Friday, April 23, 2010

Guestroom, driveway, patio, landscaping!!

That's what we gotta do in the next few months... We finally purchased a guest room, but I won't upload pictures of it until I buy the bedding. My in-laws will be here in about ten days, so we are good to go :-)
We are also trying to finalize what we want to do for our driveway. I CAN'T WAIT!! Driving on our gravel driveway has been so annoying, especially during a rainfall..., our garage is so dirty and it won't stay clean. We have some ideas and hopefully are gonna start some time next week. Will be sure to take pictures of the progress. I'm worried because there is not much room in our driveway for guests to park, so we are thinking of having a LOT of asphalt to add parking. But we're worried too much asphalt will ruin the aesthetic appeal of our house. I hope not! It's important for us to have a lot of parking, we love entertaining people,so..
We are also starting to think about landscaping and our patio... I like simple landscaping, just LOTS of grass.. our lot is already beautiful with all its greenery, so we don't have to do much. For our walkway, my husband refuses to spend an arm and a leg on brick pavers, so looks like we're going to have a concrete walkway to the front door. :-/ I'm trying to convince him to at least make the steps up the door from brick pavers, but we'll see.
And then there's the patio... I rather wait another year to do the patio rather than have a concrete one!!! Since we already closed on our mortgage, whatever we do now is going to be coming out of our pocket, so if we run out of funds, I rather wait then have an ugly patio.. but my brother (our builder) said there are some concrete patios that are decent looking. I guess I need to do some research..

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Guest Room

So my in laws are coming in one month, and we need to buy a bedroom set for the guestroom! We checked out a few places last night but didn't find anything we like. I am leaning towards a white set because it can be our son's room when he's older.. I really don't want to get a dark wood set only because all my furniture is dark and I'm sick of all the dusting!!

Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Twenty Things I'm So Glad I Did...

I told you what I would change if I had to do it all over again, now I'll tell you about the decisions we made and are so happy with. We like a lot of things about the house but here are the twenty main ones, and not in any particular order.

1. Dark wood theme

I'm so glad the way everything in our house seems to match well. I knew we were bringing our dark (cherry color) wooden furniture for the office, dining room, and master bedroom from our old house. We also had a wooden TV stand in the family room. They all look great with the dark hardwood floors, the dark kitchen cabinets, the wooden fireplace mantel, the newels and hand-rail on the stairs, and the front door. I love the way they all match and give the house a warm feel. The house feels cohesive and well thought-out.

Love how the fireplace mantle came out. Totally matches the rest of the house's theme.

2. Hardwood in hallway, ceramic tile in kitchen

If you've been following my blog for a while, you know that I was unsure of where to do hardwood floors and where not to. It had been my dream to have hardwood floors in the kitchen, but in the end I decided against it, and I'm so glad that I did! My son is already nicking the hardwood every day and that's only in the hallway. I love love love my hardwood floors but I like that I don't have to worry ab out spills and toys (and temper tantrums) in the kitchen. The ceramic tile I chose for the kitchen is perfect because it has a rustic look and does not show any nicks or scratches. My son can throw his toys on it all he wants! And yet it still looks great.

3. Paint colors

My husband and I spent a lot of time choosing paint colors. We went to Home Depot and bought samples and tried them out on our condo's garage walls. In the end, we chose a neutral color for most of the house, a slightly darker one for the family and living rooms (this was the same color we had in our condo and loved! It was so hard to find out what color it was but it was worth it!), a darkish yellow in the dining room which looks great with the wainscott, blue in our son's future room, and green in his current one (the nursery). All in all, I love our paint choices!

4. Bathroom and walk-in closet in guest room

I'm so glad the guest room has its own bathroom and walk-in closet, especially now that my in-laws are coming in two months. They will be staying with us for 5 weeks so it will be nice for them to have their privacy and own quarters. And in the future, whenever guests stay with us, they won't have to use our kids' bathroom, which may not be very appealing to them!

