New Closet Interior
After the dust settled and the paint dried (in Dolphin Fin grey, per my earlier mention that all of our paint color selections have names that “speak” to Dede), I finally got busy with outfitting the interior of the new closet with a ClosetMaid shelving system.
I was able to make use of nearly every square inch of the space inside the new closet so I ended up with almost 20′ of angled shoe storage, about 20′ of hanging clothes rod space, and almost 14′ of open shelving. The shelves up top are a bit of a stretch to reach and only have about 12″ of clearance below the ceiling, but there’s a ton of storage inside that small space! Here’s a peek:
New Fan Control Knob
One of the more bizarre things left behind by the previous owners of Kirkwood Manor was the big honkin’ circa 1970s ceiling fan control box in our Master Bedroom. Since we were going to have to do some re-texturing anyway with the new closet construction, I took the opportunity to replace that limping scrod (Thanks, Rich!). Extending and snaking the wires for this through the wall stud just to the left of the original switch was a real challenge, but the end result was certainly worth the effort:
Knowing that our door project was coming up, I had intentionally neglected the flowerbed/planter off of the patio area just outside the Master Bedroom. Once things were wrapped up with the new door install, I was ready to spring into action to rehab this area:
With some expert guidance (Thanks Dave!) I settled on a interesting mix of perennial plants that seemed like a good fit for the area, given its size and the amount of direct sunlight it receives. So here’s what we ended up with:
As is often the case, once I had found a terrific deal on a handleset for the new Master Bedroom patio door, I couldn’t just let it go at that single purchase…
So since I had found the Kellington double-cylinder door hardware at HandleSets.com for a fraction of what the local home store charge, I opted to also replace the brass lever/deadbolt combo on the other patio door (coming out of the kitchen) and the brass handleset & kickplate on the front door with matching nickel handlesets so they’d all look and be keyed alike. And I got all 3 for less than what I would’ve spent for a single handleset at retail price!
I ran into a slight problem with the new brushed nickel kickplate looking much more “aluminum-y” than “nickel-y” and therefore not quite matching the finish on the handleset. But I’ve since seen some other homes where this is slightly off too, so that’s kinda comforting. And most people may not even notice the difference…
Although I mentioned the new closet first, that was really the lesser of the changes to be made with our overhaul of the Master Bedroom. No, the big ticket change, the driving force behind the whole thing, was all about a new door.
Our bedroom had a large 6′ x 9′ bank of old windows that looked out onto the patio. Since we spend a great deal of our time during late-Spring to early-Fall out back, we longed for direct access to the patio. The windows were original to the house (meaning they were the old, inefficient single-pane variety) and looked like this on the exterior (apologies for the late-night, low-quality photo):
…and on the inside they were covered with the same terrific Plantation shutters that the home’s previous owners had installed on the guest bedroom, den, and living room windows.
Earlier this year, we got kind of serious about this project and started calling around for estimates from “window and door” companies. But we ultimately discovered that we could get exactly what we wanted at a much lower price by purchasing the door independently and paying a contractor to install them. We had found a contractor thru our friend Donna P. who we felt we could trust to do the job right and I lucked into a great sale on a Jeld-Wen fiberglass-clad unit that featured two fixed panels and one hinged door in the middle (all with integral mini-blinds within the panes of Low-E glass) at Home Depot.
So 18 days later, the custom-ordered “triple” arrived—in one piece that was too big to even fit through any of our gates to get to the back of the house. So thanks to my contractor Roger, his helper Caleb, and two very cooperative & helpful Home Depot delivery guys, we brought the 81″ x 110″ door unit over the fence instead:
Once eased off the forklift and brought gently to the ground, we wrestled the behemoth to an area just beside the existing windows:
In a single, action-packed day, the guys tore out the old windows and bricks, a plumber capped off the exterior hose bib that had been just beneath the old windows, and for a harrowing couple of hours, there was nothing but a huge hole in the side of the house:
But by late that afternoon, the new door was tacked in place. The following day, they secured the unit, added casings to finish the exterior, and added tile to cap off the bottom row of existing brick and dress up the threshold area:
What a thing of beauty! And we were especially pleased with the very budget-friendly and sturdy Kellington Double-Cylinder Handleset door hardware from HandleSets.com!
Finally, they trimmed out the interior in a regal fashion befitting such a king-sized door and I got busy with more Behr Azul Tequila paint:
Be sure to read part 3 of the Master Bedroom overhaul to see some of the odds & ends finishing details.
Almost from the very first time we toured Kirkwood Manor in December ’09, one of the “somewhere down the road” wishlist projects was to convert the unused home office space (a.k.a. reading nook) in the master bedroom into some valuable closet space. As a part of another big change to that room, we’ve finally brought that little vision to life.
The reading nook had a built-in desk and bookcase that may well have been original to the house. So out those went…
And to make the most of the space, we opted to bump the ceiling in that area back up to the same height as the rest of the room…
A wall was built to box in the closet, complete with a pocket door that slides back into the wall so it doesn’t eat up any space within the closet nor does it swing out into the room.
Of course, with the new wall and texturing to blend in with the existing walls—and given the thoroughly-unmatchable custom faux finish that the previous owners had applied—I had to repaint the entire room.
But luckily, my ever-eager assistant was there to help with the painting…
So here’s the end result, complete with trim and the new paint color (Azul Tequila) for the room:
You may be noticing a trend here—all of our paint colors at Kirkwood Manor have names that “speak” to Dede. (Just wait ’til you see the Dining Room re-done in “Dolphin Fin!”)
Keen observers will also catch that we dressed the room up with crown molding but you’ll see more on that in the next part of the Master Bedroom Overhaul!
Big thanks go to Donna P. for the contractor referral!
Be sure to read part 2 of the Master Bedroom overhaul to see details of the new patio door install!
Liam has officially graduated from Kindergarten!
It’s been a long year of learning for all of us. We had no idea how difficult the transition from daycare Pre-K to public elementary school Kindergarten was going to be.
Apparently life in Pre-K, even though it seemed well-structured, was still mostly about playing and doing things on your own schedule. So going to a class setting where all activities are highly-structured took a bit of a toll on our guy. We thought all hope was lost for the first few months, but after the Christmas break things worked out and he adjusted to the routine and even won a citizenship award by the end of the year. We’re so proud of our little guy and still totally amazed that he can now read books on his own.
I’m glad Summer is finally here and we can all relax and enjoy the next few months before first grade starts!
Our baby boy turned 6 years old Saturday. I can’t believe how fast he’s growing up!
The theme of this year’s party was Finn McMissile / Secret Agent. It was a pretty easy theme to work with: Cars 2 and spy stuff. We took a risk and booked a pavilion at Liam’s favorite park for the party. Thankfully, the weather cooperated and the plans went as scheduled.
The main activity we lined out was for each of the kids to build their own marshmallow blaster (a.k.a. the RoboBlaster® — thanks Dave!). Per Bob Schmidt’s instructional video, Rob cut the ½" PVC pipe into the various lengths needed and Liam helped sand the burrs off of the cut edges, then we made Ziplock bag kits that included a homemade assembly diagram. The kids & parents assembled them at the party, then we passed out bags of ammo (mini-marshmallows) to all the kids and turned them loose. The kids had a blast (rimshot!) playing with them and it made a nice party favor for each of them to take home.
Below is a video slideshow of some of the party highlights and I think you’ll agree from the kid’s faces that the party was a big success. I know we had one happy, exhausted boy when we got home!
Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 is really just around the corner. My biggest complaint during past elections has been that there wasn’t an easy way to get enough info to feel like I was making an informed decision at the poll. But that may be about to change…
Project Vote Smart, founded by former Arizona Senator Richard Kimball, aims to help. This free non-profit, non-partisan research organization collects and distributes comprehensive information on U.S. political candidates and elected officials. In particular, the VoteEasy tool can help you zero in on a candidate based on his/her official stance on a range of key issues or criteria. It even includes historical voting records so you can trend how candidates have performed in years past.
Especially interesting is the Political Courage Test that measures each candidate’s willingness to provide citizens with their positions on key issues. (Note that all of the 2012 Presidential contenders fail this test!)
I do my part and cast my votes but honestly, I’m still fairly skeptical about the real net value of individual votes in our electoral system (although I’m feeling slightly less iffy about this after some further reading). What are your thoughts on this? Do you feel your efforts at the polls are meaningful?
earlier this weekend but I didn’t want to hijack his blog with such a lengthy comment.)
Starting today, the City of Odessa has enacted even more stringent—some would say extreme—exterior watering restrictions for homeowners. That is, we’re allowed to water, via bubblers or by hand only, a scant 2 hours per week within a given 4 hour window. As you can imagine, area residents are doing a lot of hand-wringing over how they’ll even keep their trees & plants alive, much less their lawns.
