Monday, October 26, 2009

Progress Update - Oct 25

In the last couple of weeks I have definitely been busy... although, at times, I have strayed from original to do list.

I have:
  • finished the paneling and trim around the interior of the front door
  • completed attaching the paneling on the new bi-fold bathroom door
  • installed a shelf above both kitchen windows
  • found, bought, refinished and reupholstered an antique settee (since the big toolbox wasn't really comfortable to sit on)

  • made a trailer skirt out of old ikea shelf supports and leftover exterior redwood siding
  • bought a few outdoor bushes and a (very) small fern for inside
  • and we finally hooked up the propane since it's been getting colder recently. (For more new interior pictures, click the link that says 'More build pics are here' at the top left of our blog.)
This week, if the rain will give me a break, I'll finish the porch. I have a couple of more floor boards to add as well as a plaque that I made. On a rainy day, I will fix up an old trunk for storage under the settee. I also plan to add the rest of the interior trim and putty the nail holes so that I can paint the cottage interior the second weekend of November.

Currently, when you walk into our cottage ALL you see is wood, which is nice, but we agreed that we'd like a bit more visual contrast. Besides, the rainy season has begun so we'll have a few months of grey days. We'd like it to feel brighter when inside even if it's grey outside. The skylight has been helpful, but grey is grey. I have a no-VOC paint (Freshaire Choice). The ceiling will be 'distant star' and the walls will be 'poetic light'. Both are a creamy white with the ceiling a couple of shades lighter than the walls which, I have read, is supposed to make the ceiling feel higher. Even though it's simply visual 'space', I'll give it a try.

Since I'm winding down on the bigger things that need to get finished in order to feel more settled in our new home in a new city, this coming week I'll be making more of effort to find a job. I get quite antsy if I have nothing to do and I have been losing track of days since I don't have an office to go to. I've been working 7 days a week on finishing up the house so there hasn't been a difference between Wednesday or Saturday. I'm really ready to go back to work...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Done... and yet to do.

We have been working on finishing up the outside of the cottage before the rainy season begins as well as making the inside a bit nicer looking and more comfortable.

After arriving in Seattle, Jeff leveled the trailer and had the cold water working in the kitchen sink by day two. The pex piping had been installed and tested for leaks before the interior walls went up but the faucets & shower head hadn't been attached. While finishing up the water he decided to add a few shut off valves into the system so it looked like a tornado had come through. The sink/counter top/cabinet was uninstalled and sat in the middle of the living room and the wall was off a closet area so he had access to the shower faucet hookup.

The hot water heater has been installed for a long time but we lost the power cord at some point so we've ordered a replacement. The base to the shower hasn't yet been installed so since our arrival we have been members of the local pool so we have access to the pool, hot tub and hot showers daily. Our home shower will be working within a couple of weekends. I enjoy my time at the pool and Jeff has started to use the pool at the UW on weekdays so we haven't been in a rush to do this task.

Last Sunday we finished the trim and siding outside the front door so the exterior has now been completely sealed. On Monday it rained. I still need to add the edge boards to the porch, and to seal the ones that are there, but I'll have to wait until we have a few dry days again before I can tackle that task.

Next I worked on mortising the hinges on the new cabinet doors. This task took me a bit of guesswork, crossed fingers and tweaking. I hadn't done cabinetry before so it took me four days to install all 7 cabinet doors. We haven't found pulls that we like yet so tape has been the substitute. Mike, the friend who made our cabinets, suggested to simply screw the hinges onto the cabinet fronts since it would have been easier, but the nice ones from Restoration Hardware would have cost us more than we wanted to pay (For hinges?!). I did this task the hard way using $1 hinges instead. I also took down the sheet that had been our bathroom 'door', installed a nice bi-fold wooden one, and attached tongue and groove pine so that the door blends in with the rest of the walls.

This coming weekend we'll finish the gas system so that we have heat and can use the stove. So far the cottage has been very good at keeping us comfortable whether it's been 40 degree F or 95 degree F weather. We have either been eating things raw (we love salads anyway) or eating at nearby restaurants so not using the stove has given us a chance to explore the neighborhood.

