Thursday, September 6, 2007

Extremely Happy With the Colors

Now that the painters are wrapping up, I'm really liking the color, despite its name. They painted the highlight color on the porch and windows today, and they touched up some other spots.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Cold Hardy Palms

I wanted a low-maintenance landscape, and we're close to the beach here, so I've decided to put in a variety of cold hardy palms in what will be beds front of the house. There are several that survive fine here, and palm trees are starting to show up all over town, even at the Arby's. No one ever talks about the benefits of global warming. I'm hoping sloths or something show up in my trees eventually.

This morning I went to Lowes for some spray paint, and this sago palm was on clearance. I didn't have my truck, so I shoved it into my car. Sally's learning to live with these things.

Before and Almost After

Here's a shot of the house before I closed on it (in white), and here's another shot I took last night. No one is allowed to comment that it looked better before, not even behind my back.

Painters are moving along

I was a little worried because the main color on the house (something called "Ponytail," but let's not talk about it) looked lighter and more yellow than I thought it would. It is a little closer to the interior color than I wanted. Anyhow, just this morning Ray showed me a preview of what the highlight color will look like, and it really seems to make a difference. The highlight color is dark chocolate brown, and it will be used on the window sashes, the porch floors, and the concrete toppers to the brick piers and stairs. You can catch a glimpse of the haint blue I'm using on the porch ceilings in the top picture.

In the bottom picture, Sally is staring murderously over my shoulder at a squirrel in a tree.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Finally some color

Ray and his painting partner have been scraping the siding for 10 days now. They finally got the priming done over the weekend. One of them started putting a little color on the siding (probably just to get me to shut up), and the other started work on the trim. I insisted on gloss trim and satin for the siding, even though they both wanted to tone it down a notch. In one of these pictures, you can see a few of the various colors I've tried out this summer.

I ended up with probably the most boring choice other than yet another coat of white, but in the end, it is all I felt comfortable with. The dark chocolate highlight color and haint blue porch ceilings will counteract some of the hum-drum-ness of the body color. I think its going to look terrific.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New Walk & Driveway

This summer I created a new walkway out front of the house, and I created a new driveway that stretches about halfway back in the space of the former driveway.

I cut landscaping timbers into 1-foot pieces, then burried them 6-inches deep in a trough, then poured in Quickcrete to secure the pieces. Finally, I had 8 tons of local pebbles delivered. It was about 102 the day I went to pick out the type of pebbles I wanted. Anyhow, I think it all came out nice looking.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Summer of Color Waffling

I have been all over the place this summer trying to decide on a color scheme for the exterior of the house. I couldn't schedule the painters to come until last week, so I had months to think about it, bug my friends, bug random passers-by, and perhaps most of all, bug the ever-patient Joseph at Sherwin-Williams.

In the end, I sampled 12 different colors, taking advantage of their Colors-To-Go $5 quarts of paint. As of right this very minute, I am back to where I began, with Roycroft Copper Red for the body, white or cream trim, and Roycroft Bottle Green (very dark) for the highlight color.

Here's a picture of the house mid-prep. The guys have been scraping and sanding all week in really terrible heat.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Another color change of heart

Picking a color combination for the exterior is absolute murder.

After more great advice from Stephanie, I went to the drug store, printed out a picture of my house's exterior, made 20 photocopies, and began coloring with some colored pencils. I obsessed for a couple of hours and now have about 11 different color combinations. Most of them are horrible. The one that looks best to me is bone white with mahogany trim. It makes the house look a bit like an old train depot, which I like.

At first I was sure that I wanted white trim, but now I'm all over the place. After deciding to abandon white trim, I happened to drive past a bungalow with suede-colored paint on the wood siding and white trim. It looked so good, so now I'm sort of back to that. Arg!

I never imagined that I'd be the sort of person who subscribes to the Better Homes and Gardens website, but they have this great Java tool there that allows you to color in the exterior of a variety of different houses. They had one just like mine, only with much better landscaping.

Check it out. Honestly, it just left me more confused, but at least I can visualize things a bit better.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Rocky Mount, NC and Mount Laurel, NJ

I'd like to thank all of the good people from Rocky Mount, NC and Mount Laurel, NJ for visiting the site. I've started tracking stats for the blog, and visitors from these two towns account for nearly 15% of the total traffic...

More Color Choices

I don't know if you're getting sick of this yet, but I sure am. Here are two more color choices. The orange is the same color I have in my kitchen, and I really like it in there. I was considering going kind of coastal with the house, and I really like the orange. I'm afraid it is way too much though.

The other is a suede color that would look good. Its a bit boring, but I think it'd work fine.

