Happy Halloween

I'm not a huge Halloween fanatic. In fact this year I didn't even buy a gourd or two to stick on the front porch, much less carve a pumpkin or do any other fall-themed decorating. And since I don't have kids, I don't do any other kind of spooky decorating.

But if I were to get on the Halloween bandwagon, this kind of display is exactly what I'd want.

Redbor kale and white pumpkin container design and photograph by Deborah Silver

That stunning container is by my favorite container designer, Deborah Silver.  The kale is redbor kale which is absolutely stunning in its own right (and definitely on my "must find" list for next year), but the combination of it with the white pumpkins is, well, absolutely perfect.

Check out Deborah's other ideas on fall color here.

I hope you're all enjoying your Halloween. What kind of outdoor decorating did you do for the holiday?

Office update

I've been spending the past couple of weekends plugging away at the office project and I thought it was time to offer a bit of an update. Progress has been frustratingly slow because everything has to be cleaned up and able to be worked in during the day. So I found myself retaping frequently and spending much more time cleaning up after each workday or weekend. 

So far I've finished painting the window and trim Benjamin Moore Cloud White. I've also finished painting the frames on the top cabinets. I'm splitting the cabinet project into phases because I only have enough room in my basement to be painting one set of doors/drawers at a time. So right now I have all the doors for the top row of cabinets at home in various phases of painting (it is taking forever to finish them because of the drying time for the primer and paint and I don't want to flip them over until they are dry because I don't want to take the chance of messing up the paint job). I've also painted the back wall BM Hudson Bay, which will eventually cover all the walls. I am waiting to paint the other walls until I've painted the lower cabinets and removed the existing counter.
White window trim! 
The window before
 It's a good thing I sit with my back to this disaster!

 I did just the back wall because it was quite the process to move those file cabinets and I only wanted to move them once, so I pounded out the trim and the wall this weekend (painted wet edge to wet edge of two contrasting colors was quite the trick and I don't recommend it) so I could move the file cabinets back Monday morning. Of course, I've since found out that we didn't need the files in three of the cabinets and they've been shredded, which means I can move two of the file cabinets out of the office for good and I'll have one empty one for future use.

Here's the color on the back wall. It actually looks remarkably like the computer design our graphic artist did to get a sneak peak of what it might look like.




So here's the worklist for the office:

  • Paint window 
  • Paint trim 
  • Paint upper cabinet frames
  • Paint upper cabinet doors (in process)
  • Paint lower cabinet frames and doors/drawers
  • Disconnect sink
  • Remove counter
  • Paint the rest of the walls
  • Make fabric covered bulletin board "backsplash"
  • Paint desk base
  • Replace counter and desk top
  • Gussy up the file cabinets
  • Replace window blinds (this is new to the list; I've decided I need to get something that fits inside the window)
  • Buy area rug
Lots to do and hopefully there will be a trip to Ikea in the plans for this weekend to pick up the counter and table top.

House tour: Master bedroom

We'll finish up the rest of the house tour this week (it's a small house and I'm probably going to cheat and not show you the ugly rooms) now that I found the battery charger for the camera (whoops). So far we've toured the new upstairs bathroom, the kitchen and the living room.

Today we move up to the master bedroom, which is not the room that was the master bedroom when we bought the house. There is actually a room downstairs that was a bedroom when we bought the house and we preferred to have our bedroom upstairs so we took the south-facing bedroom.

As you can see, the before was, um, "modest." The ceiling was low in the middle of the room and really low on the east side. I actually took that side of the bed because Mr. Much More Patient couldn't get over there without hitting his head on the ceiling. There is no light fixture on the light because everyone would have hit their head on it. As it was the mister almost got banged in the head with a fan blade more than once.

Bedroom before

You'll also notice that the dreaded wall texture showed up in this room too. The only real tragedy of the upstairs renovation is that the bedroom floors couldn't be saved. They were original to the house and we were told they were "just Douglas fir" but when we had all the floors refinished shortly after we bought the house, we told them to just do their best with the bedroom floors and they ended up being absolutely gorgeous. I actually don't think our contractor really tried to save the floors and it still sort of bugs me, but what's done is done.

This is what it looked like after one day of demo. The old chimney (make of Cream City brick, which is a material unique to the Milwaukee/southeastern Wisconsin area) had been sandwiched in the walls and was removed brick by brick. We also found out that the closets in both bedrooms had been cedar lined but someone had drywalled in the cedar. Don't you wish you could ask previous homeowners what they were thinking sometimes?

