Sunday, February 27, 2011

The House that We Built Upgraded.

Since my last post, we had our design meeting with the builder where we had to sit down and pick every single interior item in our home.  I'm a decision maker - and 2.5 hours into the meeting we were doing great.  I was checking off decisions right and left.  The Husband was sweetly nodding and smiling (just how I like him).  

Then came the carpet color choice.  For lack of a better term:  Shit hit the fan.  The Husband all of a sudden had a strong opinion - and he picked the WORST carpet ever.  Worst.  It was grey/green and matching exactly zero of the other items we had already selected.  
Now, I know what you're thinking:
"let the man have one decision" 
"all he wanted was carpet, and you couldn't give it to him"
"you picked everything and you couldn't trust him with a carpet color choice"

No.  I couldn't.

I want him to love our house - but I also know that he has no concept of matching, and no eye for design.  This man needs ME to go to the mall and pick out clothes for him.  Why in the world would I trust him to make a decision as large as the carpet in our home?  Wasn't gonna happen.

After a whisper of 'over my dead body' the poor Design Lady (let's call her Kay) gave us some space and volunteered to leave the room for a while.  After several minutes of whisper yelling (y'all know what I'm talking about...) she returned and we did not have an answer.   We admitted that we couldn't make a decision that day - and needed more time to "discuss" in the privacy of our own home.  

We went back to the design center this weekend to pull out all the samples and make a decision (without Kay around).  And what do you know... we made a decision.  A good one, too.  It only required an upgrade to level three carpet and an additional $560.  Not that I think "throwing money" at a problem is a solution all the time... but it sure worked this time.  We have beautiful, soft, plush carpet in a beautiful color that we both love.  Happiness has returned to our marriage.  Hooray.

Without further adieu... here are our design choices:

Carpet and Tile
Tile specs:  Ceramic (standard level).  Size:  16''x16''.  Color:  Bone.   Tile will be in the entry way, extended entry, kitchen, breakfast room, pantry, hall closet, master bathroom, guest bathroom, back entry way, entry from garage.  
Carpet specs:  Mohawk Easy Choice (level 3).  100% Mohawk UltraStrand UltraSoft BCF Nylon with Scotchgard Protector.  Color:  737 Corkboard.  (+$560)
here is a closer look at the design in the tile:

Kitchen and Surrounding Areas
Granite Specs:  3cmm.  Squared Edge.  color:  'Santa Cecilia' (level 2 granite... but negotiated into the contract price).
Backsplash Specs:  4''x4'' Travertine Fontane Tumbled tiles, set on the diagonal.  Color:  Ivory Classic.  (level 5, but we negotiated down to a price of +$180).  Grout in backsplash will be 'Antique White'.
Cabinet Specs:  Knotty Alder.  (I forgot the actual stain color but it's got some reddish in it... close to cherry... but not quite).  (Thankfully, these were standard and they will go in the kitchen and both bathrooms).
Not pictured:  
Grout color: 'Sand' (for floor tiles)
Kitchen Sink:  Mirado 205 - Stainless Steel Under mount Sink - 8'' Deep (standard)
Master and Guest Bath Countertop:  Cultured Marble with integrated Sink (standard)
All plumbing, hinges, knobs, sink fixtures:  Oil Rubbed Bronze (the price was steep... but it was negotiated into our contract price)
you can see the backsplash tile with the granite...
 most of the choices, all together.
You can see there are two different paint colors (Montgomery Sand is the darker and Autumn Tan is the lighter).  We're undecided.  Any opinions?

So, if you remember my  "Window OR Lighting" debate from the last post - I couldn't decide between an extra window over the backdoor or under cabinet lighting.  The 'votes' were overwhelmingly in favor of the window.  After a lot of conversation I am thrilled to say... We're getting BOTH.  The Husband is a sucker for a happy wife.  Lucky me.

We honestly thought all the upgrades we would want were already worked into our contract... so these 'extras' are definitely 'surprises' to our budget.  For those of you looking to build - I would really suggest spending lots of time in the design center BEFORE you make an offer... because it hurts my heart to think we could have gotten these upgrades within our contract price.  
Oh well.  You live you learn.  

Here's the breakdown of our upgrades (after contract):
Larger Master Shower (from 42''x36'' to 42''x42'') = +$500
Tumbled Travertine on Backsplash = +$180
Extra Window over Backdoor = +$250
Under Cabinet Lighting = +$340
Upgraded Carpet = +$560
Grand Total (Gulp):  $1,830.00
(remember The Husbands $1,000 budget just a few days ago... yea... it's a thing of the past)

We are thrilled with our choices and the only thing up for debate at this point is paint color.  
What did you think?  
Montgomery Sand or Autumn Tan?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Upgrade decisions. Help!

