Countdown to Parade of Homes series: Interior Selections begin
I start this post with a lot of excitement. A lot has happened since my last post. Being a small business like ours, Neil and I have to wear many hats. Other than designer, one of my many hats is Marketing Director. During December and early January there are several marketing and personal relations tasks that demand my attention. One such task is finding a way to THANK the many people that have helped make our year a success. This year we gave a gift and a Year in Review card I created and mailed to clients, prospective clients, and the many business partners we count on every day. We have spent 16 years building long term business and personal relationships that help us continue to build our company. Maintaining long term relationships in this industry is not always an easy thing to do and we never take that for granted.
(Putting my “designer hat” back on) In my last post, framing had just started. Neil and I walked the home last week and while the windows were being installed. If you have ever gone through the actual process of building a new home, you realize this is an exciting time. I love getting to this point and standing in the space and realizing first hand all the potential this home can be. This particular floorplan has arched windows throughout and even though it is just at framing stage, the home is already showing signs of its future beauty.
Kitchen/Nook Area windows
Now that we have entered January, we are reminded that a Spring Parade of Homes can be tough on builders because of weather. Neil and I were both born and raised in North Carolina and one of the reasons we love it here is for its relatively mild weather throughout the year. You never know what you will get from Monday to Friday. Last week was a perfect example of that with snow and freezing rain to start the week and mid 60’s to finish out the week. Unfortunately, NC doesn’t react quickly to snow and ice. Our schools and businesses shut down and we didn’t leave our home for three days. Bad weather can really make it tough to stay on schedule. Thankfully, the home was 95% under roof, so it could have been worse, but for sure, we can use some cooperating weather for the next three months if we have any chance of making our April 13th deadline.
While Neil has been busy watching over the construction side of things, I have been busy meeting with our Custom Cabinet guy, visiting the tile, plumbing, and lighting showrooms, and local granite yards. One great perk about my job is I get to spend hours looking at resources like Houzz and Pinterest on my iPad and when Neil asks what I’m doing I can honestly say I’m working. 😉 As a professional, it’s important to use these resources as “inspiration” rather than being a “copycat.” When I work with clients I enjoy seeing their idea boards; it helps me understand their personality and style. However, I also try to make sure my clients have realistic expectations early on by explaining that most of the pictures seen on Houzz are professional photographs from professionally designed and decorated homes worth millions of dollars. They are not the average home within our average client’s price range. Therefore, using these resources are great, as long as everyone has realistic expectations on how they can be best used when designing a new custom home or remodel.
Once I’ve spent some time thinking through my overall concept and feel of a home, I usually begin with the Kitchen and work out from there. I like starting in the Kitchen whether I’m helping a presale client or designing a spec home because I feel the Kitchen is the heart of the home where most of the family’s time will be spent. It is here that the overall feel and style of the home would naturally resonate. I started by meeting with Bryant Herring with Herring Cabinets. We have been using Bryant for several years now. What I like about Bryant is he can build just about anything I come up with. As long as I give him a sketch or a picture of a concept, he can work with me on achieving the exact look I’m going for. You simply can’t do that that with a manufactured cabinet company. I will admit, a challenge in using Bryant is he does not have a big, fancy showroom for clients to come in and choose one cabinet style from another, but I feel the benefits of his quality in addition to my freedom to customize at every step strongly outweighs the need for a fancy showroom where every time you want to make a change or add something it’s considered an “upgrade”. Our clients really haven’t missed having a showroom when they can sit down and design their custom Kitchen just the way they want.
For this floor plan, the Kitchen has actually been more challenging than I originally thought. There are some great features to this Kitchen, however, the overall way the Kitchen spreads out in a large space, I’ve had to really think through how to maximize it’s functionality. Standing in the space really helps get a feel for the layout and function far more than just looking at a plan. As Neil, Bryant, and I stood in the space we went back and forth looking at different options. In the end, we made the following changes to the original plan:
- I moved the wall ovens away from the cooktop wall. We are going to either use a slide in range or I’m going to combine the cooktop and oven into the same space and butt that area out a bit from the rest of the cabinet. I’m going to attempt to add narrow spice rack pullouts on each side to add additional separation. I’ve added a pot filler since the sink is on the other side of the kitchen.
- We decided to square off the refrigerator wall and move the microwave beside the refrigerator.
- We couldn’t shrink or move the pantry location because it hides a major support beam. Therefore, I plan to turn that Pantry door into a prominent design feature.
- This plan has a gorgeous arched window right above the sink. I love it! However, a window takes away cabinet space. Therefore, we are going to build a continuous cabinet arched around the window.
- The dishwasher will be on the right of the sink and a hidden trash pullout will be on the left.
- The Island is my favorite part of this Kitchen. We tweaked the size from the original plan and added a hangover area for bar seating. I removed the small island sink because I feel they are so small they aren’t very functional, plus the plumbing would take up an entire section of storage I would rather have.
