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 43: Tile, Slabs, Drainfield & Downstairs Painting

My absolute favorite tile was installed this week behind the range in the kitchen.  The tile installer did such a fantastic job installing the tile too…it looks fantastic!  This tile is Mosaique Surface’s Artemis Cold – a pattern of honed cararra velato and polished white thassos.  We’re still waiting on some trim tile to border the subway tile in other parts of the kitchen, so until that arrives, it won’t be grouted.

The fireplace tile was also installed this week – originally I was contemplating changing this tile to something different, but after  realizing that we can’t return the tile and whatever I would order otherwise would take a few weeks, I quickly decided against it.  I honestly have no idea how this looks with the slabs on the fireplace hearth because they’ve been covered with cardboard.  Hopefully once grouted and the cardboard is removed they’ll look just fine together though!  If not…I’m sure Joel will let me redo it 😉

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The fireplace tile was installed this week.

The remaining slabs were installed in the kitchen this week as well.  I was actually out at the house dropping of the staircase handrail and they were out there installing the slabs.  It was pretty crazy to see how they lift those giant slabs and get them in place.  Definitely takes some strong guys and a couple of gripper things.  I was glad I was there too – I was able to choose the direction that the veining was running in the slabs.  They look SO GOOD too!!!  We used the same absolute white quartzite that we selected for the other areas of the kitchen.

Outside we also had progress…the septic drainfield was installed this week and once inspected by the county they can backfill it all and we can begin on the final grading of the yard.

Back in the house, all of the trim in the downstairs was also painted this week.  The lower level is completely covered in paper and plastic masking everything off.  Walls, ceilings, floors, it’s crazy.

Week 41: Countertops & Tile

This week there’s been a lot happening at the house this week including continuing on the trim work – there’s tons to do still including wrapping all of the doorways and baseboards.  And the painters were also there painting doors and other trimwork.  But I barely even took pictures of those since the best thing about this week was all of the countertops and tile that were installed!  The absolute white quartzite was installed throughout the main level and it looks ‘absolute’ly amazing!

So now that the fireplace hearth is installed, and I’m not 100% sure about the tile that my mom and I picked out for the fireplace surround.  Originally we picked out 3″x6″ tiles from Walker Zanger’s Rue Pierre Antique Gris Marble.  Now I’m not so sure about it.  It’s definitely similar colors as the absolute white quartzite, but  has more of a striped white/gray pattern to it.  I’m wondering if maybe something more consistent in color like cararra marble will look/flow better.  For the record, my mom actually liked the carrara better originally.  It’s pretty similar to the hearth quartzite though…too similar?  Ah dilemmas!

The laundry room floor was installed this week (still missing the grout), and so were the counters!  We went with MSI’s Sparkling White Quartz which has some green glass and mirror flecks in it for the counters and kept it simple with Daltile’s Octagon Dot floor tile in white.  Once the white grout is installed it will tone down the patterning in the floor for sure!

The flooring in the mudroom was also installed this week – actually weekend!  They were out there installing it on Saturday when I was there for a visit.  We went with 12″ x 24″ Florida Tile’s “Mingle” in the Cool Summer color set in a 1/3″ stepped offset pattern.  The vanity, sink and countertops were also delivered from Restoration Hardware this week for the mudroom bathroom.  I chose the Cartwright Powder Room Vanity with the Italian Pietra Grigio Marble top.

And downstairs, lots of things happened this week too!  The hardwood flooring was installed, although by the week’s end it was covered with a protective layer of Ram Board which I think will stay on it until we’re ready for cleaning and moving in.  The new narrower sink base arrived for the bar and looks fantastic!  The sink barely fits in it, yikes!  Hopefully it’ll work still though.

The boys bathroom flooring was also grouted.  Although one piece of tile needs to be replaced – someone dropped a tool on it (probably when installing the door) and the tile broke.  Once that’s done the floor (and grout) will be complete.  The counter tops and sinks were also installed in the boys’ and guest bathrooms.  The boys’ countertops I selected are a gray/blue color – Wilsonart’s Quartz in Amalfi Coast and the counters in the guest bath is Pental Quartz’ Grey Savoie.

At the beginning of the week, the Skyline Tile and Marble were out measuring for the bar downstairs and for the farm sink placement in the kitchen.  Then I went to their shop in the afternoon on Monday to choose where I wanted the counters to be placed on the slabs.  We ended up having to purchase two slabs since the bar is in a U-shape and we needed the graining of the counters to all be in the same direction.  There’s so much left over though!  We may end up using it for a backsplash.  We’ll see how much that’ll cost!  My mom and I chose these slabs back in October at META Marble and Granite.  They’re fantasy brown quartzite with a leathered/textured finish.  With the gray & brown that they have, they’re going to look great with the cabinetry and room color.

And finally, there has been some sunny storms over the past couple of weeks…check out that rainbow!

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Just a touch of rainbow to brighten up the sunny and rainy day!


