Hey guys! Just popping in for another home renovation update. We are at an exciting point because we’re getting ready to have an inspection that will give us the go-ahead to start with drywall. So from March until now we have: done demo, framed addition, pulled up old hardwoods, replaced sub flooring, and installed HVAC, electrical and plumbing.
I think seeing all of the drywall go up will make the house feel more real instead of only seeing an open space with framing. We have just finished all of our major selections so I thought I would share a little bit about what went into the process.
Our contractor gave us a list of preferred vendors, a budget for each category and then a timeline of when everything needed to be picked out. We are welcome to order things on our own, but the costs are still factored in to our contractor fee and we are responsible for making sure the items are delivered to the house in working condition with all of the parts. I basically want no part of that responsibility (lol) so we have ordered things through the preferred vendors for the most part.
B built his old house but it was through a builder who was building 40+ houses in the neighborhood. They had a showroom with a set of options for each category of selections. He said this made picking out things like tile, countertops, etc. super easy because you’re just going to 1 place and comparing a few choices, but it was also limiting because you only have a few options.
We both went into this renovation feeling excited that we would have a lot more flexibility and freedom to pick out whatever we wanted with a custom home compared to the process of working with a standard build. This excitement quickly turned to overwhelm :) There are so many choices out there.
I’m basically thanking sweet baby Jesus that we are moving on to the next phase of construction where we’re not constantly having to pick things out. Our contractor has a designer who is wonderful and really helped a lot, and we also consulted with an interior designer to answer a few questions. But I have just been really surprised at how time consuming picking out things has been.
I’m not really into interior design or picking out home finishings, but I was given great advice about where to start with the making selections: keep the bones of the house like hardwood flooring, countertops, cabinets, and tile more neutral since those are hard/expensive to change in the future. Have fun with things that can easily be changed later like light fixtures, cabinet hardware and paint colors. That’s what we’ve tried to stick with and you’ll see a lot of whites and greys in our tile, countertop and cabinet selections. Along those same lines, we also decided to go with brass hardware and light fixtures throughout the house. I know these aren’t everyones cup of tea, but we love them and they can easily change them later on down the road if needed.
Picking Out Things as a Couple
So many people have asked me if B and I have had a lot of disagreements picking out things for the house, so I wanted to share how we have been making decisions.
B travels a lot for work and has late hours in the office, whereas my schedule usually almost always allows me 2-3 free hours in the middle of the day around lunch time. So we knew I would be doing a lot of the selection leg work myself. We approached this by sharing Pinterest and Houzz boards to get a general idea of what we liked, and then dropping into stores on Saturdays without an appointment to casually look at options together. We were almost always on the same page, and then I would follow up with a weekday appointment to make final selections. Sometimes final selection appointments can be lengthy… I was in the tile store for 3 hours. I am really thankful that my job allows so much flexibility in my schedule because it would have been difficult to make these selections if I worked a traditional 9-5 job.
B had his areas that were really important to him. He cared a lot about appliances, and having a wet bar was one of the only “must have” things he requested with our house plans. So he was really involved in those areas.
There were a few areas like picking out roof shingles, the window color and master bathroom plumbing fixtures where I felt a little lost and B didn’t have any strong opinions. That’s where I used the help of an interior designer. Replacing the roof was one of the most expensive parts of our renovations so I wanted to get it right the first time.
So to sum this up, what helped with picking out selections as a couple were:
- being on the same page with overall aesthetics prior to going to select things
- having one person in charge of certain areas for selection meetings
- enlisting the help of a professional for areas where we were struggling
We are in the middle of working with our cabinet subcontractor but here is our first draft of the kitchen design:
We have had a lot of discussions about island size and sink placement because our original architect plans didn’t leave a lot of room to walk around the sides of the island. It’s crazy how much you change your mind about things when you see it on person compared to only on paper. We ended up shrinking the length of the island just a little bit to have more room to walk around each side. You can see we have the fridge on one end of the island and the dishwasher on the other, and we didn’t want it to feel too tight if the doors were open on either appliance.
Another big kitchen discussion was about countertops. It was tough to decide what material we wanted to go with for countertops because there are so many options to choose from. Natural stone is so beautiful!
We ultimately went with quartz because of the durability and because we loved a soft white look with minimal veining and movement. I think I walked around different stone manufacturers 8 different times just to be sure I had explored all of the options, but I kept coming back to this countertop called Calacatta Clara from MSI. I can’t wait to see it installed.
I think I was most overwhelmed by picking out light fixtures because it was just something I hadn’t really thought about previously. Our lighting vendor can get in almost any brand of lighting and the pricing amongst brands can vary widely. This is also an area where B had about zero opinions, lol.
The most important light fixtures for us were over the kitchen island, in the breakfast area, and in our master bathroom, so that’s where I focused a lot of my search. We just felt like the kitchen area is a focal point of the downstairs, and the master bathroom will obviously be the bathroom that is most used. So we allotted more of our lighting budget for nicer fixtures in those places and put super cheap fixtures in other areas. Sorry to anyone who stays in our guest bedrooms because your lighting will be cheap AF :) We also were undecided about even putting light fixtures in certain areas (like a chandelier above our bath tub or a fan in our great room) so we decided to not even pick anything out right now and had the electrician put a caps over those areas instead.
One thing we had not thought about AT ALL was the fact that the house has 8ft ceilings. Most Pinterest photos show lights hanging from a 10+ ft ceiling, so there’s plenty of room for a light fixture to hang down. I loved these that I saw on Pinterest:
We unfortunately realized that our 8 ft ceilings only left us with 24″ in total from the top of the ceiling to the bottom of where a light fixture would hang, and every pendant that I liked for over the kitchen island was 22-25″ tall (for the fixture alone, not the chain it hangs from). It was really hard for us to find something that was smaller but still felt like a “statement”. Our contractor’s designer suggested the Katie line from Visual Comfort and we ended up selecting these:
We felt like they were a nice compromise with our size limitations and what we were looking for. I was also able to use a coupon online to purchase them and get them at a nice discount.
Gah tile. I’m not into tile at all and I wish someone had just picked out everything for me :) The are so many options when it comes to material, color, size, etc. We ended up sticking with the same philosophy with selections… cheaper in rooms we wouldn’t use much and nicer in the kitchen and master bath.
Picking out selections in general is challenging because pricing with a contractor discount is not readily available when you’re in the store. So you basically have to pick everything out, wait to get pricing on the entire selection category, and then see whether you’re within the budget.
There are also a lot of moving pieces when it comes to the tile prices and installation so we had to go back a few times to make changes once we picked everything out. For example, I picked out a white subway tile for one of our bathrooms not realizing that the bullnose (strip at the top of the tile) for that tile was more expensive. I ended up saving $500+ by changing this to a different subway tile mostly because of the bullnose. We originally wanted a herringbone design in our laundry room but the installation costs for herringbone are more expensive than a traditional brick pattern. So we changed that as well to save some.
Here are some of the tile combinations we went with:
I really love the look of marble tile in a master bathroom but we ended up deciding against it. Not only is the marble a lot more expensive but it also adds on to the tile installation costs since the tile needs to be sealed. Then it has to be resealed regularly. I also read several nightmare stories about dropped makeup easily staining marble tile, and that’s when I knew God was telling me that marble below my bathroom sink is not for me.
We ended up choosing a 12×24 porcelain tile instead and I’m really happy with how everything goes together. It still has the general aesthetic we were going for but it’s low maintenance and easy to clean. We did pick out a little marble mosaic for the shower floor, which we felt like was a nice touch without being too expensive or difficult to maintain. You can also see the smaller white stone on the right is a sample of our countertop… I found it in the remnant section at our fabricator :)
Can you guys tell I’m obsessed with hexagons? I just feel like they stick with the style of a 1940s home. I had to stop myself from putting them in every room and I hope we don’t regret it later.
The only selections we have left are interior and exterior paint colors, interior doors, doorknobs, cabinet hardware, and crown molding.
I have heard that paint colors are the most difficult to get right. Some of the things we are considering right now:
- White exterior paint color that is not creamy but also not stark. Does anyone have any suggestions?
- Grey cabinet color that is light while still providing contrast, and is warm without looking too beige. We originally chose SW repose grey from an inspiration photo we found online, but we are realizing that it looks a little different in our kitchen since there’s not as much natural light compared to the inspiration photo. We’re going to work out our cabinet person and may reach back out to our interior designer to help with this.
- Wall paint color in our great room / open kitchen that complements the grey cabinet color. I originally wanted the same type of grey color on the walls that we’re not looking at for the cabinets. So we may just go with white in that room… we’ll see.
I’m looking forward to popping in with more updates as things continue to move along!!