The quality of the paint and the paint job is really terrible, but you get the idea. I've now gotten 5 quarts of "Colors To Go" from Sherwin Williams. Its terrific to be able to try out the colors before making the final choice.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Exterior Color Angst

I'm really not sure what to do about exterior color. I really was thinking red with white or off white trim, and after advice from Stephanie (check out her blog here), I bought a quart of Roycroft Copper Red from Sherwin Williams. I slapped it onto a part of the house (over top of some of the paint that's aligatoring) just to see if I like it. It is one of Sherwin Williams' Arts & Crafts colors, all of which I like. I love that Sherwin Williams sells cheap quarts of paint so that you can see if you like it before you commit to ten gallons.
Anyhow, I'm crazy about the color in general, but I don't know if I'll be happy with it covering large chunks of my house. I might switch to the terribly-named Bunglehouse Grey from SW's Arts & Crafts collection with white trim and either the above red or Roycroft Bottle Green for a highlight color. This is all causing a ton of anxiety.
By the way, the top picture shows you just how bad the paint is now. My painter assures me it'll look amazingly better when he is done.
Any feedback is appreciated.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Exterior Paint Advice Sought

The house in the photograph appeared in Parade magazine about a month ago. I really like the color with the white trim, but I'm afraid to put it on my house. I'm worried that it will look pink, and I'm worried that something too bold will be difficult to sell.

Please comment with any advice.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Big Bushes Begone!

I talked to a couple of people about ripping out the way-overgrown bushes, and the best I could come up with was a guy with a backhoe who assured me of two things: (a) "$600 ain't a lot of money" and (b) "you can bet this is going to leave some big holes." Six hundred bucks may not be a lot to the backhoe guy, but it is to me, so I decided to see what I could get done myself.

I figured I could cut the azaleas down to the ground, and I read online about an organic way to disolve stumps into dirt. Normally I associate "organic" with "not that effective" and "time consuming," but its free, and I'm on a budget.

Anyhow, I got out my lame and girly chainsaw and went to work. After an hour, I was having a blast, and two of the bushes were gone. There are five or six more scattered around, and I'm looking forward to tearing them up too.

The only downer was a sparrow who looked really despondent. For an hour, she flew from branch to porch, then back. Every now and then she'd land close to the spot where one of the bushes had been, look at it closely, and chirp a few times. I searched the pile of cut branches, and I didn't see anything like a nest, but I don't know. I think I really ruined her day. Sorry.
Now I've just got to keep the porch a little neater.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Back to Business

Well... After a gangbuster start on the renovation last December, I ran out of steam, money, and time. The trouble was that once things became functional, I lost some motivation to get them perfect. Summer's here, and with renewed finances, I'm ready to start getting back to fixing up my crackhouse.

Here's the list of things I hope to get accomplished by August 21 (the start of the fall term here at ECU).

-Building a Better Doghouse - My dog Sally needs a doghouse, so I've decided to build a replica of the crackhouse for her. I've bought the lumber, and it is in a pile on the front porch. I guess someone from the city noticed because I got a warning from the city's historical commission. They want to be sure that I submit any plans to them prior to the start of construction. I'm seriously tempted to draw up some doghouse plans to submit. What do you think... should I start a side project blog:

-Tearing out the existing "landscaping" and putting in some simple, low-country plants. I am thinking of saw palmettos and even a proper palm tree in front left corner of the yard. There are a couple of varieties that do well here.

-Having the house painted - I painted my last house, and I will never do that again. I nearly died twice... once from nearly falling off a ladder and another time from nearly taking my own life rather than having to face the task for another day of house painting. I've been tracking a mult-zillion dollar house renovation in my parent's neighborhood near Charlottesville, Va. The guy doing it painted the brick house Lancaster Whitewash with bright white trim, and its the best looking color combination I've ever seen on a house. You'd think two whites would be boring, but the Lancaster Whitewash was really warm. I'm going to try the same color combo on mine.

-Oyster shell driveway and front walkway - You can get as many oyster shells as you can carry from any of the local seafood restaurants around here. Cliff's has a huge pile out back. I'm not sure that the shells themselves are for use as a driveway liner or if they have to be crushed first. I'm going to have to look into it, but if anyone knows anything about using oyster shells for a drive or walkway, let me know.

- New fence - The back yard is still horrible. Its actually more horrible now than when I moved in. The fence is the most discraceful part of it. There's a commune of really hairy (men and women) hippyfolk who rent a huge house behind me, and even their yard looks better than mine. I'm probably going to just go to Lowes and buy 8-foot panels like everyone else, but I am going to look into how much it'll cost to have a cinderblock wall built and stuccoed. It'd be nice to have a wall surrounding the back yard.

