Inside Edition

Welcome to our home!

Interior Shots 11

Entering though the front door, you see the dining room to the left, music room will be on the right, the stairs are directly ahead, and right beyond my coffee mug is our living room, which overlooks the back yard. Up and to the right is our guest room. Come by and stay a while!

Interior Shots 9

This is a look into our music room. The piano is going to go on the brown wall opposite the windows and I’ll hang some guitars on either side of the piano. I’m going to probably put my scotch bar on the terracotta wall, which will lead to a debate on whether we have scotch in the music room, or whether we play music in the scotch room. It will probably depend on who you ask.

Interior Shots 8

Turn around and you’ll see our dining room with Sarah’s gorgeous chandelier. There’s a speaker in the ceiling that I’ve recently hooked up so we can have some music while we clean and move stuff in. In case you are wondering, and even if you weren’t, the first song cranked to 11 was Babe I’m Gonna Leave You. That song choice has absolutely nothing to do with mine and Sarah’s relationship status and everything to do with Jimmy Page. I mean, Robert Plant too, but Jimmy Page. It’s always my first song on new stereo equipment to see if it’s worthy. These speakers are worthy.

Interior Shots 2

The downstairs bathroom has an entry from the hallway and a separate entry from the guest room. According to the (excellent) granite store we got everything from, the veins in the countertop are petrified wood. Even if it’s not, it’s a good story.

Interior Shots 3

Guest room. The guest room overlooks the back yard and a beautiful American Beech tree. The left wall backs up to the living room and the bathroom is to the right. We’ve put acoustic insulation in the walls floor to ceiling in all the living spaces, so our guest room should be somewhat shielded from the noise in the living room and the rest of the house. But our son found out that the house echos and we’re bringing in musical instruments for him to play, hit, shake, and bang, so no real guarantees.

Interior Shots 7

Interior Shots 6

A couple shots of our grand living room: 10′ ceilings, granite hearth, and a cast fireplace mantle. We’ve put feature lighting on the wall on the right so we can highlight some art or a family portrait. Or a wall of photos. We don’t quite know how we are going to set it up. We’ll have the TV over the fireplace, which I’m not crazy about, but Sarah found some good ideas for cabinets on Pinterest so we can hide it when we aren’t using it. All of the A/V electronics rout to a panel on the right wall, so even if the bare TV has to sit there, it will at least be clean. Go through the large arc on the left to get to our breakfast area and kitchen.

Interior Shots 5

We love the kitchen! All new Slate GE Profile Appliances, our wasabi colored island, and our cherry cabinets. We blew the budget on this one, but we’re really happy with how everything turned out. The dentil molding is a nod to our old house. There’s speakers in the ceiling in-line with the island, and they’re hooked up with the Dining Room speakers. Yep, more Zeppelin.

Interior Shots 4

We’ve copied the detail of the arc for a valance that goes over the sink and connects the bank of upper cabinets to the floating cabinet on the right of the sink. You can kind of see it in the picture up top, but I don’t have a straight-on shot yet. The windows behind the sink overlooks the back yard and the porch.

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So that’s pretty much it for the downstairs! These stairs lead you up to where our bedrooms, play room, project room, and messes will be.

What a project.

Josh

The Inside Story

I’m a better photographer than this.

Color Play 7

That’s my first and lasting thought as I take pictures of the interior of my house. The colors are horrible. My light browns are green. My terracotta is Santa Claus red. My dark walnut stain looks like red mahogany. My wasabi green island is mint green. Then I shoot it again and it’s grass green. Our colors are all aesthetically pleasing. These photos are not. I give up.

Next morning, I pull out my Bryan Peterson books. I check my camera settings. I drop the pictures on the laptop. Yep, they’re ungood and I need to figure out why. A little poking around with my fellow Nikonians and flipping through my photography books I come to the conclusion that interior real estate photography is the most deceptively difficult type of photography from an article I read entitled Interior Real Estate Photography Is The Most Deceptively Difficult Type of Photography. Here’s where it goes wrong.

Even on a nice cloudy day with perfectly diffuse and even lighting, I’m competing with at least 3 sources of light. I’ve got the sunlight coming in the windows, I’ve got any incandescent lighting in the room, and I’ve got all the residual light bouncing off the walls coloring the rest of the room. Then, I’ve got shadows to deal with and depth of lighting that might make the color look great on one wall and too deep on another. But the biggest problem is the shot itself. The room is the object. If I’m taking a picture of my son popping a bubble, and the shot is just a little bit green or a little bit red, it’s not even noticeable. But if the focus of the shot is the colors on the walls and on the floor, a blueshift will make you want to just give up.

