Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The best birthday present ever - and full house photo tour!

We've taken to hunkering down at home and mumbling softly to ourselves over and over "I love our house, I love our house".
We went out of town for New Years (which is also my birthday) to enjoy the city for the night and do all those fun city things for a day. You know, walking out the door and down the street for a morning muffin and coffee. Browsing bookstores and window shopping. Dropping in somewhere unexpected for a late leisurely lunch. We got to our destination around 2:00 pm and did spend the afternoon doing many of those things. Then we had a fabulous dinner and went to an actual bar to see actual live music. It was all wonderful, but what we realized was, well, we'd rather be home. So the next morning when we woke up, we scrapped our plan to have a leisurely day in the city and went home and had a fabulous leisurely day there. And that realization, my friends, might just be the best birthday present yet.

So here are some updated photos for you so you can see why I'd rather be here. We've also been working on the master bath and Matt has finished the incredibly beautiful walnut vanity. Keep working your way down and you'll get to it eventually!!
This is an overview of our main kitchen/dining/living room
View of our living room and the amazing wonder dog Indy. In the upper right you can see the jams for a future set of stained glass doors which lead to the unfinished loft.
I love stained glass! This is a beautiful piece that was a gift from Matt's aunt this year. It's gorgeous and fits in with our house perfectly.
The kitchen is my favorite part of whole house. Above the window in front of the sink is a wooden sign that reads "RAW BAR REGULAR" - a gift from our great friends from Cape Cod (and one of our favorite bars).
The stars hanging up high have been collected over the years from antique shops in the area. They are the heavy iron original stars that were bolted to the exterior of homes that had been braced against hurricane winds.
Another thing I am so excited about! Our good friends Johnny Rea and AZ gave us an aerogarden as housewarming gift!!!!!!!! Obviously, they rock. Countertop hydroponic kitchen herbs:)
This photo shows the dining area, and you can see the future stained glass doors up there at the top again. The idea is to build one of the sliding library ladders that will run on a copper rail above the framed pictures and tuck in next to the tall window when not in use.
Another living room view with the new stained glass piece. For those that have seen earlier pictures, that is the window that has the best stream view before the stream goes under the house. If you look all the way to the left you will see the new copper light switch plate.
A gift from my mom (we are SO LUCKY)! We are hoping to get enough of them over time to cover all of the switch plates in the main room. Don't you love them?
Our guest room (if you know us (and we like you) COME VISIT)!
This photo is taken from the bed in the guest room. The loft will be finished with a cherry knee wall and ships ladder at some point down the road. Right now the only way us there is to haul a ladder in from the garage.

Our office (which you can tell I did not bother to straighten before taking pictures), but who am I kidding, this is what it looks like.

We recently resurrected the cradle from my moms attic and cleaned it up. We are hoping to put it to use in the guest room when our new nephew visits.

It is a beautiful hand carved piece that dates back to 1851. The article in the frame is a picture of my mother with me shortly after I was born. My grandfather had refinished the cradle in time for my birth, and the paper did a short story on it.

The master bedroom with princess Amelia

The latest and greatest of our projects. Matt custom built this black walnut vanity for our master bath. He even dug through the wood pile to find the perfect rough edge with remnant bark for the front face of the counter top.

My sinks. The subject of many debate. They are actually serving bowls. From an outlet. And they only cost $20. But convincing Matt that they could be turned into sinks by simply drilling holes in the base took months. I won.

And last but not least - The finished shower....

With rock spill over detail

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Poor Thanksgiving. Caught between Halloween and Christmas, it seems sometimes like the pre-game to Christmas. But it is one of my favorite holidays. No stressful gift giving, not a lot of decorating. Just time to hang out and enjoy the company of those around you, maybe eat a great meal and remember how lucky you are. I have so many things to be thankful for I could not begin to count all of them or write them all down. From the basics of being in good health, to having a entire extended family that I not only love, but like all the way down to being able to live in my own home again and that Matt and I were able to build it together.

But I must say, what I am most thankful for right now is having a partner who is brave enough and strong enough and believes in himself enough to strike out on his own. As anyone who has started their own company before, it is not for the faint of heart. It is humbling and frustrating and agonizing at times. And I am thankful that I am spending my life with someone who wouldn't let that stand in his way.

So tell me, what are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

new pantry and assorted other goodies

We have been on roll. This is something that I silently hoped would happen. I did not want to be those people, the ones everyone warns you about when you announce you are going to renovate/remodel/rebuild your house. The ones who get the project 90% completed and then just run out of steam. I'm not talking about the 'burn out and take a break for a couple of months' kind of people, cause we are definitely those kind of folks. I'm talking about the ones who take a break never ever start back up again. I even know of a family who eventually boarded up a door leading to a bathroom they never got around to finishing. I definitely don't want to be them (although that gallon of paint I bought months ago to paint our bathroom is still sitting on the floor, so maybe I already am those people).