5. Cultured stone

Our builder's partner suggested that we add some cultured stone to our original elevation plan, to break up some of that brick. Since stone is so expensive, cultured stone is a great alternative for it. I am so glad we added it to the archway above our front door because it gives the house character. Otherwise it would have been completely brick. When we finish the walkway, it will look even better I'm sure!

6. Lighting fixtures

Picking the lighting fixtures was actually a lot of fun, and I'm soooo happy with all of our choices. But I especially love our kitchen nook light, the one above the kitchen island counter, and our foyer chandelier. :-)


7. Appliance garage

The appliance garage in the kitchen was money well spent! I love it because it keeps my kitchen looking tidy. I hide my coffee maker, tea kettle, coffee bag and filters, blender, and a few other things tucked in there out of sight. It's a great use of space!

8. Fireplace blower

We paid $200 extra to have one installed with our fireplace and it's been worth every penny!! During the coldest days of the winter, we didn't have to set the heater higher than 67 or 68; with the blower on, the fireplace heated up the room on its own! It really made a difference because in our condo the fireplace didn't have as much of an affect as ours is having now, and our condo family room was a lot smaller. It's a good investment, I believe!

9. Big windows

One of the things I love most about our new house are the big windows in the nook and family room. When the sun comes out, the whole house is washed in beautiful sunlight! It's great! The more windows the better, especially because we have so much privacy.

The house from behind. Notice the big windows! ;)

10. Crown moulding and wainscott

We did crown moulding in the living, dining and family rooms... Usually crown is done in formal rooms, but we decided to do it in the family room as well because that's where we spend most of our time. I'm so happy we did! It makes the room look bigger and fancier. And it also offers a nice contrast to the painted walls. We did wainscott in the dining room and we love it!! Our carpenter also did a nice crown above the entrance to the living and dining rooms, they came out even nicer than I imagined!

Notice the crown moulding, the entrance mantle-like crown, and the wainscott in the dining room.

11. Big patio door

Our original house plans had a small patio door in the nook, but my husband had the good sense to suggest making it bigger, and I'm glad we did. In the future when our patio is done (this spring/summer hopefully!!) it'll be easier to take things out, like our son's high chair, through the door's frame. It also brings in more light because it has bigger windows. Yes, I'm all about windows!

I know it looks a lot better during the day, but I couldn't wait til tomorrow!

12. Kitchen desk

We got rid of a cabinet in the kitchen and made it into a desk instead to save money on cabinetry. But I'm soooooo sooooo happy we did because I love my desk!! I cannot sit on my laptop anywhere else because my son will run and try to push all the keyboard's buttons.. but now I have my own little station, complete with drawer and outlets and under cabinet lighting when I need it. I can't express just how glad I am about having a kitchen desk! It's a great idea if you're considering it.

I love my workspace!

13. Laundry room on main floor

In both our first house and then our condo, our laundry room was on the second floor, near the bedrooms. I loved having it upstairs because we would throw our dirty clothes in there on our way downstairs. So when we were planning our house I was seriously considering having our laundry room upstairs as I had always had it before. But my builder's wife convinced me otherwise and I'm really glad I listened. Having the laundry room close to the kitchen and the garage is a big help. Anytime something gets dirty I just throw it in there. And when the kids get older and come inside with dirty clothes they don't have to lug in their dirt throughout the entire house, the laundry room is right near the garage door.

14. Front door

I love my front door!! I love the color, I love that it's mostly windows (yes, again I love windows), and I love the pattern I chose. I just love everything about it!

Again, this looks so much nicer during the day... And it looks even nicer from the outside, but this pic will have to do for now!

15. Layout

Before meeting with our architect, I had drawn a sketch of what we wanted our house to look like using the Paint application. The main things that we took into consideration when designing our house's layout was the southern/northern exposure. We knew we wanted the most important rooms (family room, master bedroom, nook, den) to be on the southern exposure and we designed our layout accordingly. It ended up being a smart layout because like I said before, we have tons of sunlight in the house all day. We also put the garage and the kitchen wall that has no windows (cabinetry and stovetop) on the side of the house that is next to our neighbor's. We literally cannot see their house except when we pull up in the driveway. The other parts of the house face either the front of our house (which is our empty lot), the back (which is our large backyard) or the south side (which is the entrance to the nearby neighborhood). I love the privacy! Our well thought-out design paid off!

16. L-shaped stairway

At first, our house plan had a straight-up staircase in the foyer. Our builder suggested we push the front door out a little to allow room for an L-shaped staircase. It was a very smart move, the L-shaped stairway is a lot more aesthetically pleasing. I can't really imagine how it would look otherwise, but I'm glad we did it this way.

17. Stainless-steel appliances and kitchen faucet

I was worried about stainless-steel appliances because they are hard to keep clean but I'm so glad I went that route- I just love the way they look, especially with my wooden cabinets. I do have to wipe them down a few times a day but it's worth it! I also changed my kitchen faucet at the last minute to a goose-neck model that is really in fashion these days. I was worried that 1. I would regret it because it's just a fad right now, and 2. that it would not be durable because of the gooseneck shape. But so far, I love it! It looks "cool" and modern and so far feels very sturdy and durable.

18. Shower body sprayers

My husband wanted to dish out the extra couple hundred dollars to install body sprayers in our shower. Although I barely use them (because I hate the clean up afterwards!) my husband LOVES them. And the other day, I finally used them and IT FELT SO GOOD! We bought a squeegee and that has helped us clean the glass when we are done showering. So now I can use the body sprayers and not worry too much.

19. Ceramic tile - backsplash and shower design

We had to choose a LOT of ceramic tile for the house. Kitchen floor, kitchen backsplash, laundry room, master bathroom floor, master bathroom shower wall and design, guest bathroom floor and wall, and kids' bathroom wall. I'm really glad with all of our tile choices, but especially our kitchen backsplash and master bathroom design. I did a lot of research before choosing and found tons of designs online that I loved, but most were way out of our budget! There are some amazing things you can do with your tile, especially for your master bathroom. But for the money, I think we did a great job!

20. The lot and retaining wall

When my husband and I bought our land, many people were negative about our choice. The lot was irregularly shaped, there were dips and ditches all over it, the driveway was narrow and dangerous (we had a semi-truck flip over in the early days of building!), the house was on a small area of land surrounded by six-feet-plus dips, etc. But, I wouldn't change it for anything! I love the lot, I love its privacy, I love the long driveway, and our builder did a GREAT job removing the dips and ditches. I can't even remember how it looked because of how much it's changed! I can't wait until we do the driveway (I'll update you on that soon!), the walkway, landscape and patio! I think the lot will look even better then. It looked AMAZING in the fall with all the colors, I'm sure it'll look even nicer in May with the blossoms, and the greenery is beautiful in the summer. :-) I love it!

This is the view from the guest room, back in the fall of '09.
And this is a reaaaaaaaaaaaally old pic of the driveway, but I love it nonetheless!
The retaining wall looks awesome too!

And there you have it!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ten Things I Would Have Done Differently...

When building, we had a billion and one decisions to make, and thankfully, 99% of the decisions we made have been great :) But of course, as with anything, there are always things you wish you could change. Hind-sight is always 20-20 so I thought I'd share with you my regrets in case you are ever faced with similar choices.

Just a note: It was really hard to think about ten because, luckily, we are happy with most of our decisions!

1. Kitchen window

The kitchen window above the sink caused us some drama while building. The window is smaller than the space above the sink, so the contractors accidentally placed it higher than we had thought. The builder showed us it and asked us if we want them to put it lower as planned, or if we like it higher. I kind of liked it higher, but we agreed to lower it. When they did, we regretted the decision a lot!! We wished the window had been bigger and covered the entire space so we can get more light in the kitchen.

We had three choices: Leave it as it is; pay $200 and raise it back to where it was; or pay $500 for a new, larger window to fill the entire space. We ended up paying an extra $200 to have it raised again, but now I wish we had gotten a bigger window. Take a look at the picture, it's a good size, but I love my windows to be as big as possible for the maximum light to enter. (The family room, for example, has huge windows that I love!) The ceiling is about two feet from the top of the window. That's two feet of lost sunlight!

2. Master awning window

Our architect made us excited about having an awning window in our master bedroom, and even though our builder warned us about our bed's headboard, we didnt think much of it. We just thought, oh well, so part of the window would be covered. We didn't realize just how much! As it is, the window is pointless, and it just lets in light and is pretty useless. But I guess when we sell the house it can be an asset to potential buyers who don't have as massive a headboard as we do!

3. Master bathroom - vanity

When designing the master bathroom, we didn't want people to enter and to see the toilet. But we also wanted the toilets on the same side as the vanities, so we ended up putting the shower and jacuzzi on the wall across from the door, and the vanities on the other side. So when you walk in, you don't see the nice vanities, mirror, and lights. Now, I sort of wish we had done it the other way around; the shower and jacuzzi are nice but the vanities is a nicer sight when walking in to the bathroom. And the toilet is pretty hidden so I don't think it would have been a big deal. I also wish we hadn't made the shower THAT huge, there's no need for all that space, and that it wasn't so narrow. In all though, I think our bathroom looks pretty good!

This is the view from the door as you enter, I think it looks good, but the vanities would be more grandiose of an entrance. I don't like people seeing my shampoo, razor, and loofah as they enter my bathroom (not that many guests ever make it up to my bathroom - LOL).

The rest of the view as you walk in.. You can tell how large the shower is in this pic.

The vanities/toilet (but I couldn't get the light fixtures in the pic)
After seeing the pictures, I'm not so sure we made the wrong decision after all!

4. Master walk-in closet

I love the size of our walk-in, and I love that we didn't go with wire racks and shelves. We spent a good amount of money on the closet layout, the only thing I wish had been done differently is, that the high rod on the Her-Side to be wider, since most of my clothes are longer and I need more of the high rod than the lower ones. So now most of my skirts are touching the floor, instead of being hung up high. Also, instead of shelves, drawers would have been nice (but more expensive too!).

This is the rod I'm talking about. I wish it were longer because I have a lot of long coats. I ended up using the His-side too ;)

Not sure you can tell, but my skirts are touching the floor

5. Brick color

Ahhh, what can I say about the brick color. There was a specific color I wanted, but that brick was too expensive. So the brick contractor sent us to subdivisions to look at houses he had done and to pick a brick. Not finding one I liked, I searched online and found a few that seemed nice. The contractor gave us addresses of houses with the brick that I chose and I went to see them and picked one, but I wasn't 100% convinced. I shouldn't have went with it just to get the job done!

This was the brick color I liked:

This is what we ended up using:

Close enough though, right?? It's not that I don't like it, but it's not how I imagined it would be. But I think in the summer I will like it even more.

6. Partial overlay cabinetry

When choosing our cabinets for the kitchen, we had to decide on the wood species, the color, the overlay, and the panel. We went with raised panel, and chose maple and a dark cherry color because that's what we love. As for the overlay, we had the choice between full overlay and partial overlay. Full overlay looks a lot nicer because there are no spaces between the cabinet doors or drawers. But for our kitchen alone, it would have been an extra $1,000. We didn't think the aesthetics was enough of a reason to dish out that kind of money.

Here's how our partial overlay look from the outside:

What we didn't realize, however, is that full overlay has a practical purpose as well. When you open cabinet doors with a full overlay, you have a huge box area for you to use. With standard overlay, there is a divider between the two sides of the cabinet so getting larger items in and out is more difficult. I had a hard time getting my larger kitchen appliances (Stand mixer, Food processor, Slow cooker, etc) into the cabinets because of the divider. One time, as I was pulling the slow cooker out, I had to tilt it to allow it to get out, and in the process the lid fell and broke into a million pieces. Had we realized this before, we probably would have upgraded to full overlay, regardless of its extra cost.

