Category Archives: The New House

New Kitchen Updates + an Island Quandary

I was going to call this post “An Island Dilemma,” but the English major part of me knows full well that a dilemma is a decision between two bad choices, and I honestly think that all of the choices I’m about to present for your consideration are (potentially) good ones. Hence the “quandary.” (Which, to be strictly accurate, still refers to a “difficult situation,” which…this isn’t. But enough with the semantics).

So, in case you need a refresher (or never saw it), here is the inspiration board I put together for the kitchen in the new house (for someone who names everything, I really should have a name for “the new house” by now…feel free to throw some suggestions my way).

kitchen design

It’s kind of fun to look at this and see which elements have stayed the same and which have evolved. The sink is different (although still a farmhouse silhouette). The lights are different (went with these during a Black Friday sale, and they finally came last week and are lovely). The faucet is the same style but wall-mounted and in chrome. And for the hardware, I’m pretty sure I’m going with these:

knobs

FreestonePull

 

(Except they would both be the satin brass color of the knob from above).

They’re a super-reasonable price for real brass (holds up better; doesn’t discolor as easily as the zinc alloy versions), and they actually carry them locally, which is awesome because I’ve discovered that I’m pretty picky about the shades of brass that I do and don’t like (anything too green or yellow is a no-go), and these are a gorgeous soft gold in person.

Oh, and I must have had that rug embedded in my subconscious because I had completely forgotten that I’d included it on the board, and I still ended up buying this nuLOOM arrowhead design in a runner (on suuuuper sale) during Black Friday.

rug

Shaun saw this and looked confused, since I’m usually a floral girl. Not sure why I’m digging the tribal arrows so much, but…I am. So there.

The subway tile is still in the plan, as are the open shelves and wood range hood. The range actually ended up being rangeS, since I found an awesome deal on not one but TWO 30″ pro-style GE ranges with dual fuel (we wanted a gas stove and an electric oven).

Oh, and the color I’m leaning towards for the lowers is actually called Weekend from the Magnolia Home paint line. But I’ll probably just have it color matched because their paints are pretty pricey.

weekendOh! And not mentioned or shown above…but we’re 99% sure we’re going with laminate countertops in Wilonsart White Carrara with a velvet finish.

Oooookay.

Now that you’re all up to date on the minutiae of my kitchen choices, let’s get back to the quandary (dilemma…decision I have to make…whatever).

And that would be: what color to paint/stain/make the island.

Which, by the way, has turned out even prettier than I’d hoped.

island1It’s just under 12 feet long, so it’s a bit of a beast. But, as excited as I am to put her to work, what makes me a little swoony are all of the fun decorative details like those corbels, the curvy legs, and the carved panels on the ends–all of which I chose/designed not feeling entirely sure that they would turn out well together. Happily, they did! At least, I like them. So, that’s good. (And the base trim isn’t even on yet!)

Here’s a shot back towards the sink/windows.

island2And another from the other side.

island(Those drawers are removed because they forgot to include a spot for an outlet, so that’s getting fixed).

So, now that you’ve seen pretty much every angle of my kitchen island, what do you think?

Should I stain her? (That’s been the plan all along). If so, what color? (My stools and floors are both a medium oak tone, and I don’t want anything tooooo matchy-matchy).

Another good option would be white-washing, which would allow some of the wood grain to show through without committing to an actual color.

I’m disinclined to paint her, although, if I did, it would be white, since we will have white uppers, and there’s enough going on with the teal lower cabinets that I don’t need a competing color on the island.

Whatever I do to the island I’m probably going to replicate on the range hood to keep the tones in the kitchen consistent. So, this decision is a bit of a double-whammy.

Oh! And if it will help you to make an informed decision, if you scroll up and look at the side view of the island, you’ll see the stained hutch in the background, which will be against the wall between the dining room and the kitchen. The color it’s stained is a little more orange than I’m willing to go with the island, but I like the medium range it represents.

Any thoughts? Suggestions? Specific stain names I should test out?

You know I love a good reader poll, so hit me with it!

 

 

 

 

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CABINETS!

I know that I haven’t shared much about our new house process here lately. I’m sure you can’t possibly guess why, since I clearly have nothing else going on in my life right now.

Ahem.

But!

Even outside of the baby-feeding and cheek-kissing that is taking precedence over house blogging, there hasn’t been too much interesting to show. We’ve been making steady progress, and Shaun still spends every spare moment out there plugging away. But, even though sheetrock and garage doors are super exciting to me, they make for fairly lame blog fodder. We have sheet rock and garage doors now. Huzzah! Consider yourself updated.

But! (again)

Cabinets?

Now, that’sprogress.

And we have cabinets, people!

Custom cabinets throughout the house were an item on the “if we had our druthers” list that I had no idea whether it would happen. We knew we’d be using the same guy who did our kitchen cabinets in our current house. He does great work, is reasonably priced, willing to negotiate, and so easy to work with.  We were planning to use him for the kitchen again and for a mudroom with custom built-in wooden lockers.  But beyond that, it was more of a wish than a plan.

Thankfully, because we’re proceeding steadily but slowly–which means that Shaun is able to again do 95% of the work–we’ve saved so much money that we were able to present the list to our cabinet guy, get a quote back, do a little haggling, and get every last door and drawer we’d asked for.

We had him do:

  • the kitchen
  • the mudroom
  • the living room built-in shelving
  • a kitchenette upstairs
  • the laundry room
  • 3 bathroom vanities
  • built-in shelving in the master bedroom
  • a lingerie chest in the master closet

And guess what? They delivered all of those gorgeous pieces last week! They’re still working on finishing the installation, but it’s enough progress that I thought it might warrant a post.

Prepare yourself for a completely unedited picture dump (because if I take the time to edit, the baby’s going to wake up before I’m done, and I’ll never get this thing posted).

cabinets

Okay, so this is not cabinets, but I found this ah-mazing 100-year-old architectural salvage post for a great price on a local Facebook swap and thought I’d share. I honestly don’t know what it was in its former life, but I’m trying to figure out a way to make it our bottom stair newel. It’s just a wee bit massive, though, and doesn’t have a top, so I haven’t quite wrapped my brain around it. I will be using this bad boy (girl?), though, because it’s just too rad to sit in somebody’s garage.

cabinets1

Thought y’all might appreciate a closeup of all of the intricate carving. If you have a brilliant idea for a topper, I’m all ears.

cabinets2

Hooray for living room built-ins! I actually hadn’t intended for that long horizontal shelf to be at the top of the units, but it was my fault because I sent an inspiration picture to Jeff (cabinet guy) so that he could see the way I wanted the trim and failed to specify that the rest of it should be ignored. It’s kind of a happy accident, though, because, otherwise, the shelves would have been really tall, and Shaun suggested using those long ones at the top to house my globe collection (smart man!). I’m not entirely sure the taller ones will fit, but I’ll give it a go!

