Sunday, October 28, 2007

Slower than Slow

Well, two weeks have gone by, and so little has been done. I met yesterday with Scot, who's working on the project, and I'm meeting with Eric again today. There are some details that were never fully resolved: the intersection of the first floor ceiling and the stairway opening, the plan for how the tile will be laid, and a few details on the stairs.

I'm REALLY worried about the schedule. One and a half weeks have gone by and it doesn't look like much has been done. The bead board for the first floor ceiling has been roughly installed, but the beams are still only planks of wood. Granted they're already primed for painting, but if the simple panels of bead board took this long to install......?

I've got to speak with Mark and find out when he's going to stop on the other project and get the full crew going on mine. He indicated to me last week that the other homeowner keeps adding things to her punch list....and he says that it's mostly work that wasn't included in the contract. I appreciate what he's doing for her (and I'm now really expecting the same treatment), but at a certain point it seems like he needs to tell her that he's got another contract that's already past completion date. I'm out of my rental Thanksgiving weekend, and I'm going to need a place to move things to (finished or not). I'll be traveling during much of December, but I'm going to need a house to inhabit soon! I think I'm going to have to quit being so patient.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Meeting with Eric

I've met with Eric to review some details that needed to be clarified. He assures me that the crew is wrapping up at the other project and will be fully on my job next week. I have to admit that the news is disappointing. I'm here the whole week, and there's nothing to see happening. Bo, the painter, is finishing up the first coat on all the interior walls, but it's really disturbing given how soon December will be here.

Eric has invited me over to their workshop to see the progress on some off-site painting. All the interior doors seem to be painted and ready to install. The bead board for the ceiling is painted, as is some of the trim. Eric also wants me to check out and approve a sample for the porch railing. Other than this, I've only got one task for the construction: visit a local tile shop to pick out the grout colors for the slate on the first floor and the white tiles in the upstairs bathroom.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Light My Fire

The fireplace is finally installed. When I first started planning the house, I thought I wanted a wood burning stove, something clean and modern like a RAIS. They're beautiful units that I've thought about for a long time, and they're a lot less expensive than a full-blown fireplace.

A RAIS is what I thought I wanted, that is until I visited the local dealer who also represents Tulikivi. Made in Finland, these beautiful wood-burning "machines" are seductive. Encased in soapstone, they're a much more substantial fireplace...and (surprise) more expensive. The good people of Mountain Flame in Arkville, New York don't have to say a lot about Tulikivi fireplaces. The models in their showroom speak for themselves. They offer the hypnotic allure of dancing flames as the wood burns in combination with a soft, soothing heat that radiates from the fire-warmed stone. I was also particularly impressed and interested in how safely they operate. Tulikivis are designed to burn with their glass doors closed. So I can have a fire with out worrying about leaving it unattended if I need to leave the house or head back to the city before the fire is completely burned out.

I confess that the switch from RAIS to Tulikivi wasn't without few panic attacks. The night after I mailed in my deposit to get the order started, I woke up at 4 am in a sweat thinking I'd lost my mind for deciding to spend about three times more than I had set out to spend on a fireplace. But, the good people of Mountain Flame helped calm me. When I look at the newly installed Tulikivi, though, there's no doubt that I made the right decision. I like clean lines, and Mountain Flame designed a fireplace the is perfect in scale for the house with a simple, solid shape. . It's positioned in the living area of the first floor on the corner of the half-bath that projects into the room. There it's now a visual anchor and an axis for the core of the house.

I love the subtle variations in the markings of the soap stone, but I did have a second panic attack when I noticed (immediately) after installation that the center stone of the mantel was significantly different in shade from the colors of the surround stone. It's just the kind of thing that can drive my Virgo nature crazy. I contacted Mountain Flame last night and owners Brian and Marcia came by the house first thing this morning to double check the installation and ease my concern. I learned that these fireplaces are very much alive—by that I mean the stone might and will change to various degrees over time as the fireplace heats and cools and even from the repeated touch of hands. This is why it comes with a maintenance kit for occasional cleaning and light hand-buffing of any stone that might change shades of color over the years. A few simple wipes of the stone around the mantel with the provided sandpaper and Brian easily blended the shades of the mantel stone.

