The Forever House



  • the incredibly long, annoying, confusing, and frustrating process of finding a contractor, by which I mean the incredibly long, annoying, confusing, and frustrating process of my husband figuring out if he could EVER be comfortable with ANY contractor; 
  • not really having any idea of how to divide our Why Did They Design It This Way??? main floor/master bathroom in a sensible way;
  • and the remodel money slooooowly yet suuuuuurely drying up (thanks, Stock Market!); 


In April. Our contractor dude will probably start demo the week we go to Hawaii for spring break - oh, did I mention that? - which is why I will not be at the Blathering this year. I can't go on a family trip, remodel a bathroom, AND see Britney in the same month. I am extraordinarily self-indulgent, but even I have limits. 

Here is the CURRENT floor plan and the DESIRED floor plan. 


For a while we considered keeping the double vanity and putting the toilet on the other side of the bathroom with the shower, but marriage is about compromise, friends, and Phillip Cheung wants the biggest shower he can possibly get. With a foot or so saved for some type of deep linen closety storage (the above picture is not to scale, heh), his new shower is really not going to be all that bigger than his current shower. But configuring it this way earned me some wife points and also ensured that we'll have to pay more for plumbing. SURE, WHY NOT!

I still have to get in touch with our Builder Dude and discuss exact measurements and all that, but I have a GENERAL idea of what I want and how it will look. That is, until I start thinking about it a bit more and then everything is back up for debate. Maybe I really DO want to have a tub and we'll do a shower tub combination with this lovely piece of porcelain, isn't it pretty? With a shower curtain because is there anything more hateful to clean than a shower door? I'd lose my storage there at the end, but I'd have enough space for a tiled shampoo ledge/bench. Who cares about where the towels will go!

Speaking of tile, I'm a big fan of sparkling white with MAYBE some aqua glass tiles thrown in somehow, but you know what's nearly as hateful to clean as shower doors? GROUT. I HATE GROUT. Which is why, when I stayed at a fancyish hotel earlier this year, I spent the better part of every shower examining the... vinyl? wallpaper? siding? material?... that lined the shower. I mean, it was NICE. It was like waterproof textured wallpaper. All white. Vertical grooves. Only a handful of seams in the whole shower. IT WAS SUPER COOL. And I cannot find anything like it anywhere on the whole internet, which makes me think maybe it WAS wallpaper and what were they thinking putting it in the SHOWER? But I loooooved it and I would totally put that in my house. 

(OR MAYBE I can put in a narrow stall shower and one of those tiny Japanese soaking tubs. OOOOOOOHH. (No.))

As for bathroom vanities, I don't like anything. And I have looked at all of Pinterest, all of Houzz, and all of the rest of the internet. I want modern, but not ugly. I want clean, but not operating room sterile. I want as much storage as possible, while realizing you don't get that much in a one sink vanity. Do I want one that comes with the countertop included? I want an undermount sink (pretty much all of my choices are based on what is easiest to clean). How does a built in vanity work? Can you put something together with kitchen cabinets? 

The thing I hate most about my current bathroom is the linoleum floor. It's ugly, torn, coming up in places, UGH I HATE IT SO. What is an AWESOME floor? Dark? Tiled? WHAT? 

The small guest side of the bathroom, I kind of don't care. Probably whatever floor we pick for the other side, a teeny tiny wall mount sink that I assume I'll get at Ikea, and a super plain shower - heck YES we are ripping out the tile we put in ourselves. In addition to it's ugliness it wasn't a very good job and although we needed to do it at the time and it worked out and we saved ourselves a few bucks, if we're going to remodel everything else we're going to get a PRETTY shower too GOSHDARNIT. And because it won't be used that often, I'm more okay with grout. White subway tiles sound nice, but so do those ginormous rectangular tiles where you need, like, seven for the whole shower. Clean lines, white, boom. 