Oh, and that pic above is basically a zoomed out, straight-on view of our living room (and Nola looking rather vague…told you these weren’t edited). The stairs you saw are just to the right out of the shot. The hallway to the right leads to the schoolroom, the main downstairs bath, the guest room, and Shaun’s office. The door on the left with all of that gorgeous light flooding in from the big windows is the opening to the schoolroom.

cabinets5

 

Turning around to look back into the kitchen, this is what you’d see. To the right are the cabinets that will encase the fridge/freezer, my big NBI Drainboard Sink, and a bank of beee-you-tee-full windows! The spaces below either side of the sink are for, not one, but two dishwashers (which, of course, I managed to score for the price of one!). The big blank wall just ahead is the area behind the range and vent hood. It will have open shelving on either side of the hood as well. cabinets4

This view is from the dining room (which flows into the kitchen) back toward the kitchen. And that island is, by far, the most exciting piece of cabinetry we’ve gotten yet. I wanted it to look like a piece of furniture in its own right, so I designed those decorative panels. And it came out even better than I’d hoped. (It’s hard to tell, but the edges are routed, giving it even more detail and depth).  cabinets6

 

Another view of the island. It’s recessed there in the center to allow for stools and a counter overhang, and those drawers on the end (to the right) are two built-in trash cans (WITH built-in trash bag holders behind them! Oh, the things that make you happy when you’re an adult).

The door that you can see open behind the island leads to the mudroom, which just might be my favorite room in the house besides the kitchen.

cabinets9

 

That view is so purdy, my friends, that just want to kiss the screen. Call us optimistic (or crazy…or over-planners…whatever), but there are 11 (!!) wooden lockers in there, complete with bottoms drawers for shoes and overhead storage for off-season items like hats, gloves, floaties, goggles, etc.

We don’t have anything like this in our current house, and I can’t tell you how excited this organizationally-challenged girl is to have a room that can hold all the things. No more backpacks hanging on the stairs. No more constant struggle to find the best place for coats and shoes. Happy, happy day!

 

cabinets8

 

The main downstairs bath is a fun one. There will be black/white floral wallpaper on the wall you see there. The cabinets will be a moody teal with brass hardware. And we’re going with stained wood for the countertop (we’ll just seal it with Waterlox). cabinets7

Same room, from the entry angle.   cabinets10

A close runner-up for all the heart eyes in the land is the family laundry. This is the view from the door (and also gives you a glimpse into the master bath beyond). The gap beside the tall, skinny cabinet is for the stacked washer and dryer, and the skinny cabinet itself is for all of my detergents and washing paraphernalia. The two large lower cabinet “doors” immediately to the left of the washer opening are actually pull-out drawers, which will hold laundry baskets. Thank goodness for Pinterest and the endless supply of cool organizational ideas!cabinets11

 

This is the “big room.” We have one of these in our current house, with a DIY big screen and built-in cabinets. This time, we skipped the built-ins in favor of a little kitchenette for when we have guests come to stay or are hosting an event upstairs and want to make popcorn or keep drinks cold (I found the cutest little retro-styled mini-fridge in mint online at Walmart, and it will slide right into that gap on the bottom right). The kitchenette was Shaun’s idea, as was the suggestion to not close off the space above the sunroom (to the right…also Shaun’s idea, come to the think of it) and instead leave it open as a loft. I can only imagine how much fun my kids will have as teenagers having slumber parties in the loft, but we’re also hoping that it can serve as a sleeping area for guests if necessary. We definitely intend this to be a house of hospitality, and I’m excited about the prospect of housing exchange students or missionaries who are passing through or just somebody down-on-her-luck who needs a place to stay. cabinets12

This is a view of the boys’ built-in vanity. The girls’ is a mirror image on the other side of the big room. We went with built-in vanities in the bathrooms a) because they look nice and avoid the awkward gaps on either side of a non-custom-sized vanity (how “mom” am I that I care less about the look and more about the fact that those gaps are hard to sweep) and b) they’re actually cheaper a la carte (sink, faucets, countertops, etc. separately) than buying most all-inclusive units would be…but only because we’re not going with fancy countertop materials like quartz or marble. Instead, the bathroom vanity tops will either be wood or laminate. And I am A-okay with that. I will gladly forgo fancy for function (and saving money) every single time. cabinets13

This is the master bathroom vanity, which will have a shiplap accent wall and his/her sinks and mirrors, etc.

If you go out that door you can barely see the beginning of to the left, you’ll be in the master bedroom…

cabinets14

 

…which has big, vaulted ceilings that will be planked…eventually. (My husband is not a fan of my love for planking, but he told me he would do it…if he could take his sweet time :) ).

 

 

cabinets15

The master closet is to the left of the master bedroom and houses this beast of a “lingerie chest,” which is actually divided equally down the center to have drawers on both sides for my and Shaun’s socks and undies respectively. Again, I was super pleased to have a custom piece that was actually cheaper than a lot of the dressers (even on craigslist and Facebook) that I had looked at.

Aaaaand…there you have it. Phew! That was a lot of cabinets!

We tried as hard as we could to make things both pretty and practical. And, so far, it feels like we’ve succeeded. I’m sure I’ll find things I could have designed better, but with this much drawer space to work with, I’m not too worried about.

Yay for cabinets! Yay for progress! Boo for decluttering closets and getting this house ready to sell! But it must be done if I want to enjoy those cabinets.

So, off I go!

 

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Shedding Some Light on the New Kitchen {Help!}

I’ve mentioned several times that my favorite part of this whole building process is when we land on a decision and can just move onto the next.

Which…is what I thought we’d done when we chose this pendant light for our kitchen island.

mercana light

I loved the brass finish and the industrial details. Sadly, they only had one left in stock at the super-sale price I’d found, but we went ahead and ordered it.

When it arrived, I liked it even better in person than online. Except. It was big. Like really, really big.

I knew this. I had paid close attention to the measurements, gotten out a tape measure, mocked it up…the works.

What I wasn’t able to anticipate was just how hefty the cage grill and industrial-style connection on top of the light would be.

gaffert

 

I honestly don’t think this picture does the light justice either in how pretty it is or just how massive it is.

In any case, both Shaun and I were thrown for a loop because we both agreed that–although we like industrial–this one might be a bit much. Of course, we were also grateful that only one had been in stock because, if we’d gotten three of these suckers, they would have completely overpowered the rest of the kitchen. 