The husband has dawn a pretty clear line about the budget and what we can accommodate in "upgrades" through this design process (not including the upgrades we worked into our initial contract).  The budget: $1,000.  Fair enough.

Shower.  We are both in agreement that a larger shower needs to be a part of that money, so we have elected to upgrade to a 42''x42'' shower rather than the standard 36''x42''.  I know the 6 inches doesn't seem like much... but it's the difference between us both fitting together - or not.  And we like showers.  :)  I also think it will help fill that wall that I didn't like here a little better.  (the shower will now come out to the same width as the tub).  

Backsplash.  Much to my surprise, the backsplash I didn't like here was considered an upgrade - so I reallllly didn't like what they offered standard.  After a few batts of my eyelashes I got the husband on board with 4''x4'' travertine tiles on a diagonal.   They are beeeeautiful.  It will end up looking similar to this (without the accent tiles). (that "lip" of granite as part of the backsplash won't be there, either)

Window.  In the model home we first viewed there was a great window over the backdoor that kind of 'evened out' the balance on the back wall.  I noticed (after we signed the contract... ugh) that that window was an option.  I really think it looks better with the window...

without the window:

with the window:

Lighting.  Then comes the under cabinet lighting.  You all know how beautiful it came make a kitchen.  It's like the perfect piece of jewelry that "makes" your outfit complete.  The lighting would be pre-wired into the walls so they would turn on with a switch.  

(photos from google searches... I'm sorry I don't have the source)

upgraded shower:  $500
upgraded backsplash:  $200
added window:  $250
under cabinet lighting: $340
grand total:  $1,290
The husband informed me that it was $290 too much, and there wasn't much room for negotiations.  Bummer.  So, it comes down between the cabinet lighting or the window (neither of us want to  budge on the shower and backsplash).  

If it was you... which way would you go?  

Nix the window and have the lighting?
Nix the lighting and have the window?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Tour, Part Four

You have now seen the floor planthe empty lotentry way, dining room, planning areakitchen, family room, master bedroom, and master bathroom.

Today I'm going to take you to the "kid's wing".  We don't have kids, yet, but it's in the plans.  Two of those little critters will be running a muck in our new house, eventually.  The right side of the house is dedicated to these phantom children - so let's take a tour of their digs.

 Guest/Kids Bathroom (the shower/toilet is through another door to the right)

This room is actually pretty small.  I am telling myself it's okay the bedrooms are small because the kids will have a nice, large, playroom.  (This room is actually 11'7''x10'3.5'')

Second guest bedroom.  (12'8.5''x10'3.5'').  I'm currently obsessing over the curtain rods.  I want 'em.

This is standing in the extended entry looking into the playroom (in an unfurnished home the builder is selling).  Our carpet will start about three tiles sooner (right after the arch).  Bedroom #3 and Bathroom is to the left, after the arch.  Bedroom #2 and linen closet is to the right.   The playroom is 16.5'x10'3.5''.

So there you have it... the tour is complete.  

Our decor meeting is Wednesday afternoon (today), so I fully expect to have decor posts coming out of my finger tips.  I already have lots of ideas I want to share with you all, and I'd love all your opinions and experience!  

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Tour, Part Three

Moving towards the back of the house into the Master Suite.  Ohhh la lahhhh.

It's hard to see where the Master bedroom entrance is.  My expert photoshop skills enabled me to create this graphic to make it much more clear:
Awesome graphics, Right?

Anywhoo... There is about three feet in the back of this photo (behind the wall... in the area where that fake tree is) that is tiled.  It's great, to me, because people can pop off their shoes and or not worry about tracking something directly onto carpet.  I'm a fan.

Master Bedroom:
 This is the view from the door.  I love the color on their walls... too bad that green would look heinous with my blue duvet...

awesomely large windows in the master.

Master Bath:
A post is coming soon about my internal struggles with that mirror.  (You can see the separate potty room on the right.  Apparently the fancy word for that is "water closet".)

Tub and Shower.  
I'm honestly not totally in *love* with this setup... but you win some and you lose some.  I'm  hoping the Oil Rubbed Bronze fixtures and shower surround will make it more my style.    

Cue the Trumpets....
This is the closet.  This photo doesn't even do the size close to justice.  It's seriously probably as large as the 2nd bedroom.  Gigantic.

The husband and I had a fight disagreement last night about this closet.  He insists the christmas tree and tubs of holiday decor must live in here (because it's so huge) - enabling him to never, ever, get anything out of the attic.  
freaked the eff out calmly disagreed, and told him holiday decor will "junk up" my beautiful closet.   I'm planning on this closet being a fantastic retreat.  That giant green tree will not interrupt my feng shui.  

p.s.  Compromise Complete.  The stupid tree and all the stupid tubs that go along with it will be stored in the guest room closet.  Not ideal, but isn't that what marriage is all about?!? :-)
I think the husband may have been scarred as a teenager being asked to fetch things from his parent's attic.  I guess it will take a while before I can get to the bottom of this "issue".  We've got at least another 60 years of marriage ahead of us... I'll figure it out, and report  back... Stay tuned.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Tour, Part Two

Let's continue with our little tour and I can show you the kitchen and family room... along with all the exciting changes we've made. 

