Saturday, December 31, 2016

The art of sales

We have been in a fair number of showrooms lately looking for and purchasing a variety of items for our remodel. We have noticed that some sales folk are very good at their jobs and then there are some others. Yeah, the not-so-welcoming ones. On several occasions, we have been in a showroom discussing sizable purchases with someone who either answers questions mechanistically (Just the facts, ma'am) with no desire or awareness that going just one level deeper in the conversation just might yield a productive conversation and a big sale. Or, there's an occasional type that aims to denigrate our prior decisions and make us feel like we are very small people with no importance or relevance in that moment or any other. What those less effective salespeople may not realize is that we simply won't buy from them. We are deeply loyal to someone who goes the extra mile to explain something or offer a solution to a dilemma. If we explain our unique situation and you offer amazing ideas and flexibility to make the dilemma disappear, we will buy from you and remember you always, especially when someone asks for a referral. But, if you don't listen at all ("We're looking for something with much less gray in it." "Here's our gray selection..."), well, then. Let me repeat myself.

We are deeply grateful to be able to make these purchasing decisions and just as grateful for several sales folk who have helped us immensely recently. You are superstars.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

How I spent my Christmas vacation

I took a few days off between Christmas and New Year's and have been very busy helping to make decisions so that the remodel can continue progressing. For a lower-key day tomorrow, I will help take two-year-old triplets and a cutie-patootie five-year-old to Happy Hollow Park and Zoo. A day off from decision-making, except which carousel animal to ride!

I watched the pile of tile scraps amass, indicating tremendous progress on our bathrooms.

I stopped to appreciate the beauty of a tile saw awash in afternoon sunlight after a busy day.
I helped choose a wall paint color. Bold feature walls to follow.

I watched paint dry. Not really. Mostly, I saw brief moments of others painting while I expressed happiness. :-)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

It's all agrout the expert installation

There are quite a few steps to proper tile installation, and the thing to do is to hire expert installers. We had thought that we would tackle it ourselves, but decided to find a crew with many years of experience, and it has been a good decision. Delegate, delegate.

Laying out the warm floors
Mixing the mud

Laying down the mud on top of the warm floors
The second upstairs bathroom
Tools of the trade
Just one of our piles of tiles

We're not too chicken to lay out the wire

More tools of the tile-setting trade

Tiles for the master bathroom floor

An expert getting his job done

Choosing a pile of tile

We recently had a marathon session at Emser Tile in San Jose to choose tile for our three full baths. Our Emser helper was amazing and led us through the process with patience and confidence. Highly recommended showroom!

We are incorporating a few tiles from Fireclay in San Jose with others in our guest bathroom.
Our second upstairs bath. 

The wide variety of grout colors.

A good match for grout color!

The selections of metal trim.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The importance of color in our lives

Looking for inspiration from our collection of San Jose produce labels
Color has always been important to us, as I imagine it is to many others. You can get so much energy and positivity from being around colors that you love, and we are at the stage where we need to choose interior colors for our rooms. There are lots of methods to make this decision, including choosing only colors named after food. Celery, persimmon, honey, vanilla bean, espresso, cinnamon, saffron... I could go on and on long enough to create a full recipe of a delicious set of rooms.

Instead of that, we are getting samples, painting them on the ceiling and walls, and looking at them during various times of day. It's just like other big tasks, take it one step at a time to avoid overwhelm.
Tile we hope to use in our guest bathroom. mmmmm, Banana Cream.

Downstairs half bath

Finding the right combination for our kitchen / family room

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

It's an old, old world

Three examples of the Old World finish on our drywall
There are lots of decisions to be made during a remodel, and -many- of them I let Bill make because of his vision and experience with building so many houses over the years. He definitively knew that he wanted to use an Old World finish on our drywall, which is one of the seemingly endless textures for mudding the drywall. It is hand-applied by a skillful craftsman and each wall is unique.

These photos show a bathroom wall (with blue board for moisture protection) and other walls upstairs. Paint will be applied on top of this texture to enable the Old World finish to blend in just enough to be interesting and unique. We love it!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Accepting, trusting, going with the flow

Ever since the drywall installation process started, there has been a layer of drywall dust all over the house. As the installation was completed and taping/mudding started, I didn't think much of it. The layer of powdered sugar-like stuff was pretty much everywhere, but I found myself noticing it but not reacting in any way to it.

Later, Bill told me that the experts recommended leaving the dust so that extra drywall mud would plop onto it and then be easier to clean up if it fell on a dry, powdered surface rather than the subfloor or masonite sheets. I found myself listening, learning, and realizing that I trust his skills and expertise so fully (and the experience of his chosen subcontractors) that I knew there must be a reason for leaving the dust there. There's a lot of comfort in trusting someone so fully and having zero interest in questioning their approach.