Anyway. Do you have any THOUGHTS? Feel like throwing me into additional design tailspins? I'm planning to buy everything before April, stash it in the garage, and then Hail Mary my way through the actual process. I am fine making nine million decisions about fixtures and grout color and blah blah blah, but I would like to make them NOW. 


As it seems likely the teachers will strike tomorrow - the first day of school - we will begin today's blog post with a moment of silent prayer. 


Thank you. 


SIGH. Brisk clap. Phillip and I had a productive weekend, by which I mean our friends talked some sense into us (by which I mean him, obvs) and Team Cheung is plugging away. One thing I learned this weekend is that Phillip is BURNED. OUT. Probably anyone else could see this and talk about it, but I think because burned outness is something I completely deny/ignore/avoid/fight when it happens to me, I'm pretty terrible at identifying it in someone else. It's kind of like I don't see the POINT of being burned out. I mean, you still have to keep going, right? It's not like I have the option of throwing myself on my fainting couch and letting the au pair take care of the laundry and grocery shopping for a week. So I just don't let myself get there. [If you are thinking, "Hey! That sounds like a good way to propel oneself into a confusing anxiety attack!" YOU ARE CORRECT.] 

So, poor Phillip. It's not like I don't KNOW that he's struggling, but for whatever reason I just expect him to Power Through the way I do, forgetting that Powering Through is actually one of my special superpowers, not an average skill everyone is born with. 

What IS good about living with a person with the superpower of Getting Shit Done is that once said person finally figures out her husband really IS at his rope's end, she prints out a calendar of the year and starts inserting deliberate down time into any potentially stressful week or month. We now have a fun family weekend planned for October and a relaxing just us retreat weekend planned in November. A weekend in Vegas in January thanks to my crappy trip out of the Colorado Springs airport last year and the vouchers I got for complaining about it. A potential family trip planned for midwinter break in February. And maybe turning last year's Husbands Ski Weekend into an annual thing. (December is just going to be a mess. December is always a mess. Even a wife with special superpowers is no match for December.) 

We ALSO reformulated our plans for remodeling. For the zillionth time. This has been SUCH an annoying process, but I guess we needed to do it. The bathroom HAS to get fixed. It has actual stuff wrong with it, so the bathroom is still on tap for Drastic Renovations. But the kitchen... as much as I despise my tile countertops, the kitchen is FUNCTIONAL. The kitchen can last a lot longer so instead of focusing on big bath and kitchen remodels, we're now looking at throwing some money at the living room. When I asked Phillip what things stressed him out about the house, he mentioned the hole in the carpet, still there from when we removed the fireplace when we moved in. The cracks in the ceiling from the fireplace removal. The fact that all his living room electronics are sort of patched together, wires all over the place, nothing working quite right. So now we're thinking about actually going ahead on that Wall O' Built Ins we've dreamed about, with places for everything, wiring in the walls, and replacing allll the carpet. Expensive, but probably not as expensive as tearing out the kitchen, right? 

(I've been so frustrated with the not having a remodel plan that I've taken to hunting for new construction houses on Redfin, all located thirty minutes north, of course, with four bedrooms, bonus rooms, dens with full bathrooms that can double as guest rooms, laundry upstairs, and NEW NEW NEW EVERYTHING. After the last move (done while pregnant and Phillip was traveling) I said I'd die in this house, so I should probably reevaluate.)

You don't care about any of this, but it was helpful for me to write out. PEOPLE TO CALL. STUFF TO LOOK UP. NO HEAD SPACE TO GET IT DONE UNTIL THESE KIDS GO TO SCHOOL ACK.


In which my imaginary kitchen cabinets become a metaphor

I was just overcome by a giant burst of Productivity, and instead of doing the dishes or cleaning my room or getting caught up on laundry, I sorted and reorganized my giant stash of gift bags and tissue paper. For yes, I am one of Those People. I do indeed save wrapping paper, ribbons, nice shopping bags, pretty much anything I can use again, and for the last several years I've been stuffing it all into this enoooormous Storables shopping bag with a giant rip down one side. 

