Windows of Opportunity

We have been working out the quirks of the new home.  We have some issues with the technology and with the AC units.  Things to be frustrated with, however so long as you are determined to resolve, it will be ok.  It’s been a couple of weeks and we are working on windows.  For the bedrooms, I convinced my husband to let me install blinds from the local home improvement store.

We had two drapery makers come out this week.  One was double the price of the other.  The lady that was less expensive was Russian.  I love her!  We work well together.  She brought books of fabric and it was super easy to make a choice.  Once the room has the fabric, it will be cozy.  It would seem the trend in window treatments is simple panels, geometric designs and mainly neutral colors.

I spent most of the beginning of the weekend getting the guest room ready for my daughter.  It’s still a room with random furniture, just less of it now.   It has an eyebrow window and to cover it for privacy has been a challenge.   There is a balance between living like you are in a fish bowl, exposed and covering all the windows up.   While looking at blinds that will fit the wide window, I learned that a Palladian shelf can be installed in the window to provide the middle support that is needed to hang the blinds.  One quote I had was $900+, however I can do the shelf and the blinds for $180.  In the meantime, I used a shower curtain tension rod with her sheers for some privacy until the order comes in.  By leaving the arch and the three windows above it open, there will be enough privacy and enough light keeping the room looking spacious even though it is relatively small.


My husband’s office windows are too narrow for blinds and shutters seem to be a commitment to cover up the windows.  To solve this problem Nora suggested a traverse rod with linen panels.  She showed me a video of one of her previous projects and it seemed like it was the perfect solution for his office.  It will have a little bit of a formal look and masculine with the light grey solid color.  He will have the privacy he wants in the evening and the ability to enjoy the view which is of a small court yard during the day.


Tonight we had dinner together and it was everything I was hoping it to be casual and intimate.  I love it!

Windows of Opportunity

A different kind of Mother’s Day

There will be no pampering this weekend.  First I have to mention how proud I am of my grad.  My son graduates in a couple of weeks, I’m talking about Lu graduating puppy class.  We completed six weeks of training.  She is doing really well with potty training.  And she did pretty well with learning to look at me (she is very focused to begin with, intense!), will sit, leave it, drop it, walk well on a leash, stay and come.  These are the puppy basics.  We name her toys and she knows which one is the ball, bone and lizard…lizzy.   She was in class with only big dogs and wants to play with everybody, although they all did pretty well paying attention.lunagrad

I have been working on making the house a home.  We ordered new furniture for the dining room and living room and it came in this week.  It’s hard to visualize the end result but it’s getting there.  My husband and I worked together on it and found furniture between 3 stores.  I really like how the dining room is coming together.  The table is 60 inches and will fit 5-6 around it.  This will be very comfortable for our family.  We found a buffet that has a unique finish and iron open doors.  The bench anchors the room and will allow for more seating and a place for people to put their things.  The decor we put on the wall and the window treatments will really pull this room together.


We got a quote for blinds on 12 windows which are not all of them, I’m hoping my husband will let me do it myself.  It’s about $100/per window to order and have them installed, and $50/per window if I do it. With the savings we can have curtains made to frame the windows.

This house features the ability to centralize the media equipment.  In the design concept of the great room, there is no entertainment center.  The set top box and sound equipment can be out of site in a centralized closet.   We spent a lot of money on a really nice entertainment center that we are not moving into this house.  No one wants them these days sadly.  We got a really expensive quote for the setup of the sound system and I’m hoping a friend can do it for less.


I think taking time to find wall decor that will make the house a home will be worth it.  So this is progress.  It’s not complete, it’s moving forward.



A different kind of Mother’s Day

Three Themes

Life is such a joy with Luna!  We have been going to the dog park more often and I spend most of my time with her.  Sadly now I am dealing with her diarrhea issue.  I switched her diet to chicken and rice and she hasn’t gone in a day.  I don’t know if she was stressed by leaving her in her cage for a few hours, or if she ate too much of a bully ring, or something else.  There is no telling.  We play and she is my buddy.  We sleep together and I just love her so much.  We are going to Florida for Spring Break and have to leave her with the breeder.  I am so sad about it.  I take her everywhere and as much as possible leave when someone is here to be with her.  She is my best friend.


Still working on my daughter’s chair that matches her table.  This has been quite a project.  I didn’t realize how frustrating it would be to have the seat stained and the rest painted.  There are so many options for winsor chairs, all wood, painted, and even the two toned.  I’ve never seen the two toned with a painted wood that has a glaze.  It looks kind of messy, but it makes the paint less of a contrast and more antiqued.  This reminds me of the colors of dark coffee and light coffee.  My daughter said to just go with it.  I put on a clear finish that turned milky!  I panicked and sanded it down and re-stained the seat.  I keep having problems with the meeting of the spindles and the stained seat.  You don’t want paint on your stained seat and you don’t want stain on your painted/glazed spindles.  There is no way this will be perfect.  I will say it’s a labor of love.  I hope it turns out nice.   The struggle is real when you live in 90% humidity, drying is an issue. The chair is in the bathroom so the dog won’t get it. 🙂


I love the fact that I got this chair for free from a friend and re-purposed it.  I learned a lot about the style of this chair and it’s history for this reason.  Isn’t it cool to have a story about the very pieces of furniture that occupy your home?

