Why Colorado … Pro Cycling & Chihuly

We got just enough moved into the house to enjoy Leah and Matt’s visit.  We had mostly sunny days, but also some afternoon storms.  Leah captured the above double rainbow over our neighborhood!  Can you spot our house?

Leah likes to visit us in August to be able to see some stages of the USA Pro Challenge bike race.  We started watching the Tour de France together about a decade ago and it’s really inspired her since.  Going from hardly riding her bike at all, to riding from Austin to Anchorage with the Texas 4000 team in 2012.  Then recently returning from their belated honeymoon trip where they watched a couple stages of the Tour and actually cycled some of the same mountains routes as the pros!

So back to Colorado – this year we watched the Time Trial in Vail and the finish of the last stage in Denver.  Vail was beautiful, but cold and rainy.  We got there early enough to find a spot along the barricade right at starting ramp.  That’s us circled in yellow!  In the leader’s yellow jersey is Tejay van Garderen, who would win the time trial and the whole race on Sunday.TJ at startBut the real highlight for Leah was when she got to say hello again to our favorite rider, Jens Voigt (aka Jensie).  Leah and Matt coincidentally sat next to Jens on the airport shuttle in Paris at the end of the Tour de France.  She told him we’d be in Vail and it was great to be able to get a picture with him.jensieYou see our Trek Factory Racing passes.  We were part of a fan club party that in addition to providing food and drinks at a restaurant next to the start, provided a great place to occasionally get out of the rain and warm up.  All in all, it was a great day!  Even the sun came out at the end of the day!

Sunday was the last stage of the race. It started in Boulder, went up Lookout Mountain in Golden, and then ended in Denver. They did four laps of a circuit in downtown, so we got to watch them multiple times. From last year we remembered a great spot where you can see them at one corner and then have time to walk to the next corner to see them coming in the other direction.  So we actually got to see them eight times.  We screamed like crazy as Jensie stayed in a breakaway for all four laps and was caught right before the end.  If you’ve never been to a professional bike race, you’ll be surprised how close they pass by you!

Matt had to take the red-eye back to go to work on Monday, so we decided to stay in Denver for the rest of the day after the race.  We went to the Denver Botanic Gardens as they had a Dale Chihuly glass exhibit.  The glass sculptures where placed throughout the gardens as if they were part of the plantings.  It was truly spectacular!

We had dinner at Moontower Tacos which was inspired by Torchy’s Tacos from Austin.  It was good, but no Torchy’s!  Earlier in the week Matt and Leah taught me how to make Chuy’s Deluxe Tomatillo sauce from scratch so we can make our own Tex-Mex meals.  Good BBQ is still a struggle too.  But a small price to pay for the gorgeous scenery and cool temperatures of Colorado.  Our A/C has only turned on a few times since we moved in.  It’s so nice to sleep with the windows open and feel the cool breeze in the morning!

Well, now that Leah and Matt are gone there’s no avoiding unpacking boxes!

Move In Day Eve

Somehow we made it and we’re actually moving in tomorrow!  Not everything is done 100%, but enough that we passed inspections, so that’s all that matters right now.  Just a quick post to share the news, then it’s to bed early to be ready for a whole lotta moving tomorrow and Wednesday.  Then Leah and Matt come to visit to watch a couple of stages of the US Pro Challenge bike race.  So we’ll have a very busy and eventful week!

Here are some pictures of the outside of the house.  It’s been covered in scaffolding and plastic over the windows for about six weeks, so it’s nice to finally see the complete product! frontback

T minus 12 days (plus or minus who knows)

The last move in date we discussed with the builder was Aug. 19th.  However, we’ve still been experiencing some glitches, so we’re not overly confident that we’ll make that date.