Which brings me right back around to trying to figure out which lights to put over the kitchen island. I’m not quite back at square one, since I know for sure what I don’t want, but I am a bit torn between several good options, and I’d love your input.

Okay, so first of all, we have the replacement industrial option: the Dawson pendant light, which is also probably my first preference. I think. Hm. #indecisivemuch

industrial lightI love the pop of brass at the top (I’ll have brass hardware on the cabinets), and I love the weathered look and the cage grill that adds interest without being over-the-top.

industrial light inspo1

This kitchen isn’t so very similar to how ours will be, but the color of the island is almost identical to what I’m leaning toward for our lowers (we’ll have white uppers), and at the very least, the industrial pendants give a similar feel to the one above (plus our island will be about the same wood tones as that pedestal table in the foreground, so the overall color scheme is at least comparable).

I’ve shared Jess’s lovely kitchen before, but one of my favorite things about it is how she manages to marry several different lighting styles in one space.

industrial light inspo2

Crystal chandies + industrial bowls + traditional chandelier. Yup. I like it.

Now, my style won’t be nearly this romantic (I lean toward cleaner lines, but I have zero complaints about what she’s done; it’s gorgeous).

Of course, this “Ursula” pendant could be fun too. It’s an ah-mazing price compared to how much it costs everywhere else.

ursula pendant

industrial light inspo

Again, this kitchen isn’t quite what we’re going for, but it has the same style lights in shiny chrome, and I do like the way they look over the stained island. I’m not entirely sure that the white of the ones I’m considering–even with the aged brass metal finish–won’t be a bit too sleek for what I’m shooting for. I know. Picky. But they’re fun just the same.

If I don’t go industrial, I’m tempted to go with something simpler that you can see through. Like this globe + brass option.

globe light

I love how globes pendants look in this Fixer Upper kitchen, which IS very similar to both the layout  and color scheme of our (future) kitchen. The option from above isn’t as big as these are, but with three of them, I think we’d still be okay.

globe light inspo

I guess the wild card would be this 3 light option. We could hang two side-by-side and get a WHOLE lot of light for $140 (they’re only $70 each!!)

three light

I guess I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m really into the aged brass look, so, if I went with these guys, I’d Rub ‘n Buff them for sure.

And by now, I think y’all know the drill.

Which one do YOU think I should go with?

Just as a point of reference, here are a few more of my favorite kitchens I’ve pinned that will have a similar feel to the look we’re going for.

Similar elements include: white subway tile, beams, teal + white cabinets, industrial + rustic touches, and aged brass.

kitchen inspo5

Tkitchen inspo kitchen inspo1 kitchen inspo2 kitchen inspo3 kitchen inspo4

 

That last one is waaaaay more French country kitchen than I will actually go, but it’s still pretty darn gorgeous.

P.S. All image sources can be found on my “Farmhouse Kitchens” board on Pinterest.

So, what do you think? Any options I haven’t considered that I should? You know I’m always game!

 

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Stylish Lighting Under $150 (Including actual lights I’m putting in the New House)

I almost titled this post something SUPER cheese-fest like, “Lighting deals so good, they’re scary.” But, considering that we are kind of the opposite of the Halloween Family,  I think that’s just the influence of all of the marketing ad banners that keep popping up as I’m doing the research which now brings you said amazing lighting deals.

But let’s back up a bit and talk about my nasal passages for a moment, k?

What? EW, Abbie. No! Why would we want to do that?

It’s a fair question, but I just really feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t reiterate what I said last week (aka: the last time I actually mustered the energy to post…I know…I’m the worst), and that is: this is THEE worst head cold I have ever had.

I’m on Day 12, and, while I would consider myself technically better by this point, certain symptoms (I’ll spare you the details since I’ve already used the phrase “nasal passage”–twice now–in this post) are still lingering. I still sound like death, which is oh-so-fun for my fitness class participants. But I no longer FEEL like I will meet my Maker at a moment’s notice.

I shudder to think what kind of pestilence I would have ended up with if I hadn’t faithfully dosed myself with: garlic, apple cider vinegar, essential oils, honey/lemon, and Vitamin C and Echinacea. But dose myself I did.

And I’m still here to tell about it. And keep on telling, apparently

Okay, I’m done.

So! This post has nothing to do with coughs and sniffles, so let’s just move right along, shall we?

I’ve mentioned several times that most of my research for the new house has consisted of online sources. Which…is tricky, since you can’t see or touch anything for yourself. Still, if you stick to well-reviewed, trusted brands and pay attention to dimensions, you’re fairly likely to end up with what you were expecting. (Emphasis on the word “fairly”).

I’ve had several people ask me about lighting sources–especially of the barn light/industrial variety–so I thought I’d put together a little round-up of some of the best-looking, most reasonably priced lights that I’ve found in my travels across the wild wastelands of the world wide web (sorry, I’ve been grading high school English papers at our homeschool co-op, and I have alliteration on the brain).

Most of these are options that I’m either seriously considering or have already ordered for the new house, but almost none of them have arrived yet. I’ll update when I’ve seen them in person.

lighting collage

1 / 2/ 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

And just to be clear, all but 3 of these lights are WELL under $150. Most are under $50!

1. I have seen these galvanized wall sconces  from Lowe’s (they come in a medium and a large size and cost $30/$40 respectively), and I have to say that they look MUCH better in person. The picture up there makes the silver look muddy and dull when, in reality, it has a nice weathered sheen. I am using 3 of these in the boys’ bathroom by their mirrors.

2. I’m ordering no fewer than 5 of this Swing Arm Sconce and hoping for the best. The reviews are good. And I haven’t found anything nearly as close to this pretty in this style for this price ($44 with Prime shipping).

3. This seafoam beauty is one of the pricier options on the list for a single sconce at $125 (well, that’s  build.com’s pro pricing, since we have a builder account, so I think they’re a little more normally). But they’re also one of the most unique. I don’t have a specific place in the new house for one of these…but only because I can get such better deals on something kind of, sort of comparable. The shade is 10″, though, so they would make quite a statement if you had a spot for them.

4. I get asked all. the. time where the lights over my kitchen island are from. Well, the answer is Grandin Road, but the BEST PART is that all of three of the glass pendant styles that I have hanging over the island are on MAJOR sale, and there’s a 30% off code (FRIENDS16) you can stack on top of that right now. Which makes them ridiculously cheap! I just bought 5 more to put in various rooms in the new house that need a single hanging light that still creates a decent glow. Seriously, if you’ve considered these lights before, run grab one before it sells out. Especially since you’ll be getting them for $30-$40 when I’ve seen them elsewhere for $120!!!

