Week 46: Transoms, Plumbing, HVAC, Lighting & Exterior Painting

This week was quite the week – Matt started off the week saying that our house was going to be a zoo and it definitely was!  Since all of the trim inside has finally been painted, a bunch of the subs could begin their work.


The interior transoms were completed this week which included having each piece painted, the glass installed, and putting the final trim up.  They look fantastic too!  I love how they help divide the rooms up but still make the rooms feel open to each other.  We toured a couple of homes that had these and knew that we definitely wanted them in our house.

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Transoms were added and painted this week. We contemplated buying them pre-made but now I’m glad we had them custom made on site…they look fantastic!


A lot (but not all) of the plumbing fixtures were installed this week and they’re looking good!  My mom and I were out there on Tuesday to choose where we wanted each piece of the plumbing fixtures (the slab guys were there to drill the holes).  And then the plumbers were also there to install the fixtures.  My favorite faucets hands down are the ones in the kitchen. We ended up choosing Rohl’s high arc country kitchen faucet with the sidespray and the filtered water faucet.  The filtered water faucet was actually cheaper to install at the sink than to have it built-in to the fridge.  And this way I’m actually gaining fridge/freezer capacity and don’t have to worry about the kids spilling water on our hardwoods.  Plus, it’s such a cute faucet…who could resist?!?

All of the other faucets except for the guest bath sink faucet was installed – and they still need to install most of the shower parts & pieces in the house.


The HVAC guys were at the house this week installing our thermostats – of which we chose NEST.  I like that they have one app for everything – including smoke/carbon monoxide detectors and we’re hoping that they stay more up to date with their apps & technology as compared to the other thermostat brands.  We’ve heard good and bad things about NEST but hopefully in the long run it’ll work out for us that we invested in that technology.  The HVAC guys also installed all of the “trim” for the house – including the vent covers and intake vents.  One word of warning – these guys had FILTHY hands – which I can now see all over our white ceilings.  Next time I’d definitely ask them to wash their hands before installing all of the vents – I guess I need to teach more than my kids to do that, apparently it’s not common sense for adults yet.  The HVAC guys also installed our heat pumps this week too – they’re back under the mudroom deck and since we’ve had some warm days – it’s already been tested and the cooling is definitely working!


I took a couple days off this week and my mom and I headed to the house to help with the lighting – placement, heights, etc.  There’s so many different lights in the house, and although I’ve labeled them the best that I can, we still needed to be on site to help with the placement.  I absolutely loved picking out all of the lights for the house though.  Matt said that most people would go to a lighting showroom and pick all the lights out from one person and be done with it.  Of course, I did this with the plumbing and really didn’t like it – I ended up having to choose plumbing fixtures from tiny images in a catalog.  So for the lighting I bought everything on my own and just had them there for the electrician to install.  This meant that I could buy them from wherever I wanted and I was able to buy them when places were having sales.  Most of my fixtures I acquired over the last year and did end up getting really good deals on them including some favorites from Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware.  But other ones I was able to buy vintage light fixtures and refinish and rewire to make them workable for our home.

Two “schoolhouse” light fixtures I purchased from Second Use in Seattle and they’re actually from Joel’s elementary school in Tacoma!  In September of 2015 Wainwright was demolished to make way for a new intermediate school and Second Use was able to save some of the original fixtures – of which I was able to buy two of them.  After a quick cleaning and re-wiring, they were ready to be installed in our mudroom bathroom and pantry!

Another one of my favorite fixtures are the pendants that we used in the downstairs bar.  I ended up picking up some vintage fixtures from the Midwest on Ebay last year for $17 each!  Score!!  My parents helped me strip three of them down to the original brass.  They were painted over and with years of dirty and grime, it took some real elbow grease to make them shine.  Each one took about 2 ½ hours to strip and I was so thankful that my parents helped me with it, because it would have taken me three times as long without them!

Exterior Painting

Finally the exterior of the house was also painted this week!  Such a transformation to see it all white – finally!  I’m glad that we waited to paint it until now otherwise it would already be showing the dirt from the construction – but boy was I getting tired of seeing the yellowish color of the siding and trim.  Now that it’s all white (Sherwin Williams’ Pure White) it looks even better!  It took me a while to decide on the white – I was originally going to use Benjamin Moore’s Simply White but in the end looked a little to creamy.  I think SW’s Pure White ended up being the best one since it looks like a true white, but not “bright” or blue like some of the others that I tested.

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The exterior painting on the house started this week. I’m loving the way it’s turning out!