The photo above was taken while I was standing in the middle of the kitchen (with the breakfast area behind me).  This looks into the family room, towards the backdoor and master bedroom entrance.  I love the height of the ceiling and dramatic windows in this room.  
We will have to purchase blinds for each window before we move in and I expect a full blown tantrum-style fit from the husband at the checkout counter.  I've (semi) prepared him for the costs... but when he actually has to open his wallet, I'm sure he will swear that he had no idea the costs of blinds.  During his melt down at the store, I also am willing to place bets on the fact he will suggest taping newspaper up in the windows (or something equally as ghetto price conscious).  
I think we'll just cross that bridge when we get to it... hopefully not until late May.  
(The granite slab in these photos house looks kinda dinky because it's only 2cm.  We got the "standard" 3cm and it will hopefully look a little better)

Here is another view of the kitchen (photo taken in a 'stock home' of the same floor plan), while I'm standing in the breakfast area. 
Note:  We will have larger floor tiles. 
Note:  Our backsplash will be on a diagonal... and hopefully, then, I will like it.
Note:  We went back and forth 100 times on getting the brick fireplace above... or the wood/tile one in the first picture.  It came down to $1,000 and we decided to go with the first (cheaper) one.  Do you think we made the right choice?  Honesty is the best policy.
Note:  Dishwasher will be stainless.
Note:  Our oven will be something like this (Without the fancy backsplash):

View from the family room, into the kitchen.  Our tile will not follow those exact same borders... but you get the idea.  

Okay... so let's get real for a second... What do you think about the two fireplaces:
#1:  Cheaper.  Seems a bit more contemporary.  The tile will match the rest of the house (won't be the fugly tile they picked out for the model home).
#2:  Has a hearth.  Seems more "built in".  Has more drama.  

It's actually not too late to change my mind... so what do you think?  #1 or #2?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The changes.

Although we're totally in love with the 512a and ready to move in, commit ourselves, and all that jazz - it doesn't mean she doesn't have a few flaws quirks.

The husband and I spent a lot of time going through models of this floor plan.  I have taken tons of photographs and we scoured through them, discussing what we would do differently.  Thankfully, we were able to write all of these changes into our contract and with only one round of negotiations - everyone came to a happy agreement.

Armed with a folder full of photographs, I'm going to take you... my loyal followers (all 6 of you) through our house and show you all the awesome-ness it entails.   (And some of the changes we made to the original plan)

(Remember, these are photos from the model home.  I wish we had the budget they used  to furnish this home... but for now, it's great inspiration while we build our savings)

Above is standing in the "extended" entryway looking at the front door.  We are getting an upgraded front door (meaning it's a lot larger with glass inserts).  That small window above the door will not be there, because the front door will almost reach to that point.  You can see a sliver of a blue wall on the right... that is the dining room.  The opening to the left (next to to the front door) is actually where the garage will be.  Because this is a model home... they use the garage space as their office and leave it open.  The smaller opening on the left closest to you is the opening where you'll enter from the garage into the house.  
We have our choice between 12''x12'', 16''x16'' or 18''x18'' tiles.  The patterns will determine which way I go... but I know it will either be the 16'' or 18''.  

Above the is the formal dining room that was just to the right of the front door (when you were looking towards the door in the previous photo).  Although I think Dining Rooms are beautiful, they are not really suitable for our current lifestyle.  If I'm going to be honest, we only eat at our breakfast table on "fancy" days.  Normally, dinner is done in front of the t.v. on the couch.  
We debated having the builders go ahead and enclose this opening with french doors to make in an office for the husband.  In the end, we decided having a dining room would be good for eventual re-sale, and the husband will still use it as his office.  The plan is to change out the lighting fixture and put a desk and bookshelves in this rooms for when he works from home.  Maybe someday we will use it for a dining room... but for now - this is the office.  Thankfully, he's a complete freak about tidiness in his work space so this area will still look nice when visitors first enter the home.  

If you go back and look at the previous photo of the dining room, you'll see these doors.  This leads to the laundry room (left) and planning area (right) and then through into the kitchen.
We also included the upgrade of all oil rubbed bronze fixtures, knobs, hinges, and pluming into our contract.  Once again, all things in life are better in oil rubbed:  men, massages, fish, the list goes on an on...

Here you can see the "planning area" I mentioned.  In our home, the desk will have a granite top.  There are cabinets and a small 'look through' into the entry way.  I plan on keeping cookbooks, keys, bills, etc in this area.  This will also be where the computer lives until we save up the cash to get the husband his office furniture.  

