Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Some days it just isn't worth getting out of bed.

New Years Eve we got up early to be at the house to meet the rental guy delivering a Werkmaster grinder for us to grind and polish our concrete floors.
Two and a half hours late he showed up with the machine, a vaccuum system and various diamond discs. It wasn't until he tried to plug it in to show us how to use it that he realized he hadn't brought the right adapter to plug it into the 220 outlet that I had had the electrician install just so we could use this machine.
He went back to Kerrisdale to get the adapter and we went off to have breakfast, although by then it was time for lunch.
When we got back the adapter was on our doorstep, along with a large bucket of densifier, which he had forgotten the 1st time, and a very large invoice.

Finally we were ready and I was excited. I'd spent the day before clearing out the downstairs and sweeping the floors clean, then spent the evening watching all the 'Werkmaster' training videos I could find on-line and was looking forward to trying out this machine & polishing our floors.
Good news: the adapter worked, the little red light on the machine was on, we had power.
Bad news: the end of the hose for the vacuum system didn't fit on the grinder. A quick phone call to the rental guy got us
"Oh, I must have thrown you the wrong hose. Can you duct-tape it on?"
Uh, no. Duct tape won't work in this case.
OK, so we don't have a dust-remover now. Lets just start it up and see just how much dust this thing kicks up.
Maneuver it into position in a closet, (start in an inconspicuous spot just in case) push the "On" button.
Nothing. No sound, no grinding, no sign of life except for the red light reading "STOP".
Check the plug, check the connections, flick the breaker on and off, still nothing.
Another call to rental guy. He advises us to do everything we'd already done. Then
"Sorry, I don't know what the problem is. I'm running late (well we knew that), have lots to do and we're actually closed for the day now."

Nothing else to do but go home and back to bed for an afternoon nap before going out for dinner.


(Little bunny courtesy of Shea)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Well, what else is Boxing day for?

Linens'n'Things was closing and so desperate to empty the building that everything left in the store was either 70 or 90% off. They had a lot less to pack up after our second visit and even less the next day when I went back a third time, with my Mom & sister Tam.

Now we don't have to worry about peeping toms in the new house while we wait for me to sew window-coverings. We'll have everything covered with silvery-gray damask stripes ($12/pair) or roman blinds ($5 each).

Won't have to spend money re-covering or replacing our dining-room chairs either because they'll be covered too - in chair covers ($1.99 each) a brick colour similar to the coppery-red flecks in our granite.

Here's a slightly washed-out photo of a chunk of our granite next to my cherry kitchen cabinet door sample.

I found a few towels for the boys' bathroom. Their bathroom is designed with two teenagers sharing in mind. The toilet is in a separate compartment with a door on it and I have the perfect vanity for them. Two sinks, separated by a raised section of drawers.
My plan is for them to each have their own set of towels, using my old colour-code for them so I'll know who's leaving their wet towels lying around. I made it easy for me to remember: Lime green for green-eyed Cole, cobalt blue for blue-eyed Shea. And to hang the towels?

Hooks only, no towel bars because, apparently, they don't know how to use them!

May as well show more of what I've chosen for their bathroom.

'Rhythm' faucet, with matching tub/shower fixtures. The boys get their own style, different from the ones in the rest of the house but they're all single-hole, single-handle faucets. They just make so much more sense than needing two hands to get the right temperature.

A catalogue shot of the tub. Can't believe I haven't taken a picture of it in the house yet. It's there, installed already.

I chose this tub for a few reasons. It doesn't have sloping sides so there's maximum standing room for showering, as this tub will seldom be used for bathing. And see that extra-high bit extending up the wall? That means that the ledge where all the shampoo and body-wash bottles collect, has no calking-line to get all slimy and moldy.
And it's made in Canada.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fashion dilema

Basic Black? or.......

Stripes? or.......


Oh, just forget it all and slap on a coat of grey mud.

Then add a little frosting on top.

This was last weekend's snowfall. Yesterday's was much deeper but we didn't pull in to take a picture this morning and risk getting the car stuck.

Now that we've seen it like this I think we might change our mind about the colour and go with something a little deeper than white for the main colour. When the 'grey-coat' was first applied and still wet it was a nice green-grey. Maybe we'll go with a 'wet-stucco' look for the final coat. I think Benjamin Moore even has a colour called Wet Concrete". We have until spring to decide. (long enough to change our minds at least another 1/2 dozen times) because it's best to let the first two coats age a bit before putting on the final one. (not to mention that the dead of winter doesn't make for the best conditions) You just don't see it done often because houses can be a little hard to sell with rough, upainted stucco.

It seemed for a while like progress had stalled. Work was still being done but the only evidence was little piles of wood shavings on the floor. It was like we'd been invaded by a gang of small rodents building nests everywhere. Guinea pig hotel. It was only when you took a closer look that you realized there were now more cables or wires or pipes or ducts snaking through holes in the studs and floor. It's a wonder the house was still standing there are so many holes drilled in it.

Everyone did their job right though because we passed the framing inspection with only a short list of 8 things needing to be done. Nothing major, nothing that had to be re-done, but enough additional back-framing to keep Kim busy for the past two weekends.

He's almost done, now we're waiting for the weather to warm up enough that the insulation guys can do their thing. (bunch of wimps - when I get too cold there I sweep the floor, there's always sand - and gerbil beds - to be swept up & I warm up in no time.)

(ps - Zoya - I couldn't figure out a way to respond to your comment and couldn't find an email address for you - please email me directly. jesterkiss (at) telus (dot) net)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Last weekend was a very full one, we got a lot accomplished.

Kim finished #2 and #3 on his list of tasks to be done before the strapping goes on for the rainscreen, which is the 1st step - no I guess the 2nd; 1st would be the paper, which is already on - towards getting the stucco on the house.

We (by "we" of course I mean "Kim, with maybe a little help from me") framed a wall in front of the house to give us some privacy from the busy street and create a court-yard for sitting & soaking up the evening sun.

Kim had built a form and stuffed concrete into it a few weeks ago so we had a nice foundation to start with.

After some pushing & pulling, taking apart & re-doing sections (& running to the lumberyard twice for lost or forgotten bits) it was nice & straight.

Kim started putting the sheathing up, then we stood back to admire it from the street.
"What do you think?"
"Oh, it looks good."
"It's too tall isn't it?"
"Uh, well, it's practical, will give us lots of privacy."
"It's too tall isn't?"
Not satisfied with our own eyes Kim asked for more opinions, from Cole who was riding by right then & from a stranger walking down the street. Both said without any hesitation. "Yup, too tall"

So what can you do?........
but get out your trusty saw and behead the whole thing.
Damn, he's good - perfect the first time. (click on the pic to see just how level)

Much better. Now the proportions look right.

With Cole's help we got the waterproof blueskin on it just seconds before the sky opened up for a 20-minute torrential downpour.

Next, Kim added a window to the garage......

While I finished insulating, vapour-barriering and tuck-taping the walls around the tubs in all three bathrooms. Then glued the tub-deck into place in the master ensuite.

Although, after watching Holmes on Homes last night I think I'll double-check all the seams & edges to make sure everything is completely sealed up.

And there's my tub.
It's so frustrating that, after working so hard all day on the house that all I really need is nice long, relaxing bubblebath, I come home to the most uninspiring, uncomfortable, ugly vintage-70's bathroom. I just opt for a shower & dream of future baths in my fabulous new bathroom, with......

There - can you read it?
Gas. F/P. Above tub ht.
A see-through one, right at the end of the tub, between the bathroom & the bedroom.

The only stupidly extravagent feature in the house, but hey, why not? I'll certainly get a lot of use from it.
When I was ordering it I couldn't resist - ordered the remote control too so we can lie in bed reading by firelight and won't have to get out of bed to turn it off.

I can't wait.

Friday, November 7, 2008

No longer Itchy & Bitchy

Kim has been working his little butt off.
There were a few things that needed to be done before the stucco guys could start stucco-ing that Kim decided to do himself.
In the case of the soffits, because we couldn't afford to hire anyone to do it even if we could find someone willing to do this horrendous job.