We also painted samples for the door color and taped them up there to see how they looked with the overall house color.  Originally I was thinking of painting it black – there’s a lot of white houses with black doors and they look phenomenal.  But I wanted to be able to see the door hardware, and since all of the exterior hardware is oil rubbed bronze, that meant that I’d need a chrome front door handle to be able to see it against a black door.  My friend Sarah was surprised that I was thinking of a black door (since she has one and hates it) and quickly turned me in the direction of having a gray door.  Sarah helped me tons on this one and flipped through her SW color deck and suggested a handful of grays that may work well.  After a quick trip to SW to see which ones she was thinking of, I chose three sample pots.  And after being up on the house, ended up choosing SW’s Serious Gray – it’s the top one in the photo.  I can’t wait to see what it looks like once the door is truly painted, but I think it’s the perfect one – and that the oil rubbed bronze hardware will look phenomenal with it!

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We narrowed it down to three front door color choices – and ended up choosing the top one – Sherwin Williams Serious Gray


Week 44: Painting & Bar Top

This week was Spring Break for Cameron and I was out of town for a work event so I wasn’t at the house too much.  The painting continues to be the main star of the show for the house progress.  They finished painting the trimwork for the basement and have moved on to painting the trim upstairs.  My absolute favorite part of the house that was painted this week is the fireplace – hands down.  It turned out fantastic and seeing it all in white really make such a difference.  We’re both thrilled!

The other major thing to see progress is the bar countertop downstairs.  We selected fantasy brown quartzite with a leathered finish.  It has a great texture and just the right mix of gray and brown to tie into the java cabinets.  For the backwall of the bar, we had a custom bar drain made – at 5’6″ long, it’s really a focal point.  We won’t have the taps installed right away, but since the countertop needed a cut-out for the drain, we had to have that created sooner rather than later.  The drain will connect into the sink drain, so it’ll be super easy to clean.  And the sink was installed as well.  It’s coming together – Joel couldn’t be happier!


Week 42: Tile, Trimwork, Stairs, Septic, and Rental House Issues

Rental House

This week seems to have gone by so quickly!   One of the major things that happened this week is that we received an email from the property manager from the house we’re renting a couple miles from the build.  He said that the owners of the house want to move back into the house and we need to move out at the END OF APRIL!!!  Matt was anticipating for the house to be finished at the END OF MAY!!  Seriously?  How does this happen to us?  Our 10-month lease ended in January and since then our contract switched over to month-to-month leasing.  And the contract states that we or the owner can terminate the lease with a 20 day notice.  We actually met the owner about 6 months ago when they were visiting from China getting baby gear out of their garage.  Back then he said that we should stay and rent the house for years!  And in January when I told the property manager that we were extending our stay past the 10-month term he said to stay until August.  Now they want to move back from China though?  Something must have changed with his Microsoft job.  Ugh.  And the property manager has no idea either – this totally blindsided him as well.

So now for the first time in the entire build, schedule matters.  Prior to this, Joel and I honestly didn’t care if it took longer to build, we just wanted it done right.  I mean, what’s a couple extra months in the end if it turns out great?  The boys have made some good friends in the neighborhood we’re renting in and it’s so close to the build, that it’s convenient to pop over and check things out.  Now getting done with the build at the end of May when we need to move out at the end of April seems WAY too long though.  Where are we going to live for those 4 weeks?!?  So I did what any person in my situation would do.  Ask our builder Matt, “what’s really going to be left to do after the last week of April?”  I explained our situation and wanted to see if there was any way we could speed things up a little and maybe move in sooner than later.  He took a couple days and was able to push a few things…and now we’ll be moving into the new house the first week of May!  Can you believe that?!?  The first week of May!!!  That means that we’re only between homes for a week.  A week, I can live with.  Can you say, “hello mom & dad?”  They live about 45 minutes away from us without traffic so the commute just to get the boys to school and us to work is going to be horrific.  But the boys love staying there and it’ll be so nice just to move with only having to pack our clothes.  The rest of our stuff can move into the garage of the new house until we get there a week later to unpack.  Although Matt will have the inside of the house finished, we’re not expecting the outside to be completed – we’ll likely still need the deck, driveway and landscaping.  The inside is good enough for me though!

For our final hail mary, we’re still trying to see if we can extend our lease another week so we can move straight from the rental into the new house, but we haven’t heard back from the owner and they’re not returning the emails that the property manager has sent (which has been 4 of them now).  Cross our fingers 😉  At least mom & dad’s is a good back up plan.

