Category Archives: The New House

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.


{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…


(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.


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.


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!



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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.


{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.”


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.


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.


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 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


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


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 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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The New House Updates and Plans

Shaun always says that the best part of building a house is framing. And I’m inclined to agree, even though I didn’t put one single nail into one single board either of the times that we’ve framed a house for ourselves. It’s just such a relatively fast process, and the progress is so measurable and exciting. Look! A whole house where, mere weeks before, there was nothing but dirt! We’ll be done in no time! We’re invincible!


And then, of course, everything slows to bit of a crawl as the more tedious, detail work begins. Which…is pretty much where we are now.

Although, speaking of framing…we did manage to get the porch up, and we even got a few windows installed. But more about that in a minute.


Next up: siding, roofing, finishing the window installs, and the plumbing and electrical. Almost all of which we’ll be doing ourselves. (With the exception of shingling the roof, which is a much faster process for a professional and relatively inexpensive). We had thought to sub out the siding since it’s a pretty daunting one-man (or two-man, when my incredibly awesome father-in-law can help) job, but the quotes we got were laughable. $33,000 for 3 people to hang siding for 4 weeks??? That one was enough to make me think I’d missed my calling in life. I mean, $120,000/year to hold siding up to a wall and nail it in place? Sign. me. up. (Says the girl who taught a foreign language to hordes of wiggly freshman for less than $30,000/YEAR as a 20-year-old).

Hopefully, you don’t think I’m being tacky. It’s just that, after having subbed out the siding on our addition several years ago (Shaun hung the siding on the original portion of our current DIY house himself), we had a pretty good idea of what it should cost, and–the best we can tell–the crews who quoted us jobs took one look at our large house, and, instead of simply extrapolating time/materials/labor accordingly, practically tripled their asking prices (per day).

So! Shaun will be hanging the siding slowly but surely in between working on all of that other stuff I mentioned. Plus working his day job and taking work trips this summer. Plus being a husband and father. (I have mentioned how incredible he is, right?)

In other words, we’ll be lucky to finish this house by summer 2018.

I kid. I hope.

Actually, the plan (and I use that word with great fear and trembling and a heaping dose of yeah-right-itis) is to completely finish enough sections of the new house by the end of the year that we could move in and put our current house up for sale. Because, while living in an in-progress house is not my favorite, the thought of attempting to keep our current house showing-ready while homeschooling six kids is shoot-me-now-because-I’ll-die-anyway worse (dramatic, much?).

So…that’s the plan. Who knows what will actually happen?

vintage doors

{These are the vintage doors I mentioned the other day; fun, yes?}

In case you’re wondering what this whole process has been like, it’s been mostly smooth. The weather has been (mostly) great. Except for that one time it flash-flooded (worse than we’ve ever seen it), completely washed out the culvert of the new (granted, it’s still dirt) driveway, and left 3 foot deep ruts all down the length of it, with water rising within 30 feet of the actual house.

Of course, fixing a driveway is nothing compared to finding out that your husband has been swept away in the flood, like one woman in our area had to. (I can’t even imagine).

And then, there was the window order for the entire house that was, in a word, wrong. Wrong sizes. Wrong quantities. Wrong grids. Shoo-wee. That was a mess. But, thankfully, the company is acknowledging their mistakes and–slowly–fixing them. We’ll be able to finish installing windows whenever they get that done.

Oh! And then we had a special visitor.


Yup. That would be a cow in our living room. (Thanks to the aforementioned flash flooding knocking down a fence to a neighboring pasture).

Side note: Shaun wanted me to say that we’d be working on this house ’til the cows come home, but, um, I guess they already did.

I’m sure there will be more hiccups along the way, but after my brother fell off of his roof (and badly broke his leg) and then our closest neighbor fell off of a roof and broke his shoulder blade, I’m just so grateful that we haven’t had any accidents (yet). Lord willing, we won’t, but I’m honestly taking this whole process one day at a time and trying not to look too far ahead.

Honestly, the house-building process this time has been considerably less stressful (for me) so far because we live in our home this time. We lived in the second story of my parents’ house the first time, and while it was a wonderful setup, it still wasn’t “our house.” And we felt an urgency to finish and move as quickly as possible. Just the knowledge that, this time, we have no deadlines other than the ones we set for ourselves is a comfort in itself.

