Archive for November 25th, 2013

One of the first areas we tackled with initial home improvements was the hallway on the main level. It wasn’t necessarily intentional to focus on that area, but many of our high priority or opportunistic improvements apparently converged there.

First things first: the three bedrooms along the hallway had old slab doors with 50 years worth of paint on them, while the bathrooms and closet doors were replaced with more modern, six-panel doors during recent renovations. My dad offered to show us how to replace these three doors so they would all match on the main level. He assured us it was very easy, as the new doors would come pre-hung on new door jambs, and all the old stuff would go away in one fell swoop. Replacing the doors would also give us the opportunity to change the orientation of the door at the end of the hall which, as you can see below, opened into the hallway for some inexplicable reason.

The hallway before

The hallway before

Naturally, the first thing one wants to do to their brand new house a mere day after moving in is to start tearing it apart. So Bart and Dad set to the three doors with crowbars and hammers. It didn’t take them long to get them installed, and our hallway was already looking much spiffier and less crowded. It will probably take more time to paint all the doors than it did to install them.

No more random door at the end of the hallway.

No more random door at the end of the hallway.

The hallway seemed ripe for a bit of color, texture, and warmth, so I decided to get a rug for it. Based on some positive experiences of family members who had purchased rugs on Overstock.com, I took a chance and ordered this navy wool runner. I’m quite satisfied with the way it turned out; the rug is good quality, and I like the color a lot. We’ll see if it stands the test of time; the hallway to our bedroom is a pretty high-traffic area.

Navy blue runner for the hallway

Navy blue runner for the hallway

But for our final and most awesome hallway update, Bart and I decided to totally geek out. We said adios to the old, boring thermostat…

Old and boring.

Old and busted.

…and said hello to this piece of home automation awesomeness.

New hotness

New hotness.

The Nest Thermostat is the next generation of programmable thermostats. It learns your schedule and preferences as you walk by or manually adjust it, then creates an energy-efficient schedule to heat or cool when you need it and hold off when you don’t. It connects wirelessly to the internet, allowing you to monitor and control from your computer or iPhone, whether you’re in the next room or the next state. We learned about the Nest a couple of years ago, and before we even started looking at houses, we knew we wanted to put one in our new house.

It’s a fun gadget that’s pretty easy to install; we did it ourselves in under an hour. You can determine if your system is compatible by checking out their compatibility wizard on their website; we were compatible, even with a boiler and radiant heat system. We input information about our heating and cooling systems, and it takes that into account with its decisions. In particular, baseboard heating takes longer to get to temp than forced air, but it stays closer to a constant temperature rather than cycling in wide swings like a regular furnace. The Nest now knows how long it takes the baseboard heaters to warm up to a new temperature and displays that when you adjust the setting.

We were also suckers for the sleek, shiny package and the cute little touch screen. It looks way cooler in the hallway than the boring old unit. At a retail price of $250, we didn’t necessarily neeeed the Nest, but we made use of coupons and gift cards and rebates and got it for a really good price. And it’s easy to imagine that it won’t take long for the energy savings of a smart thermostat will pay for itself.

The only unsexy thing about this thermostat is the strange patch of unfinished drywall behind it. I guess that means there’s still work left to do in the hallway, but we’re well on our way to making it more functional and modern.

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