It’s lookin’ like a house!

So I have three things that can be classified as Big Projects left to do in the houselet [1. waiting for my fridge and heater and then installing them; 2. finishing painting the trim, which is only classifiable as a Big Project because I haaaaaate it; 3. building in some closets upstairs, probably with a combination of wire shelving and artfully arranged curtains]. Once those are done, it is pretty much a done deal, which is kind of mindblowing to think about!

1) Final countertop; or, my mom is a genius.

So when we last discussed the riveting subject of countertops, I had a. abandoned my dreams of Paperstone, b. gotten a cheap piece of butcher block from the as-is section at Ikea, c. got Jeff to fabricate a complete countertop for the sink side and half of the counter for the stove side from said cheap piece of butcher block and d. had a big uncovered space remaining and no countertop to put on it. I did a little poking around looking for more butcher block and found out that my options were all pretty grim (too big, too expensive, too heavy to ship and often a combination of all three.) I wasn’t devoted to making the last section match the others: it’s on the section nearest to the living room, right under my Bar Cabinet, so I assumed it could be a little different without feeling totally bizarre.

And then–and let me say that I am not proud of this–I was looking at pictures of kitchens online at 2 AM and came across a photo spread of Martha Stewart’s kitchen. Mostly, I was just kind of gobsmacked at how many whisks she had, but one thing that caught my eye was a section of marble countertop that she had by her ‘pastry station’ (which, PS, is approximately the size of my whole house). I am not really a stone countertop kind of lady–a thing that irrationally annoys me on HGTV is people screaming about how they Must! Have! Granite! in their kitchen–but then Martha reminded me that actually, one of the nice things about stone is that the surface temp is cooler than other materials, which makes it nice for, say, rolling out pie crusts. I care not at all about having an HGTVish kitchen, but I care a hell of a lot about baked goods, so all of the sudden, throwing a little stone in the mix started to seem kind of cool. I called up the hippie store where I got my tung oil to see if I could score a nice remnant of something moderately eco-friendly, maybe some nice recycled glass or something, and I sure could….for the low, low price of $450. Nope! Then, one day when I was driving to Gersons, I happened by this weird store that didn’t actually have a name but DID have a bunch of rock slabs in their yard and a sign that just said GRANITE QUARTZ MARBLE CORIAN OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. I went in, and lo, it turned out to be a place that fabricated counters (and other stone things), and they DID have remnants, and the guy told me he’d cut something to size for me and could do the whole thing for $150 (which is what I’d told him my max budget was.) I was pretty stoked about the awesomeness of that deal (their posted price list made it sound like basically everything was out of range), so the next day, I brought Mom there to help me pick one out.

Now, I may have mentioned this about my mom before, but a) she thinks there is no problem that can’t be solved by either her chiropractor, Jeff or her old stand partner in the Symphony, Pat, and b) she thinks that everything on earth needs to cost less than $50. So on the way there, I was explaining the $150 thing to her, and she was saying confidently, “Oh, we’ll just go in there and find some little scrap that they don’t want and it’ll cost $20” and internally, I was rolling my eyes, but to keep the peace, I was just like, “Hey, you never know, we’ll just see what we see, etcetera!”, all the while being certain that this was just classic Moms Being Ridiculous. So….you probably can see where this story’s going, right? We get there, I go over to the actual remnants and start to poke through them; my mom, meanwhile, disappears behind the facility, where her spider sense has led her to a pile of actual scraps, not just the off-cuts I was looking at. She calls me over, and I very quickly find a cool rectangular piece of quartz, just about the right size for the counter: we take it in, ask the only guy left in the store what it would cost, and after ascertaining that he didn’t have to cut it or do anything else to it, he was like, “I dunno, twenty bucks?”

SCORE ONE FOR MOM! This happened several days ago, and I am still a little gobsmacked. We brought it home, and it turned out that Jeff had some spare maple in his garage, so he made a little surround for it, and now, $45 later (stone plus an hour of Jefflabor), I have a quartz countertop.

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In context:
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This joins the ranks of great houselet steals, which include my $248 floors: all of the countertops ended up costing $166, including labor, and they are solid 1.5 inch maple butcher block and quartz. WOO!

2) Book & cat shelves: I did some measuring at the house and bought some wood at Home Depot (which the people there cut for me) last week. It sat around in the garage for a week, and then yesterday, I decided the time had come and put together my catwalk-slash-horizontal bookshelves (they’re primarily for books, but I’m going to set them up so the cats can hang out and walk along on the top: I think I’m also going to build in some cubbies in them for up-high cat beds. They don’t have the actual shelf dividers in yet (this entails renting/learning how to use a router), but I put the boxes together, anyway! Right now, I am writing this entry instead of priming them, because I am SO TIRED of painting.

These are as simple as can be: I just screwed some poplar ply to some 1x12s and built little frames, like so:
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This is what they looked like when they were done (ish). Just imagine them the same white as the walls with some dividers in them.
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When I paint them and get the dividers in, I’ll mount them to the studs in the walls about six feet up pretty much all the way around the house.

3) Stair cubby update

So you guys appeared to be evenly split on whether to just tung oil these or stain them gray, and what I ended up doing was just splitting the difference: I did the sides in gray and kept the doors natural. I was convinced that I had taken a picture of this, but apparently I didn’t, so TBA there. Anyway, I am liking it pretty well: I may just have to live with it for a while and see how I feel about things.

4) Magnetic knife holder is up. No big deal: I just wanted to put it on my list of Done! Things!

