Monday, August 31, 2009

got mail?

So I know this decision is way far out, but I found myself looking for mailboxes tonight and landed on the jackpot of coolness. Our house is on a curve of a residential street so we need something that stands out a little bit. As well as the fact that the mailbox is essentially the first thing you see about the house, so why not make it cool? Here are a few mailboxes i found. You pretty much have to go to New Zealand to find the modern ones, but luckily they are cheap comparitively and they ship to US :) Check it out. The solar one is at, we would just have to get that guy on a post, but that would help night visibility of the drive with the glowing numbers. Just thought you might want to see. The ones from new zealand are under 200$ surprisingly and you pick out of several colors the accent color.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

schooled in pools

Wow, we have 3 days to finalize our pool bids. We have 3 on the table, 2 we are waiting for finalized specific price. We have been seriously schooled in pools. Here is some of the cool advice we got that is definitely being considered
  • Don't do a dark bottomed pool in the woods, you want to be able to see the snakes if one gets in there (point well taken by me).
  • Why do a 3-6 ft depth pool? What can you do in 6 ft deep other than tread water? You have to have 8 feet pretty much to dive which our space doesn't really allow, so who has ever heard of a sport pool? Well that is what we are shooting for. It goes from the sun ledge to 3 ft to 4 1/2 feet then the center of the pool is 5-51/2 feet and the other end of the pool goes back up to 41/2 feet. Perfect for volleyball, basket ball and minimal water treading.
  • These 1ft deep areas of a pool everyone has a different name for: sun ledge, tanning ledge, mommy ledge, sun deck, lounge area, etc. Whatever it is called, we like it and it is going in! (4th picture is an example)
  • Ever heard of scuppers? not me. Basically small shooting off fountains off the raised wall of the pool. Have to decide on scuppers vs/ water trickling down stone veneer wall. (third picture)
  • You can add underwater stools, umbrella holders in the sun ledge, volleyball net anchors, and all sorts of craziness to your pool.
  • Firepits are really inexpensive for pool guys to do and easy to "trick out" because they are already there with the material and a gas line running near the pool. YAY. I may be more excited about that than the pool.
  • Lots more about salt vs. low chlorinated and heaters and lighting etc.
Second picture is a typical modern pool. We are trying to yet again blend modern and functional/natural. This picture although very clean and nice, it is not family functional or fun for entertaining. Plus for our space, it is very natural. So we don't want to overdo it in the sense of huge rocks everywhere and waterfalls but we want to blend clean design with functionality and a modern natural look. (first pic is pool design)
When it all comes down to it, we are super excited about the pool. We feel like this is going to be such a neat place to entertain and raise the kids and them enjoy having friends over. I think it will be a neat element that we can really share with others!
Now just to decide! There is only about a million ways you can go with even the same design!

First signs of progress...

House is GUTTED! seriously gutted. Apparently the 50 year old hardwoods in the house were oh so desirable and Habitat 4 humanity said if that is all they got out of the house the day would have been worth it! So H4H comes with a team of about 20. I would say a good 3/4 of these people were closer to the seniors population, which is awesome. From 8am-4pm they removed all appliances, all cabinetry, countertops, hardwood flooring which was through out the main and top floor, mirrors, toilets, doors, a few windows, fixtures, bathroom cabinetry, washer dryer, etc! I was impressed for sure! There were decades of wall paper behind the newer cabinetry. You could see as the decades progressed; 60's 70's and stopping in the 80's :) love it.
John and I have thought from the beginning of the project that we would like to use something from the old house in the new one. I think we have landed on the brick. It is pretty easy to get out (maybe since it is so old) but we considered where to use it; options were outdoor firepit surround, interior exposed brick wall, etc. I think we have landed on the entrance to the driveway to be a strip of brick from the house. We have not run this by our builder yet ;) but we think that would be a neat piece of old as you transition into the new.
Either way, I am glad things are starting to move. Demo permit CHECK. waiting on building and well permit. Hopefully demo in T minus 1 1/2 weeks!

Monday, August 24, 2009

roof dilemma

So john and I have been going back and forth over the roof. When the project began, we were going metal roof all the way. Then when we got into budget, we nixed it to spend that additional cost elsewhere. After seeing some pretty awesome houses with it on, it is back on the table. We go back and forth about it. My thought beyond that its gorgeous, is that since we are in such a wooded lot, would it help the leaves/sticks to slide right on off instead of stick right on the shingles and collect (which is what the current shingled room looks like-covered in leaves/pine straw/sticks). Also I think it lasts longer and is more durable. We are still going back and forth though...Do people other than us even notice roofs? Is the money more well spent on the interior? Any thoughts? Sadly, this decision has to be made sooner than later...

waiting game: OVER

Seriously I was getting done with the waiting game. Getting a construction loan was slightly painful after going through the whole process with one bank and finishing that process one week before demo date only to discover they decided not to do construction loans any more due to the market. UGH! So FINALLY process completed with bank #2, approved and start this week! Habitat for humanity will come Wednesday and take anything that is salvageable from the house. They take anything from doors, cabinets, windows, fixtures, appliances, etc. I am so glad it will be reused. Some of the stuff is in very good shape too! Sadly, the orange shag carpet in the basement that smells like 50 year old mildew will not be reused ;).
So take a good look, this lovely, 1950 split level will hopefully lord willing, not be there in one week!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Backsplash help!

Ok, so i have posted the kitchen inspiration pictures so keep the grey cabinets and white solid countertops in mind... We are totally torn when it comes to the backsplash, and by totally i mean totally. So please cast your vote, add your input and give us some advice!
1st pic is a grey glass mosaic from
2nd is a light blue liner glass mosaic from costco!
3rd is a grey subway tile that we could do in white or light blue
4th is a porcelain tile mimicing glass from Best Tile in the porcelainosa line.
Last pic is a soft blue tempered glass solid piece.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

playroom ideas

Now the playroom is one of the rooms I am most excited
about. It is about time to get all of these toys out of our living area!! Plus it will be fun for the kids to have a place where they can play together, create and enjoy. Now the playroom is currently set for hardwoods since it is on the main level and a future office type of room but I don't want the hardwoods destroyed by trucks, paint, sliding chairs, whatever. Any ideas for how to protect? I thought FLOR tiles which are a little pricey to do across the whole room, but may be worth it. Otherwise i guess just rugs. I love doing this square painting idea on the large wall. Love these colors too, very unisex for boy and girl! The next pic is the storage system I am looking at. Lastly, my only worry about how it will work in the house is the modern sliding "barn door" at the playroom. It is two barn doors sliding together for closure perpendicular, not parallel. I am just hoping the kids don't destroy it. But David- the architect- said we can put a lower track on it and make sure it doesnt slam together when it closes and it should work! Maybe we could even mount a chalkboard on the back of it for inside the playroom, or just paint a wall in that chalkboard paint which is pretty awesome! Should turn out to be lots of fun. Taking our kids into consideration, we may do half of the room in those foam blocks and mats! That would be pure heaven for them, now I just have to locate those!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Light up the place

Light fixtures is a thing i don't totally feel qualified to pick. I know for the screened porch we will do this pharos fan from modern fan, we may also do it in the master bedroom (1st pic). For the dining I am deciding between the next two pics. They are both from Then for Reese's room I am pretty set on this pendant from the oversized equator pendant (4th picture). For bathrooms and the playroom and downstairs rooms I am thinking something simple and budget friendly like the last picture also from euro style lighting The disc light under 100$. Lots to choose from! If you have any modern budget friendly close to ceiling lights you like, send a link in the comment section!

Plans: Basement

So you can enter downstairs off the garage or on the main where a circular drive will put you out near the front door. Bedroom 4 is going to be our spare bedroom/guest/nanny suite. There is an exterior entrance in case a college student or nanny lives with us. The floors down here will all be stained concrete. We have not chosen the stain yet. The room labeled playroom with either be another spare bedroom for now and maybe a future media room. It has a kitchennette to accommodate our guests in case we have someone with an extended stay, they can have their own space. Or a drink and popcorn station for a future media room. Whichever! At the entrance from the garage there will be a mudroom with a bench and cubbies/hooks for shoes and coats and beyond that is all storage and mechanical.

Plans: Top Floor

So the top floor is where all of the bedrooms are. I like keeping the living and entertaining area separate so I knew I didnt want a bedroom on the main floor. Eventually the playroom could be a bedroom or office if we need to accommodate someone who can't climb stairs or something. Anyways, the stairs come up into a hardwood landing and office area. This will have built in cabinetry and a half wall bookshelf to the left near the stairwell. (the bookshelf and exposed beams upstairs are both something that I didnt notice in the plans until way down the road and I was exstatic! David likes to surprise us with these awesome little details!) This will be nice because currently our "office/bills" area is on our countertop in one section of our kitchen. It will be nice to get the clutter out of the kitchen! The bedrooms are pretty self explanatory. One will be for Reese (our daughter) and one for Wheeler (our son). Each bedroom will be vaulted with exposed stained beams. The rooms will be carpeted. John nixed on our initial plans the balcony off the master (saying we would never use it :( ) and moved the closet across the room to attach to our bathroom. He likes getting ready in one area and not having to walk across the room back and forth from bath to closet. John doesnt like my hair dryer and make up out on the bathroom counter so he had a vanity area put by the window in our closet that i am pretty excited about. We are not doing a tub, contrary to real estate advice. We are not tub people and we would rather have a double shower with a built in seat rather than a smaller shower and separate tub. I think I have talked John out of the steam shower, which he initially wanted. We have a strict budget here John! Casement windows are all upstairs as well.
Of course, these plans in case you are just tuning in are by David Kenoyer, architect

Plans: Main Floor

So these are the nearly final plans to the main floor. I wanted a playroom on the main level so that I could hear the kids but still be cooking/cleaning on the main floor. The wall upon entry will be same flush wood material used outside and it will wrap in to the stairwell and end in the kitchen at the pantry and be also on the fireplace. The dashed lines outside of the playroom will be a barndoor that will slide both ways to close off the room with the option of closing off the entire powder/closet area as well. The powder bath will have an exterior door outside to head out to the pool area. The whole main floor is hardwood, we are thinking a natural/matte beech wood. There is a step down into the family room with two square columns wrapped in wood as you go down in. There is an 18ft by 8 feet tall wall of modern sliding glass doors out to a screened porch with a concrete floor. We are excited about the potential to also entertain outside, taking advantage of the great view, but not the mosquitoes! That will be one of our favorite rooms I think. The kitchen will blend into the dining which will also have a door to the screen porch as well as a door out to the back deck. All of the windows are casement (crank open with no center pane) so it will be an unobstructed view all around. The stairs will have a steel rail and be hardwoods as well. The dining will have built in low cabinets on the wall as well.
I think that is about all we have on the main floor nailed down. Still working through backsplash ideas and lighting...
Plans of course, courtesy of our amazing architect, David Kenoyer

Kitchen-the heart of the home

Well, my biggest excitement lies in the kitchen i believe. That is where everyone ends up hanging out and so may as well make it large and functional. We have never had an island that was super conducive to eating dinner at, entertaining around etc. So that was our first hope. Beyond that, we knew we didnt want same old same old cabinets and speckled countertops (nothing wrong with them, just not our style). So we landed on grey cabinets and a white solid quartz countertop from Caesarstone. The color scheme will be like that of this first picture yet we arent sure on upper cabinets if they will as well be grey or similar to picture with aluminum and frosted glass or even a bamboo type color. Our meeting with the cabinet people is in a few weeks so that will be nailed down soon. Feel free to post your thoughts!
The island will be similar to that of this first picture with the sink in the island (and dishwasher) but we are working on an idea to either just simply extend the counters out to accomodate barstools or to add some sort of floating wood L shaped piece that will sit on top of the island to accent the eating area similar to the picture, but instead it would be parallel and resting on top of part of the island instead of perpendicular. Also still out for vote on that on.

Garage door

I fell in love with this garage door seen on a Dwell home from Clopay-avante series. I love the glass and just the uniqueness of it. I like the idea of letting a lot of light in the garage interior as well. Plus, due to our lot slope, the garage needs to be on the front of the house, so if it is gonna be front and center it may as well have some pop! I may regret it later when someone hits a ball into it and breaks a pane but they put some film on it to make it hurricane proof for this area. Hopefully hurricane proof = kid proof. :)

Some exterior elements...