Kim designed the house with such deep overhangs that the soffits are very prominent, (especially now that they're lemon-yellow). We didn't want such a large expanse of that grooved plastic-looking stuff that goes on most soffits so Kim took an idea from a development in West Van & decided to have them stucco-ed. Sounds simple, right? But the stucco has to go on something and that something happens to be a very heavy, outdoor type of drywall that sheds itchy fibre-glassy dust when it's cut. And who's doing the cutting & then hoisting the sheets over his head? Not a happy time for Kim.Kim took some time off work and did all of it, aside from a few weekends & after-school afternoons, by himself. It's a good thing we invested in a good, light-weight cordless drill, with all the time he spent with both arms above his head putting in screws.

He did the 1st floor, then had to wait until the stucco-er's scaffolding was built to do the rest. Even installing dens-glass has its learning curve, as the stucco guys pointed out he was missing an important edging that has to go on the outside edge of all the soffits he had already screwed in place. More work, unscrewing, squeezing the edging on & re-screwing. Heart-breaking to find out he'd screwed up the screwing up.

Even scaffolding doesn't help in some tight spots.

We were all relieved when this job was finished. But don't worry, his wife gave him something to reward him for all his hard work....

A nice cosy pair of hand-knit ski socks!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yip yip yip, uh-huuuh

See why Shea was such a hit this Halloween?

He found the instructions online and then hounded, pestered, bugged and nagged me for weeks until I took him shopping in search of the perfect shaggy-monster (or should that be alien) fabric.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Black on black

Our house is dressed for halloween. Including new black gutters.

We're in a bit of a rush to get the stucco on. Both because of the weather and because we've run out of money and our next draw from the construction loan comes when the stucco grey coat is on.
You don't realize how much everything relies on everything else until you try building a house. Before the stucco guys will get to work, the soffits had to be complete and the gutters had to be on and before the gutters could go on the fascia had to be painted.

After finally choosing the right colour it took me 3 weekends to paint all the fascia. Not because I'm that slow but because I could only paint what I could reach so had to wait for the scaffolding to be built for the stucco-ers. Then I had to wait for the water-proof finish on our bedroom deck to dry so I could get up to the roof from a stepladder on the deck.
I spent last weekend overcoming my fear of heights and climbing around on the roof to paint the highest peak of our roof. Scooting up & down the steep parts on your bum sure is a PAIN. Took me a while to pry my underwear....umm, never mind, too much detail.
I came to the conclusion that it's all right that I missed out on that last session of yoga because with all the stretching and contortions I had to do to reach the fascia I'm sure I did every asana ever invented.

I did manage to recruit a couple of helpers one afternoon.

Although, I'd have to say that one of the hardest parts of building a house is getting your weekend labourers out of bed before noon.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

And the winner is....

Once we'd decided on a classic black & white colour scheme it was fairly easy choosing the right white. We knew we wanted something soft & creamy, but not too yellow.
We took a sample of our window frames and a piece of our roof to colour pros at Farrow & Ball and Benjamin Moore for their recommendations. They each suggested 2 or 3 whites that would work and 2 of them were almost exactly the same and just what we had in mind so that was settled. (Lancaster Whitewash)

The black took a little more work.

We narrowed down the suggestions from the two pros and some of our picks to four choices, painted swatches & pinned them to the house beside a swath of our chosen white.Picked our fave from those four, Wrought Iron, & Kim painted most of the front fascia boards. No go. On the colour chip it was black but on the house it changed to Navy. Very strange. One down.

Let's give the runner-up a shot: Soot, not as much blue and a little lighter.
Another gallon, another coat on the trim.

Nice, but now it's too light, almost wishy-washy. We need something stronger, darker.

Back to the stage with three new contestants: Soft Black, Black Beauty, Carbon Copy.
I was rooting for the underdog, Carbon Copy - very dark, with more than a touch of purple, but we have to go with the one that works best with all the other elements & Carbon Copy is just a little too purpley & sharp to play nice with the window frames.