Color Play 4

So, I messed with it for another whole morning. Reshot the entire house. I adjusted my white balance, I read the lighting, readjusted my shots. They looked great on camera. Got them on my Mac and they were all bleh and dull. Turns out that my camera LCD screen isn’t as calibrated as I would like it to be.

Color Play 6

Then I messed with it for another whole morning. Reshot the entire house. I adjusted my white balance, I read the lighting, readjusted my shots. They looked awful on camera, but I knew that I set the white balance “correctly” and they should look pretty great once I got them up on my Mac. They looked better, still not great. I tweaked them just a little bit and I thought the colors looked pretty spot on. I got excited. I was ready to post! I sent them to my friend Mike.

Interesting that you see green in the unedited photos, though—looks more yellow/gold to me.

Fiddle sticks.

Color Play 5

Have you viewed the same photos on your iPhone for comparison?

Of course not. So, I sent them to my iPhone. Hmm. The edited ones look more yellow/gold and the originals looked pretty decent in retrospect. Why? Because I calibrated my monitor for print with a $100 color calibrator. Calibrate your monitor, the universe gets out of sync. It’s infuriating. Then I dove into a rabbit hole of monitor calibration and got half way through an article on the problems that arise from calibrating a small gamut monitor. What’s a gamut? Back to Apple’s stock calibration.

Here’s my favorite shot:

Color Play 3

But all of that hair pulling and hand ringing and soul searching that arose from my very sub-par photos lead to the world’s greatest solution.

All you really need to do is get your 2 year old to hold a $9 grey card for the shot, then re-take the shot without him in it. Correct your photo to the grey card, then apply the fix to the “clean” photo. It takes about 15 seconds per shot and Daddy has a Big Helper!

Play Room 2 (1)Play Room 1 (1)

Play Room 2Play Room 1

So now my Big Helper is going to help me shoot the downstairs. Again.

Nothing’s easy. But a lot of it is fun.

Josh

Our New Home!

New House Exterior

We’ve closed and we’re starting to move in! We are excited and just thrilled with the house. It’s has that brand new house smell (polyurethane) and while it is our dream home, it has not been without its drama, right off the bat.

As we closed, the builder said that he was not happy with the final coat of poly on the hardwoods. The flooring contractor is going to need to come and sand and then re-apply the top coat on the bottom floor. Bummer. We proceeded with the closing, as we didn’t want to have one last coat of polyurethane be anything that held up the closing.

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Plus, after closing we would vastly simplify our relationship with our lender, which I could not wait for. I needed a giant stack of cash for the house, and I would like to pay him monthly for the privilege. This is the relationship I needed and longed for.

I mean, I realize that getting a mortgage a couple years ago was a bit too easy, but the pendulum has swung. Hard. It’s not that we couldn’t get the loan, but the scrutiny is unreal. I haven’t had anybody watch my funds like that since…. ever. Even when I bought my last house. Even when Sarah and I planned our wedding and honeymoon 10 years ago before either of us had a real job. Even when I was doing computer repair for beer money at Tech and fishing quarters out of the couch. Not even close. We had to justify accounts that weren’t ours. I had to sign an affidavit stating that I am not and have never gone by Josh M. Carter, who has a warrant out for his arrest for skipping out on a house note and stealing chickens or whatever. I had to sign another affidavit that my in-laws credit card was in fact theirs, and not ours. I can’t tell you how many times I had to call the lender in the middle of the night to re-affirm that I pay my credit card bill off every month. And then I’d have to prove that the money that was automatically drafted out of my account to go to “American Express” ended up going to a company called “American Express” to pay my “American Express” credit card bill. Oh man, seriously? Sold something on Craigslist of eBay didja? Where did that money come from? eBay? A coat of Polyurethane wasn’t stopping this train. This needed to end.

So we closed! Poly be dammed.

New House Exterior 1

And the last coat of polyurethane did look good. It did! But what didn’t look too hot was the stain that they sanded all the way through, the paint drippings from touch-up paint that they trapped between coats of polyurethane, and the touch-up pen that they used to hide the paint drips and spots and long edges of boards. Not happy.

New House Exterior 2

After discussing the options with the builder and his real estate agent, we really had no good options other than sand down and re-do. So that’s what we did, and we didn’t let anybody else other than the flooring crew in the house. They took the finish all the way off and got down to the bare oak, then built it back up. It cost us a week and 2 weekends. But it’s right now, and it’s gorgeous. They did a better job on this floor than any other floor that I’ve seen. They probably didn’t want to have to do it again. Me either.

