The Best Part of the Job

Usually at this time in April we are knee deep in Parade of Homes activities.  However, earlier this year Johnston County BIA announced the Parade of Homes will be moving to the fall.  Wow, that ended up being a good decision based on our current “Stay at Home” status.

I know this has been a difficult time for many.  For us personally, this whole COVID-19 pandemic became real for us with the sudden cancellation of College Baseball.  Our son, who plays for Coastal Carolina, called me from his hotel room in Louisiana on a Thursday to tell me they were just told their baseball season had been cancelled.  We had just watched them play on Tuesday and were looking forward to a great season and then  it was all over in a snap of a finger.  At the time, I remember being angry, sad, frustrated, and bewildered that they could make such an “unjustified” decision.  Within a  few days  schools closed, restaurants and businesses began to close and toilet paper completely vanished.  Our life how we knew it, and took for granted, changed dramatically and left us asking “What do we do from here??? ”

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Thankfully, the Home Building/Construction industry has been “deemed necessary” thus far allowing us to keep working.  Although building didn’t stop, it has definitely changed.   Maintaining a safe environment through “social distancing” quickly became a top priority.  We had to adapt and be more strategic in scheduling our subcontractors in order to minimize the number of workers onsite at any one time.  Receiving materials and selections from suppliers from all over the world quickly became a big challenge as manufacturing plants began to close or work with minimal staffing.  Almost all Selection Showrooms have closed to client access leaving us to make due with “virtual selections”.  We now have our client and prospect meetings through Zoom meetings instead of face to face.  But overall, we have stepped up to the challenges and tried to make the best of them with a positive attitude and thankfulness that we still have a job to go to and clients to serve.

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Watching the news lately has had me thinking a lot about how much I actually love my job.  I’m going to be honest, this is a hard business.  The building business carries a lot of stress with it.  But ultimately, I enjoy helping clients create the home of their dreams.  The past few months we have had the pleasure of working with three different clients with three very different personalities that translated into three very different style homes.  Each home was driven by the unique circumstances and family dynamic and needs of the client.  My job is to take those unique circumstances, individual style, and functional needs and help our clients navigate the Selection Process resulting into a beautiful finished home that they love.

 

Recently, we had the pleasure of working with our first Mid Century Modern style home.  This new architectural style has been a fun challenge.  I’ve enjoyed researching and looking outside my comfort zone in order to meet the needs of the client while staying true to the essence of this particular style.

Mid Century Modern- Minimalist approach, clean lines, functional, exploration of non-traditional materials, colors, and textures.

One of the prominent Design elements of this particular home is recognized quickly in the Exterior.  The clean lines coupled with a mixture of materials and colors helped blend the style of the home with its natural surroundings.  The Exterior components included large bronze casement windows in order to minimize lines and create a dramatic feel.  Instead of textured cement siding we used Smooth siding to give a crisp, clean look combined with patches of linear stacked stone.  The front door, garage door, and front porch hand rail added a hint of natural cedar while staying true to its modern flavor.

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But it was the attention to the little details that made this project a lot of fun.  Details like the recessed outlet covers, door bell, house numbers, and gutters were strategic in keeping with the overall style.

Since most of the roof lines are angled back we didn’t need gutters on the entire perimeter like a traditional home.  Instead we were able to put traditional gutters on the rear to keep costs down while changing to a Box Gutter to the front porch followed with a Rain Chain instead of the traditional downspout.  Now, instead of an eyesore, we have a beautiful, artistic, feature that blends beautifully not only with the style of the home but also with the artistic personality of our client.

I just love it when all the details come together to make the perfect home that really encompasses the personality of the homeowner.

Join me next time as we take a more in-depth look at some of the Interior Details and Features that made this home truly unique.

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Successful Open House that Almost Never Happened

I want to personally thank everyone that came by our open house weekend during the last weekend of Parade of Homes.  Honestly, we weren’t sure what to expect opening up an Unfinished home but we had good attendance and great feedback, so that’s a success in my book.

