Stairs, Water, Butcher Block Counters

It didn’t take us long to settle into the routine of living in Summit County. Our kindergartener was off at school five days a week. We started her at the bus stop near the house even though that meant we had to drive or bike there for pickup/dropoff. Logistically it wasn’t so bad, since it was about halfway between our temporary housing and school anyway. I continued to try and tackle house projects where I could, at least when I didn’t have my plate full with day job stuff.

Sewer and Water Status

Though the house wasn’t done yet, getting our sewer and water connected was still the biggest hurdle to getting our Certificate of Occupancy. Our failure to get on the “good” contractor’s schedule for the end of August (because we were shooting for a mid-August CO) backfired. The B-Team contractors either couldn’t do it or couldn’t be trusted to do it, so we ended up going back to the first choice. But now he couldn’t get to us until the end of September. Allow a couple more weeks for mechanical testing and inspections, and now we were talking about a mid-October move-in, about a month and a half behind schedule. Not ideal, but we could manage.


One thing that we had to get done for a CO was stair treads. Shaun setup some mockups that used some of our leftover maple flooring. The look worked, though the nosing (the leading edge) needed something fancier than a board.

stair nosing

Butcher Block Counters

Before she left the project, our interior designer suggested doing a quartz island with butcher block counters along our other wall. We liked the idea, since it gave another opportunity for natural materials to offset some of the modern look of the house. Shaun had originally planned to contract them through a woodworker friend, but even the friends-and-family pricing was going to be thousands of dollars. Lowe’s to the rescue. We were able to get a big maple slab of butcher block for a few hundred dollars. It looked nice against the quartz island.

The butcher block countertops looked even better once we get some oil on them. I’m a hobbyist woodworker, and I treated the butcher block counters the same as I would a cutting board. I started with mineral oil, since it brings out grain nicely, it’s food-safe, and it’s cheap. After a few coats of that I topped it with a cutting board wax. The wax adds some shine and water-resistance to the combination. Even with the treatments, we expect the butcher block to accumulate stains and patina over time. One of the big benefits is that if it gets too beat-up, we can always sand it down to refinish it. And we can do that with tools that are sitting in the garage.

Stunning Summit County

Living in temporary housing was obnoxious, but the beautiful fall helped take some of the edge off. We got some early snow on the high peaks, which was followed by peak fall colors in the aspen trees. The high rockies are rarely ugly, but the combination of snow up high and vibrant aspens down low is really something.