The biggest issue continues to be with the stone and stucco.  The stone has been very slow going with one guy doing most of the work.  Then when they finally started putting on the stucco color coat – it was the wrong color!  We were anticipating a light tan, but we ended up with yellow!  The small square is the sample board that the stucco company made for us months ago. old stucco

Luckily the stucco manufacturer and stucco contractor agreed with us that the color was way off, so they agreed to have the color remixed.  Unfortunately it took a day and a half to custom mix the color and then the main stucco applicator had a family emergency, so we’re running way behind again.  This is a big problem because a lot of exterior tasks can’t be done until stone and stucco is complete.

Here is the new stucco color.  It still ended up a little more golden or clay (depending on the light) than taupey, but it’s not bright yellow as it was before and we think it pulls all the colors together nicely.new stucco

At least inside we’ve had lots going on … light fixtures, sinks, cabinet doors/drawers/hardware, mirrors, backsplash tile, and appliances.

Almost every contractor has to come back to finish up a couple of things, so there’s always a lot going on.  The trim carpenter is finally putting up the living room beams and the stair iron balusters, which is very exciting to see.

Now if we can keep the afternoon storms away so all the exterior work can be completed.  We almost got the driveway pour finished before a big storm last week.

Good thing I invested in some good mud boots!

Hopefully our next post will have good news on our move in date!

Trim, Paint, and Stone!

A lot has been going on in the two weeks since the last house blog post.  The yard usually looks like a parking lot, which makes us happy to see lots of different contractors working!parking lotThe trim carpenter worked for about three weeks installing cabinets and all the baseboards, door casings, crown mouldings, and trim around windows.  He also is working on our stair railing.  We had planned on using iron balusters and newel posts, but some structural beams ended up in the way and we had to switch to wood newel posts.  Here we are in the middle of making the switch.  The end caps are hickory to match the floor.  The risers will be painted white to match the baseboards.  The middle will be carpeted.  The iron balusters will go in after the handrail and newels are stained.iron or woodOnce all the trim was in, it was time for the painters.  As any of you that have done any painting in your house can relate, it took days of prepping first.  Every nail hole the trim carpenter made had to be filled and sanded, etc.  And then everything had to be masked, multiple times, as they stained and painted.  The interior paint we selected is Benjamin Moore’s Pale Oak, which is a light greige color.  When we compared it to other greige paints it seemed light gray.  Now that it’s by itself on the walls it seems a little more beige.  But it definitely changes colors depending on the lighting and surroundings.  Should make decorating interesting!

Here’s the living room with a preview of the stonework.  You have to look down to the baseboard at the bottom left to even see that the wall is not white.  We wanted something light and airy, so we’re pretty pleased with how it turned out.paint lrSo yep, they finally started on the stone and stucco!  We have somewhat of a skeleton crew, so it will be a while until it’s done.

The brown coat has to cure for seven days, so they plan to start applying the colored stucco next Monday.  We are very excited to see all the color choices that we’ve I’ve agonized over coming together!

We actually have taken some of the painting over ourselves.  Partly to help out with the schedule and partly because we weren’t sure the painter was going to be able to realize our vision.  So we’re staining the living room beams and front door.  We worked on the beams this weekend and we started the front door today.

Beams drying in the master bedroom after being stained.

Beams drying in the master bedroom after being stained.

Here's what the beams looked like before staining.

Here’s what the beams looked like before staining.

All this work has made me strong!carry beamDon’t be too impressed!  These are actually faux beams made of polyurethane!

Tomorrow the electricians begin with their finish work.  Can’t wait to see light fixtures going up!

Why Colorado … Backyard Friends

We were used to seeing lots of wildlife around our previous home in Texas.  But the ones around here are a little bigger! single elkThis afternoon while we were watching the World Cup we happened to look outside and spotted this fellow.  After going out on the deck we saw he wasn’t alone!

Elk are a common sight around Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.  In fact, it’s a tradition to go up to the park in the fall during mating season to hear them bugle.  Occasionally they follow the Big Thompson River all the way down to the front range towns.  We will kind of miss our rental that backs to this open space right along the river.  Of course, living by the river does have its drawbacks as being evacuated during the September flood proved!

