Friday, August 24, 2018

Best Decorating Advice, Hands Down!

laurel-bern-interiors-home-page- Westchester County Ny Interior Designer Decorator

About a year ago, when we started getting serious about building and designing, I came across a blog that has been my inspiration for every detail. I was looking for SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE, who could finally tell me the difference between trendy and classic.

First, you have to define classic and that's where Laurel Bern comes in. I have never read a blog that has such sound information on decorating. Here's why I like her--

She is a designer in Manhattan, for over 30 years now, and the part of her education that means the most to me, is her education in the history of architecture and design (She's also a paint expert) She knows what CLASSIC is.

I know that HGTV and all their makeover and design shows are really popular, and some of their stuff is very nice, but there's always a trend being pushed, like barn doors and faux french kitchen (double ugh). Those are all fun and cute for a while, but they eventually date houses.

What is classic? Well, classic is something that has withstood the test of time. It also usually involves the golden ratio. Humans are attracted to mathematically pleasing ratios. That includes faces of beautiful people, designs in nature and architecture, clusters of objects and distances between objects. When people mess with the golden ratio, it makes things less appealing to the eye. We either ignore it completely or we subconsciously or consciously find it unattractive.

Laurel has everything from paint palettes, to how high you hang a chandelier, to which kind of hardware is not going to date your house. Everything is actually a matter of dates. According to Laurel, there were certain times in history when they utilized the golden ratio and sound architectural and design elements that were appealing. (The Greeks and Romans were known for it) These eras did NOT include the 70's, 80's 90's or 2000's. Surprise! I believe some design trends today will be sneered at in the near future.

So, if you are interested in an amazing blog and some humor thrown in with beautiful designs and ideas...Laurel Bern Interiors is where to go.

Roof and Walls

As much as I hate driving 30 minutes to football every day, sports have helped us keep busy this summer. Warren did break his arm last week, so he's on rest for a little while. The basement is feeling more crowded each week, especially after starting school.

The first day was rough, but the rest of the week was good. We started getting up earlier, which was rough on some kids. They drag their blankets and slouchy pre-teen bodies onto the couch for reading time and scriptures at 7am. 

Stop Growing Up Kids!

The house has a roof! The next few weeks will be exciting. We decided James is more useful working, so the crew is going to sheet rock for us. It's a busy time of year. On top of his own business, James is also helping with harvest and greenhouses. 

From the dining room through the kitchen into the living room

The mudroom and down the hall to the pocket room

Front door

Back door

This house design was EIGHT YEARS in the making. It started as a hobby on, then it became a dream to build our own house on land. Three years ago it became an option. Two years ago it became a goal, and in the last six months it became a reality. 

It's amazing to see something you've worked so hard on, come to life. It was HARD work. We sacrificed financially for many years to get to this point. Three years ago, there was no way we could have done this. We actually tried to move and build a bigger house in a nearby neighborhood and the lender all but laughed at us. I was so embarrassed! I took my folder with our financial information to find out what kind of loan we could qualify for (I even dressed in my power suit...yes I have ONE) and I had my tail between my legs when I left! But it was a great learning experience for us. I took a lot of mental notes on what we needed to do to get to this point. 

We used Dave Ramsey's advice (You finance people, laugh if you will, but it worked for us!) The closing process this time, with no debt, an emergency fund, and a large chunk of savings for a downpayment and a great credit score, was much more fun! It took us all of 1 hour to close on the loan and we stayed under our mortgage/income budget. 

My friend who just moved into her dream home, warned me that it's not all fun and games. We learned that with the surveying, three weeks of rain, and a 600 foot well. But, kind of like waiting for your baby to be born, it does happen eventually, even with some bad labor pains. 

There will be more pains, I'm sure of that...there are any number of things that can go wrong, but isn't that just how life works. Always waiting for the next crisis and enjoying the process when you can. 

Friday, August 03, 2018

Oh Well!

Family Reunion with 37 people and a stomach flu! Yay!

The well, by far, has been the biggest and scariest unknown and it seems like it enjoyed sucking money out the window with every foot!

