Monday, April 30, 2012

manic monday

definition of manic: overexcited, crazy 
(yup, sounds like yours truly)

I have developed a new weekend routine that is making my contractor suspicious of my sanity. I wake up Saturday morning, get limber at bikram yoga, pick up a soy latte at Starbucks and drive directly to our lot where I immediately begin assessing the progress in a dehydrated, caffeine-fueled, lululemon clad fury. Some may call it controlling, over-the-top or even manic but I think it will prevent mistakes from occurring and hopefully keep this project on a tight timeline. So naturally, I'm going to make this a habit and reveal my findings to you in a weekly post.

Without further adieu...

We have a slab! Our lot has been cleared and prepared for the foundation which is scheduled to be poured by Tuesday. Here in Texas we don't have basements, so instead of "breaking ground" we get excited about cement slabs. One thing to note, our home is not actually going to be slanted. The photograph is an optical illusion, I swear.

Even though I have seen the lot layout on paper a few things surprised me once I physically walked the space:

  • I was a bit shocked at how small our front and back yards are (we are in a garden home community so this shouldn't be surprising, in fact, my husband is most likely cheering as he reads this since he is in charge of mowing the grass).  
  • Our house backs up to a road. We've always known this, however, physically standing in our backyard made the challenge of keeping noise at a minimum slightly more intimidating. The good news here is that we will have complete backyard privacy since our home does not back up to a neighbor. 

To keep things in perspective, we are lucky to have a lot at all. When I first came across this neighborhood it was completely sold out. Due to a faulty lender and some extra prayers we ended up with a corner lot full of trees. We were one of about 5 groups on the waiting list and became front runners because we were already pre-approved for an amount over the home's base price and I had the documentation to prove it on the spot.  
For anyone who is planning to build or buy a home the first thing that you need to do (prior to stalking is line up your lending and get pre-approved.  It will not only allow you to make a move the instant you find the perfect property but it will also help you settled on a realistic budget. 

I promise my posts will be more fun from now on. Enough with the sensible budget and lending advice, right? Design Center here I come! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

simple sophistication

"simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" 
- Leonardo Da Vinci

I've begun to embrace this notion and believe that even the most average ingredients can become extraordinary if you keep them functional and simple. It is with this sentiment exactly that I tackle the exterior of our new home. 

As you can see there is nothing fancy here. We are building a fairly standard, traditional two story house. There are, however, some key details of this plan that I am incredibly thankful for: 
  • all four sides of the home are brick (I'm not a fan of siding) 
  • we have a two car garage (believe me, this is a luxury) 
  • our walkout backyard include a patio off of the great room (hello dinner parties!) 
  • the lot comes completely fenced in (you know, for our future french bulldog) 

Now that you get the general gist let me show you some ways I plan to spruce the place up... let's just hope I have a green thumb!

I've chosen a very neutral, almost weathered multi-colored brick and plan to pair it with off-white trim. We upgraded our windows to divided light and I feel it will have a significant impact on both the exterior and interior of our home. The key to our exterior will be the landscaping. We already have mature trees in our backyard so the only addition I am planning there is an herb garden. To make our fence more visually appealing I plan to grow ivy on it and for pops of color I will use sun-loving plants like lavender and bougainvillea. 

There were endless exterior options and combinations to choose from but in the end I took Da Vinci's advice and erred on the side of simplicity

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

the foundation

I bet you thought this post was going to be about the foundation of our house...well, it is! Just not the same foundation you're thinking of. I'm talking about the pieces of furniture that we have invested in and have become the design "foundation" of our home. Most of these pieces started off with me years ago in my first apartment and have since endured multiple cross-country moves. So you can begin to get an idea of our style, here are the few pieces we have collected thus far.

Sofa (Century)

Desk (Century)

Upholstered Desk Chair (Century)
*the fabric is a charcoal/off-white stripe
Chest of Drawers (Drexel Heritage)
*the finish is dark brown, not black
Side table (Hickory Chair)
*the base of the table is antique blue

I apologize for the poor photo quality. When my husband and our digital camera come home in June I promise better photographs. Until then, these will give you an idea of our starting point. I am so passionate about investing in high quality pieces that can stand the test of time. Some of these have seen two or three hardware swaps and my desk went from blonde to chocolate brown a few years back. They are all classic, neutral pieces that can be tweaked or modified just enough to fit the style of the accessories around them. Not only are they beautiful but their high end craftsmanship has saved us from needing to replace them year after year.

I try to conclude with general rules or lessons that can be taken away from my experience. Given my passion for furniture, I want to end this post with my own personal philosophy:

True style is about fusion. It's about knowing when to invest and when to be impulsive. Create a sturdy, classic foundation and then allow yourself the guilty pleasure of current trends.

Monday, April 2, 2012

and so it begins...

I think it's safe to assume Restoration Hardware knows I am building a new home. These appeared in my mailbox today.


the biffy

You know your project has taken an important step when an outhouse appears on your lot. While we haven't officially broken ground yet they have cleared off our land and prepared it for the foundation.
Given our narrow lot shape we only had a few floor plan option for our home. We had three to choose from and all of them were larger than my husband and I need, however, all presented great resale value for an incoming family. You will notice a resale theme throughout this process since this is a house we will be listing in the next 4 years thanks to our inevitable move with the Army. Before I reveal the home and floor plan that we chose, here is our wish list:
  • Open floor plan. Ideal to have the kitchen, dining and family room all in one space
  • At least 2 bedrooms, 3 is preferred (master, guest, office/den).
  • At least 2 bathrooms, 2.5 is preferred.
  • Tall ceilings, at least 9 ft.
  • Flat kitchen island. I'm not a fan of the multi-level island, I think it wastes space and never provides people sitting on stools enough leg room.
  • No formal dining room. We want to purchase one dining table that can be all-purpose.
  • Lots of light. I live in an apartment with only 1 window and work in an office without any. I need some vitamin d in my life!
  • A walk out back yard with room for a patio and grill (my husbands only request)
  • En suite Master Bath (not a requirement but a perk if possible)
  • A spacious master closet that is off the bathroom, not the master bedroom. This is important because my husband gets up at 4am and I would prefer to continue my slumber.
  • *Hardwood floors (ok, this is a luxury. I'll be flexible as long as its not nasty, old carpet)
  • *Tile in the bathrooms (I'm not picky, just no vinyl please).
  • *Countertops that aren't plastic (I don't need granite, in fact I prefer marble.)
  • 2 car garage. Believe it or not a garage is a luxury down here in the warm climate. Car ports are the norm.
  • ...oh yea, and all of this within our budget please :)
* these are "wish list" items (you know, in a perfect world) that would be nice to have but would not make or break a property. They are not related to the structure or condition of the home and can be easily changed once a purchase is made.

We basically lucked out with the neighborhood that we found. The floor plan that best met our specifications and price point ended up being a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath with an attached 2 car garage and a walk out back patio. Coming in at 2400 sq feet it is definitely larger than we anticipated but it came in under budget which will allow us to upgrade and get a few "wish" items on our list!
A few things to note: our home will actually be a mirror of this layout. Also, the first floor flex space will be turned into an enclosed den with double doors. We absolutely LOVE the plan and can't wait for construction to commence.

For anyone who is out there house hunting or building I would encourage you to keep this is mind:

"Design is not just what is looks and feels like. Design is how it works."
-Steve Jobs

While I know the "fun" part (at least for me) is in the interior design details, it's incredibly important to start with a layout that is functional. Your space can be beautiful but if it doesn't serve you on a daily basis then it isn't doing its job.

Stay tuned for interior inspiration boards and my trip to the Design Center!