Sunday, December 9, 2007

Inspiration vs. reality: master wardrobe

Mr. Big desperately wanted to order cabinets from a manufacturer from his home town. On the other hand, I desperately wanted to order cabinets from our designer. At the end of the day, there was a compromise...we split the order between the two manufacturers.

The final cabinets have arrived and they are b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. Our master wardrobe completely blew me away. First we have the inspiration image and then the real deal:

The handles went on after these photos and they make the wardrobe even better. We're chomping at the bit to get our clothes set up in there...soon come!

Friday, December 7, 2007

The big weekend has arrived

More details to come soon (we're late for our holiday party...). Fun, fun, fun!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Front yard taking shape

A few weeks ago we arrived at the house to find all sorts of trenches in the front yard.

Things are looking up as the trenches have been replaced with the perimeter of the driveway and the entry posts. There's still more to go, but hey, it's progress.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Adding a bit of color

When it came to choosing paint colors, we decided to keep it simple. The entire house was to start out with either white (White Dove by Benjamin Moore) or khaki (Tapestry Beige by Benjamin Moore). Most of the house will start out white until we live in it for a while. But there were just a few spots where the khaki color was turning a bit bland.

For example, one of the downstairs rooms just didn't look as refreshing as I had always imagined it.

The silver sage from Restoration Hardware was always in the back of my mind, but it was turned just a hint too mint green. I ended up with an option that was a lot darker. It's a blue/gray combo...and I love it. The room now has a nice cool feel to it.

Similarly, we had started with the taupe color in the guest bathroom downstairs. It looked very nice, but lacked a bit of pizazz that I was looking least for when we are moving in.

We ended up one shade lighter than the above room and it certainly makes the tiles stand out. The countertop will be a gray/brown concrete. Once coupled with the mirror and sconces, this color should catch the attention of our guests.

The not surprising part about all of this is that I have already changed my mind on these colors within two weeks of them being on the wall. Great. What am I going to be like in the first year living in the house? I suppose I'm fortunate that paint is one of the most economic ways to decorate...and let's hope that my current pace slows down. :)

Inspiration vs Reality: Front door

A while back, we solicited feedback from our friends and family on which front door we should choose. We've tried to keep it "hush, hush" and the day has come to unveil the new door. They still have a bit more framing to finish it off, but you get the picture.

Once again, it is fun to look at the original inspiration versus the final product. Before doing so, it's again worth noting that I almost fell off my chair when I found out the cost of the door from the inspiration image. A front door costs how much? Ultimately, our door cost 50% less from another manufacturer with a little less detail.

We've obviously got the finishing details yet to come, but we are really happy with the choice. And thanks to all of our family that gave input. It pretty much gets us to the same 50% of the price. Interestingly enough, our family tended to vote the same way. We felt that this was a sign and ultimately followed their lead. Thanks again to everyone who helped us out!

Inspriation vs Reality: Stone wall

The single largest inspiration image in our planning process has been this one with the large stone wall. We loved how it used the space and created a focal point in the great room.

We originally picked a stone in a similar color palette and anxiously awaited it's arrival. Unfortunately, we were ultimately told that it was not available any longer. We had to make a last minute decision and ended up choosing a darker stone. For ages the new stone sat on site and I worried (and worried and worried) that it was going to be way too dark. Well, it has now been installed.

The bottom of the wall will be completed once our audio-visual equipment is installed. In the meantime, Mr. Big is officially excited yet again....he loves the darker wall (to be honest, it is a bit more masculine than the lighter option). And the best of all (for me anyway) is that I completely concur with him. It is nice to have another significant fixture in the house other than the kitchen that is a bit darker.

In hindsight, I realize that it would likely be attractive whether in light or dark stone, so all of my worrying was for not. It's really nice to have a unique feature in the house. So as for the inspiration image, I'm really pleased that it was put to use.

Backyard taking shape

We spent a long time in 2003 designing a beautiful dock for our future home site. Unfortunately, Hurricane Ivan decided to toy with our plans. Mr. Big discussed many different building methods to ensure that a new dock would not find a similar fate.