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5) More trim was painted (aided in part by Mom, who came down one day and helped). Boy, this is a tedious project. Progress is being made, though!

See? Everywhere there is painter’s tape, there is progress.
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6) I set up my awesome couch today! It is great! Even though I cannot figure out how to get the slipcover less lumpy! Nellie insists on posing with it in all shots.

Pre-build
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In chaise mode (one arm down). Even when both arms are down (bed mode), it fits in the little space next to the door just fine: this is a great tiny house couch!
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Nellie is stoked to have something other than the floor to lay on
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7) More on How My Mom Is Awesome

So I am hoping to do this stencil-with-wood-glue thing on the front of my cabinets, right? Except because I am fundamentally a cheapo, I just could not to bring myself to pay twenty bucks for a stencil, so OBVIOUSLY it was better to spend a full day trying fruitlessly to cut a stencil out of a cardboard box with a paring knife.

[spoiler: it was not better]
[this picture was taken after I finally sucked it up and bought a craft knife. Paring knife? Doesn’t work]
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So after watching me futz around all day, my mom (who, among her many talents, is also a talented–and published!–illustrator), offered to freehand something. Obviously I took her up on it! We’re going to need a few more coats before we stain, but here’s Mom doing the first step:
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That’s it for now! It’s coming along, no?

Tiny house: floors, more painting, el bano and the return of Jeff!

(it feels dumb to keep titling these with build dates, since we are not, strictly, building anymore. I mean, I guess Jeff will be building cabinets, but the build, she is done.)

First off, shout-out to the fine people of the Abrego South GVR hot tub! My mom, a regular at the pool, reports that the denizens of the hot tub read the blog and are always asking her how the “Little House on the Prairie” is going. Hi, guys! It’s going great!

Second off, big thanks to my friends Glen and Suzy, who are big builders and DIYers themselves: they just sent me this awesome little hand-crank weather radio/flashlight/phone charger that looks like the absolute perfect thing to have in a tiny house! a) Excellent for safety! and b) Totally useful for the building phase, as the houselet is not yet hooked up to electricity. Thanks so much, guys!

Now, onto the details! So once again, this is another compressed post, since the individual days haven’t been hugely exciting (read: they have involved a lot of painting of trim. Yawn.)

1) Jeff came back! Yay Jeff! It is so good to have him there, and he swears he’s not lifting anything excessive. Anyway, he came back with a bang by putting up all the rest of the trim
DSC00633…which I then started priming and painting (dooooooom!)
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2) The floor in the loft is all done, and it looks super. Nellie and Widget hung out up there with me and played wrestlemania while I was painting the windowsills, and there are no visible scratches, so my fingers are crossed that it goes will. But so far, I am unexpectedly digging the laminate!

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When the quarter round in the loft gets finished being painted, the loft will be 100% done, making it the first complete space in the house!

3) I bought an itty bitty ceiling fan for my coffered ceiling at Gersons for $39 (on sale even from the marked price, which was already low)
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[Since I have been programmed to hate ceiling fans, overhead lights and especially ceiling fan/overhead light combos by too many hours of Trading Spaces as a youth, I felt woobly about doing this instead of some kind of cool light fixture. But it seems really really practical: among other things, it’s got a reverse setting so I can draw hot air up to the loft when it’s cold out. And it’s teeny, so I hope it will be unobtrusive. Also, I will be on the lookout for a better shade for the light: I am thinking about getting a cool Moravian star glass shade the next time I’m in Mexico and just affixing it with caulk and magic or something like that]

4) Also I bought some lights…
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…and started putting them up!
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The kitchen was a tough call: the ceiling is too low to do a pendant light, and I didn’t have the wiring for sconces. What I ended up doing was getting a flush-mounted flourescent—I know, I know, hear me out–because I decided I wanted to put a Happy Light in there. Happy Lights are full-spectrum lights that contain the qualities of natural light–I’m a touch prone to SAD, and I thought the light would be a really good way to help combat that. This was my mom’s genius idea: she taught for years and years in a bunch of different and occasionally horrible situations, and she once successfully persuaded her principal to put Happy Lights in the windowless room they’d stuck her in (she said it made a huge difference).

5) The bathroom nears completion!
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Floor is cut to size (though not actually attached to the ground, because Certain Kelseys bought the wrong kind of floor adhesive, roundly annoying Certain Jeffs.)
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Third coat of tung oil on the walls, which is really beginning to pay off: it’s very pretty in real life
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Gray ceiling, because…I am not totally sure why? Because I had a test pot of paint and thought the color was pretty, and happened to have run out of white paint? Also, shower hardware installed.
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The little hole below the knob is where I am going to mount this, which is my…
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…dedicated detachable shower head for washing the dogs! The dogs having their own personal (low-set) shower was a big item on my ‘living successfully with 5 animals in a small space’ list (they’re also getting built-in dividers in place of crates, there’s going to be a pull-out dog bed hidden in one of the kickplates below the cabinets in the kitchen, they’re going to have a built-in toy drawer they can open, etc. (the cats also have their own cool stuff)

My sink. I cannot stop staring at my pretty Ikea sink with its cheapo Gerson’s faucet. I LOVE it. I love how the fact that it’s mounted on brackets makes it feel incredibly light, I love the exposed copper pipes, I love everything about it.
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Jeff, predictably, hates it: he really just wanted me to get a nice normal pedestal sink like a normal person, and he is SURE it is going to fall apart once I move the house. I promised him I would take full responsibility if anything happened, and that I would do my best to provide the sink with extra support when I moved it (jack, maybe?) Normally, I would compromise, but in this case I just do not care, because I love that sink.

