Week 54: Piles, tiles, and a plot twist!

This week, I pulled up to the house on Thursday, and there were big piles of black dirt in the front yard. This was, momentarily excited as we had recently talked with a landscaper who had agreed to do our final grade, and I thought they must be getting underway now that the weather was nice.

Then I remembered that Josh told me the landscaper wasn’t going to start until the concrete crew came back to pour the driveway, so I wondered what was up.

Turns out, Josh was confused too, and made a call to our excavator from last spring who was the one delivering the dirt. Our excavator was equally as confused. Because that dirt…was for another project!


And he didn’t want to bring the equipment needed to come scoop it back up and move it. So looks like we’re keeping it. It would stand to reason that the first thing that happened significantly ahead of schedule happened as an accident. But we’ll take it!

Also arriving this week, most of our tile, including the slate tile for the entryway and the accent tiles for the guest bathrooms that I agonized over. The tile looks great with the paint colors (all of which are up on the walls now!), and the entryway tile in particular was an exciting arrival as it will let us finish the first floor flooring.

And now for the plot twist.

If you’ve followed our project from the beginning, you’ll remember over a year ago when we were buying lumber for Josh to start our cabinetry, we wound up with (through a strange set of circumstances and a misunderstanding) maple. This was fine. Maple is a beautiful wood, but it’s particularly tricky to stain. And we had planned on staining all our woodwork.

This set off months of indecision about our stain where we tried various colors and variation (water based, oil based, etc.) trying to find something that covered well and stayed even on the maple grain. The struggle was real, and we went from a really really dark mocha stain which looked good but wasn’t the color we wanted, and eventually switched on a color we loved but would be much harder to do well. We’ve been practicing on a door, and it’s been a challenge. But I had my heart set on that stained woodwork.

So it was to Josh’s surprise more than anyone’s when we started moving in our doors and cabinets this week to start staining in earnest, when I looked at the natural maple boxes up on the wall, and the unfinished door in the pantry and suddenly said, “I actually like the natural maple with our paint colors and style.”

This is a big choice as it will affect not only every door and cabinet in the house, but also has me considering every other decision that was made in conjunction with that decision. The paint colors, the tile, the railings, etc., so many things were decided based on the stained woodwork we planned for. Paint can be redone, and tile can be exchanged, but those choices need to be made now, all in conjunction with this one.

Beyond the aesthetic, there’s also a time/labor factor to take into account. Whereas I knocked out an entire house worth of paint in a little over two weeks, Josh estimates it would take me about a month to stain everything we needed stained and to do it well. That’s A LOT of time we could get back at this point, especially if the style/aesthetic gain isn’t worth it in the end.

So Week 55 is a plot twist, a potential pivot, and a big decision that I thought we made eight months ago, but it turns out eight months is a long time, and seeing things in the space has a definite impact on the perception of what and how things work.

Stay tuned!


Published by Kate

A former Wisconsinite, Kate now resides in southeast Minnesota with her husband where she teaches high school English and theater. She recently completed her master's degree in learning design and technology, and continues to study and advocate for arts integration in the classroom. A recipient of the RISE America grant for high school theater, Kate is working to innovate and expand theater opportunities for the students at PIHS. An avid distance runner, concert pianist, and want-to-be wine aficionado, Kate's blog "ink." is a passion project, embodying all the best parts of life: friends, food, wine, thoughtful conversation, style, and sass!

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