5. I love the simplicity of this brass/glass globe pendant, although I do wish it cost less than $100. Still, at 12″, it’s a fair bit of light to work with, and I’m seriously considering it for the downstairs main bath.

6. Oh, how I wish I had a place for this seafoam vanity light. At $120, Joss and Main has it for about 1/2 the price of anywhere else I’ve seen it (don’t ask me why).

7. Likewise for this industrial pendant from the same brand that I’m seriously considering 3 of for over the kitchen island. Joss and Main has them for $104 (they’re big!), which is almost $100 cheaper than anywhere else I’ve found it. The white and aged brass pictured here is currently out of stock, but they’re supposed to get it back, and there are other colors to choose from.

8. Contrary to what you might think based on the picture, this over-the-island pendant is BIG. Like 40″ across, with 16″ shades on those lamps! It would make a huge statement for very little money ($100). I actually seriously considered getting two of them for our island and painting them or changing the color with Rub n Buff, but I think I want something with a little more bling.

9. I did jump all over this $35 (!!!!) vanity light like a duck on a June bug, though (to give you a point of reference for how good of a price this is, Amazon has it for $55, and they’re the next lowest price). I got three–two for the master bath and one for the downstairs half bath–and I plan to paint all three. They are 20″ wide, and the shades are good-sized. Even though I’m going to paint mine, if I liked oil rubbed bronze, I would certainly keep them that way because they look much more expensive than they are. (They’re currently out of stock, but it says they’ll be getting more).

10. I’m ordering 3 of this pretty Brass Globe Sconce to go beside the girls’ mirrors in their bathroom vanity. I love that they’ll add sparkle and lots of light without breaking the bank ($50 each). (A similar light from West Elm or Pottery Barn costs 2-3 times as much).

A couple of honorable mentions:

After months of watching the price go up and down, I ordered this blue beaded chandy from All Modern (which is the same as Joss and Main and Wayfair, in case you’re wondering) when I noticed that they had a clearance/returned version (just one!) for $55 less than the lowest price I had ever seen it go.

blue beaded pendant

It’s more for looks than anything, since it only has one bulb, but there are other light sources in the room, so that’s okay. Oh! And just in case you find yourself compelled to order it too, be warned that the chain (which you can’t see in the picture) and all other metal on this light are YELLOW. Like canary yellow. I will definitely be toning that down with a DIY. Otherwise, it’s a really fun, big light.

Also! I have not ordered this light because I have no need for it, but man, is it pretty!

crystal chandy

And relatively cheap at $190, since most of the ones like it I’ve seen in this size range have been $250+.

And finally, we have the dark horse.

ding light

I really love this green barn light for the three spots we’ve designated for sconces  above the kitchen sink. But I didn’t include it in the collage for two reasons. 1) For some reason, Olioboard (the program I use to create inspo boards) wouldn’t let me add the image, and 2) even though it’s an AH-mazing deal (only $32 for an already funky-color painted 10″ barn light…practically unheard of)–or maybe because it’s such an amazing deal–it’s shipping through Amazon from a Hong Kong based company I’ve never heard of. In other words, I’m going to order 3 of these and then forget that I did it because they won’t show up until Christmas…if they ever do. I figure it’s worth the risk for the price, though, because all of the comparable ones I’ve looked at are LITERALLY 10 times the price, y’all! And apparently, our credit card will cover us if we get completely shafted. Or at least that’s what my finance-savvy husband says.

So!

There you have it. I have seen the light(s). And!!! Best of all, between this list and some craigslist/facebook swap finds over the last 6 months or so, I’ve already knocked out 90% of the new house list!

Whoop! I told you figuring stuff out and calling it done was my favorite!

So, now it’s your turn. I still have a light or two to snag. Namely something large-ish for both living room and “big room” upstairs. Hit me with any brilliant (ha) suggestions you have!

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The Twins are FOUR!

Okay, so before we get to that exciting title, I’ll try to put you out of your misery on the wood (and “wood”) samples that I teased you with last week.

I showed you these three options and hinted (okay, flat out told you) that only one of them was wood.

wood floor labeled

It’s the one on the right. Which…was my favorite (BUT I totally forgot to write down the name…sorry). But it’s also over twice the price of the other two, not to mention about half as practical.

It’s actually engineered hardwood (which means only the top layer is real wood), and we considered laying it in part of the downstairs, but ultimately, as much as I love the white-washed plank look, I think I’m better off going with something super durable in the kitchen and dining.

SO!

At this point, we’re seriously considering going with this combo instead.

wood floor3

That would be Option 1 (on the top), which is a Shaw porcelain tile product called Napa Noce in Cask, in the kitchen/dining and Option 2 (on bottom…y’alls fave by far) in the rest of the house (minus the bathrooms). It’s actually a laminate wood product by Mohawk (Rare Vintage Fawn Chestnut), which is supposed to be super-durable (but still is not ideal for kitchens since you can’t wet-mop it, and, boy howdy, do we put the wet in wet-mopping round here. “Flood mopping” might be a more apropos term for what the boys do).

It’s hard to see from this picture with the harsh fluorescent lighting and angle how closely the two tones match, but they really do. They’re a different width, but there’s a cased opening between the kitchen and the living room, so our plan is to run a plank under the opening to create a divide between the two “woods” and then have porcelain on one side and laminate on the other.  (Contrary to what the picture suggests, they will be running the same direction, not perpendicularly). Even the owner of the lumberyard was impressed with how closely the styles and tones matched in person.

Also…remember how I mentioned how consistent I am once I like something (i.e. picking the same paint color we were already considering from across the room at Lowe’s)? Well, I went to a different store the other day juuuuust to see if they had something I liked better at a comparable price and picked out a “similar” look…which…when the sales rep actually looked up the name, ended up being the Fawn Chestnut AGAIN! Just change my middle name to consistent and/or obsessed.

So! That’s the current plan. It could change. But I think, no matter what we finally end up with, I’ll probably go with a wood-look tile in the kitchen, since it gives me the style I want with the price/durability our big, mess-making family needs.

(Unless, of course, some of you have laminate in your kitchens and have had a great experience with it, in which case…CONVINCE ME!).

Oooooookay! So, that was pretty much a blog post all its own, but I couldn’t let the week completely get away without blogging a belated Happy Birthday to the twinsies.