New House Exterior 3

So now it’s done and we’ve started cleaning. Top to bottom, scrubbing walls, vacuuming floors, getting construction dust out of lights and ceiling fans and nooks and crannies. It’s slow work because my level of cleaning is borderline obsessive. The bathrooms take me hours and hours. I scrape up small bits of grout, paint, and goo. I’ve got rags and buckets and razor blades and putty knives and screw drivers and 3M pads and the soft kind of 3M pads and Frogtape. I also drink a lot of beer and push my little iPhone speaker as loud is it will go. Playlist is pretty predictable – Zeppelin I, Zeppelin II, Zeppelin III….

New House Exterior 4

But check out those pictures! That’s the outside of our new home! We’ve got about the same size back yard as we have now, but the front yard is dramatically bigger. In the picture above with the back of the house, you can see the Middle School practice field at the pine trees across the street. You will see that we have no pine trees in our yard or sweet gums. We ripped them all out to lay down grass and put in maples, dogwoods, cherry blossom trees, and even a ginkgo. We left our nice magnolias, beech, dogwoods, and oaks, so hopefully they’ll get big soon with all the light that now reaches them. I’ve made a small project out of upkeep on the plants that I’ll share with you too.

New House Exterior (1)

In the meantime, you’ll notice that I haven’t posted any internal pictures yet. There’s a reason. And a story. Of course there is.

Josh

Closing Time!

We closed on our new house!

I haven’t been in it yet.

On the day of closing, we got a message from the builder that he and the flooring company were not happy with the last minute floor repairs that had to be done or the last coat of polyurethane. They were both in the house at closing sanding and buffing. That means that we would need to stay off the floors until it’s all cured and done.

Boo.

But now we own the garage, so I spent some time cleaning it and moving some boxes. And, you know, the important stuff.

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First thing’s first. Hope the neighbors like Zeppelin.

The garage is cleanish. I washed the construction dust off the walls, mopped the floors, and then swept it all out, but nothing is really clean in Georgia in April. I’ll bring the leaf blower in as soon as the floors are dry.

My goal is to get my current garage cleaned out so I have some woodworking space to make some closets and cabinets, and Sarah’s goal is to get Charlie’s room all set up. But the very first thing we are going to do when we get in the house is do a new-house scrub of every room and get it move-in ready. Then I will take pictures of every room so in a year or so, I can look back with fondness and longing for the time that the house was clean.

More to come. Maybe even tomorrow.

Josh

17 Shades of Brown

We have decided on the cabinets!

We picked Kinda Dark And Not Too Red But Totally Still Brown brown, which we think will look good. The island will be Wasabi green, as in the color of Wasabi. The plan is to put a lighter granite on the top of the wood, darker granite on top of the island. Maybe.

Here’s a rendering:

Kitchen Rendering

Sarah did the heavy lifting here, and we’ve added and removed a lot of expensive things. Starting at the left and going around the room, we’ll have our in-wall oven and microwave, below we’ll have a drawer for casserole dishes and up top we’ll have a cabinet for something. Going toward the back of the room I’ve got my coffee bar, then the fridge which won’t actually be a counter depth fridge because they have less space and cost $1000 more than a regular fridge, then my pantry (!). Turning the corner, we’ll have a pull out spice rack, then some aesthetically pleasing symmetrically placed combination cabinets with pullouts in the cabinet area. The little drawers under our cooktop are fake (because there’s a cooktop there), but there are real drawers under that for something. The corner will have a lazy-susan and over the countertop we’ll have a glass door’d cabinet to show off some kitchen stuff, like bowls and teapots. Turn the corner and you’ve got our trash, sink, and dishwasher, then a bunch of drawers for things we will use whilst dining–table linens, napkins, bibs, things that stab, things that cut, things that scoop. The valance over the window is something Sarah fought our designer to do, but it will totally round out and tie together the room. The dentil molding was a will be our throwback to this old house that will be on the market next quarter. (Call me if you’re interested. Best public schools ITP.)

We went over budget.

– Josh

If These Walls Could Talk

They’d probably just say WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA and they would eat and poop and sleep. They’re only a couple days old now, and I think they look so good in drywall-paper grey and mud white.

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It’s amazing what a little bit ton of drywall will do to make the rooms feel like rooms and the walls less see-through. These photos were taken in the middle of the night (6:30 after work. Hate me some daylight-wasting-time) and I’m not particularly proud of them, but they’re worth a thousand words just the same. Up there is the kitchen, and down here is my living room.

