Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Hunt for the Perfect Dining Room Table

I've always wanted a super long dining room with a super long dining room table. The source of this wish is two-fold:

1) I fell in love with Ally's parents' very long dining room in the Notebook; and
2) I don't want to have to seat people in multiple rooms for formal dinners.

Here's a (low quality) picture of the Notebook dining room, so you can catch my drift:

When sifting through foorplans with our builder, the floorplan we ultimately chose got a few bonus points (at least from me) for the long dining room. At 18 feet long, I figure it will max out at about a 14 foot table. The biggest problem now is finding a 14 foot table. For example, we were in Ashley Furniture over the weekend and the longest dining room table they had is only 8 feet long! Even if we can find one that's long enough, it still has to be a style we like, which is a giant hurdle all its own.

The two styles I'm feeling are Tuscan and Victorian. Ross doesn't care, so long as the look is traditional (we both kinda dislike the modern look... I think we're probably not hip enough to pull it off).

Here is a BEAUTIFUL Tuscan dining room. Obviously this table is too short, but I love how rich this looks & the wingback chairs at the ends are baller.

Here is another gorgeous Tuscan dining room. This is also too small, but I love the damask on the chairs. This is also a very rich look. This line is from Haverty's (it's called the Grand Tuscan collection), which luckily can be found in Raleigh. If this table was about twice as long and was reasonably priced I'd be all over it.

This dining room is more Victorian/Baroque and is a great example of the big dining room feel. I love gold, but our metal hue in the dining room is going to have to be silver because of all the Arthur Court we have, which is Pewter. The chairs and table are amazing though!

This dining room is also very Victorian. I don't like this shade of green and this room is probably a good bit wider than ours, but it still gives that big dining room feel that we're going after. Also, shout out to whoever did the millwork in here. It's amazing!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

We Got a Driveway!

Yesterday we took my parents out to see our newly cleared lot & to our surprise... we had a brand new driveway! Sure, it's not a permanent driveway, nor is it pleasing to the eye, but it's one step closer to us moving in to the Barbie Dream House! It's also in the exact spot that our actual, paved driveway will be so it's nice to have that visual. Yay progress!

Here's a picture of our new addition (of course Ross had to drive on it out of excitement).

Also, I'd like to give a shout out to our neighbors, the Lees, whose lot was cleared this week. Congrats guys!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Looking Back: Our Design Studio Experience

Since I didn't start this blog until about 10 weeks into our 32ish week construction saga, there are some aspects of those early weeks that I obviously never blogged about. Probably the biggest chunk of that time was spent at the Design Studio, Toll Brothers' facility where you design your home's interior. This is where you choose your flooring, fixtures, cabinets, cabinet hardware, countertops, paint colors, tile, etc.

The hardest part for us was probably the light fixtures, since the majority of Toll's offerings in that arena were not so fabulous. We had to get custom prices to ordering extras of a certain foyer chandelier for other parts of the house, which took awhile but luckily our consultant didn't mind and was really helpful. The lighting issue was further compounded when we discovered that some rooms don't come with lighting power... not just sans light fixtures, but also sans the power hook-up to hook up the non-existent light fixture! Isn't that crazy? Shouldn't all houses have power for lights in every room? They recommend you either pay the $175 to add power in each of those rooms or "use a lamp." Seriously?

Buyers with Toll supposedly have 45 days after signing to finalize all of their Design Studio selections, although I don't think they enforce this at all because they know how hard it is to get an appointment there. You're supposed to make three, three hour appointments at the studio with your consultant to make all of these tough decisions, but these meetings all have to be between 9 and 5, M-F, which is nearly impossible for us working Barbies and Kens. They're open on Saturdays too, but only for browsing, not for appointments.

The way it ended up for Ross and I was that we went on Saturdays for 3 or 4 (btw, it's a MAJOR cluster in there on most Saturdays - you're almost fist fighting over granite samples) weeks in a row and made our decisions, logged them ourselves in an OCDish 20 page spreadsheet I made, then had one appointment where we gave those selections to our fabulous Design Studio consultant, Yosra. This one appointment wouldn't have even been possible if I hadn't been generously given a floating half-day off of work by my boss. I really have no clue how they expect working people to be able to take so much time off of work to get these appointments done, but that's another rant for another day.

