A Bit of a Roller Coaster

Isn’t it annoying when someone makes a big announcement like, “Hey, I’m building a house!” and then you don’t hear anything else about it for months and months?

Yeah, that’s annoying.  People that do things like that drive me crazy.


Moving on.

On the house-building front, things have moved in fits and starts since we first bought the place.  I won’t get into the boring backstory (some of which is already addressed here), but I think we’re getting close to actually breaking ground and moving forward with construction (hopefully those aren’t famous last words).

Anyhoo, now seems like a good time to start getting you up to speed with what we’ll actually be building.

Here’s my viewpoint on houses – you can have the most beautiful light fixtures and tile in the world with a gorgeous view of the ocean from every room, but if the floor plan stinks then living in that home will never truly be enjoyable.

Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic, but I totally think it’s true. Wonky rooms and terribly used space will impact your day-to-day life in a home, so getting the floor plan of this new home that we’re building just right was incredibly important to me.

We first spoke with our architect back in February, and we constantly tweaked the floor plan up until mid-July. At our first meeting where we walked the lot, we emphasized that we wanted to take advantage of the amazing lot and make sure that we had a large backyard. I had a feeling that building the house in an L-shape would make the most sense, but we were totally open to the architect’s suggestions.

We went through a few rounds of rough sketches that didn’t really float our boats – it turns out that we weren’t really open to suggestions and that Jason and I were really set on the L-shaped floor plan since we strongly believe it makes the best use of the lot. :) So, we headed down that road.

But even once we honed in on a long structure with an L-shaped wing, we still had a long way to go before we found a floor plan that fit our initial requirements of engaging the lot and giving us a big backyard. Here are two of the floor plans that were interesting, but didn’t cut the mustard because the house ate up too much of the backyard (among other reasons):

preliminary floor planspreliminary floor plans This was our first time working with an architect, and it’s been a really interesting learning experience. It turns out that I have really strong opinions and, I think, good ideas, but that it can be hard to stick to your guns or always know what you want, especially when you’re working with a professional that also has good ideas but might have a slightly different aesthetic or have a different list of priorities when it comes to a home. It’s been pretty easy for me to avoid being swayed when it comes to the floor plan, but I’ve never felt entirely comfortable designing the exterior elevations of a home. One night during the summer I couldn’t sleep at all because I was completely stressed out about the exterior of the house – it was going to look amazing, but it wasn’t a look that I felt entirely comfortable with. All along I had said that it was what I wanted, but in the end it just didn’t feel right to me. I was sitting in my office at 4:30 in the morning, looking at elevations and crying. What?!? I can look back at that moment now and feel completely ridiculous, but at the time it was terrible. Luckily, I finally figured out what I really wanted and said something and our architect was totally cool with changing course at the last moment. Kudos to him for rolling with the punches, and I feel so relieved that we got everything figured out before it was too late. Designing this house has been a bit of a roller coaster. Jason and I both care deeply about getting this house just right, for a lot of reasons – building a spec house is a huge investment, a successful build and sale has the potential to do great things for our careers, we really want to create something that we’re proud of, and we especially want the future owners to love their home. Pressure, much? ;) So, that’s kind of the back story to the floor plan that we’ve ultimately settled on. It’s been a labor of love, and I’ll share it with you soon!


A Quick Flip

Hey guys!  A few weeks ago we bought a great little townhouse near a community college – our plans are to do a quick “spruce up” and then put it on the market for sale.

The townhouse is in pretty good shape, and in a great location for people that want to be near the community college, but it needs a little love before it’s market ready.  (And when I say “a little love” I mean just paint, hardware, kitchen counters, and cleaning the carpets – no big renovations.)

The kitchen is the space that needs the most help – the cabinets and appliances are in great condition, but the paint color is questionable, the cabinets need to be painted (in person they’re terrible), the hardware needs updating, and the dated Formica counter tops have got to go.


The painters are busy over there right now, and we’re in the process of picking out counter tops.  Typically when we flip a house we need to replace counters throughout the entire house, so we buy a few slabs of material.  But in this case we just need about 18 linear feet of counter tops – not nearly enough to justify buying an entire slab.

We shopped around town a bit, hitting up a big box hardware store, Floor and Decor, and a few other places.  At the big box hardware store, the cheapest granite or quartz that we actually liked was between $45-$48 per square foot installed, and we haven’t found any remnants that we like at the fabricator’s.  Finally, at Floor and Decor, we found our likely solution – tada!!

Floor & Decor Sponsorship 021

What you’re seeing are pre-fabricated lengths of counter top, complete with backsplash – and for pretty great prices.  Typically when you buy marble, granite or quartz counters you have to buy the entire slab, even if you’re only using a portion of it.  That’s the beauty of these pre-fabricated lengths – you have basically no waste since you can just buy what you need!

I have my eye on these three contenders:

counter top options from Floor & Decorcounter top options from Floor & Decorcounter top options from Floor & Decor

From left to right: Moon White Granite; Ice White Quartz; River White Granite

They come in lengths just over 9 feet and are each around $19.50/square foot – a steal!  (Although they have a few options under $10/square foot.)

Have you guys ever bought pre-fab counters?  I think I’m on to something good here…  ;)

This post brought to you in collaboration with Floor & Decor.

Our Go-To Tile Resource

One of the questions I get asked most often is, “Where did you get that tile?”  And I LOVE IT when people ask that question because I get to look like a renovation guru when I blow their minds with the answer.

You see, lots of people think that they have to stick with boring or basic tile because anything fancy or exciting will bust their budget, or that they’ll never be able to find any cool tile because it’s all hidden away in some warehouse that can only be accessed by designers.  Nay, my friends, it ain’t so!