They turned 4 on Saturday, and it’s still a bit surreal to think that it was that long ago that this happened.

twins birth

(Oh man, I look tired…and they’re sooooooo TINY! And look at Nola’s double-chin!! I am suddenly very proud of how much protein I ate during that pregnancy to give a TWIN that level of chub)

Of course, they are tiny no longer.

rockstar twins

(Evy, left. Nola, right. This was from our homeschool co-op’s Nerds vs. Rock Stars day, and the twins were only too happy to, ahem, rock their “wock star gwasses”)

I’ve admitted here several times before the unique challenges that I’ve encountered with mothering twins–especially after they hit age 2 1/2 (up to which point they were actually considerably easier than I expected).

It’s been a constant process of adjusting and tweaking and finding new ways of implementing old tricks. Oh, and prayer. Lots and lots of prayer.

twins are 4

{Nola, left. Evy, right. All the girl cousins on my side of the family, decked out in Peppa Pig gear)

On the one hand, they are some of the most joyful little creatures you’ll ever meet. Smiling and jumping and squealing with laughter. They’re suuuuper snuggly and thrive on attention and loving touch.

But all of that touchy-feely emotion definitely has its downsides, and we’ve muddled through a good 18 months of meltdowns and tantrums the likes of which I would love to say my kids never do, but–um–apparently they do.

It’s been getting steadily better for the last six months or so, but we’re still privy to an impressive display of fireworks every so often (or 4 days in a row, depending on how rested they feel).

Still, I know that the experience of parenting two very sensitive, very quintessentially female  little humans ((who are very different from their mama in this respect) has been so, so good for me.

And seeing their characters develop–their desire to help and nurture and mother (Evy) and encourage, cheer-lead, and comfort (Nola)–has been such a testimony to the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness in my children’s lives.

And mine.

Because motherhood is sanctifying. And hard is not the same thing as bad. (Can I get an amen?).

Honestly, I’m excited about year 5 for the twins. I can’t wait to see their personalities blossom and their friendship with each other (and others) deepen.

I have great confidence that he who began a good work in them (and me) will carry it out until it is completed. (Philippians 1:6).

Praise God for that!

Now, I just need to find someone to teach one how to play violin and the other one to play cello, and I’ll be all set.

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Floor Samples for the New House (WOOD you help me decide? :))

Every Tuesday, the three older kids have piano practice for an hour and 1/2 because our teacher is awesome like that, loves my kids, and is fine with their being there for 3 consecutive lessons.

Which gives the twins, Theo, and me some time to “kill”–which we usually do by heading to the grocery store or dropping off a load at Goodwill + other various and sundries.

Lately, though, I’ve been trying to fill that gap with house-related chores, since we’re to the stage where lots and lots of interior design decisions need to be made.

Unfortunately, neither Lowe’s nor Home Depot are much help to me this time around, since we’re buying our sink, faucets, and quite a bit of lighting online, which leaves the various specialty stores around town to check out–usually a fool’s errand that ends in my having heart palpitations at the price tags.

This past Tuesday, though, as I was wracking my brain for a useful place to visit, it occurred to me that I hadn’t been to see a local flooring company from which we bought our carpet for the house we’re in now.

There won’t be any carpet in the new house, but this place carries lots of tile and wood options too, so the more junior half of my squad and I dropped in for a visit on a sweltering afternoon (seriously; after a surprisingly mild August, we are getting hit with heat indexes of 105..hmph).

Turns out, they’ve expanded a ton since we were last there, and I was a little overwhelmed with all of the choices. Thankfully, I have a very specific tone in mind for the wood floors we’re hoping to install, and they’re not exactly the norm for East Texas, so my job was made a little bit easier by the fact that there wasn’t tons of selection in the range I want.

Not that this will do most of your any good, but if you’re in the East Texas area, you need to check out Flooring Liquidators of Tyler. They are thee nicest people–sweet Christians who homeschooled their kids aaages ago (like when I was homeschooled…ha) and now work together to run their family business.

The owner spent over an hour with me and the kids, navigating us around his packed showroom, patiently weathering my: “Nope, too shiny. Um…too dull” (all right now, Goldilocks) comments.

Until I found 3 that are juuuuust right.

He even let me bring home the giant “sample” even though it was the only one he had on hand. So, so nice.

Oh, and reeeeeally competitive pricing. (He kept calling his distributors to get me better prices until he had gotten them down to their rock bottom).

So, what are these samples of which I ramble?

wood floor

The two planks on the left are actually from the same material, believe it or not. The middle is different. And then the right is the big sample he let me bring home.

Only ONE of them is real wood. Man, “wood” has come a long way since we first built.

wood floor1

Think you can guess which one it is?

I showed my social media folks this shot…

wood floor2

And maaaaaybe 2% got it right. Which tells me that I could pretty easily pick any one of these, and they would work just fine.

Honestly? We’re probably going to use a combo of all three. Probably. But nothing’s set in stone, er, concrete slab…yet.

Which is where, as always, y’all come in.

wood floor labeled

IF we only go with one, which one should it be?

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More New House Progress

First, thank you for your comments on Tuesday’s post. I never know what kind of response I’ll get, exactly, when I share my heart like that, and I appreciate your kindness and encouragement.

Part 2 is coming, but for now…

Things at the new house are rockin’ and rollin’. It’s kind of exciting to see the progress after such a busy summer, and I am always in awe of how much Shaun is able to knock out (either by himself or with his dad’s help)  in one day. The man’s a beast!

I’m also getting to participate more, albeit mostly from the couch (with a trip here and there to Home Depot and Lowe’s thrown in), as Shaun has tasked me with researching faucets and appliances and lights (oh my!). We’ve already scored some really great deals, thanks to coupons and sales, but I’m still on the hunt for the best price on, um, lots of stuff. It’s a bit daunting if I think about it too much, but if I just focus on one thing (or three) at a time, it becomes a bit like a treasure hunt–reading the reviews, cross-referencing prices, picking finishes, finding a shower faucet I love at a great deal, only to discover it’s only available through a super-sketchy Chinese outfit (#ofcourse).

I have to admit that, while the “treasure hunt” aspect appeals to my love of good deals and analyzing things, I’m MOST happy when we land on a definite decision, and it’s DONE.

Which is why I’m thrilled that we are considerably closer to figuring out the exterior house colors and our countertops.

Shaun and I went on a “date” to Lowe’s a couple of weeks ago (my brother and sis-in-law laughed when we told them this; they’re also building a house, and I think it’s the only kind of dates they get these days too; but hey! When you’re with your honey, who cares where you are, right?), and right before we checked out (with something super-fun like electrical cable), I said I wanted to swing through the paint section.

From across the room, I spotted a swatch that just “spoke” to me (you know, as much as a paint sample can), and, when I picked it up, I couldn’t help but grin.

It was SW’s Riverway.