-Paint the front porch floor and ceiling - I'm thinking of painting the porch floor white, even though it'll always look dirty. I don't like that its the only green thing on the house. The ceiling on the porch is going to be haint blue.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Slate Backsplash Going In

Since I sort of ran out of steam, I hired an ECU student named Scott to help out with a few of the remaining finishing details. He's a construction management major, and he has done really great work. He's in the picture above in front of the slate wall he has worked on this weekend. The quality of the work he has done is 18 or 19 times better than I would be able to do myself, plus I feel guilty while he's working, so I get off the couch and do stuff too. If I win the lottery (even really just the pick 3), I'm thinking of hiring him as a full time personal assistant.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

New Range, New Color, New Helper

I'm a lot happier with the kitchen color than I imagined I would be. I need to put another coat on it, but that's going to have to wait. Also, the range finally got here today. Until the tile is up on the wall, I don't want to install it, so I'm purposely leaving it in the middle of the kitchen to inspire me to get moving.

Speaking of keeping moving, I've hired a college guy named Scott to help me finish off some of the smaller stuff (e.g., tiling the wall where the range goes) that has just been dragging on and on since the start of the semester. Things are pretty much functional, so it is more difficult to get motivated to work on things. Anyhow, I'm trying out Scott this weekend for a few hours. He's a construction management major. Although it doesn't sound like he has much experience, but he is enthusiastic and relatively cheap.

Tub Reglazed

I finally had the tub reglazed today. I am back to showering in the gym again for a few days, but it looks like the guy did a good job. I'm just happy to be rid of the blue in there.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Too blue?

(Note: The top two pictures were taken this afternoon. The bottom picture is the way the bathroom looked on Dec. 1.)

I really didn't mean for the bathroom to be this blue... or anywhere close to this blue. Once I got a patch of it done, I thought, "Well, maybe once the wainscoating is white it'll be better." I'm still not sure the blue is ok or even not-ridiculous, but it is starting to grow on me. I think by the end of the week I might actually like it. I have a rough history choosing paint colors, so who knows.

So far, Lyndal and Christina said that they loved the color, but Chris, the first other guy to see it, really hated it. He rarely says something critical about the house (except when he spotted a gigantic cockroach running for cover under the TV, a situation that has been completely and thoroughly eliminated... thanks Terminix), but he told me, "Dude, this is way too blue" in the same overly-serious tone of voice you use to say things like, "Don't move. There's a tarantula on your shoulder."

No matter your opinion of the blue, you have to admit that the bathroom has come a long way.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Kitchen and Bath Coming Along

I continue to peck away at the kitchen and bath. I've now officially gone past my original time budget by a week (and counting), and there's not much left in my original financial budget, but neither front is a disaster.
My friend Chris helped me on Monday with the cabinets. The best word I can think of to describe the way Ikea cabinets get put together is "kooky." I'm as impressed as I am befuddled because it really seems like either Dr. Seuss or a mad scientist (engineer?) designed the stuff. Most of it seems overly-complex in its design, and forget about getting much help out of the pictures-only instructions. Either way, once you catch on to its vibe, it all starts to make sense.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Putting in kitchen cabinets

Hans and I started putting together the Ikea kitchen cabinets last night. We even had time to install the two wall cabinets. In the picture you can note Chris and Tom supervising from the pool table.

Despite its inherent wierdness, I'm impressed with the ingenious design of these pre-fab cabinets, and I think they look terrific. Of course, they're not as nice as custom, but they're practically free, and again, they look terrific.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Back on Line

It started out as a busy week at the house, but then I got a cold and lost steam.

I'm almost at the point of thinking it is never going to end, but really, there's not that much to go. This week, Rick brought a couple of friends by to help move most of the furniture into the house, and the pool table was delivered and installed. I bought a decommisioned coin operated table that had been in a local bar.

Also, an electrician came in and helped with some wiring and upgrades. I had planned to install the lights myself, but when I removed the ceiling fans (I hate ceiling fans), there were way too many wires for me to sort out... seven in some cases. So, I had the electician knock it out. It took his assistant about a minute to install all six... amazing to me.

The major indoor projects that I have left are: (a) finishing the grouting in the shower/bath enclosure, (b) grouting and sealing the kitchen floor, (c) installing the appliances, and (d) building and installing the new Ikea cabinets.

My buddy Tom is coming by today to help with the grouting, and Hans has agreed to come help with the cabinets this week. Thank goodness for friends.