Thursday, August 27

a big risk...

One area to the house that we made the most changes to was the kitchen.  We rearranged appliances, changed cabinet layouts, expanded the island, and decided to do something drastic with the backsplash.

Once appliances are installed, we will have a chimney style vent hood over the cooktop.  With this in mind, we decided that the backsplash should run all the way along the wall and up to the ceiling.

I was terrified over this decision.  The backsplash tile was the last tile we selected.  I was torn between two and Adam was pushing for his favorite.  Once again, I acquiesced and I am glad I did!

Our backsplash is installed and I love it!
This was one of those make or break installations... I would either love it or I would hate it and have ruined our whole kitchen.

Boom! Love IT!

The creamy marbling of the tile brings in grays, white, cream, and I think it adds texture without being too busy.  I can't wait to see it grouted.

Also, Adam insisted on under cabinet lighting... another win.  The ambiance of these lights are amazing when the rest of the space is darker, and I love how it shows off the tile.

And -  isn't our kitchen faucet so leggy and pretty!  It's like a curvy pin-up perched atop the island.  

We're getting closer every day!!



Backsplash is installed and exclamation points ensue! -  day 216 of our build

Wednesday, August 26

front door debacle...

Adam and I chose to make quite a few upgrades when it came to our front door.  We added sidelights, a transom, and even carefully selected a specific paint color to help it stand out.

Clearly, we weren't careful enough.
Meet our baby blue front door.

Our initial plan with the paint color was to go two shades lighter than the house.  But remember, that was also back when we thought the house would read more dark gray than navy.

It does help the door stand out.. but not exactly in the way we intended.

Thankfully the painter is going to revisit our choice.  We decided to try a more gray tone, and see how it works out.  Worst case scenario... we deal with it until I can find the perfect shade.

In the meantime, aren't our little shrubs out front just too cute!

Edit:  After a 2nd coat of paint, things are looking much more gray and much less "little boy blue."  We agreed to keep it for now and I'll share some updated pictures soon!

Painting the front door - day 216 of our build

Tuesday, August 25


It was late in the evening, on August 19th, Adam had to work and we were running behind on checking out the house.  We were downstairs and slowly working our way back to the main floor when we heard someone shouting "Hello!"

I figured it was just one of the neighbors touring the house, or someone checking out the neighborhood, but when we reached the top of the stairs -  we saw the granite delivery guy!  He wanted to make sure he was at the right house, and he was!

They had a truckload full! 

I didn't take many glamour shots since we were kinda in their way, but when we came back by at about 10pm that night.. I saw this beauty.

This island will be the focus of our kitchen and I could not be happier with how it turned out.  The granite color for the kitchen is Steel Gray (aka Gray Pearl) and we added a waterfall edge to the island only.  The sink is an undermount black granite composite 60/40 sink. I am so excited as my big stew pot will finally fit in the sink now!
The granite in all the bathrooms is New Caldonia which has a nice blend of grays, white, cream, black, and browns.  I really love how it looks with the oil-rubbed bronze on the faucet.

The jack and jill bath a few days after installation when the mirrors were installed as well. I really like the back splash and how nice the granite looks with the paint colors. 

I know it was a late night for the installers, but they made this nerdy nester's day!

Granite installation -  day 214 of our build

Monday, August 24

more than emotional baggage..

I realized as we get closer to our move-in date (yes, it's really happening!) that I'm facing a wild ride of emotions over the next two weeks. Hopefully Adam is wearing his seat belt.

I have more than just emotional baggage going on.. I have emotional storage buildings.  Plural.

For the first time in months, we'll be unpacking and unloading our lives from our four storage buildings that we've had over the last year.  One building hasn't been touched since my Dad died last July.

That's the one I'm worried about... not just because of the scary stacking and wedging and balancing that's going on in there.. but because after Dad died, we had about a month to sort through, clear away, sell, and store 60+ years of his treasures.  What I decided, at initial glance to keep, went in storage building number one.  And that's where it's been.. for a year.

