Under Construction

May 28th, 2014 :: 8 comments

Construction_Kitchen1_tapeIt’s been ages since I’ve had a moment to blog. I’ve missed it. After seeing this post, you might understand why. So much has changed the last couple of months. Avery is an energetic ball of energy that can now crawl or pull herself up to anything sharp or dangerous at the speed of light. I recently started a new job in a new location in the city and Dustin has been taking on a lot of personal projects that keep him working late into the night. To top it off, we decided it was time to invest in ourselves and buy a home.Construction_Kitchen8We saw a lot of potential in the place we ultimately bought in the Loop neighborhood of Chicago, but there were a few things that needed to be updated to our style. The kitchen was very small (wide angle lens made it appear bigger) and not as modern as we would have liked. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and it’s probably one of the most important rooms in the home to me. Despite the issues, there were so many other things we liked about the condo, so we took the leap and bought our first home. Construction_Kitchen2

Dustin and I are both designers (he put these renderings together) and had a very clear vision of what we liked and disliked. Dustin wanted everything to line up and look modern and I wanted to add textures here and there to bring balance and make it feel homey. In the backs of our minds, we always had resale value in mind. It was very important to us to have the flexibility to quickly sell this home in the future, so we didn’t want to do anything too personal or extreme. For instance, we wanted to paint a few walls black, but that would probably have been polarizing to some people. We decided to darken the floors, which should make the white cabinets pop.

I had the idea to add a fauxdenza beneath the TV in the living room. It will be nice to get rid of our coffee table, whose corners seem to have it out for Avery. It will open up a lot more room for us as well.

Construction_Kitchen3I take credit for coming up with the idea of a continuous countertop instead of a floating island. I thought it would add value to the kitchen, since it will also create a “bar” sitting area and extra counter space. Dustin spec’d cabinets that would wrap around the fridge perfectly and worked tirelessly to get everything to line up within the dimensions and constraints of the existing soffit.

Construction_Kitchen4Then the contractors started and the fun began. You can see how small the original kitchen was. Construction_Kitchen5

Construction_Kitchen6Once the walls were taken down, we hit our first speed bump. We knew there would probably be a few such bumps, but hoped they wouldn’t be crazy expensive. It turns out the hardwood floor in the kitchen and living room was built around the wall frame and none of the wood strips in the kitchen aligned with the strips in the living room. After a short debate about switching to tile in the kitchen, we decided to throw money credit at the problem and just lay new flooring in that room. We re-floored an entire room because the wood didn’t line up…such are the crosses we bear as designers.

Construction_Kitchen7Setback number two. The cabinets were a little off and did not match the fridge cutout. We could have widened the cutout, but then the light switches would have needed to move. It seemed like a big deal at the time, but we just slid the whole wall of cabinets down and used a filler piece at the other end to hide the gap.

Construction_Kitchen9We knew going into moving that construction would be stressful, but holy moly. Dealing with a condo association for the first time and living next to one of its board members has been amazingly difficult. There were so many rules to follow and, oddly enough, even when there were no rules to cover a situation, things still didn’t work in our favor. We gave a bottle of Riesling to all of our neighbors and told them we apologized for the noise, but it would hopefully only last two weeks. Most of them were super nice and gave us thank you notes welcoming us to the building. Needless to say, we did not get such a note from the neighbor that was a board member. Maybe she wanted Prosecco. We bit our tongues as much as possible and just kept telling ourselves we were almost at the endpoint.

As I write this, the kitchen is coming together nicely. They put the final coat of varnish on the floors, placed the matte black backsplash titles, and added the island, which I guess is more of a peninsula than an island.

Construction_Avery1Avery’s room was the next big thing on our construction list. Living in an open loft-inspired space would be great if it were just Dustin and myself, but not with a baby. We extended the tops of the walls in Avery’s room to the ceiling and added glass to the opening near the kitchen. Legally, Chicago requires natural lighting in a room for it to be considered a bedroom, so the glass helps us meet that requirement while still blocking noise. Sadly, we also removed the custom shelves for extra space and added a door from her bathroom to the hallway. I didn’t like the idea of guest having to go through her room to use the bathroom.

Construction_Avery4These are a few inspirations I found for Avery’s big girl room. I’m not sure about the chalk board wall yet. It sounds fun, but messy. Even though she really likes to tear books into little pieces and eat them right now, I want her to have a comfy little reading nook for when she’s older.

1. Project Nursery  2. Little greennote book  3. West Elm 4.Wooden wall hooks 5. Monsooncraft.com 6. Ikea shelves 7.Mur decals 8. Cushion Crochet

Construction_Avery2Construction_Avery3One day we’d like to redo the bathrooms, but for now the budgets say “later.”Construction_Avery6Things started progressing quickly as moving day approached. Avery’s room gained walls and a door. The glass sheet that will close off the top of her room had a big scratch on it so had to be reordered. Her bathroom became accessible from the hallway!

Construction_Avery5One weekend, I went to Rebuilding exchange to find reclaimed wood for a shelf in Avery’s room. I was overwhelmed with the selection, but found my diamond in the rough. It kind of glowed compared to all the other boards, don’t you think? In the back of the warehouse, there was a woodworking class and used sinks and appliances kept the lumber company everywhere.Construction_AdjustmentsThere were many more adjustments throughout the space. We added a door from the master bedroom to the master closet. Originally, one had to walk into the hallway to get to the closet. This allowed us to eliminate the closet door in the hallway and clean up the jagged wall layout in that area.

Construction_Kitchen10
Back in our old apartment, the packing is done. Ready or not, here we come.

I will update with final pictures soon…

 

 

 

 

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§ 8 Responses to Under Construction"

  • Megan says:

    Can’t wait to see it when it’s done! How did you find time to write a blog in the midst of all this?!

    • Joann says:

      Avery is sleeping a little better these days which gives me a little more free time. Not a lot though. Dustin and I were just talking today that this place quickly started to feel like home. We were surprised we weren’t really home sick for the other neighborhood.

  • Debbie says:

    A lot of thought and effort went into the design of your new home. I can’t wait to see your new home.

  • Marilyn says:

    I was thinking the same thing as Megan and Debbie — looking forward to seeing the finished masterpiece!

  • AD says:

    Now I know why your allergies were bothering you. That’s a lot of construction dust. It will all be worth it in the end. Excited to see the results once the dust settles. This will give you the much needed room you are looking for. Happy for you and your family.

    • Joann says:

      The apartment still has a hint of paint in the air, but nothing too bad. The first week we left the air on constantly and it was nice enough outside to leave the windows open.

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