I figured I’d catch you guys up on the house stuff so far by answering a few of the most common questions that seemed to pop up on the blog and via Instagram comments and DMs. I can also do a follow-up post to this one if there are more things you would like to see addressed. If I missed anything pressing, just let me know in the comments section!
I’d also selfishly LOVE to use this post as a way to receive some advice from all of you! We are very much novices to this whole process and while we’re done designing our plans and framing on our home is complete, I’m a sponge right now and welcome your advice moving forward! Please share away if there’s something you love in your current home or something you did while building or renovating a home that ended up blowing you away or, in another breath, if there is something you did that ended up being a headache or unnecessary in the end, I’d love to know about that, too! The more of your thoughts you can share, the merrier!
Quick House Q&A
What decisions have you made that contribute to this being your “forever home?”
We are making a lot of decisions that center around us being in this home for a very long time. First, the property we purchased checked major life-goal boxes for us. It’s on the water (we are HUGE lake people) and the lot is flat, making it ideal for lots of outside play for the kids. We’re also looking at our home as a long-term investment from a financial perspective.
(I love that Sadie visited our lot a bunch of times before she passed. It feels like part of her will be with us there, too.)
In terms of our floorplans, we opted to work with an architect, something we likely would not have paid to do had this not been a home we saw ourselves in long-term, as it’s a significant upfront cost. That being said, we already feel like every cent we paid to our architect has been worth it tenfold because we are obsessed with the layout of our house and thought about it extensively. (Shout out to Troy from Smith-Slovik for being a total rockstar architect and turning our sketches and vision into something even better… and actually buildable!) During this phase, we poured hours into making sure every square inch of our home will meet the needs of our family now and in future years.
For example, we’re building a very large pantry with an extra fridge/freezer inside of it because we know we’ll go through a lot of food as the boys get bigger and hope to have a house that can comfortably host friends and family, especially since our entire family with the exception of my father-in-law lives out of state. We also have space for our parents to stay when they come visit without stairs to hopefully make their visits comfortable as they get older and wish to stay longer. That is just the tip of the iceberg but those are some things we’re considering from a “forever home” standpoint.
We’re also a little more willing to spend money on areas like high quality cabinets that we might scrimp on if we saw ourselves selling this home within five years if that makes sense.
Do the boys know and understand what is happening?
Chase and Ryder are so excited about the new house and have been “in the know” from the beginning! (Rhett is too little to understand.) The big kids really loved the beginning of the construction process — clearing the land, pouring the foundation, framing — it totally blew them away!
They’ve also enjoyed sharing their ideas for the house with us and we’ve done a lot of cool things to the home with them in mind, mostly centering around storage and making use of awkward spaces to create enclosed “secret spaces” for them in their rooms where they can have little clubhouses, etc. Above all else, this is a family home and we wanted to build it to accommodate children and everyday life in an intelligent way. Chase’s request for a waterslide leading from his room into the lake, however, got vetoed.
Will Chase or Ryder have to change schools?
Ryan has actually been eyeing the property we purchased for several years so we were so excited and thankful when everything seemed to align. The location is ideal for us and Chase and Ryder will thankfully not need to move schools. I know the whole school thing is HUGE and we definitely did not want to move far away from the area because we love and value our boys’ schools so, so much.
What are some things you will be doing in your new home that you do not have in your current home?
First and foremost, please know that I am well aware that all of the “issues” I mention below in our current house are not big issues. We truly do love our home and could’ve been here long-term as well. We’re just thankful we’re on the path we are on with the new house but have so much love for our first house, too.
Okay, now to answer the question…
We love our current house so much and while the size (square footage-wise) is just fine, the allocation of space has been an issue for a while.
We do not have a “real” pantry outside of our kitchen cabinets and the lack of a mudroom/drop zone is my number one gripe with our current home since having kids. We will now have a butler’s pantry (a term that was totally new to me before this process but it was at the top of my “must” list for the new house) and a mudroom with lockers, pullout drawers for shoes and a drop zone for mail and school papers. Hallelujah! When people ask what I’m most excited about with our new house, I say the outside space (the lake!) and the pantry/mudroom.
Our current laundry room is small and doubles as the place where we leave our shoes though there isn’t really space for them in this area at all. Having a dedicated laundry room where I can dry our clothes in the laundry room and not drape them over our dining room chairs sounds pretty awesome. And in the list of things that feel unnecessary but also really cool — we’re adding a small dog bath in the laundry room. This was originally designed with Sadie in mind so if you have any ideas for how we can incorporate her memory into it in a subtle way, I’m all ears. We see a dog (maybe more than one?) in our future, so we are making decisions to make this home very pet-friendly, too.
Our current house also has limited closet storage in the house overall — all things that were totally fine before kids but as we’ve added more children to our family, we’re feeling this more and more. I wanted climate-controlled storage I could walk into (not in the attic) because I constantly need to access storage items since we do a ton of hand-me-downs for the boys for both clothing and toys. Closets and adequate storage all over the house were a must.
In terms of the yard at our current house, it is very sloped and not great for outside playtime, something that feels increasingly important to us with young kids. For the new house, we prioritized a great yard/outside space for the boys.
How did you select your builder?
We met with four builders before deciding to go with Luke of King Farm Building Group. (He is basically a one-man show which we liked a lot.) We actually partnered with a different larger builder through the architect phase of the build and paid a fee to that builder to have them accompany us on that journey. It was well worth it but we parted ways after we learned of some quality issues with other homes they built in the area.
Luke came very highly recommended to us and seemed to check a lot of our boxes. He was the most thorough with his cost estimations and worked with us the most on the price of our build since most of his home builds are closer to the city and he was interested in adding a lake home to his repertoire. He also received extensive praise from a local designer regarding the quality of his homes and was the builder we meshed with the best from a personality standpoint. We were given a lot of advice from friends going into this process and the number one piece of advice we received was to take your time selecting a builder and make sure they are someone you can see yourself communicating with regularly in a positive way.
Are you using an interior designer?
No. Never have I ever had more respect for interior designers than I do now that we are more than a year into this process. We are not currently using an interior designer due to budget constraints and, for the sake of complete honesty, this can make the process feel very overwhelming at times. There is a LOT to designing a home beyond just picking out pretty lighting, lovely plumbing fixtures and floors. There’s a big learning curve involved in making the right selections and it involves a lot of measurements, Googling the heck out of things like the right lighting sizes for certain spaces, etc.
Our builder sets us up with great vendors but if they don’t have exactly what we want (like certain Anthropologie light fixtures, for example), we’re responsible for placing orders on our own and then also responsible for making sure everything arrives on time and comes with everything it needs to be installed in our home. That’s the kind of stuff I feel very inexperienced in handling but fortunately the internet has a tooon of information out there… It’s just a matter finding the time to dive into finding it!
What have been some things that have been a priority for you in the design process? From a visual standpoint?
Windows! We allocated a lot of our budget to windows because natural light is huge for us. We also wanted to take full advantage of our lake view and there’s just no replacing natural sunlight in a home.
I also spent a TON of time selecting the design elements for our staircase. I don’t love stairs as a focal point in a home but I also really appreciate a subtle yet beautiful staircase. I am so, so pleased with the stair design we ended up with and can’t wait to show you guys what it looks like once it is in our home.
Question of the Day
Please share any thoughts you have regarding things you love in your current home and decisions you may have made while renovating or building a home that were well worth all of the time and effort. Please also share something you wish you would’ve done during the home renovation/build process that may have initially been overlooked or something you did that wasn’t worth it in the end.
I’m all ears and soaking up all the information and advice I can right now!