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!


  1. I just discovered your blog, and love it! We have much in common…I have six kids (no twins, but my brothers are twins, my husband’s nephews are twins and two of my closest friends each have twin boys, so close enough? Haha!), homeschool, aaaand we are nearing the end of building our own (mostly built by my husband’s own hands as well

  2. Excepting a butcher block island, which I looove, I’ve always had plain old laminate counter tops. We aren’t big spenders so anything else tended to bring on temporary heart failure. They do the job, do it well, and… what more can you ask? The best thing about laminate (besides $$$ in my pocket) is it’s easy to re-top should the need arise. I guess the former owners of our house permanently damaged our laminate surfaces, because they stained if a puddle of WATER got left on them. My husband pulled them out this spring, and re-laminated the counters right over the old stuff. “New” counters for WAAAAAAAY less, a color I LIKE, and no more unending stains. : )

  3. I totally understand your want/need for a 12 foot island. But think about this – you’re on one side and need to do something (grab a child!) on the other side…. it’s a long walk! LOL I saw this idea on a Fixer Upper for a bachelor. He wanted the island with a walkway in the middle – making two 6 foot islands. Easier to get from one side to the other. Also allows a few more people to gather around. Just a thought…

  4. I find it interesting watching /reading kitchen renovation/designs happening in the States. In Australia we have grown up with laminate counters (and it has come a looong way). The only time I ever saw granite was in the high end homes ($1million plus) I was sometimes in. My husband and I plan to renovate our kitchen in the near future and we will be getting laminate. Not just for the cost but as a builder in high end homes my husband has seen the good and bad of other products. These days laminate offers so many colours and looks. And for a family it is great. I will be following your decision with interest. PS: love the colours you are considering for the house!

  5. We had butcher block laminate countertops and the island top in the home we owned for 30 years. When we sold, the tops were as nice as the day we moved in.

  6. My mom has wilsonart and they are great, of course they are green! But it seems as long as they are not smooth and light colored laminate lasts a really long time,and of course then you can’t see the scratches. You wouldn’t consider butcher block for such a big island?

    1. I would consider Butcher Block normally. I really like it. But I really want the island to be stained, which means it would be a whole lot of wood on wood, which is a bit too much for me.

  7. Have you considered concrete countertops? I believe they are on the cheaper side. Thanks for sharing your process with us!

  8. Love that large sample! We have Carrara in one area of our kitchen and it easily etches even after it’s been sealed. I’d definitely recommend the more durable laminate over the real deal. Save the difference…and possibly your sanity.

  9. We are currently building a “big family” house too! Our roof is going on today and the Hardy siding is beginning as well. I’ve been looking, looking, looking at countertops, sinks, paint and lots of lights lately. We had Wilsonarr HD Formica in the house we just sold and I loved it. The only issue I ever had was how the edges were done, they weren’t a rolled edge. There was a seam on the corners/edges and I had barstools that had arms on them that constantly hit them and chipped them on the seams. BUT we live in the kitchen at the island and I have 6 kiddos. Overall they were very durable, pretty scratch resistant, and any slight staining on the light part was quickly removable with bleach spray.

    1. Hey Autumn, thanks for the great advice. We are definitely going with a “crescent” edge (that hides all of the seams) if we go with laminate. It’s good to hear that someone else has had a good experience with laminate. Question, though: aren’t Wilsonart and Formica two separate brands? I’m asking because I just had a reader tell me that she had a bad experience with her Formica faux marble laminate (including the hidden seams), and I’m just wondering if one brand is better than the other and which one you actually used.

      Also, if you’re in the market for a well-reviewed, really big, farmhouse sink (that is cheaper/square inch than any of the smaller fire-clay/cast iron versions), check out NBI Drainboard sinks. I stumbled upon them recently, and I think we’re going with the 50.5″ double basin sink they have. It’s not *cheap,* but, again, it’s huge. And it’s got great reviews. (Well, the company in general does as far as durability and quality).

      Happy building! That’s so fun that y’all get to do this too!

      1. Yes! they are different brands of laminate. I had Wilsonart HD for sure (I just refer to all laminate counters as Formica, why I’m not sure lol). I don’t know if one brand is better or not but I was pleased with what I had. BUT we did only live in that house for 6 years. This time I think I’ll go with granite, I’d love to have Quartz but the price is crazy!

        Thanks for the info on the sinks, I’m going to check into them. I want a good baby bathing farm sink!

        This time around I’m all about durability! As you know with a large family things get USED! We are just so blessed beyond words to be able to build our “forever home” again! It’s truly something only God could orchestrate…… yes we are in the Livingston area near Houston.

  10. Go with the laminate! We have had ours for 10 years, and they are indestructible! Ours were in the house when we moved in so we didn’t “choose” them, but they’ve been awesome. No special cleaners required, no periodic re-sealing, and like I said, indestructible!

      1. We have a long quartz (Ceasarstone London Fog) island (156”) and you can do quartz. The sink is in the middle of it and the seam in the middle of the sink. Assuming you are picking a light quartz, the seam is invisible. I love it. Easy to clean and durable….and it looks pristine.

I love hearing from you guys!