Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Almost Ready

Tonight I'm taking a few quiet minutes at my parents' house to use the internet and make important phone calls and also maybe (just a little maybe) to avoid unpacking boxes. TJ just showed up so we decided to do a  blog update duet.

By now everyone knows that we've moved into our house, but there's still lots of old updates about painting and little fixings here and there, so we wanted to try and get some of those pictures up to keep ourselves on track. TJ is going to drink a cup of tea while I do this. He says he is having trouble thinking.

So two weekends ago we put a big push on getting the house ready to move in. That meant painting. I thought that we'd never get to this point EVER.

My aunt Faye and uncle Ben showed up to help. They are pros at the whole renovating business and have renovated and built multiple houses all across Canada. We were able to just pass over the paint and let them do their thing, so they tackled the dining room.

One thing to keep in mind while viewing these pictures is that paint colour does not translate well on the internet. If you're looking at these and thinking "Eugh, that colour is hideous!" just believe that the paint colour we chose is actually really beautiful and the problem is with your computer monitor. If you're having trouble with this, just come visit us and you can see the beautiful paint colour in person. And we'll probably also have cookies or something.

The dining room is a soft buttery yellow colour. I think it's called something like Wheat Field or Straw Hat, or maybe Sunny Day. I've really been enjoying the paint colour names. I just checked with TJ and he says the paint colour is just called yellow, it doesn't have a fancy name. TJ is grumpy. He says that he's not grumpy, he's exhausted and if I write that on the blog he'll drive away and leave me at my parents' house. So don't tell him that I told everyone on the blog.

Dad spent the weekend painting the master bedroom. This colour is called Linden Hill Green. I don't know where Linden Hill is exactly, but it's green, though not too green, more of a greyish green.

Shane was there of  course, tiling the shower for us. Since our shower is an odd shape with slanting ceilings and funny corners, we were unable to buy a surround and were forced to go with tile instead. This was great, because I wanted an excuse to have a tiled shower. Shane didn't feel the same way, especially when it came time to use a new type of grout which apparently wasn't that fun to use.

No picture of the final result yet, but you get a pretty good idea.

To cheer himself up, Shane took a break and challenged TJ to do pull ups in the closet.

I don't think either of them won.

Dad began cutting in the living room. This was the colour that I most wanted to see go on the walls. It was the very first one that I picked out and the one that I wanted the most. Luckily for me, TJ gave in after a lot of whining on my part. It's called Wythe Blue from the Benjamin Moore Collection and was their 2012 Colour of the Year. Since he was only cutting in there's not a lot to see, so I took a close up of the colour beside the trim (which was done in something called Silkworm)

Mum and Charlotte also came along to help out.

Mum has taken over the caulking so I'm finally free of that job! We made Charlotte start with sanding, and told her she had to put in grunt work before she could graduate to using the actual paint.

Visitors have also started popping in - first, my friend Elizabeth came by with a housewarming gift, but she was too quick and I didn't get a picture. Then my university buddies Amber and Jamie came from Fredericton with another housewarming present. Let me tell you, if you want presents, buy a new house.

Lots of work has been done since this particular weekend...mostly painting...and then all the moving. We're both looking forward to never moving ever again. Ever. Our internet will be installed on Friday, so we should have another update this weekend with lots of pictures from the last week, so check back!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Moving Day!

Hi Blog Readers!

Well, it's hard to know where to begin. I have a backlog of pictures, stories, more pictures, more stories,  and lots and lots of news about what's been happening over the last week or so. But guess what....you're going to have to wait, because today is MOVING DAY! Well, maybe not 100% moving day. My teaching contract ended Friday and I'm now back on the old substitute list, and I booked a job for Monday...so I said NO WAY to moving everything into the house today and then actually having to sleep there, wake up with no shower/appliances/knowledge of where any of my belongings are and go to a sub job....so today we're just moving most of our things, leaving only our bed and clothes (and makeup...come on....) so that I can feel somewhat human tomorrow morning.

TJ probably would have been okay sleeping there, he won't feel human at all tomorrow anyway since he's the one having to move everything. I'm also on the fence about whether or not my dad will even make it to work tomorrow, since he's also moving everything. We tricked our across-the-hall neighbour (also named TJ) into helping us too, and he was awesome - just in case anyone is wondering, football coaches make excellent movers.

So now it's just me, some empty rooms, some empty boxes and a big echo left all alone in the apartment. I still can't believe that we're actually going to be moving into a house that we OWN. The most expensive thing I ever owned was a laptop, and we all know how that turned out. Hopefully if I spill soya sauce and Glade plug in oil on my house, the results won't be as destructive.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich!

