Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Our layout of what could have been

I realize that in the grand scheme of things, being heartbroken over a floor is pretty silly. So lets just say that we are bitterly disappointed.

We had found the perfect tiles for the entrance way. Manu had first spotted them while lunching at a sandwich shop in the old part of town, and had told me about them that night at dinner. He was in love. Then as luck would have it, we stumbled upon them at the very store where we bought our kitchen sink and counter top. If possible I loved them even more than Manu. Black and white honed marble tiles shaped like little lanterns. And the best part, they didn't look all shiny and new, they looked like they had been around for years and years. They were perfect for the Tall House. We were smitten.

And as we are want to do, we obsessed over them. Designing and redesigning the entrance way pattern until we were satisfied.

Then our luck ran out. Having a rather long list of things to do before we tackled the vestibule floor, we decided to wait before buying the tiles. Well, good things don't necessarily come to those who wait: they are not only sold out but discontinued!

I tried having them brought in from other cities. I have even tried having them made. No dice.


Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The artists at work

It looks like the mouldings have always been there. Good sign.

Crown is on. Door frames and baseboards need to be done...

...window frames too.

Manu and I have a thing for mouldings. We first discovered their power to transform a space when we lived in The Condo. Aching for a DIY project, but finding very little to do, Manu decided one day to install crown moulding in the two back rooms. The results were extraordinary, in one weekend the rooms had changed from bland and box like, to interesting and elegant. Since then, we have been obsessed, offering it as transformation advice to any and all friends who will listen.

Now if I had my way, or rather, if our bank account wasn't bleeding, we would have opted for plaster mouldings (it is supposed to be a "restoration" after all). But unfortunately those will have to wait. In the meantime we have opted for the run of the mill white painted MDF variety, but honestly you wouldn't know it.

So while the kids, my mum and I lounged by my office pool, dear Manu and his brother Fabio, who is expecting his first child any day now, celebrated father's day by installing crown moulding on the ground floor. At noon, my mother-in-law brought food, pasta (of course), salad and the great Italian Sunday lunch staple, vino. We ate on the stairs and admired their work. And despite the wine, or maybe because of it, they really got a lot done.

Manu still needs to build a frame around the top of the kitchen cabinets before the rest of the crown can be applied, then there are all the base boards and the door and window frames. All told about three or four days work.

But even if we are only a third of the way there, its really starting to feel like home.

The, ahem, view from the kitchen door.
We planted some Virginia Creeper along the fence to the right
in the hopes that by next year, when we are ready to attack the yard,
the fence will be covered in lush greenery.

Midway through: the doors look better,
the stairs and the siding look worse.

I spray painted some old terracotta pots black.
Added a few geraniums... and voila! Instant love.

The doors and siding are painted.
In autumn we will do the stairs and the railing.

The old girl has been upgraded from haunted -
to just rickety.

We are a bit scattered these days. We have been working a bit out front, a bit out back and a bit in the middle. Seems like every time we turn around, there is another mountain of work waiting for us.

Now, we do know better than to start a new project before having finished the first one, but somehow the theory hasn't made it to practice. I started stripping the closet doors but the onset of planting season urged me to add some love to the front of the house in the form of geraniums. This in turn lead to adding some crushed stones to the front yard to perk it up just a little, which brought on the need to paint the front doors, which highlighted the ugliness of the yellow siding (so it ended up getting painted too) which then brought us to work on the front steps…

But then it started to rain.

…so we decided to plant some climbing vines by the new fence in the backyard, which made us realize in what bad shape the soil was. Which lead us to start carting some of the rocks away, which in turn lead to some weeding…

…when what we should be doing is finishing the first floor. The stair risers and the wainscoting need to be painted, the crown mouldings and baseboards need to be installed, the coat closet doors have to be stripped, sanded, painted and hung. The windows need to be washed and god knows that the first floor and the basement are begging for a good, deep down clean. Not to mention some major reorganization of the whole house as well as moving some rather large pieces of furniture.

So what we need to do is focus!

We will finish the front steps and try straightening the banisters. But seeing as this is just a quick fix to keep the place from falling down until we can afford the real deal, we will stop there for this year. Then we will leave the backyard pretty much as is, allowing the newly planted Virginia Creeper a year's head start as it hopefully lays claim to the easternmost fence.

And now no more distractions, lets finish that goddam first floor.

Friday, 4 June 2010

The kitchen cabinets, island and counter top are in. We are so close to the finish line that we can almost taste it. I am loath to name an end date for this whole first floor reno extravaganza as every time that I do, we seem to overshoot it by a country mile. My birthday! Gone. Christmas! Nope. Valentine's day! Unfortunately not. Easter! Close but no cigar. Mothers day! Closer, but still no. Father's day! I doubt it… But enough is enough, so the now realistic, no-holds-barred-must-be-done-or-else-date is August 5Th, when my dear brother and his loved-as much-as-they-are missed little family come to visit us.

They will be our inaugural dinner guests.

For there is one thing that I have learned in this whole process. And that is that all this headache and financial strain is for one purpose and one purpose only: and that is to create the perfect backdrop for our Little Superhero's and The Princess' childhood memories.

So on that upcoming August night, while the grown-up brother and sister gently tease each other with the "remember whens" from their childhood houses . The little cousins will be making memories all their own as they chase each other around the sure to be (well, almost) completed first floor of the Tall House.

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