Monday, March 29, 2010

So many new details

Stuart gave you a peek at some of the things that happened at the house last week -- heat pump and lights -- but we have many more new details to talk about.

The city asked us to replace the sidewalks surrounding the house, so those were torn up this week:

But instead of letting that concrete go to waste, we cut it and reused it in a really cool geometric-style walkway up to the front porch. This was entirely Blake's design:

New sidewalks will be poured soon, as will our driveway. Instead of paving a traditional full driveway that just creates more stormwater runoff, we decided to only pave strips for our cars to drive up -- between them we'll likely place gravel, rocks or possibly plant ground cover:

The painters have almost finished up the outside, and it looks amazing! Now that all the different colors are on the front of the house, including the trim, it looks really sharp:

Heading up to the front door, you can see our new doorbell. It was created by local artist Paul Strauch, whose studio is in Turner, Ore. He has a whole line of decorative doorbells:

Inside, Stuart already gave you a glimpse of our light fixtures, but here are some more photos. We chose the entire lighting set based on the pendants over the island, which we fell in love with:

The dining room chandelier:

Living room sconces:

The sconces also line the stairwell:

One of the things Stuart was most excited about happened this week: our appliances arrived. We ordered matching stainless steel kitchen appliances from KitchenAid. They're awesome!

We also got our washer and dryer, made by Bosch:

We bought a condensing dryer, which does not exhaust any air to the outside of the house. This prevents us from having to poke another hole in the outer wall, and also keeps us from exhausting our nice conditioned air to the outside. Instead of pushing out moist, hot air, a condensing dryer uses a heat exchanger to cool the air and condense the water vapor into a drain pipe. That's according to Wikipedia.

The inside portion of our solar water heater was installed. It looks similar to a standard water heater:

Our Marmoleum-brand linoleum was installed in the mud room and upstairs bathrooms. What's nice about linoleum is it's made from renewable materials. In the mud room, we chose three different colors of squares to be installed in a random pattern. We're really happy with the result:

The two upstairs bathrooms have a dark gray linoleum:

And the laundry room has a similar gray floor, but is slightly more yellow to go with the walls:

Also on the flooring front, our carpet arrived! We carpeted the entire upstairs and the stairs. The carpet is made of wool, which is a natural, renewable fiber. It has a jute backing, instead of man-made material. These materials do not release toxic gases into the air, which is good for our air quality.

The carpet feels nice and soft under my feet:

And finally, the master bathroom faucets and matching shower fixtures arrived. Our other faucets are on the way. The bathroom fixtures are from Moen's Eva series:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Off the charts

Our heat pump was installed yesterday.  Like most air-source heat pumps, there are two segments.  The outside part:

And the inside part (top right):

As you can see, both units are quite small.  It does not take much equipment to heat and cool a house that is this efficient.  Rather than have the inside part in a crawl space or mechanical room pumping air into leaky ductwork, our unit draws air directly into the unit and spits it right back out.  No ducts, no leaks.

Here are a couple more shots of the exterior unit:

Now check out the efficiency ratings:

That's right, our heat pump is literally off the charts in terms of efficiency.  They need to make some longer bars on that sticker.

Finally, our light fixtures are starting to go up.  Below are the sconces in the living room.  They belong to the same collection as the pendants and chandelier.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Things are getting colorful

The painters have been extremely busy this week. They are almost done painting the outside of the house, and they added all our inside room colors. If you have been in our current home, you know that we like bold wall colors, and this is definitely true in the new house as well.

Before I get to the photos, I wanted to share a short marketing-oriented article about our house from GreenFiber, the makers of our blow-in insulation. It's more about their product, but it's still kind of neat to read their view of our project:

On to the colors. Outside, the painters are almost finished. They added our brown accent color to the gable ends of the house, and this color is repeated on our garage doors and the front door:

Inside the great room, we went with a green that is very similar to the green in our current living room. This same green is repeated in one of the smaller upstairs bedrooms. All our inside paint is low-VOC. We used Rodda's Horizon line.

Here you can also see our finished stair railings:

The office is medium blue, and this same color is also used in the master bathroom and one of the smaller upstairs bedrooms:

The third inside color we chose was yellow, for the mud room and the laundry room:

Finally, we have a lighter blue in the master bedroom and in two of the bathrooms:

If you looked closely at those photos of the kitchen and laundry room, you may have noticed that our Formica counter tops have arrived! In the kitchen, we chose a dark gray with lighter gray flecks:

The laundry room has an off-white counter with a subtle pattern:

And both upstairs bathrooms have white counters with gray flecks:

One last thing: What's that happening up on the roof? It's the beginnings of our awesome solar water heater:

There are many other great changes in store for this week: linoleum flooring in the bathrooms, mud room and laundry room; carpeting upstairs; and the arrival of our stainless steel appliances in the kitchen.