Glenlochan -The Beginning

Glenlochan -The Beginning
Glenlochan - The Beginning

Glenlochan Today

Glenlochan Today
Glenlochan Today

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Celebrating Lessons Learned and Sound Decisions

With New Year's Eve quickly approaching, this is prime reflection time:  Thinking back over the last year, applauding resolutions kept, self-reprimanding for those that got away, setting new ones for the coming year...and this time with extra resolve to keep them all.  As part of the reflection process it is cathartic to think about all of the learning opportunities we've had so far on this project.  There have been a LOT - both good decisions and huge mistakes we've made.  I hope sharing a few of our learning opportunities can help others embarking on, or already squarely in the middle of, a renovation journey.

 1.  It's a really good idea to re-check the placement of the outlets, lights, and switches that you decided on in the electrical rough-in stage - it may save you from cutting new holes in the drywall to move these around when you realize the location is less than ideal.  Or not high enough to hang the mirrors above the bathroom vanity as a random example (vanity lights were originally pointed down, but they had to be reversed to fit above the mirror).

2.  Ditto on the rough plumbing - recheck prior to drywall to ensure the plumbing is located correctly to fit into your cabinetry and vanities.  The clawfoot is ever so slightly off center in the window  - but had to be to align correctly with the plumbing fixtures installed in the already tiled floor.

3.  If you are using interior white trim paint, check the actual coverage on actual primed trim before committing to a color/brand to save from having to do more than 2 coats after the primer.  The extra coat needed for decent coverage on the trim and doors used up countless hours...and we still counting since there is trim that remains in need of paint.

4.  Select your appliances as early as possible in the process and measure, measure, measure.  Don't assume that the latest and greatest models of washers and dryers, for example, have similar dimensions to older models.  We ultimately had to stack the washer and dryer because the front loading steam versions I really wanted did not fit as planned in the laundry room.

5.  Think carefully and creatively about room layout, considering things like activity and noise levels, light seepage from other rooms, and likely bedtimes of residents and guests. Although we love having the repurposed stained glass window in the main upstairs bathroom, for example, we failed to consider that the room on the other side of the window is the master bedroom sitting room.  Anytime someone uses the main bathroom in the middle of the night, the light shines through the stained glass window and right into our bedroom!

 6.  One can never have too many cabinets and built-ins - it's just not possible.  These aren't completely filled yet and I'm already planning more!

 7.  One actually can have too many wineglasses - hard to believe, but true (and a function of my thrifting AND attending a lot of wine tastings...).  I'm in the process of paring down - they just don't all fit.

8.  Purge before you pay to store things, not after.  Avoid this, if possible.

9.  Whatever budget you've carefully developed, add 10%...and then add another 20% and pray you come close to that.  But remember, some splurges are ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT, especially having professionals restore treasures from the past.


10.  You can save time or money but not usually both (as evidenced by a number of unfinished projects that still remain like the DIY mantel restorations).

11.  Spray foam insulation is worth every penny of the additional cost - do it if you can.  It pays for itself the first winter, and you cannot beat the snug, airtight comfort.

Most importantly, remind yourself of the progress made, even when the road ahead is still pretty long and dark, and always take comfort from the fact that there are no mistakes that cannot be fixed, worked around, incorporated in, or used to improve the original plan.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Adorned Door

We are on a temporary break from work on the house.   After months of going full speed all the time, it feels good to relax, enjoy the holidays, family and friends, and generally relieve the stress of the past few months.  And, in the spirit of relaxation and minimalization this year, we decided not to decorate for the holidays - in either VA or Philly - except for a few festive lights.  We've had quite enough of packing and unpacking boxes this year, thank you very much!  But, we received a very nice housewarming present, a most beautiful wreath, for the front door of Glenlochan.  It definitely counts as a holiday decoration, we didn't have to do any work to get it on the door, and it looks spectacular.

Thanks Doug and Jean for the best housewarming present possible - perfect!  And, congratulations to Tereasa on her graduation, the occasion that brought us all together.  The nursing profession has a compassionate, passionate and spectacular new RN and we are all so proud.


Monday, December 9, 2013

A Good Cleaning

In a bit of a break from construction, painting and moving, we've been focused on cleaning in the past few weeks.  First, the construction mess had to be cleared out, then the mess from moving in and unpacking had to be dealt with, and all dishes, towels and bedding had to be washed. The tubs and floors needed a good scrubbing.  Rob spent one full day removing many of the stickers on the windows and doors (thanks Tereasa and Ashley for your help with the ones he didn't finish!).