Anyway, I decided to haul it all out of the big closet downstairs and bring it upstairs into the Multipurpose Room Off The Kitchen That I Still Don't Know How To Organize because it's a huge pain going to that closet every time I need to wrap a present. Over the last year I've been slowly moving all my crafty supplies upstairs to the Room That Has No Name. For someone who isn't terribly crafty I have LOTS of craft supplies. It's all more useful to me up here and I don't have to get angry every time I go downstairs and see that Someone (AHEM) has totally destroyed whatever semblance of organization I set up in the storage spaces downstairs. 

But I am telling you all this because I need to know how you deal with House Functionality Issues. Especially when you have a Grand Plan but you can't execute it yet because the kids are too young. FOR EXAMPLE. That downstairs bedroom and closet will one day house my two girls and all the junk we keep down there will have to go somewhere else ANYWAY. The fact that my two girls will not be moving in together any time soon does not keep me from trying to figure out where everything is going to go. It actually makes me crazier because I can't just DO IT. 

A few weeks ago I think I told you I spent hours on the Ikea kitchen planner and mapped out exactly what I want to do with our kitchen. At some point. When we win the lottery. Because even an Ikea kitchen will require lottery winnings at this point. (REMEMBER WE BOUGHT A DECK? SIGH.) Well, now I've decided that I need to have ANOTHER wall of kitchen cabinetry to line the back wall of the Family Room Or Is It A Breakfast Area off the kitchen. Right now it's just an empty space. And I like it that way. Most people, when I start yammering on about my kitchen, think I'm going to incorporate it INTO the kitchen. But I love that extra space (at least right now) for kid projects and kid meals and parties and Christmas cookie prep and roman shades DIY and anything else we decide it's for. What it doesn't have is storage. What I want is a wall of cabinets that match what we'll pick out for the kitchen. One big cabinet for brooms and mops and cleaning supplies (WE HAVE NO PLACE FOR A BROOM IT DRIVES ME INSANE) and the rest just shelving for all the Extra Nonsense I have lying around up here. Craft supplies, wrapping supplies, my grandmother's china, the serveware I only get out for the Christmas party, table linens, candles, vases. I could move all the stuff in the buffet into these cabinets, get rid of my buffet, and have a more spacious dining area. 

And I want to do this NOWWWWWWWWW. 

I am really super not good at holding off on things. And it's not like I'm banging down Phillip's door to go to Ikea tomorrow or anything. I KNOW a few years of savings are required. I just can't STAND having a solution that I can't implement! I can think of other solutions, but it feels wasteful somehow to spend money on a second choice solution when I already know what the IDEAL is. 

You are all rolling your eyes right now, aren't you. I get it. I understand. Patience has never been one of MY virtues. 

Did I tell you my roman shades are a bust? I've made three out of the four and they ARE super cute and that elephant fabric IS the cutest fabric in the world BUT. The shades themselves are CRAPOLA. I accidentally cut the string on one of them, which YES I was furious with myself blah blah blah. I fixed it though and hung it up, only to realize that the second string on the same shade is on its last thread. So I can't use them. And I am so DISGUSTED. This is how I feel about most of my attempts at House Fixing Up. Good idea, poor execution, ridiculous outcome. God help us if we ever decide to go ahead and retile our own shower. 

Oh, don't get me started on the bathroom and the $30K of work our contractor said it would require. HA HA HA. 

Why am I fixating on this right now?! This has been a very weird day. Towards the end I realized that most of it, I think, has to do with the fact that Jack started school but Molly didn't. It's like my kitchen plan. I know what's going to happen and how great it will be, and it's so frustrating in the meantime because I can't just DO what I wanna DO. It's felt pointless to get into a new routine when the Molly factor isn't in place, but this whole time I've been SO FOCUSED on getting to that place. You know? I don't do well in in between spots. 

And I know. It's only a few days. Clearly not something to get bent out of shape about. Except I am, and I didn't mean to and I don't want to, but I AM and it's hard and GAWD I'm just ready to start the new normal already. 

