Thursday, March 19, 2009

I'm feeling flushed...

(Kohler's Wellworth model toilet)

The upstairs bathroom is coming right along. I was so looking forward to coming home from work some day and finding a toilet installed in there. It was the subject of many daydreams at work. (Renovation does funny things to one's mind....)

Early on we had discussed with the contractor that what we wanted in a toilet was a white "tall" toilet, nothing fancy...and gave him a few price points and figured it was a done deal.

Yesterday we were informed that "we" actually had to make the selection ourselves. That sounded easy enough. I was game to trot over to the local Lowes or Home Depot or plumbing fixture supply store in town, but as it turned out, the need was more urgent than that, the stores were closed, and so off to cybershopping we went.

First stop: Retro Renovations

50's Pam has researched all the best options for 50's era house fixtures. She recommended Kohler's Wentworth's model toilet, noting that the 40's and 50's houses always had toilets with rounded bowls. The elongated bowls came in during the 60's and 70's.

I thought about that for a few seconds, and realized that the 50's style bathroom is quite narrow, and that an elongated bowl would stick out past the vanity. decision down!

We would get the model in white, of course, because the tub and sink have already been bought in white. Otherwise I would be sorely tempted to go the full pink bathroom trip and order a lovely pink john.

The next step was to determine if the Kohler fixture could be ordered in tall. Since we are tall folks with aging knees, we had determined to get what is known as a "chair height" toilet, one that is anywhere from 1 1/2 to two inches taller than standard. It isn't much, but believe me, it does make a difference.

Well wouldn't you know it...Wentworth doesn't come in a tall version.

We began perusing various plumbing websites and quickly learned that tall models usually comes with an elongated bowl. Drat. We discussed the pros and cons of extra inches in width verse extra inches in height. I decided I would rather have the rounded bowl still, just to leave more room in the bathroom.

A bit more research and hurray! there actually is a tall toilet with a round bowl, Cimmaron by Kohler.

Hot Dog!

Then Mr. B. shifted into Engineering mode and began to read the specifications on the "traps" on various toilets. The trap is the size of the opening that the waste passes through.

Some had 1 3/4 inch traps.
Some had 2 inch traps
Some had 2 1/4 inch traps.

Picture us sitting before the computer, making circles with our thumbs and forefingers, trying to decide if an opening about that size would allow the output of a fiber rich diet to pass, or if we would need to forgo bran if we went with some of these design specifications.

Next we looked at flush options: some toilets are now have two "speeds" you know.
And then there were the waterless toilet options...

It was getting late at that point, and I was all pooped out. We really hadn't eliminated much, but now had a pile of information. Wiped out, I headed to bed, hoping that I could digest some of the options in my sleep.

Today we still feel like we have a full load to manage. The tile setters are done, and would like to seat a toilet ASAP. The inspectors will be checking to be sure that what we chose meets water conservation requirements. If it wasn't for the government sticking their nose in our business we would just re-use the perfectly good toilet that we just tore out. It will instead be heading to a land fill.

Ecology: it is a system of odd checks and balances.

So as I write this the race is on. We've got to find a suitable toilet somewhere in town, and fast! I'm going to be whizzing over to the various hardware and plumbing stores on my lunch break.
Wish me a pot full of luck, I think I am going to need it!

Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm walking on the new floors...

The yet to be installed kitchen flooring, leaning against the living room that is in dire need of a hot patch!
Our kitchen floor was originally an oatmeal color tile.
We decided to make it match the hardwood in the rest of the upstairs.
This is what the kitchen floor looked like for a couple of days. The wood has to acclimate to the household temperature.

Then a flooring team arrived and set up shop in the living room...

The original flooring in the guest room. It was later lightly sanded and custom stained to make it match all the other rooms.

The living room sanded...

The Master Bedroom had a second closet "borrowed" from the bedroom on the other side of the wall. The flooring that ended where the original back of the closet was needed to be woven in. The unfinished diagonal area is the sub-flooring.

The floor guys did a great job, you can't even tell where they wove in the new pieces.

Each bedroom had been stained a different tone over the years. You can see the hallway stain and finish was completely gone.

The floor now sanded, stained and sealed a rich oak shade. Three colors were blended to create this not too yellow, not too black and not too red tone.

The flooring contractor pointed out the planks that have patterns consistent with old growth wood. Apparently those patterns are no longer available as conservation now dictates that forests be planted and harvested in a faster timeline.