Bedroom during

 

And here's how it looks today.

Bedroombig

Bed

 

By putting in a small (5x5-foot) walk-in closet at the end of what had been the hall, we got rid of the small closets between the two bedrooms and we put that extra floor space into the master, which added a couple of feet to the room. The entire east side of the room is now windows, which not only floods the room with light that spills into the living room downstairs, but also gives us a bit of a view of the lake beyond our neighbors' houses when the leaves are off the trees. I designed the built-ins and we had the same great craftsman who built the banquette in the kitchen make them. He and his teenage son spent an entire day installing them and then I finished them myself. They provide a huge amount of storage and hide a little television as well.

I'm still using the old headboard, which I don't think particularly works anymore but it's one of those things that was one of my first big "grown-up" purchases and it's tough to get rid of those. We have no art hanging in here yet, and I think I need a couple of mirrors to flank the bed. You'll notice that the nightstands don't match, which is a look I prefer although ours REALLY don't match. Still, I don't mind the look. I bet you can tell which side is mine and which is Mr. Much More Patient's.

The wood-plank ceilings are one of my favorite features in the room. What you can't see is that there's a bit of paint problem with them. The ceilings and the doors are the only things we paid a professional painter to do for us (upstairs) and I made sure that the knots in the wood were spot-primed with BIN shellac-based primer (a must for sealing knots). And I was told they were. Well guess what? Every knot had bled through and the ceiling looks like Swiss cheese now. I need to call the painter to see how we'll be dealing with this, but it's a drag. If you do this, make sure you spot-prime the knots!

Here's the info on the room:

  • Floors: Teragren Bambo Portfolio Brown Sugar (self-installed)
  • Paint: Walls: Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter, trim, ceiling and built-in: BM Mascarpone
  • Duvet cover: Rough Linen
  • Nightstands: Pottery Barn (white) and World Market (wood)
  • Lighting: Lamps Plus

 

Things left to do in this room:

  • Art! I must get something on these walls. It's driving me mad. I just need to find or create the right thing.
  • Mirrors. I think mirrors would be good behind the nightstands.
  • Banquette cushion (I borrowed pillows from the kitchen banquette for the photos). I have the fabric, I just need to get my mom to help me make it.

Savoring the waning fall color

It's been a wild and windy autumn here and as I write this we're on Day 2 of a northeaster cranking down Lake Michigan and showing all signs of blowing whatever color might be left on the trees onto the ground. So I thought it would be a good time to just take a quick look at some fall color (from shots I took last weekend). We have a couple more stops to make on the house tour but we'll get to that next week.

Fallcolor1The cool temperatures are bring out the best in the ornamental kale.


Fallcolor2

Techically, Heuchera 'Pear Crisp' is this color all year, but it's a lovely shot of lime green in an increasingly browning garden and landscape.

 

Fallcolor5

The Oso Easy roses are still blooming and, even better, their foliage is looking great. Shabby looking foliage is my biggest rose pet peeve.

 

Fallcolor4

They are optimistic little plants. I'm all in favor of any plant that wants to keep pretending it's summer.

 

Fallcolor3

Japanese Maple 'Acontifolium' is getting a little rangy in its third year here, but it's trying its hardest to do a little showing off before it drops more leaves.

 

Still, it's nothing compared to what it looked like in 2009, which was one of the best years for fall color in recent history. I have great photos from that year, this one taken on October 24, 2009.

Fallcolor6

Great ideas from unlikely places




When we were working on the renovation for the house, I spent inordinate amounts of time on Houzz.com. I would save any picture that I liked for any reason and then go back through all of them and see what they had in common. It was a great way to figure out what I really liked so that I could draw inspiration from it for our renovation.

But the problem with Houzz, is that it only deals with pictures of living spaces. What the world needed was Houzz for everything. Enter Pinterest.

I know you've heard of Pinterest, and if you haven't you absolutely must check it out right now. Don't worry, it's not another social networking thing that is going to suck every last bit of free time from you and make you feel guilty when you can't get to it. It's just incredibly inspiring.

Every day I find things that inspire me on Pinterest and with one click I save them (aka pinning). And sometimes I find great things that I'd love to share with you. But instead of blogging every time I become obsessed with a really cool chicken coop, amazing bouquet of flowers or the coolest kitchen I've ever seen, I've been putting links to these pictures up on The Impatient Gardener Facebook page. So if you're a Facebook kind of person and you don't already "like" the page, swing over there so you can see what I'm loving right now. Of course you can also follow my pins on Pinterest. I'll make sure to follow you back because I love seeing what other people love.