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As I expected, the Kitchen proved to be one of the “favorites” from visitors over the weekend.  We received great reviews for the Kitchen cabinet colors, layout, and added bells and whistles like the pullouts and running the cabinets up to the ceiling.  Another fan favorite of our Women visitors was the Butler’s Cabinet tucked away in the adjacent Dining Area.

Another immediate fan favorite from the women was the Powder Room.  It’s a small space, but packs a big punch in color and textures.  Can’t wait to show you that room when its all finished.

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The Master Bath seemed to be a favorite equally among the women and men.  We will take a closer look at it next blog post, so stay tuned.

The Men were the #1 fan of having the extra space of the Basement and workshop area.

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The most popular feature of the home from BOTH men and women was definitely  the Back Porches and the beautiful View that came with it.  Pictures really don’t do it justice, you should really come see it for yourself to truly appreciate what this home and lot have to offer.

As successful as the weekend was,  midday Friday I came very close to calling the whole thing off.

You would think since we had already determined that the home wouldn’t be finished, therefore, didn’t have to be perfect,  it would alleviate some of the stress as we approached the open house weekend.  But that would be an incorrect assumption.

It had already been a stressful two weeks leading up to this final Parade Weekend.  Through a series of events I won’t bore you with, we had finally come to a place where I thought the home was safe enough to tour and showcase some of the beautiful features the home had to offer.

So that Friday afternoon, I loaded up my car with some items to carry over to the house.  I had scheduled Samantha, our real estate agent, to meet me at the house to tidy up a bit and set up some things getting ready for the open house.  When I walked in the home I was quickly taken aback to what was before me. . .

The entire interior of the home was covered in plastic.

PLASTIC! Plastic tightly woven around EVERY cabinet, EVERY window, EVERYTHING that needed to be protected to start the painting process.   If you are asking WHY would they cover everything up right before an open house weekend, well, that is a great question!  Because that’s what I was asking.    Funny story—our painter, who I adore by the way, showed up early to get a jump on covering everything up before painting was to begin the next week.  Well, in this business “showing up early” NEVER happens!  But it did this time.  The whole thing is kind of funny now, but it’s taken two weeks for me to get to a point I can say that.  But at the time, I just about had a meltdown.  Luckily, I am in the middle of a great Bible Study by Barb Roose called Winning the Worry Battle.  As we have been delving into the Book of Joshua, we learned how to resist having “meltdowns” in real life.  Sure am glad I had just studied that, because I was pretty close to having one that Friday.

As I sat there looking at all the plastic, these thoughts were swirling in my brain:

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Big thanks to Samantha and Herring Cabinets for taking pity on me and helping me get some of the plastic down so that our visitors coming to our open house could actually SEE THE HOUSE.

Anyway, interior painting finished up this week and things are really taking shape.  Trim outs have begun (installing lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures, appliances, etc).  If you are eager to see our progress we will be hosting an Open House again this Sunday from 1:00-3:00pm.  (Address: 52 Diamante Drive, Clayton, NC ).  We invite you to come on out and take a look at our continued “work in progress”.

P.S. For those that came by and voted for our next Spec Home plan, we are going to keep the voting ongoing a little longer.  If you didn’t get a chance to vote yet, come on out to our open house or stay tuned to my next blog post for more voting options.

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Heart of the Home

Hopefully you read my last post and realize when you come to visit our Parade Home entry you won’t be surprised to walk around an active construction site.  We’ve been working hard to get the home safe for guests to visit.  I realize its not completed but I personally think its fun to be an active part of the Design/Build process.  So we invite you to come visit and see our Progress.

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Since there are  A LOT of details that will take place over the next several weeks as we finish construction, I thought I would take you through some of the ongoing design elements happening right before your eyes.  When designing a home, I almost always start in the Kitchen.  I feel the Kitchen is the heart of the home and everything else stems from it.  In an open floor plan such as the Mabry, the kitchen is visible in all main living areas so the colors and style will influence all the surrounding areas.

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I spend a lot of time on Pintertest and Houzz.  Thankfully,  due to my profession, I can browse and “pin” all I want and consider it “working”.  Wink_Emoji_grande   Well, if you spend any time on any Home Design media you will notice a trend that is coming back in a BIG way.  Stained wood cabinets with a lot of grain and texture.  The older, knottier, rustic, grainier, the better.

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Now, if you haven’t been paying much attention to the latest trends, you may be tempted to question my expertise, like Neil did when he called me right after the cabinets were installed.   Side note: this happens from time to time, when Neil calls me in a panic wondering if I’ve lost my mind because he doesn’t immediately agree with my color/design choice.  I’m going to be honest, his reaction has made me question my own ideas and design prowess from time to time but in the end when it all comes together I’ve never been disappointed and neither has he (knock on wood).

This year, I knew I didn’t want to have a “white” kitchen and I knew I wanted to incorporate some wood grain.  I kept seeing this gray/woodgrain combo kitchen pop up again and again on my browser.  I’ve been drawn to the overall look with the mix of gray and the warm tones and texture of the oak.  I love this look and it inspired my color choices for this home.   But I do admit when you first walk in and there are just cabinets, and the tops haven’t been installed, and the tile backsplash hasn’t been installed and the coordinating colors and details haven’t been installed yet, the wood grain gets your attention.  So the fun part is watching it all come together.  Here’s what we have so far:

I love the Kitchen layout in this Mabry plan.  It has a lot of perimeter cabinets and a nice big Island, all us gals love!   I chose to take the cabinets all the way to the ceiling and add some glass doors on each side of the hoodvent.  I added my usual “nice to haves” with pullouts on each side of the cooktop, large pot and pan drawers, and extra storage on the backside of the island.

I’ve been wanting to use the Black Stainless Kitchenaid appliance package for awhile now and finally have a kitchen colorscheme I can integrate this rich, sleek, finish.  I’m so excited!  I get a little kiddy just talking about it.

I added the newer, now trending, Black kitchen faucet along with a Silgranit kitchen sink in my favorite color Cinder.  Then, I tied all the finishes together with these gorgeous Midnight Chrome island pendants and Gunmetal hardware.  Gorgeous!

Right off the Kitchen is the large Dining area.  There’s a lot of things to love about this Dining area.  First, the view off the back of the house is amazing.  The Dining area itself is really spacious and offers a customized Butler’s cabinet with glass doors and a plate rack for displaying all your special dishes.  The ceiling is a tray that we are adding 1×6 Tongue and Groove that will be stained to coordinate with the oak island and hardwood floors.

Finally, I added this gorgeous black iron and gray bead fixture to give it a heavier but elegant feel that pulls all the surrounding color and finishes together.

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When finished, this will be a great place to entertain and spend quality time with friends and family.

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I invite you to come see for yourself this weekend, April 27 & 28th from 12:00pm-5:00pm at 52 Diamante Drive in the Portofino Community.

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I have some good news and some bad news

Usually at this point, my blog readers are tuning in to hear about the highs and lows of our “Parade” journey.  Parade of Homes in Johnston County is right around the corner and I’ve yet to mention anything in my blog.

If you’ve been a faithful reader eagerly anticipating what “Parade” stories I have for you this year, I’ve got some good news and some bad news.

The good news: this post represents the beginning of my new blog series where I take the reader through some of the adventures of building our 2019 Parade Entry.

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You’ll be pleased to know I’ve got plenty of cool ideas and great features to share as well as the usual “near catastrophes” and drama that all make for entertaining reading (not so entertaining for Neil and I).

The bad news. . . well, let’s hold that thought a little longer and start from the beginning.

