Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Spin Doctors

Mr. Big and I were fortunate enough to have a very talented designer come with us to Miami to choose our flooring, countertops, wall tile and other finishes. He really helped to keep us focused and consistent. In the end, our choices were just slightly different in each room, but carried similar colors and themes throughout the whole house. We were so excited (think giddy!). It would look beautiful! We immediately forwarded all of our selections to our builder, eagerly anticipating the time when the order would be placed.

When that date came about a month ago, we received a call telling us that our stone selection for a major wall feature was no longer available. Huh? We tried finding the same stone in different sizes, but it was a complete no go. The supplier suggested an alternate stone, but their choice had a lot of gold color in it. First off, I'm just not much of a gold girl. And secondly (and most importantly), because everything had been selected to work with together in muted grey and tan tones, we were hesitant to go with their selection...especially without seeing it first. So off to Miami we went (slightly deflated to say the least).

Our time back at the supplier was useful. While we still weren't able to sweet talk them into providing the original stone, we passed on their recommendation and found a beautiful replacement. The replacement comes from the same location as our floor tiles, but just one shade darker. We looked at all our selections together again and left Miami feeling a bit better that we again had something that would work, albeit not as superbly as the original selection. We had a bit of bounce back in our step.

Two weeks later we received an email from the supplier informing us that they would not be able to get us our new stone selection. And this was coming from the same lady that we had met with. Okay, now I'm confused. Why didn't you tell us when we were all together two weeks ago? Again, they tried to propose a different option. (Now we're completely deflated...and a bit frustrated)

Do you all remember that song "You spin me round, round, baby, round, round" by the Spin Doctors in the early 90s? That's what our head was feeling like by this point. We were on their merry-go-round. It was like they were taunting us.

After a few more back and forths, we politely communicated that it was that stone or bust (on the entire order). Miraculously, the previously unavailable stone is now available. It will be arriving a bit later in the project, but that's fine with our timing.

I wish that there was a little roller coaster icon that could show the daily (or even sometimes hourly) movement in emotions that pass through us. Chugging up, up, up and then freefall. Spin us around three times. Back up, up and a small fall. Ugh. Our heads are spinning. This has been exhilarating, scary, fun, and a bit dangerous all at the same time. And we've only reached the half-way point...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ceiling fans

As you can imagine, ceiling fans are everywhere on our little island. After living in many rental apartments, you start to appreciate fans that don't squeak or move air efficiently. From a decor perspective, a fan is a fan and we haven't really found anything special that catches our eye aesthetically.

That was until last night when I stumbled across these beauties on ebay. Reviews indicate that they are well made and I love the design. Simple but a bit rustic/worn at the same time. They are built to be used in damp locations, if needed, so we are planning on using them for all of our outdoor locations.

We'll may forgo the light option, but overall, they look really nice. I ordered three at a price $125 lower than anywhere elsewhere on the internet. Whohoo...saved us almost $400 in total. Mightnight ebay runs aren't so bad after all.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A step back to inspiration

After a few posts about progress at the house, a little bit of inspiration and fascination is in order. And for days like today, I head straight on over to Desire to Inspire.

Why do we all have an obsession hanging artwork when it looks so good simply resting on a shelf, chest or hearth? (By the way, how cozy does the final picture below look? That painting is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l)

No, no, we have nothing to announce, but I just need to share the most charming nursery I've seen yet. If we delivered a grandchild to her, something tells me that the interior design goddess (that is my mom) would deliver this room in a heartbeat.

And finally, rather than the standard bathroom mirrors, something with a bit more oomph sure adds to the room. Similarly, the effect of multiple mirrors is strangely appealing. Probably anything a bit out of the ordinary could catch my attention at this point.

Windsor Smith

Hope you all enjoyed!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Glass blocks be gone

Somehow someone sold us on putting glass block in our master shower when we were planning our house (it may have come from our inspiration image coming from John Travolta's bathroom but I can't be sure). Glass block? Isn't that a bit early 80s? I remember an application of this in the living room of a high school friend. Even as an 18-year old, I just wasn't too keen on the look. But it seems to be popular in the Caribbean so I went with the suggestion. There are plenty of examples of really nice applications of it...when used correctly.

Friends visiting our construction zone often comment on how nice it will be to shower with a view. Somehow the glint of excitement rapidly leaves their eyes as we tell them that our plans call for glass block. "Ohhhh, (with the voice raising as they consider what to say next), that will look nice too."

Ironically, our builder has had a real challenge trying to find the right size glass block to make the curve for the shower. After researching for three months, the only solution has been to mix the sizes in order to make the curve. This would mean that we would have a pattern/mixture of 4 inch, 6 inch, and 8 inch block. Huh? Needless to say, it's hard to visualize what this will end up looking like. Both Mr. Big and I fear that it might look pretty random. Add that to my high school flashbacks and you've got a pretty hesitant couple to say the least.

Last week I decided on a whim to ask our window guys if they could make anything that would fit the space. Low and behold, they have done similar applications before and can even use our left over wood grain finish and match the rest of our windows. The rough estimate is pretty much spot on the original cost of the glass block. Perfect! An upgrade at minimal extra cost (imagine that!)


