Progress – April 16, 2018

Last time I showed you this tile that I was installing in the kitchen:IMG_3868

Here’s how it looked as I was working on it in the left side of the counter.


And on the right side of the kitchen:


It was a little more tricky to get everything to match up at the back of the stove. Lots of cuts!


And here is the final product after grouting.


Here you can see more, including the trim we devised for all the windows. Slowly by surely we are getting there! I still have to devise something to go around the hood vent from parts I have collected.


I also installed shelves to the left of the hood (two more will be installed to the left of the sink also. The wood is wormy oak and the brackets are made from steel.


The tile is complete around the fireplace in the kitchen, along with the brick veneer hearth.


The Stairs

This is been the single most difficult part of the house to figure out. It took Mark a long time to figure out exactly how he wanted these to go and a lot of figuring. Finally he had it figured out and we got most of it rebuilt about a week ago. All the stringers were recut and we enlarged the space in between the stairs. All the stairs and risers were then covered in plywood.


From there we started assembling all the stairs and risers from reclaimed oak I got from Good Wood Nashville. Each tread was 3 pieces that we joined, biscuit-ed, glued and clamped together , and each riser was on board cut in half and then finished with the same process. Very labor intesive!


The landings were covered in reclaimed flooring.


And here is the final product! Walls covered in tar paper in prep for the barnwood installation.


View at the top of the stairs.


The railing spindles will be made out of rebar and installed at 4″ intervals.


Next up is to install the spindles, make sure all the stairs are ready to be coated in Varthane and install the barnboard.

We’ve also been working outside as the weather permits. We got work done there this weekend, but today it is supposed to snow again! But at least we are making progress! Once we complete the scratch coat on the outside and get drywall on the ceiling in the basement, we can apply for our building permit and move in!


Progress – 2/27/18

At the beginning of January, we took a short time off to recuperate from past 2 years of construction and recharge our batteries in Kauai. It was so wonderful!IMG_3795


But back to work we must go! We installed some more barnwood at the top of the stairs. This isn’t as easy as it looks because most of the wood is twisted and not the same size throughout the entire plank. It takes a bit of work to fit it all together.IMG_3805

Next we have to finish designing any changes to the stairs and redo them with the reclaimed wood.

I got my art work installed above the bench in the mudroom. Now the rooms are starting to take on some personality!IMG_3860Countertops were installed in the Laundry/Pantry. They are Hi-Macs from LG in Ice Queen.IMG_3807

I wanted a hanging bar beside the dryer, so we installed simple black piping (that I removed the sticky finish from) and hung from the ceiling from the rafters.IMG_3872

Carrick hung my floating shelves for me from Ikea. I plan on storing all my baking items in the canning jars. I find these for cheap at places like Marshalls, HomeGoods and even Ace Hardware.

I also just installed the larger subway tile and the border. It just has to be grouted.


We actually got the shower completed in the Master Bath! This took me a LONG time to complete. It is a large shower and the mural was more work than I thought it would be.IMG_3848

I made the mural out of stones & glass from tiles that I had, found stones I collected from our vacations and small ceramic animals. The marbles in the mosaic I found in our current house when we were renovating! That is a Border Collie chasing a red marble “ball”.


I always wanted one of these rainshower heads. I found this one on eBay from the UK.


Here’s the shower niche. The back tiles were from Mercury Tile and are all handmade and fit in perfectly with the colors from the stone. It was an odd lot of seconds that I put together to fit.


In the kitchen, most of the work is done with the exception of the tile work around the fireplace and the back splash. The fireplace is installed, but logs still need to be inserted. The mantle is an antique I found a couple of years ago. The photo above the fireplace was my Christmas gift from my dad. It shows my great-aunt Gertrude harvesting waterlilies from a pond not far from our property!


These are the tile I’ve selected to use for the backslash in the kitchen. These two are from Lowes and will be going around the perimeter.


These are from the Tile Shop and will be centered over the stove.


The Great Room fireplace is also getting further along. Here it is with the scratch-coat.IMG_3855

From there we started installing the cast stone. This was after the first day.


Last night we completed up over the mantle. This is the same stone that will be installed on the exterior of the house. We are waiting for warmer weather to be able to complete that! Hopefully it will be soon as we’d like to move in soon! It’s just too hard and costly to keep two houses going.