I guess I should feel a bit guilty about having "old forest" wood, but on the other hand, this was wood harvested 55 years ago; had the wood not been milled and used in my house, I imagine it could simply be compost by now.

Instead the beauty of the wood grain patterns will be appreciated by me!

The chevron pattern was one of the grain patterns that supposedly is no longer milled as it requires older growth. The kitchen floor, laid out with newly milled oak does not have nearly as interesting grain patterns.

There is a plus to the kitchen floor however: The planks are an engineered wood design that has a construction style that make for a sturdier floor. No creaks and cricks and pops when you walk on the kitchen floor; the rest of the upstairs has auditory response to movement.

Now to get used to shucking off shoes when entering the house...and crossing my fingers that the movers will be able to adequately cover the floors when they bring in all our stuff next Tuesday.
If you have read all the way to the end of this post, you either have had wood flooring done in your house, or are just really, really bored.
Or maybe you just appreciate wood grain and the conservation/restoration of older houses.
Like I said yesterday...we are getting there.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I think we're getting there...

(Please note: The new header does not actually display the colors of the rooms accurately, at least it is not accurately displayed on my computer!)

Busy days around the ranch house. All this activity gives me hope!

The tile is being set in the upstairs bathroom for one thing. Don't you love the contractor's message system? Just shove a note in the bathroom window!

Here's a close up of the wall tile. It is pretty basic, plain white four inch squares like typical 1950 style bathrooms, but we have jazzed it up a bit with two courses of the floor tile, a pattern called Pinwheel. The floor will be heated...hurray! The downstairs bath doesn't have that luxury, and I have found cold tootsies on the bathroom floor to be no fun at all.

On Friday and Saturday the original oak floors were being sanded, stained and sealed. Bernie nailed a temporary door at the top of the basement stairs to prevents the cat from bolting upstairs and tracking across the newly finished floors.

Talk about an odd feeling...being closed up in the basement....with a door nail shut...creepy....

We decided to get away from the sanding noises and go check out a few things around SLC.
The Cactus and Tropicals garden center was open, and it was gorgeous sunny day. Lots of folks had a touch of spring fever and were buying a pretty or two for their gardens.
I was interested in this flower, with the Seuss-like red and blue fanciful design.

And did I remember to get the name of the flower?


I think the construction must really be getting to me if I forget something like that.

We've made countless trips to various shops to select new fitting for our sinks. I was waiting for the sales rep to print out the particulars on an insta-hot faucet, and decided to snap a picture of this model bathroom.

Guess which item is the toilet?

(No we are not getting that set. I am keeping my downstairs "flushes an ocean" style toilet with an August 1954 tank lid date stamp, and getting a new "tall" toilet for upstairs. The extra height is easier on aging knees I've heard, and seeing as how my knees seem to be aging along with the rest of me, that seemed like a pretty good option.)

I find myself zooming through contemporary furniture stores, dumbfounded that I am actually interested in the only style of furniture that I have always disdained.

Well, the sink that we ordered for the kitchen came in totally different, and the next time the manufacturer can ship that style will be months from now. We picked a different style and color.

(Darn it...I really liked Kohlers' Cane Sugar finish single sink!)

Now the faucet that we selected for the first sink might not work...

We still have to see a sample of the kitchen cabinet doors to see if they will be as we expect them to be.

After running around all day, we returned home only to find that the odor of the floor stain just about rendered us unconscious within minutes of entering the house.
The cats look even more deranged than usual. We opened all the windows downstairs and the cats glued themselves to the screens, sucking in air like crazy.
What the heck...they have nine lives...they will be fine.
We turned up the electric blanket for them, filled their food bowls, and told them we'd be back in the morning. Then we split to the local Marriott hotel for the night.

The lobby chandelier was a blown glass creation in green and dusty lavender, created by a cohort of Dale Chihuly.

The delicate creation was enormous!

Our heads had cleared from the fumes, but a drink was just the thing to take the edge off arriving at a nice hotel wearing Saturday junky clothes and carrying basically our pajamas and a toothbrush.
I've been bumped from enough planes and spent the night with the just the clothes on my back, so this wasn't really a first time trauma. We selected the in room movie "Marley and Me" (my review: people should train their dogs. Period. And how on earth did they afford to replace THAT many couches anyway?) and zonked out at 10 pm.
At least we got a nice breakfast the next morning instead of our usual cold cereal and juice routine that we have fallen into "back at the ranch"
Yes, life is still pretty challenging as we go about the renovation, but occasionally I see something, like shelf liners, and I think some day this will all be over, and my home will be a homey haven again.