So, there you go. Consider yourself completely updated. Unless, of course, you’d like me to discuss in detail which bathtubs I’m considering for each bathroom.


Okay. Your loss.

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The Future Dining Room Design Board {X 3}

First things first:

Paint and Prose is having a surprise FLASH SALE today only for all of our lovely email subscribers. 50% OFF all orders. Yup. Any size. Any amount. Y’all. This is thee best deal we offer and a fantastic opportunity to grab one of our “Call Her Blessed” prints (or maybe a coffee print?) as a gift for a mama (because Mother’s Day–eep!) in your life (or, um, yourself…shhhh). 

Simply sign up for our newsletter, and you’ll receive the code in your inbox. We never sell your info or spam you. And you’ll be the first to know about exclusive discounts and deals!


Building houses from scratch is nuts grand and all, but even though I’ve painted my fair share of furniture/walls, caulked trim until I got blisters, and held things up for measurements, my mad DIY house-building skills are…not so mad after all. As in, they would probably make whoever ended up being the recipient of them rather mad/angry, and that’s about it.

Part of me likes the concept of learning to wield a power tool like a boss. And the other (much more practical) part of me is all: yeah, but I’d stink at it and make lots of mistakes for a while, which is kind of a big waste of time when I’d have to pay a babysitter to even get the practice in, and Shaun could do it well the first time.

So, when we’re in the hardcore building stages of the house, my job is to keep our children alive and tell him how wide I want the trim to be and what the roof of the porch should look like.

Oh, and make design boards. Naturally

I showed you my Anthro dining room chair score on Monday and promised to show you how I plan to incorporate them into my decor.


The truth is that I haven’t quite decided.

I mean, I could go with the pastel theme and keep things relatively neutral with a side of quirk a la wallpaper (that pattern is reeeeeally popular in blog world right now, which usually means that I’m not interested, but–sigh–I love it lots), gold dot curtains, and a gold sputnik light.olioboard1

Another option would be to hang simple drop cloth curtains (seriously considering these since we’ll have 10′ ceilings, and tall curtains are expensive, yo), go for a slightly more “country-chic” table look, and throw in a colorful cow print. Because I just can’t quit the quirk. (Bumper sticker, anyone?)

Side note: I totally forgot to factor in rug selections, which is weird because I’m kind of a rug fanatic. But I’d probably use this overdyed turquoise rug
that we currently own if I went with the cow art.olioboard2

And then we have the mad-hatter version of this room. Complete with florals + stripes.
I think the stripes could work as a table runner, but they would also be super-fun in large scale as a rug (that would stay clean for approximately .02 seconds under a dining table so…probably no).


If you’re wondering why the sputnik light features in all three boards, that would be because I already bought a version in silver from Lowe’s that I plan to gold-leaf or spray paint. I have yet to find an affordable option in the brassy gold I love, so I figured a cheap-o makeover would do the trick.

Because that, my friends, is the type of DIY I do like a boss.

So, what do you think of my dining room dreaming? Did you have a favorite look? Hated all of them? Have a suggestion for me?

I’m listening!

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My New Favorite Chairs + a Rad Website

I love the “industrial farmhouse” look. Metal + old school furniture vibes and chippy paint makes my heart go pitter-patter.

Throw in a little color (preferably aqua or teal, of course), and I’m in decor heaven.

Which is why I just about flipped my lid as I was browsing Anthropologie’s extra 40% off sale this past weekend (it ended yesterday; sorry) and spotted these gorgeous pale blue metal bistro chairs.

For a very reasonable price.

bistro chair

Remember that big farmhouse table I mentioned that Shaun will build for the dining room in the new house?

Well, it will be surrounded by these beauties.

Yup. I bought them. She says so calmly as if she hadn’t feverishly clack-clacked away at her computer like a lunatic, having her husband read out gift card numbers to her (I’ll explain in a sec), checking every couple of seconds to make sure they hadn’t disappeared from her cart, and only fully exhaling when she’d received a confirmation email that the purchase had gone through.

Because good deals on Anthro’s website go fast, y’all. Like, faster than a toddler who just noticed you left the back door open. (FREEEEEDOOOOOM).

Sure enough, within in an hour after I ordered, they were all gone.

In FACT,  sadly, the day after I ordered them, I got an email notifying me that they had canceled 4 of them. Figures. But! I get to keep 6, and I was already planning to mix and match them, so I’m still calling it a win (even if I did spend an hour on the phone with a very confused Anthro employee trying to explain to him that the amount I’d been credited back was not equal to the cost of 4 of the chairs plus their tax…and could he please remedy that?).