Then we came to the exterior decisions... Still some have yet to be made, but our architect suggested doing cement siding (still considered a "traditional" element" but doing it 4 inches apart instead of the 6 or whatever on a typical home. As well we will be mixing in flush wood siding on the exterior (no overlap) which is a more modern way of using wood siding. This will as well give it a natural/modern blend for the exterior and won't compete with the nature around. *In the picture, notice the dark grey siding which is 4 inch lap instead of larger. Above and right is flush cedar siding.*
We will probably stick to a dark grey/light grey color scheme on the exterior (much like that in this picture) although that is still up for debate.

Builder and Initial decisions...

So we started the search for a builder and eventually found the one! John Hart with Hart Construction has a great reputation of quality as well as a relationship with our architect and a great execution of more contemporary elements in homes. We hit it off from the get go and he is excited to get this house off the ground and do some cool stuff to it along the way! He pays attention to detail and budget which is excellent! He has been on top of things and takes everything off our plates which is nice. He definitely takes the stress out of it so we can just enjoy the ride. I can't wait to see what he does with the vision! Check him out at and if you are building in the NC area my referral goes to John Hart!
As we started dreaming of what this house could be, our desire settles around family and entertaining as well. One idea we started entertaining was that of a pool. Nothing extremely huge or decked out, but a simple pool to entertain John's employees, friends and the kids. A pool is definitely something we can't come back and do later on our lot so it was one of our first big decisions. I was neither 100% either way on the decision so i left that one up to John and we landed on doing a pool if it would fit in our budget. After looking into it, we could definitely do it for a reasonable cost. John's final decision landed on the fact that he wants our house to be the hang out in the future for our kids, better to have them here and have friends over and we know what they are getting into! :) So builder down and pool it is....

Settled... a foreign concept thus far.

So we started thinking. With great job security, we are definitely here for 15 years at least. That will get our 3 year old and 1 year old through high school. We are ready to settle. The first 5 years of marriage have been house hopping from atlanta to here. We have lived in 3 houses so far. We are ready to stay in one place long term now! So the idea of building seemed very practical. Plus with the market, you can build a home with instant equity due to the low labor/materials cost. So we started the hunt for an architect. We first found a modern architect and visited some of his properties that were incredible!! With some real estate advice from a few people, we decided, as much as we love the ultra-modern design, it may not be best for resale down the road. It would really narrow our buying pool in the future. So we decided on "a modern blend" being the best fit for us. We then were referred to our incredible architect, David Kenoyer, out of Raleigh. He pushes the envelope way beyond cookie cutter and really uses some clean lines, unique materials, and does things with a modern flare while still appealing to the "masses". ( He was thrilled about the project having a little more modern element to it and immediately cranked out the first design. It was a perfect fit from the get go. We may have changed little things here and there but he really nailed what we wanted the first time. An open concept floor plan, "nanny suite" with downstairs kitchennette, wide open views, tons of windows, and a warm modern feel. He had great suggestions of using "traditional " elements in modern way and bringing the outdoors in with flush wood texture on the walls and walls of windows. From the outside it may not look ultra modern, but we are using some pretty awesome materials, doing things a little different, and doing a more modern feel inside. The idea was not to detract a more traditional buyer while still appealing to a modern taste. A challenging task but I think it is accomplished! David has been great to work with and I would suggest him to anyone with a variety of styles, he is a master of his trade! (plans courtesy of David Kenoyer-
So, I am ready to get going! The idea of living in a house for over a decade is amazing! I cannot wait to get started!

We're here!

Since moving to the Durham/Chapel Hill area in 2007, we have been renting to decide what part of town we would like to settle in. As much as I personally LOVE being 1.9 miles from the mall, target, and shops galore, we weren't sold on the school district we are in. Our dream has never been to live in a cookie cutter community. We both love modern design. If we could do it without regard to resale we would live in a modern box for sure! We started to think that our dream house would have woods/trees all around. I love the feeling of the woods- peaceful, natural and you feel like you are far out of the city. As we hunted for school districts and areas we like, we narrowed to Chapel Hill. We love the college town, great resaurants and closeness to shopping still. We found an amazing lot about a year ago with a 1950's split level on it that was falling apart. It was the perfect lot! 2 acres of woods with protected woods behind neighboring a million$ plus home development. With some research we put an offer on it and it was declined. 6 months later, still renting we went back to the property, gave the same offer (lowball) and it was accepted. This started the journey of the house!