October 25, 2012

More of Steve's stone

As I mentioned before, we got Steve to clad the new cinder-block foundation wall in the back of the house with stone to match his dry-stacked wall.
This wasn't exactly necessary for us to move in (and that has been our focus lately), but it sure does finish off the exterior.

He found natural stone for the cladding that is pretty much exactly the same as the stone in the wall.

This is the finished wall, complete with LED lights going down the stone steps. 

I haven't seen these lights on yet, but I imagine they'll give a nice glow along the path.

This is the basement walkout. 
There will be some wood framing around the door eventually that will cover up that orange foam.  We couldn't put the stone right around the corners because it would completely encase the sliding door.  The windows and doors peeps don't recommend doing that in case we ever have to repair or replace the door.  With a painted wood frame, we can do it without damaging our beautiful stonework.
This reno has been chock full of funny little issues like this one that need some kind of thoughtful solution.  A total learning experience for me.  In hindsight, we could have made the opening a bit larger than the door. 
As I keep saying-- we'll know that for the next house!

This is the full back of the house right now.  I know, what a mess!  We've still got railings to go in on the second floor balcony and the deck to build (with storage underneath).  Still, it's coming together very nicely, I think.

Paul and I are already thinking of other stone projects for Steve to do in the front of the house.  We just love his work!
Our hardwood floors are going in next week and Steve is going to finish them for us-- with me as a helper!  Yep, he does woodworking too. 
And this morning he gave me an amazing idea for the front hallway!  I think I'm going to save this one as a surprise-- even for Paul.  MOSTLY for Paul!  It's that good.

October 20, 2012

The new front door

After the giant fail of trying to refinish the original door of The Bennett House, I kind of got set on having a wood front door.

Unfortunately, when I looked into the cost of wood exterior doors, I was a bit floored!  Especially since we decided to widen the opening to line up better with the 2nd floor balcony door above it.
I then looked into second hand old doors, but they needed too much work and a lot of customization to fit our opening so I decided to try and find a cheaper, custom manufacturer.
I did find one.  Through Kijiji of all places!
I have to admit, the whole set-up did not fill me with confidence, but I decided to take the risk and go for it anyway.  If it worked out, I would be saving thousands of dollars!

So they took our measurements, and then sent them off to China where our door, side lights and transom got custom made.  
Eight weeks later, it arrived in pieces at a warehouse in Markham. I managed to drive it home in our mini-van, but was completely packed and the suspension was pretty low.  This is a seriously heavy door!
I wasn't quite sure what the quality would be like since we paid about a quarter the cost of local door manufacturers, but when we opened it up, it looked pretty good!

Looked alright, yes, but didn't fit! 
And not just in one direction.  None of the parts fit together properly.  Some were too big and some were too small.
Our guys spent 2 days working on the door-- cutting and sanding and re-fitting it.

But they got it looking like this!

Pretty fantastic, I think!

I picked up a nice door set from Rona that looked hand forged and slightly beaten up-- just my style.  
But when I went over to see it installed, this was what I saw.

Notice anything weird about the interior handle?  
Anyway, it's all fixed up now-- lever pointing in the right direction.

I think it looks gorgeous!  
A heavy, black-stained, solid mahogany door for a fraction of the cost!

As long as you have a good carpenter ;-)

October 15, 2012

Tiling the kids' bathroom

With our fast approaching December 6th move-in date, everyone is under a lot of stress these days.  
Dry-walling took way longer than any of us anticipated and led to a bit of a blow up this past week-end.
Not pretty.  
Today, it was finally finished.  And although they took weeks longer than they originally figured, they did do a beautiful job.  I truly hope we can put it all behind us now and carry on with the rest of the project.  
We have to get the hardwood floors installed and the wood can't come into the house with all the moisture from the dry-wall mud in the air.  Eight days from now we can bring it in and five days after that we can begin installation.  The dry-wall delays have seriously held everything up.

We have started tiling the kids' bathroom on the second floor, though.