At the same time, we have been patiently waiting for the pool to begin. The revised plans by our architect seemed to be taunting it and they will come (guests that is...). We were just so excited to see what it was all going to look like together.

We're still not there, but the dock and pool have been started. As with each other step in building, it has been exciting seeing the footprint develop.

Oh my goodness, it's HUGE! (Yes, that is Mr. Big standing out there in the distance) Given it has a lap lane, we expected it to be bigger than usual, but I never imagined anything this large. It's been quite a surprise. They should be shooting the pool this week and the dock wood is ready to be put down imminently. We're keeping our fingers crossed that we'll be swimming for the holidays. Perhaps the nice guy in the big red suit can help out...

Inspiration vs Reality: Railings

A few months ago when we found the perfect handrails, we inquired with the manufacturers...only to find that they would cost us more than our combined annual salaries when we first left school. Yes, I'll confirm that...combined. There was no way that we would be proceeding at that rate.

We met with a local metal worker and asked him if he could come up with anything close for a fraction of the price. It wasn't looking good for a while, but he ultimately came through for us. He was able to meet our budget and we liked the design so much that we used it for both our interior and exterior railings.

The first image was the design inspiration and those following are the actual railings.

The inspiration

The railing overlooking the great room

The stairway (keeping everyone a bit in suspense)

It's special that these were made locally. I've seen the metal worker twice at lunch since their installation and he is clearly excited by his work. We concur completely!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Go! Go! Go!

We are getting so close to the end that we've been running around making loads of last minute choices and decisions (hence the lack of posts lately...). At this point, we risk missing our move-in date if we don't answer every single call from our builder...and there is no shortage of calls. The thought of them waiting on our decision for 24 hours just isn't an option any longer. Go, go, gadget go!

While the interior of the house is fairly close, the exterior is a few months behind. It looks like we'll be living in a construction zone well into late January or early February. In fact, if I posted a photo of the outside of the house, you would think that nothing has changed. Our friends actually gasp at the state of the house when they visit..."right you'll be moving in before the holidays". It really is too bad that the exterior doesn't match the interior at the moment, but what can you do?

Just because images seem to make posts more interesting, here are a few of the recent "express purchases" made via frantic phone calls or midnight internet sessions.

Front door hardware from Hamilton Decorative

Remember the posts about how much I loved our exterior door handles? How I loved them so much that I ordered them for our interior door handles? Well, all of the hardware for our house was ordered with the exception of that for the front door. The Front Door! Total oversight on our part.

Front entry exterior hanging lamp by ELK Lighting

Post lanterns from ELK Lighting

Again, some of you may recall my agonizing over exterior lights for the house. A while back we ordered the wall fixtures, but I never came across anything that caught my eye for our front doorstep or our post lanterns. Everything either looked too ordinary or way too ornate. Well, there you have it folks, I finally threw my hands up two nights ago and ordered ourselves some ordinary and ornate lighting fixtures. Whew, it feels good to check another item off the list.

There has been a great deal of hustle and bustle at the house recently so we'll get some photos up soon. Hope everyone is doing well!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Family photo wall

When my mom and I were recently ransacking New York, we discovered Calypso Home. Oh be still my heart. It quickly became our favorite much so that we returned to the store three out of three days! ( Yes, I did reassure them that we weren't stalking their staff...not sure that they were convinced). We ended up purchasing bedding for two rooms, a rug, a wonderful table, and I am still considered two more tables. I know...stop the madness!

Part of their decor that I fell in love with were their display shelves (and yes, I realize that we couldn't purchase those...but I almost tried...). They were chunky wood beams covered with gorgeous white, cream, and natural colored goodies. Here is a photo from a while back from the internet.

I love how natural they look, even coupled with the dark brackets. In fact, they kind of gave me the same vibe that the lovely Bella Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley did.

I have blogged before about my wish for a family photo wall. I'm already imagining standing in front of the walls gazing at wonderful images with our friends and family. It will be located on the second floor landing and the photo has always been a huge inspiration. Because I've been so drawn to the displays at Calypso Home and Bella, I'm now thinking of modifying it to use more natural wood.