Toilet! Which is not going in the kitchen, obviously: it was just waiting there to be put in the bathroom.
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According to the box, it is some kind of supertoilet
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And that’s about it! I’m going out of town on an interview for a couple of weeks on Sunday, and while things will be happening, I think there will be a brief hiatus with the tiny house reportage, since I kind of need to be there for that. I cannot wait to see what it looks like when it’s done!

Build: Day 19

I have to admit that a lot of the actual building today was done by Jeff: I came down late in the day and pounded some nails into some pre-cut wallboards, but I spent most of the day out playing hunter-gatherer.

Biggest news: Interior wallboard is all up! It looks unfinished, since there is no molding on the floor, filler between the sheets of ply or quarter round at the seams, but it is U-P-up! I can now officially say that the house has walls, which is always the first question I am asked by jovial senior citizens. Here’s proof!
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Here’s the view from the loft.
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Also, the shower is all the way up now. I may just have to accept that the layout of the bathroom means I will never get a good picture of the shower. Just use your imagination, though: it is a shower enclosure, and an especially boring one at that. Right now it is being used as extra insulation/sink storage.
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The fauxlarium is looking good now that it’s insulated and has walls! Now that that’s happened, I need to figure out precisely what I’m going to do with it. Drawers? Bookshelf? Cute window seat? Some combination of those things? Here’s Nellie standing in it, to give you a sense of the dimensions (though if I do bookshelves or something it’ll obviously be built out a bit.
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Here’s the exterior of the house + the super-blue sky today. The chile ristra is a present from my mom: it’s too early to be in the ‘decorate the exterior of the house’ stage, but I loved it so much I wanted it to be in its place of honor (though I will be replacing the random offset nail I hammered in with an Actual Hook at some point soon.)
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So that’s what happened while I was gone. When I got to the site today, I swept up a ton of sawdust (learning in the process that I need a different set of tools for sweeping the loft, since the big broom is too tall), pounded in some wallboard, and played around in the house with the dogs.

The dogs are pro-houselet.
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Gratuitous Widget picture.
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For those of you who know my dogs and are wondering where Lucy is, I will tell you: she’s been down a few times, but the build site is located next to a major highway, and big loud trucks give her the vapors. She’s an anxious kiddo, and the build site is just too much for her right now (she also hates the generator), so I usually just bring Nellie and/or Widget along with me. She just started Prozac a few weeks ago, though, so I have high hopes she’ll be able to manage it before we actually move the houselet to its new home.

Now, onto the day’s hunter-gathering:
1) I bought me a water heater, my water heater pleased me, I fed my water heater under yonder tree (the water heater says fiddle-eye-fee). It’s going to be mounted under the main sink in the kitchen (we hope)

2) I went back to the floor remnants store and bought the flooring for the loft. They ended up selling the bamboo I was hoping for to the original builder, so I bought the cheap laminate instead. I know the laminate was controversial in the last poll and I don’t disagree: it looks OK, but I feel very dubious about its longterm potential. What really pushed me over the edge with it was that they sold it to me for fifty cents a foot, for a total of $53. That makes the grand total for flooring the entire house $237.66 ($60 for the random lot of bamboo at Gerson’s [4 boxes], $88.66 for two more boxes of the same bamboo from Home Depot that I needed to finish out the main floor [that’s all I bought full price], $36 for the awesome hippie fiberfloor from the remnants place, $53 for the loft laminate). Considering that I’m flooring right around 300 sq ft, that is pretty darn good: if I’d gotten the cheapest stuff that I was looking at at Lumber Liquidators ($2.99/ft.2), it would have cost more than three times that much to do the whole house (let’s not even discuss what it would have been from a full-price, non-Lumber Liquidators source!) I’m getting a little closer than I’d like to the edge of my 18K initial budget (my stretch budget is 20K, and I think we’ll make that comfortably, but still), so I was OK going with the less spendy option.

This is the Tiny House Corner in my sainted mother’s garage. You can see all three floors in it: the fiberfloor is the roll, the bamboo is the first six boxes in the stack, and the top four are laminate. Behind all that is my craigslist convection microwave, my free mini-fridge that I’m going to turn into a tiny freezer and a bunch of my Ikea stuff.
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The pile of scrapwood to the left is the beginning of a potentially crazy project. I’ve been thinking about porches lately: after considering it a bit, I think the fold-up porch idea is not going to fly, since we’re skirting pretty close to the max road legal width (8’6″). I really dig how Chris and Malissa of the Tiny Tack House (one of my favorite Internet Tiny Houses) did their porch: it’s substantial, but you can still bring it in when you need to, and it reminds me a bit of pallets (and I loooooove pallet furniture, though I think actual pallets wouldn’t work for a porch).

Anyway, we have all this scrap wood kicking around and I got the idea that I could stain different pieces different colors and put them all together parquet-style, kind of like a patchwork quilt made of wood. After I got the main deck together, I could edge it with 1x2a, put some little legs on it, then I could duplicate the Tiny Tack House porch’s stairsteppy design. It might not work, but I got some construction adhesive and some stain tonight, so if worse comes to worse, I’m just out eight bucks.

