra people banging around in our kitchen and living room anymore.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

The countertop decision

So, I like the floors.  I picked the color, and it took me the longest of anyone in my family to like them.  I am super sensitive to color, and they just weren't what I had pictured in my head.  But I think they will be a great background to everything else in our house.

I thought that the floor color and then paint color would be the final decisions in this process, but I have come to the realization that the decisions aren't going to end until we finish construction.  My biggest problem is that I make a decision and then revisit it many times before I move on (which drives my husband crazy).  My latest revisitation was with the countertops.  I had originally selected Cambria white quartz countertops (which aren't supposed to stain or etch or need sealing) but then found out they are out of stock and then read that they might stain.  So, I moved on to Pebble Gray by Caesarstone.  It is still fairly light and uniform and kind of looks like concrete.

I visited Melvin at the stone yard again to see if I could find a marble remnant for my dining room.  It was meant to be, because I immediately saw a beautiful slab of staturetto marble that is perfect -

While I was there, I starting pining for natural stone.  I would love to put this marble in my whole kitchen, but I really don't want to have to worry about my countertops.  I had been steering away from granite, because I just don't like how busy it is.  However, I saw this beautiful quartzite, which is even harder than granite -

It has similar coloring to marble but is still busy like granite.  It might take over the kitchen.  I would also have to change my back splash to accommodate this stone (and I don't need anymore decisions).

I really like this soapstone, which is more subdued -

However, it's a little dark and I've read that it can etch.

So, I'm contemplating my countertop options (until tomorrow when I have to make a final decision).  Then, on to doors and door knobs...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Day 13

 They went from this - 

To this - 

Minwax Classic Gray

The floors are finished.  To be honest, I don't know if I like them yet.  They are a washed out grayish, reddish brown.  They look different in different lights - sometimes very reddish, sometimes very gray, sometimes brown.  The fact that the project manager and then floor guys really like them makes me feel better.  (But the project manager also told me he is color blind, so I don't think I should be listening to him.)  I think the floors look lonely, so I'm hoping once we have the walls painted, the art hung and furniture back in that they will look good.  Now, I'm going outside to enjoy this perfect day in Atlanta...


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Day 11

It's starting to look prettier!

We have hardwoods in the kitchen!  They aren't finished yet, but the whole space looks so much more cohesive already.  And now we talking about removing the diagonal wood paneling from the living room walls.  The are too country to stand next to our new modern kitchen.

As a side note, this whole process hasn't been too bad (except for all of the decisions) until now.  In order to  finish the floors, we had to cram everything into our bedrooms and basement.  Now, it's starting to feel crowded.  However, this part shouldn't take too long.  The cabinets are coming next week, and then we'll really get going.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Day 10

Drywall is up.  HVAC ducts have been installed.  Useless window and door have been bricked in.  Now onto the floors.

I have spent the last few days emptying our 92" x 84" bookcase of 17 boxes of books.  Soon, we will have hardwoods in the kitchen and this orangey-yellow floor will be a different color.  Then I can start showing you pretty stuff rather than torn up stuff.

To add to the stress of doing the floors, the contractor told me today that he wasn't sure we could use the wallpaper.  However, after he left, the project manager said, "If you want to use the wallpaper, we'll figure it out."  And that's why God put him on our project.  To keep me calm.

While they sand the floors, I'm off to look at marble for our small dining room cabinets...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Three items that have tremendously helped my renovation

There are 3 things unexpected items that have helped a lot during this kitchen renovation.  The first is a zipper -

This is the plastic that hangs between the kitchen and the living room.  It is essential to keeping all of the dust and splinters and nails from coming into the living room.  I think every kitchen renovation has the plastic.  But, I had never heard of putting a zipper in the plastic.  I didn't know they even made zippers this big.  (It was my contractor's idea.)  The zipper makes it so easy to reach my washer and dryer, which the crew has graciously worked around.

The second item is the toaster oven -

You could go with a microwave, but I think the toaster oven makes a meal taste like real food.  Our favorite meal so far was salmon (seasoned with lemon pepper from Trader Joe's), sweet potatoes, and brussel sprouts.  Coming in second was a combo of Italian sausage (which I sliced so it would cook faster), mac and cheese (from Trader Joe's frozen foods section), and pre-sliced mushrooms, onions, and asparagus (also from Trader Joe's).  

The third item that has made our renovation go smoothly is a good project manager.  I didn't take a picture of him, but he really is key to this whole operation.  The project manager is the person who schedules all of the different parts to be done at the right time - demolition, framing, insulation, drywall, electrical, plumbing, floors, cabinets, countertops, appliances, painting.  Your contractor could serve as the project manager, but if they have multiple projects going on at once, it is awesome to have a dedicated project manager who is on-site everyday.  You could serve as the project manager on your own renovation, but it is a little bit of a nightmare to arrange all of those groups so that everything runs smoothly - especially if you don't know in what order they should be installed.

As a side note, I was talking to my mom about my crooked ceiling, and she said, "Well, just don't tell anyone about it and probably nobody will notice."  Too late.  I did hesitate before I posted that, but I decided that I wanted to share whatever might be helpful to someone else in the same situation.  At the end of this project, whether it turns out good or bad, I hope this "renovation diary" will give someone more information for their own renovation.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Day 6

The hardest part of this renovation is not that we don't have a kitchen or that our house is very loud for most of the day.  The hardest part is that the decisions never end.  Yesterday it was - "Where do you want all of your lights and outlets?"  Today it was - "Your ceiling is extremely crooked, and your geometric wallpaper is only going to highlight that fact."   (You notice it especially over the window, which is level.  The ceiling goes up 1.5 inches over the course of the wall.)

Greg's solution was - "Pick a new wallpaper."  My response was - "I designed the whole room around that wallpaper!"  So, unless I come across another wallpaper that I love and that works brilliantly, we are using the wallpaper.  We never thought about the ceiling being crooked before the project manager mentioned it, so nobody else will either (except for all of you who are reading this).  And our light fixture will certainly attract attention to itself and away from other things.  Our project manager suggested some kind of molding, but I don't want molding.  I want to either wallpaper in a straight line at the top and "cheat" the ceiling, or just wallpaper to the ceiling, and let the pattern be a little off at the top.

I really hope that nothing else comes up, because my decision maker is almost broken.  I have enough left in it to decide on paint color and floor color, and that is it.  Do you hear me house?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day 5

Old lights and window -

New lights and window -

(Ignore all of the random holes in the ceiling and the wall.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Day 4

The wall is down and the ceiling is up.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Day 2

From this -

To this -

From this -

To this -

From this -

To this -

Day 1

It doesn't take long to gut a kitchen.