In a moment of weakness (or more likely foolishness) this morning I bid on old barn lumber on ebay. Now I am the proud owner of four 60 inch pieces of lumber that hopefully can be used for our family wall.

Seriously, what was I thinking? Now that they are mine, I'm thinking that I was a bit too eager in bidding on these. At a price of $24, I suppose they aren't going to break the bank. Hopefully they won't be too warped or distressed to be able to use. Once again, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Two beds for five rooms?

No that really doesn't add up, does it? We're really looking forward to picking out funky bed frames as we travel over the next few years, but ultimately, we need a little something for our guests to sleep on. Room and Board offered a good solution with the Perspective queen bed and Parsons day bed.

Perspective bed from Room and Board

This bed looks like it will be used in our downstairs guest room. It's actually fairly low to the ground which will offer lots of wall space to have fun with.

Parsons day bed from Room and Board

The day bed will actually be used in the future playroom. We should be able to cover it with enough cushy pillows that it will double as seating when it's not needed for sleeping quarters.

Overall, Room and Board was really easy to deal with. They shipped to our freight forwarder for free and allow for additional items to be added onto the order over the phone. This is especially helpful when you don't have a credit card billing address in the US. So there's the update for today...we're now up to four for five rooms with sleeping arrangements. Novel idea in a home, huh?

Bath accessories

Towel racks, toilet paper holders, shower caddies...galore! Who knew that there was so much to choose from? Actually I'm slowly realizing that the abundance of options is what often leads us to indecision. Would that one particular item give a little added pizzazz? I often find myself wondering if I am going to get suckered into this on each and every decision. (Answer yes if you belong to this household.) I'm sure no one is going to enter the house and proclaim the beauty of our towel racks. With that being said, if you feel so inclined...

The order for our bath accessories was placed today and hopefully they will arrive shortly. We went primarily with the Ginger Surface line. Ultimately it was their hand towel rack that stole my eye. (Yes, yes, get a life, I know...)

But then began the dilemma about whether we would get more use out of the double towel rack or the hotel shelf (with a rack of course) in our master bath. Back and forth (a few too many times) and the trigger was finally pulled on the double towel rack. Check back in a few to see if hotel shelf has been installed in its place.'s nice to know that there aren't too many more decisions to be made (or changed for that matter!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wood floors and wall tiles

Excitement galore! A quick sneak away from the office this afternoon put a huge smile on my face. Our wood floors are almost complete.

The color is perfect...dark but still warm. They work really well with the windows and exterior doors. Now we get to look forward to the doors and window sills being stained the same color. I know, I know, I'm getting ahead of myself once again...

Dusty but beautiful wood floors

It was equally as exciting to see that the wall tiling in our master shower is close to complete. A little rumor made it to me that one of Mr. Big's buddies walked into the master bath this weekend and quickly proclaimed it to be a spa. Perfect! If a guy gets it, we've done something right! :)

Close up of the floor and wall tile (how crazy is the optical distortion on this image?)

A little eye relief

The cobalt blue countertop for the jack-and-jill bathroom was also in progress. In a few days, the entire wall should be covered in wall tiles. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing this bathroom once it's finalized.

The grout for all of the wall tiles should be completed by the end of the week. That's the plan anyway...

There is currently a lot of activity at the house. Our move-in date isn't too far away. It's a bit hit or miss on whether we'll be making that date. We've given up our current condo, but finding a friends place to crash wouldn't be too difficult. The real challenge is that we have family arriving to stay in the house very, very soon. Please keep your fingers crossed for us!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ceiling light

The front entry ceiling light has been perplexing us for a while. The standard white flushmount fixture just didn't seem exciting enough for the entry of the house, especially as it will be helping to highlight our fisherman painting. I was hoping to find something with a bit of pizazz. Unfortunately, that hoping has spanned a period of many months (not dissimilar to many other decisions!).

