Tuesday, May 29, 2012

manic monday: the walls are closing in

After a few last minute requests via frantic phone call to my contractor, I think I'm finally ready for the sheet rock. I'm nervous and hopeful that I didn't forget anything because once those walls go up there is no turning back! Luckily, I had a fabulous inspector with me during my frame walk and he made sure I didn't overlook anything major.

If I can give any advice it would be to have the interior layout of your home done at this point. It sounds a bit crazy I know, but I was able to pinpoint exactly where I wanted extra backing (wood 2x4s) in the walls so that when we go to hang something heavy we are sure to secure it to wood, not just sheetrock. This step was essential for our wall-mounted tv, art and mirrors, shelves and window treatments.

Next stop: brick & mortar!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

girl meets boy

Since we have opted for a floor plan without a formal living room, our family room is going to have to double as a space we are proud to entertain in as well as a comfy, cozy spot for movie night.

As I began to find inspiration for this room I realized I wasn't the only one with an opinion. My husband had one request: a leather Chesterfield Sofa. If I'm being honest, my knee-jerk reaction was "Thank's for the input honey, but I think we'll go in a different direction." I gave it further thought and the idea began to grow on me, especially since I do really like the chesterfield silhouette. My main concern was that this room would end up feeling like a men's locker room at the local country club. To prevent this, I needed some feminine infusion. I started to warm up to the idea of masculinity meets femininity, almost as if two incredibly stylish singles came together to furnish a room. I like that it allows us both to be represented in a space we will likely use frequently.

This will be our most expensive room to furnish, so keeping in the true spirit of an "inspiration" board not all of these pieces shown above are within our budget. It will take time for us to complete this project but, to me, it's worth living in an empty room for a while knowing we are going to invest in pieces we will keep for a lifetime.

Sofa: We want it to be both classic and comfortable. Century Furniture had the perfect chesterfield (here) and we customized it with vintage worn leather, a deep seat, brass nail heads and ultra plush cushions. Please note, this piece must be purchased through an interior designer.

Cocktail Table: This piece will need to be feminine, square or rectangular and delicate. The one pictured above is again from Century Furniture and is one of a few we are considering.

Chairs: We chose a square Pearson Chair silhouette because it will offset the distinct rolling back of the chesterfield. To upholster the pair, we found a wonderful gray/blue velvet that is a bit more formal but still soft and durable. They will double at our dining table as host and hostess for formal occasions.

Bar cart: Instead of a traditional side table I had the idea of using a bar cart. My idea was recently crushed when I realized the company that makes the piece (Hickory Chair) had partnered with Williams Sonoma and was selling it to the public (here) at a price that I just couldn't justify. The search continues.

Fireplace: As seen in the board above, our fireplace will be surrounded by travertine tile. My Dad and I are going to custom build the mantle in August when he comes to town. Stay tuned for a DIY post!

Media Center: In the spirit of DIY, my Dad and I are also going to use the above media center as inspiration for a built-in that we will create ourselves. The builder had an option to include a niche for entertainment equipment in this room, however, it meant losing the only window on the west side of the great room. I chose light.

Floors: As seen in the Kitchen and Dining Room posts, we have chosen dark hardwood for the entire first floor great room.

Accessories: I'm currently in love with this Regina Andrews lamp (here) and think that no room is complete without fresh flowers. The bar set is something that we would like to invest in someday, as my husband is a big scotch fan, but I haven't found the perfect one just yet.

Walls: For now, we have opted to keep the walls a creamy white throughout the great room. Once we move in we may decide the white is too stark, in which case we will opt for a light gray.

Drapes: Since it's sunny year round here in Texas we will absolutely need drapes. I've opted for a deeper gray, however, if we decide not to paint the room white we might have to revisit this decision.

Rug: to keep the room light and coordinate with our carpet on the second level, I found this fabulous jute and wool rug at Pottery Barn (here).

I went into decorating this room with a new perspective after my husband voiced his sofa request. I began to think about the future. This is our first home. The pieces that we decide to invest in today will not necessarily stay in the same room each time we move. In fact, I began to love the idea of the chesterfield because it gives us a statement in our family room today yet it will also provide comfort and masculinity in an office for my husband down the road.

