Asheviller: Ron and Valerie Move to Asheville…

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Nov '10

Triangle Trip Thankfulness

We spent Thanksgiving week in Indiana and Pennsylvania visiting our families. Although we drove more than 1500 miles and spent over 23 hours in the car, I think it was much less stressful than flying. We could leave when we want, stop to eat when we want, stretch out and relax, and, most importantly, only be groped by someone we love!

Our families are doing well and it was great to see everyone. Now we need to walk off those wonderful Thanksgiving dinners.

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Nov '10

The Cabinets are Here

Today was cabinet delivery day. The truck was supposed to arrive between noon and 4:00 so we went to Blue Water Seafood near the house for lunch and awaited a call from the driver. About 1:30, as we were finishing lunch, Thomas (our installer who was on-site putting down our deck) called Valerie to tell her the cabinets were delivered and stacked in the kitchen and dining room. Y’all Say What? Just like a cable TV installer, the driver never called us to let us know when he would arrive. Luckily, Thomas was there to orchestrate the unloading and do an inventory of the boxes. We hustled up to the house and, ta-da, the kitchen, bathroom, office, and wetbar cabinets are here!

The first thing we did, after taking a couple pictures, was scan the box labels. For weeks we’ve had a worry (just a little one) in the back of our minds that we wouldn’t get the correct cabinets. I think I blogged that when we ordered the cabinets, Home Depot incorrectly entered alder instead of cherry. We didn’t catch it when we signed the contract but the next day, after Valerie reviewed the paperwork and caught the error, Home Depot “fixed it.” You know how things can go…we weren’t 100% sure what would eventually arrive. Thankfully, all is well. The cabinets are cherry. Whew.

The wood floor will likely be finished by Monday. Those guys are fast. I think most of the subs will be off Thanksgiving week but, if our floor tile comes in, the tiler may get some of that work done. On Monday, November 29th, Thomas will return to begin installing the cabinets; kitchen and office, first, then the basement wetbar followed by the bathrooms as the tiler finishes up those floors. December will be a very busy month.




Nov '10

Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes

Today’s post was supposed to be all about pictures showing the great progress we’ve been making over the last few days. But, alas, before we get to that I need to talk about some changes.

First up, the countertops. With the cabinets arriving tomorrow and installation starting on the 29th it’s time to place the order for our countertop slabs. The kitchen tops have been a done-deal for a long time. After looking at hundreds and hundreds of choices we decided on a quartz product call Cambria (not to be confused with our deck boards that are called Cambia). You may have heard of Silestone or Caesarstone. Cambria is similar. We wanted something that was timeless and would complement our natural cherry cabinets. We almost went with a solid black granite but decided it was too “blah” and instead chose Cambria’s Blackwood. It looks almost like granite (I think even better) and could be considered more “green” because it’s not blasted out of a mountainside somewhere.

Our kitchen requires one and a half slabs but, unfortunately, you can only order full slabs. Luckily we also have a wet-bar in the basement that needs about 6′ of countertop. We could have used our extra half-slab for that, it would have been the easy thing to do, but the fabricator lets you swap out your “remnant” for one of their remnants on an even trade. Great. More choices. A few days ago we went shopping through their yard and, despite the pouring rain, found a nice piece of granite called Cashmere White that “someone decided they didn’t like after they had their kitchen island partially made.” That’s an expensive change! Valerie loved it, but I wasn’t sold. We brought a sample home and discovered that it worked really well with our paint colors. It worked so well that we thought it might also be a good choice for our master vanity tops. After a couple hours of maybe/kinda/yes/no we decided that it would be great for the wetbar but not for the vanities. We decided to stay with Corian for those.

