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The Empty Nest

Yes, it has finally happened. We have joined the ranks of the empty-nesters. Our fledglings have fledged and we have the house to ourselves.

Son and family have taken possession of their new home and are having a great time. The house turned out beautifully, I am almost jealous of the large windows and the big empty basement, and I am happy for them. They have taken the last two kittens, too, Simon and Ash, so I have my office back, too.

The office/sewing room/guest room. It is small, but functional, and kitten-free!

I hesitated to write this post because I seem to keep misplacing the photos I took of the finished house – they are on my computer at work, or somewhere else, who knows. I promise I will show them sometime.

In the meantime, we have turned our attention back to Claymire, and assessing those little projects that got lost along the way. This weekend, I finally painted the baseboards in the living and dining rooms. They have been the wall color for about 2 years, ever since we had the Great Flood of 2010 and replaced all the flooring. They looked okay, in fact, I don’t like the look of a skinny white stripe running around the room when mouldings are little skinny clamshells we have in the bedrooms.

The dining room, with blue tape still in place. It looks a little too bright, to me, in this room.

But the ones in the main part of the house are 6 inches, and decorative. Besides that, flat paint, which I love on our less-than-smooth walls, is not easy to scrub on a baseboard.

The color is Pittsburgh Paints Manor Hall in Dogwood Blossom, paint I had left over from the old kitchen cabinets.

Next, we did some upgrades on our door mouldings. The plan is to do this through the whole main part of the house; so far, we did these two as a trial:


and after


It is made from a 4″ piece of mdf, a piece of 1/2 round, and some crown moudling.










What do you think? I found the inspiration and DIY how-tos on Pinterest. I love creative people, especially when I can borrow their ideas!

So now mr husband is looking at our fireplace, and wondering if we shouldn’t tile around it. We have wanted to for a couple of years, and just couldn’t decide what to put there, so I just painted it black and waited. On the way to the tile shop yesterday, while waiting for paint to dry, he wondered whether everyone did as much home improving as we do. As he started to tick off the things we have done to Claymire since moving in 15 years ago, I suggested that yes, people did, at least people who bought a home in such crummy condition as ours, and weren’t content to leave it that way.

The fireplace as it looks now. So many options and ideas!

Besides, I realized that fixing up the house makes me happy. I like to see a new pillow on the loveseat, or fresh curtains, or a new plant. Even rearranging furniture gives a new perspective on a space, reveals possibilities, and maybe a fresh start.

And we do have a fresh start. For 24 of the 26 years we have been married, we have not lived alone, just the two of us. It is an odd realization, that hits at different times of the day, in strange ways. I hear a noisy muffler at night, and realize it is not our kid coming home. The city truck that picks up leaves went by, and for the first time in years, I didn’t worry that his car was parked in the way. I hear an ambulance go by at 1 am, and decide it really isn’t likely that he’s been in an accident. (I know, mother-brains work in strange ways.) It is just us, now, and that is kind of exciting, and kind of sad.

Oh, and I did get an early Christmas gift…we have officially adopted Mabel cat!

Welcome home, girl.





Countertops & The Home Stretch!

Today is the day – countertops arrive!!!

The magic of stoneworking has transformed this lovely piece of green lapis granite:

the slab-I think this is San Francisco Verde Granite

Into this:

The biggest countertop is in! It looks prettier in “person”

The sink counter, before they cut the hole

we chose a Blanco Diamond silgranite sink, a ridiculously large “super single” with an offset drain that is a perfect fit, considering we have that water meter under the right side of the sink base. While planning all along to undermount the sink, when we saw it in real life, both I and the countertop guy paused for a minute, Hmmmmm…how would this look as a drop in instead?

Is it a sink or a bathtub? You could wash six cats in this!

After a few measurements and consulting with mr husband via the wonders of text messaging and emailing photos from my snazzy new smart phone, we all concurred that, due to the clean square lines of the sink, it would look pretty great as a drop in.

This sink is huge! And look – we’ve already got junk everywhere!

