So my plan is to go room with room and discuss my concepts for each with the layout and furniture placement and finishes but I thought I would start with the exterior since it really sets the tone for the house. I made the mistake on my last house that the exterior had much lower finishes on the exterior than the interior. I often had people come over and literally say, " Wow, I had no idea the house was this nice inside." Not exactly the most glowing compliment. Kind of like when the bitchy girl at work says "You look tiiiired." So on this house I have repeatedly told David the exterior needs to match the interior. My vision for the house is an updated french country. Lots of neutrals, natural materials, soft, warm and inviting. Less painted furniture and slipcovers and more stone, wood, and plaster. These are the images I started with.
The house will no in way be this grand from the front but it at least gives you an idea of the colors I am drawn towards. I really like the look of limestone and stucco together in lighter shades of browns and neutrals. Searching for a limestone looking facade in the pacifi northwest has been challenging. The one I fell in love with was Dover Rockface by Boral (used to be Owens Corning) but it's been discontinued and I was told they could special order it but only for projects over 20k sq ft...so that's obviously not happening. I then was enticed by ElDorado Austin Cream Limestone but it's only available to "Western states" and Washington apparently not Western but we are in the "Northwestern states" category. I then settled on ElDorado's nationwide available stone, San Marino.
But then I started playing around on their nifty visualizer tool and started to second guess myself.
The San Marino looks super blue to me?!? So then I started playing around with another one of their stone's called Rough Cut. This is the Casa Blanca which now I think has made me realize I don't actually want a super light stone. The dark gray grout is not my thing, but if I did a lighter grout I think the house would be blindingly light colored, which is not the look of the other houses around it. I think we would super stick out and that's saying a lot since my neighbor built a straight up adobe square house in pink stucco.
These next two are called Vineyard Trail and Wheatfield. Fitting since we back up to a wheatfield in a town filled with vineyards.
These two are my top contenders right now. I'm ordering samples obviously, so I will post outside photos of them when they arrive. Thoughts? Are there other cultured stone companies I should be looking at?
Slash and Burn
Do you remember that old Mad TV sketch, "Lowered Expectations"? That might as well be this blog post title but when you're talking about over a 4,000 sq ft house maybe I could be less of an ungrateful cow? I'm working on it. So the initial plan I sketched up for the house was a bit over 3,000 sq ft on the main level and 1500 for the unfinished basement. Before we purchased the lot, I went to the city inspector to make sure it was fine to finish the basement at a later date. Well, let me back up a bit. So at Halloween (like a week before we got an offer on the house) my mom and I took my daughter trick or treating in the neighborhood for families in Walla Walla. It's a development on the end of town comprised of about 5 streets that form a giant square, with wheat fields on two sides and a creek on another. The homes are all on about 10k-13k square foot lots so I had dismissed it initially because my plan for our next house was to always have acreage that I could build a shop/barn on for my rental business. My in-laws actually offered us one of their acre parcels around this time and we were seriously discussing it. But then Halloween night as we were going house to house my mom looked at me and said, " THIS is the neighborhood you should live in. You are going to hate living in the country. Sloane needs kids to play with! You want people to actually see your Christmas decorations." I hated to admit it, but she was totally right. That week after we had the offer on our house, so we changed course and started thinking about buying a lot in that neighborhood seriously. Well there were literally two left. One was on the busy corner that everyone that accessed the development turns on and backed up to the county road that is the only road to the development and the other was extremely steep and would need a walk-out basement but it was at the end of one of the streets inside and it had views of the mountains and only wheat fields behind it. It was an easy choice on which to pick but I needed to make sure we could get by with not having to finish the basement immediately. After I met with the inspector and he said it was fine to not finish it (we just have to sheetrock the ceilings) we moved forward with purchasing that lot.
So once we had that out of the way I started designing the floorplan. I really struggled with finding anything online I liked or even could use as inspiration. I knew I wanted three bedrooms on the main floor and a formal dining room(that is a whole other blog post I will defend my position on ) but finding all of that with a walk-out basement was non-existent. You might say, "well just find a rambler plan with that and add a basement" but I didn't want to squeeze in a tiny staircase in some backhall. I visualized a open staircase right when you walked in the entry similar to this photo from Houzz.