The Language of Flowers

It's funny how just a couple weeks ago when I shared what I've been listening to while I paint, sand, weed and drive, I mentioned that it would probably be my first and last post on books. And here we are again.

But I had to share this book that I just listened to. It's another one that goes in the category of books I wish I would have read instead of listened to, and I probably will read it in a few months (or at least when it comes out in soft cover).



It's called The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. It's a lovely story about an orphan emancipated into adulthood and struggling to find her way in the world. The only thing she really cares about are flowers, and even more so, the meanings of flowers, a gift from the one caretaker she had in her entire childhood who actually cared about her. The book takes place both in the present tense and in the past, when she lived with her foster mother Elizabeth, who taught her all about the Victorian meaning of each flower.

The story is lovely, but it's especially interesting for gardeners, who may never look at a hydrangea again. I'll let you look it up for yourself in this flower dictionary on the book's website, but let's just say, if you care about such things it may not be the best choice for a bridal bouquet.

I found myself quite taken with the protagonist Victoria, and I love the idea of each bouquet of flowers sending a message to its recipient.

And now I'm off to study up on what flowers mean. I think today I could use a bouquet of ginger, sage and lupines. I think probably the worst bouquet a girl could get would be composed of yellow roses and tansies.

House tour: Living room

After the bathroom and the kitchen, this is a somewhat unexciting stop in the house tour: the living room. This is pretty much our only living area in the house and I would say this is the room we spend most of our time in. Almost every blog post I've written has been composed on that red couch.
Although the living room was ripped apart during the renovation, very little changed aesthetically speaking. This was the room that I thought we were going to live in during most of the renovation, and then we found out that the roof on this half of the house was sagging and would have to be shored up at some point. Since we weren't planning on ripping up the house again anytime soon, we opted to take care of while everything was ripped up.
You might recall that the living room walls and ceiling were covered in the oddest heavily textured swoopy stuff that was a dust magnet and drove me nuts. When the construction guys started taking down the ceiling they discovered that it was actually joint compound. We think that a previous owner just bought buckets of the stuff and stuck it on for a plaster look. The compound was on so thickly that they couldn't cut pieces much bigger than 3-by-2 feet because they were so heavy. Anyway, once the framework was exposed, they jacked up the 2x6 joists (which apparently is what they used in 1938) and sistered them with 2x8s (it's OK to be impressed by my vast knowledge of construction terms). Then we had them do about 4 inches of spray foam insulation and fill the rest in with rolled insulation, as we did in the rest of the house.
Livingroomconstruction

Here's a view from upstairs looking into the living room the day that the drywall texture was applied (it's still wet so that's why it looks all wonky in the picture). The wainscoting on the lower level is original, and in we had them replace the drywall to get rid of the horrible texture on the walls as well. This picture shows where they removed the railing during the construction and I have to say, it was really freaky to not have that there.
Livingroomconstruction2
And here it is now.
Livingroom

Here's a view looking the other direction so you can get a feel for the whole room. You can see the horrific wall texture (which I'm lucky enough to experience every day in the three rooms in the house that remain untouched) in this picture taken before the renovation.
Lr5

You can also see the very first thing we changed in the house in these pictures: the sconces that flank the fireplace. When we bought the house they were some kind of shiny gold, beveled glass 1980s wonder and I couldn't stand them. We bought those copper outdoor lights from Smith and Hawken way before anyone (in Wisconsin at least) heard of putting outdoor lights inside. The Calder-esque mobile that is hanging from the beam in both photos came with the house (one of many, many things left behind by the previous owner during a chaotic moving day). Even though it doesn't have a lot in common with the room, I love it. And, I fit under it. Mr. Much More Patient does not.
As much as I once loved the color scheme in here, I don't much anymore. I'd love to change it all over to a navy, off white, pop of color thing, but I'll just add that to the list. I've given some thought to having the beams (which we found out really are structural) faux painted to be a different color (they do have a bit of a pink cast to them sometimes), but they don't bother me that much and I bet that would be pretty expensive.
I sort of wimped out in choosing colors in this room, but I felt like the ceiling and walls should be the same color since they sort of flow into each other, and I knew I wanted something I wouldn't easily get sick of because with the super tall ceilings, this is definitely a professional paint job. Plus, I knew at some point I wanted to change from the red/mustard color scheme and I didn't want to limit myself with the existing wall colors.
There's not a lot to tell about this room, but here are the paint colors:
  • Walls, ceiling, trim: Benjamin Moore Mascarpone
  • Wainscotting, wall paneling: Benjamin Moore Gray Husky

House tour: The Kitchen

From a room that didn't even exist a year ago, our tour moves to the kitchen, which has had some modifications made over the years but is largely the same as it was when we bought the house.

