I had a little meltdown…

I had a little meltdown last night because yesterday at the house, it was all things going wrong:

  • They put in the double vanity in the master, and found that both the framing and the plumbing behind it weren't measured correctly. I don't think that'll cost us anything to fix, since we gave them the right specs, but frustrating and may slow things down a bit -- they need to open up the wall there, re-frame, re-plumb, re-drywall, re-paint.

  • The double vanity itself, which was a very pretty weathered oak in the store, looks bizarrely yellow-ish in our bathroom, with the dark stained wood floors and the oodles of sunlight. We can live with it, certainly, but it's bugging me, especially because it's an expensive piece (maybe the most expensive piece of furniture we own, actually) and should be perfect, dammit. I do still love the lines of it, and Pam suggested that we could actually paint it silver or gray -- a light wash of paint would still allow the weathering to come through, but would effectively change the color tones and make it pop beautifully. I think she's right -- it's a bit more money to spray it, but not much, I think, with the guys on site. A bit nerve-wracking though, because what if we spray it and it still looks bad? That would be deeply irritating.

  • The guest powder room vanity is in the same wood, on the same floors, but with different lighting. It's backordered and not scheduled to arrive until mid-May. Should I call them and try to cancel it altogether and choose something different now? I had a hard time finding something narrow enough that was solid wood and had sufficient storage space for that tiny room. But I could hunt more. I have to decide today, though, because I'm about to authorize the stone fabricator to start cutting the tops -- once that's done to measure, we're stuck. I could exchange it for the Cartwright, which is the same price from the same store and basically the same width. I think would look nice, but I asked them about this on the phone a while back (when we found out it would be backordered), and they weren't sure if they could give us the bath sale discount that we'd gotten the first time around. I suppose I should call and ask them to find out for sure if I'm really thinking about this. It'll really change the look of the room, though. I don't know. (And we ordered a coordinating medicine cabinet, which may or may not have been delivered to our house already; need to check on that too.) What if it looks bad with our floors too? But maybe it would look much better. It might. Not sure. (Bonus: It would arrive in 1-2 weeks, which means that when my family comes to visit in May, there will be a guest vanity installed. But that's a minor point.)

    Update 9:30: ...I decided that I didn't want to risk not liking the wood on the guest bath vanity and medicine cabinet; I traded it in for the Cartwright. I think the Calcutta Gold marble will still look fine on that, and I think the whole thing will coordinate better with the floors and doors and trim. I was worried that it would be too matchy-matchy, but I think it'll be okay. A little less colonial in feel, more traditional Victorian. Okay, right? I hope so.

  • The first floor trim -- lord. The original trim has been tung oiled to a beautiful and varied golden color. It has masses of nicks and nail holes and is pretty severely distressed in places, but I like that -- adds character. The new trim needs to be stained and then oiled to match in color, and we are having a hard time. The custom color they tried to make up is too red and cherry-like. The pecan color is a little too light. If we do the pecan stain twice, that would probably be a good match, but would cost more. Pam asked them to try staining, leaving it for twenty minutes, and then wiping, to see if the color sets a little darker that way -- we'll see what it looks like today. The painters are pushing us to decide ASAP, since they can't paint the walls until the trim is done, and they're trying to finish up fast so we can move in on schedule -- basically, everything has to get done next week, because the following week, the floors get oiled and no one walks on anything. And then we move in. Oh, and to cap it all off, literally, the crowns in our dining room turn out to be birch instead of pine and look completely weird now that everything's been oiled, so we're probably going to try to stain them to match too, which is another process. Sigh.

Most days, I go over there, and everything is clicking along fairly smoothly. And other days, oy vey.

The worst news recently was that we got a competing quote from a second landscaper, and he thinks we should redo a bunch of stuff in the front yard (mostly rototill and add compost), which would among other things probably kill all the bulbs we planted last fall. Which would mean a couple of hundred dollars wasted, which, okay, isn't the end of the world, but it makes me cranky. I'm going to talk to Tonya and see what she thinks and whether we really ought to do that (and if so, why didn't we do it last fall in the first place). But in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy / pre-emptively mourn, the bulbs that are already coming up.

Crocuses. Not my favorite of the spring bulbs in shape, but I do love how early they show up. They seem to be first flowers in my yard currently.

A few hyacinths in front of Pam's sign.

This tulip came up in the back, not one we planted. It's charming, and will be likely drowned in soil when we try to fix the compacting issue back there.

Some of the scilla will probably survive, I hope, since we have a ton of them and they came with the house. I love them.

