My handy dandy kitchen addition

living to kitchen sinkI have a thing about countertop clutter.  I don’t like it.  So I do my best to keep all things small enough to fit in a drawer, off the countertop and in a drawer.  The only clutter area, besides the microwave and toaster oven, is at the sink where I have Bath & Body Works foaming soap dispenser, a dispenser of antibacterial gel, and a dispenser of hand lotion.  However, the new house will have these items living under my sink, somehow.

But I do miss having those cooking utensils rather inconveniently tucked away in the top drawer next to the cooktop.  In my quest to find handy and unique ideas for this house, I found this one on Houzz.

A utensil drawer next to the cooktop with utensils in stainless cups and stored upright.  Yes.  So our cabinet maker custom made this drawer for me.


The metal cups were ordered online at a great price from, and Browne-Halco 80113 4″ STAINLESS STEEL SOLID CUTLERY CYLINDER.  To make sure everything fit, I measured, and based on the tallest utensil I had plus adding another inch or so for good measure, the drawer was designed to fit within this space I had allotted to it.  It’s actually a drawer flipped upside down with sides cut down and the runners positioned at the perfect point, and designed to look like two drawers to balance with the other drawers here.  The cup holes were marked and cut by the cabinet man.

It’s handy where I need it to be, at the cooktop for utensils used during cooking, like spatulas, ladles, potato masher, whisks, etc.  I can’t wait to move my utensils to their new shiny homes.


A bright shower


We now have a beautiful custom shower door installed.  I went to the glass company the builder uses and was impressed with the quality of the glass (very thick and heavy) and the hinges he uses allow the door to swing in or out.  The door does not “lock” in place and there is a door sweep at the door inside the shower that prevents water from leaking out.  Our shower pan is dropped below floor level so we are safe from water escaping.  The handle side of the door fits pretty close to the frame, but our shower will not directly hit the door so no water leakage is expected from there either.  The various glass patterns were quite stunning and it was hard to make a decision, but we really didn’t need anything ornate in this room.  Up close this glass has vertical reeded lines with wavy glass between; hard to see in this photo. The high window in the entrance of the shower allows plenty of privacy and plenty of natural light, with supplemental can lights above. There will be a bench seat installed in the alcove where the towel bars are.

I also chose glass for the two island doors facing the dining space. The counter stools will fit in between at the island.  These shelves were a modification of what we had intended those spaces to be.  They had been drawn as recessed wine racks, but with my husband’s esophageal cancer diagnosis and subsequent list of foods to avoid (wine was on that list), we repurposed and redesigned those spaces. They can be anything they want to be, but right now I am going to use them as cookbook shelving.  The shelves are not lit from inside and the glass is rather opaque so any clutter will not really be obvious.  I just love the organic-ness of the textured leaves glass.  The island is Verde Marinace which is ancient rocks encased in granite, another organic surface. When they cut the slabs of this granite they are cutting through the encased rocks.  We are seeing the inside of these rocks in the surface.  We chose to have it honed to keep it natural looking.  The floor is slate tile, and the backsplash a mix of copper and slate.  I wanted a lot of nature inside this house, as well as looking out the many windows to 26 acres of nature.



Panic attack

Everything is coming down to finish up this week.  However, I had a realization in the middle of the night over the weekend that there were no shampoo shelves in the guest bath tub wall.  It is tiled, and it is finished.  So, what to do?  First I got the plans to see if we missed that detail (we had not) and the tile installers must not have looked at the plans (once again, the homeowner must know what is supposed to go where or else they will get overlooked).  The builder also had not followed up to make sure they had done it right.


So in my call to the builder I asked what our options are (questions for options are much more appreciated than demands).  The tilers previously  had to tear out the entire finished tub wall tiles because they installed them horizontal instead of vertical per our drawings, but I would gladly have held them to the plans if that was our only option and have them tear it all out again and redo it at their expense. More manpower, more materials, and more time. 

Our less invasive option was to get a couple of shampoo shelves installed in the corners.  I was fine with this and they were able to do that in a day with very little mess.   They fabricated the shelves, radius cuts with two tiles sandwiched together and a nice grout line between them, at their shop and then brought them to install.  They cut into the wall tiles and sandwiched the shelves into the wall and grouted them in place.  .  It’s functional, is acceptable to my needs, and accomplished quickly.  Not exactly as planned, but sometimes you have to roll with the punches.

We also now have the custom shower door installed and some nice textured leaf glass panels in the doors of the island.  The only thing left being installed today is the custom handrail nicely stained and will go up the stairs to my husband’s office (with the best view, by the way).  We’ll do a punch list walk through with the builder at some point soon.

We are gearing up to move Thanksgiving weekend.  Since my husband had surgery in October, he is not allowed to carry, lift, or anything so we must get all the heavy two person lifting moved and in place in the house before the help all leaves us. I have been planning this for months and everything that can be boxed and stored has been done.  If the weather cooperates (not rainy, and preferably not freezing) we should not have any delays.

I will get some pics of finished spaces as it is all cleaned up and presentable.

It’s all in the details

front house distance

The gutters went on this week and they did an excellent job.  The gutters are delivered already in a painted finish, which the color chosen was Clay, out of about 15 different color choices.  We had the painters match our exterior paint to this, which in turn matched our window trim exactly, also a color called Clay.  It’s a grey-brown color and just works perfectly.

