Monday, May 25, 2015

Fireplace drama

Earlier I spoke with a great deal of excitement about the most significant change in our house: the narrowing of the fireplace to let light flow through the house from front to back. This is what the original fireplace looked like:

Step one was removing enough of the right-hand side of the fireplace to make it even with the left. Like this:

All is good until we hear from the contractor given how the bricks must be put back together...we don't have enough. It's a bit hard to explain but you can't just stack the ends of the bricks on top of each other. Maybe another photo will help:

This is the original remaining side of the fireplace. You can see how ends of the brick are mixed in with lengthwise bricks- they even wrap around the corner in some instances.

Bottom line? We would need to find more brick in similar shades/color and the layering would be very labor intensive. Basically, almost doubling the projected cost, which is something we can't do. So, after much displeased conversation with the contractor we are opting to cover up the entire fireplace and put a new stone facade over it. Real stone but already assembled into panels so it is less time and labor. Here is what our poor old fireplace looks like right now:

No more sandstone, just a concrete cover.

In the next few days we'll be going to a Eldorado Stone to look at the options in our price range. This is very disappointing but hopefully, when it's finished it will look great. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I'm Floored

I mentioned last week that things are heating up at the house. It would be exciting, if I'd been better prepared for how things progress in a renovation but there doesn't seem to be much logic in it- just a lot of hurry up and then wait. Nothing happened for almost a month so it would have been nice if our contractor had let me know what lay ahead but it didn't happen. I'm very much a to-do list person and would have reveled in getting things checked off but I'm not so good at last minute change. It doesn't help that It's not as easy as going to one store and picking out what you want, as seen by my previous posts. Either what you want doesn't exist or it is out of your price range. Add to that the fact that our lease ends in less than two months and I'm waking up at 5am every morning with a choking feeling of panic and a racing mind.

On that note, the item we were just informed needed to be chosen this week is the flooring for the kitchen and the bathrooms. There are many options in flooring: wood, stone, and tile. Within each of those are many options, almost too many to count. Thankfully, we eliminated wood because while it is easy to clean it can be easily damaged in a kitchen. That leave stone and tile. Plenty of people love marble and travertine--shiny stone floors but it's too fancy for my taste so porcelain tile is the way we're going to go. 

Last weekend we found these options:

 These are two options with some vertical patterning. Looking at them against the wood we're using we decided it looks too busy.

Three more options from a different store. All of these places are happy to give you samples which is great. I know, you're saying, "What's the difference here?" Photography can only handle so much but the one on the left is a lightish green, the one in the middle is a bluish grey and the top right is grey.

This was a very good price but ultimately we decided it was too busy because we're likely to go with a granite countertop and too much patterning can conflict.

On Sunday we found a store with a great deal of selection and even something in our price range. The only problem? Warehouses are not open on weekends so despite choosing Manhattan Mist as the perfect shade of greenish grey neutral to go with our cabinets and potential countertop we could not find out if it was even in-stock.

Yesterday I found out that it is not in stock and would take a week to arrive. So, what I hoped was finished had to start all over- more driving and more stores.

Here is where I was at 11am. This was my third store of the morning and this is just one wall. Choices are not the problem but finding the RIGHT choice is. You think choices are a great thing but at some point, they are not.

And here you have it: Green Mist. The perfect depth and tone while remaining neutral. More importantly, it is in our price range and in-stock. Even this was a close call- they only had 200sf left and we need 192. Less than 3 hours ago we bought it.

Great news, right?! Yes, for this one thing but now it is on to soap dishes- build a tiled niche in the shower or use one that juts out? And the infernal fireplace which has become such a nightmare I wish we had never even touched it. Sorry, but I am now past the point at which remodeling is enjoyable or fun. Hopefully, my sense of humor will be back soon...

Friday, May 15, 2015

Bathrooms: All is Vanity

The rooms are getting framed and the push is on to make decisions fast. Normally, I’m fine with that but in making home decisions there are two problems. Unlike going to a store and looking at shoes, there is no store with a large selection of home options. I know, you’re screaming Home Depot right now and you’re partially right but when it comes to bathroom vanities 90% of their stock is only visible online. And while I can waste time online with the best of them, looking at photos of items costing $1,000+ does not inspire confidence in knowing what youre getting. It’s one thing if a pair of shoes turns out to be cadet blue not navy (this can happen) but if you want a medium brown reddish wood because it needs to go with the tile floor and it shows up and is yellowish brown, you’re stuck. Not to mention having no way to test quality online.

The second problem is just as agita-inducing. Mr. G was put on the spot to get the kitchen appliances picked out in a hurry and it was tough, but all he had to do was pick by size and type because the only finish we wanted was stainless steel. He didn’t have to consider anything else. I have to think about matching the counters, the walls, the floors, the hardware. I have no help with this and as mentioned above- if I’m wrong it’s a much bigger and more permanent mistake than a poor color choice in shoes.

If all this isnt bad enough there is the fact that apparently, home components are like fashionthey go in and out of style and right now what is in style is not a look I like. Lets check it out.

This is THE big look in bathrooms right now. Not just the mahogany vanity but the white quartz countertop and vessel sink. I am not exaggerating to say we saw this in the majority of new homes we looked at. I like the style and shape of the vanity but not the color combo. 

 Another popular look. This one I don't get and I don't like. Grey wood just seems odd and a black countertop? It's all too bleak and who wants to feel drab in the bathroom. I want "serene".

