Thursday, May 30, 2013

House Update: Sneak Peak into the First Floor

Crazy to think this is only 24 hours after framing began. We officially have a second floor, but no stairs yet. You'll just have to settle for a sneak peak at the first floor.


We have the beginning of our covered front porch and the roof looks ready to go. When you step through the front door, you enter the foyer (duh). You can see in this picture, taken from the dining room, how our foyer is quite generously sized.

This is the view of our dining room from the foyer. Through the wall, you can see the landing for our yet-to-be-installed stairs.


Then Pato stood quite seriously in our breakfast area. The door behind him leads to the back porch.

Here's the view of our kitchen, that short wall is the island. It's huge! Behind the opening, is our living room.

And now a look from the living room into the kitchen. Behind the island, you can see a door frame that leads to our pantry. The pantry, as you may have caught on, is one of the areas I look forward to the most.

To finish off today's visit, here's some pictures of the back of our house. The three windows on the second floor are in our master bedroom.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

House Update: We Have Walls!

Soooo, this happened:

That's our house!

Pat and I had our "Meet the Builder" meeting today. When we first arrived, Josh (the realtor) mentioned how exciting it is when "things start going vertical." We hadn't seen the property today, but there was nothing to get excited about yesterday so I assumed he was speaking prophetically. The meeting was mainly going over boring paperwork, which there seems a lot of when you're building a house. Then Scott (the builder) mentioned that they had begun framing and asked if we wanted to walk down there. Why was that even a question? Here's more pics:

I'll definitely be driving by everyday until the framing is complete (allegedly there could be a crane putting the roof on as early as Friday!). Look for a lot of House Updates over the next week or so as the framing is one of the times with the most visible differences from day to day.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Let's furnish this house!

I went shopping! Unfortunately, not real "buy stuff" shopping, but it was some of the best window shopping known to man.

My journey started when I discovered Charlotte has a West Elm(!). I promptly ran uptown to see what West Elm is like in person. I've been a fan of theirs for quite a while, but I had only visited on the world wide web. I was pleased to find that they truly have Pottery Barn's quality, great style with an urban/vintage twist (yay!), and plenty of cheap thrills. The items definitely held up to the gorgeous online pictures. Fellow Charlotteans: are there any other great finds in the QC that I'm missing out on?

While there, I discovered the Henry Sofa. Not the chair with it though. *shivers*

In addition to an 80 lb Golden Retriever, we also have two cats, Atticus and Leo (I know several of you are surprised Boone is not an only fur-child). This combination means sofa shopping will never be easy for our family. We need durable, the ability to disguise fur varying in color from golden blond to orange to black, and the back cushions can't look sloppy if they start slouching (that's both cats favorite spot to sleep since it's out of Boo's reach). And it needs to hit all the normal couch criteria: comfortable, attractive, practical/easy to clean. Unfortunately, thanks our felines, no more leather will be joining our home for quite some time.

The reason the Henry Sofa scored such high marks with me is because it packs the looks and comfort of the PB Square Comfort and at a fraction of the price and available in a ton of different fabrics. I love the PB sofa, but it didn't get great reviews and I'm not sure I can justify that kinda money on something I may very well be disappointed in. The reviewers typically critiqued stuff like the cushions sagging quickly, which will happen at our house regardless, but it put enough doubt in my mind to make me second guess a sure thing. The Henry Sofa is just barely more expensive than our current couch and while I'm ready to kick this scratched-up, fur-covered baby to the curb, I feel we got our money's worth. The Henry is also cozy enough to fit into my decor yet modern without appearing alienating. I can't be the only one who thinks stark modern furniture looks simultaneously beautiful and harsh...

Despite the perceived bargain, I started doing some mental math: going from an 800 sq. ft. apartment to a 2200 sq. ft house is going to be expensive. And then I realized, it wouldn't even be proportionate since were going from 2 rooms to 7 rooms needing to be furnished. So I lowered the price point and Ikea, here I come!

What a wonderful place Ikea is and it seems so much bigger when there's no bored spouse or roommate to coordinate with. I could look at everything for as long as I wanted. And that I did.

This is the Kivik sofa. I don't particularly want an Ikea living room and, while we will very probably invest in a decent couch for our main space, we do have a loft that needs furnishing. The only thing better for cuddling while watching movies or having Mario Cart battle royales than this couch was his brother, I'll call him Kivik the Large.

