Tuesday, July 29, 2014

From the Past Comes Our Future: The Exterior

As we chug along on the plans for our new home, I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the things that have inspired the house.  Since we're building in an established neighborhood and doing it ourselves there is no "you pick between these 3 floor plans" or "there are these exterior colors to choose from."  The HOA has square footage and landscaping requirements, but other than that we are able to pick anything that we can dream (within budget, of course).

I've had a very clear idea of what I wanted my "dream home" to look like for some time now.  But it's only been in the last few weeks that I really realized why it looked the way it did.  Like so many areas of our lives, the past has shaped what I want my future to look like.  And my past is full of tradition.  

My parents are traditionalists.  From the home they live in to the vacations we went on as kids, the way we were raised to the television and books that entertained us…traditional, classic elements abound.  Most of our extended family lives in or around Richmond, Virginia so our vacations were spent strolling the grounds and homes of Monticello, Mount Vernon, and Colonial Williamsburg.  

Along with the shows any kids in the 90's were watching, we watched a lot of British television with my parents: Agatha Christie mysteries, Keeping up Appearances - very traditional elements and aesthetics.  And many of the movies I've watched over and over again have classic homes that I continue to dream about.  

via 1 | 2 | 3 

Hocus Pocus is a personal favorite.  The fact that Xander watched that movie almost every day for a few months this last fall did not get on my nerves one bit.  I even made it a point to stop and drool every time they end up at Allison's house while trick or treating - you don't see much of it, but what you do see is incredible. 

The Father of the Bride home is certainly a classic, and the idea of making those kind of memories surrounded by such beauty would make anyone want to move in.  Who can forget the Home Alone house?  Colonial perfection.  The 90's decor was intense, but the bones were just beautiful.

clockwise from top left 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 

So we'll be going very traditional with the exterior.  Turns out building a giant box is also one of the cheapest exteriors to construct (see, sometimes I am drawn to budget-friendly options…sometimes.)  I love a white house with black shutters, and I was pretty certain about a red door and recently found some information that sealed the deal for me.  I'll be back later in the week to share more on that.

Do you find the past influencing your future style?  With your home or in other areas of your life too?  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Tips for Lightening Up a Space

Though I've never been the "outdoorsy" type, I've discovered over the last several years that natural light is a crucial factor in my mood and productivity.  I've always required at least 8 hours of sleep, preferably 9, and if I don't get that I'm toast by mid-afternoon.  Being a mom of small children has certainly cut my slumbering hours down, and it has been working through this stage of my life that I really discovered how important light is for my well-being.  (We're even laying our next home out according to light.)

While the cabin is full of charm and character, it is not a place that screams "let's get to work!"  It's more of a place that whispers, "why don't you just curl up on the couch with the door open so you can listen to the fountain while browsing Pinterest?"  

And even though I wouldn't change things like the log walls, the antiqued wood floors, or the brick pavers, I can't help but change some other elements to brighten things up a bit.

How about that sink?  If I have to hand wash dishes, this is the sink I want to look at while doing so.

When painting or changing more permanent things is not an option, bringing in lighter and brighter accessories and treatments can do wonders.  Speaking of treatments, I took down all of the window treatments.  When you're looking for light, every square inch of window counts. 

True to the style, there are no cabinets, just a counter with old table legs.  My mother-in-law had some nice curtains up, but was having them cleaned when we moved in, so I unfortunately don't have a picture with them, but you can see one of the panels on the right side of the counter.  They were a pretty, deep blue which worked well in the space, but I thought this was an opportunity to create some more light.  I went to my favorite, local home store and picked up a neutral, heavy weight cotton and a bit of ticking for a trim and got to sewing.

I love how it brightens up this spot, but stays true to the cabin's feel.  Adding the Persian rug that I found at a store closing sale a few weeks back brings in a bit of my personal style and some other nice colors to the mix.  I mentioned earlier this week that I'm trying to keep things clean and simple to let the character shine.  The cabin isn't huge, but using every inch of storage and keeping counters and tabletops as clean as possible gives the illusion of more space.

The kitchen had open shelving long before it was the thing to do.

This hutch was another area I wanted to lighten up and bring in a bit of my style.  The details of this thing shine on their own: the original, wavy glass in the doors, the pull out counter, and the pull out bin - perfect for root vegetables.

By clearing it out and placing some antique white pottery in the cabinets, it feels fresh and more modern.  Using the old scale and the butter churner helps to tie in the cabin feel and the Staffordshire dog is a nod to my love of all things English.  I think art brings so much to any space and the oil painting I picked up for $2 gives character but the color palette melds well with the rest of the space.  

I would still like to update the bedding a bit and move a few things around in the living room, but I really just want to enjoy this beautiful place for what it is.  It's not necessarily my style, but I can definitely appreciate it.  And how many people get to say they lived in a log cabin?  I'm always up for something a bit different.

This weekend we'll be meeting with our architect and things are really starting to take shape with our new home.  I hope to get together some of my inspiration to give you a peek next week.  