In the month (actually a little less than) that we had to move Dad's things from his rental property -  it was very much a "survival mode" situation.  It's surprising how many quick decisions have to be made, and how quickly the things in a person's life revert back to things.. and not belongings, or treasures, or stories.. but instead get sorted and shuffled, and packed away.  All out of sheer urgency.  We didn't have the luxury to reminisce, or remember the stories, or wonder at the marvels of engineering and utility he created.  We just had to get it all out.

And now, as I prepare for the next few weeks... and moving into our dream home; I am also preparing to revisit all the things of Dad's we've packed away.  It will take a long time to truly sort through everything but at least now, in our new home, we can give them a new life and not just have them hidden in the family wing of the local storage center.  I can't wait to see his tool chests cleaned up in the garage, a treasured replica of a VW on the bookcase, and other reminders of the full life he lived mixed in with the new beginnings of our home.

So to my friends and family, please be prepared.  If you encounter me during the next two weeks, I will most likely be a whirling dervish of lists, Type A freakouts over minute details, tears of joy and frustration and excitement, covered in a mix of drywall dust, grout sealer, packing tape, and Sharpie.

Losing my mind a little -  day 219 of our build

Wednesday, August 19

rock solid...

The next few weeks at the house should be busy ones.  We're scheduled to close at the end of the month, but I'm not sure if that's going to happen yet or not.  For now, we are seeing lots of progress and getting closer every day to the finish line.

On August 15th, they started working on the stone for the exterior.
Our lawn was also graded to get ready for sod.   I'm ready for more stone though!

August 17th, right after a monsoon, I drove by the house and saw green!
Looking down from the back porch, almost like Christmas with the green sod and red clay peeking through.

They also started the hardwood which I think looks just lovely with the cabinets and trim.  I am a bit partial though.
By Tuesday, August 18th -  the exterior stone was almost finished.

Still missing some stone around the door, steps, and column.. but I love the way it looks with the paint and trim colors.  I am so thrilled it worked out and looks as good as it does!  I was seriously nervous about how it was going to turn out.

Sneaking inside, our hardwood floors are finished as well.  We're still waiting on trim, carpet, and touch ups.. but the floors are almost complete!

Hardwood floors, sod, and stone - days 210 - 213 of our build

Wednesday, August 12

our progress... 200 days in

At the beginning of this process, I never would have thought I'd be writing a "200 days" progress post.  I thought we'd be in the house by now, grilling and chilling on the back porch. 

We're not quite there yet.. but we are getting closer.  Hopefully by the 250 day mark, we'll be nice and settled into our new home.  For now, I just look back at how far we've come and laugh at how impatient I am. 

Here's to an exciting next few weeks, and to our eventual Home Sweet Home!

Tuesday, August 11

lights, tiling... cabinets!

Technically, August kicked off the last month of our build.  Needless to say, we are VERY excited to see how things progress over the next few weeks. We'll see if we can make it to closing on time and in once piece.

For now, it's August 5th, and  the house was hopping with electricians and the tiling crew.

We didn't select anything too fancy in regards to lighting and went with the builders standard -  which thankfully his wife chose, and she has pretty good taste.  We can always swap out down the line if we find something we love.  For now, it's pretty and lights up the space. 

We did add on a ceiling fan to both the back and front porches.  I think it's a requirement for Alabama summers on the porch to have a little bit of a breeze going.

I was torn on the tile in the laundry room.  I originally wanted something "different" but decided it wasn't worth the extra cost for such a utilitarian space.  I do love that I went with a different tile from the other tiled spaces and selected one with more variation in color to help cover potential messes in the future.

August 7th, a Friday, was an exciting day at the house.  First of all, they FINALLY removed the warped piece of hardi-siding from the back porch.
Granted, they didn't get too far on the replacement of it.  Note the removed board casually tossed on the porch floor.

But more importantly, that Friday, actually ahead of schedule... cabinets were delivered!!
I can finally start to visualize my kitchen!

We're still waiting on under cabinet lighting, and I'm not sure what the crown molding will look like, or how they'll fix that.

But oh! Aren't they lovely!!  It's hard to capture the richness of the stain, but I love the design.  I cannot wait to see my island with the granite on top!! 