With our move in date being two weeks away from today, there's a big push to start getting some serious work done in our house. This past week has been one where we're not only making a lot of progress, but now we can actually see it as well. The biggest change has been, of course, finally getting our kitchen installed.

We began the work on our kitchen about a month or so ago. The first step was to make an appointment with the lovely people at Prestige Kitchens to discuss what it was we could actually do with our kitchen. We have a decent sized space, but due to having three doors and two windows in this space, we were limited as to where we could actually have appliances and cabinets. Thank goodness for kitchen designers. There were multiple conversations about pantry areas, window arches, window trim, 28 inch spaces vs 30 inch spaces, etc etc. We finally decided on a design that would give us a functional and beautiful kitchen.

The next part was deciding on the cabinet panel design, countertop, hardware and flooring. Never having gone through the kitchen design process before, I was at a loss. I had absolutely no idea how to go about choosing countertops and floors that went together. On advice from our designer, Mike, we started by choosing a floor. We went with this picture for inspiration:

Taken from kitchen-design-ideas.org

We really liked the stone colour of the floor, as well as the look of different tile sizes. We tried to find something similar, but couldn't find anything that was the right colour or the right look. We decided to go with something that had a stone colour rather than tile sizes, since we couldn't have both. I think we made the right decision. Our floors are a light colour, but still dark enough that the dirt (hopefully!) won't show. Besides, after all the work on the house, I've become an expert at sweeping. I've swept the entire house about three or four hundred times now.

Once the floors were chosen, it was much easier to choose a countertop. We knew that we wanted a darker colour since the cabinets would be white, so we took home samples of every dark coloured countertop that Prestige had available. We narrowed it down to two samples, and since TJ had let me choose the floor I wanted, we went with his choice of counter - Basalt Slate. It's a textured countertop, and it has a very slight whitish marble running through. Very pretty, and it looks fantastic with the floors. We went with an oil rubbed bronze finish for our hardware, and after much begging and pleading, convinced Mike that we could make a farmhouse pull work with the cabinet panels we chose, even if it meant that we would have to re-order three of our drawers.

Then the hardest part came - waiting three weeks. For anyone who knows me well, they know that I HATE waiting for things. Sadly, I had no choice. I spent most of my time over the next three weeks searching for the perfect kitchen faucet. We had found a great sink at Kent in Kensington. It's fiberglass, but the finish is so great that it actually looks like it's made of ceramic. Our ideal kitchen sink would be a gorgeous farmhouse sink, but seeing as they cost approximately five million dollars, we had to go with the next best thing. It still has the farmhouse look to it, but it fits our budget much better! Anyway, we had to find a faucet that would really complete the look of the sink, as well as match our cupboard hardware. That oil rubbed bronze cupboard hardware.

There is a much smaller selection of oil rubbed bronze kitchen faucets than I imagined. The selection that is available is very pretty, and also very expensive. Upon finding this out, there was no turning back. There was no way I wanted a boring old silver faucet with my pretty sink. No way. I needed something oil rubbed and bronzed and old fashioned. And I found it. But we will now be eating oatmeal and lettuce for the next two years. But we can eat it while looking at our fabulous kitchen faucet!

Finally, on Thursday evening, our three week wait was over and it was time for the unveiling of our brand spanking new kitchen.

Just ignore the snarling Irishman in the corner - I usually do, and he eventually stops snarling and does a wee jig.

See, there he goes.

The sink with the lovely faucet....not installed just yet....it's a bit of a long story, but one that ends well!

We also had the plumber come in and set down our fixtures in the downstairs bathroom, so we finally have a functioning powder room once more (this is very welcome news to any ladies who have been working in the house for the last month). TJ took the facilities for a spin:

And a close up of our pedestal sink - I love the old fashioned feel of it, it reminds me of my grandparents' house (307 to any of the Harris Clan who happen to be reading...).

And there you have it - finally progress that you can see! We're so happy with the way things are coming together. It's been a lot of work, and there's still a TON of work ahead of us (every half an hour we add another item to our "Winter Projects" or "Summer of 2013 Projects" lists), but we love our little house. We've decided to take tonight off to get some R&R, as the work has been catching up with us and it's becoming quite noticeable. One of my students let me know today that my eyes were "All squinty sorta, like you're having trouble seeing me", so that's telling right there! Oh grade two. So honest.

Stay tuned for our next update after the weekend - painted walls!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

TJ's First Blog Post!

