Moving Day

On a surprising beautiful late November Saturday we moved into the new house. We had said that once the kitchen and master bathroom were complete we’d move in… well, neither the kitchen nor the bathroom were finished.

We’d been waiting for the countertop to be installed in the master bath for the past few weeks. I’d been told that the countertop would take about 2-3 weeks to arrive when I’d ordered it – a white basic edge Corian counter for the double-sink. Simple, right? Well, it was now week 7 and the counter was still not here. I could not finish the tiling and the sinks and faucets could not be installed until that was done. The plumber did not want to make the trip out to our place until he could hook that stuff up which meant we had no sinks and no showers operational.

I’d received a phone call a couple of days before from the counter installer saying that he could bring the counter out on Thursday – two days before we’d planned to move in. Great – just in time. I organized for the plumber to come the next day, Friday, to finish his work. Therefore our Saturday move-in should be perfect. Maybe things would just fall neatly into place.

How naive I am. Still.

Thursday came and went and no counter was installed. The plumber said he would still come out because he knew we’d planned to move in the next day – at least he could hook up the other sinks and showers (nice of him). However on Friday, I received a text message saying he was sick. Sorry. He would try to be there Monday.

We had everything planned to move the next day! Do we move anyway?

I then received a call from the counter guy saying he would come out the same day, the Saturday, to install the counter. Monday then the plumber could come (hopefully). We could rough it for a couple days. We had the bathtubs hooked up at least – so we could wash our hands there for a day or two. Who needs to shower everyday?

Screw it. Let’s move.

The night before the move I waxed the concrete floors with my neighbour (best neighbours in the world) and they turned out great. It was one of the few jobs with the house that actually went better than I expected it would.

The next morning we began the move. I don’t think many people enjoy moving, but I really really hate it. I hate packing only slightly more than I hate moving. Fortunately this was not going to be our most major move (that was last year). We were moving from a tiny cabin we’d been renting only 2 miles away from the house. We had our parents and a couple friends come help us for the day. Things went smoothly and aside from the near-death of our prized 30-year old split-leaf Philodendron (it is coming back slowly) – nothing was damaged in the move. I don’t know about you, but this tends to be a rarity.

Later in the day, the counter guy in fact showed up. He brought in the counter and… lo and behold – it totally was wrong! They’d somehow and for some reason changed the edge profile of the counter from a straight edge to a 2″ overhung edge! How does this happen? Honestly. The counter guy initially tried to convince us it was not a big deal. He wanted to install it as is. Except that we couldn’t open the top drawer or the cabinets. Plus it looked ridiculous. He suggested he build up the counter to make it not block the pulls, but that meant it would be absurdly close to our wall-mounted faucets. Besides, that – it wasn’t what we ordered! Gosh, some of these people. He then indicated that if we were to not install it then it would be 6 weeks more to get the right one in! Wait wait wait. Can’t you just trim off that ugly edge, my wife asked. We just wanted the straight finish anyway. “I guess I could do that,” he replied. (It would be two weeks more before the counter would finally be installed.)

Maybe we didn’t have any operational sinks or showers. Who cares that we didn’t have the master bathroom complete? What difference does it make that the kitchen was not finished either. We were in the house now.

And man oh man, it felt so good.

First morning – view from bed

And on and on we go…

The past few weeks have been filled with a number of started but unfinished jobs. These include, but are not limited to: extensive tile work in the bathrooms and kitchen, kitchen cabinetry installation, bathroom vanity, wood nook, window sills, waxing the concrete floors, hanging doors and many more smaller finishing jobs. Truthfully, almost none of these are done yet, so although things are looking closer to being complete (a lot are 75%-90% there), they are nonetheless unfinished. I intend to write a post with photos for each of the main rooms once they are done-done. Still, here’s an update on some of our current progress.

Tile work:

I REALLY like tile – probably a bit too much. Specifically it’s white subway tile. In our old house , I did a fair bit of tiling in two bathrooms and the kitchen using white subway tile. Working through this I’d gained some experience and confidence in tile setting, which really is quite simple, though the preparation work is certainly the most challenging and time consuming. I recall working on the old house, tiling the shower and spending two 15-hour days on it (I am a bit of a glutton for punishment then, and apparently I still am).

With this house, I wanted to do a lot of tile. The master bathroom I wanted to tile the shower surround and have a tiled wainscoting around the clawfoot tub and sinks. I also wanted to create a “wet room” or Japanese-style bathroom for the basement. And lastly I wanted a tiled kitchen backsplash. To pay someone to do all of that work would have been an absolute fortune.

To date, I think I’ve spent 15 full (8+ hour) days prepping, tile setting and grouting.


Kitchen installation:

As I’d previously written about our choice of woods in the house, we had chosen to use American White Oak for the kitchen. An attractive and functional kitchen was important to us. We had after all moved to an acreage for food. We want to know where our food comes from. We want to grow, cultivate, harvest and cook our own food. So it only made sense that the kitchen was the main focal point, or as Christopher Alexander writes: the natural heart of the home.


Master bathroom vanity:

We are still waiting for the countertop to be installed on this amazing custom vanity that our woodworker, Ryan Unger at Rhine Artisans, built. The counter was to be installed 5 weeks ago… and we are still waiting. Grrr.



Wood nook:

We had wanted an accessible location for wood storage for the stove that would be out of the way and be able contain the mess. I did not want to be constantly going out to the shed in the dead of winter to collect wood for a morning fire. This little nook 20”x2’x6’ was the solution (yes that is more tile).



Waxing the Concrete Floors:

For some reason, I’d been dreading this part and I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it was because the concrete floors had been such a nightmare before. But in reality waxing the floors has been one of the easiest jobs we’ve done. We used a durable (read: unnatural, unfortunately) concrete liquid floor wax as the “sacrificial” protectant on the floor (yes we considered beeswax but I could not find a liquid version that would apply easily and be as durable). We did not want a highly glossed and slippery floor, but typically after waxing you’re recommended to buff the floors to a shine. I rented the buffer with the full intention to use it, but after applying a couple of coats of the floor wax using a microfiber wet mop (applying north-south then east-west to even out any lines), we looked at the floor and said, “wow… that’s… perfect.” It was shiny and smooth, but not glossy and slick. There were no wax lines and the floors looked just how I’d hoped they would after buffing. I ended up returning the floor buffer unused. I may have to apply a couple more coats of wax to the floor sooner than later, but it was so easy to do that I’m not concerned about that.

Window Sills:

We’d chosen rift sawn Douglas fir for the main floor doors, door casing, and window sills which we treated with wood lye and white oil from WOCA wood products (same way we treated our white pine ceiling). I love the finish these products gave highlighting the natural soft white and light pink hues of the wood. I wish I could say the window sills went in easily, but we have learned that the drywall is neither square nor flush making our wood worker’s job a real hair-pulling affair during installation.

Hanging Doors:

This is not a job that I’ve been doing. There is a real art and necessary skill to this job that I simply don’t possess and really don’t care to learn at this point. However one could get quite proficient at this with the number of doors we have. I was shocked (I guess I never really thought about it before) when the doors were delivered on three pallets! 24 doors. For a smaller house that seemed excessive. Now that most ­­of them are hung though it seems more reasonable.

My father had been hoarding 10 solid bronze Schlage doorknobs that he’d had since the 1970s. He’d intended to someday install them in his own house, but recently decided to give them to us. They are beautiful doorknobs – they really don’t build them like this anymore. I do love the contrast of the bronze on the white doors.



Well we had long said that once we had one functional bathroom, a functional kitchen and waxed the floors that we could move in… And so, this past weekend we did just that…