New House

Besides the rental house issues, things have been moving along at the house quite well.  There’s so many little details that took place in the house this week. The tile and hardwoods have been completed and that’s all of the flooring until the carpet is scheduled to be installed in the last week of April (just before we move in!).  The stairs were even installed this week and they look fantastic.  It took a few different tries to get the right stain color for the treads, but I think they turned out great.  On Thursday evening, Cameron and I went to check out the house and Matt was there covering the stairs to protect them from all the workers’…and we ended up helping and covering them for him.  Um, don’t say that I never lifted a finger to build the house, ha!

The trim sub consultant keeps on trucking – there’s so much that we’re having them do for us.  Besides installing all of the door moulding and baseboards throughout the house, there were two major accomplishments this week – creating the fireplace surround and starting on the interior transom windows.  First things first the fireplace looks amazing!  Monday morning Matt and I walked through what I wanted the design of the fireplace to be and he made it all happen!  I love how it sits on top of the bench/hearth we have, and that the mantle is so deep.  In our old house there would barely be enough room for Christmas stockings, let alone any other decor.  This one is sure to fit whatever I want to decorate with!

On Saturday, Joel and I went out to check out the progress and one of the trim guys was there working on the interior transom windows.  We weren’t quite sure if we were going to order these or have them built on-site, and now that we went with the latter, I couldn’t have imagined the ordered ones turning out so well.  The first side of the transoms have been installed, then they’ll need to be painted on both sides and glass added.  Then the other side of the transom trim can be added.  It looks so good for them finally to be filled in with moulding though!  All these little details are really making the house come together.

And did you notice that the oval windows in the great room in the last picture now have trim as well?  These were measured for and custom made by a different company and then installed this week.  The same goes true for the arched windows in the dining room and in the entry.

Besides all of the trimwork, they also added some more detail on the cabinetry.  Matt pointed out that if we added crown all the way around the kitchen hood (like I wanted) that the crown would basically touch the other pieces of crown in the coiffured ceiling.  So that’s out of the question…so that’s a bummer.  But I still think it looks good as is without it – definitely my favorite feature in the kitchen, and it’s pretty fun that I got to design it!  Feet were also added to a few cabinets throughout the house – which I also had custom designed based on some pictures of kitchens that I liked on Houzz.

Tile work also continued this week.  Although choosing and shopping for tile was my absolute least favorite thing to do for the entire build, I love seeing it all installed.  Most of our selections were pretty basic, but even seeing white subway tile instead of drywall is fun.  On top of that, the tile my mom and I chose for the backsplash behind the range arrived and I brought that out to the house.  On Wednesday, I met the tiling sub onsite to go through the layout with him.  Originally, we were going to have a different border that had a dark gray bardglio marble liner and then a white chair rail that matches the subway tile backsplash.  Unfortunately though, the bardiglio came in and looked too blue to really coordinate with the beautiful mosaic tile.  So we ended up using a carrara marble chair rail.  We needed it this week though so there wasn’t any time to special order in the profile of the moulding that I wanted.  Luckily, good ol’ Home Depot carries one that will work perfectly.  Not so perfectly is that you have to find the marble in gray and white.  And when you see them at the stores, about 80% of them look white with brown veining.  Ick.  I’m not kidding you – to find the 12 pieces that we needed to frame the backsplash, my mom and I went to 6 different Home Depot stores!  Unreal.  But now that we have them,  I love them and totally worth the drive time to find them. Plus at $6 each, they were about 7 times cheaper than the ones that I wanted to order in!  Score!!!  I hope it gets installed back behind the range soon – I can’t wait to see it on the wall!

The painters were also in the house this week.  They’ve set up a Dexter kill room, er, um, a “spray booth” in the downstairs storage room .  That room was ALWAYS creepy with the concrete floors and unfinished walls and ceilings but this tops it.  I can’t wait for electrical finishes to finally put some lights in this space.  It’s beyond creepy and way too dark in there now.

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The painters have set up a spray booth in the storage room downstairs where they can paint doors and whatever else they have. I’m steering clear of this space though until they take down all of the plastic. A little too Dexter-esque for my liking.

And one of my favorite doors was also installed this week!  We have a dutch pocket door between the mudroom and the hallway.  This way we can just pull out the bottom half of the door to keep our dog Bella in the mudroom during the day.  No baby gates needed here!  Isn’t it fantastic?  It’ll be so nice instead of shutting the entire door on her while we’re gone during the day – I hate doing that now in our rental house.