A couple more cool scores, thrift and otherwise:
3) I got three bits of this cool natural stone/glass tile at Gerson’s the other day with the intent of turning it into a small backsplash in the kitchen.
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Here’s what I was thinking, using my mom’s sink as an example.
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4) Today I went into the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store with an eye out for exterior lights/floor underlay. They didn’t have either of those things, but they did have these for $3 apiece.
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They are little library card/index card holders, so the drawers are really deep, good for storage of stuff like utensils. They’ll need some love, primarily in the form of paint, but I can do that (oil rubbed bronze? pewter?) I’m thinking about mounting them under the counter in the kitchen, just to have some nice, waist-high drawers to grab things from. I’m also thinking about buying some hairpin legs, putting them on the bottom of two of the card holders and using them as nightstands. In any case, they are awesome and I was pleased.

5) Besides the ristra from my mom, I got two great little houselet-adjacent presents this week. My mom’s friend Jen (my friend too!) sent me this fabulous little mini grater/microplaner, which is adorable and totally houselet scale.
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Also, my Aunt Karen, who’s an incredibly talented and well-known quilter, sent me two tiny quilted squares, complete with tiny easels to display them [PS: the color looks washed out because I had to use a flash, but in person, they’re really beautiful.) I am toying with the idea of making a little mantel for my fireplace out of a little mesquite burl with a live edge, and now that I have some tiny art to display on it, I am even more excited about the idea. I am so happy to have a piece of my aunt’s work to put in the house: stuff like that makes it feel really special and uniquely my own.
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Now, onto the most boring possible subject: white paint! As I promised, I did some test patches of different whites on a scrap piece of the wall ply, and exactly as I feared, it is basically impossible to tell one from the other in pictures. See?
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In the interest of Science!, I decided to try to gauge what my skin tone looked like next to the different whites, because why not, right? My weird Sicilian/Cherokee skin is olive with, no kidding, a purple-y undertone, which means that a. I can wear jewel tones and b. I always look a little bit sickly, so I decided to try just photographing my thumb next to each white to see which made me look the least Zombie Apocalypse. I also tried it out with clear poly, just for kicks. It’s still kind of hard to say, but I ended up deciding that the Benjamin Moore Atrium White was the way to go, probably not least because I am charmed that the White House is the same color. I also really like the Benjamin Moore White Dove (Atrium’s a little pinker, Dove is a little grayer), so I guess my plan is to show up at the paint store and just buy whatever I feel the best about that morning.
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PS: if you are bored by the idea of all white, you might check out the ProtoHaus, which is maybe my most favorite preexisting tiny house (Tack House: close second). They go all white, but because they have nice colorful possessions, the house doesn’t seem boring or sterile at all. The white actually kind of reigns in any visual chaos, and I think it really makes the space open up: that’s why all white is the way I’m doing it.

Painting is happening….really soon, though I don’t know HOW soon, since I am slated to work for the next five days straight. Possibly tomorrow afternoon? We shall see.

Build: Day Fifteen & Sixteen

Progress update!

1) Painting! I finished painting the exterior finally, even the super annoying stuff way up high (my mom came the last day and helped with some of the extra-extra annoying stuff, which was a lifesaver). Verdict on the color now that it’s all on? Pretty good, especially with the white trim and the…..

P A I N T E D D O O R!
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I am so pleased with the former Sadness Door! There was much talk of red in the comments, I know, and that was what I was considering for a long time, but when push came to shove,
a. I was still missing the blues, and
b. more practically, I had a lot of blue paint that I’d already paid for left over from when I was trying out samples.

Sadness Door is now painted Sherwin Williams ‘Rainstorm’, one of the colors I was considering for a whole-house color. In person, it is a really gorgeous Prussian blue and I am totally enamored with it. Mom painted the door: it needs another coat yet, but I’m nuts about the way it looks. Same color is going under the eaves: I am told by my Sicilian father that blue under the eaves is Italian Good Luck, and who am I to argue with that?

2) Got the rest of the trim up around the windows. Yay! Trim needs a little going-over in spots: there were some places that accidentally got hit with the house paint color, and some raw ends I apparently didn’t do, but it’s looking pretty good! Here it is on the boring side of the house (just imagine it with a slat screen someday.)
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…and in the back, where I never take pictures.
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The flashing has a ton of paint on it–I couldn’t really get it successfully taped off–and at some point, I’m going to need to get back up on the ladder with a wire brush and get it off so I have nice neat, shiny, galvanized lines. But, you know, just imagine that part.

3) Plumbing! On Monday, Jeff ran the plumbing. But I have no in-progress pictures of that, because I was in Phoenix. I had a couple of good reasons for abandoning my happy little build site and a fun day of learning about plumbing, though, the biggest being:

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I unashamedly love Ikea. I love basically everything about it. I love convertible furniture, I love their cool kitchen stuff, I love wandering around in their “Here is how you can comfortably fit a family of four in 468 sq. ft!” displays. I love the little Scandinavian food area and I love eavesdropping on couples getting in relationship-ending fights over which finish they want for their Snedlar. Love it!  My Ikea mission this time included sinks (bathroom and kitchen), fun kitchen organizationy things and a foldup table. And indeed, I got all those things! But the other reason I had to brave Phoenix was to pick up my denim! insulation! The story of why I had to brave Phoenix for insulation is long and boring and I promise you that you don’t need a rundown of what quantities Lowe’s does and does not carry and how they will order it: suffice to say, if you want a small amount of denim insulation, you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it, and you live near a recalcitrant Lowe’s, you might find yourself driving to the surprisingly small factory where Bonded Logic (the company) makes all the denim insulation (aka Ultratouch) in America. The good news for me is that that happened to be within driving distance (I won’t go over the bad news, but suffice to say, it rhymes with ‘Screenix’). This company, PS: is kind of amazing–they pulled two bags, which is a smaller quantity than they normally sell but all I need for the houselet, off the production line for me, and then they gave me the wholesale price since I drove up there. Their product is great, but they also were pretty terrific.