Kitchen1 101211

 

Kitchen2 101211

 

The cabinets, countertops (laminate, but not bad looking, and very easy to keep clean) and window treatments haven't changed. We did replace the white vinyl kitchen floor with porcelain tile, bought new appliances, moved the laundry out of what should have been a pantry and made it back into a pantry (next to the dividing wall between the eating and cooking areas, shown just in the bottom left corner of the second photo). I also painted the walls and the paneled ceiling, which was sort of pickled pink.

The eating area has changed quite a bit. We took it from a round table that seated four people and stuck out into the walkway from the back door (the most frequently used entrance) to a banquette that can seat seven or more. We still badly need a piece of art on that wall, but I'm picky about art and haven't found the right thing for that spot.

Paint

  • Walls: Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter
  • Trim, ceilings, banquette, table: Benjamin Moore Mascarpone AF-20
  • Cabinets: Unknown color badly in need of painting, but it's close to Benjamin Moore White Dove

Sources

  • Banquette: Custom made (if you are local, contact me for information)
  • Banquette fabrics: www.fabric.com, www.joann.com
  • Entry rug: Dash & Albert indoor/outdoor (highly recommended, washes up bright white in the washer)
  • Table: Restoration Hardware Outlet
  • Chairs: Existing
  • Eating area lights: Velocity Art & Design
  • Butcher block light: Pottery Barn (several years ago, I don't know if they still carry it)
  • Sink light: Barn Light Electric

 

Here's a roundup of some of the projects we've done in the kitchen:

The future of the kitchen:

I'm not finished in here yet. At the very least the cabinets need a coat of paint, but I'm not satisfied to stop there. Once we've recovered a bit financially from the renovation, we'll do some sprucing up in here. What we do will be largely driven by budget, but ideally, I'd like to continue the cabinets all the way up to the ceiling by adding another row of cabinets on top of the existing cabinets sort of like this:

269138361 7CJ9opLo c

via Pinterest

There is nothing wrong with our cabinet boxes, so I'd keep those, but if the budget allowed, I'd have them refaced, skipping the arches that are seen on the top cabinets. I'd also like to turn some of the lower cabinets into drawers if possible. And then, of course, I'd like new counters, but every day I go back and forth on what those might look like. I'm pretty sure I'd pick a quartz though, as I'm thrilled with how our bathroom counter has performed and as beautiful as marble is, I'm not a person who would be satisfied with a counter that gets "a patina." And last but not least, I'd add in a backsplash, probably some variation on classic subway tile like this elongated tile:

151997884 UGdGsO4s cvia granitegurus.com

House tour: The bathroom

I know I've show some (OK, a lot) of photos of the renovation here, but I thought I'd do a bit of a house tour now that I have some good photos of the rooms thanks to getting the photos from the article that was done on the house (a wide-angle lens is a beautiful thing).

And there is no better place to start than my favorite room that came out of the renovation: the upstairs bathroom. Since we were a one-bathroom household before this (and that bathroom leaves something to be desired in the space and decor department), it was a real treat to be able to make room for a second bathroom, and, as I've mentioned before, any splurging that happened in the renovation, happened in this room.

Here's what the space that became the bathroom (thanks to raising the roof and adding a small shed dormer) looked like before. Take special note of the absolute hideous wall texture. The peak of that mini dormer ceiling was 5 feet 3 inches.

Reno1 101011 copy

And here's what it looks like now.

Reno4 101011

 

Reno2 101011

Reno3 101011

Bathroom2 040311

 

Bathroom11 040311

 

Paint:

 

  • Walls: Benjamin Moore Gray Mist
  • Ceiling: Benjamin Moore Healing Aloe
  • Trim: Benjamin Moore Cloud White

Fixtures (All Kohler unless otherwise noted):

  • Sink: Archer undermount
  • Vanity faucet: Margaux
  • Shower valve trim: Purist
  • Showerhead: Flipside 02 (LOVE this thing!)
  • Toilet: Toto Carolina II
  • Towel warmer: Runtal Neptune

Other:

  • Countertops: Hanstone Ruscello Aspen
  • Vanity/cabinet: custom, made of beech veneer
  • Teak shower floor (removable) and teak niche shelf
  • Mirror: Pottery Barn Kensington pivot mirror
  • Bath fan/light: Panasonic Whisper
  • Vanity lights: Sonneman 1-Light pendant
  • Door: Salvaged from my grandmother's house

Sources

 

Let me know if I missed anything or you have any other questions.