In which I should really stop window shopping online already

It was nice to have healthy children today, but I'd forgotten how LOUD they are. I know Jack was also just being a little twerp too, but MY GOD, CHILDREN. Must we narrate our entire day? In song? At the loudest decibel we can muster?

After an hour of solitary retail therapy at my local Pier 1, I am now home eating a giant bowl of Egg Over Rice. (All of my favorite comfort foods are now dishes Phillip's dad used to make for him when he was sick. But dudes! Fried eggs! Rice! Soy sauce! Spoon! YUM!) 

Not that we've really had the opportunity to take ACTION on sprucing up the new house, but we HAVE given it a lot of thought/discussion. And occasional moments wandering around Target or furniture stores, looking for The Piece that will make us say: Oh yes! That is what we want things to look like! Finally this weekend we decided that we had to stop this unfocused browsing and go with something large. Something big. Something we could make all the other decisions around. And since we really really really want a giant sectional couch, on account of having ROOM for one, we picked one out. We didn't buy it - oh no, that's what accumulating coupons and waiting for sales is for - but we know which one we want and now I can think about other stuff. THIS IS VERY EXCITING. 

See, there's stuff we just kind of want to replace, like our smaller red couches and our small-space friendly ottoman, and there's other stuff we just NEED. Like a TV stand and a rug to go over the fireplace hole and a rug to go in the giant entry way and some sort of little breakfast table for the space off the kitchen and tons of lighting since this house has none and things to put on the walls because we have a LOT of wall. And no, none of it is urgent or all that necessary, but you can't help but LOOK, right? And prioritize. Right now I'm thinking the priority is: sectional + living room floor lamp + living room rug. Specifically, these:

Elliott Sectional   (sorry, it won't let me save a picture and I'm on a weird computer without my Tools)





I LOVE this rug. It's pricey and Elizabeth says rugs like this often get worn out pretty fast, but my heart is sold. Our walls are a very pale yellow, the prospective new couch is slate gray, the carpet is brown... I think it could work? With some bluish or yellowish couch pillows? You think? 

Of course there are other items I have my eye on:

I want this rug for my entry way. 


I might as well post pictures of everything else at World Market. We will probably pick out a TV stand from their collections as well. Eventually. ONE THING AT A TIME, MAGGIE.

I stared at this lamp for a very long time tonight:


But it's not a Right Now item. So I came home with two of these (in white):


Also not Right Now items, but I was out for RETAIL THERAPY, which requires purchasing SOMETHING, and these were within the retail therapy budget. I hung them on the hooks outside on the deck. 

This table and chairs set (AND the sideboard, I could not have this table WITHOUT the gorgeous sideboard) were adorable, but nicer and pricier than I was intending for the space off the kitchen. And we're not out to replace the dining room table (yet) (and when we do, we will be buying A Huge Table, not a cutesy round one.)


I have no idea what to put on the walls. I have a lot of pictures, but they all seem SMALL. Eventually we're going to need a couple of Big Things. My only idea thus far is to snap up one of our artist friend's Way Cool Paintings, but as they are also Way Expensive, we're not worrying about that right now. 

The owners left all the window coverings, either shades or curtains (or both) and miraculously, I really like the curtains. They're all some sort of heavy, textured/patterned white on black or espresso rods (I can't tell). I like them. I won't be switching those out. I might want to add some curtains in the living room though, and the problem will be matching the rods. Again, not a Right Now Item. 

I also think about paint colors, bedroom furniture that will bring us out of the College Era, and decorating a girly nursery, but none of that's going to happen any time soon. Molly never got a girly nursery, on account of living in our closet until she was seven months old, and Third Baby won't get one either, on account of her brother and sister living in her room until we HAVE to move Third Baby in and shove the older kids into the bedroom downstairs. 

And this is before I even get to my FAVORITE things, which are Table Linens and Serving Dishes and Centerpieces. God help our bank account.