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I’m so happy that the builder didn’t sheetrock the coffers. We’re going to cover them in wood and paint them a trim color, which is just one more color that we have to pick out. They also did a good job in my Bonus Room.

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See those can lights in the ceiling? Sarah thought it would be a good idea to put some extra lights in the bonus room, so before they hung the drywall, I went down to the house and measured where to put the lights… at 1:20 in the morning. I figured out the placement and the next day the builder told Sarah that one of the neighbors ran over to tell him that there was a strange man lurking round the house late last night. Guess I can’t say he was incorrect.

Master Bedroom!

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I love the ceiling. I just now noticed that the windows are different. Hmmm…

– Josh

Hooray!

Hooray

Charlie is very very happy that the sun is out! He took his toolbox to the new house to get to work, while mommy and the builder walked through to check out all the in-wall and in-ceiling work before the drywall goes up. We’ve got blocking in the music room for my guitars, feature lighting in the ceiling, extra lighting in Sarah’s sewing room and our bonus room, extra wiring for amplifiers (seriously. :D), a hot water loop to the master bathroom, lights over bath tubs, and dedicated circuits for my tools in the garage. Walls go up tomorrow!

The Walls They Are A Changin’

Photos!!!

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It’s a really lovely porter potty. The yellow reminds me of the color that hickory leaves turn right before Thanksgiving. It’s just a little off level, but that just makes it exciting.

This picture is actually about a week old. A lot has happened since I took this picture. For example, I went to some Lean training at work. Got some free tacos. Tried a new salsa–Cigar City from Publix. It’s expensive. It’s the most excellent salsa I’ve ever had. I made up a Mexican Rice recipe in a pinch and it wasn’t bad.

Also, it has rained nonstop all month and that’s not an exaggeration. And I can promise you this. If there is one thing that the first generation Porsche Boxster loves, it’s nonstop, unrelenting, punishing rain mixed with fall leaves. The weep holes in the body work are not quite as big around as a Sharpie, aaaand occasionally you might find that a single sweetgum leaf causes 3 inches of rain to accumulate in your passenger floorboard. Like you, I’m very surprised that I got my car in my garage. Yes, it’s a small car, but you’ve probably seen my garage, and the impossible task before me. It was Sarah’s idea. I married the right woman.

Rain! The new house is a mud pit. Just Georgia red clay, mixed with 18 inches of rain, mixed with more Georgia red clay, and that’s pretty much the construction site. Speaking of: Construction! I walked through the house on Sunday for a pre-sheetrock inspection. I took some pictures so I know where things are in the walls once we move in, but here’s a sampling. First up: my kitchen.

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Let me orient you. You are staring at the back wall where we plan on putting a kitchen. In this kitchen, we plan on cooking and preparing food, so we will put in cabinets and counter tops and ovens and sinks and islands and stuff and things. To the left is the mechanical closet. It will have our hot water heater and dust, and it will open into the garage. On the kitchen side of that wall, I’ll probably hang a pretty picture. Who am I kidding, I think I can get a case of wine on that wall. Challenge accepted. In that pocket to the left, we’re going to have an in-wall oven with a microwave above it, then moving back we’ll have a counter for my coffee, then the fridge. Staying on the same wall, that doorway in the back is our pantry. The lovely pink insulation dead ahead will be our cooktop, fume hood, and associated cabinetry. We’ll have our sink under the 3 windows in the back right, then stop the kitchen before we get to the big window in the right foreground. That’s our breakfast area. Turn around and look at:

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Our breakfast area. Well, I’m in the kitchen about where the island will go (you can see the black wire for the wall oven and the mechanical closet to your right) and see where our kitchen will end and the breakfast (party) will begin. The door leads to a 6′ cliff where it might be prudent to put a porch, and the archway leads into our…

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Living room. We don’t plan on keeping the bathroom fan box in the fireplace. We have 10′ coffered ceilings, we’ll do something with the fireplace, giant windows, and acoustic paneling. Acoustic paneling? Acoustic paneling. The brown colored insulation is all acoustic paneling going in all of the interior walls in all of the bedrooms and all of the bathrooms. I put the same stuff in my Master Bathroom when I rebuilt it, and Sarah liked it so much she asked the builder to put it everywhere. It will be verruh niice. There are more rooms in the house, but now we teleport to:

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The bonus room! A bonus room, we have a bonus room. The brown you are staring at is the acoustic insulation [:)] backing up to my master bathroom. This room is directly over my living room, and you can orient yourself by looking at the chimney and the windows and the neighbors. IDSPISPOPD directly thru the back right corner ahead on your right and you’re in my:

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Master Bedroom. You’re staring at your watch wondering when this post will end, but in the picture you’re looking out the front of the house. If you scroll back up to the lede picture, you’re looking out the 3 windows over the porch. If I turn around, which I have before, I’d be staring into my Master Bath. That pocket you see is my closet. Sarah has her own closet behind me. We have tiered ceilings in our room because that’s awesome, and we’ll control the upstairs temperature from the thermostat in our bedroom. Mwahaha.