But back to what a good deal they were.

I’ve never bought a single stick of furniture from Anthro before for obvious (E.X.P.E.N.S.I.V.E.) reasons, but these were considerably cheaper than anything comparable for the size/quality. I checked. These were $78 + tax/shipping each (they were on sale and then an extra 40% off). Wayfair and Joss and Main have the exact same chair in various colors–although not “sky,” so they wouldn’t have won me over anyway for $180+ EACH.

Here’s the where the best part comes in.

Have you heard of

It’s a site that sells gift cards at a discount–sometimes nominal (think 7%), sometimes quite substantial (some restaurant cards are discounted by 30%).


They sell Anthro gift cards too. So, we scooped up a few of those at 15% off, which means we were able to take 15% off the top of the extra 40% off of the already sale price.

Insert an incredibly awkward victory dance around my living room, in socks no less, and you pretty much know how I felt about that.

Ultimately, what that means is that I am getting each chair shipped to my door for $72 (tax + shipping included).

We’ve also used for Lowe’s gift cards (which provide up to an extra 10% off the top of building supply purchases–which quickly adds up when you’re making large purchases like lumber for framing an entire house).

My kids’ favorite place to eat out is Chick-fil-a, so we stocked up on cards at about a 20% discount.

Marshall’s/TJ Maxx are also faves for buying gifts, inexpensive sandals for the girls, and feeding my ever-growing throw pillow addiction (just kidding, babe! nervous giggle), so an extra 18% off for one of their cards was a no-brainer.

And that barely scratches the surface of all of the brands that they offer.

And no, is not sponsoring this post. I just like finding (and sharing) easy, money-saving hacks.

If you’re so inclined to try them out for yourself, you can use this link for $5 off of your first purchase (I get one too–win, win).

Update: a reader expressed concern because Raise has some bad reviews, but I just wanted to clarify that our experience has been very good. There have been a couple of bum Lowe’s gift cards, but our money was promptly refunded, and we have already used all of the ones I mentioned above with zero incident or problem.

Oh, and stay tuned for Wednesday when I show you 3 different possible design boards for the look I’ll put together using these chairs in the new dining room. (My husband likes to lift an amused eyebrow at my design-loving, gun-jumping self, considering that decorating the dining room is likely many, many {many} months in the future).

Until then, Happy Monday, y’all! Or at least Decent Monday (just in case, “Happy” and “Monday” seemed a little too incongruous to be included in a sentence so close together).

dear monday

The only thing that could make me like this meme more is if they had actually included the comma that should be after “you” and made it grammatically correct. #nerd

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Our House Layout

Ask and you shall receive.

I get lots of emails about “how to build a house from scratch,” and one of the #1 questions I get asked is: “Will you share your house plans/layout?”

Well, we built our first house 8 years ago, using a house-building program that doesn’t exist anymore, and–honestly–the chances that anyone was going to follow our plans to the letter, or even that closely, were fairly slim, so the answer was always, “Sorry, but no.”

This go-round, though, we have the current plans easily available, and I’ve had so many people ask that I thought I’d give you a little peek at the way we’ve chosen to lay out our rooms.

So, without further ado, this is our 1st floor:


Did you grab your magnifying glass yet? I know. It’s a bit hard to see in such miniature proportions, but this is as big I could make it and fit it all in.

So! One of the main things we wanted was a super open feel when you first walk in. To that end, there’s not much of an entryway–just a little piano nook + closet area before it opens directly into the living room. Which, in turn, is completely open to the kitchen. Which, in turn, is open to the dining room.

We’ll have a dining table that seats 12 or more (Shaun will build it, of course), and a 12 foot island. Our current island is approximately six feet long, and we take up every spare inch of it already, so we’re trying to plan ahead for future kiddos/visitors.

In case you can’t tell, the range is on the left wall of the kitchen, and the sink faces out the back of the house up the tree-lined hill. It’s quite possible that the giant window over that sink is my favorite thing in the entire house.

To the left of the kitchen, where it says “laundry,” that will actually be a mudroom/laundry hybrid. The plan is to put a washer/dryer downstairs to augment the upstairs family closet, but who knows? Maybe we’ll just stick with the one laundry room.