But seriously, now that fall has rolled in and it is getting darker sooner, we have once again been working on ticking off our punch list one thing at a time. Our most recent accomplishments include:

1) Finishing our master closet, including all organization involving bins, baskets, and goodwill

2) staining and finishing all windows in the kitchen/living room (Check out the photo above)

3) finishing all interior trim in the kitchen/living room

4) building a stone entrance step up to the front deck

5) clearing out the loft in the guest room and moving a bed up there

6) and what I am currently most excited about, THE PANTRY

Matt built cherry drawers with the scraps from our interior trim and then mounted them on 200 lb. full extension drawer slides. We had the pantry wired with several outlets halfway up the back wall, so all of the appliances can be plugged in and used right there if we want. The center unit with the wire baskets also slides out fully, so everything is accessible. He even built a small wooden basket on the inside wall for all of the vacuum cleaner components.

All of the hardware was ordered from Lee Valley, including the full assembly for the center "larder unit". If you haven't ever looked at their catalogue, I highly recommend it for everything from hardware, high end hand tools and gardening tools.

Next up:

1) pantry doors - the curtains are only a temporary fix

2) ship's ladder and knee wall for guest room loft

3) guest room closet

4) stain/finish the rest of the windows

5) stain/finish all interior doors

6) paint bathroom

7) build living room loft doors

8) build over fridge cabinet

9) build new front doors

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Check out my photos!!!

Seriously, if you are just killing time surfing around on the internet... I recently launched and I am selling prints online. You can check them out be clicking on the imagekind button on the right sidebar, or go to my website! Its almost time for Christmas so SHOP SHOP SHOP!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

New Closet built ins

We are working on a number of projects, so we should be having slightly more frequent updates for awhile!! Most recently, Matt was able to build and install the built ins for our closet. This new system far surpasses the old system, which involved a lot of piles. Much more organized with the actual hanging and folding. I am not a fan of drawers, because you can't really see all of your options. So I had Matt build a cubby system for all of my folded cloths and then he has all of the drawers in the dresser. We had saved all of the cherry rips from the interior trim, so we face framed the closet with cherry to match the rest of the house.

The most major change we have had to make so far to the house was switching the swing of the closet door to make room for the cubby built in.

We will now be able to actually hang clothes without worrying that the rod is about to break!

View from the washer dryer. Putting them into the master closet was a great idea that we almost bypassed. I was worried about lint and piles of laundry etc. mucking up the closet and thought they needed to be separate spaces, but the only other option was back out in the garage, so I caved, and I am so glad I did!

A last minute addition was the shoe rack. I'll admit it does make the closet a little claustrophobic, bit it is better than tripping on boots.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Momentum is a funny thing. When you loose it, it's like slamming into a brick wall. Which is about how the progress on our house is coming since this summer. At the rate we are going now, I'm kind of amazed that we ever made it out of the tent...

Three weeks ago I bought a gallon (hopefully THE LAST gallon) of paint, for the last room in the house that needed painting - the master bath. This morning, I finally moved the gallon of paint from my car to the bathroom. PROGRESS. So needless to say, I do not have pictures of a newly painted bathroom, or anything else for that matter.

I am hopeful that the onset of winter will inspire inside projects like closets and the pantry, or at the very least some doors.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Buried treasure

We are slowly starting to gear back up for work on the house. We’ve taken most of the summer off, which has been nice. We’ve still been getting things done, slowly picking away at smaller projects, but with no self-imposed deadlines. We’ve also been spending time helping out other folks that seemed to think building their own house was a good idea.

For the past couple of weekends, Matt has been working with a friend of ours that owns a local granite shop. In exchange for some weekend work, Matt has been getting truck fulls of granite, which we are using to back fill around one of our pilings. We might just be the only house around here that has more imported polished granite in the foundation than in the house. We seem to have hundreds of different types of granite and several types of marble down there, imported from Italy, Pakistan, India and all over Africa. It is mindboggoling to think of all the different countries represented down there, with rock that has all come together to fill a little hole in western North Carolina.

Oh to be the geologists who unearths this in a thousand years.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

rhododendron and garages

We are very fortunate to live in an area that has four seasons, incredible natural beauty, and an abundance of water. We teeter on the edge of being a temperate rainforest, and that results in extremely lush forests. Native rhododendron grow rampant, and this time of year they are all in bloom. It has often been noted that rhododendron and mountain laurel were contributing factors in the isolation of Appalachia. To tall to see over and too thick to walk through.

