Scout, our ten year old rascal of a bull terrier, passed on peacefully December 28, 2016. A beloved member of our tribe, he enjoyed the backyard cottage for almost two months. He had cozy beds upstairs and down, loved the close proximity to the “big house” and had adjusted well to the new neighborhood. He was an active participant in the early stages of the project, sniffing and inspecting every step of the way.
When Joe would drop by the West Seattle house to talk about building progress, Scouty sniffed him up and down and was fascinated with his boots. All the interesting smells were a foreshadowing of things to come. The cottage is quieter without him, but we know he is doing bully runs somewhere and will remain in our hearts forever.
January is a natural time for reflection. When we last wrote, Meredith and Elyse were preparing to move into the nearly finished cottage in time for Thanksgiving. Since then we've been busy nesting and settling into life as an intergenerational compound. We post with gratitude as we reflect on the whirlwind of activities in 2016 that have resulted in the completion of our backyard cottage. Here's a look back at what we've been up to since Drew and Jacob welcomed two new very important retirees to their Ballard abode.
On November 4th, Adams moving arrived right on time in West Seattle. After the swift sale of Meredith and Elyse's house and a month of packing and downsizing, they were ready to make the move. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We left you hanging on the final building details and want to catch you up.
After Joe installed the cabinets, it was time to put up the bold black and white backsplash. The countertops are oak and can be treated with cutting board oil. Everything coordinates well with the 24-inch stove and refrigerator. Joe’s meticulous measuring was miraculous. Everything fits!
The downstairs floors and stair risings are oak. The upstairs are fir. All the floors required several coats of varnish before we could bring any boxes in. The interior painting was completed prior to the floors and gives all the rooms a nice warm glow. Most of the lighting is from Rejuvenation in SODO, a company that makes exquisite fixtures.
Storage is at a premium inside the cottage which makes the pantry precious. It houses the hot water heater and several shelves. Besides the world’s smallest upstairs closet, which includes a crawl space, there are only the kitchen cupboards. This prevents Meredith and Elyse from acquiring more knickknacks or asking for anything but consumables for Christmas.
The upstairs bathroom vanity fits perfectly and contains three working drawers. This may seem to be a trivial detail until you realize that there is no linen closet or medicine cabinet. Pottery Barn saved the day and we are happy to report that Meredith and Elyse are getting along fine with this arrangement. In a small space, going vertical can be the answer, unless you have seventeen lovely windows that don’t allow you to hang much on the walls. Hooks and shelves are our friends, wherever we can fit them in.
Prior to the final inspection on November 1st, we were required to put sod down in the backyard, which created quite the mudpie effect once the rain set in. While our landscaping is far from finished (we see raised beds in our future) it's a far cry from the port-a-potty and dirt pit of yore. You'll notice that prior to pavers arriving Meredith and Elyse had to walk a wood plank up to their front door. It proved irresistible to a few kids Drew caught bouncing on it one afternoon!
Soon, the interior doors were shaved, the windows were professionally cleaned and Joe was ready to meet the inspector. We are happy to report that on November 1, 2016 we received the final occupancy permit three days before the big move.
You may remember that way back on May 20th, Joe and his crew arrived to knock down Drew and Jacob's fence. He promised to build us an even better one once construction was complete and he's a man true to his word. Our new cedar fence is complete with a sweet gate and arbor fit for future wisteria vines.
After the fence went up, Greg built the pathway from the front gate to the door with stone pavers, followed by construction of a small front deck. The yard was puppy safe for the first time in six months. The final bit of construction that makes life less soggy was an overhang at the entrance to the cottage. Meredith and Elyse can search for their keys and put groceries down without that awful sensation of rain down their necks.
This Christmas, Drew and Jacob gave Meredith and Elyse a little book filled with photos and memories of the building process. In it, they included a quote by Van Gogh, who reminds us that "great things are done by a series of small things brought together." While construction is complete, we continue to paint this picture as a family. The best is yet to come.
For more updates, you can follow us on Instagram @abackyardcottage. Stay tuned for a house tour, as well as tips from Meredith on small space living!
Oh, friends. There's been too much going on to possibly keep up! All we know is that as we type this, Meredith and Elyse are prepped and ready for a moving truck to arrive bright and early tomorrow morning. They'll be making their official move from West Seattle and Ballard will have two more permanent residents by Friday afternoon. How exciting!
Both houses are now a vibrant shade of blue, just waiting for a fence to finally unite them. Jacob and Drew spotted a few trick-or-treaters ambling up the walkway to the cottage earlier this week, but managed to usher them over to the big house. Next year will be quite different!