The kitchen was a definite splurge zone for me.  We made a lot of changes to the plan and added in upgrades that I thought would make the space more functional and feel more luscious.  Not that garbage cans are luscious.. 

But extra deep drawers under the cooktop surely are!  Love it!
Cabinets were installed in the bathrooms as well.  Here is our small bath off the entryway.

The Jack and Jill bath by the guest room.

Our laundry room.. just waiting on a washer and dryer.

As some parts of the house look almost complete... others are a complete disaster.
Our bedroom is currently home to the tiling crews wet saw,  buckets, and general disorder.

Not quite the peaceful escape I imagined..

At least they thought ahead and brought their own A/C... we cracked up over their mini window unit.  It helps out though!  The past few weeks have been HOT!

It's great progress but we're still pretty far from move-in ready. 

Lights, tile, and cabinets -  days 200-202 of our build

Wednesday, August 5

making the cement connection...

On Thursday, July 30th -  our front yard was a disaster, but there was progress!  They started framing for the driveway, walkway, and porch.
It gets worse before it gets better.  Mud, concrete bits, and gravel everywhere.

 They have it all staked out and ready to pour.

On Friday, July 31st -  we had concrete!
We have the cutest little spot for landscaping out front between our front porch and walkway.

As usual for August in Alabama, we had a late afternoon monsoon.  Thankfully the concrete guys covered some areas of the drive and walk with plastic sheeting to prevent the rain runoff from ruining their hard work.

We also added a small concrete pad to the right of the house for the garbage can to live.  I think we'll plan on planting some shrubs or building a screen to shield the can from the view from the street.

 Our sidewalk is no longer busted and our driveway looks so smooth.  Soon we might not have to park on the street every time we visit.
We are so excited to have this completed!  Now onto some additional grading, irrigation, landscaping, stone and some garage doors.  

Prepping and pouring the driveway -  days 195 and 196 of our build.

Tuesday, August 4

a tale of two grays...

Over the course of the last week, the painters had been working at the house.  We were anxiously awaiting when they would be packing up and moving on the next house on their list.  Each step in the process recently has seemed to drag on, but our painters were working quickly even though it ended up taking all week for them to finish up.

Still, on Thursday July, 30th -  we could tell they were packing up!

I think they did a pretty good job.  I just love our two shades of gray (Online and Software - perfect for the nerdiest of nests).
The darkest of the two grays is the main color in the basement.  I am still so enamored with our stairs and the baseboard detail.

The other half of the basement, not too dark with all the natural light coming in.

Looking from the living room into the kitchen - the lighter gray makes the space a little brighter and feel even more open.

Our double doors into the master bathroom just seem to pop off the dark toned walls.  I love how rich the oil-rubbed bronze hinges look against the sleek white trim paint and doors.

More of the darker gray in the master bedroom with a bright white ceiling.
 We did carry the darker gray into the dining room as well.  I love how the darker tone highlights the tray ceiling.  Although the color is fairly dark, I think the contrast of the light trim and ceiling and the natural light keeps things from getting too dreary.
 A picture looking from the breakfast nook across the kitchen and into the dining room and entryway.  I just love, love, love the way the judge's paneling turned out.
One more picture of my soon-to-be kitchen island and the adjoining breakfast nook and living room.

Other than a few touch-ups, the interior paint is finished.  With less than a month from our "scheduled" closing date -  I hope they can pick up the pace!

Painting the interior -  days 191 - 195 of our build.

Saturday, August 1

crash course (a little light reading for the weekend)

If there is one thing Adam and I do well, it's research.  We both tend to get a little obsessive when it comes to finding out as much as we can about the latest idea, purchase, or point of focus.  

For example... if you follow me on Pinterest, you can probably guess what I'm obsessing over at any time.
This week it's a combination of English Mastiff puppies, Disney, and home organization.. with a little landscaping thrown in.

When we decided to build (or more specifically, work with a home builder) I knew we'd be doing some serious research.  I gravitate more towards blogs and online forums, whereas Adam is a big believer in Youtube.  He also does quite a bit of searching online, and I still believe in the function of good old paper.  