What else will keep me busy as I search for a CAD job here in Seattle? (Any job leads?):

- Interior paneling and trim around the front door.
- Backsplashes need to be installed on the kitchen counters.
- Paint the cottage interior a creamy off white.
- Custom light covers need to be made for 4 sconce lights.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Downsizing: The saga continues...

In a previous post I suggested that each of us who wants to downsize ask ourselves, "If my place were to burn down today, could I live without this item?" I thought that if I didn't need it in daily living that it could easily be purged. I have also explained that in our choice to voluntary simplify that we don't want to feel as if we are punishing ourselves. We want some comfort, not simply the bare necessities, so downsizing turned out to be easier said than done.

Selling things was hard for me. I had my own shop tools because I really enjoy creating sculpture by welding and woodworking. These tools have been in storage for awhile because I had found shared space where someone had these tools for me to use. Now, as I sold my tools I felt as if part of my identity was being ripped away. Will I be able to find another place in Seattle where I can rent shop time like I did before the move? I hoped so and had to believe that I will. I reasoned that I will be able to buy tools again if I ever really need them.

Since Jeff was in the build space all day near the end of construction while in California, we moved all of my tools and other odds and ends from my storage unit there. He was very good at talking with people who came to look at the items after I posted them on Craigslist. It was cash only & prices were firm. I probably set the prices lower than they needed to be because we were pressured with a deadline to move to Washington very shortly. I didn't want to have to bring more things with us to sell later. I was also happy to hand over the sales task to Jeff and not to have to deal with it (the psychological discomfort) any longer.

Jeff's only big items was his mission & leather furniture. When I married him he came with a whole apartment full of well made furniture that could be handed down to another generation or two. We have lived in many apartments and houses over the years and his was the type of furniture that when people came into our space for the first time they'd say, "Wow!". It was comfortable, it was beautiful, it was sturdy. Rick was moving to Albuquirky a few weeks before our move to Seattle and he said that he wanted to buy it all. Rick got a really great deal, Jeff was pleased to see his collection stay together and that it went to a friend, and this sale saved us from writing ads, etc.

What we sold: wood/metal shop tools, apartment full of furniture.

The give away was quicker and easier than the sales were (of course). I was short on time but we lived in a large apartment complex so I took a few color pictures, made some flyers and posted them in each of the buildings lobbies early one Saturday. By 5pm all of the items had been removed from my apartment by very happy, nice people. I didn't have to post them on Craigslist or Freecycle or cart them off to Goodwill and I felt as if lightening my load had made me happier as well.

What we gave away: desk, leather computer chair, collection of masks from around the world, plants, quality queen & twin mattresses, lacquered storage chest, lamps, house wares, antique armoire, dining table, file cabinet, shelves, clothes...

Not all things went though.

What we kept: 2 folding leather chairs, 1 wooden chair, tableware and silverware for four, pans, some clothes / shoes... currently we have a large toolbox in our living room with some fabric thrown over it for use as a sofa as well as 3 other boxes of hand tools / building supplies. As construction slows these tools will go into my brother's basement. I also have 4 boxes of fabric that are currently in my mom's house and these will come to our house for storage under a real sofa once I find one that fits our odd requirements (needs to fit in the 22" wide door, needs to be shallow, but can be 7' long). What I'm thinking is 4 to 6 dining chairs attached side by side with some padding on top; a unit that will look like a Swedish settee. I do woodworking, and I can sew, so making something like this (rather than buying something from Ikea) will be easy and is much more appealing to Jeff and me.

What we bought: a really decent mattress, coir floor mats with rubber underneath them for the foyer because it's going to be wet soon and we need a place to drip while we remove our shoes when we arrive home, a small 'side table' with shoe cubbies below to sit on in the foyer while removing our shoes, 2 wire hanging baskets for fruit to free up the counter tops, screws and other stuff to finish building.

Tip: Give yourself more time to get rid of things than you think it will take. You think it will take 6 months? Give yourself a year. I feel as if I could have recovered some of the money I'd spent on the items if I'd sold them instead of given them away, or sold them at higher prices, but I simply felt rushed to sell them so they went for yard sale prices. Avoid the stress of rushing, and avoid the feeling of losing money off the good work of downsizing, by giving yourself lots of time to get comfortable with the process.