Any other tips you have for lightening up a space?  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cabin Life

When we listed our house we knew my in-laws cabin was a possibility to live in, in the interim.  I was open to the idea for a short time, but was a little nervous to call it home for too long.  Built in the 1830's, it certainly doesn't have all of the amenities we were used to - no dishwasher or garbage disposal, no washer/dryer, microwave or internet.

But my sister-in-law had lived in it for several years, even bringing home her two small children here, so I knew it could be done.  And I also knew that her family had taken care of a lot of the issues that come with living in a Pre-Civil War, log cabin (it was used as a hospital during the Civil War).  They had already found most of the holes in the logs, added radiant heating to all the floors, and a second window unit for the heat of the summer, among many other things.

After a week or so, I knew I could handle it for a while.  Within that amount of time we had faced mice (yes, that's plural), a frog, wasps and wolf spiders.  While I didn't enjoy any of it, I was less of a wuss than I thought I would be.  That's about the same time we decided to build, and because we are building a custom home and doing quite a bit of the work ourselves we'll likely be in here until late spring of next year.

So I hope to take this adventure and make the most of it.  It's certainly been a roller coaster of a ride thus far, with some gross lows but beautiful highs.

I love the bricked paved patio, the garden I've filled with pumpkin vines and the change of pace and responsibilities.

Decorating has been a bit of a challenge.  I'm still getting used to the space and playing with things to find out what works, but I've noticed why I've been struggling a bit.  In our previous home I was constantly striving to add character to the rooms.  The bones were rather plain and almost anything you put up against them worked.  The cabin is a different story.  It's bursting with character, from the log walls to the antique furniture throughout.  In order to reach something I love, I've had to pare down significantly to let the bones shine.

Along with paring down, I've also found that adding a few modern touches helps to make the space my own.

Later in the week I'll show you a few changes I've made in the kitchen, to help it feel like home.

Do you have any tips for making a temporary house feel like a home?  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The House That Set the Standard and Where We Go From Here

I thought the home-selling process was difficult, but the home-buying thing (while often more fun) hasn't been so easy.  But we didn't exactly start off on an easy foot.  You see, I made myself a promise not to physically look at a house until our home was under contract, and we broke that rule.  My dad told Micah about a house up the street from them that had come on the market.  It had been listed last fall at the top of our price range, but this time they were asking for quite a bit more.

Our relator assumed that we'd have some wiggle room unless they had made some major changes, so she showed us the listing.  From what I gathered from the pictures I was totally uninterested - it looked small and really cut up - but Micah thought otherwise.  He wanted to see the house and I obliged because it was in one of my ideal neighborhoods and I could just walk to the showing from my parents house while I was visiting them.

The house sits on a corner up the street, and I really hadn't paid much attention to it all of these years, but when we walked up I realized that behind the big tree in the front yard was a really lovely Colonial.  I wish I had a full picture of the front, but I only managed to find this detail shot of the porch.  I've always loved a Colonial and I'm sure it has something to do with most of our extended family living in Virginia and the visits to Williamsburg as a kid.

We walked in and I was shocked.

There was so much potential.  The rooms were large, the ceilings were tall.  And there were hardwoods throughout.

And so much detail: character that can be really hard to find in the suburbs.  This living room particularly had me interested.  I'm not usually a fan of this much wood, but with all of the south facing windows it was light and bright.  Some modern furniture and art would have this space looking fab in no time.

One room after the next felt more and more like home.  This sun room off of the living room would be ideal for kids to play and plants to live.

And then there was the piece de resistance, a second sunroom connected to the master.  This space was PERFECT for making.  The light and bright feel (10 windows!), the longer layout ideal for a few different work areas (crafting, computing, sewing), a cabinet with sink for easy clean up, and a somewhat secluded area of the home.  It really was the deal sealer for me.

I loved that the home was not perfect, that it needed some work but was definitely livable and something I would enjoy being in from the start.  Within a few minutes of the showing I knew where the Christmas tree would go, I saw us entertaining in it, doing life in this house.  And Micah couldn't have been more happy about this…

A pool and more outdoor entertaining space than you'd ever need.

We came back for a second look with his dad, who has built a lot of houses and sees problems most people don't.  His parents both saw what we saw in the house so we offered them what they were asking for in the fall that night.  Unfortunately, after a bit of negotiating we just couldn't move any more, and they weren't willing to budge.  We just couldn't see paying more for something they had done nothing to since listing it at the price we offered.

We searched high and low for anything that would compare, but not a single home came close to the feeling I got in that place.  It's still sitting there with a "for sale" sign in it's yard (with a small and outdated kitchen - I don't like to cook so I didn't care about the size - updates needed, and the lack of an open floor plan I'll be surprised to see it sell any time soon), but it's time for us to move on.  So we're doing something I never dreamed of doing…

We're building our own home.  A lot of mixed emotions go into that statement.  I always pictured us buying an older home and making it our own, but I'm loving this idea more and more.  I'm sure it will be quite the roller coaster ride as we live life in this pre-civil war cabin while trying to build a house on our own (Micah is a general contractor, so he'll be running the show and we'll be doing lots of the work ourselves too).  We've been meeting with an architect to put together a set of custom plans and I've been gathering up all the inspiration I can find.  See, all of those hours on Pinterest were not in vain.