Monday, April 24, 2017

Choosing Design Features for our Lexar Home

Remember my list of wants/needs for our dream home with Lexar Homes?

Well, after that was taken care of, there were a couple of design features I wanted to add to the plan. These were all inspired by Pinterest, so I'll link to the original posts.

1) Makeup vanity. In our old home, I didn't have a place to sit in the bathroom to do my makeup. Standing for 20 minutes every morning wasn't an option, so I did my makeup on the dining room table or on the kitchen counter. It drove Graham crazy to have my makeup out on the kitchen counter every day.. So, our new home HAD to have a separate space for makeup with a spot to sit.

These were my inspiration:
His and hers bath

Original image from Houzz. This one is way too elaborate for my taste, but I was trying to find a corner makeup vanity that I could sit at..

Unknown original source (googled "corner makeup vanity"). Our vanity will look very similar to this one.

2) Tile designs behind master bathroom vanity up to the ceiling. Subway tile is affordable, classic, and can have various layouts that make it look stylish and contemporary. I really love geometric patterns, so I want to contrast a geometric tile design with round vanity mirrors above the sinks. These are my inspiration.

Shake it Up: 7 Creative New Ways to Lay Subway Tile | Apartment Therapy:
Original link here

bathroom with lattice tile, gray vanity, crystal knobs, white counters, chrome fixtures, built in storage tower:
Unknown source. My favorite non-subway tile design, but this specific tile is wayyy too expensive for my taste.

3) Stone hearth behind wood burning stove. With a typical fireplace, you can be pretty basic or glamorous with the surround and mantle.. but with wood burning stoves, usually it's pretty simple. Wood burning stoves can be kind of ugly and just serve a function without style. I wanted to make it look more stylish by adding a stone background behind the wood burning stove on the wall up to the ceiling. The home won't be built with a mantle, but I'll have Graham DIY it later. These are my inspiration:

Stone Work & Fireplace/Woodstoves - traditional - Living Room - Other Metro - Cashmere Construction:
Original image from Houzz

Take out boring fireplace and replace it with our wood burning stove:
Original source unknown.

4) Built-in kitchen desk and cookbook shelves. Once we found out that Lexar Homes couldn't do a custom cookbook shelf for me in the kitchen, and we re-worked the dining room layout, we decided to have Graham's brother design a custom kitchen desk and shelf section for us. It won't be built right away, so we'll probably get some cheap IKEA thing in the mean time, but we plan to put it in after the first few years. These are my inspiration:

What a sweet little tile Laura Moss again - desire to inspire -
Original link here

Office with wallpaper & built ins. Could do something like this in laundry room with stencil.:
Original link here

5) Planked kitchen island. No, this isn't shiplap, nor do I consider it to be the "industrial farmhouse" style that is so hot right now. I'm not a country girl, and my husband is from inner city Portland (before it was gentrified). But, I do love the geometric lines from the planks, and I love that it'll protect the wall from people's feet when they sit at the counter. We plan to DIY this while the house is being built.

Turn your kitchen from boring builder basic to beautiful with a DIY Planked Peninsula with Corbels tutorial at main
Original link here

6) Double barn door between our master bedroom and workout room. Although we plan to have the doors open for most of the time, we wanted a way to separate the rooms for privacy in case we have a lot of family staying at our house (which is definitely in our plans). We plan to DIY these from cheap-o hollow doors from ReStore. These are my inspiration:

Contemporary Barn Door
Original link here

Original link here (Yeah, Graham said NO to anything intricate.. so it's a no-go on anything with a specific design).

Anyways, keep following my blog to see these plans come to life in my house, and to learn more about building your own home!

Update: Curious about our progress? Click on this link to see all of our home building updates, or check out my Instagram account.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Renting Sucks

Ok, so now I need to rant about renting. The only good thing about renting is that when there are problems with the house, you can call someone else to fix them without having to pay for them. That's the only good thing. Ugh. Wait, the bedrooms are bigger than our old house. Ok, so those are the only good things. Oh, and there's a gas fireplace. I promise.. that's it.

--The rent for this tiny place is only $100 less than our previous mortgage.
--The bathroom smells musty.
--The living room, dining room, and kitchen floor plan is tiny.
--I can only store 1/4 of my kitchen stuff in the kitchen.
--The oven/stove combo is older than me.
--I don't want to cook because of the awful state of the kitchen.
--The whole place is so small that if literally one thing is on the floor, it feels like the house is a disaster.
--For the love of all that is holy, pine needles are the worst for light-colored home floors. Vacuuming every few days is a must.