Week 40: Hardwood, Doors, Cabinetry & Countertops

This week the absolute biggest change has been the installation of the hardwood floors.  They were able to install the entire first floor and they look fantastic!  We ended up choosing a hand scraped and wire brushed 8″ European Oak in a natural finish by Plank.  We originally wanted a white oak finished on-site but because the basement is a slab on grade they didn’t recommend us installing solid hardwoods down there. I didn’t want the upstairs hardwood to be different from the downstairs so we ended up choosing an engineered hardwood that could be installed both upstairs and downstairs.  It took us quite a while to pick out the flooring – the colors and finishes really vary brand to brand and so does the warranties.  The Plank brand had the wide planks that Joel wanted, the color I wanted, and with more than 80% of the boards being at least 6′ long (Some brands have little lengths of boards that makes the floors look really choppy).  I really like that the color was a warm almost neutral color that didn’t have a pink or white tint (like some of the others we saw), and I really like that the boards have some knots to add character.  The  finish has a 50 year warranty and a lifetime structural warranty – they were a little pricier, but it was the warranty that sealed the deal for us.  Some brands we saw only had a 2 year finish warranty…no thanks!

More of the cabinetry and moulding were installed this week as well.  My favorite cabinet in the entire house has to be the hood above the range.  The cabinet company (Canyon Creek) didn’t have anything that I liked so I ended up being able to custom design the exact hood that I wanted.  I absolutely love it.  And it will look even better once the crown moulding is installed around the top of the hood (and on top of the cabinets).  The butler’s pantry was installed too – love the upper cabinets with the “X” design!  The glass still needs to be added, but I think they look great even now.  And I haven’t decided yet if we’ll install glass shelving in the uppers too…my mom and aunt caution me against glass shelves because of the dust that will show with all of the natural light in the house.  Downstairs, we ended up deciding to reduce the width of Joel’s bar by 6″, and the backside of the bar was installed with the dark java stained wood.  It’s still missing the trim pieces, but it’s coming along!

The farmhouse sink was also installed this week.  Choosing this sink took me quite a while.  I knew that I wanted a really wide sink and initially I was looking at the 40″ Rutherford Sink from Shaw Sinks, but it wasn’t available in USA so I would have had to drive up to Canada to pick it up or had it shipped directly from the UK.  The sink was actually considerably cheaper in the UK, so shipping would have been affordable.  The problem was that based on reviews online, some sinks have arrived cracked since they’re fireclay.  And since they’re handmade there could be some undulations in the sink bottom that may not flow all the water to the drain.  The thought of having puddled water in the sink wasn’t that appealing to me.  Also, some people have had cracking in the glazing finish overtime.  With raising two boys (plus Joel) I knew there was no way that I could have a sink that wouldn’t hold up to their abuse.  I ended up choosing the Kohler Whitehaven Apron Sink which is cast iron and during demonstrations people took hammers to it.  I figured – that’s the sink for us!  The only downside is that it doesn’t come in a 40″ size…their largest was 36″.  A small sacrifice for big time durability and availability.  The size works great and fits really well in proportion to the center window above.

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Love the farmhouse sink! Now the countertop company can come back next week and template this countertop for the sink opening.  The feet are still missing on this base cabinet, but don’t the floors look good?!?

A lot of the interior doors were installed as well.  And windows and doorways continue to be wrapped and some of the baseboards have been installed in the rooms that are getting carpet (bedrooms + playroom).  The baseboards are 6″ tall, just like the trim above the doorways.

On Monday, morning I picked up 5 bathroom sinks for the house from Fergusons.  Luckily they open at 6:30 so I was back at the house by 8am when Skyline Tile and Marble came to template for the countertops.  I spent about an hour with them to drop off the sinks as well as go over the overhangs and layouts that I wanted in each room.  Most were pretty standard, but it was good to talk about some of the detailed areas – like the kitchen pass through and the eating space on the kitchen island.

Tuesday I met the Skyline guys at their shop up in Woodinville to layout where I wanted the templates to be placed on each slab.  We started with the bigger most important counter areas (like the kitchen islands) to make sure they had unique areas of white and gray from the slabs and we ended with some of the smaller spaces.  We purchased 4 slabs of the Super White Quartzite.  That gave us enough flexibility for the main areas in the house to get the look that we wanted – soft white and gray without the upkeep of marble.  We ended using the slabs for the kitchen, fireplace hearth, master bath and powder bath.  A couple of the spaces – fireplace and master shower bench weren’t ready for templating so we just left spaces for those to be cut next time they come out to measure.

Week 39: Cabinetry Installed & Tile Progress

This week there’s been a huge amount of progress because the majority of the cabinets have arrived and they’ve been installed as well!  I can’t believe how fast they all went in…and they look great!  There’s a couple little issues, but nothing major and we are so happy with them.

Besides all of the cabinets being installed, they also fixed the top piece of the window trim and increased the size to 6″…instead of 5″.  It looks so much better and much more in proportion to what would be expected.

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The top trim above the windows has been changed to 6″. I love the way it looks now!

Tile also made progress this week.  The installation of our master bath flooring is complete as well as the tile in the boys’ bath and the guest bath.  It’s all coming together!  None of the grout has been done on any of the tile, but the installation looks fantastic.  Can’t complain one bit…well, maybe about the speed of which they install…but Matt warned me about that before they even started.

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!