While recently in Orlando, we stumbled upon a lighting store chock full of much so that it was actually difficult to see individual fixtures from one another. A turn around a corner...and wow...there it was. The perfect fixture for our front entry. The ET2 Larmes fixture was hung with the glass bulbs only a few inches from the flush mount base (as opposed to the image below). It twinkled amongst the rest of the lights and I was smitten immediately.

I had seen it on websites before, but it is much more impressive in person. One more decision down...and one more fixture to anticipate getting installed.

Car...I mean

What size do you need? What color? What? You don't know this information? Tsk, tsk. It was surprising to find that carpet salespersons are not to far off from their car counterparts...on top of you, at least in my experience. And rugs are far from inexpensive. Definitely not a purchase that you want to be rushed into. In a nutshell, the whole experience was pretty overwhelming without having lived in the house yet.

Fortunately our trip was not all in vain as we did pick up two beauties. Ultimately, the cotton flatweave collection from Madeline Weinrib consistently grabbed my eye. When I returned back to the island, I was surprised to find that I chose the exact same pattern in different color combinations.

Platinum for the main living area (or possibly master bedroom)

Delf blue for the two Mediterranean blue-and-white rooms upstairs

Her rugs are definitely worth a peek for a more casual comfortable rug option. Beautiful!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Casesarstone countertops

Our kitchen and mudroom countertops have been a bit of a trouble spot for us. We found a gorgeous limestone that manufacturers warned us about time and time again. Apparently it was just too porous and would be very difficult to maintain. We went back to the drawing board and considered granite, concrete, and pretty much any surface under the sun.

Our designer had suggested that we look at a product called Caesarstone, which is a manufactured quartz product. For those that have already raised their nose at a surface that is less than 100% natural (it's only 93% natural...), feel free to move onto the next post. For those that are interested, let me tell you that this product is FAB!

Caesarstone is more heat, scratch and stain resistant than granite. But more importantly to me, they have lots of options that are fairly uniform in color. Because we have floor and wall tiles with lots of movement in them, I was looking for something exactly along these lines. While I pined over concrete, this will give Mr. Big the comfort of countertops that won't require loads of maintenance.

We decided on the Desert Limestone color for our kitchen and the Concrete color for the mudroom. They look gorgeous with our door, tile, and floor samples. I positively cannot wait to see them once installed! With our dark cabinets, the kitchen should roughly look like this:

For the mudroom, we decided to go with the Concrete color to add a bit of contrast to our light cabinets and wall tiles. Once again, it looks fab together. (This color also looked great in the kitchen, but the lighter color seemed to brighten everything up).

Boy, am I ever excited that we've made a decision...and hopefully such a good one!

All sorts of trouble

Last Saturday was a real mom, Mrs. Designer Extradonnaire, visited Mr. Big and I on the island to see how the house was progressing. We spent two days visualizing, explaining, imagining the house as a finished product. But the best part was yet to come. On Tuesday we boarded a plane to fly to Orlando for two days followed by a trip to New York for four days. Yes, we were let loose with a credit card in hand. I'm fairly certain Mr. Big has been taking deep breaths each time he sees my number roll up on his cell phone over the past week.

Truth be told, we have not gone entirely hog wild. It's been relatively tame. We've had the time to see what is in the stores, browse bolts of upholstery fabric, and confirm (or unconfirm) choices previously made sight-unseen. But we haven't actually pulled out the cash or credit card too often.

The next few posts will take us through what we found as it's too much to put into one post. We've honestly been shopping (i.e. hunting) for no less than 6-8 hours a day. Fun, fun, fun!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Inspiration weekend?

Not sure what got into me, but apparently I'm back to enjoying the work of others. This is a restaurant in London that jumped off the pages at me. Gorgeous!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

More great rooms

Continued from the previous entry...

Dark kitchen cabinets in a neutral setting from LivingEtc, March 2005

Greys and greens from LivingEtc, July 2005
Blue grey walls (dark but nice ) from Home and Gardens, June 2006

Neutral walls accented by textured wallpaper from 25 Beautiful Homes, August 2006

And just because these are beautiful stairways from Desire to Inspire, I thought that I would share with them.