So when I couldn't find what I was looking for I started sketching it out on graph paper. Then I found a free online program but it kept crashing on me so I splurged a whole $75 and bought Home Designer Suite on Amazon. The reviews said it had a steep learning curve, and maybe it is for non-millennials or for people that don't work daily in Adobe Programs , but I found it extremely easy. My first design ended up as this.
I really liked the idea of NOT having an entirely open concept. In our last house, the kitchen, dining and living was all in one big room and I was over it. I hated cooking a fancy dinner and looking at the dirty pans as we ate, or having the tv on in the living room for Sloane and it reverberating throughout the house. I also wanted a large living room for parties and I have always dreamed of a large entry with a round table when you entered the house with flowers and books on it. ( I know, I'm a Pinterest basic bitch circa 2009.)
So my first sketch had all that and a huuuuge closet which was another thing on my must have list. We sat with this plan for about 6 weeks. We had a draftsman go over and it and tweak the things I had no idea about like wing walls, and the width wall you want your laundry pipes in (2x6 vs 2x4). Then the bids started pouring in. We had initially planned on $450k all in. We were quickly going up to 500k and over. I really didn't want to be house poor, and it would be a stupid decision in the neighborhood we have chosen. The highest comp is $480k. I already built the most expensive house on the block with my last house, I'm not doing it again. So Beau and I sat down and had a honest conversation about how much I really wanted to have to work to contribute that large a mortgage payment and how many years we would be comfortable having the highest comp in the area. The answer was not as much and not again. So I went (literally) back to the drawing board.
I shaved 400 sq ft off, but note, that I'm back to an open concept. I can't fucking escape it. And the kitchen and living room are exactly the same layout as my old house. Old habits die hard or some shit right? The one thing I did love about my old house was the kitchen layout and I figured why teach an old dog new tricks? If I literally layout the kitchen with the exact same drawers in the same places then Beau will have no excuse not to empty the dishwasher correctly, right? So now these plans are at the drafters and I've promised David, our contractor, I'm done changing things, this is it or forever hold my peace.
Returning to Earth.
As is with most major things that happen in our life, we had very little warning that our house was going to sell. It really wasn't even on the market. It was a pocket listing. And by pocket listing I mean, I had a few friends express interest in in a very casual, 'if you ever decide to sell, call us first" kind of way. One of those friends started a FSBO site and asked to use the photos from our VRBO listing (hey I'm not one turn down 2k during a concert weekend!) for a "listing" on the new site. I said sure and thought nothing of it. Until a former photography client of mine saw the photos a couple weeks later and asked to come look at it. They came on a Friday evening and we had an offer by Sunday morning at almost full asking price with additional money to keep all the furnishings. The closing took a few months while they sold their house, and it was extremely appreciated because when you really haven't entertained the thought of selling your home, having a while to process letting go of a project you conceived and birthed, not to mention the place your daughter walked her first steps, it took some time to adjust to.
There's a joke in my family that we all get new careers every 10 years. My mom was an airline pilot, then a marketing executive, and now goes on Fox News to talk about plane crashes. My aunt Jennifer was a paleontology professor and then became a novelist. My grandfather was an FBI agent turned attorney and his wife, my beloved grandmother Marjorie, owned an interior design shop and then after he died young, went back to school and became a college chemistry professor. So I guess it's only fitting that I'm embarking on my 3rd (4th?) profession since college? In all honestly though, this is what I have felt I meant to be since I was a little girl when my favorite pastime besides setting up elaborate houses for my Barbies, was drawing doll-house view sketches of homes. I got into photography because I always felt this compulsion to document the beauty I saw in life. My mom and I had a long chat not too long ago about trying to find your id in life. (Freud's concept of a human's basic instinctual drive) and what we each thought ours was. After some discussion, I settled on that mine is to make everything beautiful. It's why I take photos, it's why I hated TV news, (decidedly not beautiful) and it's why even after starting a successful event rental business I still can't itch that scratch that calls from inside to make everything I encounter aesthetically pleasing. It's a scary undertaking though, putting yourself out there and exclaiming, "I think this is beautiful and you should too!" I guess that's why re-starting this blog and giving it an actual direction towards home design has been on my to-do list for a year and I've just finally worked up the courage and actually set aside the creative free space to focus on it. So this is my intention I'm putting into the universe...I want to evolve from capturing the beauty in life to creating it. I hope you enjoy.