Wide angle photos by Sam Arendt/Ozaukee Press

 

Birthday memories

I'm showing you this not to show off my unbelievable cute and huggable dog, Hudson, (which he is, of course) but because I think this is a great birthday thing to do for both critters and kids. I'm totally embarrassed to admit that we only did this with our older dog. I don't know why poor Rita got left out, but I suspect it's the same reason why there are precious few pictures of me between the ages of 1 and 8 and 80 billion of my older brother.

Hudson turned 8 at the end of September and we were thrilled to make a big deal about it. The poor guy has been through his share of orthopedic issues and more than vet told us we'd never see this age with him. Newfoundlands are generally pretty short-lived as far as dogs go to begin with, and all of his health issues didn't help. But I'm happy to report that the big guy is doing great and running up and down the beach every time we go.

As a little aside, it's sort of interesting to get a peek at the plantings I've done on the front steps over the years as well.

 

Baby

Baby

 

Age 1

Age 1


Age 2

Age 2

 

Age 3

Age 3


Age 4

Age 4


Age 5

Age 5


Age 6

Age 6


Hudson age 7

Age 7


Hudson age 8

Age 8

Things to know before you reno: Part 2

Construction1

Honey, does it seem drafty in here to you?


This is the second part of a list on what you need to know before you renovate. If you haven't read part Part 1, check it out here. And now, here's the rest.

6. Have a friend who won't get sick of talking to you about your reno.

You need to have a person to run ideas by. Ideally this person will share your design style or at least understand and respect your designs. They need to be honest, because sometimes you really need someone to tell you that something is REALLY ugly, and you can't have someone mincing words. This person should not be your spouse (whose opinion also counts but in a different way). It should also, under no circumstances, be your mother.

7. Spend your money on the stuff you can't see.

I know this is one of those things you hear all the time, but it's true. And that's simply because as much as you'd hate to, you can always go back and change out an ugly light fixture in a few years when your budget had recovered a little, but you can't rip back into your walls and put in more insulation. We had to fix some structural issues on the side of the house we weren't planning on touching, but we did it at the same time because we couldn't fathom coming back in 10 years and ripping our house up again. We also took the opportunity to thoroughly insulate everything with a layer of spray foam insulation and then the regular rolled insulation. It's not a fun thing to spend money on but it's worth it.

8. Get what you want.

I guess this more a matter of what kind of person you are, but it works for me. I'm one of those people who would rather save up for a longer time and get what I really want rather than spend less but get something I don't like as much. For most people a renovation is a big deal and it was for us. I don't intend to do many (any, actually) more of these, so this was my one chance to get some of these things right. So that's why we spent a lot of time figuring out our priorities and deciding which things were really important to us and which things we could live without. For us, the bathroom was a priority, so we sort of went hog wild in there. We did manage costs by getting an inexpensive field tile and then spending more on the accent tile rather than using accent tile everywhere, but, in general, we pretty much got what we really wanted in the bathroom. That meant we had to cut costs elsewhere and one of those places was the bedroom floors. We wanted a gorgeous nailed-in hardwood floor but the cost plus installation was more than we were comfortable with. So we went with floors we could install ourselves to save money. We still love them, although I would have liked other floors better, but it's not a decision I regret. I'm certain if we had cheaped out on some of things we chose for the bathroom, I would regret it every morning.

9. Be a team.

If you are undergoing a renovation with a partner or spouse, remember to stay on the same side. There's no doubt it can be horrible and frustrating at times and you will both be at your breaking point because all you want to do is get dressed in the morning, have a cup of coffee and watch a little TV, but you can't find your clothes because you're living out of laundry baskets in the basement, the coffeemaker is covered in a quarter-inch layer of dust and you can't even find the television. These are the times when you can't lash out at each other. You have to share the frustration. One person gets to be frustrated and crabby at a time. The other one has to normal and sane, and remind the other that it will be over soon and it will be so worth it. You can switch spots later.

