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!
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.
The retaining wall looks awesome too!
And there you have it!