Now we get our view (with a little privacy panel of course) and the high school flashbacks will remain just distant memories. A 30-second inquiry never felt so satisfying!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Progress, beautiful progress

Boring, boring, boring, but there really has been a lot accomplished, agreed, or ordered in the past six days. Progress is a great feeling. This won't be the most exciting post for those who aren't building or renovating a home.

As of Friday, the final great room slider was installed and all the windows and exterior doors (minus the front door) are now in. The wood grain looks great although I am surprised at how much sunlight the tint keeps out of the house. It's not a bad thing...just a surprise when you see them installed.
Master bath windows (freestanding tub to be installed underneath) :)

We agreed the drywall returns and sills for the window openings, which was a point of concern earlier in the building process. Somehow everything seems to have worked out now....? (Keeping my fingers crossed that it stays this way)

With the exception of the built in tub/shower areas, all insulation has been sprayed on exterior walls and door openings. Due to an oversight, Mr. Big's wine cave was mistakenly not 100% insulated and this has now been corrected (Mr. Big's sigh of relief was momentous).

Dining room insulation completed and doors installed

A number of little bits and bobs that needed final framing were done, including a wall that will define our sitting area on the second floor. It was very exciting to see this finally take shape. All of the major walls and details are now in.

We spent two hours today walking through the placement of every single light fixture, outlet, keypad, fan, fire alarm and pretty much anything else that you can think of to ensure everything is in the right place. I'm pretty embarrassed to say that we only got through one floor of the house. (We're finishing Tuesday night so don't expect any riviting posts that night)

One of the "motherboards" (as I call them) about 4 weeks ago. They scare me. Honestly, how will we ever control anything with that many wires?

We are blessed with a very patient and helpful electrician who has great ideas. While also a good friend, it sure feels good to know that we always have someone on site looking out for our best interests and making sure everything is correct.

Before starting this project, I had never even heard of a soffit. (Please tell me I am not alone here...) Well, apparently ours is 75% complete. Not quite sure what it is that I'm looking for but Mr. Big assures me that it is there.

Our drywall was delivered on island and should be on site on Monday or Tuesday. They will likely start putting it up later this week. It will take approximately four days for the sheetrock and another 10 days to mud and detail the walls. This puppy is going to look like a house real soon!

Floor tiles
I'll entertain you all soon with some good floor-tile-tales, but for now, we're pretty excited because they have been shipped from Miami. We could have our first floor in 3 weeks from now (keep your fingers crossed).

Building approval
We finally received building approval for our outside gazebo and garage. The gazebo construction will start in the next week after a long wait. And it's a pretty good thing that we got the garage approval seeing as though it's already built. (Please, please do not let anyone from planning ever find this post...)

So there's a healthy update for everyone. There's a bit more in the works, but I need to keep some cards for future posts. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

High low

My favorite articles in design magazines are those in which professionally designed (and well paid for) room are pulled apart and we have a peek into how to achieve the same look at a fraction of the price. The following inspiration picture has always tugged at me, namely because of the gorgeous (and very custom-made) chandelier from Fuse Lighting. Yowzers. It has leather straps and the whole bit.

We have a 6 ft square dining room table begging for something along these lines. I love modern, but Mr. Big just doesn't. A smaller version of this beauty would be a great middle point. I have been searching a while now and was pleased this evening to come across this option.

Graham and Green

No, the leather straps have not been beautifully replicated, but overall, it comes pretty darn close. And you never know, perhaps this little island has a master leatherman in its midst just waiting for a project like this.

The barn door

When our home was just a distant dream, being those months before breaking ground, we loved the idea of having a barn door feel to the entrance to our office. Not quite sure what that says about what we intend to do in there? In any case, it was one of those extra touches that we were eagerly anticipating.

A few weeks ago, our builder and designer told us that they believed it was going to be just too hard to do. Part of the discrepancy seemed to be that our designer was looking for a really cool solution that our builder just never really caught onto. In the end, they proposed that we consider bi-fold doors instead of our much-anticipated barn door. Huh?

Mr. Big's eyes were so sad when he got this news that I promptly found myself a computer to search for a solution (we were on vacation at the time). To be honest, it was a pretty easy search. Barndoorhardware.com pretty much gets you there in 0.5 seconds. Our builder today confirmed that their hardware will work and Mr. Big will get his barn door. Hurrah!

So we've now got two hardware options...the modern stainless steel and the dark sturdy option. We've found ourselves tending towards rustic bases with modern accents, so really, either could work. The door will be at least 8 ft tall, single panel, and stained dark similar to the windows.

Seeing as everyone seemed to like the poll last time around, we're going to put it out to you again. Which catches your fancy?

Monday, July 16, 2007

The big return

After two and a half weeks of travel, we returned back on the island at 6pm tonight and promptly dashed out to the house before the sun went down...to find windows! Oh yeah!

The manufacturer did an absolutely beautiful job on them. The wood grain screen print came out looking very natural. I was slightly surprised that the tint was so dark, but Mr. Big promptly pointed out that it will come in handy to fight against that strong Caribbean sun.

Our travels gave us the opportunity to visit many friends and family who have been following our building progress via the blog. Just a quick shout out to thank those who had such encouraging words for us. Cheers!