(lessons in concrete)

Foundation Pouring | www.theartesianproject.wordpress.com
(day one of foundation pour)

While we had a great meeting with our contractor on Monday, we left feeling a bit apprehensive as to when the actual construction would begin because of two factors: 1. The building permit had not yet been approved at the time (the City of Chicago is not an easy place to build) and 2. the weather (with recent newspaper headlines scaring everyone about the return of the Polar Vortex next week, our chances were looking slim).

Low and behold, the foundation was actually poured on Thursday and to our luck – my brother, the civil engineer/concrete specialist, happened to drive by the lot just as they finished.  Here is what he taught me about concrete that you are more than welcome to steal for tonight’s party conversation starter – I mean, right?  Knowledge is power!

  • Pouring concrete is actually a chemical reaction of the water mixing with the concrete and, therefore, the temperature has an effect on the reaction.  The lower the temp, the slower the reaction/crystallization, the weaker the concrete is.
  • Thus, you do not want to pour concrete if the weather is under 40 degrees or you will have a pretty crappy foundation.  We sneaked by on Thursday with a 43 degree temp – huzzah!
  • After two hours of curing (drying), concrete can hold the weight of a human.
  • After ten days of curing, it can hold 90% of the structure’s intended weight.
  • Concrete does not fully cure until months later.
  • Based on the reinforced steel bars sticking through the foundation walls, this will be what is called a “two part pour.”  I know you will be on the edge of your seat to see what THAT looks like.

Huzzah! | www.theartesianproject.wordpress.comSo please keep your fingers crossed that this polar vortex does not show its face for at least another eight days.  Hey, the more you know…

Happy Friday, y’all!  Now Imma go get me a new winter coat.

(#WowDistrict write-up in the Trib)

606 Trail Wow District |
Chicago Tribune’s “Developers riding 606 trail deeper into Northwest Side”

This Sunday’s Chicago Tribune had a huge feature on the 606 Trail and the effects it is having on the neighborhoods it will be running through.  For those of you not familiar with the “606“, this is a city project much like the famed High Line in New York City’s meatpacking district.  Chicago will be repurposing a former elevated train track stretching for 3 miles between Ridgeway and Ashland Avenue, along Bloomington Avenue and transforming it into an elevated park with walking/jogging paths, lush greenery, and access points throughout the route.  It will be called the 606 because all of Chicago’s zip codes begin with those three numbers.

Why do we care?  Well, our new house will be just five houses down from the 606 and extremely close to the access point at Western Avenue.  This was a major selling point to us because it was a powerful indicator of the change and growth it would bring to the Wow (West of Western) District neighborhoodand it will be very pretty and fun to use.  The neighborhood was once owner of a stigma that advised pedestrians not to travel “west of western” for safety reasons (often unfound), but this jolt in development will be encouraging Chicagoans to now travel much further west of Western and will surely bring new business and a stimulated economy to the area.

The project was originally scheduled to be completed this Fall, but due to last winter’s Polar Vortex and the inability for any of the plantings to take root, it is looking to next Spring for its completion date – ie it will be ready upon our arrival!

To learn more about the 606 and follow its construction status, check out the 606 Facebook page.

606 trail chicago wow district | www.theartesianproject.wordpress.com
The 606 | from the 606 Facebook page

(get the look for less: counter tops)

Now that construction has actually started, we thought it might be time to get our ducks in a row and start nailing down some finishes.  On our contractor’s recommendation, we ventured out to Stone City in Humboldt Park after a deeelightful breakfast at WHISK (those salty caramel pancakes – omg!).Stone City | www.theartesianproject.wordpress.com

Upon entering the warehouse, I felt like a kid in a candy shop.  Marble! Granite! Quartzite! Galore!  It was so cool to see and touch these giant slabs o rock.  It was a very educational trip and Lizette, of Stone City, was an absolute gem to work with.

Here is what we learned.

If you want Calacutta Gold Marble look, consider:
1.  White Mystery Marble
2.  Eureka Danby Marble

Calacutta Gold is currently the most in-demand marble on the market for its obvious good looks and warm tones, so unfortunately, that also makes this Italian marble the most expensive.  We wanted to use this slab for our kitchen island – which is rather large at 4’x11′, so any type of savings would help.  With that in mind, we discovered Mystery White Marble, which also had the same characteristics as CG, but with a whiter base – and here’s the kicker – half the price tag. Mystery White is also sometimes called Misty White.  Eureka Marble (sometimes called Danby) has a more dramatic, darker veining, but also the same warm tones as Calacatta Gold, at also half the price.  We also learned that the largest slab we could get would be ten feet – so in order to achieve the seamless, one slab look we are going to resize our island to 10′.  These stones are also sourced in the US – Vermont to be specific.

Marble Slabs | www.theartesianproject.wordpress.com

Our kitchen finish design has a darker, contrasting counter on the perimeter.  I wanted something a little rougher to contrast with the smooth marble, so I was thinking a soapstone would do the trick.  Here is what we learned.

If you want the Soapstone look, consider:
1. Honed, Virginia Mist Granite

Soapstone is a very porous material, which means that it would quickly absorb stains into the stone itself and require a lot of maintenance.  I, personally, am a little of tired of the granite look, but the Honed version is so different.  It has a matte finish and really looks more like a soapstone or concrete.  Granite is also one of the most durable materials on the market – with a much smaller price tag than the soapstone.  With the Virginia Mist (also sometimes called Jet Black) we can achieve that same look with more durability and spending less.  Honed granite FTW!

Virginia Mist
(Honed, Virginia Mist Granite)

Here are some real kitchens found on Houzz using these materials for your perusing pleasure.

Mystery White Marble

Eureka Danby Marble

Honed, Virginia Mist Granite

So what have we really learned?  Don’t take some stones for granite.  Sorry, had to.

(It’s going down, I’m yelling TIMBERRR)

Hey youuu guuyysss… We scored some major progress!

Yesterday, the construction crew got to work on the demo of the existing structure on the lot – which is HUGE (as in a life step, not size)!

Demo | www.theartesianproject.wordpress.comHere is the pic our contractor sent during the day.  I’m sure your first thoughts are the same as mine: DANG THAT IS NARROW, but hey, that’s city livin!

As a lover of old things I was concerned about demoing a home, but the existing house was just not salvageable – but, I am going to try and scavenge some of the pieces to recreate into furniture so that a part of the original house lives on.

I was off in lovely Vancouver earlier this week (it really is an awesome city), so Idemo| www.theartesianproject.wordpress.com rushed straight from O’Hare over to the site once I landed, hence the mucky night photo.

This called for a celebration, so Matt & I popped some bubbly and cheers’d to the new digs.  We then continued on – with champagne in hand – to one of favorite neighborhood spots 90 Miles Cuban Cafe (such a fun place: Byob!  Patio! Great food!  FUN!).

We had a chance to meet our future next door neighbor as he was parking in his garage, which was great, but I think we scared the bejeezus out of him, you know, hanging out in the alley at night and bursting out of the car excitedly to say hello.  I, for sure, staked my claim as the neighborhood Kimmy Gibbler with that move – hey there neighborino!

Have a great weekend!

P.S. credit to my mom on this title, who is apparently a Kesha fan?

Demo | www.theartesianproject.wordpress.com