Well, it's been a big week at the aul' house. A lot of the serious work is done or almost done, and we're into the home stretch in a few spots.

On Tuesday, the flooring guys called in to put down our vinyl through a lot of the downstairs rooms. Kitchen, half bath and the back hall and laundry now have nice new floors and look a lot better. Well, maybe not the back hall, it still needs a serious going over. Anyway, here's a wee look at the stuff we picked. Not half bad lookin', is it?

We also collected the nice sink we chose for the kitchen, and threw it in there to see how it looked. Awesome. That's how.

Thanks to a wee drop o' precipitation, we also got a visit from some professional house-fixer-uppers, who plastered a couple of rooms with this handsome wainscotting:

IHQ (Immense House Quotient) increased by over a thousand!

Once those panels were up, we got the aul' skirtin' boards back on and gave them a lick o' primer. We finally found an off-white we really liked for the top coat, which is a relief cos we have a ton of skirting boards, door and window trim, doors and assorted other decorative features needing spruced up.

"Ach", we thought, "sure while we're at it, maybe we'll do a full room of paint..." So we threw some colour on the kitchen walls. 

First we tested it. 

The foreman was delighted. He joined in too, slapping some waterproof coating around the shower stall. 

And we got a wee set-tub/cabinet jobbie for the laundry room. This will be in beside the washing machine and dryer.

Today, we got a nice delivery...our kitchen cabinets were installed! White cupboards, slate counter. Pahrful lookin'. Time to order some appliances to fill the gaps methinks. The kitchen is coming along nicely.

Oh, and on top of all that, the plumbers called in to stick the half-bath back together so we have running water again! We've returned to the 21st century. I told you, big week!

So all in all, a lot of progress but still a lot of hard work to be done. Lots of wallspace to get paint on, miles of thon skirting board and trim to do, but we're well on track towards being able to move in.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


TJ was going to write his first blog post, but as it turns out, working on the house is taking up all of his time. When we finally come back home (to our apartment home) it's usually past our bedtime and no blogging gets done. Luckily we had a relatively early night tonight (9pm) so there's a few extra minutes of the day that can be spared! Surprisingly enough, they are my minutes - TJ is reading a book. However, it's a really good book, so I don't mind.

After a busy week of Thanksgiving dinners and the annual Teacher's Convention, we woke up early on Saturday morning as per my dad's instructions to BE THERE AT 8:30. I'll be the first to admit that we are usually the last ones at the house on the weekends. We roll in about half an hour after everyone else with our coffee and bagels and then spend another half an hour walking around drinking said coffee and eating said bagels watching everyone else work before we finally get started. We were determined to BE THERE AT 8:30.

We woke up to find this:

FROST! The second picture is of TJ scraping the front off of the windshield while I sit inside the car shivering. It was 4 degrees, so of course we felt we needed coffee and bagels. I think we made it to the house about 9:15. If I recall correctly, the line at Tim Hortons was especially long.

Now, before I really get in to this post, I have to explain something. The hardest part about being a blogger (to me, anyway) is coming up with a name for your blog. My sister Charlotte and I spent about three weeks this summer trying to think of a catchy blog title for a blog we were planning to start together. By the time we found a name, we were out of energy and never actually got around to writing anything other than a post that said "We started a blog!' Also, the word blog started to lose all meaning after saying it so many times. When starting the house blog, again, the hardest part was finding the title. I finally settled on Floorboards and Fireflies for 2 reasons: one, I like titles consisting of two nouns separated by "and", and two, I think floorboards are one of the most important parts of a house (fireflies, not so much, it just sounded good with floorboards). If you think about it, floorboards get a lot of traffic. They get worn down and beat up, and they have a ton of scratches and dents from a ton of different events and occasions. They really tell a story, so I thought it would be good to include them as a part of my title. Little did I know how much time I'd be spending with my floorboards....really up close and personal time.

Here's me and my floor. We spent a lot of time together on Saturday, seeing as the ENTIRE THING had to be taped around the edges so we could lay quarter round and then paint it without getting paint all over our newly refinished floors. Do you know how long it takes to tape up an entire house? The entire day. The entire, four degrees day. Did I mention that we have no heat at the moment? And that the floor is really cold? And I sat on it, and laid on it, and then sat on it some more? Thank goodness these pictures aren't close ups, I definitely had an icicle dripping from my nose.

Once the floors were taped, we could roll out paper to cover them up so they would stay nice and shiny while the rest of the work continued:

Hmmm. It doesn't look as nice, but it'll do.