Finishing costs can seriously skyrocket if you're not careful, and tiles are one item that can cost a small fortune.  Since we have 5 bathrooms plus the entry,  I have been doing my best to find decent discount tiles.  
For this bathroom, for instance, we needed 180 square feet of wall tile.  We bought this tile at $2.75 a sq.ft. (a total of $495).  The tile I initially fell in love with was $16.95 a sq.ft.  That would have been $3,051!! Just for the tiles!  Big difference!
I honestly believe that you can do wonderful things in design without breaking the bank, and that's what I'm trying to accomplish here.

Unfortunately though, this tile didn't work out as wonderfully as I had hoped.  It wasn't just discounted tile, it turned out to be cheaply made tile.  

Our tiler had a heck of a time trying to line up the grout lines because one sheet wouldn't match up to the next and some tiles were just plain wonky-- notice that tile second from the top and second from the left?  Wide on one end and narrow on the other.  
Fortunately, we'll be using white grout so I don't think it's going to be a huge deal in the end.
But I won't be buying from that place again!

I did, on the other hand, score a couple of great deals from Stone Tile's clearance section in the back.  I have always loved their tiles but have been a bit scared off by the fact that they don't show any prices on anything (except in the clearance section it turns out).  And how many tile shops do you know of that offer you a cappuccino as you shop?

These gorgeous blue porcelain tiles were only $1.10 a sq.ft.!  I'm going to use these in the third floor half bathroom.

And these Italian porcelain tiles were only $2.24 a sq. ft.  They're going on the floor of the kids' second floor bathroom (the one with the cheap white wall tile).
I guess I'm getting a bit better at this.  I'm so glad we started with the kids' bathroom and not our en-suite.
I'll have to work out a plan for that room next --yikes!

October 02, 2012

Trim-less windows

We decided to take a clean, spare approach to finishing our windows and forego any trim.  We've seen this done in many modern homes and the simplicity really appeals to both of us.  
This is one of the windows in our current kitchen that was finished in this way.  

In the window behind the sink, we put in a granite sill (matching the counters) but with no trim on the other 3 sides.  
When a window is finished with just painted drywall, it isn't as durable as one with wood trim, and we like to put things like flowers and plants in this window.  
We plan to do similar sills in the bathrooms of the Bennett House.  
Again, we might want to put flowers or wet bottles in these windows and drywall wouldn't hold up to that.

But mostly, I'm all for clutter-free windows, so a painted drywall finish suits us fine for most of the rooms.
It is quite time consuming to drywall a house when you finish the windows like this. You have to corner bead around each one, make it straight, and mud it all even.  Traditional casings can cover rough drywall ends and even gaps, so none of this needs to be done.

The flip side is that drywall is fairly cheap and drywallers don't generally charge as much as trim carpenters.  
With our 9 to 11 inch deep windows (in the old parts of the house) trimming in wood would likely cost us more in the end-- even just for materials.

If we didn't have a budget, I would have loved to trim the windows like this one below-- with a simple wood jamb and a small reveal in the drywall.  
I actually think it looks even better with wood windows (which we also don't have).
 (image from here)

The skylights look really great.  Just simple holes in the roof.

I actually planned to trim out the bay windows with wood, but the drywallers moved faster than I did.  Since we are now so time crunched, I decided to just leave it.  Believe me, there are lots of little things I would change if I were to do this all over again!  But I've got to keep the big picture in mind.
In the future, I think I'll put in wood sills.

The doors we will trim out, however, with something very simple.  Doorways take a lot more abuse than windows and need that extra protection.
This is the basement door at our current house, cased in simple painted MDF.

I originally planned to do painted white MDF baseboards at The Bennett House, but am now leaning towards large oak baseboards that match the floors.  We'll see how this idea pans out.

This is the kitchen/dining room/family room starting to take shape.  With the ceiling drywall in, our dock board light boxes really stand out.  The big steel beam as well.  
I'm still trying to decide what to do with that thing.  
Paint it white.  Paint it black or grey.  Just leave it as it is....

P.S.  We sold our house in one week.  Totally worth all the stress of cleaning it out, staging it, and moving to my sister's for the showings.  In the end we got 8 offers!  Completely crazy!