Thursday, November 26, 2015
With today being the Thanksgiving holiday, it's only natural to reflect on what one is thankful for. This year though, more than ever, I've been focused on those things in my life for which I'm truly grateful, including family and relationships.
This week, my beloved grandmother, known as "Gram" to her nine grandchildren, passed away at the age of 89.
We're very fortunate as a family to have had time to say our final goodbyes and I love yous. But even with time "to prepare" including a final trip in September to see her, and final calls to let her know how much I love and appreciate her, the pain of her death has been so much more intense than I imagined.
I am so fortunate to have had so much time to get to know her, both as a young child and through my transition into adulthood. Despite living five hours away growing up, we saw her every Christmas, she attended my graduations and wedding, and even traveled to see me compete in various sports and activities. She was a pillar of my life, there to hold me up in good times and in bad.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
There's really nothing quite as satisfying as watching a room come together, even if it isn't in its end all state.
But if you've been following along since we bought our new house last year, and then the successive disastrous freeze and resulting work since February 2015, you've no doubt noticed that we've had a whole lot of construction and mess, and very little decorating and project completion fun. Not only was the house basically uninhabitable, but we ended up jamming everything we had in the house into a few rooms and covered it all with plastic before the contractors started their work.
Alex may have slept there for a night over the summer, but that was only out of necessity. For the majority of the time we've owned it, it's pretty much looked more like a construction zone and less like a house.
The closest thing we've really had to something that at all resembles the decor phase I know and love so much was last weeks build of our tiny bathroom vanity, and the completion of our floor refinishing. Sure, they're nothing to scoff at, but those things alone don't make a house feel like a home.
Friday, November 20, 2015
The last several months have been nothing short of a massive effort to get our house back in shape.
The whole house freeze last February forced us to put ongoing projects on hold and focus on hiring people to do the HVAC install and replace all of the plumbing in the house. Once we had both of those items nearly wrapped up we turned our focus to refinishing the floors, I don't know, because we can't help but blow up any project to make it even larger and more overwhelming!? But with the floor completely finished, and only in need of final inspections on the HVAC and plumbing, we're nearing the finish line on these major undertakings.
However, before we can get the final inspection on the plumbing we needed to wrap up a couple of loose ends on the project. While we hired a plumber to replace all of the lines in the house, it's our responsibility to hook up or replace many of the various fixtures. Specifically, we had to install toilets, replace a few badly leaking faucets, put a new filler on the clawfoot tub, install a new water heater and overflow lines, and to build a new sink top in our first floor bathroom.
Do you remember our first floor bathroom? You know, the one that looked like this when we bought the house?
Then looked like this when we did a quick refresh.
Friday, November 13, 2015
A few weeks ago we gave you an update on our antique heart pine floor refinishing, and this week we're very excited to share the finished product!
Through a very long and drawn out process that included a good deal of heated spousal debate, a little social media luck, and more furniture moving than we could imagine, we had narrowed our process down to both the look we wanted as well as the right person for the job.
When working on a project like this it presents a unique set of challenges since we're not at the house every day to oversee things. As we've hired various contractors (construction, HVAC, plumbing, and now flooring) we've had to put a tremendous amount of trust and faith into the judgement of others. Since we're not on site, when a question comes up, we hope the people we've hired have gotten to know us well enough to either make choices they feel we'd choose, or to contact us when they're not sure which way to go.
Can I just tell you how fortunate we feel that we found Roland and his company, Royal Oaks Flooring? He gets us, he gets old houses, and he understands what needs to be done to make these beautiful floors look awesome.
When we last talked about the floor project we left you with a shot of the "hobbit room" (named for the roughly five foot tall doorframe I constantly smack my head into) after the sealer had been applied.
If you've ever visited Old Town, you've no doubt seen the oval metal historic markers adorning the front of many residences and old buildings.
These little plaques are so significant that they are often mentioned in Old Town Alexandria real estate listings as a selling point for a property that has one.
Anyone who has noticed and been intrigued by one of these signs in Old Town, has possibly seen the hundreds of other historic markers throughout our town. Alexandria, like many neighborhoods and towns with old homes or historic designation, has no shortage of historic markers and antique looking signs decorating the front of the various homes and buildings. I know it's one of those things that I pick out almost immediately whether we're at home or on vacation, such as the plaques you might see on houses in St. Michaels, Maryland.
From talking with various people about this very subject over the years, it seems many wonder the same things as I have. Specifically "how did that marker get there in the first place," and "if there's a plaque on the front of the house, does that mean the owners can't make any changes to the house without some kind of act of congress for approval?" The simple answer is that it's not so simple.