The same color that we’ve been considering painting the house’s exterior all along. I held it up triumphantly and said: “Well, at least I’m consistent!”

So! Here are the exterior house colors as they currently (hypothetically) stand.

exterior colors

{Left to right: TRIM – SW Snowbound, DOOR – SW Cascade Green, SIDING – SW Riverway}

I’m going to hold off on painting the front door until I see how I like the natural wood against the painted walls/trim. But, if I had my guess, it’ll probably end up painted. (I’m laughing at how much I want to insert a monkey-covering-his-eyes emoji here).

And here they all are on the siding…

exterior colors1

So, obviously, they would not all be in a row like this (this was obvious, yes? I mean, I like color, but…

I have been into the idea of colored door the whole time, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on a “pop” that wouldn’t be over the top until I stumbled upon that soothing green. It’s not a definite, but I’m definitely liking it at the moment.

Oh, and here’s a bigger block of just Riverway (I didn’t edit those last two in any way, so they should be fairly accurate for shade vs. sun).

exterior colors2

Oh! And those countertops I mentioned…

I’ve done a fair bit of research on various types, and I just can’t quite wrap my brain around quartz for our kitchen (which is my 1st choice). It would be beautiful and incredibly durable. But it’s quite pricey…especially for the size of island we’re talking about.

We’re *hoping* to install a 12 foot island, which, yes, is HUGE. (And also pretty much unfeasible with quartz because the slabs have length limits). But, um, if you read my last post, then you know that we’re probably going to end up with a few more kids. PLUS, we’re definitely hoping that this will be a house of hospitality. I envision neighbor kids over for snacks and play. I would love to have middle and high school girls over from our homeschool co-op to learn how to cook (several of my homeschooling friends and I did this at a lady’s house growing up, and it was a blast!). I can even see using that big island to prep lots of meals or loaves of bread for the community with my kiddos. One of my FAVORITE moms of many is September McCarthy. She’s a mom of 10 and has an incredible ministry both to her family and her community. Her family even hosts a community “festival” each year (to which 300 people come!!!) in their backyard for which they bake and cook and prepare for days. Amazing, right? I don’t honestly know what all the Lord has in store for my kitchen, but I am trying to plan in in such a way that allows for maximum usefulness (and kids…ha!).

Which is why we’re leaning toward laminate countertops.

My IG friend, Jess, chose them for her DIY kitchen (honestly, her entire house is so full of thoughtful details and the work of her and her family’s hands that it’s pretty inspiring), so I pumped her for all of the details the other day. And–even outside of being 1/3 of the price of stone–they seem like a pretty rad choice.

jesswasserman

{Didn’t Jess and her family do an incredible job? They did everything from the tile to the range hood to the cabinets and even the countertop installation; mad props!}

Shaun and I brought these samples home…

countertops

(The big one is Formica Calacatta marble. The small is Wilsonart Carrara marble; that’s the one in Jess’s kitchen).

…and did everything from place pans full of boiling water directly on them to whack them with sharp knives at full force to drag a giant cast iron pan across them. And…nothing. The only thing that had even the slightest effect was a butcher knife that Shaun pretty much walloped the bigger sample with (with the kind of force that I probably couldn’t even muster, much less ever need to use). And even that was only slight.

That’s an exciting prospect for a mama of messy, careless kids (because that’s pretty much all kids, amiright?) who spill things and forget hot pads and don’t always get the cutting board out.

ANYhoo, that’s where we stand at the moment as far as “interesting” decisions (you know, the pretty ones; I could talk about outlet placement if you really want me to, but somehow I doubt that would float anybody’s boat but mine).

Oh! And I *think* I may have found my kitchen sink, which is a pretty fun prospect all by itself, seeing as how it’s big enough to bathe TWO toddlers and handle pretty much the biggest pan I own. But I’ll share more about that later.

Hope y’all have a lovely Friday. And, as always, if any of you fellow home-building, decor, DIY folks have any fantastic tips for me–especially about your experiences with laminate countertops–I’m alllll ears!

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Master Bathroom Mash Up

When we built our last house, we had one main concern: $$$$$$$

(Well, subtract a few of those, and you’d have a more accurate impression of what we were working with).

We sold our first house for a profit, and we had saved up a fair but, but still. We were a young couple with two small kids, and we were determined to build a DIY house that didn’t put us in debt.

We accomplished our goal, but it meant that we skimped wherever we could. We took one look at granite prices (the hot counter surface at that moment) and went, “Nope.” Do I love our tiled counter tops? Again. Nope. But they saved us thousands of dollars. Did I love making multiple trips (sometimes a day) to Lowe’s to get the best deal on every last appliance and light with two babies in tow? Eh, in some ways I didn’t mind too much because it was my primary contribution to the process (when Shaun was doing 99% of the actual build). But it got tedious and stressful after a while for sure. Did I end up with some mirrors and sinks that I didn’t love just because they were a smokin’ hot deal? Of course.

There’s nothing wrong with ANY of this. I’m not complaining. I’m so stinkin’ grateful we got to build a custom house debt free more than less how we wanted it that I can’t even express it adequately.

HOWEVER.

This time around, it’s not our first rodeo. And we’re not on a time crunch (which is huge).

So many of the budget-driven decisions I made were fine with me because I didn’t know who I was design-wise.

I mean, sure, I thought I knew what I liked.

But…after repainting half of the rooms in our house over the last 8 years, I’ve discovered something: I don’t like colored walls as much as I thought I did. Maybe an accent here or there. But mostly I prefer neutral with (sometimes lots of) pops of color.

Plenty of times, I picked up a lamp and never considered whether I really loved it. It was just cheap and “good enough.”

Again, nothing wrong with this. I will never be the girl that says it REALLY matters (in an eternal way) what your house looks like or whether you love everything from the soap dish to the sconce in the guest bathroom.

Because it DOESN’T.

But it sure does make it easier to know exactly what you’re looking for instead of mentally shrugging and feeling like you could be making a big mistake. Because you don’t want to spend any amount on something and then realize 6 months later that you actually kind of despise it.

So, this time around, I’m happy to announce that I know what I like, and while–true to my bargain-loving self–I will scrape for every last deal I can score, I’m also enjoying giving myself a bit of freedom to plan, play, and maaaaaybe even splurge on something I absolutely love.

Which brings me to maybe the most expensive room in the house (after the kitchen, of course): The Master Bathroom.