I thought it couldn't hurt to compile some of the most helpful resources we found to prepare us for our build and the process.
  • Choose a Realtor you trust.  If you plan on buying or building, working with a Realtor is a key starting point.  They can help you determine how to get the most bang for your buck and will be your advocate all through the process.  I drive our Realtor crazy with emails and texts, but it's better to drive her crazy than directly bothering our builder.  She makes sure every conversation is documented, and works with my serious Type A when it comes to our upgrade spreadsheet and regular questions about timeline and building process. And although we found our neighborhood without her, it was just because we were too impatient to give her a chance to help us shop. She did sell our house in 25 days though.. so yeah, she's pretty awesome.

  • Look at a LOT of houses. Take advantage of Christmas Home Tours, Realtor Open Houses, and really look at what's on the market.  I used, Trulia, and Zillow pretty frequently. is my favorite because of their app.  It was easy to see what houses were listing for when we were driving around in different neighborhoods.  I also have an email setup with searches, where I am notified of new listings that fit my criteria.  It made it easy to share pictures and listings with features we liked.  Looking at houses also gave us an idea of what we could get for our money -  which made it easier to spot an awesome deal.
One of the launch screens for -  the map feature is great if you're looking for a specific area.
I still love browsing this site to see new listings and houses in the area, though now it's more for decorating ideas.
  • Use resources available to the public - city records, county property tax assessments, etc.  I'm a bit of a snoop and sleuth, so I actually figured out who built a few houses we liked by searching the property address in the city records -  this pulled up zoning hearings, notes from code approvals, and different builders or developers over properties we liked.  When looking at lots to build on, I relied heavily on county tax records to see the lay of the land, and what all surrounded different neighborhoods we were considering.  If you're thinking about building in Alabama, specifically Lee County -  check it out here.

Just a sample of a popular neighborhood in Auburn.  You can see the lot layouts, sizes, where they border, and even find out more about potential neighbors (if you're that nosy.)  You can simply search by street address and navigate the site from there.
  • For planning the build, I found two books that were really helpful.  Both can be pretty pricey if bought new, but I found them on Amazon in good used condition for less than $30 each.
    Make your house do the housework by Don Aslett and Build it right by Myron Ferguson
    Both of these books had their weaknesses - some of it was just too technical for what we are doing (going through a builder) but I imagine they would be just right if you were your own builder/contractor.  In the strengths though - both had some great ideas and really made me think about how we'd be LIVING in the house, and not just how pretty the big windows or fancy cabinets might be.  We had already decided on our floor plan by the time I read these, but thankfully we had been looking for functional floor plans from the start.  They were also good intros into common construction terminology, as well as what to expect from a build.

  • When we were planning our Disney Honeymoon, I found so much helpful information on the Disboards -  a forum for other Disney-obsessed folks that would get super detailed.  I lucked out and found a forum for Home builders, decorators, buyers, appliance reviewers -  the gamut.  It was formerly known as GardenWeb but recently merged with Houzz.  I love the forums and follow a few topics daily.  I haven't used much else on the site, as I don't find Houzz as intuitive as Pinterest or something similar. To find the forums, just click on the Advice link at the top of the page and choose Home Forums.

  • Adam and I both wanted to learn more about the process of building a house.. what the order of the stages were, what to expect at each stage, and things to look out for.  We watch a LOT of Youtube on the regular (from video games to science to puppy videos) and immediately went there looking for a good review of the building process.  Enter Roman Lewczuk.  He's a builder from the northeast and has a series of 58 videos covering the stages of a build.  Be ready for a strong drum intro and a heavy dose of "Bro" if you decide to watch his videos.  It's a little cheesy, but we've learned a ton and I always enjoy watching the videos of where we are in our build process, just to compare. 

I hope you find some of these helpful, or at least enjoy clicking around.  It's been a good distraction for those days (or weeks for a while there) when there was no progress at the lot.  

Things are moving along now though, and I'm ready to start daydreaming about decorating our new house and pulling all the finishes we've chosen together.