Up until now, we’ve been renters. Post-highschool, both Em and I went to college and lived in dorms. After that, we lived in a variety of aparment situations. When we got together, we first had a 2 bedroom apartment and then later we rented a house. In all this time, pets weren’t really an option. We had some fish tanks, but nothing furry running around. For a while now, Emily has really wanted a kitten. I grew up with animals and like having them around. After I got back form my vacation, we headed to the local APL to see about adopting a kitten. We went in for one and somehow came out with two. Meet the new members of our family:
Gizmo – An orange, taby with giraffe-like markings.
Olive – A tiny, fearless calico.
Gizmo was about four months old and Olive about 3 months when we adopted them. We went through quite the list of names and even ended up changing Gizmo’s (previously we tried Kramer). I think we were outrageously lucky with our picks. Our good friends went to the shelter with us and advocated for getting two kittens rather than one. I’m very happy we decided to get two. Kittens get bored easily and they play together non-stop. They’re both very affectionate and fearless when it comes to new situations and people. Within a day or two they were exploring the house and climbing on things. They showed up litter trained, so we didn’t have to struggle with boxes. Gizmo is a bit needier than Olive. He wants to be in your lap and held against your chest. Olive is more content to hang out by herself. She enjoys ridding around on my shoulder so she can look at everything. It’s super cute. They’ll have their first field trip in a few weeks when we go to visit some friends of ours in Toledo. We’ve made it a point to take them on car rides and by now they’re pretty chill about being in the car and actually enjoy spending time in their carrier.
Our only challenge so far has been sleep. Kittens sleep like 18 hours a day, and then run laps the other 4. The problem is they want to play around 2am and then again around 5am. Gizmo has taken to waking me up by biting my nose. On the other hand, someone really likes falling asleep with purring kittens on her belly (see above). I’ve taken to either evicting the cats when I head to bed or waiting for them to fall asleep elseware and slipping away unnoticed. We’re really happy with the next additions to our family!
We’ve been in radio silence on the blog for the last several months. My apologies for that. Here’s what’s been going on in life…We passed our final inspections and closed everything out with the city and Northeast Shores at the beginning of July. We received our Certificate of Occupancy and filed a copy with the CDC. We moved in the weekend of July 4th and I took the next week off to visit friends in Toledo and sleep. Thus began the slow process of moving in. It’s now about 3 months later and we’re still not quite there yet. This has been an amazing challenge for us. In all my past moves, the unpacking process has been a matter of taking things out of boxes and putting them into drawers, up on walls, arranging furniture, and all that fun stuff. Moving into this house has been a little different. We still have a long laundry list of things that need to be done and we want to be done. Shelving needs to be put in, trimwork needs to be finished, and lots of stuff needs sanded, painted, and generally cleaned. The needle barely moved in our first month in the house. It was a combination of both being exhausted and overwhelmed. But little by little we’ve chipped away at it and brought more rooms online.
I still intend to update this blog. I have lots of material from the final months of renovation that never made it, plus continuing projects and general home-repair stuff. I’m hoping to continue to use this as a platform to both keep people involved in our project as well as chronicle the things we’re learning from this stage in our life. So stay tuned!
It’s Thursday, July 3rd. Yesterday we had our final walk through with Northeast Shores and our final inspection with the city of Cleveland. The folks from NES were over the moon with the improvements that we made. It was very positive and made me feel kind of bashful. The inspector from the city, who showed up a little later, said we did a good job but found a few minor issues that needed to be taken care of before she would sign off. She was nice enough to agree to come back today (we said it wouldn’t take that long and we’d take care of them right after she left). So as of 4pm today, we have our final sign off for the house. City Hall was closed for the long weekend by then, but that’s just a matter of pushing some paper. We’re officially approved by everybody and we can move into the house! It was too late in the day to start pulling furniture, so tonight we’re back in our friend’s guest room but I imagine we’ll be up bright and early to start moving in.
There’s still lots we want to do with the house and we’ll keep updating as we undertake more projects. Plus I have a hefty back log of posts from our hiatus to wade through once there’s a little bit of breathing room. Keep reading the blog. We’re over the hill and that’s what counts! No more inspections and check ups! Now to take a very long nap.
Here’s a brief recap of our last couple weeks. We moved out of the house we were renting at the end of last month. All of our stuff is currently being stored at our new house, distributed between the finished bedrooms and the garage. Our friends Tim and Ang graciously offered us up their guest bedroom to stay while we finish the work. They just bought a new house and are in the process of fixing up their old house for sale. So their life is 1. Wake up; 2. Go to work; 3. Go work on their old house; 4. Go to sleep. Our life, on the other hand is 1. Wake up; 2. Go to work/go work on the house; 3. Work on the house some more; 4. Go to sleep. So despite living together for like 2 weeks, we almost never see each other. Still it’s good to have friends that care and they’re super awesome people.
As far as work goes, we’re busting our butts trying to get everything squared away to bed finished by the end of the month. As of writing this, we’ve finished our final HVAC inspection and I called to set up our final Electric. The plumbing is waiting on a shower to be finished, but that’s pretty darn close. After those mechanicals are out of the way, the rest should be smooth sailing. Work wise, nearly everything is finished. There’s some odds and ends, mostly painting and trimwork, that needs done. Finishing the bathroom shower is the biggest project still left. I also need to hang some doors. But really, everything should be on track to be finished soon. This week we’re getting the ducts cleaned and having carpet installed in the master bedroom. After that, we’ll be able to run the HVAC system and all of our floors will be finished. We have two working bathrooms minus a shower in one. And most importantly, I think we have all the materials we need to finish everything out (with the exception of the odd box of nails or paintbrush here and there).