Thanks for checking on our progress! Hopefully the weather will stay nice and we’ll have lots of progress to report!

Progress 1/15/18

Hard to believe it’s been two months since I updated. Lots has happened since then. Most of the siding is completed and most of the gutters, too (not shown in the photo). We were lucky to have had warmer weather for so long, but now it has been record cold and we can only work inside. That means it will still be a while until we can move in because we cannot get our occupancy permit until all of the Tyvek/OSB is covered on the outside (install the scratch coat for the stone). So we’ll have to wait until it’s warmer!IMG_3531IMG_3536

Panorama of the first floor before Christmas. Check out our construction zone Christmas tree.IMG_3529


I found out that you can select your own slabs here when you go through a fabricator. We used Steel City Granite and I chose my slabs at DalTile in Cranberry. If I remember correctly, the name of this is Silver Cloud granite. I needed two slabs, so these are it!



And here is the installed product. I loved all the movement in the granite. There were some beautiful marbles, but I couldn’t work around the maintenance and the fact that I would be the only one to be careful not to stain the stone! That is a deep-fryer in the countertop below… it was Mark’s only request for the new kitchen. IMG_3591IMG_3600

We are finally able to move some of the items I have been hoarding for the past 2+ years up from the basement and our garage. This bench is the “Elder Bench” made for me by Ben Napier out of all reclaimed wood. I purchased it right after I saw their pilot for the HGTV show “Home Town“, probably 2 years ago. It is such a beautiful piece (and heavy!) and I can’t wait to hang all of my artwork I have collected above it (but it’s going to have to wait until we aren’t producing so much dust). It will be great for sitting on to put on/take off our shoes. Thanks, Ben!IMG_3578

Shot of our dining room! This makes me so happy because it’s just as I envisioned it. The table is this one from IKEA, the chairs are from Target, rug from Dash and Albert, and the upholstered chairs are from C&B. We actually had Christmas dinner here! I got all of them on sale or clearance. That is one of the perks of this process taking so long! I could decide what I wanted and wait until it was on sale. IMG_3597

The fireplaces have been installed, but still have to be finished up. Here is the Great Room ready for the scratch coat before the stone goes on.IMG_3613

I finally decided on a paint color for the barn door that will be in the mudroom. Only took 3 tries! If you look hard enough, you can see them on the bottom of the door. IMG_3621

We also got some of the barnwood installed in the foyer. Next we have to figure out the final stair placement. Doesn’t it look great? I love the differences in texture.IMG_3594

The platform is finally out and all the windows in the great room have cedar trim!IMG_3583

Here’s a photo of the Great Room on Christmas Day. As you can see, some of the flooring was in and we moved some old furniture up just to have some where to sit.IMG_3601

This is where the TV will be permanently. I still need to install the chinking here, but that can wait.IMG_3635

I finally got the whole mosaic finished. I still need to grout it, but you get the idea. It has a beach theme, with the colors of the ocean.IMG_3550IMG_3559

Carrick’s bath is complete. Just need to add towel bars.IMG_3545

Carrick’s showerIMG_3544

Cole’s bath is done!IMG_3543

Cole’s bath/showerIMG_3542

Cade’s bath is also done!IMG_3540

Cade’s showerIMG_3541

We also have flooring! The flooring is installed in the whole house, with the exception of the foyers — we still have other work to complete there before it can go down. IMG_3560

That’s about it for now. Right now we are finishing up installing the built-in fridge and freezer, beams in the Foyer and Great Room, a bunch of tiling in the kitchen (fireplace and backsplash) and waiting for the Laundry/Pantry countertops. I’ve been putting furniture together and it is so satisfying to see everything going together like I envisioned. Thanks for checking in with us!

Progress — 11/14/2017

We’ve been getting a lot done recently! It feels good to actually see parts of the house get completed. It is hard now to get much done when it’s dark by 5:15 pm, so we move inside to do small jobs there.


Lots of work has been completed here. I ordered a mahogany countertop for the island and it came out beautiful. I ordered it online and then, because we are close and my husband makes trips to Cleveland often, he picked it up at the plant to save on shipping charges.

I bought the unfinished countertop and finished it myself with Waterlox. It was easy, just time-consuming and smelly. Each side has at least 4 coats applied.