I know that I want the following for sure:

  • a (partially) glassed-in shower
  • two shower faucet heads (we did this in our current house, and I love it because it allows a) Shaun and I to shower at the same time and b) each of us to have our own water spray preference…he prefers a rain effect, whereas I like something akin to needles. ha!)
  • a freestanding clawfoot tub
  • patterned tile
  • decorative sconces
  • furniture style vanity with plenty of storage
  • pretty mirrors
  • pops of color

I wouldn’t mind: fun wallpaper + an awesome rug

Using my trusty Olioboard program, I whipped up a mash up of most of these elements to create my dream master bath.

master bathroom boarrd

Something I’ve discovered: I don’t mind mixing metals. Gold with silver. Chrome with matte. Even bronze with something brighter. As long as the mix ends up looking eclectic rather than jarring.

And, yes, that clawfoot tub is the absolute bomb.

So is this AH-mazing Brockway sink.

brockway sink

Image via Pinterest. Also, see those oil rubbed bronze sconces with the chrome sink faucets? Totally works, right?

But, even if I manage to bite the bullet on that one, it would have to be for a different room in the house than the master bath since we really need storage in there.

So…did you notice something missing?

Yup. Faucets.

That’s because I’m torn.

I really like this one from Kingston Brass (I love almost every faucet they make, actually).

chrome faucet

This guy from Delta is pretty fun too.

delta

Oh, and these wall-mounted versions have started catching my eye recently.

wall mounted

This last one is pretty similar to the second one, but I miiiight prefer this funky version. Especially the finish.

kohler faucet

What do you guys think?

Which faucet do you think best matches the master bathroom (as it appears in my head, at least)?

faucet collage

Or maybe you have one you love that you think I should consider? You know I will!

Save

Save

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Kitchen Itchin’

Well, after celebrating the 4th of July three nights in a row, I’m ready for routine. Don’t get me wrong. It was a very good weekend, but let’s get back to business, shall we?

Speaking of which, I  know I haven’t posted much about the house lately, but that’s mostly because there isn’t that much to post.

We Shaun and his dad are still plugging away on the weekends, but Shaun’s had to travel for work a fair bit, and it’s suuuuper hot and muggy up in here most days, which means that they have to start really early and knock off around 2 or so to avoid heat stroke.

Progress has been made.

trim

{Look, Mom! Trim + siding!}

But it’s slow.

We knew this would be the case over the summer. But every time I stop by to see the updates, I can’t help but feel the itch to design all of the things…even though, at this point, I’d be choosing where to hang pictures between bare studs.

That can’t stop me from dreaming, though. Or snapping up a furniture find here or there.

The other day, when Shaun and I met up for lunch after his plane landed from a work trip, he had some catching up to do on rental repairs, so I told him I’d amble over to a cute home decor shop next door and wait for him to finish.

I told him to wish me luck, and he arched an eyebrow at me as if to say, “Um, nope.”

Ha. Sorry, babe.

Y’all. I had zero intention of buying anything at this store. I was literally killing time, and it looked like it was probably out of my price range anyway. Plus, as soon as I walked in, the lady behind the counter said: “I’m so sorry. We’re closed.”

I stopped and stared around for a moment in confusion until she clarified: “Literally. I’m closing the shop. But we’re just here packing up, so if you see something you want, let me know, and I’ll make you a deal.”

WHOOP!

I got excited at the word “deal” because there was no end of cuteness in this fun little space. But what caught my eye almost immediately was this.

hutch

The plan for the kitchen (which I’ll share more of in a sec) is a simple cabinet design–mostly lowers, with a fewer uppers and open shelving. But I had it in my head that, between our mudroom and pantry doors (both of which feature on the long side of our L-shaped kitchen), I wanted a focal piece–a big, hefty, solid wood hutch that looked like an heirloom piece to sort of balance out the clean lines of the other cabinets and add a bit of funk and interest.

After months of scouring Craigslist and Facebook sites, though, I’d despaired of finding anything big enough in my price range. I even bought another smaller, extremely-cute-but-not-really-what-I-had-in-mind piece in hopes that I could make it work. But the second I saw it in person, I knew it would be too small. I bought it anyway because I’d driven over an hour to get it, loved it, and am definitely hoping to make it work somewhere else in the house.

But it wasn’t my unicorn hutch.

This one was.  It was the color, style, and–most importantly–size that I’d been picturing in my mind’s eye all along.

YIPPEE!

Even more yippee was that I talked her down 50% off of the asking price, and Shaun was down with it. My unicorn hutch was mine, all mine.

Side note: Even even MORE yippee was the fact that I opened an email the very next day announcing that I’d won an Amazon gift card (from a blog contest I’d completely forgotten entering) for the exact same amount that I’d paid for that hutch. Hashtag I never win anything. Hashtag Thanks, Lord. That was sure nice of you.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, this is the look I’m going for in the rest of the kitchen.kitchen design board2

 

Believe it or not, I’d already decided on this direction before I spotted what is, easily, one of my favorite decor pictures evah.bathroom inspoe

via

Le sigh. This may just end up being the inspiration for the girls’ bathroom.

Of course, none of the kitchen design board above is exact (except the World Market pendant lights, which I already own) and, at the very least, that stove is a great big ol’ “YEAH RIGHT” (brand new, it’s over $13,000). But I think it gives you a pretty good idea of the look I’m going for.

The lowers will be a deep peacock blue–reminiscent of but not exactly the same as my original teal cabinets in our current house.

I luuuuurve the combination of this shade of blue with an antiqued brass hardware, but, while I’m crushing on the Pottery Barn versions I’ve featured on the design board, at $9 a pop, I think I’m going to have to keep my eyes peeled for a knock-off…or a really good sale.

The range hood will be wood with a back splash of shiny beveled white subway tile and open shelving on each side.

The few uppers we’ll have will be white, which may sound weird, but considering both the walls and the back splash will be white, they will mostly fade into the background.

Kind of like in this gorgeous Fixer Upper kitchen…

fixer upper kitchen

via

In case you’re wondering, the island will not be blue. In fact, it will probably be a medium stained wood with furniture detailing like corbels and turned legs.  That’s still up in the air (isn’t all of it?), but that’s what I have in mind.

My dream countertops are white quartz (supposedly practically indestructible), since I want to balance out the dark lowers and wood with as much airy, open white as possible, but I haven’t found a price I can live with yet. We’ll see. You know I’ll keep you posted either way!

ANYhoo, that’s the kitchen scratch I’m itching at the moment. Considering that I won’t have to make any of these decisions permanent for quite a few months yet, any and all of this could change.

But I’ve had this stuck in my head for almost a year now, so…maybe not.

Any thoughts on what I’ve shared so far?

Countertop ideas?

Best sources you’ve found for awesome (reasonably priced) cabinet hardware?

Have a mint condition 60″ Viking range you want to teleport my direction? (Har har).

As always, I’m all eyes.