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Once upon a time (back in August) there was a Husband and Wife Builder Team (Neil and I) that found a great house plan they believed to be a great home to build as their upcoming Parade entry.  The plan had all the important features that make a “Parade Worthy” plan.

  •  It had curb appeal with these beautiful stained beams and accents.

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  • Open floorplan with large Kitchen, large Dining Area, Dropzone Area, Downstairs Master and additional Downstairs Flex space (Bedroom or Study) 4 Bedrooms, plus Bonus.

However, the best lots that were available at the time were sloped lots that would be best suited for a basement foundation.  So the Builder Team decided to build the home with a basement foundation.

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Construction began about the time the Fall weather arrived.  Things seemed to be on track when suddenly. . .  the rains came.  And it rained, and rained, and rained some more.  (Side note: Digging a basement doesn’t work well in the rain.)

Breaks in the rain were a welcome sight, but by the time the jobsite dried out enough for work to resume, it started to rain, and rain, and rain some more.

Side note: Did you know we had record amount of rain in 2018? 

Note to self: When building a Parade Home entry with a deadline- DON’T BUILD A BASEMENT FOUNDATION.  There’s too much risk and timing that is out of our control.  So that leads me to the bad news. . .

Our 2019 Parade of Homes entry will NOT be finished in time.

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So you may be asking yourself “if you know your home can’t be finished in time to make judging then why enter it”.  (Well that’s what Neil keeps asking me.)

Well, believe me, this was not an easy decision to make.  But after much thoughtful consideration and discussion with other building industry professionals,  whose opinion and experience I value, we decided to enter the home anyway and here’s why–

As a small custom builder, Neil and I have focused our attention on quality instead of quantity.  We concentrate on making each home unique and special whether it’s a spec home or a client’s dreamhome.  Since we don’t build in volume, we won’t have another spec home available for another 9 months from now.  So our team felt it is important for prospective buyers and our “fans” (hey, I didn’t even know we had “fans”, but that’s what they told me) to walk through our home and see the quality and care that goes on during the building process even though the home is not completely finished.

Believe me, if we allowed Pride alone to dictate our decision, Neil and I would not have entered.  But even though we can’t “win an award”, we feel keeping the relationships we have built over the years (our “fans”, current and prospective clients, realtor community, and other building professionals) is worth missing out on the awards banquet.  Opening our home and getting the opportunity to meet and talk with visitors is an award in itself.

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Overall, I’m still very excited about this year’s home.  I can’t wait to show you some of the custom features, design strategies, its potential for growth with the basement, and the beautiful lot and community where it is located, all of which will still be apparent even though it’s not finished.

So although our story didn’t go the way we had planned, sometimes it’s the Journey that produces something amazing.

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I hope you will join me on my upcoming blog series as I take you on this year’s Parade Journey.   Also, mark your calendars to Visit us in person April 13-14th, 20-21st, and 27th-28th during the 2019 Johnston County Parade of Homes.

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# 6 Favorite Design Feature- What every girl wants

From the perspective of a custom builder, there are three main areas I look for in a home to see if it’s worthy of building as a speculative home and especially as a Parade Home entry.  First, is curb appeal.  We market homes by either photos online or someone physically driving by.  If the home doesn’t have curb appeal, then no one is going to click on it to see more or no one is going to stop their car and get out to see what’s inside.  So curb appeal is a top priority.

Second thing I look at is the Kitchen.  How is the Kitchen designed, where is it located within the plan, how many cabinets does it have?  How big is the island?  What features can we add? Etc.  Since Kitchens are the heart of a home, the Kitchen plays a significant role in a plans success.

And the third most important feature we look for is the Master Suite, especially the Master Bath.  There’s no perfect equation I go by that distinguishes if a Master Bath makes the cut, but there are certain things I look for.

In last year’s Parade entry, we built our Meadow plan.  The Meadow is a great plan because it has many great features within the home.  Good curb appeal. . . check.   Great Kitchen. . . check.  Master Suite. . . check!