White. Feels boring to me but it is everywhere- in bathrooms and kitchens and especially with a marble countertop for an all-white look. Blah

There you have it- my current dilemma. Despite these looks not working for me they are the popular looks in bathrooms right now.  So, do I settle for something in the style I like but a color I don't? Time is running out.

What kind of look would you like in your dream bathroom?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Now Im just messing with you all with that title! Monday we were stoned and today weve been framed. The good news is that in the world of remodeling its good news. It means the house is being put back together in its new configuration.

Originally this was a full wall and contributed to making the kitchen feel smaller than it is. Now it's more open to the dining room.

This view gives you an idea of how, with the half wall and the smaller fireplace the whole space will feel more open.

This is an accent wall we're adding to give the entry a bit more definition. Beyond it you can see the new doorframe that will become a pocket door for Mr. G's office.

It's a little hard to tell but this is the frame for the new guest bathroom. The tub is already in, on the left.

Monday, May 11, 2015


Oops! If you clicked on this link hoping to get information on marijuana then sorry to have misled you. Even though I live in one of the fine states where it is not a crime to smoke it, I can't help you, so best move along now.

Instead, I'm referring to granite. Or quartz. Or marble. Any of the stones that can be used as kitchen and bathroom countertops because that was our homework this weekend. We traipsed off to Pental Granite & Marble and we rapidly overwhelmed and enthralled by a warehouse almost without end filled with granite slabs from around the world in virtually every color you can imagine. Some of these slabs measured over 8' high and 10' long! All are arranged on racks showcasing as much of the surface as possible. This is just one aisle- imagine hundreds more stretching as far as the eye can see:

 These are average sized slabs.

It was funny then to see this sign:

This sign is posted everywhere and is laughable on two levels. One, the odds of me moving one of these slabs are slim to none. Less than none, actually. Two, you know that this sign is only around because some fool (man) did try and move a piece of granite.

 Here are just a few of the many choices we saw:

Heavily patterned with blue and beige

This is not granite but is a bluish soapstone. It had the look of crumpled paper. Cool, but blue is not a color I want for a counter. Soapstone is a great choice for kitchen because it doesn't stain. Unfortunately, it only comes in very dark colors like grey, black, and tobacco.

I cannot even imagine this geode slab as a countertop...or what it must cost.

There was no way to get a photo to do this justice. The slab had these iridescent patches across the top that made it shimmer. One of the most unique pieces of stone I've ever seen.

 This is one of the granite slabs I liked. I'm leaning toward greens as a color family. Note that they do not give you prices at all. Instead the slabs are graded and the grades are the opposite of school grades, i.e. D is best and A is worst.

Another slab I liked. This one is softer than the one above but it may have too much cream/white veins.

There you have it: Granite 101. And that wasn't even the end of the day- next up was heading into another building to look at flooring tiles. More on that later.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Met Gala 2015

Every year The Metropolitan Museum and Vogue magazine host a gala for the elite and by elite I mean anyone who can afford the $25,000 per person donation to the museum. I’ve reviewed previous years and apparently, it’s not an event in my fashion sweet spot because the last time I thought the attendees were well dressed was 2012. Last year, I went so far as to say the dresses made me wish I had plucked out my eyes. How do you come back from a disappointment of that magnitude and WHY did I even pay attention to the event this year? Call me a foolish fashion optimist. Because this year made last year look tasteful and elegant. The theme this year was China: Through the Looking Glass but unless China is populated with strippers and the looking glass refers to a fantastical world of bad taste then fully 95% of the attendees missed the fashion mark. 

All right, let's ease into this with Rihanna. I don't love this but I understand it. This shade of yellow is the color of the emperor and that combined with the opulence of the fabric makes a powerful statement. Which is what Rihanna does and it works. And that's about the last positive thing I have to say.

Anne Hathaway looking hideous and angry that she looks hideous. This dress looks ill fitting and badly made. Fire your stylist, Anne.

Words fail me. I'm not kidding, this is such a hot mess I have no words.

Hard to believe Beyonce could look worse than she did last year but here we have it. I get you have a bangin' bod, Bey, but this is tacky despite whatever that hand beading cost. This dress would have been exquisite with a nude lining but instead it screams NO CLASS. 

The fact that I'm even including Miley Cyrus AND that she is understated compared to the majority of the other women is a sad reflection on fashion. Or a sign of the apocalypse.

Once again, Helen Mirren saves the day. Age appropriate and classy. Perfect hair and make-up...she gets it. Beyonce, you wish you looked this good.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


I’ve been yammering for a couple of weeks about demolishing much of the main floor of our house and you’ve seen a lot of pictures of things coming down. To keep things in perspective I thought I’d share some photos of the result of a lot of demolition: debris. Lots and lots of debris. It is a little staggering how much space is taken up when you take things down.

This is a great place to start because it shows who did what. Pic 1: me, Pic 2: Jed, and Pic 3: the pros.

These are just the baseboards, add to that door frames and door jambs and this pile tripled in size. p.s. Aren't I clever- using the lawnmower carton to keep everything from spilling all over the garage.

This is ONE wall worth of sheet rock. Even before the pros came in I demoed three others so this baby pile is nothing.

If this doesn't look familiar, it shouldn't. I wanted you to see that we're not the only ones out there creating an all-mighty mess. This photo is compliments of my friend Amy in Atlanta who is also in the midst of a renovation. Thankfully, this is the last of the debris for both of us!

That is it for demolition! I, for one, couldn't be happier. Everything is torn down and now it's time to start putting it back together.

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