My advice to anyone furnishing a home is to think long term. The kitchen table that you invest in now may become the card table at your family's cabin in 10 years or the dining table that you send with your daughter off to her first apartment. If you invest in quality and find something that you truly love, it will continue to stay with you. In fact, as I sit here tonight, I am typing at a desk that sat in my childhood bedroom. It's an incredible piece that carries great nostalgia for me and will always be somewhere in my home.

Monday, May 14, 2012

manic monday: let there be light


It's pretty neat to show up at the house each week day and see a significant physical transformation. This weekend they backed the framing and put in windows! I'm so glad we went with the divided light, I can already tell they are going to make a substantial difference inside and out. I also got to walk through the space for the first time. Things will feel a bit different once the sheetrock is installed but I was able to get a good sense of each floor which has really helped solidify my design plan.


Next stop, plumping and electric.


Sunday, May 13, 2012


The kitchen was both the hardest and easiest room to decorate. It was the easiest because furniture is not required and our color scheme was very easy to work with: white and gray. It was the hardest due to the limited selections provided by the builder. As I mentioned in the dining room post, we have chosen to do dark hardwood throughout the first floor (excluding the den). This was an expensive decision so we had to find ways to compensate. The first compromise we made was not to purchase an upgraded kitchen package which means living without built-in double ovens and floor to ceiling, upgraded cabinets. This project is all about sacrifice so you can imagine I was thrilled when the builder recently introduced white as a cabinet color option. Our kitchen might not be the most lux in town but I want it to feel light and open. 

Our inspiration boards for the kitchen are deceiving because only half of what you see can actually be accomplished through our builder. To put things in perspective, I've listed the elements that we are going to come in and change ourselves after closing:

Counter Tops: The builder offered a very limited selection of granite and wanted to charge a premium for it, so we are opting to use a third party that has been recommended by a local contractor we know. The carerra marble will go on the island and the gray quartz will cover the remaining counter space. We will have standard laminate counters in the interim. 

Range: Since we passed on the gourmet kitchen package we will get a very standard electric oven upon closing. The range you see above is from the GE cafe series and is one of the only gas ranges I've seen with double ovens. Again, utilizing our relationship with a local contractor we can purchase through a wholesale appliance distributor and will save about 20% off the retail price. 

Sink: To add personality we wanted a more industrial, sophisticated faucet and were able to find one for $300 at Home Depot. 

Hardware: Hardware wasn't even an option through our builder so a combination of myknobs.com, Pottery barn and Restoration Hardware will give our very basic cabinets a finished, more personal look.

Backsplash: I was shocked to find out that our builder didn't have access to basic subway tile. Luckily, I have a very handy father who is willing to fly all the way to Texas just to teach me how to instal one myself. Stay tuned...

Now you can begin to see why I said this project has been like putting together a very complex jigsaw puzzle. Balancing the elements that we are having the builder do versus a third party after closing has been hard. If I can give any advice here it's to create a spreadsheet to track each project. It can be easy to forget who is doing what and more importantly when it needs to get done. Everything has a specific order and if you miss just one detail it could throw off the entire timeline. 

Getting most of what we want while staying within our budget has been a challenge. In the end though, It will be worth the extra effort to own a home that we love and that functions properly for us. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

wine and dine me

To kick off the slew of inspiration that is about to come your way, I wanted to start in the middle. Literally. Our dining room is located in the heart of our home and must provide a seamless transition between our family room and kitchen. While an open floor plan is ideal, it can be a challenge to coordinate the elements of three very distinct spaces without it coming across too matchy-matchy. These boards are not exact but they do provide a place to begin. Here's what I've come up with so far:

Floors: We have chosen a dark hardwood throughout the first level of our home.

Walls: The walls will be white with white crown molding.

Chairs: Metal cafe chairs from gilt.com (I was super excited to find these, remember?)

Chandelier: In my dreams. As this is an inspiration board, the one pictured is not within our budget (tear). I will, however, scour the web until I find its less expensive cousin.

Mirror: For some reason I feel it's a requirement to have a mirror in your dining space. I think it's because I grew up with one, but I also love the way it reflects a low lit chandelier during an intimate meal or soiree.

Buffet: It's time to get a little creative. This piece is currently in our bedroom but since we are receiving the priceless gift of his/her closets (hallelujah) we will no longer need a dresser. It coordinates with the color story in this room and will provide valuable storage for linens n' things. I swapped out the original bronze hardware a few years back and replaced it with simple, silver knobs.