What makes the Master Bath so great in the Meadow plan?   In this situation, we manipulated the bathroom from its original design to create a large double headed shower and linen closet.  We added stained 1×6 and a beautiful chandelier to the ceiling.  On this plan we have a large but unique vanity configuration.  I have done the vanity a different way all three times we have built this plan.

This time around when I was working on the cabinet selections, I found a brand new feature the cabinet supplier was offering:  A Vanity Cabinet Pullout that helps organize and store all your hair tools and products.   How cool is that!!!!

Working with our Custom Cabinet Guy, Bryant helped me with the layout and the pullout became a perfect additional to an already incredible Master Vanity.   During last year’s Parade of Homes it was one of the Hot items that ladies from all ages LOVED.  And I love it too, “I want that” in my next home!

We recently had a client that added one to her personal vanity and her daughter’s vanity.  An advantage to working with a custom cabinet maker, is we are able to include a feature such as this and blend it seamlessly into the cabinet configuration.

I’m also about to add it to this year’s Parade Home entry in the Master Bath’s  “L” shaped vanity configuration.  It was a challenge, but Bryant worked with me to include it. Can’t wait to show you.

What do you think?  Let me know if this is something you would like to have by replying #IWANTTHAT.

 

 

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#5 Favorite Design Feature: Unique Light

As January is upon us, I had to spend more time than usual with my Office Manager hat on and do the part of the job that’s not my favorite like sending out 1099’s, moving out old files and making room for the new year, etc.   It’s not my favorite part of the job, but I know is important.  Thankfully, within a few days I was able to put my Designer hat back on and continue to work on selections for our upcoming Parade entry.

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Meanwhile, in between all of that, I have to find time to put on my Marketing Director hat where I’ve been getting new signs made, updating our website, taking photos and videos of our newest completed project, planning some realtor events,  and of course trying to fit in time for this blog series.

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If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts you may know one of my favorite Design meetings is Lighting Selections.  Over the years I’ve gotten to see a lot of beautiful and interesting light fixtures.  I view light fixtures as a piece of jewelry on the perfect outfit–the finishing touch that catches the eye but complements its surroundings.  I love how light fixtures contribute to the overall style of the home, make a statement, or serve a special function.

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This year we had the pleasure of working with a military family that has traveled all over the world.  From their worldly travels, they had seen a beautiful blown glass fixture they absolutely loved and wanted to incorporate the same concept in their new custom home.   Unfortunately, custom blown art-glass translates into $$$$.  Our goal was to find a way to accomplish the look they wanted in a more realistic budget.

That’s where Carla, with Lights Unlimited, comes in.  Carla is my “go to” lighting resource.  As usual, she snapped into action and found us some beautiful glass pendants  that came in various colors.  Next, we wanted to achieve the multiple colored globes arranged in varying lengths.  Carla had the idea to order a canopy separate plus each pendant separate so we could get varying colors and manipulate the chord lengths to achieve the varying lengths.   We left the showroom excited with the concept.

Now the hard part. . . installing this masterpiece onsite.

Although the overall fixture price wasn’t as costly as a custom blown- glass piece of art like their original inspiration, this fixture alone took a large portion of their lighting allowance.  So now we have a multi- piece light fixture that has to be assembled in a unique way that has never been done before, that costs a considerable amount of money, and we only have one shot at getting this right.  No pressure.

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I spent the morning onsite with our Electricians, Parnell Electric,  to help make sure my client’s vision became a reality.  It took a few hours of strategically placing the globes in just the right order and at varying heights but we finally got it assembled and hung with no catastrophes. (Great job, guys!)

And the light turned out AMAZING and our clients were thrilled with the result.

Unfortunately, these pictures don’t do it justice from seeing it in person, but hopefully you can get a sense of its unique beauty.  It really makes a statement in that Kitchen and made it on my Top 10 Design Features from 2018.

Join me next week when we look at a new twist on an everyday space.