And, yes, we will be using a rake indoors!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Rock on!

The sheetrock is up! Taping of the seams has started with the help of Chris Justi, local rockstar in the drywall business. Check him out if you need drywall!

Just like powdered sugar everywhere, but not at all ediible

Chris Justi working in his latest office

No truer words could be spoken

Lots of evidence but no crimes here

After the drywall sheets are put up, the seams must be taped. Mud comes next.

Monday, October 3, 2016

A magical Monday

Somehow, magically, while we were in out of town with friends, drywall appeared on some of our walls. We noticed elven footprints in the street, on the stairs, here and there throughout the house. Blue board appeared in the bathrooms, white drywall appeared in other rooms, pooooof!

This is how it may seem to others, that this stuff gets done while we hike and sightsee and enjoy time with friends. The actual story is that through many, many phone calls, emails, texts, in-person conversations, and contract signings, Bill arranged for the drywall installation to begin while we were away and it was terribly exciting to see the progress as we returned home. After all of the drywall is installed, it will be taped and mud will be applied using the Old World finish, which we saw in its traditional form at the Ahwahnee Hotel in plaster rather than drywall mud. We continue to thoroughly love our construction journey and see it as the realization of a wonderfully sweet dream that we are so lucky to be able to carry out. Thank you to today's elves, and we look forward to seeing you tomorrow to continue the exciting journey.

Our first clue that elves had been there today

Pieces of the puzzle

Blue board in the bathrooms

Tieing up loose ends

Elven footprints

Monday, September 19, 2016

A rather dry delivery

We have been doing math homework tonight, and we're not even in school. We had 10,000 square feet of drywall delivered today, which [shockingly] our calculations tell us equates to 11 tons of weight added to the house.

This tells me (again) the importance of structural engineering, acquiring the proper tools, and teamwork! It now makes sense to me why the stucco guy did not want to add the final coat until after drywall is installed, since the house needs to adjust to the extra weight.

This process can be fascinating if you let it be! (A higher-resolution version is on YouTube.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

In the hands of a professional

Yesterday, I worked at home to do some writing. In the afternoon, I took a break and walked upstairs to say something to Bill. I found him halfway in the ceiling, working to put up drywall where our rather large whole-house fan will be installed (inside the laundry closet). I was (again!) amazed at all that he knows and all that he is doing to build our house. I was also amazed at his hands, covered in drywall dust and asked him to stop briefly so that I could capture that moment. I am always mindful of not slowing down his progress or interrupting great concentration on the math that is needed to get angles right and all that stuff. So, it's not a great photo but it does tell part of our story.

As he works to install this big fan, I know that he has one even bigger fan in me.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ringing in the fun

Our new video doorbell (from Ring) includes auto capture of motion plus the ability to speak with someone who is near your door, even if they don't ring the bell. Yesterday, Bill was inside working when I left for work, and this is our little bit of silliness. :-D

Feeling secure

For a few years, we have had a construction fence up around our property. This week, we took it down. Just six words in that sentence, but it’s a big, big accomplishment! In a way, we are sorry to see the compound go, but it was time, and the neighbors surely agree. Before we took it down, we installed a video doorbell and security cameras, all with motion detection. This new equipment will help us feel like our special space will remain secure.

On the day that the fence came down, I was able to watch Bill (via the security cameras) work like mad, what he does every day but is not always visible to me or anyone else. Every time I peeked in, he was hammering, lifting, shoveling, and more. I’m so impressed and inspired by him, my amazing, visionary, hard-working boy.

The process

Monday, July 11, 2016

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Rodgers And Hammerstein famously asked "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" in the Sound of Music. For us, the question was, how do you make good use of a broken TV that shows either ghostly or psychedelic colors? We are using it to view our newly-installed video surveillance system, another step in our remodeling journey. The footage saves to a DVR with proper colors. 

Watch out, naughty people, Admiral Ackbar says, "It's a Von Trapp."

In low light, he looks like either a ghost or an avatar

Bill working his carpentry magic

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

"The foam truck is here!"

As I pulled up to the house today, all I could think of was the line from the movie, "The Jerk" -- "The foam truck is here! The foam truck is here!" Buh dum bum. I'll be here all week.

This is the last stage of insulation, a mix of rolled fiberglass and expanding foam. Exciting!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Lots of reasons to smile

Anyone who knows us knows that we are always working on something, planning, concocting, scheduling and all that. We like to be involved with fun things but have also been very busy on the house lately, although we have not shared a lot online about it. Here's a photo from today (Can you tell that right before this, I said, "Smile!"?) that shows a bit of the insulation that is underway. The dogs are a bit confused as to why they are not allowed in right now, but since we haven't found little pup-sized masks for the insulation fibers, they stay out for now.

The house is already quieter and cooler, which is great on a 90-degree day. Another reason of many to smile under those masks!