Monthly Archives: June 2008

push my buttons

Would you ring this bell?

I’m ordering it today, so we can finally have a functioning doorbell to fill the rectangular void next to our front door, where right now wires poke out to greet you. This will be much better, right? The only reason I’m doubting myself at all is because Joe agreed to it without a fight. That always makes me suspicious.

If you’re in the market, lots of cool doorbells here and here and here.

My doorbell quest has led to hardware mania, so I’m moving on to drawer pulls and door handles next. So pretty.

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screwing up

Installing drywall is tough enough without fighting gravity. The hall ceiling was just two pieces, so the job seemed manageable, but it still took all three of us on ladders, hoisting sheetrock above our heads.

We only have two full-sized ladders, so I got stuck on a kitchen stepstool, which was just short enough that I had to stand on my tiptoes to press the drywall in place. I tried to tense my whole body and imagine I was a pillar on the Parthanon, or Atlas, holding up the world. Only I felt considerably less than godlike.

Joe and I had to hold that position while my father-in-law (above) screwed the drywall into place. If we do any more ceilings in this house, I’m going to need to get to yoga more often.

we do stuff

We loaded the tile in Joe’s truck and dropped it off first thing. We were all impressed by the place I found, Forever Marble and Granite. Hopefully, we won’t be disappointed. While we were there we also resolved the worrisome detail of shower storage. Our contractor, Roy, had foiled my dream of a tiled, recessed niche (damn our 2-by-3 walls), so we got the next best thing: white Thasso marble corner shelves for shampoo bottles and a matching soap dish insert. I’m not thrilled with this, but I’ll have to get used to it.

Next, Joe decided the hallway ceiling had to come down. Demo work is a lot less fun when the mercury’s above 90, but we sweated through it. As I cleaned up the debris, Joe and his dad made their fastest Lowe’s run to date to get who-knows-what electrical component and a 50-foot extension cord to replace the one I ruined yesterday.

We have too many hedges and bushes and trees to count, and all have been looking pretty shaggy, so I’ve been bugging Joe to clip them. For some reason he won’t let me use the electric trimmer. He would have been better off keeping me away from the manual hedge clippers. As he was trimming, I was cutting sticks into smaller pieces for the trash when we crossed paths. I didn’t even realized what had happened until I saw the monster spark and the extension cord in two pieces. Whoops.

But with the new cord, in between fits of thunderstorms, we eventually got the front yard into shape. All in all, it was a productive day.

no stone unturned

Justified or not, I’ve been pouting all week about what’s getting done at the house—or rather, what’s not. So after a few terse phone calls back and forth this morning, I finally got a fire lit under Joe’s ass about going through the bathroom tile.

Because we brilliantly chose tile that doesn’t come with any trim pieces, we need to take it to a marble place to get the edges finished. I’ve been in a frenzy trying to find someone to do this for a reasonable fee, and finally met with success earlier today. And the place is open on Saturday morning.

But that means we need to go through all 15 boxes before then and pull out anything that’s damaged and has to be returned. Going through 120 pieces of tile is bad enough, but with someone as detail-oriented as Joe, it’s torture. He laid every piece out, wiped it down with a sponge, examined it, front and back, then repacked it carefully.

The two drinks I had with dinner helped me get through four hours of this (yes, I really did spend my entire Friday night this way), but only slightly. We ended up with 32 tiles to return—that’s nearly a quarter of them. Most aren’t broken clean in half, they just have surface flaws or cracks, but at $13 a piece, I’m all for being picky. But I’m also, for the first time, kind of glad our bathroom is so small.

sticker shock

We finally got our tax rebate check (can you tell we waited until the last minute to file?) but it’s hard to get excited about it when my last Visa bill was double that amount.

I can justify a multi-page statement when we’re talking tubs and appliances and high-end natural stone. But I take it personally when I have to shell out for something that either a) isn’t going to be visible in the room, or b) costs more than its weight in solid gold.

The June issue of This Old House magazine ran the results of a reader poll revealing the top three most surprisingly expensive home purchases. I forget what number one* was, but I wholeheartedly back number three: faucets. Who knew that a regular, non-diamond-encrusted bathroom tap cost hundreds of dollars? (The second-place slot, I recall, was occupied by window treatments, so visitors can expect to find our house by the lovely newspaper shades for at least a few more years).

It would be one thing to throw our money, literally, down the toilet. If only! But no, there’s the flushing system (tack on a few hundred more), the sold-separately seat ($19.41), and today I found out that in order to get a handle that matches the rest of our hardware, I have to pony up another $38.85.

We are not talking bells and whistles here—these are straight-up, functional components that, on their best days, risk being splattered by a multitude of bodily fluids. And if I go for the upgrade, one thing’s for sure: I’m going to have to clean them

* ED: I looked it up. No. 1 is kitchen cabinets (God help us).

third time’s a charm

This faucet is our last resort. I actually really like it, although I’ve downplayed my enthusiasm to trick Joe into going for it. “This one’s okay,” I tell him. “I mean, if we don’t have any other options, which I guess we don’t. At least it fits.”

So far, it’s working. Fingers crossed!

a bumpy ride

After all my grousing, you’d think I’d be more excited about the progress we’ve made. We picked up the vanity Wednesday (hopefully for the last time), and today we got our tile. But that meant another 3-hour round trip to Expo to pick it up, with Izabelle on my lap half the ride.

I guess I’m to blame though. For some reason, I just assumed the tile was packed in boxes, the way magazines come in from the printer. But no, they were just stuffed in Styrofoam in a big crate. After Joe carefully loaded them all in the back of the truck (see fig. 1), we realized we had to do something else if we wanted to travel more than 5 mph all the way home. So we stopped at Home Depot next door and got some shrink wrap.

To my list of uncomfortable moments in renovating, I can now add kneeling in the back of a 100-plus degree Chevy Blazer in a Home Depot parking lot passing shrink wrap back and forth while trying to keep my skirt from riding up and giving the guy who just had to park next to us a show. (Note to self: Pants are mandatory on all future home center trips).

But we got it home in one piece—er, 120 pieces. Probably more, because tile is delicate and often arrives broken, the Expo people told us. So another trip seems likely in the near future. I can’t wait.