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.


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.


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.


  • 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Posted in Custom home building, Difference between custom builder and production builder | Tagged , | Leave a comment

# 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.



Posted in Custom home building, Difference between custom builder and production builder, Home Trends | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

#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.


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.


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.

collage with border

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.


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.



Posted in Custom home building, Difference between custom builder and production builder | Tagged | Leave a comment

#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.


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.


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.





Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

#3: A Special Place for Man’s Best Friend

My number #3 on my list of Favorite Design Features from 2018 made the list not so much as a beautifully designed space but rather more as a functionally designed space for one of their family members. . . their dog!

In this particular case, our clients took great care in making design decisions throughout the entire house that incorporated the entire family’s needs, wants, and personality.  For example, the upstairs kids bathrooms and bonus rooms were designed to serve their three kids.

Other spaces reflected the mom’s style and functional needs, like the Kitchen, Laundry, and Dining rooms.

And everyone succumbed to letting the Dad’s office reflect his certain style (I actually think the light is super cool).


With everyone getting to incorporate their own personal style and influence within the design of the home, it was only natural to include their other family member living in the home– their pet dog.

In this particular case, our clients still lived out of the state while their home here in NC was being built.  Although being so far away during the building process can have some challenges, with easy access to internet and phones these days, it’s actually pretty easy to keep things moving with few hiccups.  One day during a site visit when I was walking through the house, I was able to send photos of the house during framing stage.  After seeing the photos, they remembered they wanted to add a special room under the staircase, if possible, for their beloved dog.  Through quick communication with Neil, we were able to determine we could move the air return to another location and add the doggie space under the stairs.  This is a great example of why building custom can be beneficial.  The amount of site visits, consistent communication, and freedom to make changes such as this at a moments notice make building custom a great option for many clients.

We ran the hardwoods into the space and even added his very own night light.  Now, everyone in the family is happy in their new HOME.

Stay tuned, up next week #4 covers my favorite Design Topic. . . “Lights”!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Joy’s Favorite Design Features from 2018 Series: #2

#2: How could “artichoke” turn out so good 

If you read my last blog post and couldn’t wait to read about what my #2 favorite design feature for 2018, I hope you are not disappointed when you find out it has to do with the color Artichoke of all things.  Not only that, the space we are going to look at today is a Guest Bath.  I know, I know, usually a Guest Bath is not very glamorous and exciting as other spaces but the way this particular space came together ended up being my most surprising favorite design feature for 2018.

So what does “artichoke” have to do with anything?. . . Let’s start from the beginning.  If you’ve read any of my blogs before you know that I have been using this great custom cabinet maker, Bryant.  He’s my guy.  What I love about Bryant is I can give him a photo or sketch and he can make it happen.  I’ve definitely been spoiled by Bryant because he lets me choose any paint color from a Campbell paint fan (similar to the size of a Sherwin Williams paint fan).

To some, that may seem overwhelming, but to me, it’s like my 10 year old that just walked into a candy store and gets to pick from anything he wants. Picture4

Our first cabinet selection meeting my client chose a pretty blue-gray color.  We found a good neutral quartz remnant and it coordinated perfectly with this beautiful patterned tile floor and classic white subway for the shower walls.  It all looked great together, the client was happy, I loved it and placed the order.



Then, about a week later, my client texted me a Pinterest photo she had seen of an “artichoke” color vanity that she absolutely loved and wanted to change the guest bath to incorporate this new color.  I immediately pulled out my paint fan and sure enough there was a color called artichoke that looked like a perfect match.  I’m going to be honest, when I saw the word “artichoke” I’m pretty sure my nose crinkled a little.  But I put the new color up against the patterned tile sample I had in my office and to my surprise it actually looked pretty good.   Thankfully, Bryant hadn’t painted the cabinets yet, so we made the change.  We then went back to the Granite supplier with our two samples and low and behold like a shining star beckoning us—the perfect remnant revealed itself like it was waiting for us all along.

new downstairs bath

So even though Artichoke would have never made it into Joy’s 1000 Favorite Colors List (well, if I actually had one)  I have to admit, when it all came together I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!   That’s what makes my job so great.   It’s not about me and what I like, this is not my house.  It’s about helping my clients navigate through all the options and feel confident about the decisions they make based on their wants, needs, and style.  And in the end helping create the beautiful and functional space they will love to call home.

In the end, there were many beautiful and functional spaces in this home.  I will actually be featuring  another space from this home later this month.  To see more photos from this home, click here.   See if you can guess which other Design Feature made the list.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

My favorite Design Features from 2018


Here at Jarman Homes, December is the month we try to wind things down, reflect on how this past year went and start planning and getting geared up for the upcoming year.  With our building traditionally being a little slower the winter months, it gives us time to clean out old files, and make room for the busy spring season ahead of us.

This year has been a great year for Jarman Homes.  We have been blessed with one of our most successful years to date.  I feel very fortunate that I get to help create beautiful homes as a career.  But one of the biggest blessings is the opportunity to work with some great clients and watch their wants, ideas, and styles come to life.   As I reflect on the past year, I am reminded of many great custom features from the homes we completed. So as we countdown to Christmas, I thought it would be fun to flashback to my top ten favorite design features from 2018.

  1. Unique Kitchen with lots of Natural Light

We had the privilege of working with this family a second time.  As their family needs had changed and wanted more space, they felt the need to build again. This home is truly unique and was designed and built specifically for their personal family needs, wants, and style.  There were many incredible features within this home but one of my favorites was definitely the kitchen.

There were several features within the kitchen I loved.   With white or gray painted kitchen cabinets being so dominant the past several years, I was so excited to work on something completely different this time.  Our clients wanted a cabinet finish that was warmer in tone with a natural wood grain finish and texture.  The end result came out beautiful with the natural Oak finish combined with the more minimalistic flat panel door style highlighted with the black and brushed gold accents.


The appliances were minimalized by using cabinet panels and a separate Pantry/Second Kitchen combo that hid extra appliances out of sight.  The crispness of the white Carrara marble tops gave the kitchen a clean and sophisticated look.   The hood vent design was carefully chosen to add some dimension to the simplistic, clean line theme throughout.

But my absolute favorite feature of this kitchen is the amount of natural light streaming in from the arrangement of casement windows.  I love windows in a kitchen but it’s not easy finding plans that offer windows in the kitchen for several reasons.  More windows generally translates into less cabinets and that does not usually transfer well in the functionality of the kitchen space.  In this situation, the added Pantry/Second Kitchen accommodated more cabinet space so more windows could be added in the main Kitchen area.


A second trend is most home plans will position the kitchen more centered in the home.  But this home’s angled layout allowed the kitchen to be positioned on an exterior wall while still staying near the garage for easy access.  An angled plan doesn’t always work on most subdivision lots, but in this particular case it worked perfectly.  I love how all the pieces fit together to create a beautiful blend of style and function this family will surely enjoy for years to come.

You can see more pictures from this gorgeous home here.      

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment