Fantasy Sport

I walk into the house (construction site) almost every day. I’ve witnessed the progression from crumbling plaster to see-through walls and temporary beams. And now, it’s getting filled back in. To be our home.

Passing my key through the lock and opening the front door, my nose twitches at the smell of sawed wood, and it tickles with airborne sawdust. Actually, there’s very little dust. The construction team does a most excellent job cleaning the site. Nightly. Every night. We aren’t living there, so it’s mostly for them. Guess it’s easier to keep track of tools. But we’re all impressed.

Right now, though, I’m playing.

As I unbolt the door and pass into the “house,” I imagine I’m standing in the refurbished threshold. I stand on the subfloor that will be a black and white hexagon mosaic. I turn to the new, wide opening for the French doors. They will be glass and usher crosslight from the west bay of windows to the east bay. Beautiful.

I pretend to hang my coat in the newly framed hall closet. Then, with a great flourish, I burst through the doors (that will be delivered in a week). Looks like the electrician was here. It’s the telltale array of blue boxes nailed to the 2X4s. The one on my left must be for the sexy fan I selected for the den–the room that was formerly known as the toy room.

Hmmmmm. I frown a little. I can’t reach the switch until I close the door.

Walk in, close door, engage switch, re-open door? That needs to change. I make a mental note as I walk behind where the couch will be. I walk off a few steps, measuring with my feet, and wonder if both bookcases can fit. Next time I need to bring a tape measure.

Behind the couch is the (phantom) pocket door. This door is scheduled to be half glass, all the better to bring in light, my dear. I step through that passage into the office and play open and close with the linen closet across from the bathroom. I mentally flip that switch.

I run my hand across the air run of maple desk and imagine the chairs tucked neatly underneath. I don’t think the short cabinets are going to fit behind them. Need a Plan B.

The next phantom door leads to the back bedroom. It’s pretty much the same as it ever was. I turn to open the closet.

Hmmmmm. I purse my lips. No closet is framed. I know it was in the plans. That needs to change, too.

Squeezing through the sticks that demark the wall, I find myself standing in the pantry cabinets. Stepping out of them, I choose to enter the kitchen via the dining room. With a renewed flourish I sashay into the kitchen and place my bag on the imaginary island.

I turn from the island and affect the opening and closing of the refrigerator door. Looking up, I see the exhaust vent. Standing underneath it, I turn the red knobs in my head, pantomiming in the air. I reach to place an invisible plate on an invisible shelf. Ninety degrees later, I fake the faucet and look through the framed sheathing to what is likely to be my back garden. In my game, I’m adding a tomato plant or two.

Next to that big window wall is the place for the glass door. I look through the wood, at the back porch. Now, finishing a 180° turn, I simulate opening the microwave and the to-be-installed convection oven. I look through the last window.

Hmmmmm. My eyebrows are raised, and, almost, my hackles.

The window abuts the wall. But if it’s there, it will be blocked by the cabinets–including my spiffy new appliance garage. I look for the design plans, but I know that the window is off by maybe thirty inches. This gets added to my “to discuss” list.

I think about looking out that misplaced window as I’m preparing coffee. The countertop here will support the kettle, and, likely, our toaster.

The crew is happy that my game exposed errors. Everyone makes them. Finding and fixing early saves time and money.

Me? I practice opening the cabinet below the correctly spaced window and filling the bowl of The Beast with doggie kibble.

It will do. It will all do.

Season Opener

The staircase to the upstairs in the center hall.

This house is bright. The light was a big gain from our first house which allowed little sunshine through its windows.

Our house is a bungalow with a wide covered porch. The big front picture windows welcome the rays. The bays in the front rooms and the radiator to ceiling glass portals in the dining room provide sun patches for the Beast to follow throughout the day. The light is invited into the hall by the south facing window in our bathroom. The house loves the light.

When that bathroom door is closed, though, when someone showers, shaves or shits, there is only darkness in the center hall.

Much of the plaster is crumbling through the house, and I bet it started in the hall. Or there was some god awful wallpaper that couldn’t be removed. I think this because someone, before we moved here, covered the walls in the hallway with dark brown paneling from floorboard, ten feet up, to the ceiling.

Once, during a party, a guest pointed out that the perpetrator of the darkness used standard eight foot panels, capped them with a piece of trim, then finished with scrap. While they did an excellent job in lining up the panels, the walls now seemed flimsy to me.

Over the years, some of the panels have come a bit loose. There may or may not be a hole or two that may or may not have been delivered by a boot or a fist by brothers who may or may not have been in a brawl. But damage or no, the dark paneling just doesn’t make sense.

But we aren’t so simple. No. We. Are. Not.

Of course we’re tearing out the depressing paneling. That will be amazing. But not as amazing as opening up the stairwell.

Bungalows are a either one story or a story and a half. Our stairs to the second floor have been enclosed just behind a door and ensconced in thick plaster–like a secret elevator shaft without the elevator. The door will be replaced with air and the wall is being subbed out by an open railing. I will be able to look down from upstairs to the hall. And so will the sun. The house will be flooded with light from its center. I think this will be the aspect of the remodel with the most impact.

More than increasing the kitchen size by 50%. More than adding another full bath. More than the new windows across the back of the house. More than the new HVAC and powered up electrical.

Just you wait. This new staircase, with it’s come hither look, is the refresh. It’s going to be grand.

Nightmare Scenario 

An old sink and faucet with an electric blue cast.

The sink got replaced. The new faucet sat shiny above it. I signed off on the project. It was now me and The Spouse.

Then, almost immediately—but not really immediate because it took at least a part of a second for the realization to reveal itself—I could see that the counter was a mottled mustard, flecked with dark brown. It was akin to a 70’s color combo, not the expected white quartz composite. Where was my pro-faucet? I expected it’s flamingo-like neck arching over the sink, but it’s just a workaday American Standard spigot that my big pot won’t fit under.

Wait, wasn’t the sink going under a new window? Hey, it’s in the same place it was before. There aren’t any new windows. And the cupboards are new, but they’re a dark wood and the pendant light emits a sickly yellow cast.

This is not my beautiful kitchen.

I turned, distraught, to The Spouse. The shock in my eyes was matched only by the slack in my jaw. I couldn’t even get a baleful “noooooooooo” out of my lips. We were going to have to de-sign off. Somehow. What do I do next?

I woke up. It’s not too late. We haven’t even started.

And yet, already it starts.

Demo Derby

The demolition plan for the kitchen area.

I asked the team to bring the updated plans. I just had the kitchen elevations in hard copy. Nothing else.

“Elevations” is part of my new vocabulary. See how I just threw that out there, as if it wasn’t a term that I learned three weeks ago? It’s amazing how quickly you can assimilate new language. For those of you not fluent in whale, in this context, elevations are the wall view of the plans, versus the flyover view. The elevations show the relative height of the cabinets, where the tops of the windows line up and how the microwave stacks over the wall oven.

I don’t know the name of the top-down plans. Floor plans? I think that’s right.

I did have some of the drawings electronically. I like them that way because I can pull them up on my phone, tablet and laptop. I can zoom in on specific features. I don’t like the pixelated versions in that I have a hard time getting the overall and relative picture. So I requested the printouts.

The printed plans are oversized. You can run your finger along the outside wall, rather than hiding half of the room behind a stubby digit. You can trace the new door opening while standing in the as-is room and squinting to see the future. You can hold the page an arm’s length away, below where the new wall of windows will be, and still make out the details in the drawing and pretend your other hand is resting on the new kitchen island.

My printer can’t print to that size of paper. The architect’s printer can. They printed out everything that was updated, and there were bonus pages. There were drawings with circles with little points–some with the points exiting one side and some with the points spread around the circle like a compass. The circles were linked together with bowed lines. These were the electrical drawings.

There was a color-coded set with red numbers and green numbers that corresponded to the color of the kitchen cabinets. There was a framing plan that was unfathomable to me. These documents made me very happy that I hired someone who understands them.

There were also two pages that had the current floor plan. This was awesome because they lined up with the to-be plans so I could get a better relative idea the changes.

On closer inspection, it dawned on me that the as-is plans are not there for my comparative pleasure. I saw shaded areas that, according to the legend, are areas marked for demolition. Whoa! Demolition. That’s a serious word.

The shady spots are along a few walls where doors or closets are moving. There’s a few spots where the floor is coming up and being replaced by tile. And there’s the back three-quarters of the house marked for wrecking. The kitchen, the pantry and the bathroom, and the wall that encases the stairway–all with X’s marking the spots where they will be razed and remade.

And reused and recycled, too. There are a bunch of notes in the margin instructing the contractors to carefully remove and replace boards and trim.

I like that demolition and destruction are on the same page as care and reclamation. I like the contradiction and the compliment, the yin yang of it all. I’m finding meaning in everything.

 

Can’t Tell Me Nothing

a black and white rendition of the SE corner of the current kitchen. There's a window that will go away, and a range sitting squarely there

The kitchen plans, of course, look good. Why on goddesses’ green earth would somebody give a client something that looks bad. See what I mean?

There’s a lot of time between encounters–encounters between the design/build folks and the client. And for those of you not quite following along, the client in the equation is me. Doc. I want it to be done. Complete. Finito.

Maybe this is less about being done, and more about my impatience. Be that as it may.

The problem is that Doc is actually obsessing about that last batch of drawings. The batch in possession is actually one conversation/version behind. So, the pix that I have do not actually incorporate all that we said. All that we agreed to. All that I want to be.

Well, that’s not exactly true. There are notes and arrows that acknowledge the changes–but you don’t see them all. Not totally. There is interpretation required. See. I’m obsessing. I told you.

