The Sticky Notes ✅

March 09, 2021

By: Lee LeFever

I write books and run a company called Common Craft. I recently moved from Seattle to a rural island. Here, I write about online business, book publishing, modern home construction, and occasionally, dumb jokes.

On the wall of the guesthouse, just behind our TV/computer, there is a grid of orange sticky notes with labels like “Appliances”, “Deck”, and “Flooring” that relate to parts of the house projects that have not yet been completed. It’s a constant reminder of all that’s been done and how close we are to finishing. 

Sticky notes on a wall

It was my idea. I sat down with Sachi and challenged us both to think about all the parts of the project that were outstanding. I figured we’d brainstorm for a while and need to circle back when new ideas came up. This was not the case. As soon as I picked up the pen, Sachi started rattling them off, one-by-one. It was like they were neatly cataloged in her mind, waiting to come out. It all happened so fast that, by the time I could take a breath, we were done. There would be no circling back. They just sprang forth, fully formed, like Athena emerging from Zeus’ head

Since then, the notes have been an ongoing source of discussion. It’s fun to be able to pull off notes like “Garage Door”, but it’s not worthy of celebration. Two burly guys installed it in an afternoon. Something like “Paint” deserves a glass of champagne. Maybe a few. Being the painters for the house, that note has extra relevance. It remains for a bit longer.

Sticky notes on a wall

For the past month or so, we’ve spent full weekends at the house along with many evenings, painting the baseboards, window sills, door trims, and doors. I say “painting” but it’s NEVER just painting. Painting is a catch-all term for masking, sanding, dusting, priming, vacuuming, and more. And it’s never just once. I keep hoping someone will invent a single coat paint for our house’s interior, but it’s too late now. 

person painting doors

The trim paint is turning out well, but it’s a high pressure situation. Everyday the house is full of builders who have, at some point, been painters. They know how it’s supposed to look and probably have feedback. In their shoes, I’d probably want to point out what needs improvement, but unsolicited advice is a hard thing to broach with the homeowner. So we ask and learn along the way.

baseboard and trim

One of the notes that felt good to remove was “Appliances”. Our kitchen is now fully outfitted with a refrigerator, dishwasher, ovens, sinks, faucets, a cooktop range and exhaust fan. They are installed, but exist in this weird middle ground between the warehouse and our everyday lives. The fridge, for example, is covered in protective wrap that helps keep it new looking in the milieu of construction. We’ve decided not to use them until we move in and can ceremoniously unwrap them with the knowledge that they were protected when it mattered. 

kitchen with blue refrigerator

Most of the appliances are Thermador and pretty conventional in terms of features. Our exhaust fan over the cooktop has a wifi connection for some reason. I’m not sure why, or if we’ll ever use it.

There is one unconventional appliance that I find interesting. Many months ago, we learned about a new product from Grohe called “Blue” that’s a water filter, chiller, and carbonator. Our recycling is always full of cans from carbonated water like La Croix and this device means we’ll soon have fizzy water, chilled and filtered, on tap. 

When we planned the master suite, we noticed that the master bath shared a wall with the laundry room. Starting then, we started thinking about having a laundry chute in the cabinet between the rooms. This way, we could move dirty clothes from the bathroom directly into the laundry room and eliminate the need for a hamper in the bedroom. This is an early representation:

Like so many parts of a custom home, it was never clear exactly how it would work until it was time to build it. The team did an awesome job using the leftover cabinet material to create a smooth surface that matches by default. 

Today, the laundry chute is, like so many things, nearly complete. The tile work is 95% done, but can’t be completed until the shower glass is installed. The steel wrapping for the fireplace is very close, but needs fasteners. A number of the delays are related to the supply chain. Home construction and renovation is popular during COVID and suppliers are having a difficult time keeping up. 

We’re hoping to move in near the end of March and have told Drew that we’ll move in when it’s ready. We don’t want to be in the way and, in the context of COVID, prefer not to have people coming and going once we live there. We’ve spent 20 months in the guesthouse, we can do more if it means his crew can finish properly. While this is true for the interior, we’re less concerned about the exterior. The work on the deer fence, dog run, entries, and deck may take a bit longer. Perhaps those notes will move with us to the new house. 

Along with the sticky notes, other things are disappearing. The impossible skyscraper of cardboard boxes is gone. A couple of weeks ago, we loaded up the car with all the light fixtures, locks, door handles and gadgets and dropped them off at the house for installation. Today, most are installed and look much better than a pile of cardboard on our table. 

Here’s where we are today, in terms of the interior:

Sticky notes on a wall

The notes, of course, are part of a much bigger picture. After years of planning it’s hard to believe we’re so close. I’ve found myself feeling a general sense of excitement and anticipation that’s powerful enough to overcome any lingering doubts and worries. It’s gratifying to feel a sense of completeness as the stress wanes. The sticky notes may not be removed completely for now, but they’re close enough to feel confident that it will happen. Someday soon, we will move in, unwrap the appliances, and finally, exhale. 

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