Valerie wasn’t happy with Corian but we had a color that worked okay so we stuck with it. The Corian cost more than the granite because it was new vs. a remnant but I was tired of making decisions. We were done, finished, kaput with countertops. This morning Valerie emailed our signed contract for the tops and we left to run some errands, one of which was to take back the sample of Cashmere White to the fabricator. While we were there we thought, “What could it hurt to peruse the samples one more time? Since it’s bright and sunny, we can see the slabs better than last time.” I’ll tell you what it could hurt, we might find something we like better than our current, final, contracted, choice. Yep, that’s what happened. We found a great piece of quartz (don’t know whose, yet) that’s large enough to do both our vanities. Valerie quickly called the store and was told that they had not yet processed the Corian order. We could still change our selection. So that’s what we’re going to do, just once more. Change our countertop selection. But, there will be no more visits to the remnant yard! Period. It’s done.

Onto the other change. Since almost day one of our design we’ve had a window seat in our master bedroom. It spanned the entire 11′ wall under the window. I thought I wanted it, thought it would be nice to sit on a seat right next to a window with such a great view. Valerie thought our (future) cats would sleep on it. The seat stayed through the entire design process, Steve framed it up, it was drywalled, and recently painted. The wood floor was going in tomorrow and would butt up against the seat. The only thing left to do was put on the top and have cushions made. Done. I hated it. Disliked it for weeks. It shrunk the length of the bedroom by nearly 2′. You couldn’t stand up close to the window because the seat was in the way. Maybe we might sit on it, but a big chair (and we have a couple that we don’t yet know where they’ll go) would work for that too and would be much more comfortable. We have two other window seats, one in the dining room and one in the living room. I stewed all day on what to do. At lunch, Valerie told me, “Last chance.”

After we got back from errands at 4:30 I packed my toolbag with a knife, hammer, prybar, and sawzall. I announced to Valerie that I was going to the house to “rip out a window seat.” I got to the house at 5:00 (took 10 seconds to admire the completed oak floor in the dining room) went up stairs and my heart sank. There were piles of oak flooring stacked in the bedroom. All the flooring tools were scattered around. They had started laying the wood floor! I was too late!

But, they had only layed two planks. Both stopped at the window seat but the end of the outer plank was only 6″ long. I could remove the seat, pull up the short plank, and, tomorrow, they could continue both planks to the wall. So, that’s what I did. I scored the drywall on the corners, sawed through the seat’s front wall down to the floor on both ends, tilted the frame down and all the nails ripped out of the floor. A couple tugs and the whole 10′ of frame came free. My hammer and prybar made short work of the remainder on each side wall. I pryed out the short plank of flooring and used the shopvac to clean up the dust. If it wasn’t for the holes in the sheetrock, the flooring crew might show up tomorrow and think, “wasn’t there a wall here for a bench seat, yesterday?” Took maybe 15 minutes. I emailed Steve and asked him to call the drywall crew and ask them to return to fix my “modifications” to the master bedroom walls. It’ll cost me but I think it will still be less than the finish work to complete the seat and the cost of an 11′ seat cushion. Plus, we’ll be able to reuse an existing chair. It’s sortof like salvaging a remnant piece of quartz countertop.

Onto the progress pictures…Mouse over them to read the captions…






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Nov '10

I’ve Got Sunshine, on a Cloudy Day

We’re primed and ready for flooring. Woody, our painter, really knows how to use that paint sprayer of his. Wednesday morning he was busy taping off all the windows, vents, and anything else he didn’t want to get paint into. In the afternoon he began priming the ceilings and over the next few days he primed everything and put the final coat on the ceilings. When we went out this morning I was shocked to see how much he had gotten done. It looks like a real house! Okay, it looks like an apartment or a builder house with white ceilings and beige walls but the walls are just primed. The colors will come next.

Well, there are two finished colors already. One is a funny oops. We have an elevator shaft that, for now, is just a large closet on each of the three floors. The lower level of our house will have a rec-room much like our Woodinville house. The elevator closet on that level will house my Funhouse pinball machine. We asked Woody to paint the entire inside, the walls and the ceiling, black. We’re going to put a black light in the ceiling, write on the walls in florescent paint, and hang fun posters all over. The other two elevator closets, since we’ll be using them as real closets, were to be white. Well, I guess we weren’t perfectly clear on which room to paint what…because…the pinball closet is white and the main level closet, just off the foyer, next to the powder room is…black. Oops. I’m trying to decide if we should ask him to repaint or just change where we put the pinball machine!