The “study” to the right of the living room is actually our schoolroom. It has big windows too. Sigh. I love natural light.

There are two bathrooms downstairs, and one of them is attached to what will be the guest suite. Shaun’s office and and workshop round out the downstairs of the “right wing.” Oh, and those little “rooms” labeled “office” off of the real office and the guest room are closets. But you probably already figured that out.

Okay, heading upstairs…


As you come up the stairs, the first room on the left is our family laundry/closet. This was originally going to be the nursery (nope, not for anyone specific; just in case), but I couldn’t get happy with how closely situated it was to all of the noisy stair traffic, so we moved it. To the far-most left corner of the house.

For realz. This one makes me chuckle because it looks like we’ve exiled our baby to the attic or something. I have never used a baby monitor in my life because I’ve never needed it. I’ve just always been able to hear when the baby is crying. But I think a monitor will be pretty necessary this time. However, our kids do nothing more than sleep in their nurseries. They have never really doubled as playrooms–probably due to the fact that, right about the time they’re actually old enough to play with anything, they get kicked out by a younger sibling! So, I’m good with the remote location.

As far as the other kids’ rooms, as I mentioned, we chose to go with large common rooms for the boys and the girls. We’ll have builtin bunk beds against the back walls, so now, all we’ve got to do is produce even amounts of each gender offspring from here on out, and we’re good to go!


Who knows but the Lord who/how many we’ll have in the future, but we’ve built in enough leeway so that, even if we max out the bunk beds, there are still spaces to add more beds.

The boy + girl wings are completely symmetrical, with the bedrooms at the back of the house, an open/play/common area in front, and a bathroom. In between, we have our “big room.” There’s a sun room attached to the back of it, and–even though you can’t see it in the program because we hadn’t come up with the idea yet–the area above the sun room will be an open loft that looks down into the big room. Since it will be facing our DIY big screen on the opposite wall, Shaun jokes that it’s the “balcony” seating for our movie watching.

Seriously, though. We could put on (very small) plays in this room. In fact, I imagine we will.

The “study” you see to the right of the stairs is actually a “toddler room,” for napping and such, but it could definitely be converted into a conventional bedroom for an older kid or two in the future. Or an upstairs guest room. Whichever.

And then, to the right of that, where it says “study” yet again (my, how studious we are), is my office/craft room. Or Shaun’s office, depending on how many puppy eyes he makes at it. (Every time he walks in there, he sighs wistfully and says: “I love this room.” Real subtle, babe. But I don’t blame him. It’s a cool room).

Oh! And the room that the stairs open up to labeled “family” will just have a table in it for overflow from homeschooling or card games or…whatever.

I’m so excited for all of the family gatherings, friends, Bible studies, guests, missionaries, whoevers we’ll get to host in this house.

Obviously, we put a LOT of thought into these plans. I have no doubt that we’ll discover things that we wish we would have done differently once we’ve actually moved in (8 years from now…heh), but for now, we’re blissfully unaware of that/convinced that we nailed it. Or…something like that.

Also, while I’m not sharing specific pricing with you (Shaun’s not on board with doing that, which I get), because of our location (E. Texas is a pretty cheap place to build), the fact that we live outside of the city limits (and can, therefore, avoid many of the costs associated with city codes), and the fact that we’re doing the vast majority of it ourselves again, a house of this size/customization is surprisingly affordable. Not cheap (well, cheap for the size, yes). But far from crazy either.

ANYhoo, I’ve just topped 1,100 words blathering on about all of this, so I’ll stop right this second.

But, as always, if you have questions, I’ll be happy to answer as best I can.


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A Virtual Look at the New House Colors

First of all, can I just say a great big THANK YOU for all of your help and input on what color we should paint the new house? Y’all are awesome. I love how passionate you guys are about your opinions, and you definitely gave me plenty of great options to consider. Between here and social media, I had somewhere around 400 responses, so suffice it to say that I have NOT gone through all of them to calculate a percentage for each, but I did read every one, and if I had to guess, I’d say that the order of preference went something like:

1. Greige

2. White

3. Teal (although, interestingly, depending on which post was being commented on and which social media was being used, this was the MOST popular choice).

Not too surprising, I suppose.

I know I’m in the minority with my love for deep, saturated colors, and I honestly don’t think that there’s a bad color among them.