If we do rototill, I think we can pick up and move the perennials temporarily, so this foamflower should be safe. Hopefully.

And this is the pot I planted -- lavender in the center, three stocks, pansies, vinca. I'm happy about this one, at least. The lavender will grow up another foot, the vinca will trail down. The pansies will only last another month or two, but they're charming and will be easy to replace. I mostly want to garden with perennials, but a few cheerful annuals in a pot are also nice.

But see those white crocuses? Not likely to survive. Sigh.

Kev calmed me down after my meltdown. It'll be fine, I know, and oodles of stress are to be expected in the next few weeks, and I should just try to ride the waves of it and not give in to panic. It's always that way even with a normal move, and this is anything but normal. Just reminding myself to breathe. It's just a house. It's just a yard. If two colors clash a bit, it's not the end of the damn world. Yes, I've gotten insanely invested and obsessive over this project, but maybe it's time to relax and take the kids to the zoo with the grandparents. And just chill. It will all be well.

7 thoughts on “I had a little meltdown…”

  1. One thing you might want to think about when garden planning is where the utilities enter the house.

    Signed,

    About to lose a few perennials due to putting in town water…

  2. A company that wants to rototill and kill existing plants that you want to keep is the wrong company for the job. Seriously. Also, rototilling makes the weeds very happy. Dandelion roots looove rototilling. So is this company planning to poison your yard after the rototilling to take care of the weeds? You can tell I’m not a fan.

  3. That is what they want to do, yes. The issues are that:

    a) the previous owners had in a prairie garden at one point, but it’d been pretty severely neglected for several years and has gone very wild; the neighbors hate what’s left of it; I’m not really a prairie garden person, although I do like the idea of including interesting prairie plants in my English cottage garden

    b) he thinks the ground isn’t graded well, with enough slope that water quickly runs off to the sidewalk; he wants to take enough soil out of the front to make it closer to flat

    c) my soil is pretty heavy on the clay, so they’d add mushroom compost on top of that to amend it

    d) but mostly he just thinks I’d spend many hours a week weeding to keep the leftover bits of prairie under control

    I’m not generally a fan of poisoning, but I do worry about the clay being too dense for the plants I plant, and I worry about excessive weeding (hard to tell what I’d find excessive, since I’ve never had a garden that required much)

  4. Hmm… As far as grading goes, you do want the water to flow away from the house rather than toward it, so how much slope is too much? I suppose the idea is to save you wasting money on excessive watering, but is regrading itself just an unnecessary expense?

    Clay soil is a real pain and does take a lot of compost to recondition.

    Weeding… one of the best solutions is to have the garden so full of the plants you want that there isn’t space/light for the competing weeds. Obviously that’s going to take years with a mostly from scratch garden, so maybe there will be too much weeding at first. That really depends on the gardener as much as the garden.

    I admit I’m touchy on the rototilling question, having once had some work I did on my parents’ garden obliterated by ‘helpful’ neighbours. If this company’s plan makes sense to you, you can, as was already said, save the bulbs. I just question how much of it is really necessary, especially at this point in the project when you want to cut expenses as much as possible.

  5. I talked to Tonya, and she reassured me. In case it’s helpful to others, I’ll quote part of her response; I don’t think she’ll mind.

    “Soil is also composed of water and air, and wholesale rototilling of soil destroys the soil structure, which is important for plant growth. It also has a tendency to release even more weed seeds. Rototilling late in the year, when plantings aren’t going in, can also risk erosion, as there are no roots to hold the soil. …the bulbs were appropriately planted. Soil was loosened around them, as it standard.”

    “Not all plants like compost, some even prefer a poorer soil. Rich soil just isn’t the answer for every plant. I generally mix in amendments as needed based on what’s going where….Honestly, I had and still have no idea what you are going to put in in terms of large groupings of perennials, so to simply wholesale compost can really be a waste of dollars.”

    Makes a lot of sense to me, to amend as needed as we go. We’ll see how bad the weeding is — we did use a fair bit of round-up last fall on the tree-of-heaven, so that may take care of much of it.

  6. So cool to hear a pro’s views on rototilling and compost! I’m a big fan of just working things into the soil as I go too, seeing which plants are happy where, and which need help or to be moved. I’ll be interested to hear how you find the weeding — some people find it very relaxing.

    Also, thought I’d mention that you can keep the pansies flowering all summer if you deadhead the wilted blooms. I’ve had pansies still blooming in October and I’m in central Alberta here! They also sometimes return on their own in the spring although I wouldn’t want to count on it.

    When all the moving drama is over, I bet you’ll really enjoy that garden. 🙂

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