Also, the septic installation began this week.  After getting the septic notice on the title recorded with King County and submitted to the health department, the septic stub-out was released and they were ready to do the install right away.  By Saturday, they had the tank set in the ground.  While Joel and I checked out the progress inside the house, we laid out a blanket and the boys ate their Subway lunch by having a picnic on top of the rock pile.  Little do they know that that’ll eventually be part of the septic drainfield!

Week 36: Millwork & Tile Prep

I went out on Tuesday morning to check out the paint color…just to see it one more time and I think I’m getting more used to it.  So that’s good!  But even better was that I saw the ceiling in the dining room.  The guys worked on it all day Monday and it looks phenomenal!  I texted Joel some pics of it because I was so excited – they turned out so great!!!

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The X beam in the dining room ceiling looks so fantastic. Definitely a fun detail and it’s just something different that’ll make our home more unique. Well worth the effort the guy put in all day Monday in creating it!

By the end of the week, they had the entire ceiling in the kitchen done as well.  All of it is turning out so great, and I’m really liking the crown moulding that we picked out as well.

The garage is now a major construction area and is filled with all of the millwork and the tile backer boards for the house.  And the tile I selected is starting to arrive as well.  There’s boxes of tile in the garage as well as near the bathrooms in the house.  The tile sub has already prepped the boys bath and the guest bath for tile and even laid out some to show us how  big the grout lines are going to be.  The guest bath’s shower will be gray and white subway tile in a stripe pattern which they contractor laid out on the floor in the rec room.  It’ll be brick set, not square set like they did here – but it gives us a good idea of what the finished shower will look like.

On Sunday this week we also met our new neighbors – Sarah and Jeff.  They purchased the empty lot next to ours and will hopefully break ground on their home sometime in 2016.  We showed them around our house and shared some lessons learned that we had from our building/permitting process.  They’re going to be building what they called a “northwest modern” home.  And they’ll be building a one story + basement home just like us, which will fit well with their property grades.  Their house will have the master on the main level and three bedrooms downstairs like us too!

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And of course, it’s Valentine’s Day today – Happy Valentine’s Day from our little Spence!

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And check out the tile we ordered for our Master…how fitting for Valentine’s Day!? LOVE!!

Week 32: Drywall Installed

The drywall installation wrapped up this week and it was Absolutely Amazing to walk in and see all the walls with drywall.  The floors were covered with paper getting ready for  the taping & mudding next week so it looked crazy clean in there too!  Spencer and I visited on Saturday and had so much fun checking out each room.  We also ran some errands including heading to Home Depot for some tools to take off the plumbing fixtures on our bathtub and to Sherwin Williams to check out different paint sheens.  Surprisingly, Sherwin Williams has a great little coloring table for kids to sit at – perfect for Spencer!

Week 31: Siding Complete, Insulation Complete, Gutters Complete, & Drywall Started

I think the word “milestones” is appropriate for this week.  We began 2016 with some huge accomplishments…siding was finished up this week.  Insulation was started and completed, and drywall began!

Let’s start with siding…or really end with siding!  It’s very exciting to see the entire house completely done with siding.  There’s only a couple of little things that are still missing – the corbels to add a bit of detail on the gables and the mudroom front door still need to be done.  But realistically, it feels like we’re done!  The top of the great room gable on the back of the house was completed this week, and the siding on the backside of the garage was finished as well too.

On the inside of the house, insulation was added which included insulating all of the walls – exterior and interior.  I walked through the house on Wednesday and it was amazing that they were done with it – they only started on Monday!  It’s pretty wild now to walk through it because it feels so much darker than it did before.  Light used to penetrate into every room because it was just studs.  Now the rooms without windows – like the powder room feel sooooo dark.  Which is probably half because the light can’t enter the room and half because all of the insulation is brown.  Once the sheetrock goes up, I’m sure those rooms will feel a bit lighter.

And drywall was started!  On Wednesday, they loaded all the drywall into the house and they started working on it the next day. By the end of the day Thursday our entire master bedroom was completed.  And by the end of the week there was so much completed!  All of the ceiling are done and so are all of the walls in the boys’ area.

Finally, gutters were done this week too! I originally wanted the half round gutters, but apparently they hold less rain and considering the amount of pine needles and rain that we have in the northwest, I opted for the more practical solution.  Regular k-style gutters it is!

Week 19: Ceiling Details, Cabinetry Walkthrough & Plumbing

This week a few really fun details were built in with the framing.  To begin with, the front entry way and dining windows were finally done.  The arches that they added really make the front area look finished.  There’s an arch over the front porch, as well as an arched window over the front door.  The arch over the front porch is a bit higher than the window over the door so that when you’re standing back at street level, you can see both of them.

