T-Minus Four Weeks (and Still Counting)

We have already passed the important one-month-until milestones. On May 17, we were one month away from our new-home orientation. On May 22, we were one month away from closing. We had a few other milestones happen thereafter (such as new furniture delivery, moving day, and utility appointments), but these are not as big nor as important as the orientation and closing dates. These are the two dates we’ve been most anxious for. Personally, I’m more interested in the orientation, since it’s when we’ll first get to see and experience the completely finished product. Closing fills me with nervous energy. I’m not quite ready to confront that until it actually happens. Such is the nature of plopping down hundreds of thousands of dollars on a 30-year commitment. I also dread delays. Together, we have crafted a tight moving schedule. Delaying by a day or two wouldn’t upend much, but if a delay lasted a week or more, then we’d be looking at serious meshugas that I do not want to get into. For now, though, we are still on track. Nothing from our builder nor our mortgage lender has suggested that any delays are lurking. Inshallah, we’ll be all settled in the new house by the first week of July.

SAM_3675-1024x367

We realized today that we still have to acquire some rather important appliances, not the least of which is the washer-dryer duo and a mini fridge for our basement wet bar. The research we’ve conducted suggests that the following Electrolux bundle will be exactly the sort of thing we need:

Electrolux Washer and Dryer

This is the Electrolux 4.4 cu. ft. Front-Load Perfect Steam™ Washer w/ 8.0 cu. ft. Dryer w/ Allergen Cycle – Titanium. That’s a mouthful, so I’ll just refer to them as the Work Horses. The Work Horses get really great reviews and have a better reputation than the duo we originally thought we wanted — the LG Twin Wash bundle — which had a really cool mini washer in the stand under the big washer. However, the price of the whole shebang was too great and since we’re only two people, we didn’t think that we’d really need to have the Twin Wash experience. At the end of the day, it has to be about function or over paying extra for the cool features we may never need.

At any rate, we still need to take the plunge and order the Work Horses. Apparently, Sears has very fast delivery options for these bad boys, but I’m afraid of delays, so… wait?

The mini fridge is also a big concern, but more because we want something with a nice capacity that will fit comfortably in the space provided. I’m pretty sure we’ll need to have a place to store champagne, since it’s our preferred elixir when entertaining, but we’ll also need a good amount of storage for bottled water, canned soft drinks, and maybe some space for cold snacks. I don’t like the idea of running up and down the stairs with snack-laden trays. On the other hand, we have considered installing a large “MAN FRIDGE” in the basement storage room (which has more than enough space to accommodate a large fridge), for storing large amounts of beer, wine, colas, etc. One day we’ll make that a reality, but not until we are good to go in the rest of the house. Everything else has to be settled before we try to get a big fridge down the basement stairs. Moreover, I don’t even want to think about how that’ll happen (oh, wait, WHITE GLOVE DELIVERY SERVICE!).

Here’s an early contender for the bar fridge:

Bar Fridge - 103 can

The most important facts about it follow:

  • Holds 103 12 oz. cans and five (5) 750 mL bottles (i.e., five bottles of Veuve Clicquot, always chilled and ready to pour)
  • Exterior Dimensions: 33″ H x 19″ W x 18 1/4″ D (oh, please let it fit, please let it fit!)

The ability to hold FIVE 750 mL bottles won me over. I just hope it fits under the bar. If it does, then we’re totally in business…

Party
PARTAAAAAAY!
T-Minus Four Weeks (and Still Counting)

Gorgeous (not so) Little Things

Since we began construction on our house, I’d been on the lookout for a unique desk for my study. In the Naples, the “official” study lies at the front of the house, just inside the front door. At first, I thought a slant-top or secretary desk would suit me best, because I don’t like clutter. My study, I figured, should also be able serve as a spare bedroom when we have multiple guests staying overnight, since I have a thoroughly modern Danish futon sofa for my study.

With those thoughts in mind, I did my research and found several examples that got me excited. However, after eliminating most of them as being too small or not versatile enough, I tentatively settled on the following secretary desk from Pottery Barn:

Ludlow
The Ludlow Trunk Secretary Desk

Early in my research, the Ludlow held a lot of appeal because it offered a way to hide a significant amount of office-related miscellany and was versatile (in that it would have paired well with my modern Danish sofa). I actually started planning my study around this desk and my sofa, but I started to waver in my choice after visiting the floor model at Annapolis Mall.

Just about every time I was at the mall, I visited this particular desk, trying to get a feel for it, and exploring its pros and cons. While it always seemed to me like it was a sturdy, well-built piece of furniture, I kept getting distracted by the rough canvas covering, which, even in the showroom, seemed like a dust magnet. The more I studied it, the more I questioned whether this would be a good fit. I just couldn’t get past the rough, dust-catching canvas covering. In addition, the paper lining on the inside seemed rather cheap, in that it seemed like it might easily peel off or get damaged too easily.

While I continued to consider the Ludlow, I kept my eyes open for alternatives. One promising alternative I found in Queenstown, Maryland, at one of the most amazing antique shops I have ever encountered.

JR’s Antiques and Collectibles has been a favorite destination of mine since we moved to Kent Island. If I ever found myself in need of shopping therapy, I would go there and drop a couple hundred on a bit of happy. (Cases in point: I once found a matching pair of Baccarat crystal decanters, in perfect condition, for $150! On another trip, I found a gorgeous pair of ceramic foo lions (a.k.a. foo dogs) possessing more charm than any I’d ever seen before — but don’t ask how much that cost, because I don’t remember.)

It was on a trip there in late 2015 that I found a pristine, 200-year-old slant-top desk made entirely out of curly maple. It was so warm, and so gorgeous — and, most importantly, attractively priced at less than $3,000. I had never been as excited about a desk before. It was breathtaking!

Curly Maple
This is an example of a secretary desk made of curly maple. Curly maple is also known as tiger maple because of the attractive stripe effect of the wood grain. The desk I found was much more elaborately designed and the grain was two or three times as brilliant as this example.

Because I had some thinking to do, I decided to wait, consult, and compare before making the plunge. This was also before we fully committed to building a house — it was about one month before we signed the papers. However, after we fully committed to building our Naples, and before the ink on the paperwork was fully dry, we made a beeline back to JR’s, fully intending to buy that gorgeous desk without further deliberation. Lamentably, though, and much to my horror and chagrin, that lovely old desk was nowhere to be found. Someone had already purchased it, leaving me feeling sad, dejected, and resigned to the Ludlow. I was awash in regret…

[Fast forward to May 2016]

Late last week, I was gearing up to buy the Ludlow since we only have a few more weeks before we move. In a fit of last-minute desk research, I encountered a desk that immediately turned my head and convinced me to leave the Ludlow in the lurch once and for all.

This new desk is also a 180-degree departure from what I thought I wanted. It is all metal. It is large. It is industrial. However, this desk is of a type that I feel could someday be a collectible. Moreover, it is well designed, important, and aesthetically versatile.

Iron Vault Desk
Restoration Hardware’s 20th Century Iron Vault Desk

This is a significant desk and one that I think I will love having in my study. Restoration Hardware started making this to great fanfare in 2014 and describes it thusly:

Modeled on the stalwart safes that were a fixture in turn-of-the-last-century jewelry shops and factory offices, our furnishings are crafted from steel sheet and fitted with latching doors and heavy-duty metal wheels.

The heavy-duty metal wheels are an important feature to note since this desk weighs in at nearly 400 lbs./180 kg.! And it’s also lucky that Restoration Hardware will deliver and set it up without me having to recruit a pack of muscle-bound marines to help me get it where it needs to go (Note: White Glove Service is always worth the extra cost).

I love everything about this desk. It is masculine, it is unique, and it is heirloom worthy. The storage capability exceeds my current needs and it will be easy to maintain and keep clean (i.e., dust free). More than any of this, though, is that it appeals to me on a deeper level. It actually makes me feel excited…about a desk…and that’s very rare indeed.

So, this desk will be among the first pieces of furniture to grace our new home and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Gorgeous (not so) Little Things

Five Weeks and Counting

After my update last week, I decided to stop by the new neighborhood for a peak at the progress. I only expected to do a drive by, maybe take photo of the exterior, and then be on my way to the other side of the Chesapeake. However, when I arrived, I was greeted by our new Project Manager, Joe, and he offered to take me inside for a quick look at the progress. Before talking about that, though, here’s that exterior shot I took:

FullSizeRender

Other than the missing shutters on the right-most window, everything seemed to be perfectly fine on the outside. But, as Joe explained, the ground still needed a bit more shaping to alleviate some water pooling between our house the house to the left of our (on the right-hand side of our house is a nature trail, which affords us a nice gap between us and our future neighbors). At some point this week, the workers will have completed grading the entire yard (front and back), added the columns to the stoop, and, I hope, added the missing shutters. Because of all the construction, though, the neighborhood was covered in cars, trucks, and grime and I experienced quite the traffic jam just getting to our cul-de-sac. I expect that will all disappear soon, though, since our house is among the last to be added to this end of the neighborhood.

I can hardly believe that we went from nothing but basement to almost complete in around two months’ time! While that may surprise many people unfamiliar with this home-building process, I can guarantee that Ryan, our builder, has their home-building process down to an exact science. They are machine-like in their efficiency, planning, and construction. And, as I found out when I took my tour, it is all high quality construction, materials, and details.

On entering the house, the first floor looked almost completely finished, with the exception of the flooring (which comes this week). The lights were on, our kitchen’s GORGEOUS Carrara marble back splash was gleaming, and the mantle was nearing completion. I walked from room to room with my mouth agape, scarcely able to believe how much has been done since we returned from our trip to Japan in mid-March (that’s when I took the photo on the left). The only thing I found out of place was the light hanging in the dining room, which should have been installed in the morning room, since we bought a magnificent Rococo chandelier specifically for our dining room.