Expect a full house tour with photos in the near future. For now, we're settling in and cozying up. The welcome wagon is on its way!
Whoa, boy did we have boxes. 92 of them, to be exact. And they weren't filled with ticky tacky, either. Instead, they arrived full of all of the necessary components for our new kitchen cabinets. Now we know why Joe isn’t the biggest fan of Ikea! The puzzle has finally been completed and our kitchen officially looks like, well, a real kitchen.
We've logged quite a few busy weeks since our last post. We're happy to report that we passed the sewer inspection, the houses are breathing together and the trenches are filled, giving us some sturdy ground to walk on (and landscaping to dream about).
All the doors have arrived and most have been installed. The temporary front door has been replaced with its beautiful permanent cousin (soon to be painted).
And speaking of painting! Kevin and his crew finished painting the cottage last week and will soon be headed over to Drew and Jacob's house to create a matching set. Bye, bye ugly purple porch! We just hope they'll be able to tackle the 100+ years of paint over at the big house (yikes). After that, the interior walls of the cottage will be painted a delicious shade of creamy butter.
Have we mentioned the floors? And the stairs? Oh, friends, they're gorgeous.
Joe put his tiling skills to good use and did a wonderful job on the upstairs bathroom. Toilet shopping isn't a glamorous job, but that's what we'll be tackling next. One throne for the tiny powder room downstairs and one for the full-size bath off the upstairs bedroom.
Meanwhile back in West Seattle, Elyse and Meredith are trying to keep pace with the progress in Ballard. Downsizing is in full swing which means numerous trips to the Northwest Center truck in the Alaska Junction. Moving from a 1,700 square foot home to a 613 square foot cottage means lots of choices about what stays and what goes. Last week they officially put their home on the market and are hoping to find the perfect buyers soon.
As always, you can see regular updates by following us on Instagram @abackyardcottage!
This past weekend marked our third month of construction. We celebrated by picking out cabinets and buying light fixtures. So much has happened since the crew arrived that May morning to knock down Drew and Jacob's fence! Since it's been a bit since we last updated you on our progress, here's a full rundown of where we are today.
Meredith and Elyse returned from a short vacation and immediately drove to visit Drew and Jacob, although we suspect that they simply couldn't keep themselves away from the cottage any longer. Much to their delight it was snug as a house in a TYVEK home wrap, which we understand to be a very scientific material that prevents our very damp Pacific Northwest climate from infiltrating the cottage thus warding off rot and mold.
STEP BY STEP
The stairs are fully functioning, leading to the bedroom, sitting room, bathroom and closet complete with a peek-a-boo view of Puget Sound. Going into the project we had no idea that a tiny view of the water would be waiting for us on the second floor.
NO PANE NO GAIN
What a difference the window installation makes! Seventeen in all plus a little skylight in the upstairs bathroom. The windows will create a glorious cross breeze in hotter months and provide lots of light year round.
RAISING THE ROOF
The roof was completed on one of the hottest days of the summer, so kudos to the crew for their skills and sweat! A week later, it endured its very first rainstorm and is no worse for wear.
SIDE BY SIDE
Siding makes us happy. The cottage has board and batten siding on its upper half for a bit of pizazz. The belly band near the upstairs windows also adds a bit of flair, and is a nod to the Ballard neighborhood's Scandinavian roots.
A COOL DRINK of WATER
Plumbing is a three part process. Petr began his work before the foundation was poured. Prior to sheet rocking, he put pipes in the walls connected the water line from the main house to the cottage. The next step is digging towards Drew and Jacob's house to attach the cottage to the main century old sewer line. Installing the fixtures will be the last step.
We have a fuse box! Prior to commencing the wiring process, a meeting was held with Joe and Dan of Wright Electric to determine placement of lights upstairs and down.
All along the way the cottage has been inspected. These inspections have included evaluation of the concrete forms, foundation, plumbing, framing, electric, and insulation. We passed all inspections with flying colors, which is a testimony to Joe’s fine work.
WARM AND COZY
Our insulation looks like some of the coziest around, if we do say so ourselves. It is the latest addition to the cottage and will keep Meredith and Elyse warm in the winter when they finally move in!
WRITING ON THE WALL
A fun perk to building a cottage from scratch is being able to write on the walls during the planning process. Joe has lovely fat pencils. Last week we spent nearly two hours figuring out the placement of the kitchen cabinets. At the same time we've been on the hunt for a 24 inch stove and refrigerator. We’ve had success with both. We're now entering the zone of choice, lots and lots of choice. Dry wall starts next week, followed by digging a trench to connect the plumbing. Updates to come!