- Another great feature of this Kitchen is the narrow but spacious Pantry Cabinet on the Powder Room wall. This is a great way to utilize that space. I’ve designed this cabinet to look like an actual antique pantry cabinet I remember in Neil’s grandmother’s Kitchen. This piece will be very functional but also a statement piece.
Now that we’ve talked through the layout, Bryant sends me drawings I can revise and start adding the special details that will make this Kitchen unique and special. Here are some of my notes that I mark up and give back to Bryant to make revisions and start building.
My next step is selecting cabinet colors and granite. I already have concepts in my head before I head to the granite yard, but I take my Cabinet paint fan with me so I can keep an open mind when I see a slab I really like, I can change the color right there on the spot.
If you have never been to a granite yard, it’s like going on a museum field trip and getting the opportunity to see God’s artistry at work. I love walking down the aisles of these huge canvases of natural beauty. The Raleigh-Durham area has many granite yards to visit. Most use a color code system that helps you understand the cost of one slab over the other. I always stay away from Red & Orange stickers (referred to as level 4 & 5) and look for blue and green stickers (level 1 & 2). Different levels can translate into thousands of dollars. A good rule of thumb is for one average size kitchen, you can add at least a $1,000 per level. So if my level 1 kitchen came to $2,500, then the level 5 granite for the same kitchen would be around $6,500. Granite has really come a long way in just a few years. About 10 years ago, there were only a handful of level 1 granite options and you saw the same five options in almost every home. But today, granite has become so popular and more readily available, the options have really opened up.
As I walked around the granite yard and my fabricator’s warehouse, I chose Delicatus Cream. (This photo taken with my phone doesn’t do it justice, it’s gorgeous)
I have decided to go with granite on both the perimeter and island for this kitchen. I have a lot of different design elements going on in this kitchen already. I didn’t want to change the island granite to a different granite choice or a wood species. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love a wood island countertop. In fact, the last home we built I used a Black Walnut top for the island and it was stunning (pictured below). The kitchen needed some warmth; this kitchen has enough going on I feel keeping the same granite countertops work best this time.
Black Walnut Island
Affirmed Plan Kitchen
Before I could finalize my kitchen design thoughts, I made a trip to the plumbing and lighting showroom to start piecing the overall look and feel of the kitchen. One thing I knew for sure- I wanted a farmhouse sink.
In last year’s Parade Home I used a Kohler Farmhouse sink. I had originally ordered a white sink and designed the kitchen with that particular sink. However, when I called to schedule a delivery date for the kitchen, I found out that there was a backorder on the sink and there was no date on when one would be available. So I had kitchen cabinets that were scheduled to be installed the following week and they were built around the exact dimensions of that particular sink. The showroom researched different vendors but no other sink could be found with the exact dimensions. They called around all over the country and tracked down two sinks that were the same model just a different color. One of the two colors was called Cashmere (pictured below). I grabbed my samples and drove straight to the showroom to take a look at the color. It was dead on perfect with my granite and backsplash I had already ordered. My 48 hour stress turned into a blessing. The sink ended up being one of my favorite sinks I’ve ever used. Situations such as the backordered-sink dilemma translates into just “another day” in the home building industry. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of new examples to share with you along the journey of this home.
My current plumbing showroom has a beautiful white farm sink that is being discontinued; therefore, they are selling me that sink for about half the cost of my usual budget. Yeah! A quality white farmhouse sink we usually budget $800-1000. For a good quality stainless we give an allowance of $600. I realize you can go online to some “sinkwarehouse” type company and get one for much less, but from a builder standpoint, that means trouble. Half the time, important components are missing or if anything is wrong with it at all, it causes headaches and delays. I’m all for saving money, but ordering from a website that we can’t exchange the product easily is not worth the risk.
The next piece to this puzzle is lighting. I absolutely love lighting. The perfect lighting fixture is like the jewelry with a nice outfit, just ties it all together and helps give a nice finished look. I spend hours on lighting for each project–I take it very seriously. The challenge for this house wasn’t that I couldn’t find the right lights, but it was that I fell in love with two totally different looks. The bigger challenge is each look is different enough that it will totally affect the corresponding look in the Foyer and Dining. From the time you walk through the front door, I want the lights and overall feel of the home to work harmoniously with one another, especially in an open floorplan such as this where multiple spaces converge into one another. Therefore, each look in the kitchen led to its own specific look in the Foyer and Dining. However, I’m quickly running out of time and need to make a decision so what do I do??? Well, I phoned a friend that I trust will give me their honest opinion. Just talking through the two scenarios out loud helped me make the decision for this home and getting a second opinion helped clinch it. I’ll happily save Option B as a possibility for a future home.
Regarding this home, let’s break apart these design elements a bit so you can get a feel for where this kitchen is headed.
Rough-ins began today! Beforehand, Neil and I spent an hour creating the Lighting Plan. I’m heading out there now to walk and confirm a few things and make sure our proposed electrical plans make sense while standing in the space. I can’t wait to share with you next time how some of the other spaces are coming along. If you want to make sure you don’t miss any posts from this series, be sure to “follow”. I have been enjoying your feedback, so keep it up and feel free to share this blog series with others.