10. Consider being your own general contractor.

OK, I know that sounds really scary, and I certainly wouldn't recommend it for a new build, but honestly I think it's very doable for a lot of people. We chose a lot of our own subcontractors for various reasons, either because we wanted to give a specific company our business, or we had a friend who could do it better, etc. And every time we went with our own guy, they became our responsibility. Also, one of us was at the house almost every day, even if it was just stopping in for lunch. And if we didn't, invariably something was done incorrectly, or we were getting a call asking how we wanted something to look. And even with the subcontractors that were hired by our general contractor, we were often expected to communicate directly with them to ease the process. With the exception of the complicated structural issues in the beginning, I think we could have handled the general contracting just fine.

11. The construction guys will see your underwear.

Yep. At some point, no matter how much you try to keep your unmentionables out of public view, random construction guys will see your undies. What's worse is that if the renovation drags on long enough, you won't care anymore. And what's even worse is that if it drags on even longer, you won't even care when they see your dirty undies in the laundry pile in the basement (which sometimes looks a lot like the clean clothes pile since they are all being kept within a foot of each other). Hey I didn't tell you it would be pretty.

Things to know before you reno: Part 1

Hudsonandrita
Resident supervisors Rita and Hudson posed for a photograph for the newspaper photo shoot a couple weeks ago.I'm just realizing now that somebody should have washed Rita's feet first.

In continuing to revisit the renovation roughly a year after it got started, I thought I'd put together a list of things you should know if you are considering a renovation of your own. This list got a little longer than I anticipated, so I'm breaking it in to two posts.

1. Even though you've heard that every renovation goes over time and over budget, you will talk yourself into thinking that with all your planning you will be the exception to this rule. You are wrong.
We budgeted an extra 10 percent into our loan to cover the surprises. Believe it or not, this was at the suggestion of our lender and our contractor swore to us that he would do his best to bring the numbers down as the project continued. Although the financial situation got so dire during the renovation that I stopped keeping track of it all, but we probably finished about 30 percent over the original budget. As for time, the project took about 50 percent more time than we expected, due to hiccups with supplies of some items and various other issues that hung things up.

2. Have a partner.
Even if you're building or renovating and you're a single homeowner (and if you are, I applaud you), you need to have another person involved. That's because you need to have a person on reserve to wear the black hat. There will be times that have an issue with a contractor and you need one person to be sweet and understanding and another person to be the nasty one pushing for things to be done correctly. I handled most of the day to day things, but when something serious came up, or when I felt like I was getting the "you're-just-an-irrational-woman" brush off (and yes, I do think that happened), Mr. Much More Patient would step in handle it. I think our contractor knew that if he got a call from the husband he knew we were serious about something.

3. Find balance.
Throughout the entire renovation I constantly felt like I was walking the line of being a pushover or being a bitch. It was difficult to find a middle ground. Certainly you don't want to come out of the gate swinging on a project, but you also don't want to come across as a person who will let them slide with subpar work.

4. Make every decision you can ahead of time.
I did pretty good on this. I had plumbing fixtures chosen and delivered for months before they were needed. Tile was picked out before the bathroom was even officially drawn on paper. But there were other decisions that came up out of nowhere and needed to be made quickly. I expected to have a couple of weeks to figure out what we wanted for the roof. We ended up having a weekend to pick out the style and color of shingles as well as underlayments, etc. It's important to make decisions in a timely fashion to keep things moving along, and I found that the contractors seemed to have a lot more respect for us when we were able to quickly make decisions. Having so many things decided ahead of time (and then not second guessing ourselves: I did not look at a single bathroom picture on the Internet after we picked out tile and fixtures because I was afraid I'd find something I'd want more) made making the quick decisions a bit easier because we weren't thinking about tile, plumbing, lighting and roofing … just roofing.

5. But don't be forced into making a decision you are not comfortable with.
No matter how much pressure a contractor is putting on you to make a decision, do not allow yourself to be forced into making it until you are truly comfortable with it. You may delay your project a bit, but it will cost more in the long run when you can't stand it and have to go back and fix it. This is what happened with the shingle siding on the upper half of the house. We went back and forth on where it should be and we were getting a lot of pressure on making the decision, and what that decision would be. We were both suffering from renovation fatigue and we sort of threw up our hands and said, "Yeah, whatever," and we ended up with the shingles starting higher than we'd like them to. We actually bought additional shingles to have it fixed, but we've since had a falling out with our contractor so we won't have them do it and I just haven't bothered to look for someone else to do it yet. Everyone told me I wouldn't notice in a few months. I do. And it bugs me every single time I look at the house. Every day.

Check out Part 2 for more information.