We’ve made some changes, asked for some corrections, and they plan on sheetrocking tomorrow. So far, so good!

– Josh

Under Contract!

Under Contract

There’s our pretty pretty house. Isn’t it pretty? Now on to the aforementioned scotch-powered wit:

I meant to post much more often than this, but I have some very good excuses. In no particular order of importance or gravity, but numbers are aesthetically pleasing:
1) Work is hard and it takes up my time.
2) My 2 year old son is fun and he takes up my time.
3) Building a house is hard and fun and it takes up my time.
4) I spent a lot of my blogging time on server issues, that took up my time.
5) Daylight Savings Time no longer saves time, and the sun now goes down before I get home.

Server issues? Server issues. So, quick story (Pro tip: skip this paragraph). Believe it or not, I have a test server and a production server for my websites that nobody goes to. Why? Because I’m an engineer, and building ecosystems are as important to me as the final product. But not as important as scotch and cheese. So, here’s the quick story, which I’ve introduced twice so far: PHP 5.4 went went end of life last month, so I needed to update to the newest stable PHP 5.6. But Debian still has 5.4 when you do your normal apt-get’s, but I wanted 5.6. So, in my test environment, I updated my server and my server was stable. (If that didn’t make sense to you, replace all that with “blah blah blah, I updated my computer and it worked.”) Then, after a couple of days of stability, I updated my production server. 5 minutes later, my test server crashes. 10 minutes after that my production server crashes. I can’t even log in. I can’t even reboot them! I freak out because I can no longer even access the data for my websites, let alone the fact that every website I host is offline, and I start every trick I have to get back in. After 3 hours of futile efforts, I open a trouble ticket with my virtual server hosting company (Linode. Awesome awesome people), tell them I did a bad thing by updating my servers, and they respond with “Sorry about that. Our Atlanta hosting servers are being targeted with a DDOS attack right now and we are trying our hardest to get things working again. This will probably take another hour.” Once the stupid hacker attack was over, all was well again. Phew! The blog is back online, and it wasn’t my fault after all. Rejoice.

So, what happened since we signed the papers? Well, we gave the builders money, which they were happy about. We asked them to move walls, which they did. We asked them to move wiring, which they did. We asked them to change doorways, which they did. We also changed a tub, made the shower bigger, put in blocking for hanging my guitars, turned a doorway into an archway, located the in-ceiling speakers for our kitchen, dining room, master bedroom, and master bathroom, brought closet doors together in a bedroom, moved the doorway to Sarah’s closet, located our towel warmers, and told the builders that we wanted to pick the exterior paint colors. Then we got our budgets for the kitchen and we went shopping!

KitchenAid has a new awesome color for 2015: Black Stainless. It’s not black on stainless, it’s not stainless with black trim. The stainless steel itself is black. It is sexxxxxy. Check it out! I decided I had to have it. So I started with that color and picked their new black stainless dual oven… And it’s almost $4000. Take a look at the dishwasher: looks great. $1500. Checked out the weird 5 door black stainless fridge, $4000… holy crap there’s an eleven thousand dollar fridge. My GE appliances will look fantastic in the new kitchen.

We have designed and redesigned the kitchen 4 times now. The cycle usually goes that we decide everything that we want, get it priced, decide we didn’t want certain details in the first place, rearrange the kitchen again, get it priced, decide we didn’t want certain details in the first place, rinse, repeat. I think we are getting close though. We’ll have an island instead of a peninsula, a showpiece fume hood instead of an over-range microwave, separate in-wall microwave and oven instead of a combined oven or a double oven, and lots and lots and lots and lots of drawers. We’ve picked a color. The cabinets will be “cappuccino”, which is darker than our current kitchen’s “coffee”. Nevermind that in the world of coffee, coffee starts out dark and gets lighter as you add milk for a cappuccino. Out are any turned post corners for our island ($1450), out are the glass-door cabinets on either side of the fume hood ($1800), and once we priced adding a raised panel to our doors at an unbelievable fifty six hundred dollars, we decided we like it flat.

Sarah is worried that we don’t have a place for everything. We’re almost tripling our kitchen cabinets and we’ll have a pantry for the first time ever. I’m confident we can squeeze it all in.

– Josh