Educational segment! Would you like to see what a denim-insulation-making factory looks like? It looks like this!
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Educational question: is it possible to get two enormous bags (measuring 236 linear feet) of denim insulation into the back of a 2006 Scion xa? Yes, you say? Well, what if you have a pit bull in the front seat? The answer, surprisingly, is yes again, though barely!
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[
My car is the greatest. There is basically nothing you can’t fit in it. I bet you could get like six dozen clowns in there.]

Once I got that, there was a brief lacuna when I attempted to buy a compact dishwasher from a crazy hoarder on Craigslist (verrrrry narrow paths through house, towering inferno of madness everywhere else). The dishwasher turned out to be not compact enough for me (or my very-stuffed car), but I say again: Craigslist is an amazing introduction to a vibrant crossection of humanity that you might not otherwise get to witness.

And then: Ikea, where I found everything I was looking for: kitchen sink, which comes with an awesome strainer basket that goes over the small bowl and a cutting board that fits snugly into the larger bowl, adding significantly to my kitchen prep space (and you all know I’m a sucker for robot furniture). Dish drainer that can hang over my sink, harmlessly letting dishes drip into the sink itself, and then can be folded up when not in use. Bathroom sink, which I think is going to sit parallel with the giant window in the bathroom (solving my picturesque toilet problem). Magnetic knife rack. Folding table, which looks better in person, and hey, it’s a tiny house classic for a reason. Then I ate mushroom crepes and strange, delicious Swedish sparkling elderberry cider and felt happy, even though I was still in Phoenix.

And did it all fit in my magical car, even with the denim insulation and the pit bull? Well, obviously!

W. kitchen sink and table
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W. bathroom sink + pit bull
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When I got home, I quietly chucked the insulation in Jeff’s car (it pays to have your contractor live nearby) and went to bed.

Today I was also largely away from the build site: I went to Gersons with my mom to get faucets, and it turned into kind of an epic trip. But I did go down and take pictures, and as always, Jeff has been hoppin’.

Walls mostly insulated
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Insulated ceiling
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Here’s Nellie sitting on a pile of denim insulation, neatly illustrating why I wanted it in the house in the first place.
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Plumbing! (hole there=toilet pipe opening)
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Tomorrow was supposed to be Interior Walls Day, but when I got home, I realized that one bag of my insulation is actually the wrong size (which I should have caught yesterday but didn’t, due to the fact that my car was one big blue mass after the insulation guys loaded it up). So Plan of the Day is to figure that out so we can finish insulating the last of the walls. I assume that while I’m doing that, Jeff’s going to start putting the wallboard up on the walls that have already been insulated. I forsee more painting in my immediate future, though hopefully not another drive to Phoenix.

*ETA: I just talked to the awesome lady at Bonded Logic, the insulation place, who apologized for the mistake about 75 times and told me that they’re going to send a courier (!!) from Phoenix to my town with my new insulation today. That is going to cost them an arm and a leg, and it puts them into my current Hall of Customer Service Champions. Seriously, these guys are just terrific. If you build a tiny house, may I suggest Bonded Logic’s Denim Ultratouch Insulation? It is more expensive then fiberglass, but a million times better on basically every metric, plus it is not going to poison you, plus the company is delightful. Talk to Elizabeth, she is the greatest.

Build: Days Twelve and Thirteen and INTO THE INFINITE FUTURE

Day 11: I start priming the house. I remember very quickly that I freaking hate priming, as it is all of the work of painting with none of the “oh, yay, things are looking great!” reward of painting. In fact, it is negative reward, since everything looks way worse after you prime it. I get that priming is important, and I am going to be rewarded for it by only needing two gallons of paint for the entire house. That intellectual reminder quickly begins to mean nothing to me, because boooo priming.

Day 12: I prime some more. And then even more. I stand on a tippy ladder attempting to prime the 13.5 ft. section of the house with an extension pole. I then slap a little bit of paint on one of the primed sections, even though I am not done with the priming, because I really want to see how the paint looks. I decide I feel meh about the color. I realize that even though it is impractical, I secretly still really want blue. I press on, because I proposed to Benjamin Moore Pewter and it said yes and now I just have to figure out how to make it work. I try to take pictures of the color to show you guys but can’t get any shots where the color even vaguely approximates how it looks in real life. While I am doing this, Jeff roofs. Jeff becomes covered in tar, as it is windy during this whole endeavor. We end the day yelling at each other about outlet placement for no reason.

Day 13 [today]: I finish priming [mostly. not the really tall sections, for which I have decided I will need a taller ladder.] I start getting more paint up on the walls. I feel marginally better about the color, but still a touch meh. I decide to forgo anything like the extension pole or the edger in favor of just getting the maximum amount of paint on the wall possible, so now it looks like a. Charlie Brown’s shirt, b. like it is being painted by a manic-depressive Rothko enthusiast. No photographs are even attempted. I run out of paint. I paint all the window trim high gloss white, thinking all the time that I probably should have stained it like I initially wanted to, and end the day feeling TERRIBLE about EVERYTHING and hating the whole project in a way that even I can tell is just a combination of tiredness and spoiled child-style petulance about not getting everything I want at all times always. I remind myself that I always get down on projects halfway through, and then immediately start feeling better once I push on.  Jeff finishes the roof. Momentous occasion: house is now a complete, watertight structure. Yay!