Anyways, we are adjusting to life in this temporary house. It is really odd living in place that I don't plan to be in long. We didn't hang up any pictures or wall art except for spots where there were already nails on the walls. The TV is balanced against the wall on top of our media center. 2/3 of my kitchen appliances and supplies are in the garage. The piano is in the garage. My life is on hold because I feel like I can't do all of normal things I do. I cannot wait for our new house to be built, and this renting experience will only make it more sweet when it's done!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Building a Semi-Custom Home with Lexar Homes

I promise, my blog will NOT only be about building our house.. but that's kind of the only thing we're doing right now. We don't get out much.

Before I get to go on about the joys about customizing our desired floor plan, I forgot to mention exactly how I did a feasibility study in my first blog. I said I gathered information, but I had to go through proper channels. Every county will have information about the land and lots within their boundaries. Pierce County has an interactive map that allows you to get the parcel number, tax info, etc. The website was helpful, because it tells you if your lot is within certain areas, such as a landslide risk, wetland boundaries, aquifer recharge area (not quite sure about that one, but it has something to do with groundwater supply), etc. This is important because if your land has wetlands, has a landslide risk, or is in a groundwater supply area, it can increase your cost to build or change the area in which you can build. Also, each assessment can cost upwards of $500+ (landslide risk assessment is like $700-1200). I was researching a lot that had some wetlands at the back of the property, which REALLY limited where you could put a house on the lot because the county required fencing 50-100 feet away from the wetland area. Word to the wise: do this research through your county prior to putting in an offer on the land so you don't get too excited if the lot has too many restrictions on it.

Now that that's done.. Let me tell you about the fun part: customizing our floor plan. Since we decided to build with Lexar of Tacoma, we (and I do mean I) narrowed it down between 3-5 various floor plans we liked. I compared the square footage, the base price of the home, and the pros/cons to every floor plan. We could have every thing we wanted in a floor plan, IF we wanted to spend $500K on a house and have a house over 3000 square feet. Yeah, not in our budget, and we definitely don't need a house that big. Lexar does allow you to customize your floor plan, but you do obviously have to get the changes approved by a structural engineer. So, I decided between 2 plans: the 2573 (to state the obvious, the house name is the square footage) with a slight modification to add a 3rd-car garage and slightly increase the size of the home behind the garage, or the 2057 with a custom plan of eliminating the shop in the garage, adding the 3rd car garage, and expanding the house behind the garage.

This is the 2573 (photos posted from Lexar's profile on

This is the 2057:

Like I said, both homes required some tweaking, and we ultimately decided on the 2057 plan to fully make it our own. I really like the general layout, the large kitchen (and you can't see dirty dishes in the sink when you open the front door!), the curved hallway to the back, and the covered porch in the backyard. Plus, when we added in the extra square feet, it was slightly less than the base price for the 2573. I also really liked the curb appeal and exterior of the 2057 plan the best.

So, I started doing drawings of what we wanted to modify on the 2057 plan. Mind you, I'm not an architect or even artistic. I simply drew a scaled drawing of the house and what I wanted it to look like. I got rid of the garage shop, added a 3rd car garage, and expanded the entire house behind it. I wanted to add a couple of things: playroom, exercise room, cut-out in the dining room for a desk and cookbook shelves, and a large closet in the playroom. I changed the layout of the master bedroom, master bath, and closet, so I had no idea how to configure the bathroom, the windows, etc.. so the drawing was pretty basic. So, we handed in my sketches and hoped for the best.

Unfortunately, due to my lack of expertise, and a lack of communication on their part, their floor plans and engineering calculations from my shoddy drawings went to engineering and drafting without us approving the final product. So, when we got the plans almost two months later, we were excited, but disappointed that the plans weren't complete from our perspective.

--They forgot the dining room cut-out for my shelves and desk.
--There were no additional windows in the huge master bedroom or one single window in the master bathroom.
--They forgot the man-door out the garage.
--The pantry was small.
--The workout room was ginormous and just as big as the master bedroom.

We also wanted a couple more changes:
--More lights in bigger bedrooms.
--Expand the dining room out to be flush with the master bedroom.
--Add the cut-out in the dining room for a future built-in desk and cookbook shelves.
--Get rid of the wall to the hallway so we can see into the playroom and hallway and open up the space.
--Add sliding door to back porch.

So, this is what the layout ended up looking like (not sharing the original plans from Lexar for potential copyright issues):

As you can see, I even have furniture picked out for my home.  :)

Anyways, our plans are currently in their second round of drafting, and should be approved soon through Engineering. Once those are through, we will contact our septic and site plan designer to get things moving so we can start the permitting process!

Next installment on the blog: picking design features for our home.

Update: Curious about our progress? Click on this link to see all of our home building updates, or check out my Instagram account.

Ch ch ch ch ch ch Changes

One thing is for sure about this home building process.. There will be changes! Quick Update : drywall is nearly done. Our project manager...