So Black Beauty it is. Once on the house it's perfect. Works well with the roof, nice contrast with the windows. It doesn't have any blue tones, or purple, or brown or green.... it's just Black.

Now we have to get a couple of coats on all the fascia boards before the gutters can go on.
Oh, by the way. Our winner, Black Beauty? It wasn't one suggestioned by of either of the colour pros. Was picked by lil' old non-professional me, using the time-tested scientific method of eeny-meeny-miny-mo.

How to tell you're married to an audiophile

Those of you who know Kim won't be surprised at all to hear that even though we don't have proper walls yet...

we do have music....
This is Kim's idea of a portable stereo.
You didn't think he'd be happy with a regular portable stero or i-pod did you?

He's very impressed with the sound from these big babies; these 30-year-old collector's items were apparently rated the best speakers of the 70's.
And the receiver? I think that's the one that Cole & Shea brought home one day as a present for Dad - they found it in someone's garbage on the way home from school. Born treasure-hunters they are.

And yes, Kim does pack this whole system into his car and lug them from home to the new house every time he's working on site.

Did you notice our first piece of furniture in the house is a stand for the stereo?
Figures - no place to sit or set your cup of tea but we have a 'custom-built' stereo stand.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Don't be slamming these.

When we were working on the design of our house we visited every show home in the lower mainland for ideas. One of our favourites was a new complex on the far tip of Lulu Island, Red Boat. We visited many times as they were a similar size and scale to our house so we were able to confirm how the sizes of our rooms would feel while we were still in the design phase. One plan was almost our exact main-floor plan - very helpful.
The design and finish of these homes is wonderful, quite different from the usual clones being built all over the lower mainland.
One of our favourite features was their use of natural and salvaged materials & real wood, particularly the fir interior doors.

Thanks to Kim's friend Brian & his connections we were able afford to splurge on our own 'stain-grade, vertical-grain' fir doors. They're still waiting to be stained & sealed, but don't they look nice even naked?

Beautiful real-wood doors like that deserve to be dressed up:

I LOVE the design of these handles. They have such a heavy, substantial feel in your hand but look like fine jewellery for your home. (note how the curve of the handle mimics the curve of our window & barrel vault - we have a theme happening here, people)

They're a brushed nickel finish, which is a wonderful warm colour (that doesn't show in this picture) & looks good with the champagne-y colour of our window hardware - and the un-nameable colour of the clear-ish flecks in our granite. (Thanks again to Brian we were able to afford these handles)

I was hoping to buy brushed nickel faucets for, at least, the kitchen & powder room but the tight-wad side of me can't justify the $200.00!!!! price difference between brushed nickel & plain old ordinary polished chrome kitchen faucets. Just for a different colour?!!? Sorry, we've been splurging in too many areas, will have to stick with plain old ordinary for our plumbing fixtures.
Don't want to have everything too matchy-matchy anyway.... Right?

Friday, September 19, 2008


The back of our house, over the end of the kitchen/greatroom has a high vaulted ceiling.

This view is taken from the back door looking towards the front of the house. That wall in the centre is a 'shear wall', in case of the big one, and that's where my wall-oven & microwave will be - Jennair's black floating glass (not stainless steel, I'm bucking that trend - I like stainless steel in small doses and only where completely appropriate for function, not fashion - like cooktops & range hoods, definitely NOT fridges)
Last weekend my shiny new oven, microwave, cooktop and range-hood arrived. I hope they don't get lonely waiting in storage, I know I can't wait to be able to use them. If you read about my appliance woes last winter you'll know how exciting this is for me. (See Nov & Dec archives)

So we have this lovely vaulted ceiling, coming to a sharp point in the middle, over this lovely rounded window.
Hmmm, can't have that can we? So, after taking only a 5-day break (that's what the paying job is for isn't it - resting up for busy weekends?) Kim was back at it: (click on pics to see'em big)

Half-way there.

One last piece.

Oh by-the-way, any ideas on how we're going to get insulation in there now?

There, isn't that better? A nice barrel-vault ceiling. Great job Kim!
I love it..... but somehow I think the drywallers won't share my enthusiasm.