Monday, October 31, 2016

Designing Carolina

"Sometimes the stakes are bogus, sometimes the fast lane hits a fork
Sometimes Southern California wants to be Western New York."

Sometimes Sugar Land, Texas wants to be Cornelius, North Carolina. Or have I got that backwards? Sometimes Cornelius, North Carolina wants to be Sugar Land, Texas.


We just got back from our six-day trip to design our new house. We built this house we live in too, but we probably only had to make one-tenth of the decisions. We literally picked not only every cabinet, but every cabinet knob, every faucet, every light fixture including where we wanted to place the 50 recessed cans. Neil LOVES cans. We picked the type and location of electric switches, outlets, cable and data lines, speakers, glass break detectors, fire communications. We picked out brick, roof shingles, garage doors, trim paint, door paint, door glass, room colors, hardwoods, carpet, tile, grout. We selected front door hardware, entire household door hardware.

My philosophy, contrary to what we did here, was to keep it simple, find something we liked and stay with a uniform theme. No need for 15 kinds of knobs and tile and grout. We did go with brushed nickle on the main floor ,,and chrome in the basement and upstairs to keep costs down. We picked the same cool penny-round tile for four bathrooms but in different colors. I got push-back on using the same grout color everywhere (Delorean Gray) but I only made a few exceptions where it didn't complement the tile and on the two fireplace tile surrounds where it didn't matter.

Yes, you heard that right, two fireplaces. Two greatrooms. A bonus room, a card room, a game room, a media room, a hobby room, study, kitchen, dining room, screened outdoor living area, master bedroom, master bath, four secondary bedrooms with in-suite baths, powder room, home management area, laundry room, covered patio. I'm glad I don't have to pay the bills. Oh, wait, I do.

We spent the better part of five of the six days on this design chimera, with a break on Sunday to go to the Carolina Renaissance Festival. I think I am just over Renfests. See my post on Disney.

Another break was the Dar Williams concert on Friday night at The Evening Muse. I picked the dates for this trip so we could catch her Mortal City tour. She did not disappoint. She performed the entire album in song order, and she talked between songs about her inspiration for each one, which was pretty cool. I already knew she was someone I'd love to hang out with, no surprises there. A highlight was the encore, I won't be your Yoko Ono, one of my favorites of her songs, but not one of her more mainstream hits, if she can be said to have mainstream hits. What do you hear in these sounds?

Better yet, she made eye contact with me and smiled at the beginning of the song Iowa. Neil said maybe she recognized me from the music video. It's a theory. One I like very much.


Anyway, back to the design gig. We had some predictable frustrations. We couldn't have the color Moody Blue that we picked for our front door and shutters because it was too bright (wait, what?). Well, we could have had it if we'd picked a duller brick. I don't want a dull brick. I love the brick we have now, of course I picked the closest brick color to it, which wasn't all that close, but still a pretty peachy one. At least we got our next paint color choice, Slate Tile. And out of about one thousand light fixtures I couldn't find one that I loved for the dining room. We put in a placeholder, but I'll be looking for something else. When you are spending hundreds on a light fixture you really should love it.

The funny thing is, we sweated decisions that seemed important, like the hardware on the kitchen cabinets, but honestly, I couldn't have told you what hardware we have on the cabinets we had at home, the ones I've lived with for more than nine years. And after we got home, I changed all the cabinet hardware to something close to what we have now, because I love it, even if I had distraction blindness to it for so long.

We opted for miles of hardwoods instead of carpet because cats. We choose a rustic distressed charcoal hickory, althought I'd have loved a whitewashed gray, if not for feline hairball considerations. Carpet will only go in bedrooms where the doors can be kept closed. And closets. And Neil's study. But not the hobby room. Or the home management center, where I'll probably have my computer and set up my shipping area.

My studio still is an outstanding issue. We've asked for help from the builder on a possible natural gas hookup, ventilation, return air and electric load requirements, ideally in the basement bedroom where I'd love to have it. The room has a box bay window that overlooks the rain garden and tree stand behind our property. It has access to a bathroom which is helpful since I use water for diluting bead release and for cleaning beads. I might turn my old-fashioned oak teacher's desk into a workstation for dipping mandrels and cleaning beads. Or I might use it to set up my torch and kiln. So many possibilities. So little time.

Well, actually there's a lot of time. They won't close on the construction loan until we finalize the design, and they won't start building until we close on the loan, and no one is pressuring us and we still need to sort the studio specs. I have some concern that they'll tell me I can't have it in the house. If they do, I'm inclined to acquiesce and then do it anyway. We can figure out ventilation somehow and I can have my propane outside and use quick connects to torch. To be on the safe side, we will tile the room and I've already picked out some awesome tile.

Once we close, I can't imagine the house will take less than nine months to build and probably closer to a year, considering my good weather luck, which works both ways, i.e. bad weather can be part of my good weather luck when needs be. And we need all the time we can get to figure out all the logistics, such as how to move three cats, incuding two neurotic ones.

It's fortunate that Neil will be retired on December 1 and can put his mind to the task. Because this is his party (and I'll cry if I want to, which I admit that I often do).

Besides I'm much too busy, selling beads at $6 a pair. People who won't pay $15 for three pairs will snap up $6 pairs. Go figure.

So, funny story, we went by our lot on the last day, before we flew home, and there was all this earth-moving equipment out there, moving earth and gravel. They were working on the rain garden, which is a fancy name for drainage catch basin, behind our house. It will be landscaped with sod and natural grasses, so I expect it to be pretty.



On our first day we visited the lot and there was some water in the depression and a blue heron at the edge. If I believed in signs, I'd take that as a good one.




There's a part of the country could drop off tomorrow in an earthquake
Yeah, it's out there on the cutting edge, the people move, the sidewalks shake
And there's another part of the country with a land that gently creaks and thuds
Where the heavy snows make faucets leak in bathrooms with free-standing tubs
They're in houses that are haunted, with the kids who lie awake and think
About all the generations past who used to use that dripping sink

Sometimes one place wants to slip into the other just to see
What it's like to trade its demons for the restless ghost of Mrs. Ogilvey
She used to pick the mint from her front yard to dress the Sunday pork
Sometimes Southern California wants to be Western New York

It wants to have a family business in sheet metal or power tools
And it wants to have a diner where the coffee tastes like diesel fuel
And it wants to find the glory of a town they say has hit the skids
And it wants to have a snow day that will turn its parents into kids
And it's embarrassed, but it's lusting after a SUNY student with mousy brown hair
Who is taking out the compost, making coffee in long underwear

And Southern California says to save a place, I'll meet you there
And it tried to pack up its Miata, all it could fit was a prayer
Sometimes the stakes are bogus, sometimes the fast lane hits a fork
Sometimes Southern California wants to be Western New York

Tempe, Arizona thinks the Everglades are greener and wetter
And Washington, D.C. thinks that Atlanta integrated better
But I think that Southern California has more pain that we can say
'Cause it wants to travel back in time but it just can't leave LA

But now I hear they've got a theme park planned, designed to make you gasp and say
Oh, I bet that crumbling mill town was a booming mill town in its day
And the old investors scoff at this, but the young ones hope they'll take a chance
And they promise it will make more dough than Mickey Mouse in Northern France
And the planners got an opening day, a town historian will host
And the waitresses look like waitresses who want to leave for the West Coast

And they'll have puttering on rainy weekends, autumn days that make you feel sad
They'll have hundred year old plumbing and the family you never had
And a Hudson River clean-up concert and a bundle-bearing stork
And I hear they've got a menu planned, it's trés Western New York.


(Dar Williams)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz