Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lawn Lessons Learned

We took the weekend off from construction to host friends but we've been working over the past few weeks on helping the lawn to recover from some early errors.  Back in June, we installed sod in the yard and for the first couple of months, it looked great.  We watered consistently and everything was green and pretty.  Then, we made a rookie mistake of fertilizing right before a heat wave hit and we got a bad case of brown patch disease.  Three fungus treatments later and things were recovering...and then we neglected to water the lawn and drought hit.  All of this made for a tough start for our grass and three weeks ago, it was looking very sad as evidenced below.  But, we refocused and got out the sprinklers to start watering and then overseeded two weeks ago and now it's looking so much better, also evidenced below.  We'll try to keep it healthy through the fall so that we'll be in good shape next spring!  

Three weeks ago...not looking good
And today...much improved!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Finishing the Beams

It's a strange feeling to have so few transformative projects left these days.  While there's still no shortage of work to do, so much of it is in the realm of finish/detail work that there aren't great day to day changes in the house anymore.  This weekend, though, we tackled one of the remaining big impact projects on the list - staining the beams.  As regular blog visitors will recall, we installed glulam beams to open up the first floor way back in December (because what better way to spend a holiday break than removing walls?).  Now that we have walls and trim up and flooring down, the last thing to do before we could start moving furniture back into the first floor was to stain the beams.  We were sort of dreading the project to be honest - we thought it would be one of those dusty, smelly projects that would disrupt the house for the entire weekend.  But, happily, it turned out not to be such a hassle after all.  It was one of those jobs where having the right tools went a long way.  We used our Dewalt orbital sander, removed the little dust collection bag, and duct taped the hose of the shop vac to it instead.  This  little maneuver worked wonders for keeping the dust down and I highly recommend it for anyone doing a similar sanding project.  It still took a couple of hours to get the beams all cleaned and sanded and then a couple more hours to get the stain applied but all in all, it wasn't bad for a day's work.  For the stain, we mixed two colors - kona and dark walnut to get a really nice dark brown color.  It actually turned out rather darker than we expected but we're happy with the result...a good thing since there's no undoing a dark stain!  I think the color really pops against the walls and also ties in nicely with the dark front door and espresso kitchen cabinets.  We had originally planned to finish the beams with a matte poly but looking at them now, we may just leave them as is.  Either way, it's a good job to check off the list and makes a big difference in the appearance of the house.  Other than that, we've continued to organize, sort, clean, and donate various and sundry household goods.  It only took three plus years but we're finally getting this house organized.  Next up, decorating and furnishing...

Beam, pre-sanding (note the paint on the beam)

Another "pre" picture

Post-sanding, pre-stain

More post-sand, pre-stain

And another post-sand, pre-stain

Stained beam!

Same beam, but looking into the kitchen

More post-stain beams

Close-up of the den beam to show the grain

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Storage Galore

There's absolutely no reason for our long absence from the blog.  We've been here, we've been working, we've just, well, not been posting.  One possible excuse is that we've been doing much of the same stuff (painting, trim, and finish work) and one thing I can say for sure as a result - this house no longer has any shortage of storage space.  When we first moved in, it had typical tiny 1950s closets and very few of them.  A small entry closet fit a dozen coats on a good day, each bedroom had one tiny reach-in closet, and the less said about the galley kitchen and its complete lack of storage space, the better.  Now, however, it could not be more different.  We have a total of eleven closets throughout the house, with half of them oversized and a pantry in the kitchen to supplement the already numerous cabinets.  While I am, in general, completely happy with the storage situation, it's been a bit of a push to get them all finished.  We took advantage of the Container Store's Elfa sale this month to get shelving, which was much quicker than the custom built-ins we did for each of the three bedrooms on the second floor, and installed all the hardware yesterday.  Then, I missed a great photo op today when we unpacked roughly a dozen boxes of kitchen dishes and appliances that have been packed up for, ahem, three years now and spent the day washing, organizing, and storing all of our goods.  We should have gone through an editing process before we packed them up in the first place as there's quite a bit of stuff that will be finding a new home soon but it was really satisfying to unpack our cooking things again and have a place to put them.  It'll be time to start entertaining again soon!  

Kitchen pantry with shelving
Another view

Just one of many new closets

And another

Yep, another closet

View from the living room into mudroom (on the right) and den (on the left)
with tracks for sliding barn doors installed.  Next task, build the doors!