April 24th, 2013
We have FINALLY finalized the floor plan and design of our new home. Thats a quick and easy sentence, but the process has been anything but quick and easy. It’s been a crazy road – I think my first sketch was the last week in January – and here we are the last week in April! Of course a lot happened between then and now like moving 2 states over, finishing up some killer deadlines, and of course taking care of 2 very little ones.
(Original exterior rough sketch)
Designing a house – especially your first house – is painstaking. We’ve labored over every door, wall, ceiling, and closet at least half a dozen times. And those are the simple things. The kitchen, bathrooms, fireplaces, stairs etc. were more like 2 dozen times each. Once we were pretty happy with the inside we turned to the outside. We had a vision and designed the outside. We *liked* it… a lot… but not enough (kind of like being engaged to a really nice guy, but knowing deep down that he’s just not the right one for you). This house is a heart and soul and probably the only house project of this magnitude that we’ll ever take on. So we revised, and revised, until late one night – after a stroke of design genius – we felt it was just right. During this process we played around with 3 or more design styles, inventing and reinventing ourselves our taste, our style, our environment. What did we want this house to say about us? What did this house want to say about itself?
(brainstorming sketch to change exterior to farm-house inspired elevation)
Forgive me for a moment as I wax poetic – I often am asked about my design process – so here is a little insight: As a designer, I believe in a very organic process. I try not to over think the process, instead I just let my designs be what they want to be. I don’t force or coerce my designs based on my initial vision – doing so would result in designs that are limited to my personal vision and my perceptions of my design ability. I use my initial vision as a jumping off point, not an end goal. Now if you’re not a designer or possible a new designer you may not know what I’m talking about, but trust me, if there is one bit of advice I can give about the design process it would be to not force anything – just let it flow and morph into what it wants to be. Because what it wants to be – if you let it spread it’s wings and fly – will most likely be greater than anything you could even imagine. And so that is what we did. We started out with a “transitional craftsman” and ended up with “contemporary farmhouse”. But what we really did is end up with something synergistic and amazing that we would have never designed if we didn’t let the design process take on a life of it’s own.
(3D of the new exterior taking shape)
If you are undertaking a home design or renovation, I think the first point of business is to know what you want. In our case we wanted a single-story home that had a simple, unique design, in a family friendly neighborhood. I wanted the living areas to flow well and I wanted my kids rooms close to mine for while they are still young, and a place for them to be further away when they are older (livable basement). I wanted a main floor guest room for our aging parents, and lots of comfortable and flexible work spaces since we spend so much time working in our home. We wanted the home to look unique, but not be so different that it couldn’t mesh in a standard suburban neighborhood. Most importantly, we wanted to incorporate as much detail work into the interior and exterior as we possibly could, which is why we labored so much over even the smallest of design choices. We had to make a lot of compromises along the way to stay in budget, but we tried to stay focused on the items that were most important to us.
Once you have the spaces nailed down, go over every room, wall, nook, cranny and imagine how you want to live, use, and decorate those spaces. Look at a million photos and blogs to get ideas. The more time you have for this process the better – we had very little time, so we did our best to pick one or two special things about each room/space and make sure that our floor plan included a way to make this happen. For instance – windows over the master bathtub, several niche’s that will have shelving, rooms framed specifically for beds to slide into nooks, use of reclaimed lumbar, beams etc. Don’t forget to imagine ways to incorporate special lighting, unique cabinetry, built-in shelving, and accent tile.
We have FINALLY finalized the floor plan and design of our new home… that includes all of the above. We didn’t want to break ground not being able to visualize the house from ground up. We’re hoping that thinking through the entire house from top to bottom helps the build process go quickly and as smoothly as possible – and perhaps on/under budget. One tool that we used for visualization was Google’s Sketch Up. It’s an easy-to-learn 3D program and the entry level version is free. We were able to Sketch-up the entire floorplan and exterior and solve problems and personalize the floor plan during the planning phase instead of the building phase. Now if that doesn’t save us time and money, I don’t know what will. So learning how to use a great program like that should definitely pay off.
(3D detail of the family room/kitchen using Sketch Up)
Reading through this – the process sounds like so much work. But for us, it has been nothing but fun. We try to get our work done a little faster and our kids in bed a little earlier and then we just savor the few hours before bed – to talk and dream and imagine up all the beauty and function that we want our future home to be.
(final sketch for Neighborhood Architectural Design Committee approval)
April 3rd, 2013
Whew! Where to start…. So last thing I posted was our house for sale on the day we put it up for sale. And the last 5 weeks has been a blur! We got 9 offers in 2 days and only 24 hours to respond. So within the first 24 hours we accepted the first (and best) offer put on the house. We were then thrown into packing, finding a place to live, packing, deciding what we wanted to do with our future, packing, trying to tell Ollie what was going to be happening in his little world, and more packing. Not to mention working, minor repairs on the house, a few trips to good will, and planning our own going away party.
Now 5 weeks later we are *almost* settled into a rental house in Alpine Utah while we work on our plans to build our new house (can’t wait to share!) not too far from our rental. I haven’t even had a moment to wrap my brain around anything too far in the future — I’ve just been living a week (or day) at a time hoping that everything works out. But now that we’re pretty much settled there are so many decisions to make and so many things to do in the next few months. So I really am going to make an effort to blog as much as possible because 1. there is tons to blog about and 2. I would love to have a very concise record of this whole process. Also if you want to follow along, I know I’ll be updating my Instagram and Facebook even more often than my blog – so follow me there for more “in the minute” updates on our house design + build.