After I get done painting, I immediately go up to Lowes in order to look at pocket doors and shower enclosures, all of which I HATE, and after that, I realize that I just need to go home and go to bed.

Day 14-389434: MOAR PAINTING. I am so tired of painting, you guys. It does not help that it has been 43 degrees and windy. Subpar painting conditions!

Also on Day 14: Jeff puts the shower in and starts plumbing it! Hurrah!
Also on Day 14, hopefully: I get over myself, because honestly, self.

PS: [This is a good PS]: This morning when I got to the house, there was a bobcat just hanging out on the roof. Bobcat! They are generally pretty shy, but this guy had gotten himself into a position on the roof where he couldn’t quite scamper off, so as I got closer, he did the exact same thing that my cats do when I catch them in Forbidden Zones: he got very disdainful and was like, “Hey, jerk, I am going to sloooooowly get off this roof, but it’s just because I want to and not because you are the boss of me”, and when he made it down, he zipped off right into the underbrush. Yay for hilariously snide bobcats!

Build: Day Eight

Ugh, the last couple of days have been a zoo. Yesterday Jeff worked on the house while I did a thousand other things, and he got tons done, including the rest of the siding and the windows in the loft.  I also got a ton done, including some Floor Science and Paint Science, and another fruitful trip to the awesome architectural surplus store.  Here’s a rundown on the last 48 hours in Tiny Housening, and then I am calling it quits for the night.

Here are some pictures of what Jeff did yesterday, along with some random pictures of Nellie and Widget exploring the new house today, because why not?Boy, I hate that siding. But it will look pretty soon enough.
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Nellie Cowger is a saint among dogs. Widget spends like 80% of the day biting Nell’s neck.

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Nellie in the fauxlarium
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Lots of Widgetyness was taking place
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ONE OF US got tethered to a tree after we decided to lick paint off the can lid and had to be held under the faucet of the weird hillbilly sink so we didn’t die of paint poisoning and then got blue noseprints all over everything. GUESS WHO? (hint: it the one of us that is tiny and pointy and bad).
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I’ve pretty much decided on dark blue as opposed to dark gray for the outside of the house, so yesterday I drove up to several paint stores to track down a bunch of different dark blue paint samples. I had the vague notion that I might get a couple of gallons paint for cheap in a Black Friday sale, though that didn’t end up happening. Today, I went down and tried out the samples I got on the different walls (I tried it on every wall so I can see how the paints look in different light conditions, etc.) Here’s what I was deciding between:
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(not that this is interesting to anyone but me, but if you are a scholar of blue paint, from left to right that’s Benjamin Moore Hale Navy, Behr Nocturnal Sea, Sherwin Williams Naval Blue (a lot like Hale Navy but warmer and brighter), SW Loyal Blue and SW Rainstorm.)Loyal Blue was my lead contender when I was looking at it on the computer, but in person I nixed it immediately: way too bright and peacocky. I nixed the Behr for the same reasons. Unsurprisingly, I definitely prefer the colder colors with more gray in them: I was not expecting to like the Benjamin Moore as much as I did, but I kind of love it, even though it is certainly the grimmest of any of the colors (it also covers the weird bumps in the T1-11 better than any of the others: not inconsequential). I also kind of like the Sherwin Williams Rainstorm, which is a very cold, dark teal, and the SW Naval Blue is OK, too, though I think I like the colder navy better. My inner Anton Webern is totally coming out in this paint color selection: just cold freaking modernism all the way. The guy at Sherwin Williams last night was totally freaked out by how dark I was going and basically was like, “None of these colors are appropriate for a house!”, but I think he was just concerned that I wasn’t going  SouthwestPinky-Greige like every other house around here.

On the same super-fast  trip, I also went by Lumber Liquidators for more floor samples, and when I got home, I got a second wind for projects, so I decided to try to do a semi-quantitative test of Flooring Vs. Pet Hair.

…which involved taking a little hair sample from all of the pets (mostly achieved by sneaking up on them with scissors and taking a little core sample). Emmett is NOT PLEASED by this violation of his shiny pelt.
DSC00131Once I had my little hair samples, I stuck them on scotch tape, then decided to up the ante a bit by also taking samples of random Arizona sanddirt and my hair (I had to take one for the team, since all the pets did.) I also got a wet sponge so I could see how much residual ghosting happened when you smudged a wet fingerprint on the wood. I then scored everything (1=best, 5=worst) and when I was done, I added up the numbers to see which sample had the lowest (and thus best) score. SCIENCE!
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Here are all my samples with their accompanying score. Dark wood, as I suspected based on y’all’s anecdata, didn’t do very well; surprisingly, neither did light wood. The medium tone worked best; the variegation of the tigerwood and the cork also did well.
Floor test hair!

Cork, however, has officially been ruled out (though I may still use a little in the loft), because of Test Two: The Widget Test.
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I am lucky(?) to have a puppy who will happily put anydamn thing in her mouth if asked, and is totally on board with nomming random things to test their durability. These floor samples were pretty hard and I didn’t want her to hurt her teeth, so I only gave her a few seconds with each (and I only gave her a couple of the samples, not all six). But that was enough to get a pretty definite sense of how the different woods looked when they’d been abused. I know that my dogs are never going to be chomping on my floor (at least, I hope not), but pointy Widget fangs were a pretty good stand-in to help me gauge how the floors would do with nails. The cork, for example, was thrashed in about two seconds.

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Here all the results, which I arranged in a little collage highlighting areas of damage. Everything got pretty beat up–even the strand bamboo showed some big marks, Janka Hardness Scale 3000 be damned. The tiger and the medium-toned bamboo had some obvious marks, but they were the least obvious of any of them.
floor test- Widget test!

So I scored those, added them to the hair test results, and what I came up with was that the medium-toned bamboo (kind of reddish, neither light nor dark) was the clear winner. And then today, I was back at Gerson’s (the architectural salvage store) and when I walked in, the guys told me they still had some of that bamboo I was looking at last week. They didn’t have as much as before, just four boxes, and I STILL don’t know how durable it is, but a) it was that medium tone that I decided on last night and b) it was FIFTEEN DOLLARS A BOX, making this a $60 floor, so I just bit the bullet and bought everything they had left (bolstered by your advice in the poll last week.) I think I will only need one or two more boxes to finish the downstairs floor, and if it gets thrashed by the dogs, well, it will still be a sub-$100 floor, and that is not nothing. YAY FLOOR!
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So this morning, when I was settling up with Jeff, he informed me that my new Priority #1 had to be finding a front door, mostly so we could start locking stuff up in the house down at the build site (he’s been schlepping everything back and forth). And oy, I don’t know if you guys have shopped for exterior doors lately, but those guys are EXPENSIVE. I was looking at Home Depot last night when I was getting paint samples, and most of the ones I saw started at around $280 (and those were shitty cheap-looking fiberglass, and only a very few swung to the left, which is what I need). If you wanted something that didn’t look just awful, that started getting closer to $500, and those still weren’t actually wood doors, just weird composites. So when I got home, I poked around online to see what it would cost to have a wooden door built: the cheapest I found in the area was this nice Mennonite guy who did beautiful work that started at about $1000. So that was that, though someday I will be rich and then I’m coming for you, Mr. Mennonite!Thus, today I ended up back at Gerson’s to try to find a nice salvaged door. And find one I did! It was $79, it is solid wood, it is the perfect size, it swings to the left, it is pretty without being all weird and gaudy, and I loved it instantly. Two problems: first, it was not pre-hung (Jeff’s ONLY stipulation was that the door be pre-hung), and two, it was covered in an unspecified amount of old paint. So as they were loading it into my car, I was breezily thinking 1) eh, how hard could it be to hang a door?/I’ll just do it myself (bear in mind that as I was thinking this, I had zero idea what ‘hanging a door’ actually meant; I just assumed I could probably do it) and 2) I’ve stripped a little paint in my day, surely it would not be that big of a deal!

Oh my god, dudes. Here’s my new door, hanging out on sawhorses in bad garage light. It is gonna be a PROJECT.

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So, first: to hang a door actually is kind of a big deal, as I learned from the dude at the hardware store tonight. You actually have to build out a door jamb, and then a frame to go around the rest of the door (I’d never really thought about it before, but duh, of course doors aren’t being bolted right into the doorway.) Seriously, go look at whatever door is near you: see how it has a little frame? I had never really noticed. Anyway, instead of being hardcore and just building it out of lumber, I ended up buying a prefinished door jamb kit and a door header, which I’ll nail together then bolt to the door when I get the door itself refinished. But that’s a little bit of a thing (luckily on youtube, there is a video with a comforting Canadian woodworker who explains the whole process, and that made me feel better.)

Second: It turns out there is a LOT of paint on this guy, and it’s pretty well set. I bought some hippie stripper (her name is Quinoa, and she works nights down at the Positive Vibes Lounge) so I could work on the door in the garage. I put a layer on and gave it an hour and a half or so to sit (after trying futily to sand it a bit).
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When I got my little paint stripper tool and started working on it, I found another layer of greenish paint under the white paint: the white came off pretty easily, but the greenish wasn’t going anywhere, so I decided to reapply the stripper and leave it overnight.
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The nice thing is that in the couple areas where I could get through the green paint, I could tell that there was a pretty nice wood under it (that part was kind of a gamble, though I reasoned that worst case scenario, I could always paint it white again.) The door is VERY heavy, and I am pretty sure the wood is a hardwood (I couldn’t dent it with my fingernail); I don’t claim to be an arborist or anything like that, but from the way the grain is, I am thinking it might possibly be mahogany. If that is the case, then freaking SCORE!
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Of course, there’s a whole ‘nother god-knows-how-many layers of paint on the other side of the door, so we’ll see if I ever reach this alleged mahogany.

[Also, it needs hardware. If any of you know a source for not insanely expensive modern door hardware (no weird curlicues), do please tell me, because I sure cannot find one.]

In conclusion, from the comments last week, I think it is awesome that you guys have such strong opinions about Property Brothers 🙂

Build: Day Six

Now that I have (nearly) all of my exterior walls finished up (waaaaaalls!), today was the day to start on the ceiling framing (we just did the front section of the house today). This was weirdly fun, even though it involved a LOT of sawdust in the eyes.  I have learned a ton from this build, but today was especially like OJT Woodworking School; this was in part because almost everything we did today had an identical copy of (we were framing two identical small ceiling sections), so the way things evolved is that Jeff did one thing, then I watched him and tried to duplicate what he did for the second thing. Fun! Jeff and I talk very little during the build (Jeff, who is a very nice guy, is nevertheless not a talker). Also, the generator is loud, and makes it hard for anybody to hear anybody. So we conducted a lot of today’s Intro to Ceiling Framing in mime: Jeff would do something, and then he would mutely hand me some wood and a pencil and a power tool and I would copy it. It was in this manner that I learned how to make rafters.

