Final project

The contractors finally finished everything! Replaced garage, replaced roof on house, sided dormers, tuck pointed brick, new sidewalk along side and back of house, new brick patio, and a fresh coat of paint on the front steps. Phew! That was a lot!

Check out the before and after pictures below.


More home improvements

We finally got around to starting the other projects that needed to get done: tuck pointing, new roof, garage replacement, and side walk repair. While we’re at it, we have also decided to redo the patio. The tuck pointing and side walk repair are finished. The patio is also finished (brick pavers), as is the concrete slab for the new garage. Tomorrow, the contractors begin building the garage, followed by roofing on the garage and replacing the roof on the house.

If you’re looking for someone to help you with your home improvement projects, I highly recommend our general contractor, Goran Veseli of Veseli Design and Build. Goran is also an architect, so he can handle projects from the idea stage through completion. Goran worked with us to remodel our bathroom and we didn’t hesitate to call him when it was time to do this current project. So far, on both projects, he has made everything super easy on our end!

The sub-contractors who did all of the concrete and masonry work are A Kats Construction (at least, that’s what the side of the truck said). These guys are quick and efficient and they seem to do great work.

Home: Work


Cliff at work with heat gun & scraper


We’ve been talking, for a while now, about starting to scrape the paint off the window trim in one room as an experiment to see how easily it would come off. The other day, while I was working on homework in the dining room, Cliff decided to do some home: work of his own. He pulled out his heat gun and went to work on the window trim in the back bedroom. An hour or so later, and he had uncovered some really beautiful wood underneath all of that paint.


Small portion of window trim



Most of the trim is done



Window sill



Window trim & base board


As you can see from this last picture, the room also has wood base boards that have been painted. This is as far as Cliff has gotten so far, with just a little bit of work, but this is a MAJOR project for the future. This house has a ton of wood trim (windows, door frames, base boards, crown molding…), but I think the hard work will totally pay off in the future.

Now, we just need to find some free time so we can make some real progress. Free time seems to be in short supply these days.


We LOVED the plans we got back from the architect, but we likely won’t see them come to fruition.  When the bids came in, they were all way outside of our price range – in fact, two of the bids were 3 times our price range.  First, we just can’t afford to do it.  And second, even if we could afford it, the cost is just insane and we can’t rationalize it since we know there’s no way we’d see nearly that much return on our investment.

Now, we’re back to the drawing board.  The architect is going back to the contractors to ask them to rebid it after we’ve done some value engineering (paint grade wood trim instead of real wood trim that would be stained, etc).  I anticipate the bids will still come back quite high, so we’re also talking with one of the contractors to see whether it’s feasible to build out the space for our price range.  We’ll see what he says we can get for the price we’re able to pay.  And, lastly, we’ll start talking with some other architects/contractors to see whether we can add a bathroom and skylights in the existing space without building out dormers.  Ultimately, if the answer is “no” or “yes, but you’ll still have to pay through the nose”, we just won’t do it.

I’ve decided that Chicago bungalows are kind of racket in the real estate market.  Yes, it’s a great house with great bones, but most don’t have the attics built out because it seems too expensive to do that. But, realtors don’t tell you that part. They market the bungalow as “ready for expansion” but never really tell you that you’ll spend almost $100k to build out the attic. (Can you tell that I’m a little bitter and disappointed?)  Don’t get me wrong, I love our house. But, we might have made different decisions had we known how much it really costs to build out an attic.  Maybe.

My final answer — Master Bath tile selection

This is it.  I swear.  My final answer.

I originally went away from the carrara marble because Cliff was continually drawn to the brown tiles (travertine, specifically), and I was worried that too much carrera marble would remind me of the condo bathroom, which was always cold.   But, after showing Cliff some different carrara tiles online tonight, we’ve finally made up our minds.

Are you as tired as we are yet?  And, yes, we this fickle in our daily lives, too.

So…. drum roll, please…

Imagine, if you will: the original vanity that I posted.  Click here for a picture.
Walls of shower and outside of the shower will be white subway tile (glossy).
Floor of the bathroom will be basket weave carrara marble. Basket weave #4. (Thanks, Patricia for the recommendation!)
Floor of the shower will be tumbled white carrara marble.

My inspiration…

And, now, I need to go back and select new fixtures in chrome because I think that will fit best.  The only problem is that I can’t tell the finish on that vanity.  I might have to call or email to ask that question.  If the finish isn’t chrome, then I’ll stick with the original fixtures in satin nickel.  If chrome, I’ll likely select the same fixtures in polished chrome.

One caveat: I, of course, reserve the right to change my mind several times. 🙂

And, a challenge: If Damon can suggest some better ideas, I’m open to considering them.  Damon, if we select your better idea, we’ll contribute to your summer camp fund.  🙂

Making progress on the house?

When we bought our house, we knew we wanted to do some work on the upstairs.  We even brought a contractor through on one of our walk throughs once we had the place under contract!  Once we moved in, though, it seemed like everything started conspiring against us and planning for the upstairs came to a screeching halt.

Instead, we turned out attention to the kitchen because our refrigerator was drying.  Unfortunately, the idiot who installed the kitchen had notched the granite so that it surrounded the fridge, thus making it impossible to get the fridge out without first removing a cabinet (or lifting the counter-top).  It took us a couple of weeks, but we managed to get that taken care of.

Then, the first floor toilet got clogged.  The plumber came out to fix, and we thought we were in the clear.  We should have known better…  The toilet clogged again a few days later, and this time it started backing up into the tub.  Oops!  The plumber came out again and took a look around, and quickly discovered that the piping for the bathroom was done wrong.  So, the next project is to redo the piping in the bathroom, which also involves tearing up the bathroom floor.  Good thing I didn’t really like this bathroom!  On top of that, the tub is cracked, so that needs to be replaced.  OK, let’s gut the bathroom and start over.

Now, back to the upstairs.  We own a 1926 Chicago Bungalow.  The attic space has been completed, and the former owners used part of it as a bedroom, and the other part is a “rec room”.  We decided that’s a huge waste of space, so we’re going to turn the upstairs into a master suite.  We met with a friend who’s also an architect, and he drew a couple of sketches for us.  But, he doesn’t have the time to work with us, and isn’t yet licensed in the city.  Thankfully, he recommended a former colleague who left the firm and started his own architecture company.  When we met with the new guy, John, we liked his ideas, and he seemed like a really nice guy (he had also clearly done his homework because he was thoroughly prepared!).

I’m hoping that we can keep this forward progress moving and get started on the bathroom and the upstairs project soon.  Let’s be real, I’m getting tired of going to the basement to use the bathroom.