The other finished color is on Valerie’s pantry (AKA the Costco Room) ceiling. She wanted a bright, fun, spicy, color. She has an idea for a poster to put on the ceiling (I won’t comment on that until she officially decides) so I brought home about a dozen complementary color chips from the paint store. I jokingly made my choice. She took the chips out to the house, agreed with my selection(!), and gave the chip to Woody. Over the weekend our 8′x10′ pantry ceiling became Sun God, a bright, orangey, yellow. Blame me. Actually, it’s kinda nice. Valerie loves it. Helios would be proud.

We were out at the house early to meet with the tiler to finalize tile quantities. I also needed to fix (move, level, and plumb) the shower head and valves in the master shower (did I mention that I’m not thrilled with our plumber’s attention to detail?). While we were there the siding guys were unloading and, weather permitting, should finish the siding on the back/high side this week. The wood flooring should arrive tomorrow morning and be set out to acclimate to the house. On Thursday the cabinets are scheduled to arrive. By the Monday after Thanksgiving, we may have a completed floor, just in time for the cabinet installation to begin.

It rained all day, today, but Valerie’s pantry ceiling reminded me of this Temptations song…

I've got sunshine on a cloudy day.
When it's cold outside I've got the month of May.
I guess you'd say
What can make me feel this way?
My girl (my girl, my girl)
Talkin' 'bout my girl (my girl)
Ooohh Ooohh.

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Nov '10

All We Are is Dust in the Wind

To quote from the Kansas song with the same name…Or from Abba’s Fernando…”There was something in the air that night”…or Phil Collins, “I can feel it coming in the air tonight”…or from Boys Don’t Cry, “I’ve got my boots, Dusty”…or Fleetwood Mac, “Gold Dust Woman.” That all sums up today.

What the heck am I talking about? Well, today was cleanup day. About 3:00 yesterday afternoon, as we were finishing up coating our deck boards, the two drywall finishers loaded up their truck, said, “We’re done,” and drove away. Valerie noted that the cloud of dust surrounding them and the powdery footprints they left on the street reminded her of Pigpen. Well, imagine Pigpen’s house! That would be 380 Vance Gap Road. The interior of our house was an incredible mess. Globs of drywall mud were everywhere. A thick coat of white dust was all over the floors and windows. I didn’t get any pictures because, honestly, I was afraid to take the camera inside for fear of getting dust in it. So, with the painter coming on Wednesday, Valerie, Steve, and I manned the scrapers, brooms, dustpans, feather dusters, sweeping compound, Shop-Vacs, and dust masks and cleaned the windows, outlet/switch boxes, and floors for about 7 hours. It was a HUGE, dusty, job. I lost count how many times I had to clean out the filter in the Shop-Vac because it got so plugged up with dust that it quit sucking. Whew. But, it’s done. Well, it’s done, good enough, for now. Woody, the painter, will sand the ceilings again after he primes them so I’ll need to go out, probably on Sunday, to vacuum one more time before the tiler and wood floor crew arrive next week.

Did I say the tiler and wood floor crew arrive next week? Yep. That’s right. And, we just put a hold on our kitchen cabinets because I didn’t think we would need them until early December. But, Steve wants them delivered on Friday, November 19th, with installation soon after that. Hang on, we’re moving now.

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Nov '10

Drywall and Tile

After three weeks and one day of work, the drywall mudders and tapers will finish on Monday. The drywall looks pretty good and after another day of sanding and touchups, the house will be ready for priming. Talk about a mess, though. Yeesh. There’s mud and dust everywhere! The pictures don’t really show how bad it really is. I walked through the house in black pants and I tried not to touch anything. After ten minutes I was white with dust and globs of mud. Time to breakout the Shop-Vac, multiple times!