In our remaining storage units (yup, plural, heavy sigh - we still have 3, but I'm hoping to get that pared down to 2 pretty soon) we have numerous rugs of varying sizes and styles.  Although a couple were ones that we owned from our previous home, the majority were ones that were in Glenlochan when we first purchased it.  They were beyond dirty when they were in the house and two years in non-climate controlled storage did nothing for their appearance or odor.  On a recent sunny and bearably tepid day, I decided to tackle cleaning a small rug.  Although we believe a few of the rugs to be antique and those will definitely require the skills and advice of professionals, there were a few in the mix that were not vintage and I decided to attempt a home cleaning of one of those.  This one seemed to be a good "trial" size for attempting a DYI rug sanitation/cleaning.

The rug was filthy, smelly and nothing I would  put in my house when we pulled it out of storage.  It still had the label on it, so I knew the fiber content (largely wool) and I was not about to pay for a professional cleaning job - the one time I did that, the results were awful.  So, armed with my sprayhose, woolite, a stronger laundry soap, and a good scrub brush in hand, I set up a cleaning "station" outside - two sawhorses covered with a plywood board, and a clean sheet over the top to protect the rug. 

I didn't actually unroll the rug until I was ready to start cleaning, and I had not ever really looked at the rug before it was put into storage, so imagine my surprise when I finally unrolled it and the colors were a PERFECT MATCH to the wallpaper in the breezeway.  I do not think we could have picked a better rug for the space, but the fact remained that it was in really gross shape.  If I couldn't get it completely clean and, almost more importantly, smelling so good that I was willing to stick my nose in the fibers, then it wasn't coming in to the house, match or no.

I rinsed the rug thoroughly, scrubbed both sides completely with a diluted mixture of woolite and laundry soap for stains and a gentle brush, sprayed it repeatedly with the hose, full force, and then carefully squeegeed out as much water as possible with my hands.  Because the rug was still dripping and we were heading back to Philly that afternoon and not scheduled to return for six days, I elected to leave it on the porch, on sawhorses with another clean sheet, for a week to dry.  Not the best solution, but I reasoned that the fresh air could only help air it out, dry it naturally, and give it the best chance of having a pleasing smell.  Of course, I wasn't sure what we'd find when we returned a week later, but I was cautiously optimistic, despite the stinky wet wool smell.

This story has a happy ending - the rug survived the week, smelled wonderful when we arrived back, was clean and, after a good vacuuming, ready for it's new place of honor in the breezeway.  It looks great.

I'm sure the rug professionals would cringe at my technique, but it worked  and I know it's actually clean from the inside out, not just superficially clean.  I'm ready to use this method with the remaining rugs that are not vintage/antiques.  Now I just need some better weather to transform the yard into a temporary rug cleaners - this winter and arctic air of late won't cut it.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

"Not" First Memories

We celebrated our first holiday with family in Glenlochan and today is the first day in a full week that hasn't involved overeating, game-playing, and good fun.  In fact, for most of us, it was a day of travel headaches and delays whether at the airport or on the highways (some are still making their way home and safe travels to everyone).

Although I have been looking forward to making our first memories in the house over the Thanksgiving holiday I realized this week that we weren't making our first memories at all.  We may not have realized it at the time, but there were so many memorable moments in the demo and rebuild of the house over the last 2.5 years.  From this:
 To this:

We made memories at every stage of the project and this week we made more.  As we enjoyed the house, the piles of remaining work were never far from our minds - the unfinished items were hard to avoid in each and every room (still no written punch list).  But, Thanksgiving provided a temporary hiatus and we tried not to look at the unpainted trim, the still unfilled nail holes, the fireplace slate not yet tiled in, and on and on and on.

Instead we focused on adding to our already budding collection of memories.  Thanksgiving almost didn't happen in Glenlochan due to a blocked sewer line at the road (discovered first thing Thanksgiving morning when the toilets started making ominous bubbling sounds) but thanks to the quick responses from the sanitation department on a holiday no less, the line was unblocked without any delay to the holiday festivities.  Thank you Hampton Roads Sanitation! 

From fresh baked bread (made by Rob), to beautifully set tables (courtesy of Ashley and Tereasa!) to frosting cookies, and everything else in between (not pictured, the many highly competitive games of Train Dominoes) it was a fantastic first holiday:
 Happy Thanksgiving!