They hit clean water at 110 feet but went to beyond 300 feet to find water that would last. They hit a cave though, and it kept caving in and bringing up debris. So they dug to 600 feet and hit 240 feet of water and sand. The flow is ok, but not as much as you'd want or expect for a $30,000 well. We're crossing our fingers today that the water comes out clean enough to case and call it good. This was quite a chunk out of our pockets, but I guess it's worth it to find good, forever water. It sure beats drinking water that tastes like chlorine all the time from city water.

 It was kind of amazing to see all the machinery and watch the water come gushing out. It's hard to imagine that the machine is puncturing three football fields deep. It reminds me of a giant mosquito.

The house is almost finished being framed. They have to finish putting the sheething on the second floor and then they'll do the roof trusses and finish the stairs. I was finally able to go upstairs! 

FUNNY STORY: It was driving me crazy that I couldn't walk around upstairs, so James took me out one night after the crew was gone and we climbed a HUGE scary ladder to the second floor. I'm a little embarrassed to admit, but I had a hard time getting in and out of the windows. I am not tall, and my legs would not reach from the window sill to the top of the ladder. If you can imagine, being over twenty feet in the air, on a window ledge and trying to get onto a rickety ladder! I kept saying, 
"I can't! I'm going to have to stay here forever!" I was on the verge of tears and I think my son was a little worried that I would actually be stuck forever. James threatened to come up and get me, which made me even more nervous! I don't think I'll be doing that again. I don't think I was supposed to be doing that anyway. 

We spend a lot of time just sitting around in lawn chairs on the land and when it's hot, we sit in the living room. We try to go early in the morning or later to watch the sunset when the workers are gone. The kids play on the dirt pile or go explore in the creek bed. Kyler likes playing with the scrap wood and making machines with pieces of 2X4's. 

This view is from the kitchen into the dining room. The pictures don't do justice to the mountains back there. They are so much bigger and prettier in person.

Living room view. I can't wait until there's snow flying around and a Christmas tree in the corner. (I hope we're in by Christmas!)

Right now it looks like an ugly office building without the roof and porches. They'll do those next. We also went and picked out windows and doors. That, I was NOT prepared for! I hadn't looked at any brochures or even knew they existed to look at. I had to pick everything on the spot without prices in front of me and the guy at BMC wasn't as informative as I would have liked. He was in a rush I think and I had no idea what was in our price range.  I also have a terrible, "Champagne taste on a beef budget problem...actually I don't drink either of those, but you get the drift) I finally just pointed to some that I liked and he jotted it down and that was it. Later, we realized we hadn't even picked out the pocket doors for the offices, which is a big deal. It was kind of a disappointing meeting. 

What's next?

They have to wrap the outside of the house in Tyvek
put the roof trusses on...shingles on next
get the plumbing, electric and
sewage system set up
install windows and doors
sheetrock and mud 


We are going to ask for help with sheet rocking and mudding the walls. I do not know how to mud, nor do we have time in our building schedule to wait for amateurs like us. James will sheet rock, paint, lay hardwood and tile, install trim, and cabinetry. Then we'll get a bathroom and the kitchen set up and we'll move into the main floor and basement while we work on the upstairs. 

We got all of our material for the kitchen but still NO APPLIANCES! Why can't we commit? Because there's so much junk on the market! I don't want the silly gadgets that talk to you and ask what you would like to drink or eat and connect to the phone. That is not my style at all. I want it to do it's job, without glitches and I want it simple and sturdy. I also want the stove to work without power...power outages are a real thing up here in the winter!

We have already closed on the house, so that part of it is all done. There's nothing left to do with the bank, we just have to get a certificate of occupancy. Once we're in, we have until January to finish the upstairs and the bank will send someone out to take pictures and make sure everything is completed the way the bid says it will be. (WAY different than an FHA construction loan.)

This has been such a huge project! It's so much fun, but huge!

Spring is in the Air

With planting season under way, we had a week of really wet weather and James was able to be home to work on the house again. I was so ple...