 Definitely more attractive in the lighter color pictured on the couch. This large and in charge gent is actually two chaises pushed together. Super comfortable, you better believe I hung out in this Ikea closet set up for quite a while, just reading some celeb gossip.

This has long been my idea for an entertainment center, either for the main living room or the loft. It's part of the Hemnes collection we already own and love. All Hemnes pieces are made of solid wood, not MDF, so they feel less disposable than most Ikea items. We'll actually do an additional shelf that connects the top of the two towers. Best part is we already own the base, so that's one less piece to buy.

One of the other main areas I am looking forward to decorating is our dining room. Some background: the entire time Pat and I have been married, we've never had a dining room table. We eat sitting on the couch, using our coffee table. Upside: we get to start from scratch. I have several ideas for tables and none of them are at Ikea (I know, my wallet's crying too). This is one place where Ikea drops the ball, unless you like square MDF dining tables. I do like this hutch (another Hemnes) although I'd likely do it in off white to lighten up a room that will already have dark floor and a heavy wood table. I'd especially love to do the classic Ikea Hackers trick of turning an Ikea bookshelf into "built-ins." Maybe two next to each other...

Also on my list of things to buy is office furniture. I don't really need it other than storing an address book, a couple colorful Sharpies, some rolls of wrapping paper (office supplies in blog world), and maybe one drawers worth of files. Despite reality, I just love offices the same way I love laundry rooms.

Since I shouldn't be buying it at all, I somehow use that as a justification to prefer the weathered wood. It's a trend that I'm sure our children will laugh at some day [read:polished brass], but I love it and want to get at least one piece in it.

Speaking of office supplies, here's some great little burlap-covered storage boxes with oval labels complete with metal handles! Ladies, calm yourselves.

One of my favorite things about Ikea is all the cheap, trend-right, impractical furniture. It allows you to follow your design moods without worrying whether it's a smart investment. Take these two bookshelves:

These shelves are very Crate and Barrell circa 2013. I love them...for now. In 2015, they may seem over used or "2 seasons ago" but still acceptable. By 2020, I can almost guarantee I'll be wondering why I thought glass and industrialist metal should ever be in the same piece of furniture (answer: I love the dichotomy/juxtaposition). But in 2013, I think these are the greatest things since sliced bread. And for less than $100 for the double-wide I think I can commit...for now.

Now tell me this isn't the best idea ever:

It's a bar you mount to your backsplash and can hang anything from it. The adorable little bucket's for sale, but there's hooks for mugs and other organizers that really convinced me we need this. Plus the Oil Rubbed Bronze will add the perfect amount of darkness to our light kitchen, which coincidentally is already accented in ORB. Who can drill through tile without cracking it?

One last, non-Ikea find I have to have:


This little prince comes from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. For some unknown reason (similar to my need for office furniture) I really want a linen cabinet in our master bath. Our bath will be quite large and I think it'd be beautiful to have a substantial piece of furniture showing off all the fluffy towels. This one has some cool vintagey details, like the door pull on both sides that I think would help our home seem more established. No, it's not $49.99 or I'd have bought it already; my photography very artfully cut off the "1" in the hundred spot. 

I'm trying to mentally prepare myself to furnish a whole house and I think my lil shopping trip was definitely the boost I needed. I still have several areas to decorate that I didn't even think about on this trip (master bedroom, breakfast nook/sitting area, outside) but now the ball is rolling. 

Please don't think I'm going to do wall-to-wall Ikea; this wouldn't be an exciting blog if I did. It's just so practical and affordable that I think it will give us a great base to furnish an empty house. My plan is to blend these versatile, affordable pieces (that everyone seems to have) with more unique finds so that I can create my own style.

Friday, May 24, 2013

House Update: If we had walls, we'd have a roof

The roof trusses have been delivered! Now that the house two down from us is fully framed, it looks as though they're going to start on our house soon. When I drove by yesterday, the roof trusses were laying on the ground, just waiting for the wall to come support them.

And just for fun, a super silly picture of Boone:

That boy loves cameras.

Update to the Update:
About two hours after posting this I got an email from our builder saying all the pieces have arrived and they will start framing our house at the beginning of next week.  Yay!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Backyard Ideas

As I mentioned in the last post, our lot is freshly graded so I was able to get a pretty good idea of how our land will look once our house is finally built.