China, Candle Sticks, Vase: These were wedding presents that I am dying to take out of the box and finally use.

Just looking at this makes me want to throw a dinner party. Anyone planning to be in the San Antonio area in say, July?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

beauty in design

Finally! The fun stuff. I couldn't be more excited to share our interior design plans, this has been my favorite part of the process so far.

As I'm sure my husband can agree, I tend to be rather opinionated and dare I say stubborn at times so to have a pre-determined, finite list of interior choices was nothing short of a challenge for me. I can best liken my overall design experience to putting together the most intricate jigsaw puzzle, blindfolded. The three most difficult factors have been (in no particular order):
1. The fact that I never got to physically walk through a model of our home. Our floor plan was never made into one and I'm a visual learner.
2. Balancing the things we do through the design center vs. a third party after we close and making sure we those elements coordinate and are in line with our overall vision.
3. Keeping this baby on budget.

Since the moment we decided to build I have been tearing out, pinning, earmarking, saving and drooling over photographs of inspirational interiors. From these pictures I have created virtual inspiration boards for each room in our new home. This has enabled my husband to be a part of  the design process from abroad, brought clarity to our sense of style and has helped us create rooms that are not only beautiful on their own but are cohesive with one another. We won't be able to afford all of the furnishings that we want right away but it gives us goals to work toward in the coming years.

If I could give any advice at this stage of the process it's to be organized and prepared. Most design centers set hours aside for public browsing and taking advantage of those leading up to my appointment made all of the difference. I was already well versed in my options by the time I had to make final decisions and I was confident those choices would tell the design story that I (we) envisioned for our home.

the frame game

It's like I blinked and our frame went up. By the time we reach the weekend the windows will already be installed so, naturally, I paid a little visit to the site again today. It's pretty incredible to watch what began as mere lines on a page come to life!

Isn't it cute?!? I absolutely LOVE how many mature trees we have. In this type of community (and especially in hot, dry Texas) home owners are lucky if one or two new trees are included in the builder's landscaping package. I am so glad they were able to keep so many, it will definitely add nice character to our yard and provide much needed insulation.

Disclaimer: There were no contractors harmed in the making of this post. To Jeff's credit, he knows exactly what kind of woman he is working with and is gracefully dealing with my kind of crazy.

Monday, May 7, 2012

manic monday: drive by

This weekend I kept my stalking to a minimum. A simple drive by the new cement slab was sufficient. It was really nice to see the elevation in person since in my mind I owned a perfectly flat lot. That's almost never the case and our contractor told me we might need a stair or two leading up to the front door and out the back patio. Based on the slab it looks like there will be at least one in each location. This detail really makes no difference to me, however, it will impact our options down the road if we decide to upgrade the back patio. It's nice to have a step because it would allow us to just add material right on top of the concrete.

Next stop: framing!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

game time

I am thrilled to announce our first major home purchase! Say hello to our new dining chairs...

We are newlyweds and still in our 20's (well, at least for another year) so fully upholstered "grown up" chairs just weren't in the budget. My husband and I have defined our style as transitional so our plan is to pair these contemporary pieces with a more traditional table. We want a home that looks put together but isn't too stylistically matchy-matchy.

I've done a lot of research on metal cafe chairs. The best deals out there are through wholesale restaurant distributors, but you will still pay an average of $100 per chair + shipping and must be a registered business to place an order. Target has a great pair for just $199, however they are a bit smaller, made of hollow aluminum (typical for this style) and require some assembly. The chairs we ended up purchasing were featured on Gilt.com and instead of aluminum are made of stainless steel which gives them a little more high-end look. They were roughly $50 more per chair but gilt was offering free shipping, so naturally I snatched 6 up immediately. Those countdown cart clocks really put the pressure on!

My best advice when it comes to making any purchase for your home is do your research and know your brands. Put together a wish list or inspiration board and then be patient. Shop the online sales and discount websites. As long as you can differentiate between the "value" and the "junk" there are great deals to be had. Then, don't be afraid to invest in pieces that you really love. Since you've saved in other areas you won't break your budget and, in my opinion, your home should be a place you are proud of. As one of my favorite designers Nate Berkus more eloquently put it,

"Your home should rise up and greet you."