We are down to cleaning and touching up the dings and dents in walls.  It is worth the time spent to investigate all the nooks and crannies to find those dings and dents and get them fixed before  moving in.  The builder has a handy man who comes in and searches for those, spackles and the painters touch up with matching paint.  I found some areas he had missed and just blue taped them for attention.

We did have an issue with the guest vanity marble top that was a little off in size and not installed and centered.  I knew I would not be happy with it and why they installed it anyway is anybody’s guess (maybe they thought no one would notice?), but the builder had them re-shape and re-install the top.  The issue was, in case they broke it taking it out to re-shape, they had no more of the honed marble we found in their cast off scraps at a huge savings, so I tried not to worry about that.  They were able to successfully remove the top from the sink and vanity and reshape it to fit correctly. I am now a happy camper. Still working on getting the cute glass knobs put on to add some sparkle.Image

The other two vanities in the powder bath and the master bath were fashioned from furniture we bought.  The trim carpenter allowed us to keep the drawers as functional storage by re-designing the interiors around the plumbing.



Still have those mirrors to put in when they are ready for them.  Don’t want to break them as they are originals.

I love our slate tile floors adding some color and rusticity to the look.  The brown, greys, yellows are all working nicely together in all the spaces. The carpet turned out better than I had hoped.  It has a copper brown undertone and the sheen is so nice in the fibers it reflects the lights and appears much lighter. It works well in the living with the Granbury chopped stone fireplace, Oklahoma grey flagstone hearth and booth materials. Our booth table turned out exactly as we had hoped with a custom galvanized top fitted over a very strong and sturdy wood top.  We will have the upholsterer get us padded seats and backs attached once we get moved in.


The cable lights were installed with no issues.  Since they had not done these types of lights before my husband was careful to get them a drawing of how to do it and also the phone number of a lighting designer they work with in his office who helped us order these fixtures.  They turned out great, above the sink, and above the gallery entrance hall that spans between the kitchen and living spaces to the back hallway. They are pretty inconspicuous because they are so thin. The shadows are making it looks like 4 wires; it’s actually only two wires that span the length and the little lights get attached.  There were some awfully cute choices in light fixtures, but these swivel around several different ways.  K-Hello at the gallery hall, and the K-Pivot above the sink. Tech Lighting’s website will let you see all the choices.



Next I will try to get some updated photos of some of the finished details.  I love all the hardware we chose.  It is all very cohesive and these drawer pulls are just fantastic.  I love bin pulls but they are usually so bulky looking; these are labeled as “art deco” pulls I found on Ebay for a fraction of what they cost in the store.  All the drawer knobs and pulls in the house averaged to about 79 cents. each because I bought them on Ebay and they are nothing fancy, although Matte Black finishes are not easy to find.  These are in my laundry room, but are also used in the kitchen and guest hallway ceiling to floor oak storage cabinets and drawers.



Nearing the finish line

fireplace stonekitchen sink splash sink backsplashtrack lights on dining side columndining pattern closeupkitchen sink and granite Uba Tuba gallery hall to front door guest bath marble top                                                                                                                                                                                    So much is going on now it is hard to keep up with what’s new.  In my visit to the house today, the stone on the fireplace is finished, as well as the stone columns in the kitchen and dining.

The electricians keep adding bits and pieces of new lighting and it’s hard for me to know what they’ve done new.  They have added white? undercabinet fixtures in the kitchen.  It baffles me why things get installed without asking, but I will have them change out the white.  I don’t like seeing those types of fixtures when I am seated, and white is just not cool on oak cabinets.

If I can catch them to clarify before they install it would be so much better, but I am (a) surprised they have been there, and (b) not sure what was specified for fixtures in the first place.   I will talk to the builder and find out my options on the undercabinet lights.

They have installed all the exterior lights and the back porch ceiling fans, which look very cool.  I love porch ceiling fans and in Texas they come in handy on those hot, windless days and evenings in summer.

The tiled floors are all grouted and look great.  This week the  carpet will be put into the living, guest hall, a guest bedroom, and the secondary living/TV area adjacent to the master.

I am also doing some pricing on getting our furniture reupholstered.  It has held up well, made by LaZboy, and can be reupholstered with a quality fabric much cheaper than buying new.  The professional was referred to me and does very good work.  It will only take him a couple weeks to do a sofa, loveseat, and small side chair, to start so it might be ready by move-in.  We will also have him upholster our booth in an easy clean vinyl of some kind, with good supportive cushioning and maybe nailhead trim it.  The custom booth table with galvanized top has been completed and will be installed next.

We are getting down to details and our punch list has quite a few little dings and touch ups to be done, but all new construction does.  It can even be done after we move in if we run out of time to get those few things finished up.

The exterior painting is being completed.  I just had the painter match the exterior color to the window color, which the manufacturer calls “Clay” but it is a medium toned grey.  The front door will be painted a much darker grey for contrast and interest.

The plumber will also be in this week and get his sink and faucets hooked up before the carpet guys come.  Everyone needs to be done and out before the carpet is in so they don’t mess it all up.

It is a frenzy of activity and our deadline we hoped would be end of November and looks like it should not be a problem.  Maybe be in the house before Thanksgiving, which may have to be rather informal and on the fly this year.