Bonus to this decision-I can get it hooked up a day earlier by my amazing plumber, Paul, since we don’t need to wait for the glue or whatever to “set”, as you do with an undermount sink. I was also assured it would be stronger, which is good, since this thing is the size of a bathtub, and must weigh about a ton when filled with water!

So I picked this faucet:

It’s not bad looking – but doesn’t look good with our sink

And now we don’t like it! So tomorrow there will be an early am trip to Universal Plumbing to see what they have in stock that is more appropriate. I think we need a gooseneck faucet to complement that ginormous sink! (update – we found a new faucet!)

This Delta Trinsic is the one we settled on. It is much more in scale with the sink, and having used it for 24 hours now, I can honestly say I love it!

As for the rest of the kitchen – the crown moulding is completed on the other side, and looks amazing. We still don’t have a replacement light fixture, though, I am assured it is on its way, apparently via camel caravan.

This is what we are trying to get. It’s very similar to the original light, but flush mounted, so the cabinet doors can be opened!

UPDATE: It arrived on Friday, and is in one piece! Yaay!

We are patching and painting here and there, and quite a bit of moulding work remains to be finished. mr husband is making the shoe moulding himself out of hickory, and staining it to match the cabinetry.

We are getting quotes on having the backsplash tile installed. I like tile work, but have never done it on a vertical surface. After visiting a few friends who assured me it was “really easy”, and noticing the glaring mistakes (wavy grout lines, broken tiles…), I really don’t want to risk it. It would be just like me to come this far are ruin the whole kitchen in the end!

Crown Moulding and Progress, at Last!

I’m sure you’ve all been waited with bated breath for a progress update on this crazy kitchen remodel…today, we are getting crown moulding on the cabinet tops.

It’s a big job, since the ceiling isn’t straight, and it is a six inch drop with a 3 inch moulding. The cabinets are level, but that is about all! Luckily, I’ve got these guys from Authentic Restoration Detroit working on it, and they are amazing:

Erich and Milan, whose expert work in getting the crown moulding up. This is Milan, he’s very meticulous! You can see one part of the moulding here, the crown is not up yet.

The cabinets are level; the ceiling drops about an inch and 3/8. It took some finesse to put that moulding up so you don’t notice the angles!

They actually built a plywood-covered “box” to mount the moulding on. It was cut from a fridge panel we ordered with our cabinets, so it would be a perfect match.

You may want to check out their website. Their specialty is restoring the grand old homes of Detroit, maintaining the amazing craftsmanship of the previous two centuries while making the homes liveable, beautiful and unique. Neighborhoods like Palmer Park, Green Acres, Boston-Edison, Arden Park, are filled with gorgeous old home whose craftsmanship is difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate today. (subject for a future blog?)

Erich believes restoring the old work is almost always preferable to ripping it out and putting in new, especially in an old house that was built to withstand the centuries. Woodwork, flooring, light fixtures, door and windows, and even china sinks and tubs are carefully brought back to their original condition. I hope he isn’t too disappointed in Claymire, but seriously, we really had little character to work with here!

Thanks to my wonderful and talented husband, the wiring for undercabinet lights is complete, and he got the screen installed on the pantry wall. I think the stain is a little light (we were trying to match the floor) and maybe we should have matched the cabinets, instead. Oh well, it can age all it wants, now that it is up. It does hide the dryer vent and gasline, while still providing ventilation to the air return.

It’s made of hickory, to match the flooring. Like my collection of vintage cocktail shakers?

I haven’t spent much time outside this week, but at least I get to see the front garden as I come and go. It’s a beautiful day, although it rained thisĀ  morning. I am hopefully these peonies will bloom soon.

This is their third year, so they should have enough “energy” to truly bloom. They are covered with large buds.

The countertops were measured today, and we ordered a new sink and faucet and garbage disposal. Also began installing the remaining hardware, which finally came in. Our new ceiling light got here, but the glass was smashed, so we’re waiting on a new one, so we can center the box and install that, and be able to open the cabinet doors, too!

We should have counters by the middle of next week, then we’ll be down to choosing a backsplash tile. I’ll start collecting some samples and see how they look. Maybe I can add a poll and see what readers like.