By the end of the week, the arches have been added at the front of the house, and the roofing has been delivered and is ready to be installed.

By the end of the week, the arches have been added at the front of the house, and the roofing has been delivered and is ready to be installed.

The entryway windows have been framed.

The entryway windows have been framed.

The front arches were added to the porch, entry door and dining windows this week.

The front arches were added to the porch, entry door and dining windows this week.

The dining room window was also framed in this week.  At first it was a big shock because it had been open for so long it sort of took me by surprise not to see one big giant window in that room!  But it looks fantastic, and after making all the design changes to get this window and the dimensions ‘just right’ – I think it turned out fabulously.

The dining window was framed this week - It'll have three windows that open, then transoms, then an arched window.

The dining window was framed this week – It’ll have three windows that open, then transoms, then an arched window.

On the inside of the house, a few of my favorite details were built.  First to finish up the dining room, the tray ceiling was completed, and the beginning of the “X” within the tray was added.  Love it!  And notice how the arched window will leave just enough room for trim above it…I think it’ll look great once it’s all finished.

The tray ceiling and "X" pattern on the ceiling were constructed.

The tray ceiling and “X” pattern on the ceiling were constructed.

The windows in the dining room look SO GOOD!

The windows in the dining room look SO GOOD!

And the tray ceiling was also added in the master bedroom as well.  All of the tray ceilings in the house are 18″ from the walls, and 10″ tall.

The tray ceiling in the master was added this week.

The tray ceiling in the master was added.

The fireplace framing was built this week - we'll have a bench under the the fireplace, so it's raised up off the floor.

The fireplace framing was built this week – we’ll have a bench under the the fireplace, so it’s raised up off the floor.

The staircase is located back behind the fireplace, and the curvature in the staircase was finished up this week.

The staircase is located back behind the fireplace, and the curvature in the staircase was finished up this week.

Cameron came with me after soccer practice on Wednesday night to check out some of the progress which included some other areas in the house that he had fun seeing…

First stop was checking out he built-in bench in the office. Eventually bookshelves will line the wall to the right, and this will be such a fun spot to read with the boys - plenty deep and big enough!

First stop was checking out he built-in bench in the office. Eventually bookshelves will line the wall to the right, and this will be such a fun spot to read with the boys – plenty deep and big enough!

Cam's next stop was the master shower. He got such a kick that the drain hole was cut and he could see right into Spencer's bedroom underneath. He's waiving "hi" to Spencer in this pic!

Cam’s next stop was the master shower. He got such a kick that the drain hole was cut and he could see right into Spencer’s bedroom underneath. He’s waiving “hi” to Spencer in this pic!

Cam's last stop was his bathroom. We contemplated rearranging this room, but he really liked that his vanity would be separated from Spencer's so we decided to keep it the way it is now. He's already pretending to brush his teeth at the sink!

Cam’s last stop was his bathroom. We contemplated rearranging this room, but he really liked that his vanity would be separated from Spencer’s so we decided to keep it the way it is now. He’s already pretending to brush his teeth at the sink!

On Tuesday morning, my mom and I met with Matt and the rep from Canyon Creek Cabinets to walk through the house and discuss the different cabinet layouts.  It was a lot of fun to discuss my different ideas as well as get feedback from the rep and what he thought we should do.  Now he has to go back and lay things out for us to approve.  That’ll be exciting to see those once they’re done.

The plumbers started this week, so we really had to nail down all of the sink locations.  The only ones that were really in question were the boys’ bathroom sinks and the prep island sink.  The boys’ bathroom has a pretty decent sized linen closet in there – for all of their towels, sheets, and swim gear.  The design was to have the linen closet separating each of the boys’ sink vanities so that they could each have their own ‘space’.  The closet takes up quite a bit of space, and I was worried that it makes the space feel a little cramped.  So we discussed rearranging the room.  In the end, we decided to make the closet a couple inches less deep so that it didn’t protrude into the room as far and keep the vanities separate.  Cameron really liked that, and I think it’ll be nice for the boys to have really great storage solutions in there.

Plumbing started this week! Here's a picture in the kitchen where the sink and fridge will go.

Plumbing started this week! Here’s a picture in the kitchen where the sink and fridge will go.

On Saturday, Joel and I went to check things out at the house and we decided to rearrange things a bit in the mudroom.  We’re going to put the boys’ bench and shoe cubbies to underneath the window and get a narrower desk for where their cubbies used to be.  This should give them more space to put their shoes and all of the bags they bring home from school and practices.

Back up in the first picture, you can see that roofing supplies were delivered and they’ll be starting on that next week!