We are now all moved in and could not be happier about it! It has taken a week to unpack and get settled, but it is really starting to feel like home sweet home. We are so glad we decided to take the new construction route as each and every decision in the house is reflective of us – from the floor plan and material choices, all the way down to the door hardware.
We are also thrilled with our location. Each of our commutes have been cut in half and the number of insanely delish local restaurants and coffee shops within a stone’s throw is incredible. Not to mention all the wonderfully welcoming neighbors we have met so far! Our block has a great sense of community and we are excited to become a part of it.
The next few weeks I will be going through room by room and detailing all of the finishes and the process so that you can nab some ideas for yourself.
Now that all the tile is installed (!!), we had to head over to the house to choose the grout colors that will be poured next week. Here is a glimpse into the master bath (as it currently stands).
The photo on the left is a corner of the Master Shower, which I am very excited about. We wanted to create a calm oasis, if you will, and this arabescato carrara marble seems to do the trick. The photo on the right is a view from the entrance. The shower sits in the nook at the top left of the photo, with a tub (that we will never use) centered as the focus. Not seen: a window over the tub, which seemed like a great idea during the planning phase (yay natural light!), but in reality is a front row seat for our neighbors to hang out on their balcony and get a free show (note to self: make appt with a window treatment company immediately). The tile on the actual floor of the bathroom is an Eleganze Varese tile, which is meant to look like poured concrete. This should look pretty cool (fingers crossed) contrasting the hard and industrial concrete look against the soft and elegant marble. Next up: choosing the hardwood floor stain!
As some famous person once said, “Rome was not built in a day,” and the same could not be truer for our future work of art house. And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we could not be more grateful for the awesome team working on our house and the progress they have made – despite the uber crappy weather we have been experiencing in Chicago.
If you look hard enough and use your imagination, you can see our new basement! The basement is going to have a lofty ten foot ceiling and some nice windows, which we are pumped about. Matt is a very tall (dark and handsome) guy and he had to crouch through the majority of the older home’s basements we looked at. The perk of a new construction: he might as well fit if this will be his man cave. More details to come on that…
Happy Thanksgiving all you turkeys, enjoy the time with your family and friends 🙂
So next on the to-do list is to confirm all the plumbing fixture choices for the house. I thought I would have an opinion about this and let me tell you, I just don’t; except for the brass faucet I ordered for the powder room.
Brass is so back – is there anything chicer than black and gold? Obviously that’s what Wiz Khalifa was referring to in his song “Black & Yellow.” I wish I could make all the faucets in the house brass, but alas, the husband isn’t too fond of the look and always taunts me with Goldmember Austin Powers quote, “I loooove goooold!!” And he is absolutely right.
Anyways, we will be going with the Moen Kingsley in the “antique bronze” finish. It is just the right shade of gold – not too shiny, not too yellow – and fits right into the Parisian Bistro powder room experience I am going for. Yes, an experience (my dream job was to be an imagineer, after all).
Everything else in the house will be stainless steel or chrome; I actually prefer chrome in the bathrooms as it lends itself to a nice retro vibe. I’m still trying to work in a brass faucet for the kitchen (it’s so on point), but I might just have to let this one go…
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.
So 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.
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 neighborhood – and 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!
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!).
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.
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!
Here are some real kitchens found on Houzz using these materials for your perusing pleasure.
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)!
Here 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 I 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?
I have always had a penchant for vintage things with loads of character, but after taking Woodworking 101 at the ReBuilding Exchange in the Spring, I want salvaged everything. I took the class with my future sis-in-law and we absolutely loved it. We hand selected our own timber and used real badass power tools over the course of the 4 week class. I will eventually be using my tabletop as the basement bar counter top – chyea! Sidenote: if you live in the Chicago area and have never visited the ReBuilding Exchange – GO! I have found many a pieces there for projects – including the mantel that turned into our headboard and is my favorite project to date.
So naturally, I now feel compelled to sprinkle the magic of reclaimed wood all over the new house: the recipe for instant character. I have already designed built-ins around the family room fireplace that will be using the wood pieces as counter top and shelving (contrasted against white cabinetry) which I am incredibly stoked for. Also, as mentioned above, I will be using the tabletop piece I made in class as the counter top for the wet bar in the basement – I also plan on taking a trip to ReBuilding Exchange to select a few thick pieces to turn into open shelving above the cabinets. I have been hemming and hawing about adding beams in the family room or the master bedroom and I think we are settled on the master (I was worried the dark beams would bring down the ceiling height in the family room). So without further ado, here are some of my fav uses of salvaged wood that I found on the interwebs that will *hopefully* be incorporated more or less into House Wagner 2.0.