Here's the divider in the middle.

7. Storage space in kitchen

In my previous condo, I had a walk-in closet in the kitchen that I adored. It was the best part of the condo for me and I stored just about everything in there. I used it as a pantry, supply closet, and storage space for larger appliances.

Our earliest plans for the house included a walk-in closet for the kitchen, but the architect and builder convinced us to save space in our kitchen. I do not regret this, I think our kitchen looks great the way it is, and I'm not sure where a walk-in closet would have worked out. And, at the expense of sounding really spoiled, I wish I had an extra pantry. I have plenty of cabinet space, but a second pantry closet or larger cabinet would have made up for the lack of the walk-in closet.
Again, not a big deal, but just something that would have helped me store my larger appliances more easily!

The pantry - closed, then opened

8. Laundry room closet

Along those same lines, I wish we had made a small closet in the laundry room, or mud area, for things like my ironing board, vacuum, sweeper, mop, swiffer, etc. Right now they are all just in my laundry room and I would have preferred a space to hide them in, especially because my son loves to grab them and play with them. While we're at it, a window in the laundry room would have been nice, but we didn't do one because it would have been opened to the garage.

My storage "niche"

The following aren't even regrets, but just things I might consider differently if I were to do it all over again...

9. Carpetting in the basement

We carpetted half of the basement so that our son has a nice place to play when he gets older or has friends over. The thing is, when you go down the stairs, the right side is carpetted, but immediately to the left isn't. So even though half the basement is carpetted, it doesn't feel that way. If I had to do it again, I would have continued the carpetting to the left a few feet so that when you get down the stairs there is still some carpet to the left. Not a big deal of course!

This is the view as you come down the stairs

10. Kitchen sink

If you remember, back in the day I was confused as to which sink to get for my kitchen. I asked around and all but one person told me to get the one-basin, really deep sink, and I regret it!!
I ended up getting a ten-inch deep sink (left), instead of the nine-inch one, and since it's mounted under the cabinet it makes it feel even deeper. I get backaches any time I wash dishes for too long...! It's such a pain.. Literally! I totally wish I got this sink instead, (right).

What do you think about my decisions?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Our son's room

Finally took pictures of the room after we put the dresser/changing table together. What do you think??

Monday, February 1, 2010

Vacuum Needed

Okay, I've needed a new vacuum since... well, since forever! When we got married, I moved in with my husband and used the vacuum he had since... since god knows when. Anyway, don't get me wrong, it's a good vacuum, Hoover brand and everything. It's just *SO HEAVY*!!! It wasn't such a big deal in our condo but now it is! Specially as my son gets older and makes more of a mess each day. Doing the stairs is such a pain, I just make my husband do it. And since we carpetted the basement, I suppose I should be vacuuming down there too huh? (lol, well, I haven't)..

So I've been in the market for a new one forever now... I had two suggested to me.. The Dyson Ball and the Oreck.

In the end, I think I'm going with Oreck because:
1. It's so lightweight!! 8 or 9 pounds! That is my main selling point!
2. It's a lot more affordable..
3. They use them in hotels so they must be effective.

Anyone out there with an Oreck care to vouch for it??? Or, God forbid, hate theirs?? Please speak soon because I plan on buying one in the next few weeks. I'm thinking of getting the Classic since the only difference between it and the better models are: the length of the warranty, the handle, and the PRICE!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Barstools came in!

The stools came in, and I'm proud to say, I assembled them completely on my own... However, after putting them in their place, I noticed that three stools would've looked so much better!! So now I have to go back to BB&B and order a 3rd one because the other part of the counter needs one too.

But here are some pics of the two so far.. For some reason, these pics aren't that clear.

Oh, and I should show you pictures of our son's room.. We finally assembled the changing table (I know, early huh) and the room looks so much nicer now :-). I have yet to take a pic of it but will do so soon.

Here are the stools. What do you think? My son LOVES sitting on them hehehe..