I could tell that some of you were considering the color as it would look on what you know of our new house’s silhouette, and some of you were voting based on which house you liked best of the 3 that I featured as examples of the colors I was considering.


I thought it might be fun to show you all three options in the home designer program we use (which is called Home Designer Suite for all of you who have asked, by the way).

In order of y’alls preferred color schemes:

1. Greige


We use the cheaper version of the program, which won’t let you do more custom details like changing the roof of the porch only to metal or changing the upper portion of those gables to a shingled siding or making the board and batten more widely spaced, but all of those will be the case, if you can squint a little and imagine that.

So, my thoughts on this version: I like it. Obviously, the colors in the program are a little cartoonish/flat, so I can imagine the contrast of the minty door plus the stained shutters popping so much more vibrantly against the neutral background. It doesn’t make my heart sing, though. Not saying that that couldn’t change with a little tweaking, but this one isn’t doing it for me at this point.

2. White


Several of you suggested using the teal on the door of the white version, and…while I don’t think the colors are quite right in this version (I didn’t spend a long time obsessing over getting just the right shade), I was surprised to discover that I didn’t dislike the white on such a large scale. I mean, I love white houses, but I really didn’t think it would work on the size/shape of our house, but…I don’t mind it. My main objection is that I love trim, and the trim just doesn’t contrast enough against the white. Again, that could probably be fixed if I absolutely nailed the color choices, but…I’m not completely sold.

3. Teal


The first time I saw this in the house program, I cheered. I know it’s too much for, well, most people, but it just made me happy. Our trim will have a farmhouse silhouette (so slightly layered and chunkier at the top and bottom), and I love how much it would pop against the dark color.

Y’all did raise a couple of good points that I’ve been mulling over, and here they are:

1) What about fading? Honestly, our current house color is at least as dark as the Riverway color we’re considering. We painted the first part almost 8 years ago when we first built, and then we added on a section about 5 years ago. Shaun claims that he can see a difference between the two (because the paint of the first section has faded a bit), but it’s certainly not anything you would notice unless you stand back and swivel your head from side to side between the two under close scrutiny. All that to say that I’m not too worried about fading.

2) Won’t you get sick of such a trendy color? This one made me smile. It never occurred to me that this was a trendy color. In fact, its deep blue/gray/green seemed–if not conventional–somewhat classic, at least to a color lover like me. I didn’t feel like I picked it because I had seen it around a lot (I actually had never seen a house this color until I realized that I had chosen the swatch twice at Lowe’s and came home to see if Google could show me what it actually looked like on a house). Also, we won’t have any other houses near enough to us to compare or annoy, so as long as I don’t get sick of it (could happen, who knows?), it won’t matter.

I do have ONE BIG PROBLEM with the teal, though. The house of my dreams has shutters like these:


Clearly, Ashley’s house was a major inspiration for the greige + shutters option that I’m considering (actually, her house is a major inspiration, period; she’s so talented).

But back to the problem: if I have shutters, I do not want the door to be the same color. It’s too matchy-matchy for me. HOWEVER, with such a saturated house color, I think that the door needs to be at least somewhat subdued, without completely disappearing into the exterior since it will be recessed beneath a deep porch. At first, I thought a subdued coral. But that would only work (in my mind) for a single entry door, and I am drawn, more and more, to double front doors–especially on a house of this scale (when a single door might end up feeling a wee bit puny, even with window lights + trim surrounding it).

And I can’t quite get okay with the concept of big stately painted French entryway doors–especially when the ones that we’re considering buying are SO pretty in their natural wood state.

Which leaves me with a WHOLE lot of stained, coordinating wood if I stick with my stained shutters.

See the problem?

Argh. I’ve gone around and around and around on this one.

The more neutral colors that would allow me to have my shutters + a brightly colored door (if I so choose) are all just a little “meh” (at least to me). But then I see my beloved deep teal, and I can’t figure out how to configure my accents so that it’s not just a whole bunch of blue and brown (which is potentially too country for the look that I want).

Suffice it to say that I have not yet fully decided on the perfect combination of elements to create an exterior that does, indeed, make my heart sing.

After seeing the mock-ups in the house program, do you have any further thoughts?
I’m not used to feeling so stumped about such things, since I usually know what I like, whether it jives with anyone else’s preference or not. Perhaps the problem here is that I know a little TOO well what I like and can’t seem to force all of my preferences into harmony with one another.


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