I also found all my registers. These were a surprise find at Lowe’s. I hate the cheap metal ones that bend and rust. These are cast-iron! There is also a matching version that I adapted to use for my lower wall vents.


The kitchen sink was installed after the bottom bracing was built and we cut the apron for it to fit. This weighs a ton and was a long-ago eBay purchase.


Additional items checked off the list in here are installation of the stove hood, outlets, lights, switches, and drawer microwave (in the island). Next up are countertops and appliances (which have all be waiting in our garage forever!).


Master Bath

As you can see, the vanity and the mirror have been installed! This made me so happy to see it as I envisioned it. The vanity is from Signature Hardware, mirror from Crate & Barrel, and faucets from Amazon Warehouse Deals. Don’t be afraid of buying items from them as a warehouse deal! I have gotten a bunch of stuff that way at deep discount just because they cannot sell it as new. If there is something wrong with the item, I have had them discount it, give it to me for free, or take it back with no return shipping!


Close up of the tile inset in the bathroom floor. Mosaic tile from Home Depot and border and floor tile from Tile Shop. I purchased all the tile on sale and we installed it ourselves for a big savings.


Tile has been sealed and grouted on the shower floor. The border tile is the same as the main floor and inset of oval tumbled marble tiles (mine are not polished), both from Tile Shop. I still have to grout the wall tiles, but before that can be completed I have to make my custom mosaic for the 6″ band going around the shower. I have all the parts, just not the time and energy to get it done!


Remaining here is hooking up sinks and faucets, installing the shower hardware, deciding on the deck material for the bathtub and installing the tub faucets.


We decided to do the siding ourselves since quotes were outrageous and/or we couldn’t get anyone to do it. The majority of the siding is James Hardie (that has been sitting on our jobsite for over a year!) in Timber Bark. The tower part of the house will be James Hardie panels that are painted by me in BM Caliente. I chose it last year before it was named color of the year this year. calinete


Stone veneer will go up to the bottom of the panel here on the side of the tower. Battens spaced 12″ apart will be applied after we get all the big pieces up.


My husband and my son working on the front of the house. Thank goodness for the 60′ lift we have been renting. We wouldn’t be able to get much done without it.


Shot of the front of the house. Veneer sitting there waiting to be installed. Galvanized metal roof installed on the porch roof and bark siding from BarkClad on the bump-out of Carrick’s room.


Before photo of when they started on the long side.


After photo of the 8 x 10 sheets installed. Still need battens and trim installed. Stone veneer goes below .


View of the front of the house. Sometime in the future, the garage will be built and connected with a short walkway to the mudroom door.


The back of the house. Trim boards will go between the windows (on order). Other sections will be the panel Hardie and other parts will be beaded lap siding, all in Timber Bark.


The early sunset has been a real pain in the butt. We have to finish outside work shortly after 5. Sometimes we have to resort to this.


Two of the pine corbels that will be installed under the gables of the house. These are the small ones! They are quite heavy.


That’s all for now. At least all I have photos of. The boys’ rooms upstairs have been almost completed. Their bathroom fixture hookups and the Pergo flooring are the only major items remaining! Woohoo.

Major indoor projects remaining are Pergo flooring on both floors, the stair rebuilding with reclaimed wood and the barn wood on the walls, countertops and appliances.

Outdoor projects remaining are finish siding and soffitt, install veneer on chimneys, and install skylight and final roofing (roofer).

The fireplaces should be installed within the next week. That will be exciting. We are only installing 2 of the 4 right now. They are all propane.

Thanks for checking in with us. Hopefully with the final push, we’ll be able to get in by Christmas!

Progress – 5/4/2017

Long time, no progress report! I am sorry, but it seems like time passes by so fast and at the time it doesn’t seem like a lot gets done until I go back and look at the photos. We will be SO glad when we can finally move in! And no, we have no idea when that will be! We just have to keep plugging along and eventually we’ll get there. We’ve been at this for over a year and it will be nice when we can finally enjoy all the hard work we’ve put in.

