The Pop Top - Finalizing Finishes

Finalizing Finishes

Inflation was raring its ugly head, and everything was costing more than we had originally planned. So, I did my homework, sourced new stuff, picked the best option in budget, and reminded myself that even if every finish wasn’t my top choice, it was still a custom home. And if I’m honest, this probably won’t be my last home renovation in life. If we couldn’t do the single slab live quartz backsplash in this house, maybe we’d do it in the next one. I DID love those slabs but the $20,000 price tag just wasn’t worth it.
 
Plumbing fixtures were also coming in about 40% higher than originally quoted, so I had to revise some of those. I stuck with the fancy Brizo faucets and tub filler for our primary bath and kitchen, but picked some simpler options for other areas. We also selected our appliances, and decided to splurge on the panel ready fridge by Jenn Air. I’ve never been so shocked at the price of an appliance…
 
 
Finally in March, the freezing stopped and we were able to pour a foundation. Hallelelujah! The concrete guys came and poured the basement addition and the bump out on the side of our lot, which would become storage in the basement, a larger kitchen area, mudroom and the stacked stairwell on the main level, and then a covered porch off the kitchen. The second level then added three bedrooms and two full baths.
 
It was also at that time that we decided we wanted to splurge on cabinetry. We’d been meeting with several cabinet suppliers in Denver and were astonished by the prices of the “boxes” they offered despite being custom. It seemed like all of our options were overpriced and lacking quality. Our designer suggested we get a bid from a furniture maker she had worked with in Mexico City, who also had a millwork factory there. Based on my inspiration photos, she drew out the style of cabinetry we wanted in our kitchen and bathrooms, plus some of the ideas we had for millwork in the living room, bedrooms and mudroom. The cost to ship everything from Mexico City was a tough pill to swallow, but his cost was much less than the suppliers in Denver, and it gave us the ability to say yes to all of the built-ins that would have otherwise been slashed from our budget. 
 
 
By May, the entire house was framed and it started to take shape. Seeing the second story, even just with lumber, was really exciting. And then when they added a roof, windows, homewrap and stucco, it REALLY started to look like a house again. For the exterior, we chose to keep the existing front porch, and rather than pop straight up, we opted to add a dormer in the front to match the bungalow style. This helped it fit into the neighborhood and honored the Craftsman architectural integrity.
 
When picking exterior materials, we knew brick would be more expensive than stucco, so we couldn’t do it everywhere. Luckily, our contractor was able to reuse the brick that was demoed from the back of the house for the side addition and part of the street-facing second story, which helped to limit the number of materials, keep consistency with the neighborhood and increase curb appeal. 
 
 
While a previous owner had thoughtfully rebuilt the beams and rafters of the front porch, the columns and the floor of the porch had settled, so we knew we’d have to tuckpoint and redo the concrete there. We originally planned to put a railing on the front where the brick balustrade was, but after walking the exterior with a landscape architect, we decided to follow her suggestion and create an open front porch with two wide steps. 
 
Because our house is south facing, we love sitting on the front porch and waving to neighbors as they stroll down the block. By opening it up, it would create a more inviting porch. We had also planned to pour fancy concrete with a textured aggregate on the porch, but that was slashed from the budget quickly as costs kept coming in higher than expected.
 
As was consistent with the entire project, the summer was full of delays. The biggest delay was with brick work. Good masons are hard to come by, and the team that did our brick work was just that; they were busy and hard to pin down. Before we could start interior work (drywall, plumbing, insulation, etc) we had to have the masons come to close up all the window and door openings. This was expensive work too- more than we’d budgeted for—and as each overage bill came in, my anxiety rose. I kept reminded myself that this was all part of the process.
 

READ ON

 

Design Inspiration

Before we began construction, Libby and I spent a lot of time sending inspiration images back and forth. Because she wasn’t local, we met via zoom and she presented new ideas via an app called Miro. Once we had a good idea of floor plans, she hand drew elevations so that we could all visualize how each area of the house would eventually look.
 

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