But before we even get to rafters, let’s talk ceiling beams! (sorry! FUNNEST BLOG EVER, right?)[Oh, PS: Sorry for the picture quality today: I realized when I got there that I’d left my camera’s battery in the charger at home, so all of these were taken with an elderly iPhone that features a half-busted LED.]

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So apparently there are two ways you can go with beams: you can either get huge, heavy thick cut pieces of wood like you might see in a mead hall of the sort featured in an early Anglo-Saxon text called “How To Slaughter A Thousand Men in a Mead Hall”. Orrrr, if you’re working in primarily 2x4s (like we are), you can take two 2x4s, glue them together with hard core construction adhesive, fire a bunch of nails in them, and boom! instant beam! This has the benefit of still being strong without being so heavy that it takes out your entire ceiling (though they’re still pretty heavy: I was lifting them over my head all day and now my shoulders are mad at me.)

Step one: glue (this is Beam #1, which Jeff is doing, but I built Beam #2, go me!)
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Step two: Nail
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Step three: cut a little notch in the wall framing on both sides and slot the beam into that.

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Step four: profit!

Dos beams (and one thumb)!
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Actually, there’s a step 3.5 in there: cut down the temporary lintel over the door that held everything together, pre-beams. Once we cut it down, I put it to the side and said to Jeff, “I’ll just put this over here in case we have to fight any orcs”, which I am telling you about now because it ACTUALLY GOT A CHUCKLE OUT OF JEFF! This was the greatest accomplishment of my day.

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Next, we cut the rafters, fourteen little ones that sloped down just on one side (for both eight foot ceilings) and seven bigger ones that sloped on both sides (for the 10 foot ceiling). Cutting rafters is so fun!

Jeff did a little measuring, then drew out a the shape he wanted the rafter to be on a 2×4 (you can just see that in the picture): he cut that shape out and then used it as a template for the rest of the rafters.

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This went very fast. Here’s our pile-o-rafters:
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Then we arranged them from the side of the house to the beam and nailed them in.
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This all was done up on the ladder: when Jeff was installing his side, instead of putting one rafter up, coming down the ladder, moving the ladder, going back up with another rafter, etc., when he was done, he just kind of did a pull up on the ceiling beams, then I moved the ladder a few feet, then he pulled himself over a few feet monkey-style until he could get his feet back on the ladder. When it came time for me to install my side, I just went up and down the ladder a lot, because I found that that shit was way beyond me. Jeff is kind of a superstar. I didn’t leave him hanging on the ceiling so I could get a picture–that would have been unkind–but here’s some more monkey stuff up in the ceiling.

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I believe in that picture he is tiptoeing on one foot on the ladder and has the other foot just braced somewhere in space. BEST CONTRACTOR/MOST INSANE CONTRACTOR!

Right set of rafters installed
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Left set of rafters installed! (that is MY SIDE!)
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Next, we had to build  the inner edges of the eight foot ceilings up a bit, so the rafters for the ten foot ceiling would have something to rest on. One of the best lessons I learned in Woodworking School today was that if you have a complicated section to frame out, especially if it’s anywhere higher than at eye level, it makes the most sense to build the section on the ground and then just lift it up and install it.

…which is why Jeff is building these little hold-the-ceiling-up boxes on the ground
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Once that was built, we lifted it up above the eight foot ceiling (harder than it sounds!) and nailed it in
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After that, we had a level base on which to place the bigger rafters (the ones that go over the ten foot ceiling.) See how they’re resting on the new box we built on the ground? Incidentally, I don’t know WTH Jeff is doing there, but it apparently involves some epic veins.
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All three sets in!
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EPIC CEILING SHOT!
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[Does the ceiling make a little more sense now? I was having trouble really explaining it yesterday]

The whole shebang
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And then we called it a day, because come on, that’s awesome.

Oh, also: I have had another failure in The Battle For Denim Insulation, which is that the lady from Craigslist that had a bunch of extra denim wrote me today and said they’d run into problems with their build and were actually going to be using all of their insulation after all. And of course, I could just buy it from an actual store, but that starts getting somewhat spendy. We’ll see how it goes; right now, I am trying hard to convince myself of the merits of rigid foam board. The labeling on the side is trying hard to convince me that it is awesome!
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Which, whatever, foam board, I know that you are functionally non-recyclable and I do not care for that, though I do appreciate your relative paucity of toxic chemicals.

After the day’s fun ceiling action was over, I ran home, let the poor dogs out, threw some dogs in the car and headed up to Lumber Liquidators to help resolve my floor dilemma. I got lost in some crazy construction-related detours, ended up getting there five minutes after they closed, somehow persuaded the nice salesman to give me some samples anyway and then came home. I got samples of strand bamboo in dark, medium and light (I don’t know which specific finishes they are, since I didn’t want to make the poor guy hunt: I just asked for the first things he saw in dark, light and medium.) Had I gotten there on time, I also would have picked up some cork (which I’m considering for the floor in the loft), but as it was, I didn’t want to press my luck. Tomorrow, I am going to brush all the animals and see what their hair looks like on each of the floor samples (I may try to figure out how to get them to dig at the board too, just to gauge scratchability). Also, while the nice guy was getting me samples, I took a look at that tiger-stripe bamboo, which turns out to be a lot more subtle and pretty in person (it is interesting, but not nearly as HEY LOOKIT ME, I’M A FLOOR! as it appears in the picture.) Strong contender, I think!

Tomorrow is the last build day before Thanksgiving, which Jeff is remarkably taking off: we’re only working in the morning, but the plan is to frame the rest of the ceiling out (over the loft/kitchen/bathroom.) Yay house!