Heading towards a house that's almost ready for inhabitants.

The other day I was talking with my work partners about this little house project of ours. Now, there are massive differences between home building and the daily fun of running a marketing and pr firm. But, when it comes to deadlines there’s always a push. Because here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter how far out the deadline sits. It’s ALWAYS a push. At some point reality dictates that the best laid plans get a bit wonky. Stuff happens that’s out of your control. A critical part of a project drags on unexpectantly or someone gets a cold. Or whatever.

So given my work experience you’d think I’d have a leg up over some when it comes the house. I live and breathe deadlines and adrenaline. Well, not really, but in a sick way I like the focus that comes from deadline pressure.

All of this said, there’s been a lot going on this past month and I’m well past the adrenaline rush phase. We’re working hard to move in by the end of the month. This week we had our bank appraisal (please say a prayer or slay a goat for us, depending on your proclivities) and we should have our final occupancy inspection in about a week.

There’s been little time for things like writing on this blog, so here’s a list of the things we’ve been up to. We’ll get some more detailed posts up soon, but in the meantime here are some short updates and a handful of snapshots.

1. Waxing floors. K knocked it out of the park once again. After a collaborative deep cleaning effort, something I can best describe as “sucky,” the helpful peeps at Bordwell Concrete applied a final seal coat on the concrete floors. Then K went to work, applying, count ’em, three coats of wax. The result? Awesomeness. We now have concrete floors with a glossy shine that shows off the color variation and inconsistencies in a really beautiful way.

Mabe not the best image, but the floors are shiny.

2. Installing cabinets. Yowsa these look good! Our electrician, Mike, thinks we should get into the cabinet business. Unlikely. We’ll for sure update this blog with details another time, but the beech, quartz and Blum Tandembox hardware is a pretty mean combination. So much work. But so much payoff.

Exhale. The cabinets are in. Well, mostly anyway.

The faucet, made by Franke, was one of the best bargains. We found it at a warehouse sale.

3. Door and window trim. It’s funny how a two inch wide piece of wood transforms a room. My dad killed it on the trim installation. While it’s easy to get bogged down and frustrated by how long trim installation can take–at least if you do things the right way–the end result is fantastic. Great stuff.

4. The bathroom vanities. I’m so happy with the master bathroom in particular. The proportions are amazing. It’s difficult to capture a great picture of this, but the way the counter and legs step back creates a nice asymmetrical tension. In the end we decided to hold the legs off the wall a bit to make the vanity feel like a piece of furniture. Then again, it IS a piece of furniture. A really heavy piece of furniture.

In the powder room we mounted a scrap piece of beech that was leftover on two pieces of aluminum angle iron. Simple, beautiful, and cost about $15.

An awful picture mid-install, but a nice looking vanity.

5. PlumbingFest 2011. Jason Freestone deserves a special nod for going above and beyond. Our original plumber, a.k.a. Lord Voldemort, a.k.a. He Who Shall Not be Named, a.k.a. Mr. Howthehelldidyourworkpassinspection, a.k.a. Ihada Greattimeintheseventies, a.k.a Wavy Gravy, left Jason quite a few messes to deal with. But deal with them he did and with few complaints. My suggestion? If you’re in Spokane and need a pro, call Freestone Plumbing. Jason’s the man. And check out his work in our master shower. As K would say, “Shut the Front Door!”

The shower, looking better thanks to Jason. Up next, a glass door.

6. Drawer fronts. After much debate we landed on using beech plywood drawer fronts, edge banded in 3/16″ solid wood. While my dad is a solid wood kind of guy, and in fact I am too, in the end these made more sense. Many of our drawer fronts are 10 to 12 inches tall. The idea and reality of laying up (gluing together) many pieces of solid wood, then jointing them, then planing them, then cutting them, then sanding and finishing them, didn’t make sense. And of course the plywood fronts look amazing.

Still in need of a coat of finish and hardware, but well along the way.

7. Buying tools. What a surprise. This week’s additions included a new jointer and a 23 gauge pin nailer. Good news is I love both of them. Bad news? I would have preferred not to have to buy them. I need a Porter Cable sponsorship.

Porter Cable are you listening? We would be an excellent family to sponsor.

8. The refrigerator. Let us take a moment and celebrate the shrine-like beauty of our refrigerator surround. I generally regard humility as an essential quality. But damn if this didn’t turn out nicely. More to come on this installation and the design details, but I’m pretty proud of this work.

Fisher Paykel makes a stainless surround for its refrigerators. It relatively inexpensive and looks great. We used a combo of solid and plywood vertical grain fir to complete the surround.

9. Painting. K’s work might be easily overlooked because in a new house you expect to see pristine walls and trim. She’s worked very, very hard to make it this way though and it’s more cumbersome than you’d think. Installing trim generally wreaks havoc on drywall and paint. We mean well, but navigating 15 foot long pieces of wood through long corridors is a recipe for disaster. As usual, K is the most patient and understanding person at the house.

10. Driveway concrete. We splurged a bit on this, opting for an acid sand finish over a more typical broom finish. This is a pretty interesting process and creates a super-cool texture. It’s also labor intensive. A bit of a theme, no? Anyway, not sure how well this is captured in the photo, but it leaves a tactile, sand-like finish on the concrete that’s also pretty bullet-proof. The way this is done is by applying a retardant while the concrete is still wet. This stops the surface of concrete from curing. The next day, Bordwell was back to power wash the surface, revealing a bit of aggregate and creating the cool texture. This then cures for a week–no walking or parking on the surface allowed. Bordwell came back again to apply another coating of acid, then returned a day later for a final seal coat. And we had them saw cut lines to match the garage and rest of the house. Pretty cool.

Sand wash. Fancy.

11. Final electrical. Again, lighting will get another post with more details, but visiting the house in the evening is a thing of beauty. I’m especially taken with the lighting in our bedroom. A shout out to Escent Lighting. Hiroyuki Ono helped us choose some difficult to source pendants for above our bed. It’s so nice to work with people that know what they’re doing and go the extra mile to make sure their customers are happy. We also love our low-cost hallway lights, kitchen fixtures, and the Ikea light in L’s room.

Bedroom lights and fan.

The light in L's room casts crazy shadows.