So where to start. Last week I posted on Facebook about starting to decorate my house with our fabrics & I had a great response. It made me realize I should blog about it. I've had a passion for home decorating since my husband and I bought our first small house almost 15 years ago. That first house needed a head to toe update. It went from grandma to cottage chic in no time and sold for over asking due to what my realtors labeled the "I can see myself living here" syndrome. My realtor (I've had the same one for all of our houses) has told me that the houses I decorate tug at people's heart-strings and that people will pay for that. Now let me just say I have never flipped a house or decorated my own home with thoughts of what a buyer would like but in the end, my homes have always been warm and inviting and sold super quick. Not a bad side effect!
Over the years I have gutted an original mint green bathroom, redecorated an old house, and even helped a local contractor decorate a house he was flipping. I guess you could say I have always enjoyed home decorating and for many years have dreamed of building our own home from the ground up. I'm one of those people who love to go to open houses, but I'm always saying things like, "I wish there was a bathroom/bedroom here" or "Wouldn't a cabinet here make this room perfect?" Six years ago we were living in a nice house. It was on a great tree-lined street, had a small but nice backyard, and enough bedrooms for the four of us, that is until a wonderful trip to Italy added one more child to our bunch. Suddenly we found ourselves in a house we would soon outgrow. Since I moved a lot growing up, I was excited to move to our next house. My husband on the other hand, wanted to figure out a way to make it work. One Sunday, yes he humored me by going to local open houses, we came across this run down house on a great lot. While it was not what you would call a step up from our current home, the lot was really large by Los Angeles standards and it was on a nice quiet block. To make a long stoy short, we talked about the potential to build a new house on this lot. Could we really do this? Could we handle 3 kids, moving, putting all our stuff in storge, the financial commitment, moving again, and building a house? As we talked it through, we kept coming back to the good block, the good lot and the good footprint but it really needed a total gut and a second story. While we were scared to take this on, I was also so excited. My dream of building a new house slowly turned into a reality.
In Febuary of 2009 we bought the house.
A few short weeks later the market crashed and there were no construction loans to be found. We ended up living in our fixer for three years. We watched our roof blow away everytime the wind came up and we leaked in multiple spots everytime it rained. But over those three years, we really learned what we wanted in our new space. We learned how the five of us liked to hang out in the kitchen, we realized we never hung out in the living room and that we all wanted more open space and way less walls. It was a long three years but so worth the wait. I knew soon we would start building our dream home. Finally, the market improved and we got a loan. During the three years we lived there, I was getting organized. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I love a project. I love a big notebook and planning. It gives me a purpose and a goal. Once we hired an architect and builder I was off & running. You would never find me without my big blue notebook.
I loved ripping inspiration out of every home magazine I could find. I joined Houzz and lived on that app. I have to say that those years and planning really helped me make good choices during the actual construction process. Here are a few of the pictures and drawings that inspired me.
These are from the kitchen section. I loved the white kitchen and big island in that picture. The drawings were from the kitchen place that did my cabinets. I love built-ins and knew I wanted a wine rack.
I liked the idea of cubbies for the kids, but not in the dark color. I have always wanted a home with a Cape Cod feel, so white, bright, and light is what it had to be.
This mud room was more the feel I wanted. It was missing the washer & dryer that I needed to fit in, but it gave the architect a good starting point.
Here is the picture that inspired the drawing above. My mini fridge and a wine rack.
I really liked the idea of the island having one end open for cook books and pretty things.
This picture helped me identify the windows I liked. I love the transom at the top. We have this detail on many of our windows.
Really without my big blue notebook, the Houzz site, and that first piece of inspiration fabric (more about this in my next post) I'm not sure the house would have turned out so close to what was in my head. I loved being able to pull out a picture or pull up an image on my phone when one of the vendors asked what I wanted it to look like. It took all the guess-work out of the equation. I would go to the room tab that we were talking about, find the picture I liked, and say, "please make it look like this" and 9 times out of 10 it did.
Well, that's it for tonight. Next week I will find and post a few pics of the process. It is really amazing to see it being torn down & then built back up.