Luckily, the neighbor's house will not look into our windows or onto our back patio. There's plenty of space between our house and the one next door, which will likely gain us fenced-in space (Boone says yay!). Our front patio will be absolutely adorbs with a little bench and seasonal decorations.

The one thing I'm less than thrilled with is our backyard has a slight slope up to the garage. See our house, it's the one with the back porch at the corner? Those tiny white stakes at the top of the hill are where the garage will be. I know this pic is not the best, so I've included a special illustration:

Look what I did! And if you ever wondered why new computers in the year 2013 still include Paint, it's for people like me, thank you very much.

This pic shows where our house and garage will be once completed. I placed the property lines in blue so you can visualize not only the space, but the slope. Our house comes with a sidewalk from the house to the garage, but I don't know whether we'll have stairs or a sloping sidewalk.

I had grand visions of backyard layouts, but almost all of them would require at least a semi-flat yard. Some of them are still options, but we would have to re-grade the backyard and build a retaining wall. If we get a sloping sidewalk, we'd have to rip that bad boy out and build something to go with our newly fattened, hypothetical yard. This is sounding super negative; I'm actually not against the idea because it would definitely add character and would make the area much more intimate. I'm just seeing dollar signs on top of hundreds of thousands of other dollar signs we've already spent.

I was hoping for three distinct areas: the covered-porch, uncovered seating/grilling area, and lawn area. I was hoping to split the yard 40-60 between the seating area and the lawn so Boone would have some room to romp, space for a doghouse, and plenty of poo-space.

A retaining wall would likely take up about three to four feet on the sides and back of our yard (enough space to support the garage/fence and any landscaping). The retaining wall idea has one major caveat: once you take out that kinda space from our already little backyard, there's really not enough space to do an uncovered seating area and dog-zone...

To make this all even more complicated, our HOA doesn't allow privacy fences (one of the few negatives about Brightwalk, though I completely understand why). I really want the privacy because, let's face it, we didn't grow up in the age of going to the neighbors' to borrow a cup of sugar. And even if we do become great friends with our neighbors *fingers crossed*, our yard will be fenced, so if they have to come through the front door anyway, I'd prefer privacy in the back. Long story short, even though you already read the long story, we want a privacy hedge.

Here's a few of my fave ideas:
Don't shave goldens, it's bad. Other than that, I love the built-in seating and firepit. This would be a great place to grill for a large party (think of how many people you could squeeze in this arrangement) or to enjoy a cool summer night next to a fire with a few of your besties.

Found on Pinterest, original link missing
I really like this yard's division between lawn and seating. I'd likely rotate it, so it was left-right layout. Plus, the landscaped areas next to the fence help me to envision having a buffer zone for a retaining wall.
This one gives me an idea of what we'd be looking at if we kept all three areas, just downsized each of them. Doubt we'll have room for the cushy landscaping between each area and without that, this yard could quickly go from adorables to generic.
Ours would obviously be much smaller, but this one does a great job of giving the impression of separate areas while still  being part of one cohesive outdoor living space.

Note: I won't completely get rid of the lawn, Boone needs at least enough space for a bathroom break between walks. I may be willing to compromise on how much play space and the doghouse...

I could really use help figuring out a solution, so what would you if this was your backyard?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wait for it, wait for it...

I know, I know. I said I'd wait until Monday to go check on our little hovel, but Sunday afternoon it was just calling my name. Of course, no work is done on the weekends and since I saw it on Thursday, it seemed highly unlikely that there would be anything newsworthy. But I still had to go.

No, this is not our house.  Keep waiting (I promise that hurt me more than you)...

While there continues to be no news on our homesite, the neighbors are probably squealing with excitement right now. When I visited Thursday, the house two down from us (the one that used to be only about 2-3 days ahead of us, until the rain pushed back our foundation) was staring to get framed. Nothing fancy, like maybe two out of four sides.
When I swung by today, the house was framed all the way through the second floor. No roof yet, but it had real floors and real stairs and it was solid enough for me to walk around. Yes, I will walk around others property up until there is a lock on the door. Feel free to do the same at our home, just leave it the way you found it.