We were told that, on average, buyers spend $60,000 at the Design Studio in interior upgrades for their homes. Yikes. We're proud to report that we came in well under that figure, partially due to the quality of standard features that Toll gave us. For example, the kitchen and master bath come with granite standard. Hardwoods are also standard on almost all of the first floor. All of our door knobs and hinges come in oil rubbed bronze for free. This really helped keep the budget in check.

Our biggest costs at the design studio were: enlarging our island, upgrading the kitchen granite to a higher quality, upgrading the tile size (to 18x18) and quality in our master bath and creating our custom oven hood in the kitchen. Another huge Design Studio expense was adding lighting to the rooms that didn't come with it, adding fixtures to those rooms, and upgrading the light fixtures in the rooms that came standard with crappy ones. Even still, there are a few rooms that we didn't order a light fixture for and will have to find our own between now and then (which, in all honesty, has been super fun so far).

All in all, there were a bunch of tough decisions we had to make at the Design Studio, but with a really helpful consultant and several "I don't even care anymore, Yosra just pick your favorite" moments, we were able to get it all done. To other Toll Brothers homebuyers, I caution you that this process is not for the faint of heart. It's a ton to decide and a TON of information to keep track of. If you're buying in North Carolina though, I highly recommend working with Yosra. We were very happy with the quality and selection of choices for everything, except for the light fixtures, but even there we were able to find some that worked.

Here are a few pictures of the North Carolina Toll Brothers Design Studio, which luckily for us is in Cary. These images belong to Toll Brothers and were taken from their website.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Today's Non-Construction Activities: DIY Chandelier Refinishing & Furniture Shopping!

For a few months I've been meaning to refinish a brass chandelier from my childhood home. My parents' built the house when I was 7 and sold it in May of this year. Not only was the house one of the prettiest in the world in my opinion (my mom designed it, so how could it be unpretty to me?), but it also played host to almost all of my amazing childhood memories. When they sold the house this Spring, it really took an emotional toll on my sister and I. She was in Australia (where she lives) when it sold but I was running through the house blubbering like a baby and desperately clinging to anything I thought I could get away with taking with me. The realtor had properly advised my parents that brass was "out," so they took down their brass foyer and dining room chandeliers and put them in the attic when the buyers toured the house. Since the buyers obviously didn't think they came with the house (being that they never laid eyes on them), my Mom allowed me to take them with me. From that point on, I knew I had to find a way to incorporate them into the new home Ross and I had entered a contract to buy only two weeks earlier.

Today I finally got around to it. Hubby helped me pick out the perfect textured, antique paint at his favorite store in the world - Home Depot (btw - the HD by our new house is the best I've ever seen... so much selection!). The paint is bronze, which is somehow slightly different (but the closest paint we could find) to our knobs, hinges and fixtures in the new house, which are "oil rubbed bronze" ("ORB" as the realtors call it). After reading a few DIY blogs on the topic, here's my version of refinishing an otherwise fabulous brass chandelier that has SO much sentimental value that I had to make it work. :)


First, I unscrewed all of the bulbs and filled the voids with tissue paper so that the paint wouldn't ruin the wiring. I know the arms look super bent, but they turn really easily. It's easy to get them back straight when it's hanging, at which point they actually stay put.

Then, Ross hung it from a tree for me so that I could paint it. One of the blogs I read suggested applying small spots and then blotting them with a paper towel to give it antique finish. That, plus the inherent texture in the paint really did wonders for not making it look like flat paint.

Here's the finished product:

It's SUPER special to me, it now matches the rest of the house AND it was almost free. Can a chandelier get any better?! We're thinking it will either go in the master den or the library/study, since we didn't order fixtures through the builder for either of those rooms and it seems to fit the vibe of both spaces. Now I need to work on finding sentimental pieces from Ross's childhood homes to incorporate into the house. The extra hurdles there are: 1) his parents still live in those houses and thus probably are less willing to give away pieces of them; and 2) both of those homes are in TX, so getting anything of any size here would be hard/expensive.