We also had to lay yet another subfloor so we could have our kitchen/hall/guest entry/laundry room/downstairs bathroom floors ready for vinyl flooring to be installed.

Shane supervised. He did a good job, and the floors were finished pretty quickly.

At this point, Shane decided that the subfloors had too many staples, so he called TJ to see if he was interested in removing them, seeing as he is our resident staple-remover.

TJ said no. I think he ended up pulling some out in the guest entry anyway. While he was doing this we realized the floor there was pretty much useless, as were the walls. Eventually, this entire entryway will have to be redone with a new floor and a new wall (one that doesn't move when you open the door.....) but for the time being, it will get a surface makeover and our guests will just have to be careful when opening the door.

The last piece of work for the day was trying to put the fireplace back together.

No such luck.

We decided to give up for the day and go home.

Sunday consisted of priming and caulking more trim, and suspecting that something is making plans to move into our house for the winter. What makes us suspect that, you ask? Oh, I don't know....

Left: Small housewarming gift left in our laundry room. Right: Neighbour who currently lives in our chestnut tree, who we are now referring to as "Prime Suspect Number One".

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Floor Stain

Remember that time last Thursday when the floors were stained and we weren't allowed to walk on them, except the floor guy showed up and let us walk on them anyway? Yeah. That was great. And sticky. Luckily there were more layers to go and you can't even see where we walked on them - floor magic!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

We're Back!

Hi everyone! Sorry for the long wait between posts - we were spending a lot of evenings at the house, which is prime blogging time, and then just this past week my sweet grammie passed away, so our family took a break from old houses and priming and spent our time reflecting on her amazing and giving spirit. We are only now just getting back to the house and trying to remember what needs to be finished next, so this post is long overdue.

There's been a lot going on since I last posted. Last Saturday, our windows were finally in and ready to be installed. However, there seemed to be a problem. Shane had ordered the wrong window, as evidenced below:

Doesn't this look like a genuine moment of confusion? You can almost hear Shane going "Silly me, I ordered the wrong window!" Convincing, right? Well, it turns out it didn't happen, dad and Shane just wanted to trick me into believing that this window was the one that was ordered for the kitchen. Great joke. It might have worked a couple of weeks ago when I didn't know anything about houses, but guess what? I actually noticed that this window was the one that was supposed to go in the living room. I'm learning things about houses! Joke's on you, house builder family members.

Get back to work, you clowns.

While the windows were being installed, TJ and I kept working on priming the walls and trim. Priming has been making a huge difference in the house, it looks a million times better already.

We also had to get ready for the floor sander to come in, which meant moving everything out of the sunporch. This was the first time we were really able to see it entirely empty. I hadn't realized how much space there actually was!

So that was last weekend. We were then kicked out of the house so the sander could get down to business.

When we came back on Wednesday and Thursday, the transformation was incredible:

I LOVE these floors! The even better news was that they get even better. And even better is always better! Our floor guy, Lee from A-Z Flooring, was there today and it was finally time to get started on the stain. I wish I would have taken a picture of the master bedroom all stained because it was beautiful, but I guess the upstairs hallway is the next best thing:

Isn't it gorgeous? We went with a stain called Golden Oak, which is what we had seen down at Annie's Table Culinary Studio, as well as Annie's house. I thought that hers was a little bit lighter, but I'm so happy with the way that it came out on our floors. 

We thought that the downstairs would stain darker because of the hardwood, but once it went out it looked very similar to the softwood upstairs.

Lee is working on the dining room here. We were a little concerned about what would happen in this room since it is hardwood around the edges and softwood in the middle, as the stain was likely to come out two different shades, but luckily it came out incredibly similar and you can barely notice. Phew! Now we just have to disguise the 500 nail heads embedded in the softwood...if we invite you over to dinner and you keep getting distracted by the glint of shiny nails, we'd appreciate it if you stayed polite and pretend that you don't even notice them. Thanks in advance.

Thomas and dad also joined us today and worked on scraping the paint from the outside window frames:

TJ and I kept tackling the trim inside. This door has been driving me insane:

So now we're just waiting for the floors to finish being stained and then given a good coat of polyurethane before we can come back in and keep painting. We chose our countertops and flooring for the kitchen and back porches, and someone should be coming to take measurements in the middle of next week.

Basalt Slate counters and stone grey floor.

So hopefully everything will really come together in the next few weeks. Our kitchen is due to arrive around October 20th. We're really looking forward to having the house start to be in livable condition.....especially because we gave our month's notice to our current landlord and have to be out at the end of the month! Gulp.