I really did debate writing a July update on our homebuilding process. It’ll be interesting, to say the least. More on that later. The frustration came from not knowing pricing as well as confusion about what is in our “upgraded” level. We’ve spent the entire month in the design center picking and choosing the way the outside and the inside of our home will look. If you’ve been following along in our “building our dream home” process, you know how easily a home can turn into a different design. We went from farmhouse to Hampton’s style. Let me explain more …
P.S. I’m writing as the appointments happened. Keep reading through to follow the changes we made and what our final decisions turned out to be.
Canceled. Designer called in this day.
Our very first appointment was to pick out everything we need for the home’s exterior. For the most part, Aaron and I knew what we wanted — brick flooring on the front porch, a white exterior, and double-entry doors with two french doors on either side. These doors lead into the cocktail room and guest room, which we feel will both get used often. We also chose coach lighting for the garages, and we picked out roof shingles in black, a metal awning in a slate gray, a lighter brick washed out with matching grout. All of these were upgrades except the coach lights. We were already heading in the wrong direction. However, we want the house to match our vision, so this is where we are.
At the end of the meeting, we narrowed it down to two options: One was an upgrade and the other was standard. One great thing is that our builder does allow for us to get multiple pricing on different options. Here are the two we have on the list. Looking back, it’s hard to see the “in package” option. Our hearts are with option No. 2.
As it turned out, our plans weren’t uploaded into the system at this point, and that meant the design wasn’t able to submit for pricing, which takes a week to get. Since our first-week appointment was canceled, this now had us a week behind on pricing.
I’d like to say that one aspect of designing a home is more exciting than others, but I’ve found that it’s all exciting. I get to build out my ideas of exactly how I want my home to look and feel!
Kitchen + Mudroom + Laundry + Coffee bar + Pantry
In this meeting, we picked out designs for the flooring and kitchen, mudroom, powder room, coffee bar area and the laundry room. Somehow we were able to get a lot done. If you’ve been following along, then you know my friend Michelle with House of Strasner joined us in the design process. If you are ever building, then I recommend bringing in your own team. Not only did she play the role as a buffer between me and Aaron, but she has our budget in mind. This helps us decide what’s a must-have and what’s just a fun upgrade.
At this point, I was starting to feel the shift from farmhouse to Hamptons. The reason is that Aaron has very traditional taste. When I think traditional, I immediately think of Cape Cod, Maine and the Hamptons. But I’ve seen lots of homes that are traditional with a modern twist to them. It’s the perfect marriage of my taste and Aaron’s.
From Farmhouse to Hamptons Style
To create this, we added some wood elements, a back wall of fractional windows plus three sets of french doors — all with squared edges and minimalist details. It’s hard to explain via text, but it makes sense in my head. All I can do is keep sharing where my inspiration is coming from and then implement those details. Hopefully building our dream home will be just that….
We were very aware of the budget and tried to avoid upgrading as much as possible. Flooring options with PIB are quite large. Unless (like me) you’re looking for a very specific color, then you are sure to find what you want and like.
It’s such fun looking back at these options to see where we were when we started and, as time has passed, where we are now with these choices — creating a much better story.
There is a big difference between wood tile and tile made from birch wood. I personally am drawn more to the birch wood because it’s softer under my feet. We currently have tile floors in our rental, and it does hurt my feet from time to time. I also like the birch flooring because of the grout and placement of the individual pieces. PIB charges $2 to stagger the wood tile and $2 to make the tiles lay tightly together so that you don’t see much of the grout. Doing this makes the pieces look more like wood versus tile. When it comes down to it, it’s cheaper to choose a higher-level flooring, which is why we ultimately went with the birch flooring.
Pricing + bathroom choices + stairs
Pricing wasn’t back: I’ll start with that letdown. But moving quickly along (because I can’t harp — it doesn’t do any good, and I want to keep a positive mindset here). At this meeting, we went over all the bathroom choices. We also picked out the staircase.
Michelle, Aaron and I stayed late the previous week so that this meeting would flow a little faster. We needed the time to pick out our master bath (which I’ll share with you, as I’m writing this … still undecided but am sticking with our choices for now).
One thing we found and all fell in love with is the Calcutta Quartzite for the countertop. We came to the conclusion that we were able to do a major upgrade on this since we cut so much on flooring in our previous meeting. This is where Aaron famously brought out that random blue tile and was like, “How about this?” This is why they leave designing up to the wife. For us, it’s about telling a whole story throughout the home. With that said, as it turns out, Mr. Aaron has very specific and expensive tastes himself. He is able to pick things that aren’t a 1,000 level upgrade, but he sure does lean on the $$$ side of things.
This is where the whole bathroom situation happened. We picked out the countertop (love, love, love), and then I stumbled upon this gray stone. We all oohed and aahed at it. For Aaron, it’s all about having a Zen, spa-like feeling in the bathroom. I, on the other hand, prefer luxury. So, we spent the meeting marrying the two styles. I think we’ve done a great job. Without picking out lighting and mirrors, I’m personally having a hard time with the vision. I’ll get there though. All I can tell you is we are NOT changing Aaron’s tile for the shower.
The Herringbone Home
Oh, my sweet Aaron. I also introduced him to the word “herringbone,” which is now his favorite look. If someone wanted to, they could call this house “The Herringbone Home” ha ha! I love it though. It makes me feel good having Aaron’s wishlist incorporated. It makes it feel more like OUR home. These little design elements will always have an Aaron stamp on them when I see them. Feels good.
Leaving this meeting, the only thing that changed from the image below is that we chose white countertops. Hardware is for a meeting that has yet to be scheduled. Also, we are still waiting for our cabinetry/trim meeting.
As far as the stairs go, here’s my vision — but with the light birch wood floor. Basically, I want black handrails, white painted risers and white painted wood bars with stained wood flooring.
Kids baths are a great place to venture out and play with details. We (originally) chose a small, white subway tile shower and a penny tile for the floor with white cabinets for both baths. Everything in white. The plan was to make both upstairs baths match.
We all three were thinking this appointment was set for Tuesday, so we missed it. Luckily, we had a Thursday appointment on the books and weren’t missing that.
The big finale
I’m so sure that the designer for PIB thought this appointment day was going to be an easy, breezy day. But I had her work for her living at this meeting. To finish up, we had to go over lighting and interior colors, and then pick out stair wood stain and grout color. Pricing arrived for 1/4 of our picks on July 24, so we went over that at the beginning of this meeting.
Well, this brings me to a whole new idea. Since Aaron and I started going Hampton’s style with the home, we discovered that we’d rather have cedar shake on the top portion of the home instead of board and batten. Now we are talking! So we made this change after the July 22 appointment with the builders. We also decided that it would make a better story if the house was gray with white trim and a lighter awning. So, we made these changes at this appointment.
To make this go easy, I am going to write out some of our final decisions and cool changes we made in bullets so I don’t keep rambling on and making this post a million times longer than it needs to be. Also note, once more pricing comes through, we will be able to decide what needs to stay and what needs to go. Not the most efficient way, but we are almost through, and then we can start the building process.
List of what we have as a final decision
- Gray Stone PPG – main exterior (non-upgrade)
- Delicate White PPG – exterior trim and doors (non-upgrade)
- Dutch door on the side by the mudroom that leads to the exterior
- Gas lanterns on the front porch
- Three steps on the front porch versus two that were on the original plans
- All bathrooms have chrome fixtures
- Upgrade newel posts (this is the main posts, not the in-between posts)
- Possibly add a waterfall to the kitchen island on the side by the cocktail room
- Changed out both upstairs shower tile to another color. Navy’s is a scallop, and the other is a sweet multi-side design.
- Changed master shower floor from penny tile to a matching stone but in a hexagon
Wow, this was a lot, but it all has been broken down for you now. You get to see a little inside the process of building a custom home. Here are the best two pieces of advice I could give at this point:
- Bring your own designer, and borrow Michelle if you have to (she travels).
- Interview the person at your design center. Make sure you’re both in an excited place to see your vision come to light. Make sure the personalities of all parties gel. If not, it could get tense at moments. Nobody wants to carry dead weight or misery!
Finally, ENJOY! It’s such a great time between you and your spouse. Remember, this is for you both to create new memories, and there’s always an option out there you both can agree on. Even if it takes scheduling more appointments.
Thank you for following along on my journey!34