Also, this post wouldn't be complete without a shout out to my new vanity chair I found today for CHEEEEEAP! It's really girly - almost too girly (did I really just say that?) - but so perfect for our gray/ivory/blush pink master bath. Like it?

Thanks barbs! Hope you all had a great weekend! xox

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Home Placement Fixed (Kinda)

This morning on the way to my parents' house we stopped by our lot to check on things. They had cleared even more, had removed almost all of the debris and leveled the lot. The stakes in the ground are still wrong, but our builder very quickly ordered us a new plot plan yesterday when we told him we didn't like the original placement of the home on the lot. I think they will probably re-stake it and clear a little more to the back and left to accommodate the adjustment. We're still working on one tiny adjustment to it, so maybe they're waiting on that.

Here is a picture of the lot this morning. Isn't it nice and flat? :)

Here is a picture of the original plot plan:

Here is a picture of the much improved, better plot plan.

This one gives us more privacy, a bigger backyard, more elbow room and utilizes more of our left side-yard. We would have moved it further left, but our kitchen is already almost crossing the perimeter setback, which is a big no-no.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

More Lot Clearing!

Today the builder cleared more of our lot! We're pretty sure they're 95% done clearing it now, they just might take a little more off in the 'backyard.' We were hoping they would keep the thin barrier of about 30 pine trees between us and our next door neighbors, but by the time the builder got our email they had already cut down about half of those. The result is that there's still a buffer between our house and backyard and our neighbor's house and backyard, but there aren't really any trees between our respective front yards. We wish they could have saved them, but I guess the front yard is where you need privacy the least... plus, our neighbors are awesome.

As to the placement of the house, the builder promises we'll work that out and adjust the stakes accordingly. That just needs to happen before they pour the foundation, which they're saying will happen the week of the 30th (our anniversary <3!!). Now we've got to make sure a new plot plan actually gets ordered.

Here are some pictures of the lot as it appears now, almost completely cleared!

Oh, and we got rocks! I'm not 100% sure what these are for, but I think they go on the dirt in a semi-driveway type thing so that the construction vehicles can come and go without getting stuck in mud. Yay! Rocks: another milestone!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

BEST NEWS EVER: They've Started Clearing Our Lot!!

Our super sweet next door neighbors texted us this afternoon to let us know that a bulldozer was on our lot and it was finally being cleared! By the time we got there at about 7pm the crew had already left, but the 'dozer was still there. Almost all of what they cleared were pine trees, which Ross hates, so that was good news.

As much as we've been anticipating this, it was pretty sad seeing all of those fallen trees and smelling the sap. I hate to think that we're responsible for killing trees, but I guess it was inevitable unless we were going to build in Texas or Arizona or somewhere treeless.

The lot was also staked off to show where the dream house will sit, which was very cool to see. We went through two drafts of our plot plan over the course of the last 12 weeks (we changed our mind about where we wanted the house to be situated on the lot so we asked that it be redrawn) and it appears the stakes were placed according to the original plot plan, not the revised one. I hope we're wrong about this, because there's a big difference between the two, but I've got an email out to the builder clarifying. God, they must hate me. I'm such a micro manager.

Anyway, here are a TON of pics (forgive our major excitement) of our lot as it stands now. It's so exciting to see progress! We're in the fast lane now, hopefully!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dream House Flooring

We are in the process of finalizing our flooring selections, so I thought I would include a post and pictures of our choices in the main living areas. Almost the entire first floor is hardwood, but our living room will be carpeted. The second floor is the opposite: it's entirely carpet except for the bathrooms. Our secondary bathrooms and laundry room will all be a 12x12 neutral, off-white tile with some cream swirls/patterns in them. Our master bathroom will be 18x18 grey tiles checkered with ivory tiles, which we hope will make a huge statement!

Here is a picture of our hardwood sample and carpet sample (I apologize for the low image quality). We wanted to avoid white or vanilla carpets, so we chose this color. It also looked nice next to our wall paint swatch. We both really liked the shag carpets that have come back into style these days, but it would have been over $10,000 to upgrade to them throughout the house. Plus, we're not sure how long the fad will last and don't want it to affect our resale value. As to the hardwoods, it seems like "the darker, the better" is the way to go these days. Plus, we thought this color was really rich.

Here is a picture of gray and ivory checkered tile similar to what we plan on having in our master bath. I think our tiles will be larger than these though. Also, ours won't be this glossy, they're matte. Upgrading to this size and quality of tile was expensive, but our builder offered a tile upgrade coupon that we took advantage of to offset a lot of the cost. Isn't this look chic for a master bath?

Thanks for checking in barbs! Leave me some comments and let me know what you guys want to see more/less of! xox

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hasentree's Handsomest Homes (in our opinion)

We really think our entire neighborhood is absolutely beautiful, but there are a few houses that, in our opinion, win the Hasentree home beauty pageant. Most of these are on the neighborhood's main road since they were built when the neighborhood still only allowed $2 million + homes (before our builder took over and started building much more affordable houses). After much deliberation, here are our absolute favorite homes in the neighborhood:

#6  - Although we're usually not nuts about perfectly symmetrical houses, this one makes the list because it's softer than a lot of the homes in Hasentree. Maybe it's the light stone and brick or the flower beds under the windows, but this house just gives off more of a princess vibe than most of the dark, massive houses in the neighborhood. Also of note, I think this one won the Parade of Homes a few years ago and it also has a beautiful golf course view.

#5 - I love this one because of the way the turet is kind of sunken into the house AND because it has a view of the golf course from the front of the house. Ross and I decided early on that we didn't want a golf course in our backyard for privacy reasons (not to mention it was probably way out of our budget), but I think a view of the golf course from your front porch could be pretty sweet. It's way better than a view of the comings and goings of across-the-street neighbors, right?

#4 - Ross doesn't really like this one, or it would have rated higher, but I'm in LOVE with how French Country this place looks! Isn't it beautiful? I also think the tree placement is perfect: it provides shade to the non-air conditioned garage. Thoughtful!

#3 - We love how truly European this one looks. Doesn't it look super authentic?! The stone on the side looks like it could have been pulled from an old German street. Also, the roof line is super dynamic. Roof drama! Love it!

#2 - This one has sentimental value, for several reasons. First, it's the model home that we signed our purchase agreement in! Second, it's the only one on the list made by our builder, Toll Brothers. Third, and most importantly, this is a lot like what our house is going to look like. Our home is often referred to as the mini version of this. If you take this house, subtract a few interior upgrades, take away one staircase, and shrink everything by about 20%, you've just made our house!

#1 - a tie between my favorite and Ross's favorite: This is my favorite. Doesn't it look like a mini-Biltmore? It's hard to call this masterpiece a mini anything, but being compared to the Biltmore is a serious honor. Also, it's on its own tiny cul-de-sac with the best view in the neighborhood of Hasentree lake! Rumor has it that this guy bought TWO lots to build this on so that he could have the best lake view, not to mention some elbow room.

Here is Ross's favorite, also a mammoth. This HAS to be the biggest house in the neighborhood and is certainly the most dynamic. It also has a pool in the backyard (I can smell the chlorine from the street!).

Which one is your  favorite?


Barbie Dream House Furniture Inspiration!

I don't use Pinterest for recipes too often, and I definitely don't use it for "thinspiration" (you know, when people re-pin tons of pictures of skinny people for motivation to lose weight), but one thing I LOVE my ol' pin-pal for is furniture inspiration. Pinterest is a bottomless pit of images of beautifully appointed, french, vintage home interiors. I know you might not believe it, but it's hard to find this style in most furniture stores/websites. It seems like the modern/minimalist look is a lot more of a hit these days, which means that's the style that you run into most often in stores and online.

Thankfully Pinterest has gifted me the fabulous pictures below. The whole Dream House won't be this ornate/formal, but if I have anything to do with it (and you know I will) our formal living room and a few other areas certainly will be!

Don't you love these curtains?! The satin does wonders to make the room feel more formal.

This would be PRESH in a little girl's room:

LOVE these!

This room is perfect (minus the naked lady art... so  strange!)

Love this Rococo bench. It needs light pink rolled arm pillows though, IMO.

Green isn't my fav, but I like this:

Thanks for checking out my decor "pinspiration" barbs! Leave me a comment and let me know which piece is your personal favorite!

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