Ollie – He’s growing up so stinking fast! He’s so big – 99% for height at his 2 year doctor visit. He talks so much – new words everyday and communicates so well (after a few months of tantrums over not being able to communicate). He loves to read books, play with his trains, entertain his baby brother, and most of all play outside. He is so social and adores his friends and family.
Leo – He just turned 5 months old – which is my favorite baby age. Old enough to interact – young enough to not be able to move. He’s such a happy smiley baby. Loves any attention he can get and loves being in his jumperoo. He’s been sleeping great and in his very own room now – which means momma is sleeping great too!
2 kiddos – Having two is not TOO bad. I think the first 3 months were definitely the worst, but we’ve all adjusted and life has gotten much easier in the past month especially. I’m mostly in charge of Leo and Mr. Project is mostly in charge of Ollie. We always say that leo is work, but not trouble, and ollie is trouble but not work. So pick your poison I guess! I love watching the two of them interact though, and I can’t wait until they start to play together.
Rental House – We’re nearly all unpacked – but have most of our possessions in storage – so thats not a huge feat. Our rental house is nice and new, and big – though not as big as our last house so we have our “office” in the foyer space. Luckily there is a big storage room so that Leo can have his own room. Ollie is now sleeping in a big boy bed and doing GREAT- mostly due to the fact that he can’t open doors yet.
New House – We’ve pretty much finalized the floor plan, just working on some design details. We are meeting with our contractor on Thursday and hope to nail down the budget etc. I’ve been working on room elevations, and Mr. Project has been doing a massive 3D model on sketch-up so that we can see every surface of the house before we even break ground. Its tons of work, but it’s so much fun to work creatively on such a huge project. Here’s a snapshot of the laundry room elevation. Did I mention that we are excited?
February 22nd, 2013
After 2 great years of working on this great house, we’ve decided to put her up for sale and move on to the next project house. I will definitely miss living here and I’ll especially miss my lovely kitchen and laundry room. In 2 years we were able to renovate the house in its entirety, renovate the shed, and get a little landscaping done too. Onto the house tour!
ETA – here is the listing: House Listing
4 Bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, large bonus room – 2380 Sq Ft and a pool. All of this on more than 1/3rd of an acre in lovely El Dorado Hills, California. (I’ll link the listing soon)
(Pass this along if you know anyone who’s buying!)
February 14th, 2013
Okay okay, I know I’ve been a major blog slacker. We did so many many projects in 2012 and I just didn’t have the time or gumption to get them posted. I’m feeling bloggy this week so I am going to hopefully do a bunch of quick updates so you can see what we did and a little about how we did it.
If this is the first time you’ve stumbled upon my blog, Mr. Project, my husband builds all our cabinets/furniture/built-ins. I dream it up, and he makes it happen,and somewhere during the process we work through all the design issues together and come up with a final product thats even better than my vision.
Okay back to the Mantle… this house was old, old and ugly when we got our hands on it. This is what the family room looked like before (brace yourselves):
We took out the old stove, and painted the brick charcoal gray, and thats how it was for a solid year. You can read a little bit more about that on my Mantle Plans post.
Mr. Project and I went through a lot of design ideas with this one. Should we build the fireplace surround out of the wall more? What about book-cases up to the ceiling? Doors or drawers or just shelves? etc etc. After a lot of discussions, we came up with this vision:
Once we had dimensions down, Mr. Project started the build (in our garage shop):
In the mean time we hired a contractor to come and chip out the mantle brick and the footer brick (took about an hour or so):
We decided to leave the existing brick (it was in great shape) to add depth instead of chipping it out and then having to build out the depth with steel studs and cement board.
Our tile guy came and installed cement board everywhere the tile would be and sealed off all the old brick with some sort of mortar stuff. Note the blue tape where we finalized the measurements/placement on the mantle beam. There’s nothing like actually seeing a representation of what you’re making to help with crucial decisions.
Mr. Project installed the cabinets and shelves:
Then he built the mantle, legs, and details.
Here you can see the elevation:
And then we had it painted:
Once it was painted we had to wait a few weeks for the tile to come in. We ordered a small 3/8″ stacked mosaic tile made of a natural stone… I am totally pulling a blank on the material – maybe lavastone??? I’ll come back and update when I remember.
We liked this because it wasn’t your run of the mill brick, rock, or large tile. On the floor we had larger tiles of the same material flush-mounted.
A closeup of the mantle details:
Here it is all finished:
And finally with books & decorations I gathered mostly from around the house:
Never underestimate the potential of an old drab fireplace! Or as Mr. Project always says “There is always a fix”
I think we spent about $1400 on this re-do that includes, wood, tile, paint & labor.
*The ever-knowlegable Mr. Project just informed me that in this instance
mantle is spelled mantel. So now we all know :p
February 13th, 2013
We finished our DIY kitchen more than a year ago, but I really haven’t done a “final kitchen” post. So I snapped a few shots, ran them through Instagram for fun and here ya go! I really love this space, and I especially love seeing photos because then I remember how awesome it looks.
Click HERE for more pics of our kitchen and lots of process pics.
And if you don’t want to go through the trouble, looking at the BEFORE picture might intrigue you: