Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fabulous and cheap lighting...

After sharing with you my latest splurge (which in a huge plot twist I actually cancelled, in an attempt to DIY my own...more to come on that later) I decided to keep a tight string on my lighting budget. Since we decided to go with the freebee lighting package from our builder (more on that here), I have taken it upon myself to pick out new lights for every room in our house to replace those ugly freebees. I'm realizing how quickly lighting adds up, so I put together a little roundup for you guys. Here's a few options all under $100.

Fabulous and cheap lighting...

How about you? Do you have a favorite lighting source, with great prices? Do tell..

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lights made of driftwood and Coach handbags...

Happy Friday all. First off, let me apologize for my two week hiatus here at The Gray House, but as I spent the last two weeks nauseous and dizzy, staring at a computer screen was on the bottom of my "want to do list." Sinuses, you are a sick sick son of a.
Now onto the fun stuff.
Race really wants to play up the "nautical" style in our new home. Our house is only a few miles from the Lake Lewisville marina, and our neighborhood and the style of homes in our neighborhood reflect that....a lot actually. I, on the other hand do not like "themey" spaces. I'm trying my best to bring this style in small snippets in our new house when buying new things, without bringing it in at full force.
I planned on waiting to show you guys anything for our new house until it's hanging in our new house (or we're closer to selling our current house) but I'm so excited I can't stand it...
So here it is, the light fixture that I love more than wine Race.....I kid I kid....kind of:
Let me introduce you to my newest love...this ladies and gents is the Driftwood Ball Pendant from Shades of Light...and it's on it's sweet little way to me now. I made a vow not to spend a lot on light fixtures, because I just get bored too easily with things like this, so this light was a splurge. It's actually a very early birthday present from Race. He claimed he was going to buy me a new Coach bag for my birthday, but then explained that I am probably the only woman he knows that would rather have a light fixture made of driftwood than a Coach bag. 
It definitely gives off the "nautical" or "natural" look that I'm loving right now, without hitting you in the face with it like Rafiki and his stick to Simba.
When i first saw it, I liked it, but thought it looked more like a rustic light fixture for a man's den...maybe because before I realized it was made from driftwood I thought it was made from a deer's antlers....
but then I saw this:
I can't wait to see it hanging in our new home (probably in our sunroom).
I'll keep you updated...probably by throwing a ticker tape parade when it arrives...I mean this occasion can not go by unceremonious. 
Peace folks. Happy weekend.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chevron floors and brass accents...

Textile designer, Caitlin Wilson's (of Caitlin Wilson Textiles) kitchen was named House Beautiful's Kitchen of The Month a couple months back. I finally got around to reading this issue and was so beyond enamored with this kitchen., that I was just dying to share. See for yourself:

From the bright white and gray two tone cabinets, gorgeous chevron floors, brass accents, and gorgeous decorative pieces, this kitchen had me at hello there. I can't even describe my feelings for the wallpapered pantry or the fireplace right off the dining space.
What do you guys think? Is it deserving of the House of the Month title?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

More choices...

So last we left off here with the first choices we made for our new home. It was a wordy post, to say the least, and this one, unfortunately for you is just as bad....Grab a cup of coffee and sit back.

Our next choice was in reference to the staircase. 
Included in our base price was a half wall (I didn't snap a picture of it, but it wasn't pretty), we upgraded to add rod iron balusters and a stained wood rail. worth. every. penny.
When it came to the interior doors, we knew we wanted simple white hollow core doors, similar to what is in our current home, which was exactly what was included (see picture below). We upgraded the hardware to "Venetian bronze" (also shown in the picture below), which I realize seems silly, because you can spray paint or replace hardware easily, but it also takes a long time and the cost to upgrade these was minimal. 
When it came to the exterior door, Race was all over this one (ignore the dark color, ours is actually going to be a stained walnut wood, since that is standard in our neighborhood). He said that the star just made him think of Texas. I didn't argue, I knew this door would flood light into our entryway, as opposed to the other options that only allowed a peep hole and no window at all. 
We chose a dark bronze hardware for our exterior doors, the package was called Dakota (also the name of our favorite black lab) so it seemed like fate.
The exterior of our home is brick. Who knew there were so many brick choices in the world. We went with a lighter brick (although it looks 10x darker in this picture for some reason). The bottom taupe color is the color of the back of our home, and the right color (it looks yellow, but I promise it is also a taupe color) is the trim around the house and also the balcony.
I immediately fell in love with these exterior lights. They are a modern twist on a lantern I feel I would see in a Sherlock Holmes movie (one of my favorites). 
As well as these lanterns, Race insisted on adding flood lighting to the exterior of our new home. Our garage is rear entry, and there is basically a long driveway connected to an alley behind our house. He was worried about the safety of coming home at night without any extra lighting. 
We found out at the showroom that our new house did not include a fireplace. 
Something I assumed was included, because the blueprints showed one in the family room.
 We went back and forth. Obviously in a warmer climate there is no need for a fireplace, but I wanted one. We decided to do it, because, again it's something that is very difficult to add later. We went with a wood burning one (a dream of mine) in a white "cast stone." They didn't have one on display in the showroom (we just saw pictures) but the style is similar to this one pictured below, except instead of wood it will be stone. 
As far as molding throughout the house/windows went, we went with "Polar Mist" which is white. We like the brightness that adds to our current home, so we were fine with this "included feature."
We were determined to have 9' ceilings in our new home. After looking at house after house, I decided I didn't need vaulted ceilings in the family room because I like the cozy feeling in my family room, but 8' ceilings can feel like a cave. It's amazing what that 1 foot will do for a girl. We were pleasantly surprised to find out at the showroom that this is actually an "included feature" in Savannah (our neighborhood of choice), so no upgrade needed. 
As I said before we went with the included lighting plan throughout the house, except for the kitchen where we added recessed lighting. In the included package, they block and wire three rooms for ceiling fans (they will not actually put in the fans because that's an upgrade, but this way it's easy for us to add our own later). We chose the family room, master bedroom, and guest room. We also paid a little extra to have them add the wiring to both our balcony and covered patio. Race was adamant about adding a ceiling fan to his dream balcony, so I'm glad I could make that little dream of his come true.
Upstairs, there is a game/media room. It's actually quite large (bigger than our current family room). We plan to use this space for a place to watch movies and play games. We payed a little extra to have them add a "Home Pro" wiring for a future surround sound system. Maybe we will feel less home sick if we feel as if we are actually in Arrowhead stadium, when we are cheering on our Chiefs. 
We went on to choose a sprinkler system, grass, landscaping, HVAC system, water heater, insulation, shelving systems for each closet, window casing styles, arches for the main floor, rounded corners, a door bell, and every other last detail you don't even think about in building a new home.
In the end, it was a fun experience, but I'm so glad it's over. I feel more at ease with this large task checked off the list and knowing, I got everything I want in our home. Also knowing, that all of these upgrades only ended up costing us about $3,000 after our $10,000 in upgrades that we were given by the builder in negotiations. 
How about you guys? Anyone else ever built their own house? Were you surprised at what was vs what wasn't included...because we were. Do tell...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Choices, choices...

We got to the History Maker showroom at 9:00 a.m. We were done by 11:30 a.m., causing both of our sales people to claim that this was the fastest they had ever gone through the showroom. 
I guess we both knew what we wanted, and we were on the same page....for once.
Now onto a million terrible Iphone pictures...let me apologize now for the quality/angles/blurriness of these photos.

The Showroom is in the first floor of a ridiculously large building, and can be overwhelming. 
You walk in and they hand you a binder with over 100 pages of choices for each small detail of your house (don't worry, I have no intention of going over each of these choices with you, just maybe an eighth of them).
You have to make several choices on each of these pages.
It shows you what each choice costs and what is included in the base price.
We were lucky enough to be doted on by two of the sales people, the entire time we were there, but I know that is not always the case (if it's too busy, they expect you to walk yourself through the showroom).
Our first choices were flooring and the kitchen.
Please ignore the hideous carpet in the background of these pictures, it was lying on the ground, and I didn't think about moving our choices to a prettier backdrop. 
When we went under contract on our house, our rockstar Realtor negotiated $10,000 in upgrades....yes $10,000. 
I knew I wanted hardwood floors throughout the entire first floor, and was told at that time, that would probably be all of our upgrades. We both agreed though, that it was worth it. 
After doing a lot of research, I found that hardwoods are actually the worst possible flooring choice in this climate, because the humidity causes bubbling and warping. After, talking to a few people, we decided to go with laminate wood floors (the dark ones on the left were our final choice) and it saved us over $6,000. The top light gray tile is what will be in all the wet areas; the kitchen, bathrooms, utility room, and also our sun room (not a wet area, but definitely a hot one). 
 The bottom gray carpet sample will be the carpet throughout the second floor. I know this goes against every designers vow, but I prefer carpet on the second floor. I think it's practical and cheaper, and softer on future Baby G's knees. 
The top right is the cabinets that will be throughout our kitchen, butler's pantry, and bathrooms. They were an upgrade (as was everything in this picture except the tile) but they are beautiful and exactly what we wanted. We went with the picture frame doors in an espresso. Raised panel doors cost almost $1,000 more, and honestly I appreciate the simplicity of the ones we chose. 
We did however upgrade to crown moulding above the cabinets and 42" tall cabinets, adding a ridiculous amount of storage to our kitchen....apparently we feel the need to fit everybody in the entire neighborhood's pots and pans in our kitchen. 
We also added a set of deep drawers for storage (we have a set now where we keep our cookie sheets and baking pans, and we love it). 
We went with granite in the kitchen. 
It was more expensive than some choices, but much cheaper than others. 
We chose this gray tone called "pebble beach", which we were told no one else had ever used, to which I explained; "what the hell? it's gorgeous."
 We knew instantly it was the one we wanted. 
We upgraded both the kitchen faucet and the sink. We went with an under mount sink, similar to the one above, except instead of a 50/50 sink, we went with a 70/30 sink (meaning that it is divided less evenly). 
I forgot to snap a picture of the ridiculously large wall of faucets to choose from, but this is the Moen pull down,we actually went with:
We also upgraded the appliances. We wanted stainless steel and we wanted a higher end product than what we have now. We chose the middle of the road Whirlpool package, and also added a super capacity dishwasher, since we are not fans of the tiny one we have now. 
The pantry in our new house is ridiculously large (can we say Costco membership), it gives a whole new meaning to the term "walk in pantry," it should be "dance in pantry" or "holy he** you could do cartwheels in this pantry". 
When coming up with a plan for it, I was completely lost. I knew I wanted as many shelves as I could get, so that's basically what I told the builder. We will see what they do with my such specific instructions and guidance...
We nixed the back splash, since we weren't crazy about any of their options, and it's something we can easily add ourselves down the road.
Next was the bathrooms. We picked a bronze hardware package, for the powder room, but left the standard/included chrome ones in the other bathrooms, because it was an expensive upgrade. 
Any and all lighting we picked, was the "included" meaning it was already included in the base price. Neither of us loved any of the choices they had available, so we decided paying an extra $500 for a light plan we still didn't love just wasn't our cup of tea. 
In the end we went with the included lights in every space and plan to replace them when the house is finished. Definitely not a choice that is right for everyone, but it is what works for us.
When it came to bathroom fixtures, we went with what was included in our base price. 
Again, something we can upgrade later. 

Another thing that we had to upgrade was the toilet. This may seem odd, but the toilet on the right sits much lower than the one on the left. My husband is over 6 feet tall, so a higher toilet is necessary for his comfort....something I never thought would be a concern. 

We went with the base model shower/tub for the guest bathrooms, with a simple white subway tile (a look I actually love).

We upgraded the master tub to a separate shower and jetted tub. Something I've been dreaming about since day one.
In the master bathroom, we went with a high/low double vanity. This simply means that one sink sits higher than the other. I liked the look, and again with a tall man living there, a higher sink for face washing is a blessing.
In the powder room we went with a simple pedestal sink (I didn't snap a picture of this apparently).
In the guest bath we went with a double vanity as well, perfect for future kiddos or guests.
As I said before, we went with the lighting plan they had already included in the base price (pictured above) and for the most part the lights are terrible horrible just plain bad. They actually make the ugly boob lights in my current home look high end. With any luck they will be replaced pretty quickly, in fact I've already ordered one for the sunroom (stay tuned).
 I am thinking about keeping the white large medal pendant on the far left (it is supposed to go in the kitchen nook) and maybe painting it a bronze color or even something bright and fun. I like the farmhouse/retro feel it gives. 
We did upgrade the lighting in the kitchen to all recessed can lighting. It was a huge price increase, but something that is much more expensive and difficult to do later.
There are so many more decisions that we made left, but for the sake of bleeding all the blog content I can out of this, I think I'm going to save it for early next week. 
Peace friends, I will be back soon.