Here is the floor plan once again.  With my expert powerpoint skills I added the visual of the tile extending all the way to the family room.  Originally, that was all carpet and I really felt like tile was a better solution with the amount of foot traffic that area would see.  You can also see that I added new boundaries for the back patio.  We are going to be getting the "extended covered patio" which will be awesome.  It will leave us plenty of room for patio furniture, a grill, and room to spare.  
I'm pretty sure this floor plan is property of Highland Homes... so don't steal it, mmmkay?

So there are the first few areas of the house.  I imagine this tour will be broken into at least 4-5 segments - so stay tuned.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The lot.

We took our weekly visit to our homesite on Sunday morning.  I was hoping to see some trees knocked down or something cool... but it looked pretty similar to what we saw last week.

So far, they have already done a 'rough' mark of where the footprint (4 corners) of the house will be on the lot.  Today we did notice they added a few flags where the back fence will run.

Our lot backs up to the greenbelt - which ensures no backyard neighbors... ever.  This privacy was something we are really looking forward to.  State law (or maybe neighborhood law?? who knows?) requires an iron fence when you back to greenbelt which is fine by us...  because that is less future maintenance, and it allows for great views into the wooded areas.  I can imagine Cooper (our beagle) having lots of fun trying to spot deer and another creatures.

Here are a few pictures I snapped during our visit.

The tree in the far left of the photo is the dividing line between our property and the neighbors.  The small yellow flag (just to the left of the stick in the front of the photo, and the flag is actually pretty far back) is the left corner of our house.  Isn't that "SOLD" sign the coolest thing since keyless entry?  'cause we all know that keyless entry in your car is way cooler than sliced bread. 
That big patch of tall oak tress in the center of the photo is where our backyard will be.  I'm not sure how many they'll be able to save in the building process... but they seem pretty confident.

This yellow flag is in the back of the property where the iron fence will be placed.  That the husband standing where the next marker is.  Any trees (or brush) behind this fence must stay.  

I added this photo because he's cute.  The last post's 'cute scale' was off the charts just by including our fab-o floor plan.  I feel like this post was lacking... because photos of dirt (with no house a top) isn't as fun.  However, throw a pointless photo of an adorable dog at the end of a post... and all is right with the world once again. 

p.s. That dog can't wait to pee in his very own backyard.  He told me last night at 11:45pm when he was scratching at the door to go potty.   can.not.wait.

p.s.s. Our design meeting to pick out all of the interior finishes is next week.  Get ready for some serious topics such as grout colors, back splash designs, and debates such as brushed nickel vs. oil rubbed bronze.... 
Who am I kidding????  Anything and everything "oil rubbed" is better.  Decision 1 of 1,000,000 - complete.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

The plan.

The plan is to build a home.  Our first home, together, as our own little family unit.  The husband and I have been married a little over two years now, and although buying a home wasn't in our plans for 2011, home ownership feels like the right move.

The combination of rising interest rates, along with our discovery of a fabulous neighborhood kick started the online searching... which turned into emails with a realtor... which evolved into 'scoping' out some homes on a Sunday afternoon in January.  After two weekends of looking at re-sales in our favorite neighborhood, our realtor asked us if we had considered building.  I laughed and told her that was probably out of our budget.  She encouraged us to consider meeting with a few builders the following weekend.  I told her I didn't think we were interested in building.  Thanks, but no thanks.

Then I let my curiosity kick in, and my fingers did some walking and... walllllahhh.  I was suddenly VERY interested in building.  We could get the same (or more) for our money on a new construction in our dreamy little neighborhood.  Two more Sunday afternoons meeting with builders, looking at model homes, walking around on empty lots of land and scouring our finances and suddenly, we were sold.

Meet our floor plan.  The 512a.  Isn't she pretty?  Spacious, one story, private master, playroom for our phantom children.  She is the total package.  The husband and I both love her.  We love her so much we want to move in.  But moving in without 'a date' isn't our style.... (or is it???).  So we've set a date.  June 2nd.  On June 2nd (111 days) she'll be all mine... um... ours.

The 512a is obviously a beauty, but she comes with some perks.  Land.  The idea of having our very own backyard is enough to get me all tingly inside.  My beagle will be in  heaven.  I, too, will be in heaven when I don't have to leash him and race down three flights of stairs to find a patch of grass.  This dog needs to potty at the most inconvenient times... and being able to open up the backdoor (bra-less) and have him tippy toe his own self to grass is so exciting... I might pee myself. 

So, this blog has started to document our building process to our family and friends, and anyone else who happens to stumble upon it.  We have already committed to taking the drive out to house (currently) empty lot each week to document the progress. Stay tuned.