Ah, the lawns. That’s the thing that’s really bothering me. Simply put, we have conditioned ourselves to an idyllic 50s-TV-inspired notion of what a home should look like. And it’s an unrealistic image that’s especially ultimately unsustainable when you live in the West Texas desert. We’ve convinced ourselves that a suburban home without a lush, green carpet of weedless turf is somehow much less cared about than those in the neighborhood that do have such. We’ve bought fully into the notion that the guy on the block with the best yard wins. And I’ll admit I’ve been as much a part of this problem as the next guy, having spent lots of money, time, and effort in years past to foster and maintain just such a showpiece front lawn.
Now of course, some locals are opting to have water wells drilled on their property so they can continue right on with the same watering practices, but that seems short-sighted at best and downright irresponsible at worst. Plus, there’s a reported 4 month average wait time now that so many are turning to this alternative source of water. And then there’s the considerable expense with little or no guarantee that a long-term personal supply of water actually does lie directly beneath your feet.
Perhaps it was inevitable that we’d run low enough on water that concessions would have to be made, but I think our civic leaders have done us a disservice in enacting severe water restrictions without first giving us homeowners some guidance on low-water (or no-water) alternatives. And likewise, the city officials should be offering some kind of incentives to those who opt for no-water solutions, as is common in many other areas of the country.
I certainly don’t want to concrete in the front yard and I’m less than crazy about crushed rock, and sadly, I’m not quite creative enough to visualize other, more attractive options. But certainly, I’m especially interested in alternatives that don’t negatively affect my property and/or resale value—and that’s something that a brown yard will almost surely do.
The artificial turf that’s available now looks and feels authentic, complete with little strands of dead thatch to complete the illusion. And it’s a long-term, nearly maintenance-free option. However, that plush, realistic synthetic lawn material must’ve been developed in a NASA lab, because they come with suborbital price tags! (Ya gotta wonder why the vendors offering this aren’t pricing their product more competitively to capitalize on the desperation of area homeowners.) And again, even if artificial turf were anywhere near affordable, that only goes to perpetuate the “lush lawn” stereotype that’s gotten into the jam we’re in.
So, if you’re in this area (or another with similar drought-stricken conditions), how do you plan to deal with the exterior water restrictions? And how does this shape your long-term home plans?
Hard to believe, but today marks my twentieth anniversary at Medical Center Hospital.
Yup, the big two oh. 2 0.
Hardly seems possible.
Early into my working life, I remember worrying that “job-hopping” could make you seem risky to potential employers so I made a point of trying to establish lengthier stays at jobs. For a brief period, even having multiple jobs at the same time. In fact, when I started at MCH, I was only halfway through my 4 year stint at America Online and was still doing occasional weekend shifts for Washington Inventory Service auditing grocery stores’ inventory in the wee hours of the night—a mind-numbing job if ever there was one, but it taught me 10-key proficiency and the value of Mountain Dew: it had almost twice the caffeine of other soft drinks! Somehow I thought that all of this would make me look more attractive on paper to prospective employers.
But somewhere during the past 2 decades, there’s been a big shift in the value of job longevity. It used to be a much-admired trait. We used to marvel at hearing about friends’ Dads who retired from their companies after many, many years of service. Building tenure at a single company was considered a sign of dependability and fortitude. Accordingly, I’ve always been—and continue to be—proud of having been able to remain a productive, ever-growing employee for the long haul.
But these days, when I tell someone I’ve held a job—tho a number of distinct postiions—at the same company for so long, I’m sometimes greeted with a mixture of sympathy and thinly-veiled disgust. This is especially the reaction of “Gen Y” people, for whom self-loyalty is most often the focus. They seem to think of long-term employees as stagnant or non-ambitious. For this group, dependability does not equal consistency. For the newer entrants to the job market, job-hopping is practically required for professional development.
And maybe some of this is due to the job market quakes we’ve seen in the past decade. The ripples from downsizing and corporate disintegration may have forever changed the old rules. Where employers once promoted job security, corporate loyalty to employees seems almost dead. Employee loyalty still seems to be kicking, but it’s detached from the idea of long-term security and aimed more at skill-building and growth opportunities.
What do you think? Are your views on job longevity different than that of your parents? Or do you have a different outlook on job security now than you did when you were just starting your working life? And how much do your employment benefits (paid leave, insurance, etc.) play into this? Have benefits and/or security ever kept you at a job in spite of wanting a change?