Photo of our house during the last snow from the neighbors (thanks Jen).
Early Spring photo at the top of the driveway.
Completed the last of the pine ceiling in the loft area. We made a temporary platform so that it was easier to work on it.
Cole’s completed shower surround before grouting. Love the glass mosaic he picked for the accent tile.
Close up of the tile after 1 side grouted. Sorry for the rough photos, but most of these were taken in the evening after I finished for the day.
Carrick’s shower. He chose 4 x 16 subway tiles and a dark border of slate and glass mosaic tiles. We’ll have to build out the side wall a bit to made it smaller so the glass doors will fit.
The laundry/pantry off of the kitchen and mudroom. The drywall has been completed and painted here! Now the cabinets are being installed.
Side view of the pantry. These cabinets aren’t as wide (only 15″) so that I will still have storage, and still be able to open the washer on the opposite side.
The kitchen is almost ready for final painting. The primer coat is on and there are just a few touch up spots to fix. I highly recommend this Kilz PVA primer.
The other side of the kitchen. After painting, we’ll install the cabinets (Sektion from IKEA). The grey cement board section will be where the stove is located. There will also be a center island.
The dining room and great room. I have also primed this area, but didn’t take a photo yet. This was just before I started. This room is almost completed too.
Some of the color choices I had a hard time deciding over. I went with Pergo flooring because we needed so much and I really liked it! Originally I chose the 2nd from the left, but when I tried to place the order it had been discontinued. Lucky for me, Lowe’s had some new options that I liked even better.
Here’s what we went with: 8″ wide Pergo London Oak.
Pantry cabinets almost done. Just need the final topcoat for protection.
I’ve narrowed down my cabinet pull choices to these at Home Depot.

So the next month will be busy. Hopefully our siding and gutters/facia will all be installed, and the septic will too. On the inside, we’ll be finishing up drywall, painting, installing the floor, tiling and then moving on to the fun stuff: all the finishing touches, like fixtures and lighting! Wish us luck, just thinking about it makes me want to take a nap!


Progress 1/20/2017

This week’s progress has been slow-going. The mud is back (it’s been warm) and it is hard to get up to the house. We’re also finishing up the tedious work in the Master bedroom and bath where the walls and ceilings meet with the difficult cuts and additions where the heavy timbers go through the walls/ceilings. That involves a lot of figuring and dry-fitting.

Now the drywall is up in the bedroom and going up in the bath (the special purple kind). We added a small wall in the shower like I found in one of my inspiration photos:


Carrick putting up drywall in the shower. Note the new wall in the opening.
Mark doing his figuring to get the spaces right in between the beams and walls.


Drywall up in the Master.
The view out the Master windows. This is facing down Blacks Woods Road if you are familiar with our area.
Built-in ironing board in the Master closet. I got the idea for this from Hometime.

I watch A LOT of HGTV, Hometime, and This Old House, along with reading magazines, blogs, Instagram and Pinterest to cull down what I wanted in this house. I keep lots of boards on Pinterest if you are interested in my thought process. It helps me a lot to be able to see everything visually in one place and to keep track of where I found items online and their prices. I also keep binders with inspiration from magazines and other sources, along with another binder of the actual items I have already purchased for the house, so that I have instructions, measurements and other important information all in one place.

The foyer. The first door on the left is a small closet, the next door is the powder room, and the next is the way down to the basement.
The Pantry/Laundry room. All the cabinet cases are put together.

I had to move a few cabinets around to fit the area that changed from the original plans. One of the 15″ deep cabinets on the right will be moved to our Master closet and replaced with a 15″ x 24″ to fit in the space. So I did pretty good, only have to replace one and the extras were used somewhere else!

I got into a rhythm on putting these together, so as I went along it got easier and quicker. I love how sturdy they are and how I could easily change them to what I wanted. I have them in my current kitchen and they have help up very well!

The tall cabinet goes in the Pantry to hold all my cleaning supplies, vacuums, and other stuff. The other cabinets are put together with the exception of the island.

I have to wait because Mark wants to tape and mud the seams now before I put them in. So we have to move them around a bit. I will be working on painting the doors and putting down the backboard on the floor for the tiles.

This weekend will be warm, but with the chance of rain. I think the plan is to do some facia work and maybe even start some of the siding on the front if the weather cooperates! If not, we have plenty to do on the inside!