From the second floor, I took a picture of our lot. Very exciting as it was an angle I've been able to see, but never found a vantage point to capture it on film until now. Our house will be the one with the giant puddle. Rain loves the Racheds.

The coolest thing about their "house" is that it made all this feel really I could see how in just a few months time, this will actually be where we live. For the next several years. Crazy.

I took some time wandering around the lots, taking pictures of the fresh grading, trying to get ideas for landscaping. I walked to the park across the street. I took time just taking it all in. "This will be the view from the dining room." "This will be the view from the bedroom." "This is roughly where I'll sit to watch TV." "This is how the neighbors' houses will line up with ours." I was much more introspective than this goofy girl normally is.

Friday, May 17, 2013

No news is *not* good news

I know it's seems like I've been neglecting you all, but the reason is there is no news. We are still in foundation-with-nothing-on-it land. It has me asking the question: is no news really good news?

I surmise it is not.

Anyhoo, I will go check on the progress of our little hovel on Monday, so just keep an eye out. Walls are coming soon...

(I also just googled to make sure I spelled surmise correctly. Surmise, sermise, sermize? For the record, s-u-r-m-i-s-e was my first guess.)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Future Foyer Artwork

As much as I'm trying to contain myself when it comes to decorating a house that's not built yet, sometimes I just need an outlet. And this is one place where I have to plan ahead.

One of the projects I can't wait to do for our house is an arrangement of three pictures: one at the beginning of construction, one midway through, and one on move-in day. I plan on putting it in the foyer, so visitors can see the evolution of our home. It's personal, but not as personal as baby pictures, so the foyer seems like a good fit.

I've been wanting to do this idea since before we started building, but I recently found a layout I like:

 Property of
The hilarious and tasteful couple behind 7th House on the Left featured an arrangement in their foyer
(BTW, I looove their foyer) with three large frames, lots of white space, and relatively small photos. They used it to display vintage family photos, but I think the display would be great for construction photos since they're more sentimental than beautiful. Displaying them this way would definitely class it up.

 Today, I think I got the perfect early construction shot:

It's a good straight-on shot where you can see our front porch, construction sign, and plenty of sky. That's important so I can get similar perspectives as construction progresses. My hope is that the pictures will look very similar with everything except the house, as if it just sprung out of the ground. 

I'm crossing my fingers that this works okay, because there's no way to go back and fix it if I screw up a shot.

I still haven't decided whether I want to do black and white pictures (classy and uniform, but loses details) or color (shows all the details, including the unfortunate Carolina Red Clay). I've even considered sepia, with all the cons of B&W, but a cool vintage feel. Thoughts?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Not fair...

When my siblings and I were little, our mother used to prohibit the use of the f-word: fair (sure, she probably would prohibit the use of the other f-word, but that was never the issue).

Well I'm about to swear, because this is not fair. I said it.

After weeks of waiting on our foundation, our neighbors went from nothing to foundation in days. I should be happy, because this is just less time that we'll have to live with construction, but truth be told, I'm just feeling petty.

Here's our little corner of the neighborhood, four foundations in a row. Despite my childish temper, today was super fun, because it was one of my first trips where it wasn't super muddy. I took the puppy and he was so stinkin' excited. I don't know what did it for him, but he thought this was his own personal playground. He was running around all four sites, including the two freshly poured ones. Future neighbors, I'm sorry if one day you find a paw print on your home.

Here's Boone standing in our future kitchen/breakfast area. I was standing on our back porch.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

House Update: Really, Truly Foundation (for reals this time)

Today's the day we've all been waiting for: the plumbing is in, inspections are passed, and the clouds have (finally) parted.

Could today really be the day?

Could our foundation really be going in today?

You bet your sweet behinds that I wasn't about to miss a minute of the action. After waking up at the crack of dawn for more doctors appointments I decided to go out of my way and take a quick trip uptown before work. And you know what I saw?

...and this...

A real life, bonafide foundation, complete with front and back porches.

The constructions guys were looking at me like I had two heads while I walked around in the mud to get different shots. And I was okay with that.

Even though this will one day seem like a fairly insignificant milestone, it's no less a milestone and right now it's the biggest one I've had to celebrate. So if any of you are rolling your eyes in disbelief over how excited I am, just be glad you've got more exciting things going on in your life and leave me be.