Our life style right now doesn’t leave much time to write posts, so consider us on hiatus for the blog until we move in proper and I have time to catch up. We do have pictures of the various projects and I have lots to write about. Just no time. Hopefully that changes soon.
Picking paint for the interior walls has been a challenge for us. Em and I process these kinds of decisions in very different ways. Here’s the system we’ve hit on that works:
1. We pick a room we’re working on and go to home depot. We then get any and all swatches that could possibly, even remotely make sense.
2. We go home and cut the swatches apart so it’s one color per piece.
3. I walk around with the pile staring at walls and doing first round cuts. Discards are thrown gleefully to the floor.
4. I had the pile to Em and she walks around making cuts in the same fashion.
5. She hands the pile back to me. If it’s sufficiently small (say 2-5), we’ll tape or hold those contenders up and decide between them. Usually this is a bracket system where we say “I like this one better than this one”. If there’s still too many, we repeat steps 3-4.
My personal process is to wander around and look at sight lines and think about how the pallet will match whatever we’re working on. While I think globally about the house palette, I don’t feel particularly confined to sticking with 3 or 4 colors and repeating or varying on them. For me, it’s more about mood setting and where I want to start with decorating. So far I’m feeling pretty good about our choices even though I don’t think they’ll all look good until the room is cleaned and finished with window dressings and things hanging on the walls. Though we still have a lot of rooms to go and most of the 2nd floor will just be primed white by the time we move in.
Kitchen and Pantry are a grayish purply blue called Downpour.
Back hallway is Mustard Seed.
Interior of the coat closet is a saturated red/maroon that I can’t recall the name off. We also painted an accent wall in the pantry this color.
The pantry is a robin’s egg blue.
The doors are, of course, purple.
The ceilings actually all got primed and painted white. The new ceilings we put in got textured to match the rest of the house. We thought about doing something crazy, but decided that’s a choice better left to fantasy right now.
Well, not quite.
Our lease agreement ends at the end of this month, but because of setbacks with Em’s injury, we won’t be ready to move into the house. As of writing this post, there’s still construction to finish and inspections to get done. We’re very close, but not there yet. Still, the arrow of time points in one direction. So our short term plan is to box everything up and store it at the new place. Today we’re renting a Uhaul and moving all the furniture into the garage at the new place. We’ve been carting over carloads of boxes all month and putting them in the finished bedrooms. We’re also turning off most of our utilities today or in the next few days. Our friends have graciously offered us their guest bedroom for the short term while we finish up work on the house. June is going to be a whacky month for us! Stay tuned.
I think I mentioned in a previous post about refinishing the floors in the front of the house that we pulled off a lot of wood that was covering them. On top of the original floors were a 1/2″ thick oak plank. In the original rooms it had buckled and parts of it were ripped up. Still, between the dining room and living room, I recovered probably 200 sq/ft of savable flooring. It’s thin, but it’s solid, so it could be refinished. Our plan was to lay it down in the back hallway. We couldn’t decide on a flooring choice for that area. It’s tricky because that’s going to be the main entry we’ll use for the house. We deigned it so there’s the laundry, a bathroom, and big coat closet. That means high traffic and potentially muddy, wet boots. Due to ample Asian influences, I’m a stanch “no shoes” in the house person. So there needs to be a shoe-safe zone somewhere. In short, we needed something durable, but also something that looked nice for that area. In the absence of being able to come up with a clever idea, we opted for the free one. We had all this flooring I saved, why not lay it back down? If it falls apart in a few months we can figure out some other option.
The project took about a weekend. We had a huge boost in help from our friend Bess who dutifully pitched in on the cleaning and sanding process. We sorted through the pile of wood picking out the best looking boards. I saved anything I thought looked okay. It was originally nailed down, but most of the nails popped pretty easily when I was taking it up, so the tongues weren’t completely destroyed. Wood flooring planks are milled into a shape such that two edges of the board have grooved slits cut in them down the length of the board. The other two sides have a matching edge cut so when two boards fit together, the “outty” (called the tongue) fits into the “inny” (called the groove) like a key sliding into a lock. Traditional flooring was all nailed down to the sub floor or joists. This involves driving nails as an angle into the tongue so that when a new board is slotted in, it covers the nail. You’re only nailing one side of the board, but because it’s “hooked” to the board behind it, it’s stable in place. Tongue and groove provides for an exceptionally sturdy surface because wood will expand and contract significantly throughout it’s life. This method of construction allows for that movement while still letting all the boards hold hands with their neighbors. Even today, this construction is still the backbone of flooring installation. Anywho, most of my boards had nail holes, but weren’t too torn up.
The next step was to sand the planks down. Because we just wanted to take off any sealer and the top layer of dirt and paint splatter* we handed sanding the planks individually using a random orbital sander. Bess and Em set about sanding boards while I worked on the install. We dated the flooring to about 50 years ago so my goal was to install it the same way it was originally installed. Em laid down asphalt paper for an underlayment and I cut and hand nailed the boards in place. After the floor was completely installed, we stained it to match the wood in the front of the house. A few coats of poly and we were in business. The one miner change we went with was to finish with a semi-gloss rather than a satin sealer since the wood was in much better shape than the rest of the house.
*I don’t know if I mentioned before, but this entire place was carpeted at some point, so the last round of painting everything off-white meant they didn’t bother to use drop clothes. A lot of the refinishing work was about removing paint splatter.