We know we have LOTS of bunnies around our new house.  I hope I don’t end up fighting with them over my planned veggie garden as I did with the deer and my landscaping in Texas.

Granite!

I couldn’t come up with a clever post title, so we’ll just get right to the details.

Shopping for granite can be quite daunting.  We made several trips to different stone distributors in Denver.  If you recall, we got a great deal on the kitchen granite by coincidence at a lumber vendor that was just getting into the granite business.  It took a little longer to find the bathroom granite, but we finally selected Ivory Cream, luckily a Group 1 granite.  We were able to find a great fabricator with very reasonable installation prices.  So we ended up being able to use granite for all the counter tops for less than our original estimate for just the kitchen and master bath!  We even have some granite left over that the fabricator is reserving for us in their remnant pile for any future use.

Here’s a summary of the granite process (click on the image to see it larger):

Once the granite was in, it was time to finalize the interior wall paint.  I even brought in some of the stone pieces that will soon be installed around the fireplace.

Testing paint in the living room.  The brown board is the exterior paint trim.

Testing paint in the living room. The brown board is the exterior paint trim.

Testing paint in the master bedroom with  moulding to see the contrast with each choice.

Testing paint in the master bedroom with moulding to see the contrast with each choice.

The colors from left to right are: Edgecomb Gray, Pale Oak, and Revere Pewter (all Benjamin Moore).  We’ve made our choice.  You’ll have to wait to see which one it is!!

Floors and Cabinets!

I thought I would be blogging more often as new things started happening quickly at the house, but it hasn’t ended up working that way.  The good news is that a lot has happened – I just haven’t had much time or energy to blog about it!  Those that know me well, know that I am very detail oriented.  So I have been at the house every day, sometimes all day long!  This is our “forever home”, so I want to make sure that everything is as perfect as possible.  Needless to say I’m driving the builder and subcontractors a little crazy as I hand pick tiles, make them re-do sloppy work, etc.

We are loving how everything is turning out so far, but there’s still a lot to do.  We were hoping to be moved in by the end of July, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.  We have a few contractors that keep slipping their schedules.  Mostly the stucco and stone contractor.  At this rate the interior will be done way before the exterior, which is a little backwards from the norm.

I do have a lot of pictures to share of all the hardwood, tile, and cabinet work!

Almost all of the first floor will be hardwood.  After visiting many flooring stores, we decided on hickory.  We like its varied shading and hardness factor.  We then had to decide between engineered wood or solid hardwood.  After much research, we decided on solid hardwood that is sanded, stained, and sealed on site.  The solid hardwood seemed to be the best long term solution, since it could be sanded down in the future and refinished if necessary.  It also enabled us to use a custom stain.  It surprised me that the floors are the first finish item to go in.  They were only pretty for about one day until everyone started walking on them and getting tile dust and sawdust all over them!  Evidently the last thing that happens before move in is that they come back and do a light sanding/buffing and apply the last sealer coat and then they’ll look beautiful again!

** You can hover over a picture to see a description or click on it to see them all larger in slideshow format. **

After the wood floors were in they started working on the tile.  We had a bit of a panic when the tile we had selected for the master bathroom, entry, and living room fireplace was discontinued.  After trying to pick something else in a rush, we decided to pay extra to have the last remaining stock shipped in from California.  So far I’m really happy with the tile.  It’s a mexican limestone instead of travertine, so it has a little bit of a different look.

You see a peek at the master bath cabinets in the picture above.  The carpenter was working right behind the tile layers putting down the cabinets.  A couple of cabinets are missing that will sit on the granite and the doors and drawer fronts will come later.

The tub surround will be topped by granite.

The tub surround will be topped by granite.

The upstairs bathrooms:

The kitchen!

cabinets kitchenMore tile, cabinets and built-ins …

The carpenter was also busy trimming out the view wall windows.  This trim will be stained to complement the floors.IMG_0313Granite will be installed tomorrow!  And the painter’s coming to show me samples.  I guess it’s going to be another full day of “supervising”!