Apr 29, 2013

tile installation "notes"

you ever heard of that phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words"?
yeah. i thought so.
when planning a remodel or building a new home, it is essential to make sure that your contractor or subcontractor "gets" what you want.  a picture is the perfect way to communicate your desires.

there are some finishes in a house that you DO NOT want to have to redo because of a miscommunication or an error. tile is one of them. once the tile is laid in the thin set, it becomes almost impossible to remove without destroying it. you really want to make sure that your installer knows exactly what you want before a single tile is laid. there is nothing worse than showing up to check on the progress of your tile work, and discovering that it has been laid incorrectly!

since i was planning on some "out of the ordinary" tile patterns, i wanted to make sure that our tile installer knew exactly what i wanted. i thought you might like seeing the notes that i gave to them!

* our tile installers mentioned that they were SO APPRECIATIVE that they had my notes to refer to.
nearly every time i visited the house, i saw them in a different place...which let me know that they were being USED!

by the way, we used mapei grout. 
the color selection is amazing, and my tile installers said it is the best:

need help creating a tile plan for your remodel or new home?
i will be taking new clients after may 12th!
i would love to work with you!
contact me at autumnclemons@yahoo.com to reserve a spot.

Apr 27, 2013

construction progress: week 25 (big changes!)

i have been waiting for this week for months!
a LOT got done this week!
a crazy amount of work, actually. 
the house no longer feels like a construction site! it feels like a house that will be a HOME in just a few weeks.

here is what happened:
the counter tops were installed! hooray! 

i chose a honed carrara marble for both the kitchen and the master bathroom.

see that HOLE IN the wall?
it's going to a tv, hidden behind a two way mirror, both of which will installed...eventually.
i will be writing a more in-depth post on this project once it is underway!

the sinks were installed, and the holes cut for the plumbing fixtures.
i am really happy with the sinks that i choose. you can read more about my sink adventures here.

we were able to stay on budget with our counter tops because we installed granite remnants in the two upstairs bathrooms. for this bathroom (the girls bathroom) i wanted something really light. there were not many options, but we managed to find one that works with the floor tile. if i had a bigger budget, i would have selected something different, but i am happy with the way it turned out!

the interior doors were hung. the doors are painted benjamin moore's "blackjack"

the electricians started adding the outlets and switches.

that took about two days...

and then, on the last day, a huge crew showed up and installed all of the light  fixtures.

here is my vintage lantern, all rewired and waiting to be hung in the girls upstairs bathroom.

the master bathroom, complete with hardware, faucet  and sconces! we still need to get the backsplash installed.

the restoration hardware barn light over the toilet is such a fun touch!
you can see the entire board that i created for the master bathroom here.

a look at the completed master bathroom shower.

a look at the master bathroom from the master bedroom. the doors at the end are to a linen closet and  will eventually be covered with full length mirrors.

my bargain circa light fixture for the powder room ceiling.

the hardware was installed on the kitchen cabinets, as well as the faucet. you can read more about my hardware selection here.

a look at the kitchen from the great room. 

there will eventually be two pendants over the island, as well as a light fixture in the dining area but they wont be purchased for a while.

another view of the kitchen cabinets.
can you spot the slightly longer pulls on the larger pantry doors and the latches on the cabinets over the fridge/freezer?

i opted for a ballard designs semi flush mount in my younger daughters room.
i will most likely change the finish on this in the coming weeks!

the fronts to the drawers that will be installed under the sink in the island.
getting those pulls in was a bear! (according to my cabinet fabricator.) but totally worth it, according to me.

the (real, working) hood got installed.

there were a few times when the electricians, the plumbers and the cabinet guys were all there at the same time. it was a frenzy of stuff getting DONE. i LOVED it.

a view of the back hallway, leading out the the garage. the laundry room is to the right, and there is a closet and area for some future built-ins is to the left.
you can read about the light fixtures i chose for the hallway here.

the microwave got installed under the island counter top. 
sometime before we move in, the microwave will be trimmed out to make it look more built-in.

on the OUTSIDE of the house...
the mammoth retaining wall in the back of the house was worked on. a lot of labor and sweat has gone into building that thing! A. LOT.