We have an acre and a half which is covered in rhodo and laurel. We relish the privacy they afford us as there is truth in there ability to isolate. Most of out property looks like the picture below.

But, there is one downside. We ( and this time I mean Laura) have spent the last three weekends underbrushing in order to allow for a little more light and air circulation, as well removing an accumulation of downed woody debris. Not all of it, but the excess. And sadly, the pile in the picture below is about 1/100th of what needs to be done. So far I have worked my way up one half of one side of the driveway. That leaves the rest of the driveway, all around the house, and in the back where we are planning a native shade garden. But, before we can continue we need to figure out what to do with this first pile. Its too big to burn, too expensive to haul. So, we are investigating the purchase of a chipper/shredder. Right now we are looking at a 10hp Troy Bilt. Does anyone out there have any experience with these? If so please leave a comment with your thoughts!!!

So, with the underbrushing on hold, we decided to tackle the garage. It has gone through several transformations over the last year from our living room/kitchen to storage to concrete countertop staging area to dumping ground to Bermuda triangle or all things construction related. Talk about keeping your fingers crossed that it doesn't rain! We did manage to create relative order out of the mess below, but after we finished I was too tiered to hold the camera up to take a picture. But, Matt has his shop back in working order now, full of tools and sawdust. Which is good, because we are excited to announce that he is getting ready to go out on his own! He will be doing custom interior woodworking around Western North Carolina. I'll provide more info and links to his new website soon!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Master bath tile and kitchen hardware

Well, we finally tiered of opening our cabinets and drawers by their sides and decided to put forth a more serious effort to find hardware for the kitchen. We had hoped that we would find something unique and befitting to our kitchen. We looked high and low, scoured the Internet and all local sources. We thought several times we had found what we were looking for (in one case, a beautiful hand cast branch, which unfortunately sold for $750.00 A PIECE!!!). So what did we end up with? The exact same pulls from Lowe's that we had in the old kitchen. Go figure.

We have also been working on finishing the master bath tile in anticipation of the plumber coming this weekend. Everything is set, including the suspended granite seat, and we are in the process of grouting and sealing (and I must shamefully admit, in this one instance when I use the term "we", I really mean Matt 100%). This project has taken so much longer than anyone anticipated. Slate is beautiful, but tricky. Plus, we decided (I have no idea why), to use slate on the ceiling of the shower as well, so there was the added stress of is the tile or isn't the tile going to crash down and cleave me in the skull. But somehow, Matt eventually got them to all stick in place long enough for the thin set to set up.
It is hard to tell from these pictures, but the shower has a really cool cave like feel. Sort of like standing under a waterfall rock outcrop.

Hopefully, we will have at least part of a functioning bathroom in another week or two!!!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Wow. Long time no see.

Wow. Long time no see. A whole month, I had no idea!

Sorry about being so out of touch, but we’ve just been so busy. But we don’t have any pictures today because we haven’t exactly been busy on the house. Don’t get me wrong, were still working. We’ve been finishing the tile in the master bath, hanging the last shingles for the siding, and unpacking. But we’ve been lazing about, enjoying life, and catching up on all things un-house related. Like finally having friends over for dinner again (no one ever wanted to come over to the tent, we could never figure out why!), actual reading of books, and hiking around now that it is light after work.

We even finally took our much overdue first anniversary trip this past weekend to the Natahala River for a two day whitewater kayaking workshop. Our first anniversary coincided with the start of this project, and in my naiveté, I scheduled the trip for Sept., sure that by then we would be ready and able to take a break. But, you know, I was only about ten months off, so we jokingly celebrated our second anniversary with the trip. And it rocked. We’re already scheming the quickest way to sell off all of our sea kayaking boats and gear so that we can replace it all with whitewater boats and gear.

But I promise, more pictures this week. A little updating of the small projects and loose ends as well as a preview, perhaps, of the projects awaiting us at the creekhouse.

View from the living room couch - I never get tired of it!!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ta Da - LOTS of pictures

Here is a preview of our house now that we are close to finished!! We had the appraiser here yesterday, so now we are both just relaxing and enjoying the house for a few days before we get back to work on it. Check out the pictures and let us know what you think! If you want to see the before and after layout, check it out here Pictures of the house before can be found here here new exterior and roof, original deck and hemlock
Brand new back deck overlooking creek

original window in living room looking out at cascading creek

looking at the main living area and kitchen from hall

guest bedroom with loft in new addition, creekside left

new guest bathroom

renovated office in the same space as original guest bedroom

new kitchen (located in former master bedroom space)

concrete countertops!!

living room view from doorway to new master bedroom

dining area which opens to new back deck

view from kitchen

new master bedroom addition creekside right

master bedroom looking out to new deck

beginning of new master bathroom!