House Update – Materials and Samples

June 26th, 2013

We’re getting so close… to starting. We just got word today that the engineering is done. We should go to permitting by the end of the week! Here’s the final technical drawing:


Building a house really seems like a classic case of “hurry up and wait.” We finally got the design settled on, and then it had to go through engineering. During this process, we’ve been busy trying to finalize the design details in the house as evidenced by my last few design posts –

Urban Kids Bathroom Style Guide

Mudroom, Laundry, and “Moms Office” Style Guide

The Project House Reading Nook Style Guide

Project House Powder Room Inspiration & Style Guide

Project House Kitchen Inspiration & Style Guide

The process of deciding on finishes, materials, and fixtures is pretty tedious. Especially when you’re doing it on a budget. I’ve been looking at light fixtures online every evening for the past 4 months. I still find new fixtures, and great deals. I really believe the more you search, the more you’ll find. When designing your own home, you need to put just as much work into it as a professional designer. A big chunk of that time is just educating yourself to what is available. My favorite sites to shop for budget light fixtures are:

Lamp’s Plus Open Box

Joss & Main



I usually get my hardware from Restoration Hardware, but their selection is minimal and I was looking for something unique . I found some awesome antiqued recessed pulls from I ordered all of them for my kitchen – hoping that they would be what I anticipated. They came in the mail today and I LOVE them! Here’s a quick snapshot of what they look like:


These will go on the black cabinets in the kitchen, and I think they are going to look stunning. The whole look will be completely different from my last kitchen and the whole white kitchen trend.

I also ordered samples of all the flooring/tile materials that I’ve been eyeing. The budget from my builder was under 3$/sq ft  for my field tile areas, and it’s hard to find something in that price range that LOOKS expensive and is exactly what I want. I searched around the internet for quality tile that was up to my design standards, but at builder grade prices and found BuildDirect. One thing I really appreciated was that they give you 5 free samples – no shipping, no credit card required. This is an awesome perk if you’re trying to decipher what the little picture on the internet would look like in your home – you know – before you buy 500 square feet of it. Here are all my samples lined up:

For most of the floor tile in the house, I wanted a 12×24 blackish ceramic tile. BuildDirect had tons that fit the bill AND were in my budget to boot.

For your reference if you’re looking for something similar, here’s a closer shot of all my black tile samples:

1. Datile Yacht Club – Bridge Deck – 6″x24″ 

2.  Salerno Porcelain Tile – Hampton Wood Series Walnut – 6″x24″

theprojectgirl-flooring23.Takla – Manhattan Series -Film Noir – 12″x24″

4. Takla – Manhattan Series – Costa Chic – 12″x24″


5.Kaska – Rimini Series – Silk Black – 12″x24″

6.Takla – Exclusive Collection – Shady – 12″x24″ + 6″x24″ 

7.Kaska – Rimini Series – Silk Marrone – 12″x24″


I’ve decided to go with #3, but I just noticed that #2 is on clearance, so I might do the mud room and possibly the pantry to save on some $$. One thing I like about #2 & #3 is that the tile is full-body tile. So basically it’s a solid tile. You can cut and leave cuts exposed instead of having to have a trim tile. I don’t think this will make a difference to me unless we decide to use a tile like this for a shower surround etc.

Okay, one other decision I’m trying to make right now. Front doors! We are slated for a 60″ opening. Right now the plan is a single door with two side lights. But I’ve been digging the look of double doors (2 – 30″ doors). In true farmhouse style, I prefer the 3/4 light doors like this (Thermatru doors):


They would look awesome in a funky color, but I’m too chicken and would probably go a dark wood stain, or a black. Mr. Project loves the look but isn’t convinced of the practicality – particularly when it comes to privacy. But they are just so beautiful… I don’t know if I can resist.

Here are some of these doors in the wild.

A double set with no dividers:
A good way to get the sidelights to not look like your average sidelight:
This is about right:
Gorgeous with all the white planking:
So what do you think about the 3/4 light doors? Not enough privacy for a front door? Would you use obscured glass, or put some sort of drape? Or just go for it?

9 responses to “House Update – Materials and Samples”

  1. gale says:

    We have a 3/4 light on our house now but we live out in the sticks with no neighbors. Not sure if I’d want it if we had neighbors nearby.

  2. Jen Allyson says:

    Don’t tell me that! LOL! Do you think it would be okay with like a seeded glass?

  3. Gennifer says:

    I was thinking the same thing. On a couple of acres? Heck, yes. In a subdivision? No way.

  4. Carter says:

    If money were no object, I’d use leaded glass in a small enough pattern to obscure the visual. Otherwise, there are film coverings that cut the glare, but otherwise leave a clear view, from the inside. On the outside, the tint is sufficient to almost totally obscure the view until someone is virtually on the front porch. Provides privacy from nosy neighbors across the street but not from guests (or bad guys).

  5. Susan says:

    We live in the suburbs/subdivision and I have a glass door. It has some leadwork and a few wavy bits but most of it is clear, about the same proportion as your 3/4 door. Drove my husband nutty when I bought it, but honestly, I love it. It lets in so much light. And it makes the front walk feel welcoming (at least to me). I did agree that we could get a removable light-transmitting-but-not-see-through film for the inside, just for the times when we are on vacation. Other than that,I love love it.

  6. Kate says:

    Just found your site through someone’s pin, love what you are doing. My husband and I are in the process of building our dream home which is a modern farm house… We have on order a 3/4 light door… My worry is the first floor is wide open and although this is really the style I wanted there would be no privacy… So, our fix was to order the door with reeded glass. Obscures the view in, but when you approach the door to answer it you will have an idea who is there. Just a thought, good luck and thank you for sharing!

  7. Jen Allyson says:

    THanks for the advice Kate! I’d love to see yours when it’s done 😀 Right now we are leaning towards having shades on the doors. Not my first choice, but an option for having the doors I want. The entry doesn’t really open into a “living area” just a “hallway” space so I’m not overly concerned. But there are definitely things to think about.

  8. Kori Clark says:

    I am so so so excited to have stumbled upon your blog today!! I am a designer in Florida and we are in the process of building our first custom home! It sounds like we are trailing you by a few weeks as we are currently waiting for truss engineering to finish up. You have described this process so perfectly…especially the “hurry up and wait” part! I plan to share some of our experience on my blog when I see dirt start moving, but like you…I am already obsessed with the perfect lighting fixtures! It’s been so much amazingly fun work to get to this point and we are so excited to start watching things come together! I can’t wait to follow along with your build! =)

  9. Katie says:

    I love your blog. We are currently drawing up plans for our second new home. I can relate so much to your stories of renovating homes on a tight budget and building a home. I think you are giving out great information and have a great eye for design. Just to weigh in on this discussion. We currently live in a subdivision and have a door that is only 1/2 open glass. I like the light that it brings into our foyer, but at night anyone driving or walking by can see right into the living room. I am not repeating this much clear glass again even though we are moving to the country.

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