I’m here to tell you that there is a magical place where you can find any incredible tile your little heart desires, and that you’ll be able to afford it.  That magical place is Floor & Decor.

Ever since I discovered it 5 or 6 years ago, we’ve bought almost every single square foot of tile from F&D – and we’ve bought thousands of square feet of tile. If you click through the photos of any of our 10 flips or our 2 rentals, you can see all the tile that we’ve bought from F&D over the years.

F&D carries all of their tile in-stock, and on the few occasions that we’ve needed more than they had on hand they trucked it in from another location.  Love it.  And when we sold our truck and couldn’t pick up large loads of tile anymore, we were able to coordinate delivery through them for a small fee.  Love it even more.

But enough chitchat from me – you’re here to see the pretty tile, right?  Behold.


Inspiration photos: House and Home; Peppermint Bliss

Tiles, left to right: Bianco Carrara Basketweave; Skyfall Basketweave Maze; White and Gray Weave Marble Mosaic

modern slate

Inspiration photos: Amber Interiors; Kokkenskaberne

Tiles, left to right: Black Decorative Slate (with enhancer); Samba Black Slate (with enhancer)

art glass

Inspiration photos: Rachel Reider; Charmean Neithart Interiors

Tiles, left to right: Sky Blue Comb Glass; Chevron Cloud Stick; Twilight Mini Stick; Twilight in Fiji Bouquet

statement tile

Inspiration photos: Enviable Designs; Regan Baker Design

Tiles, left to right: Carrara White Caribbean Green Diamond; Gray Chevron; Gray and White Chevron Mix; Gray Penny

sophisticated marble

Inspiration photos: Erin Gates Design; Coastal Living Showhouse 2012

Tiles, left to right: Skyfall Basketweave Maze; Skyfall Vein Cut; Ocean Galaxy; Bianco Carrara

Gorgeous, right?  What’s your best-kept renovation secret?

This post brought to you by Floor & Decor.  All opinions are my own.

Before + After – Our 9th Flip’s Kitchen

Hey guys! It was so fun sharing the first “after” tour of our 9th flip with you before we took a little detour into house building.  Now I’d love to give you a few more peeks into this great house.  Next up . . . the kitchen!

9th Flip - Kitchen After

In truth, there was nothing “wrong” with the original kitchen – the layout was awesome, it had white cabinets, and it was a really good size. But . . . its age was starting to show, and a lot of the details were dated.

Our 9th Flip - Before

Since they layout was already working really well, we kept it basically the same, with the exception of trading out the double ovens and cook top for a freestanding range.

9th Flip - Kitchen After

I’m going to fill you in on three little tricks I used in this kitchen that always go a long way towards making any kitchen feel brighter, larger and of-this-century:

(1) removing the furrdown above the cabinets and taking the cabinets to the ceiling

(2) taking the backsplash tile to the ceiling in at least one area

(3) adding a few recessed lights

9th Flip - Kitchen After

Works like a charm!!

9th Flip - Kitchen After

This kitchen is definitely a classic “white” kitchen, with white painted cabinets, a subway tile backsplash, a last minute switcheroo to a Caesarstone countertop in Frosty Carina.  We originally planned to install carrera marble counters but the couple purchasing the home was concerned (and not without reason) about potential staining and maintenance issues down the road with such a delicate stone.  The Frosty Carina was a great alternative!

Frosty Carina Caesarstone

The image above from the Caesarstone website is a decent representation of what Frosty Carina looks like in person, although it’s reading a bit more beige onscreen than it does in real life.  It’s white with subtle gray veining and is manufactured to resemble carrera marble.

9th Flip - Kitchen After

Just off the kitchen is a great little breakfast nook…

Our 9th Flip - Before

…with a built-in hutch.

Our 9th Flip - Before

With just a little tweaking (and a lot of wallpaper removal!), the breakfast nook has become the perfect place for casual family meals.

9th Flip - Kitchen After

Through that little vestibule that you see in the photo above is a powder room straight ahead and the laundry room to the left (which then leads to the attached garage).  Here’s how the powder room looked before…

Our 9th Flip - Before

…and here it is now.

9th Flip - Kitchen After

Sorry for the sub-par photo, it’s a small, window-less room that’s really hard to photograph!

I always think it’s fun to see how completely insane things look while the “before” is becoming the “after,” so here are a few in-progress shots from the renovation.

9th Flip Kitchen - During Construction

9th Flip Kitchen - During Construction

9th Flip Kitchen - During Construction

9th Flip Kitchen - During Construction

9th Flip Kitchen - During Construction

Things always look worse before they look better, right?

9th Flip - Kitchen After

P.S. I wish I had better photos of this house, but since it was never listed for sale we didn’t get around to having professional photos taken.  Mistake!

Form Survey

I’m quickly realizing that not all aspects of building a house are riveting.  Or, at least, certain aspects that are riveting to me may not actually be riveting to other people.  :)

Today’s post probably falls into that category – but to Jason and me, it’s so exciting!

We got word that the form survey had been completed today – which means that a surveyor went out to the lot and put pins and flags to mark out the foundation of the spec house we’ll be building.  (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Form Survey

I realize the photo really doesn’t give you a sense of what’s going on, but basically there’s a sea of stakes and orange flags that outline the entire foundation – it was super thrilling to walk the lot and get a sense of how the house will lay out.

Form Survey

Scratch that – Jason and I were super thrilled, our 3 year old was not impressed. :)

Form Survey

It’s crazy that not too long ago this clean, flat lot looked like this:


Hopefully more big changes are coming soon!

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