So, as you know, pretty much every day I stand in different spots in the house and try to imagine what will be. I’m not saying that this is healthy. I’m just reporting the truth.

Today, I’m looking at the plans and seeing that there’s a problem. I’m looking at the edges and see that there are two corners in play. One on the southwest side. The other on the southeast side. The cabinets join at those corners. I’m wondering how the hell you get anything into or out of those spaces. It’s geometry. Angles and space. This is not looking good. The space is blocked.

And then I look, again, at the drawings. I see some weird words. On the plans it says:

Blind corner with pull out magic corner.

An image of one of the drawings that includes an indication that a pull-out-magic-corner will save the day. Fingers crossed.

Of course. Magic. That’s what I needed!

I go to the Google and ask about the “pull out magic corner.” It’s actually a real thing. I know this because one of the sellers is AmazonDotCom. Has to be legit.

It’s a few wire shelves that are connected and folded upon themselves. These shelves are attached to a cabinet door to provide access to the dark matter at the joining of the cabinetry. You pull the door open and the storage unfolds, four shelves for pots and pans or for mixers and bowls or for plastic containers and their snap on lids.

I’m feeling more confident. You can live through anything if magic made it.

Sit Your Sass Down 

A wooden side chair with a floral pillow on its seat. The chair is in the living room.

The design team had an idea. It wasn’t an especially original one. It was an idea that accommodates present day home fashion. Wait for it, are you ready? A master suite. 

So there would be the bed, a monster walk-in closet, a private bath with a sink-a-piece, and a sitting area. All for the master and mistress of the house. If you look at newly built homes, and at old homes that have been remodeled for flipping, or really at any desirable home on the HGTV channel (home and garden TV, for the uninitiated) you will see the master suite concept

So it’d be an easy, “yes,” if one of my goals was to maximize resale value. I mean, why would it be such a thing if it wasn’t a thing that most/many/all people want–or at least that the tastemakers want?

But I don’t want it. Sure I yearn for a walk in closet–it’s not like I’m an alien. And a water closet and shower en suite is also tres attractive. But seriously, what the hell do I need a friggin’ sitting area in my bedroom for?

How many places to sit does one bottom need? I can sit in the living room. I can sit in the den. I can sit at the table in the dining room. If the weather is nice I can sit on the front porch. There is a table and chairs on the back porch. There is a desk to be sat near in the new office. If I want private time to sit, there’s the bathroom throne. 

Honestly, what a waste of space. A sitting area? For real?!? Not a requirement for this Doc. Nosiree. 

That was an easy decision. 

Personality Quiz

The wall of pots in our kitchen, hanging haphazardly on a pegboard wall. Circa now.

What’s your kitchen style? Farmhouse? Modern? Mediterranean? French country? Traditional? Transitional(?) ? Contemporary? Eclectic?

It’s like a giant, stupid Buzzfeed quiz. Which Disney princess are you? What Hogwarts house will you be sorted into? What does your aura orb say about your love life? How are your values reflected by your cereal choices?

It’s not like it’s science. The elements of the different design styles overlap. A lot. Like what’s the difference between contemporary and modern? Maybe styles can be grouped along a spectrum running from fussy to Jetson sleek. I’m not sure, though. I mean, I get that it’s a shortcut to a consistent look–except, however, if you choose eclectic, which evokes “whatever you want.”

Selecting a kitchen style reminds me of that “seasons” thing they used to do to figure out someone’s most flattering color palette. Women went to parties to get draped with scarves of different tones and colors by an expert who likely learned the trade by going to a party the previous week. After the sorting, you’d be named a Winter–whereupon you were instructed to throw away all your gold jewelry and, speaking of jewels, focus on jewel-toned clothes. If the veins in your wrists looked more green than blue, you’d be crowned an Autumn and were instructed to wear coppery browns and olive-y greens. [You can see the ancient ceremony performed here.]

These kitchen styles don’t really speak to me. I don’t want fussy, but minimalist would soon look like some professional organizer’s “before” picture. There isn’t a style called “hide the dirt and accept that there’s gonna be a mess and, also, I cook here.” Too many words, I guess.

I don’t want the rich look of marble with a fancy crystal teardrop chandelier and the nooks and crannies of faux furniture turned legs and corbels flanking the hearth. I don’t want a Tony Stark kitchen with shiny surfaces that are unforgiving to fingerprints and with cabinets without pulls, hinges or surface details, camouflaged as a blank wall.

Then I found industrial kitchens. Industrial sounded good. Like a factory floor with working machines and surfaces that you’d clean with a sandblaster. But what if it’s really another term for steampunk with all the complexity of sci-fi meets Victorian charm? Too much. And how do I distinguish industrial from professional? And, does it actually matter?

For me, for my kitchen style, maybe I should just say, Winter is coming.