Progress 8/25/2016

I see that somehow it has been a month since I lasted posted any progress. Time flies…

Anyhow, we had a lull in progress for a while but now things are picking back up again. The original building crew is gone and now we are back to building by ourselves. Almost all the windows are in, the front porch is taking shape, the roof is going on and other mechanicals will be installed next week. We also finally got power and cable to the house! Next up will be putting in the doors, working on the decking and making about a thousand decisions on lighting placement and interior finishes. I also need to get the siding ordered!

Front of the house with the porch and roofers working
The kitchen looking into the Pantry/Laundry
Windows all installed in the back of the Great Room!
Master Bedroom
View from the Great Room into the Dining Room and Kitchen
The Tower/Foyer area
Tower area on the second floor
Back view of the house
Closeup of the hewn log veneer that will go in the Great Room

From the photos, the house looks so huge. In reality it is big, but not too big to feel like a cavern. Most of the rooms are just the right size. We are excited to get things moving again and the weather has been cooperative for the most part.


How we got here

Bob Timberlake Studio – Hearthstone

I thought I should tell the story of how we got started on our house journey many years ago. While living in the Chicagoland area, Mark and I decided we wanted to build a house since we couldn’t find anything that we liked. After looking at a lot of plans, we came to like this one from Hearthstone, but the actual building never took place because we couldn’t find land cheap enough and we also wanted to move back to the Pittsburgh area.

When we moved back, my dad found us an old farm on 24 acres that had an old house on it and we thought we’d fix it up and just live there while we were building the new house. Too bad it didn’t work out that way! The old house needed a total overhaul that took 10 years to finish. So now we were finally ready to start.

I started looking at log homes companies again and I still liked what Hearthstone had to offer. I found a series of plans that they had from MossCreek. That lead me to look at their selections in depth and I found “The Wedge”.

© 2016 MossCreek

By total coincidence, found out that their offices were located in Knoxville, TN and I was going to be there for one of the twins’ competitions. I met with them and talked about what we wanted in our design. After that, we decided to go with “The Wedge” and started to make changes to the stock plan to reflect how we wanted the layout. I changed the location of the screened in porch, along with no longer splitting up the laundry room and pantry (now one room). I’ll show you that in the future.

The Wedge Main Floor

After deciding on the plan, we had to finalize what builder we were going to use. After looking at several and going over costs, we decided on Hearthstone because they we willing to work with us to keep cost down and we also now had decided that we didn’t want a totally log home. Neither of us like the “heavy wood” look, and decided only to use log veneer in the Great Room. Other parts of the house will have reclaimed wood and drywall, and the Great Room will also have large wooden scissor trusses.

First Floor Plan – Skuse Wedge

Here is what the plan looks like after we make our changes. I took a lot of time and thought into what would work best for our family. I got the idea for the combo pantry/laundry from Better Homes and Gardens last year. It was a lot of back and forth, but I think that we got it right!

Progress – 05/12/2016

Front of the house
Rear of the house — Master Bedroom
Front Porch area/Kitchen
Master Bedroom Interior
Mark in the Kitchen

We’ve been really lucky this week weather-wise. Most of the rain predicted for us went right around the site! More of the panels went up in the stair tower area and bracing was put in for the windows and doors. Interior load-bearing walls are also going in. I don’t think it has progressed as quickly as the crew would like since they had told us they’d be done this week. There is still another whole floor and all the roof to put on, along with the porch and some of the windows. But progress is progress!

I will write in my next post about how we got started on our housebuilding journey. And don’t be a stranger, I’d love to hear what you think — leave a comment!

Progress – 05/06/16

Progress Wednesday evening
Progress on Thursday
The side/back view
Friday Progress – Great Room
Friday Progress – the Master Bedroom and Bath

We’ve had quite a bit of rain this past week, so progress is slow. We’re also waiting for more truckloads of house parts, due to arrive on Tuesday. They have walls up on the first floor and just have the large great room window section and the stairwell section to go before they move onto to 2nd floor. They think they’ll be done this week, but I am not as optimistic. There is rain in the forecast everyday this week.

We worked this weekend on one of the wall corners Mark wasn’t happy with, installed OSB on the back part of the walkout basement and part of the skirting where the trusses meet the floor and 1st floor. He also installed the strongbacks in the trusses in the basement. It was pretty nice weather-wise, but I have a bunch of new splinters in my hands.