\he front retaining wall was worked on...
(the blocks will eventually be covered in stone just like the bottom of the house. eventually.
notice how the "eventually's" are starting to add up?)

and the side retaining wall along the driveway was started.
in this picture you can see the concrete footing for the wall...

there were also a few long nights doing what else...cleaning!
(at least the piles of stuff are getting smaller and smaller.)
the upstairs floors had to be completely clean in preparation for the carpet!
i actually had to vacuum the ENTIRE upstairs with the tiny attachment that you see in my hand in the above picture.

oh, and of COURSE that attachment doesn't hook up to the "regular/long handle" on the shop vac. it only attaches directly to the hose...
so imagine me, scooting around on my hands and knees vacuuming about 1800 SF with a 5" wide vacuum attachment.
i felt like an 80 year old lady when i was done! "oh...my back! my knees!"

don't be fooled by this picture....she only vaccumed for about 25 square feet...
(child labor is great when you can get the CHILD to actually LABOR!)

ah....but onto more big changes...
(cue the angels singing!)

nothing changes the look of a house more than carpet!
first, the pad went down...

and then the carpet was laid.
the entire house was done in just a few hours. it was amazing!

a look down the upstairs hall--looking towards the bonus room.

the bonus room.
the wall color doesnt look as green in real life, by the way.

ah...the stairs.
ok, so the original plan was just to lay the carpet everywhere, and then come back in a few years and lay wood treads and a nice runner.
well, the pine treads looked so great when they were installed that we thought we would just go ahead and paint them.
but THEN, it became clear that it was going to be more labor intensive, and therefor more $$ than we wanted to spend, so we decided to lay carpet on ALL of the stairs except the bottom 7 stairs from the landing to the main floor. the treads will be painted black, but we will wait until after we move so they don't get damaged.

and my favorite picture:
that's what my 9 year old son yelled as he dropped to the ground and gave the carpet an official "welcome."

anyway, SO much has changed this week! it has been so exciting to watch everything come together!
of course, it also made me realize how many things are "missing".
as i was walking a friend through the house, i kept saying "eventually, there will be a fireplace/crown molding/built-ins/coffered ceiling/a "real" light fixture/paneling/custom storage piece/blah....blah....blah."
 we have 95% of the house done, but its that last 5% that really makes a home feel polished and delicious, don't you think?
and besides, you can follow along with me over the next who-knows-how-long as i add that final 5%!

happy weekend friends!

Apr 26, 2013

keeping insurance costs to a minimum

*this post is brought to you by swiftcover.com

Keeping insurance costs to a minimum

In these difficult financial times it is more crucial than ever to make savings by cutting back on unnecessary expenditure wherever possible. If you would like the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your home and contents are covered by insurance but do not want to spend more than is absolutely necessary, you may find a few pointers about securing the lowest possible monthly premium very helpful indeed...

Shop around

Many insurance companies will offer you incentives in order to secure your business as a sought-after new customer. Try not to be pulled in by the attention grabbing deals until you are clear on exactly what you need and have looked online for numerous home insurance quotes so that you can be sure that you are receiving a discount in real financial terms. 


If you are already receiving insurance cover for your buildings and contents, you may be surprised to learn that you could actually save money by reapplying as a 'new' customer to the same company, rather than simply renewing your existing policy. Though this seems illogical, the aforementioned constant quest for new business drives many insurers to offer more appealing deals for new customers in order to draw them in. Although they are unlikely to promote the possibility of exploring this loophole to you directly, they shouldn't have a problem with helping you through the process if you make the relevant inquiries.

Home security

Having a recognised model of burglar alarm fitted in your home can be a great way to reduce your monthly payments and of course deter thieves. To ensure that you make a saving on your insurance, you need to get a NACOSS type alarm fitted and have it annually check by a qualified professional. This can be expensive, but some insurers will reward you with an immediate discount of around 7.5%. 

Gain from no claims

Burglar alarms are a well recognised deterrent to thieves, and a period without making a claim as a result could lead to more significant reduction in your premium further down the line. If that doesn't sound like an option that you are willing to consider, owning a dog could have a similar effect on the decision making of local opportunistic criminals, as well as having many other benefits to your home life. Insurers may also offer a small discount simply for being a dog owner, so it is well worth asking your provider. 

A certain age

Some insurers are geared specifically towards the elderly and offer reductions to anyone over a certain age. This is because there seems to be a trend for people to make claims less as the get older, but on the other hand, senior citizens are often targeted by criminals as easy targets – particularly in some urban areas. If you are uncertain whether or not this applies to you, it could be worth checking with a more general insurer such as Swiftcover, who cater for all ages and groups of society.

*this is a guest post by swiftcover insurance.