On Thursday, we went shopping for floor tile. Laying that is the next task after priming the drywall and painting the ceilings so we need to finalize our choices asap. For me this has been tough process. Unlike paint, tile is essentially a permanent decision. You gotta like it and live with it forever. Yes, you can go with an off-white travertine or, if you’re adventurous, a mottled grey slate, but what fun is that? We thought we did pretty well selecting tile for our master bath in Woodinville. It was colorful, in and organic and earthy kinda way, and our bath was what everyone commented on when we were selling our house so…as the old saying goes, “Go big or go home.”

The problem is as soon as you decide that you’re going to expand your limits beyond benign shades of beige, you’re confronted with thousands of other choices, not just colors, but shapes and styles and materials, and, oh my gosh, you can mix them together, too! Running with scissors! Running with Scissors. This was not going to be a good day for me.

Serendipitedly (that’s not a word but it translates to ”as good luck would have it”) we accidentally went to the wrong tile store on our way to a tile manufacturer’s showroom. The one tile we were mostly sure of is for our foyer and is made by Daltile. We thought we were going to their showroom but, also in the same office park is Horizon Tile and Stone, who sells Daltile. We pulled up and went in, not knowing that our intended destination was around back.

Timothy Allmond, one of their designers/marriage counselors , worked with us (patiently) and after a few, not-really-that-painful, hours we walked out with designs and tile choices for our foyer, mudroom, Costco room, guest baths, and master bath. DONE! Afterwards, Valerie said, “We needed help.” And, we did. We could have eventually (and painfully) arrived at some adequate selections, but having an expert take one of our choices and in seconds pull other tiles off the rack that “go with it” saved us hours of frustration. It all works. It will look great. And, I think we one-upped our Woodinville master bath. Whew. Relief.

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Nov '10

Painting a Mile-Long Stripe

About 22 years ago when we were building our house in Johnson City we wanted to save a few bucks and volunteered to put in some sweat labor to stain and polyurethane our baseboard and window trim. I distinctly remember the setup we had in the driveway with sawhorses, buckets, and 2by4′s lined up and covered with strips of our trim in various stages of finishing. We spent several days at that task. I never imagined doing it again.

As you know, if you’ve been reading our blog, we decided to try a new decking product called Cambia Wood. It’s been an adventure trying to get it delivered to North Carolina but we recently secured a load just in time for the decking crew to start putting it down. However (don’t you just love that word) we thought we ordered it prepainted with a clear protective coating. Oops. That’s not what we got. They shipped us the uncoated boards. Although the wood is rated to perform just fine without a coating, it will last longer and look better with a water-repellent ultraviolet protectant applied. Now, we have about 900 square feet of the stuff. It’s 6″ wide. That’s 1800 linear feet of boards. Times two for the back and front plus the edges and there’s over a mile of board that needs coated.

There are a couple schools of thought, here. We could have the boards installed on the deck and then just roller a coating on the top. We could load the boards on a truck and take them to Carolina Colortones for coating in their factory and have them shipped back to us. Or, since the deck crew is coming on Monday, we could…do it right and personally break out the brushes and paint a mile-long stripe (in 8′ and 12′ segments).

On Tuesday, that’s what we did. Steve and I started bright and early and Valerie came out after a morning of painting Camp Bell’s kitchen windows. Steve had lots of interruptions (he is the contractor, after all) so Valerie and I did the bulk of the work. Just like 22 years ago our driveway was covered with sawhorses, buckets, and 2by4′s layered with boards in various stages of being stained. By 5:30, as it was starting to get dark and the weather was beginning to change for the worse, we had finished…about half of the boards. Ouch. The weather is supposed to be bad (rain then cold) for several days so it looks like we won’t get back to it until Sunday or Monday. I think/hope that we can finish it all in one more day. We’ll see. Just like 22 years ago.

P.S. This is what we’re using: Benjamin-Moore Arborcoat Protective Clear Coat.

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Nov '10

Da Bears

I guess the bears are still out foraging for their last, pre-hibernation, meal. Driving away from our new house this evening, a few minutes after Steve, I came across him stopped in the middle of the road. He was out of his truck watching our neighborhood mamma bear and her two cubs. I managed to snap this picture before they ambled further up the hill.  Serena caught whiff of them and was not happy.

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