I haven't lit a fire yet because Mountain Flame can't install the last pieces of stone around the flue until the beaded board is installed on the ceiling, which I'm hoping will get done in the next couple of weeks. I can already see the fire glowing in the fireplace. Visit the Tulikivi web site to read more on these amazing fireplaces. If you're in the market, I believe you'll be seduced like I was. I don't think there's anything else quite like them.

Interior Painting Begins

I'm upstate for the coming week and hoping to see some progress on the house. Checking this morning, I met the painter who is priming and giving the walls one coat of paint before more work continues. Supposedly this will make the very final stages go quicker, but there is still so much to be done in the house. I'm being told that another project that was suppose to be finished by now is dragging on longer than planned. The homeowner keeps coming up with things for the guys to do. I'm getting concerned again about the schedule. From what I can tell, the painter is the only one working on my project right now.

On the bright side, the colors are looking good. The blue is on the walls of all the public rooms and the green and pink are up in the two bedrooms. I have to admit, the amount of color upstairs is a little shocking. But, I think it's mostly because I've been looking at things in an unfinished state for so long. The Sherwin-Williams paint is applying beautiful, and the colors do have a lot of life. I don't know why so many interior designers are such Benjamin Moore addicts. I've used Benjamin Moore paints in other projects and their colors are wonderful, but Sherwin-Williams' colors are turning out to be just as lively in the light. I like colors that "shift" with the changing light from outside. The pink bedroom is the only color that really surprised me. I chose Possibly Pink because I wanted a color with just a hint of pink. I got more than I expected, but it's growing on me, and I know that it'll tame down when I furnish the room and add fabrics and bedding in earthy colors. The trim is going to be white and the window sashes dark green, which is going to make a difference too.

According the schedule we agreed to when the project started, the house was suppose to be finished this weekend.....From what I can tell it looks like an awful lot of things still to be done before we're anywhere near completion. The radiant heat is installed and working perfectly, but the floors aren't installed. The bathrooms aren't installed. The downstairs ceiling is not installed. The stairs aren't complete. None of the interior trim work is installed, much less painted. The exterior siding is still not up, and the first comment on every one's lips is when will it be put on the house. The porch railings have to be made and installed. The front steps still need all the stonework. There's no sight of a kitchen.....I really don't see how this is all going to be completed by the end of the year.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


The crew has been putting up Sheetrock for the last week, and it's almost complete. Rooms are really starting to look like rooms. Yesterday I met with Eric to walk through a few design details that we hadn't clarified on paper.

The first floor ceiling is covered in bead board and false beams spaced about four feet apart. Mark, Eric and I all had the same general idea with small variations. From the beginning, I wanted to make sure that the beams looked substantial. A lot of design details and materials are false, or more for show than function...and I'm O.K. with that. But, the "false" has to look real and "functioning" as if it was real. In the case of my ceiling beams, I wanted to make sure that they looked hefty enough to actually support the second floor. Early in the design process we had discussed 8" to 10" deep beams, but I'm glad I still had the option of changing the size. Eric mocked up two beams: one as we originally discussed and one 7" deep with the appropriate proportion deep, and that's what I decided to go with. The bigger beam would have been really heavy looking and probably oppressive overhead.

Eric also proposed a small be lovely beaded detail for the lower corners of the beam. Mark, thinking about visual quality, also proposed a flat board to trim the wall where it meets the ceiling and give the beams a logical end point against the wall. In my mind, it will also give us a logical, crisp place for the wall color to change to the ceiling color. It's going to look beautiful.

So, the next step is for the painters to start by priming the walls this coming week and painting the first coat. Then the floors will go down and the window and door trim applied before the third coat of paint for the walls. Apparently painting this way makes things move much quicker. Doors and some trim have even been painted off-site at their workshop.