Weekend 3: Work Without Robert

(and a little bit before the weekend with him, too)

Monday and Tuesday, September 15 and 16:

We now have four installed kitchen cabinets, and two taller pantry units on top of two of them, and the range (an Amana open-box model we got for a discount) is in place and fully wired. Gorgeous, gorgeous stovetop and pantry unit. . . . counters, you may notice, are still to come. Robert did a great job installing the cabinets.

Here were the kitchen shelves this week, stocked with Robert's electrical supplies and various tools, with sun coming in from the big kitchen window.

Friday, September 19, through Sunday, September 21:

With Robert in England as of Friday morning on a business trip, not to return until next Thursday, Mom and Dad and I decided to be as productive as we could and get done as many little annoying things as possible. On Friday and Saturday morning, I was feeling somewhat discouraged at the scale of all of this, and I was wondering what we'd gotten ourselves into: maybe we just should've sprung for a more expensive place that we would've had to do less work to, but on the other hand (and this was obviously the hand we were looking at when we made this decision to begin with), with hard work and less (much much much less) than the extra $60,000-$150,000 that higher-end interiors get, we could make our place exactly what we want. My big fear when we looked at apartments that were obviously in move-in condition was that yes, they were in move-in condition, but all in someone else's taste. If I'm going to spend a lot of money, time, labor, etc., I'd rather get exactly what I want, was my philosophy. So, we went for an apartment in the middle of the road, finish-wise: it didn't really seem like it on Saturday, when I was sitting glumly in the middle of a kitchen with still no working sink, etc., or looking at the unfinished subfloors of the back of the house, but there were apartments (some much more expensive than ours) that we looked at that were way more unfinished. I can't tell you how many places we looked at that had obvious, gaping holes in the ceiling or walls (okay, I was being hyperbolic: I can tell you how many apartments, and that number is six, which is an awful lot in my book). If those were the things you saw on a first visit, or at an open house, then I can't imagine how many more problems lurked in the floorboards or the pipes. So, all things considered, I rationalized and reasoned my way out of the doldrums--and all of the beautiful, productive touches Mom and Dad helped me with this weekend certainly contributed to my recovery as well.

Though we didn't touch the plumbing, electricity, kitchen cabinets, or the floors (n.b.: our flooring still hasn't shipped, due to an annoying iFloor order problem. When it does, and when we have 19 boxes of bamboo hardwood floor arrive at our curb to haul upstairs, unpack, acclimate, and nail in ourselves with a soon-to-be-rented nailgun, we'll then have the joy of dealing with that too), we did lots of useful small things.

Dad finished painting the small red bedroom and the large yellow bedroom entirely, down to touchups and woodwork and all. I love them both, and the little bedroom, in particular, absolutely glows in the southern sunlight.

We hung towel racks in the very hard-to-fit big bathroom; we ended up using slim-line adjustable drapery rods because of the large amount of mirrors, which made it difficult to find a spot to screw a basic towel rack into.

We fitted the laundry room with a shelf and a series of hooks for brooms, mops, etc., and I refitted the black rubber floor down on top of the plywood that we had to install so the washer and dryer would sit levelly.

Mom and I bought cedar floor tiles from Hold Everything on Newbury Street (their last four boxes) and Dad cut them to size to fit the floors of the two bedroom closets and the inside of the big bathroom vanity cabinet (a particularly icky, spongy surface, even after it was cleaned, which will greatly benefit from the dry cedar and its lovely odcor). Dad also hung black shelves on white brackets in the master bedroom closet, which now looks as good as it smells.

We worked on the tub (cleaning and putting down nonstick decals), which is a great whirlpool tub, 31" wide, and the tub ledge (angled to let water drain, but shampoo kept sliding off, so we cemented on some small rock-shaped tiles). We also bought a hamper to keep in a bathroom closet, and I did lots of laundry. Of particular excitement is the fact that I got to use the advance time feature on the washer: I set it when we left the apartment at 7 pm last night to wash the next morning, finishing at 6:30. When we arrived this morning at 7:05, the laundry was perfectly done, ready to be tossed in the dryer, and yet didn't have that mildew-y, "I just sat in the washer all night in my own moisture" feel to it.

I primed almost all of the kitchen; I just have to get up on a ladder behind the refrigerator (logistically difficult, though not at all impossible) and prime the last 10-20% of it, near the ceiling.

We bought a new transformer and set of cable (or trapeze) lighting for the kitchen, again at Yale Electric, because we discovered that the problem with the old lights was that Dad and I had accidentally blown out the transformer and fried the wires when we replaced an old lightbulb with a new one which made the total wattage greater than the old set could support. I don't know how we were supposed to know that, though, so it was relatively unavoidable. We're going to install the new set next weekend, going diagonally across the kitchen; the new set can support 100 watts instead of 60. Then, because that's still not all that much light in a 14 x 8 foot kitchen, we're going to change the light at the other end either to a more attractive, less dangly (for the sake of Robert's head), hanging light, or else (and this option gets my vote) a second set of cable lighting, going diagonally across the kitchen in the other direction. Very, very cool--in theory. I'll keep you updated on the practice.

Now, with just a few very minor exceptions (the bifold door in the small bedroom closet; blinds in the big bedroom; one ceiling light in the big bath; one final set of shelves in the big bedroom closet; and some grout and caulk in the big bath and some faucet repairs in both baths), both bedrooms and both bathrooms are entirely finished except for the floors. We plan to move onward next weekend, when Robert is back: kitchen cabinet and plumbing work, hallway painting, final touches on beds and baths, and kitchen lighting are all on the schedule. And hey, any weekend in which we generate a large quantity of trash has to be a good weekend. . ..

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Created: 9/21/03. Last Modified: 9/21/03.