Chandelier
Our new dining room chandelier

The basement was the biggest surprise, though, and I mean that literally. The Naples’ basement is a HUGE space, and even though we have a large-scale built-in wet bar in the back (i.e., under the morning room), we still have an enormous amount of space for a giant table, a giant sectional (a Lovesac Sactional to be precise), complete with a quite large machinery and storage room. The full basement bath looked really great, too.

The upstairs wasn’t as jaw-dropping, though, since it’s just a collection of smaller rooms, including a loft, four bedrooms, a laundry room, many closets, and two full bathrooms. The most amazing surprise upstairs, though, was the Owner’s Bath. The marble we selected looked AMAZE-BALLS and paired quite well with the granite and cabinetry combination. Once done, this bath will be the most luxurious bath in the neighborhood (according to Project Manager Joe, who says most people just get the plain white tile for their baths).

That begs the question:

Is a marble bath like this overkill?

No. No it is not. A marble bath is fabulous and I can’t wait to swathe myself in great lengths of luxurious terrycloth while I sip champagne in a Mr. Bubble bubble bath.

Happiness-is-a-long-hot-bubble-bath

The whole-house audio system, home theater system, central vacuum, home security system, etc., were also complete, but I couldn’t play around with any of it, or photograph my brief tour, because Project Manager Joe was overseeing the construction of at least four houses in the neighborhood—and I didn’t want to take up any more of his precious time. I regret not asking him to leave me alone for a while in my future house so I could take a lot of photos, but I’ll get over that, especially since I have so much else to do. Also, I think we have more than enough construction photos. What we want now are pre-move-in photos (i.e., an empty, but complete house) and oh-happy-day-we-finally-moved-in-and-unpacked-and-decorated-everything-and-now-we-are-done photos.

I sincerely look forward to our new-home orientation, which will take place exactly one month from today. Less than a week thereafter, we close, and then we move in. I’m no longer sweating the little details, since I have already annihilated those little details with white gloves and bubble wrap. Now we just have to do the pedestrian packing (i.e., books, plates, and pots-n-pans) and the movers will do the rest.

I’m not even going to think about unpacking until I’m forced to do so.

Until then, I’m dreaming about that bubble bath.

Five Weeks and Counting

T-Minus 6 Weeks…and Counting!

It’s been a while since we’ve updated our blog, which I attribute almost exclusively to being overly prepared for the coming storm (i.e., new-home orientation, closing, setting up new accounts for utilities, hiring movers, packing, and then, at long last, moving into our brand new house). Being the overly prepared type, I have created macro schedules, micro schedules, lists of new purchases, inventory lists, shopping lists, lists,  lists, lists, and lists of lists!

Lists

On the upside, yesterday we received an update from our new Project Manager, Joe (our previous Project Manager, who was great(!) received a much-deserved promotion, so as of June 1, he’ll be moving on). The update read:

“We are in the midst of final trades right now, putting in fixtures, switches, outlets, speakers. The tile back-splash is going in today and looks great! Granite was installed yesterday (May 10) and we have graded your yard. Hardwood is going in the beginning of next week followed by carpet, and then another round of paint and drywall. We are right on track!”

That update was a symphony of good news, especially since the last three or four weeks here in the Mid-Atlantic have been more like the Pacific Northwest, with gloomy grey skies, rain in alternating downpours and drizzles, and a chill that helps to keep us from using the air conditioning (perhaps the only bright spot in the prevailing gloom). What keeps us from getting a bad case of the blues, though, is our planning and packing and planning and packing. Until we move, which is currently scheduled for the last week of June, we’ll continue to plan and pack until we can do neither anymore. Then we’ll just enjoy what remains of our time on Kent Island—a beautiful jewel in the Chesapeake and Maryland’s first English settlement (The More You Know!). We won’t miss the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, though. It’s a miserable failure of a bridge and I’ll be happy to see it disappear into the rear-view mirror.

Also in the past week, we locked our interest rate in at an agreeable 3.875 percent for a 30-year VA loan. Between the deposits we’ve already made and the builder’s incentives, we’re actually walking away from the settlement table with a refund exceeding $18,000! This is a tidy sum for setting up an emergency fund, ensuring we won’t get blindsided by any unexpected tax bills or whatever. Moreover, we still have a big chunk of cash from a prior DC-condo sale in savings, so we’re sittin’ pretty and feeling good about our prospects in our new home.

While we speed toward closing with many things on our minds, we continue our research on creating a Japanese garden that will not run afoul of the HOA’s stringent guidelines. Our recent trip to Japan really inspired us, but we’ll have to wait to draw our plans since we can’t really start planting new trees until early next spring. However, this expected delay in landscaping gives us more than enough time to do everything properly, from interior design to exterior design planning.

I can’t believe how smoothly all this has been… I wish everyone could be so lucky.

If the weather clears in the coming days, we’ll try to get out to the new house to explore and get some new photos. I’m dying to see the progress made since I last visited two weeks ago.

The excitement continues…

T-Minus 6 Weeks…and Counting!