 

 

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#4 Favorite Design Feature: Church Renovation

For my #4 Favorite Design Feature from 2018 wasn’t from one of the homes we built but from a project that was close to my heart–  A church renovation.  Neil and I moved to Clayton in 1998 where we built our first home and started a family.  After bouncing around to area churches we started attending  Tippett’s Chapel FWB Church in 2004 and it has been our church home ever since.

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I would say Tippett’s has played a key role in our family’s spiritual growth.   We have raised our three boys  there and all five of us have been baptized there.  Our Tippett’s Family has supported us, prayed for us, celebrated with us, and grieved with us.  So needless to say this project was close to my heart.

There is a great history associated with Tippett’s Chapel.  The original church was created in 1900 with Rev. Ben Tippett as its first pastor.   In the 1930’s a new church building was erected. Much of the building materials were given by members. Even the pastor, Rev. W.K. Jordan, cut the trees, took them to the sawmill to be sawed, dressed, and then used to build their new church building. This building is still being used today after being remodeled several times.

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In 1963 the church wanted to add a parsonage in order to accommodate a full time pastor and found a piece of property about 5 miles up the road into Johnston County.  The church building was moved in 1965 to where it stands today. (you can read the whole story here)

Due to our line of work, or as Pastor Eddie likes to call it our “spiritual gifts”, Neil and I are often consulted when any “building needs” arise.  This past year, I was asked to participate in a Facility Enhancement Focus Group. The group’s first assignment was to attend church “as a guest” and make a list of any facility enhancements we would want to make if money or resources were no object.  This was a great assignment for me but also challenging. Often when you become settled in a particular place or routine, it’s easy to get complacent and overlook things that may have bothered you originally.  Things we might would notice if we visited someone else’s home or business but the same thing we might pass right by day after day and not even notice in our own homes (like this spackled area in my bathroom that needs a paint touch up that has been there for about two years that Neil seems to not notice anymore picture1 )

As I walked through the church grounds I made my list.  It’s not in my nature to have a mindset that money/resources are no object so I automatically prioritized my list with items that would make the most impact for the least amount of hardship.

Top of my list: Renovate the church sanctuary by changing all the stained wood paneling and trim to a more up-to-date look with painted wainscoting.  I remembered sitting in church back when we first started attending years ago and the dark stain bothered me.  But as I grew to love the church and the people, the dark stain blended away over time.   This new assignment gave me the opportunity to revisit the idea.

My next task was to create a plan of action, budget, and timeline.  My first phone call was to our Trim Crew- Ayscue’s Trimwork.  Jeff met me onsite and we made our list of materials and formulated a budget.  Our goal was to minimize damage by keeping and using any of the trim that was there currently.  Jeff felt we could keep the original door trim and chair rail while adding the interior panels and baseboard to create the wainscoting panels I was looking for.  Second challenge was painting the dark stained wood that was left, so my next phone call was to our painter.  He assured me he could cover the dark wood stain with an oil based paint but it would take several coats.  Knowing we could paint and reuse some of the existing materials without removing and adding all new materials was a huge benefit to our budget but more importantly helped minimize additional issues that can arise from renovating an old building such as this.

My next step was to present my idea along with the budget to the focus group.  The Renovation Idea got put at the top of the “Action Items” list and away we went.

As work got started, I started running into a few new challenges, but thankfully, that’s what I have Neil for- he swooped in and got it done!  We even got our boys involved.  Together, our team worked through those challenges and 7 days later we were in and out.

WOW, what a difference!  What do you think??

All in all, we came in under my original budget with special thanks to Ayscue’s Trimwork and Guy C. Lee Building Materials for their generous contribution and thanks to Top Quality Painting for all their hard work in meeting our timeframe.

I realize it’s now 2019, but I still have 6 more Favorite Design Elements from 2018, stay tuned next week for #5- my favorite topic. . . . Lighting.

 

 

 

 

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