Today we visited our new house to see the floors that are now in!  They look amazing!  I have dark wood floors throughout the house in the kitchen and most of the living spaces.  The bedrooms have carpet and the bathrooms have tile (as well as the laundry room).  I have learned on the first floor that as much as you can do without carpet, the flooring will last longer. We decided to stop by a furniture place I remembered passing on our search for neighborhoods.  We have looked at the regular more popular furniture stores and not found anything that we like.  This place was different.  And they charged a minimal fee to have a designer help us with the size and spacing of furniture.  I am so excited to have a designer help with our living room, dining room and my office space.  I didn’t realize how important the living room design was until I asked a design student to help make my living room in my previous house cozy and then had a stager help with selling the home.  Can’t wait to see how this turns out.  I think with someone that has an eye for design, it will be great.  The lady I met, Dawne, said her design experience came from her mother and that her mom worked in a fashion store from a young age and had a natural talent for putting together patterns.  I looked at the store’s website and found their blog.  I think it will workout perfectly.


Three Themes

Meetings Meetings and More Meetings

Building with Toll Brothers has been an interesting experience.  You need to schedule meetings to discuss anything related to the building project.  Those meetings are in person and it takes 45 minutes one way to get there.  The builder further designates some choices that you do directly through Toll Brothers and other choices go through the design center.  The design center is available for other builders as well and it is the place where you choose flooring, cabinets, appliances, and fixtures.  Keeping up with the upgrades between the design center and from the builder directly is rough.  It helps to put together your own spreadsheet.

You have three one hour appointments with the design center.  And with the builder, many more pre-construction meetings.  With the builder so far we have had:

  • Contract meeting
  • Plan meeting
  • Electrical meeting (for designating where plugs and lighting will go)
  • Selections meeting (entry door, garage door, exterior paint choice, roof type as well as glass selections for the door and windows)
  • Audio Visual meeting for designating where the TV/network/sound system outlets go.

We had to put down a deposit of about 5% of the house value then with upgrades after the selections meeting, they asked for more.  I really wish they would have an agenda for building to follow along.  It has been a surprise during the process of when and what the content of the meetings are.   We selected the lot in March and chose to delay building for an April closing.  It supposedly takes 8-10 months for the actual construction which is currently scheduled to commence in October.

One of the most difficult choices was the exterior paint selection.  The house is mediterranean style with a stucco exterior.  As we sat for the majority of the selections meeting appointment with 8×10 swatches of stucco I was completely discouraged.  For some it is impossible to choose colors from a small swatch.   Add to it the fact that this is a choice for outdoor paint and we are looking at it indoors.  Also, the builder didn’t have the roof choice (there are only two composite roof choices) to view with the color scheme. We had driven around looking at others and even took a few pictures, but to match it exactly is impossible unless you have access to look up the actual selections.  After choosing a charcoal roof with some taupe and white accent we finished the meeting and were told to go look at some houses in the neighborhood with the charcoal roof.  From a distance it looks like a roof with just tarp paper.  I quickly realized it was a bad decision. My husband rounded the corner and all of the sudden we found exactly what I had in mind.  It has the dark roof with the variation of medium to light with contrast that I had imagined!  This was another Toll Brothers house so the exact selections can be pulled.


I will say my husband wanted the charcoal roof with the house color grey with white trim. This is part of the negotiation process with your spouse!  I’m happy we could agree with this color scheme.



Meetings Meetings and More Meetings

Want to test your marriage? Build a house together.

Continuing on this journey of moving on, we are moving through the process of building our new house.  The choices of neighborhood and house plan design seemed like easy choices at this point.  And it was not!   The harder part is when you come to choices and budget.  I used to love watching TV shows on this.  It is not as fun when it’s your money.

We selected a one story mediterranean style house and a builder (Toll Brothers).  Some of the simplier choices were how many rooms and a bathroom upgrade.   Even a kitchen upgrade to include a massive island counter.  The more difficult parts have included how to design the living room with furniture and a fire place.   In this plan we have a 12 foot 4 inch wall with the fireplace in the middle on one side of the room.  A wall of windows on the back side, a blank wall opposite facing the fireplace and the kitchen looking into this room.  I am not a fan of placing the TV above the fireplace because of the height.  And I don’t want opposite walls with competing focal points.  (you can’t set your couch in front of one or the other and I don’t want to turn my head).  I found a really cool design on the internet that I hope works.  The builder is going to let us know if they can move the fireplace so that it is not center, if so, I can place my TV next to it like this…(here is the design and here is an example of what you get in the house).  The extended stacked stone is an upgrade, I love it!


Another issue will be the fact that we are going to have maybe 9 inches of depth.  We are going to have 5.1 surround sound so we need to figure out a small form factor subwoofer.


I am not doing the extended fireplace hearth into the room.  The fireplace will just go to the floor (it’s gas).

Next is the vanity in the master bath.  So here is a picture of the bathroom as it comes. There is no vanity for doing make up.  Who came up with this plan?  Obviously not a female!  So I am adding a vanity niche (like the photo beneath it).  We are removing the linen closet and putting in the vanity niche.  I have no idea how this is going to turn out aesthetic wise, but functionally it will be better.  Usually people that try to do their own thing fail miserably, especially when they don’t have the education on design, porportion, etc.  However the two things I mentioned, how to set the furniture in the living room and a place to get ready for me are super important.


niche bath

Another challenge will be how to re-purpose a room that is currently considered the breakfast room.  With a massive island that will have bar stools and a separate dining room, I don’t need a third area for eating.  Yet there is one.  This room, called the breakfast room opens up to a small patio outside.  I am going to try and use the room as some kind of lounge.  Whether it be for coffee or a small sitting area, I’m not sure.  I’m hoping to get a designer involved to help make this space purposeful.  With the two of us, there is no need for a breakfast room, dining room and the sit in bar area.

This has been super stressful, yet you would think it would be fun. Building will start in late September and completion will be in April.  To add to the stress, we are selling our current house.  I hope to have it on the market by end of August.  The plan here is to move into a short term lease…somewhere until our new house is ready and my son graduates high school.

Want to test your marriage? Build a house together.