grumpy about the construction project (WE WILL NEVER BE DONE)

With Thanksgiving just a month away, it’s essential that this project wind itself down fast. Things are happening, but we still have a ton of work to do. Anthony and I are doing most of the finish work, and I’m not sure how we’ll get it done in four weeks.

(moment of silence)

I just gagged a little after thinking about the calendar. No worries, I’m fine now. Panic attack under control.

But some things are actually happening. I think the last time I posted a note about the renovation, we were installing kitchen cabinets. That’s pretty much done (except for baseboards and trim, and of course trim is an infinite loop process involving trim, and then the trim to trim out the trim, and then the trim to trim out the trim on the trim, and so on, until everything is finally finished in about a decade, at which point you rip out all the trim for the next redo).

The floors are almost all done. The pros did the kitchen and bedrooms; Anthony and I are doing the hallway and stairs. The pros do it better in a technical sense, but the floors that Anthony and I are working on display more character (i.e., flaws). It’s all good.

Nick’s bedroom before:


And after. Take note of the still ratty hallway flooring in the forefront to have a good idea of what the floors looked like. I’m thrilled that we were able to keep the original flooring.


Formerly Jesse’s room:


Now our future parents’ bedroom. This room grew a lot because of the extension, so they put in new flooring.


Remember the carpeted hallway and stairs?


We ripped that carpet out some time in the antebellum era and lived with this sort of skanky look forever. Not as blurry in real life, but close.


Then Anthony decided to engage in a traditional kowtow-sanding ritual.


we sanded everything down.


And then did a two-tone stain with dark risers.


It still needs to be varnished, and then it won’t be so, um, unattractive. The head on the newel post came with the house. Have I mentioned that I suggested taking a sawzall to her neck when we first saw the house? I was wrong-headed, of course. She’s creepy looking, but the kids don’t mind her at all and I think she’s supposed to be some sort of sea-faring good luck gnome. And anyway, I’m not really sure what’s more creepy — newel post gnome or the stick figures in the background, which my kids apparently drew on the cork calendar.


Remember my old kitchen? All these shots are from almost the same angle and location.






I’m really pleased with the kitchen floors, which are light-colored and have an airy feel. Also, thanks to the sub-floor planks being covered up, construction debris will no longer fall through the cracks into our laundry room in the basement. That’s been going on since July, and it’s one of the things that has sucked the most through the life of this project, because for several months that basement space served as our sole bathroom, kitchen sink, and laundry room. I can’t exaggerate how depressing it was to head into that room at the end of each work day and find a layer of wood chips, nails, and dust on every surface, including our toothbrushes when I forgot to move them to a safe zone. The kids would walk in there and scream. Nick would go outside into the woods to pee. He preferred tics and mosquitos to the filth.

But that was then, and this is now. Lovely lovely.

On the corridor to the basement, we were able to keep a tread edge of original white oak. The flooring guy and I agreed mutually to stain it dark as an accent, and I really like the way it turned out.


We’re still waiting on the kitchen door. Some sort of particle board door is temporarily installed. It floats in the air like a tease, like an unrequited hope, like an unfinished dream, like a, like a… Got it. Like a deconstructed floating cloud of irony.


Our appliances have been delivered. But they’re not hooked up. The range hood was delivered today, but they couldn’t install it because the HVAC guys hadn’t cut a vent hole. So our excitement over having appliances in the house is muted.

Next week, hypothetically, many critical things will happen:

The foundation guy will come re-grade the ground around Ironic Floating Door, and then the carpenter will put in some steps so we can exit the kitchen door without a parachute.

Maybe, just maybe, that fricking particle board door will be replaced with the correct door, which has windows and such. It would be nice if that happens before Wisconsin freezes over, so that I can actually prime and paint it before next spring, and save an expensive door from a raw winter existence.

The counter guy will install counters and the dining bar. Won’t that be something?

The plumber will set up all our appliances with gas lines, water lines, and whatever other lines he thinks we need to hear. Also I think he might be able to install some fixtures.

The electrician will get some finish electrical work in. Pendants! Ceiling fixtures! Outlets!

The HVAC guys will come and do HVAC things. Dryer and shower vents in the basement. A hole in the kitchen wall for the range vent. Other stuff I haven’t thought of, I presume.

The DIY guys (that’s Anthony and me) will get busy in the next week and beyond. We have four weeks to finish the hallway and stairs, finish up our powder room floors, install four sets of closet doors, trim out and finish 7 new windows and 8 new doors, finish and install our home-made table top for the kitchen desk, tile the master bathroom and mudroom, finish and install baseboards all over the place, put down vinyl square flooring in the basement laundry room, make drywall repairs down there, regrade the front porch slab so water doesn’t drain back to the house foundation, retrofit the former built-in china cabinet into a new “built-in” location, and a random assortment of touching-up tasks.

Probably not gonna happen. Maybe I’ll take tomorrow off.

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