 

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The I Do Chronicles {The 11th Anniversary Home-building Edition}

Goood morning! Shaun and I are currently living (which really means: eating) it up in Vancouver, but I thought that, with our 11th (!!) anniversary (yesterday) and all, it might be time for another round of:

i-do-chronicles

I recently had a reader ask me when I was bringing back this series, and I had to smile because, while I’m learning all kinds of lessons about marriage these days, I feel like most of them are so specific to my life/current circumstances that they might not be very interesting/relevant for anyone else.

But then, I thought, “Who cares?” After all, this is the place where I share my life with y’all, and if it’s not a relevant post, you’re plenty welcome to and capable of skipping the post.

So! Without further lame explanation and dithering, let’s dive right in.

Today, Shaun and I are both answering 6 questions about what it’s been like to build 2 (well 1 1/2 so far) houses together.

(Hope you) ENJOY!

1. How would you describe the first house-building experience in 3 words?

ABBIE: Hectic, exhausting, fast

SHAUN: First house – Easier than expected. New one – Longer than expected

2. How has this time been different?

ABBIE: At least for me, the pace has been considerably less frenetic. Probably because my main contribution–other than design decisions–so far has been my role of what I lovingly refer to as a “construction widow.” Lots of weekends on solo kid-duty–especially while we were pushing hard to get everything dried in (weather-proofed). Now that we’ve got the exterior foam up and the roof on, I usually get my beloved Sundays back, so I’m good.

SHAUN:  The house is different this time.  It is much larger and has more complicated details, which present new challenges for sure.  Overall, though, it is going fairly smoothly, like last time,  only slower, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

3. What has building houses together done for/to your relationship?

ABBIE: I know a lot of people joke that building a house together is a quick road to divorce. But, even outside of the fact that divorce is off the table for us, I feel like it’s been a really positive experience. Both times. But especially this time (which is probably due to some hard lessons learned last time). Maybe it’s because we do so much of the work ourselves, and Shaun is such an excellent, meticulous builder that I have utter confidence in the sections that he tackles. It seems like, as relaxing as it sounds to not have to do the actual labor yourself, the more we sub out the work, the more frustrating the situation, as contractors change their prices halfway through the job, don’t show up when they say they will, and finish well after their self-professed “deadline.” We haven’t had any disasters yet, but we’ve had some narrowly averted ones (I’m looking at you, cement dump truck driver who drove directly into the sink hole my husband had just told to avoid), and I often find myself wishing that I could clone Shaun (and his dad) so they could do every last bit of the work. Nothing like personal investment to motivate you to do a good/timely job!

As far as personal growth, I feel like I’ve really improved in the area of expectations (as in: not having them, which, in turn, helps me avoid feeling resentful if they aren’t met) and Shaun has gotten better at communication.

SHAUN: Let’s say it has highlighted ways in which each of us could stand to improve our communication, decision making, and patience – all of which make for a better relationship.  Fortunately, this time around I believe I see evidence that we’re a little better at each and the result is less stress in the building process and hopefully more decisions that turn out just as we planned/hoped.

4. How is it different to have 3 times as many kids involved this time around?

ABBIE: Surprisingly, it’s better. Mostly because everyone but Theo is older than both the boys were when we were building the first time. And Theo is just the chillest little dude ever (whereas Ezra spent the entire year that we built constipated and miserable), so even he is pretty easy to handle. The boys love to head out to “the property” with Shaun and help. They haul trash to the burn pile, pick up nails, and even get to pound a few boards along the way. Sometimes, Della hangs out there too and contributes a bit every now and then.

SHAUN: Well, the older boys now get to come out and swing hammers, burn scraps, clean up, play fetch, and generally prove somewhat helpful – so that is nice.  It is also fun to see them take an interest in how their areas will turn out. But of course there’s more going on in general with 6 kids, so we also have to take it slower in some ways and not tie ourselves to a strict building schedule – this is where the improved patience from question 2 comes into play.

5. Any advice for other potential home-builders?

ABBIE: Well, considering that one of the topics I receive the most emails about is our DIY house-building process–and the fact that they range from: “Hi, we’re both 19 and have zero construction experience, but this is our dream. Where do we start?” to: “We’ve already bought the land and have our blueprints but are wondering about ______ specifically”–my best piece of advice would be to research the tar out of your project. I get a lot of rather, um, clueless questions. (See: “We’re 19…” from above). But the main thing seems to be that people don’t know where to find the answers to their questions and are hoping that I’ll know or at least have an idea of where to send them. The truth is, though, that building codes and requirements, materials, and costs will range widely from state to state and even from inside the city limits to outside. So, taking the time to get online and research your county’s requirements or (shudder) visit physical government offices, check out books from the library or buy them at Lowe’s, and watch beaucoups of YouTube tutorials (yup, many are legit) will ultimately save you money, time, and sanity in the end.

SHAUN: Building a house yourself isn’t for everyone.  You’ll definitely want to make sure you have the skills/resources to tackle whatever parts you want to do yourself.  For some people that will be everything from foundation to fixtures, for others it may just be painting a room after the general contractor hands you the key.  Don’t try to tackle something you have no experience with that are more critical in nature (structural framing, electrical, plumbing, etc.), but on the rest, don’t hesitate to save money with your sweat.  For many of the house’s jobs you can easily do as good or better than a contractor would if you take your time and do a little research first.  It’s obvious, but there are a lot of good videos online of contractors who know what they are doing showing you how they do it.  Take advantage of this, but don’t just watch one, watch several on each task and you should quickly see which ones know what they are doing because they do it for a living and which ones are simply hacks.  The good ones will typically point out what not to do and tell you why they do it the way they do.  There’s plenty else I could say, but basically you need to go into it with realistic expectations of the process and of your capability.  One last tip would be to start in the most inconspicuous area for each task.  You may be tempted to start in the most obvious place because it shows progress the quickest, but if you are patient and start in the least obvious place, you’ll get better as you go and the little imperfections from the learning curve will be out of the way where only you will see/know/care about it.

6. Would you ever do it again?

ABBIE: Ask me again in six months. Ahem. Short answer? I sure hope we don’t have to. I mean, if the Lord wants us to build again, I’m sure he can drop a meteor on our heads or something. But seriously. We’ll do whatever he calls us to, but I’m certainly hoping that this is our forever home (you know, other than Heaven).

SHAUN: I probably shouldn’t say this, but building a house yourself is kind of like labor.  It’s long, tiring, painful, and by the end you’re definitely saying you never want to do that again.  But… time takes it’s toll on your memory/sanity and you eventually find yourself ready to tackle it again.  Having said that… NO!

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