Building Our Home: Week 10

Week 10 is complete…and the house is nearly complete as well. I was flipping through previous weeks’ posts and it was fun to see the progress in pictures. It’s hard to believe we will take one more “finished” photo next weekend before we close! Here’s a peek back at the past nine weeks…

During this weeks’ progress, our pillar has been built on the front patio and the stone to be added to it and the front of the house is in that pile you see on the driveway. Most of the sod has been planted, and if you squint (ha!) you can see one of two tiny sticks (aka trees) in our front yard. Because so many contractors have to come and go, the front door paint is the very last thing they’ll do…can’t wait to see it finally turn green! šŸ™‚

Inside the house, the carpet has gone in, tile has been finished up, appliances have been delivered and the lights work and the water runs. A cleaning crew has been through (thankfully!!), and we’ll do final walk-throughs with both an inspector and the builder to cite any touch-ups this coming week. Assuming all goes as scheduled (fingers crossed, saying prayers!) we’ll turn our very own key in the lock a week from Thursday.

Just like that. Surreal!

It has been quite a journey and while the last three months have flown by, it also seems we’ve been immersed in this project forever! It’s crazy to think that less than ninety days ago, we were standing on what would become our lot, feeling almost out-of-body as our realtor negotiated away on his cell phone as we tried to close the deal. We sat at our kitchen table into the early morning hours that night writing up our offer and purchase agreement and within 24 hours the experience had begun.

We’ve learned a lot, and there are a couple things we might approach differently, but overall we have no major regrets and would do this all over again without hesitation. I overuse the word experience lately when referring to this build, but that’s exactly what it has been. It was an endeavor neither of us had taken on before and we have been in a head-on crash course and loving ALMOST every minute of it. šŸ™‚

I look forward to posting some pics of moving weekend, an excursion to Ikea for the long-and-still-growing list of needs, and eventually some “before” pics of each room (because you KNOW there are projects to come once we get our foot in the door…did someone say “built in bookcases”?) Thanks for all the facebook replies and comments – we’re awfully excited and can’t wait to share more as our life in this house unfolds.


Building Our Home: Week 9

Week nine is complete and we’re officially starting to get antsy to make the move! We sold the last of the “big stuff” we needed to sell this week, and made some major progress with packing. All that’s left are the basic pots and pans to cook a few more meals in our townhouse, our clothes for the next few weeks, and of course, our computers to keep making a buck to pay for the new digs. šŸ˜‰ As you can see, our house is getting ready for the big move, too. This week they poured our driveway and front stoop, which we dedicated by etching “Smith 2011”!

The progress ’round back continued as the deck was finished up with railings and stairs – just in time for central Iowa’s first snow! (It got awfully muddy after it melted as you can see…) The patio was poured underneath. This part seems like it all came together smoothly – but there were many, many revisions and conversations between us, the realtors, the builders, and the contractor, trying to get this to all work out as we planned. Aside from expanding the original dimensions, we moved the stairs that would have come diagonally across the large window in the basement, so that they instead went out into the yard (so much happier with this) although that in turn became a hassle to pour the patio the dimensions we wanted (for a someday hot tub nook under the stairs) but still have adequate room to get all of the deck supports in place. It’s a long, pretty dull story…but let’s just say we’re high fiving that this part is over!

Inside, the walls turned “Mindful Gray” and I love how much the trim pops against it. Floors went in as well (they’ll be gorgeous when all that dust is cleared away!)

The bathrooms and laundry room now have tile, and mirrors and light fixtures have been installed throughout the house. The pedestal sink for the powder room finally arrived – love it!

Shelving has gone into all of the closets and all interior doors have been painted and hung. Some of the lights are hooked up and some aren’t – it was nice to get some lit photos especially now that it gets so dark so much earlier.

And my favorite part of this week…the granite and subway tile is in! It is so hard to envision when you pick from tiny sample squares – and granite naturally is so varied from one batch to the next, so I was really anxious to see it “in action” with all of our other selections. I’m totally happy with it! Now all that’s left is finishing up the tile and appliance delivery to complete the kitchen.

Now that all electrical is being finalized, Page got back in to add the volume control panels to the outlets he wired a few weeks back. Can’t wait to close so we – who am I kidding – PAGE can install the speakers and we can rock out throughout the house while we unpack the sea of boxes. šŸ™‚ I don’t know how he just KNOWS how to do all this stuff – nice work, babe!

Until this last week, I’ve been operating in panic mode and nervously counting how many weekends we have left to get ready…so much progress has been made that I can now look ahead anxiously…and things are starting to accumulate that I’m excited to get into the house – like these baskets I found that fit like a GLOVE in the entry bench.ƂĀ  Can you feel our anticipation?! Let’s move in already! šŸ™‚

cover it up: window shade DIY project

One of the biggest warnings we got when we announced we were building a new home was, “be sure to budget BIG TIME for window coverings – you’re starting from scratch and it add ups fast!”.

While I plan to go frugalista and employ my fair share of Ikea curtain panels and bargain-priced rods throughout the house, it will still inevitably cost us a pretty penny to get all of these windows properly dressed – and stay on our new neighbors’ good sides by not showing all kinds of business through uncovered panes. In other words, I was on the lookout for some cool but inexpensive window solutions.

When it comes to DIY projects, I’m always game. When it comes to DIY projects that involve fabric….I recoil a bit. I can do a basic stitch on my idiot-proof sewing machine, but that’s pretty much the extent of my abilities. So when I found this tutorial that involved nothing more than my trusty bottle of Fabri-Tac glue, I was totally on board. It all started with the photo above – I instantly saw our kitchen when I looked at it (we have this same size of window and layout) and fell in love with the fabric – color, pattern, all of it. $25 to recreate this beauty? I’m listening.

Check out the tutorial on how to make this DIY shade at A Well-Dressed Home. Her instructions are super clear and every step is illustrated with photos. It seems redundant to post my own version (since it’s literally a carbon copy) but here are a couple pics of me making my version. My only change to the process might be (and Page insisted I make note that this was his original suggestion – which I blew off) to measure the fabric and iron creases along where the fabric will fold and adhere to the backside. The shade was very flexible and it was hard to keep it taut and know exactly where to fold the fabric over the vinyl without creating bubbles.ƂĀ  Regardless, I’m happy with how it turned out happy that the project cost me the same amount of $25 and change. To buy and ship my fabric (purchased on Etsy) was $16, plus $5.50 for the shade and mounting hardware, plus $4 for a 2-oz bottle of Fabric-Tak. I can’t wait to hang it in our new kitchen for a true “after” photo.


Speaking of the new kitchen, I was goofing around with a photo I had pinned on Pinterest when looking at white subway tile. Page pointed out that not only does it have all of our finishes, but it’s our exact layout (except that there’s a window over the sink). So I haphazardly photoshopped in our paint color and some elements I plan to use and while this looks a little like a fun house, it’s still cool to get an idea of how it will all come together. A couple rugs in that pattern are on my to-buy list, and the “E-A-T” letters are already purchased, packed, and ready to go to the new house.

The hardest part of planning ahead and shopping for the house is that I can’t see for myself what the final product looks like while it’s still in progress. It’s hard to know if something will be too small, or too large for the space – or too light or too dark. It’s not like I can bring a few decorating options home, try them out with furniture that hasn’t yet been delivered, in a room that is still being built. So I’m heavily relying on photoshop to get a rough idea in my head so my imagination doesn’t completely fry.

(Stay tuned for a similarly awkward photo rendition of our new sofa and my many throw pillow options…) šŸ™‚

Building Our Home: Week 8

Eight weeks are behind us, and it’s truly starting to feel like a home, not just a structure, although it has yet to sink in that it’s “ours” and not just some project we’re a part of. šŸ™‚ There isn’t much difference from the front this week (we’re anxiously waiting for them to add the stone!) but there are plenty of changes around back and inside.

This week was a bit brutal for us both in terms of work load, schedules, and massive to-do lists. And on top of it all we had our final lending meeting on Friday to prepare for. So glad it’s all behind us and coming out to see the latest progress was a great reward for getting through the week! It’s crazy to think next time we go to visit “the money” (lender office) it will be on our close date, which we have officially confirmed will come in on time — December 1st!!!

Page managed to get out to the house on Tuesday night and snap a few mid-week pictures which are fun to compare to these from today – just a few days later. So much happens in the span of a week!

The first happening was the addition of our deck – hooray!

(on Tuesday…)

(and today…although we couldn’t get the same shot because the doors are masked shut for painting)


Trim work was finished up including our fireplace mantel….the big TV cut-out looks less ridiculous and more in proportion now! (on Tuesday…)

(and today…)

We have our entryway bench (on Tuesday…)

(and today…)

And there are finally some stairs from the garage into the kitchen which I have plans for, mentioned here….I’ve been informed by the guy who has for the most part let me decorate as I please that the garage is a “man area” and that overly cursive lettering and/or girly colors will not be tolerated on my steps project. Duly noted, honey. Duly noted.

The walls are primed and we’re told they’ll be painted by Monday/Tuesday. We’re also expecting to see the hardwood and tile go in this week (fingers crossed!)

I made a point to get some “before” pics of the upstairs rooms with my fisheye lens before paint and eventually carpet go in – it’s easier to get a feel for the room layouts with this lens, although I’m still clearly learning how to get it to focus correctly. šŸ™‚


(Pager’s office)

(my office)

(guest room)

I’m off to try my hand at DIY-ing a shade for the kitchen window. Hopefully a post on that success (??) will be coming shortly!

Building Our Home: Week 7

I sound like a broken record, but I continue to be amazed at the speed of progress! With week 7 of the build now complete, the outside is looking much more finished with siding and shutters, and inside with cabinets, interior doors, and trim installed!

Look at all these cuts that “Travis the trim guy” has to cut…makes my brain hurt! (We made sure to stop by with thank-you snacks.)


No deck yet, but you can see where it will come off the house, and the lumber has been delivered.

I haven’t been able to get very many good pics in the master yet, for the last couple of weeks it has been the dumping ground for a huge pile of drywall scrap. My plan is to wait until the trim is all in and the doors and walls are painted, and I’ll come through with my fisheye to get some better “room” shots.

The view out our bedroom window.

Until next week! Can’t believe it’s already November!

Building Our Home: Week 6

Week 6 is now behind us! This week was an especially involved one when it came to the house. Page and our builder had agreed that while a licensed electrician must be the one to run all high-voltage items, Page was allowed to get in and run ethernet cable, speaker wire and volume control boxes for our in-ceiling speakers throughout the house. This was a pet project for him and he spent so much time going through the logistics of it all and carefully compiling his list of supplies. To be able to warranty our home, the builder would go through and check Page’s work, but doing it himself, we saved ourselves a nice chunk of change.

Because progress is moving so quickly, Page had a small window of time to get in after the electrician, but before the drywallers, so he spent many early mornings and late nights before and after work this week on-site with the crew. I think he loved being a part of it though – as fun as it is to just cut the check and watch the house come to be, it’s also cool to get your hands dirty and be involved in the creation process. And this week, that process involved electical wiring, plumbing (we have tubs and showers!), and window and door installation. Our heating and cooling systems are in place as well – and just in time. It’s getting very cold out there for the construction team! We made another modification to our deck plan, which they will begin constructing in the coming week or two. I’m hoping that will be if for changes/modifications.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on some projects for the interior that I’ll save for another post.ƂĀ  We also learned that the backsplash tile we had chosen for the kitchen is no longer available, so I researched options in similar price ranges to take its place. It worked out wonderfully though – we picked so many finishes in a couple quick meetings and I was so happy just to have ANY backsplash at all (our current townhome lacks it) that I thought I was okay with what we picked. I seized the opportunity this time around to just focus on the ONE decision and went back through all the kitchen photos I had pinned on Pinterest. I had never noticed but 90% of them all had white subway tile backsplashes. This one in particular shows white cabinets and a granite very similar to ours – hoping ours turns out much like this (plus grey walls and dark floors)…love how light and bright it is! It’s funny the choices you get most excited about – I am totally psyched about this one.


Other than those small hiccups in progress, all is on track and we’re still hoping we can come in on our original close date of Dec 1. There are people on-site seven days a week right now – crazy!

I leave you with a few updated pics…

The welcome sign (LOL)



love that we can get an idea by now as to how much natural light we’ll have…

tubs and showers are in…

Sir speaker master…

garage doors and access to an attic we didn’t realize we’d have…

possibly the last time we’ll see the back of the house without the deck!

Building Our Home: Week 5

We continue to be amazed at the speed with which these guys are framing – they are out there seven days a week trying to get everything framed and enclosed with windows/roof before it gets much later in the season. As you can see here, we have a second story…

…and windows and doors are in the garage waiting to be installed.

We have an electrical walk-through tomorrow so Page has been keeping busy taking measurements and figuring what we want where as far as outlets, speakers, and all other things techy (can you tell? Not my area of expertise…)

Meanwhile, I’ve been shifting my decorating focus to the upstairs…

Here’s a less-than-stellar pic of part of the master – I was trying to stay out of the way of progress…

And across the hall, Page’s office (again, being Mr. Measurements…)

A peek into the guest room down the hall…

…and across from the guest room, my office.

Photos were quick this week as it seems everywhere I tried to go, I was in someone’s way. I did manage to get around back and get a shot of the first window being installed (yay!)

Meanwhile back at our current homestead, I continue to operate in weekends. Not counting Thanksgiving weekend (we’ll be out of town), we have five more weekends between now and our close date. I’m trying not to freak about the amount of packing, furniture-selling, and organizing there is yet to do…. šŸ™‚


Building Our Home: Week 4

Woo hoo – it’s a house!

We came by on Friday night and were floored (pun a little intended…) to see that we had a first story built…then when we came back out today to take a photo (Sunday) we realized they are definitely working weekends – we have flooring for the second story that definitely was not there the night before last. It’s pretty surreal to watch this all come together!

While we were walking around taking our latest batch of photos, we met a couple of our neighbors and learned that the house next door to us has sold. For the most part, everyone on our street is in their late twenties to thirties and there are lots of little kids (trick or treaters!!!). The neighbor we met today was saying she’s very anxious to get everyone together for a block party and meet each other – we are all over that and so excited to be in a neighborhood that will be social and friendly. Right now, our current neighbors mostly keep to themselves and we only know a couple of them…it’s strange not knowing the people who live just across the street and I’m looking forward to the change. We’ll definitely be paying attention to what’s in the water – there are currently three mamas-to-be on our new street – ha!

But back to the house…

Everyone keeps telling us it will feel smaller during framing and more “true to size” once there are actual walls – it is definitely hard to get perspective on how each room will feel until we’re a little further along…but it’s starting to look like a house and we can no longer say we’re going out to “the lot” for a weekly photo.


Here is a glance down the hallway at our front door (towards the left) and what will be a half bath toward the right.

Turning around from the same point – view of the kitchen, and far to the left, the pantry.

Page standing in our living room checking out the view.

There will be a door in that front hallway that leads down to the basement. We’re keeping it unfinished for now, but plan to finish it in the next year. This is where the stairs will come down and we’re hoping to put a small wet bar here. The hall will lead back to the larger part of the basement that we will probably turn into a media room.

Page sitting on the construction guys’ bench showing us where we can all someday watch the Hawks cruise to victory. šŸ™‚

Still can’t believe how fast and long they’re working – and how quickly this is coming together! I’m out of town this week for work so I won’t get my typical mid-week drive-by that we’ve been doing every week thus far. Looking forward to seeing the changes next weekend!