Find happiness where the sun shines

Our story so far: Deep in the midst of the framing and mechanicals phase of renovating the old Methodist church into our home, we focused on ceilings.

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One of the features we dreamed of on the second floor was skylights. Our Number Three design rule was “Natural lighting brings the outdoors indoors.” While traipsing through a model home during an autumn Parade of Homes tour, we discovered a novel skylight that transmitted light from the roof to a main floor kitchen with a series of reflective surfaces inside a tube. It was a Solatube, the brand name for a tubular daylighting device. During a conversation with an installer at a home improvement show, we learned Solatubes can also include a bathroom vent and a solar-powered nightlight, which would be perfect for our upstairs bathroom.

Tyler hurried to install the pickled plywood planks on the upstairs ceiling, and the Solatube installer arrived bright and early one Monday morning to install one tube in the bathroom and another one (without the vent and nightlight) in the adjacent area which would someday house my office.

solartube bathroom
You can see the bathroom Solatube glowing even in a picture!
solatube office
The Solatube in my future office.
solatube outside
Here’s how the Solatubes looked on the roof of the church.

The Solatubes generated an amazing amount of natural light upstairs, just what we imagined. And, we learned we could get a tax rebate for utilizing energy-efficient lighting. Score!

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Tomorrow: As long as we’re being energy conscious, we think pink. Read about it here.

I’ll scratch your back if you install a low-flow shower head

Our story so far: We bought an old Methodist church to turn into our home, and we demolished most of the interior.

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Chapter 12

The dust and debris generated by demolition was overwhelming. About two weeks into tearing down the interior of the structure, Tyler and I both marveled about how we had planned to live in the church during demolition. What a ridiculous ambition that had been! Further proof that the delay in closing (which drove us to rent a house nearby during destruction) had actually been a blessing instead of simply frustrating.

Many evenings (or late afternoons), Tyler would walk through the back door of our rental house, remove his clothing (usually while bellowing, “Close the blinds!”) and go straight into the shower. On particularly physically taxing days (like when he razed the banquet bar in the basement or the plaster in the sanctuary), he’d draw a bath. On those days he’d summon me to bring him a beer and wash his back, which I always obliged. I had usually returned home hours before him to tend to our dog, handle some business paperwork, throw in a load of laundry and start supper, so I was in a better position to provide a little tender loving care.

Those long showers and full tubs taught us a lesson: Water was an expensive commodity in our little village. Compared to the little village in which we’d formerly lived, water and sewer service cost about 40 percent more.

Fortunately, we learned this utilities quirk before we invested in appliances and fixtures for the church. Tyler immediately began researching online for low-flow dishwashers, washing machines, toilets and shower heads. Of course, they existed in a wide variety. I’m ashamed we didn’t pursue these opportunities without the stick of cost, as the carrot of being environmentally responsible should have been inspiration enough, but we didn’t.

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Tomorrow: Come on baby, light my fire. Read about it here.