Then get off your high horse and admit how awesome this is!

Our corner of the neighborhood. Thanks to the signs on their lots, I now know we will have a Vanderbilt (different elevation) on one side and a Ford on the other.

Two terrible views of our front porch

And the neighbors' friendly dog. She was barking at me when I was taking pictures, but as soon as I walked over she was giving me kisses in exchange for ear rubs. I did feel like a bit of a creep taking a picture of a stranger's dog, but we're future neighbors and I have a feelings she's gonna be Boone's new friend.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Rain, rain, go away...

Pat and I received an email over the weekend that our little house has passed it's first round of inspections and our foundation will get poured tomorrow assuming the weather holds up. Say a little prayer that it doesn't rain so we can move on to the next step.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Things I Won't Miss about the Apartment: the Bedroom

Our Current Bedroom and Closet:

A little boring, right?

Our bedroom is a decent size given the overall square footage of our apartment. Size isn't the problem here,  but that doesn't mean it's problem free.

First, organization. When I originally designed my clothing-storage layout, I decided to have things for my lower half in a chest of drawers and things for my upper half in the closet. The problem is, who fully dresses half their body, before even starting to dress the other half? Not this gal.

A quick demonstration (and potential TMI): half my underthings are in the bedroom dresser and half are in the closet drawers. My camis are in the bedroom dresser, but my shirts are in the closet. My jeans are in the bedroom dresser, but my socks are in the closet. So on an average morning, I walk from the bedroom dresser to the closet no less than six times!

The design is my fault, but I have good reason for choosing to lay it out that way. Our bedroom is much wider than it is long, necessitating we align our lives linearly, not logically. Our closet is deep, but simply too narrow for two people to share the area simultaneously. As a benevolent wife, I tried to organize it so that I would spend half my time in our closet and half out, so that my husband doesn't have to climb around me every morning.

Over the two years we've lived here, my wardrobe has changed quite a lot: I lost 30 lbs., but then gained a little bit back. I've switched jobs and hobbies. And because we're out of that honeymoon phase, my workout wardrobe shrank but my sweatshirt/pant wardrobe tripled.

I (and my storage) have had to adapt. We added plastic drawers in the closet, but they are too small to hold many of my items and not delicate enough for my delicates. One day, I want to install custom closets in the new house, but in the A.P.T, it never crossed my mind; it just seemed like a waste of money to invest in a closet we couldn't take with us. So we lived with it.

Like I said, size isn't the problem in the bedroom, but since storage is so limited in other areas, a lot of stuff overflows into our bedroom and closet (luggage, spare linens, Christmas decorations, boxes for computers/TVs still under warranty, Leo's favorite hiding space).

Another glaring opportunity is the lack of light in our bedroom (or entire apartment, really). Like so many apartments and stock builder homes, we aren't blessed with overhead lighting. We are blessed with several beautiful lamps and the ambient light they provide. It's very romantic.

However, it's not so romantic when you burn your hand while steaming clothes because you couldn't see what you were doing, or when you want to read a book around dusk and it's too dim to read, or when you want to do anything other than Pinterest after dark. This girl would kill for some task lighting.

There is one time when light can be a nuisance in our apartment, and that's when one of us is sleeping. Due to our current floorplan, there is no way to enter the bedroom without shining a ton of light (from our closet or bathroom, ironically the only areas with task lighting) right into the face of a sleeping spouse.

Our Soon-to-be Bedroom and Closet:

Image property of Standard Pacific Homes
Ah, that's better.

In the near future we will gain a much more efficiently shaped Master Suite. The bedroom is wide enough for a king bed, side tables, and a nice little sitting area. It's also long enough so the TV can be opposite the foot of the bed, not at an angle (my craning neck rejoices).

Our closet is slightly deeper, but much wider, so we will both be able to fit in there. And it's off the bathroom, so I can go through my entire morning/night ritual with a door closed and no light shining in my hubby's tired/angry eyes.

Throughout our new house, I made sure that every room will have overhead lighting (most will get ceiling fans), so that never again will I have to choose between doing something in poor light or moving into another room. I now understand why builders cut that out, it wasn't cheap and most people take it for granted.

And one day, we will install a custom closet, and I will design my portion exactly for the way that I dress myself in the morning. And Pat can do the same with his 20%.