Sunday, June 29, 2014

Exterior Colors!

I've been pretty obsessively reading other Ryan Homes building blogs, and I'm really thankful to everyone who has taken the time to share their experiences, both good and bad.  I've gotten some great ideas, and its always nice to see how the finished product comes together.  One of the really nice thing about these blogs is that you can "see" your choices in other people's houses and that is exactly what I stumbled upon when I started reading Our Path to Florence at  The author is building a Florence in the same all-siding exterior color scheme as we choose for our Rome, and his latest blog post has some great pictures of the completed exterior of his home.

picture courtesy of

picture courtesy of

I hadn't seen an all siding version of our home (its Irish Thistle siding, Dark Berry shutters, and Black Fox front door), so I was so happy to see these photos.  This is exactly what our house is gong to look like and I couldn't be happier with our choice.  I love the Irish Thistle green, how its not too bright and has some muted grey tones.  I think the Dark Berry is perfect, not too purple, but definitely gives the home some pop and visual interest, and the Dark Fox is a nice medium grey/brown, a little different from a standard black door.

Thanks to my fellow Ryan Homes blogger at for posting these photos and I hope he enjoys his new home!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ceiling fan choices

Well right now we are in the boring stage of building a house, all our choices are locked in, but we haven't broken ground yet.  Since we requested a delayed delivery because of the lease we are currently stuck in, we won't have our pre-construction meeting and no dirt will be moved on the site until Aug/Step time frame.

In the meantime I have plenty of other things to keep me busy, like thinking about paint schemes, and furniture shopping, and purchasing all our ceiling fans!  We have 6 ceiling fan pre-wires, and six months until move in, so we're planning on purchasing a ceiling fan a month so they will be all ready to go when the house is ours.

Now I would like to go on record saying, I don't like ceiling fans.  I think they are ugly and being a cold-blooded person, I never turn them on (now the fireplace blower- that's my kind of accessory!) .  My husband on the other hand is obsessed with ceiling fans, its a good thing he also suffers from being excessively frugal, or we'd likely have ceiling fans in every room in the house.  I  understand that they improve energy efficiency, blah, blah, blah, I still can't get over the fact they they are unattractive and they make me feel cold.

I realized after we started shopping that I have another gripe to add to my ceiling fan list- the finish choices!  Our whole house, the light fixtures, the cabinet knobs, the faucets, even the towel bars and toilet paper holders, are brushed nickel, well as it turns out, only about 25% of ceiling fans come in a brushed nickel finish, the vast majority are oil rubbed bronze.  Oil rubbed bronze- I shake my fist at you!

So, for the past week or so I have been obsessing about whether I could put a ceiling fan with an oil rubbed bronze finish in my brushed nickel house.  Would it look weird? Am I too obsessed with matching? how about inside the bedrooms?  GAH, who knew this new home thing would be so hard!

 After much deliberation, I decided that we had to go with brushed nickel finish in at least the loft, where there are multiple brushed nickel overhead lights nearby for the hallway; and in the morning room and family room, since they are so close to the brushed nickel kitchen fixtures and pendant lights.  I am still debating about the bedrooms.  Do you think I could get away with an oil rubbed bronze finish in the master bedroom?  I know that the master bath is all brushed nickel, but is it technically a different room.

Here is a picture of the fan we chose for the loft, the Hampton Bay "Flowe".  I think it will look nice with the standard Ryan overhead lights.  It was on sale at Home Depot, and it met my husbands exacting specifications for energy efficiency and air flow, and I don't find it too offensive-looking.

I also made a decision on the fan for the morning room,  the Hunter "Altitude" although we haven't purchased it yet.  It is only sold in a store called Menards, which is a home improvement store in the mid-west.  Of course I had to fall in love with the difficult to find fan!  Fortunately we can purchase it on-line, unfortunately that means I don't get to see it in person first.  Hopefully I'll like it as much as I do in the photo.

I like how it actually looks a little like a chandelier, since it will be over the table in the morning room.   The only thing that gives me pause is that the fan blades are a little dark, should I be concerned about matching the fan blades with the color of my cabinets?

I've also narrowed it down to two different models for the family room, both are Casablanca fans

The Oak Hall

and the Concentra

I might like the Oak Hall just a little better, but they are both fairly similar.

I'm also trying to decide what we are going to do in the master bedroom.  I found two fans that I like, but they are both oil rubbed bronze.  The master bedroom itself does not have any brushed nickel fixtures, but it does open to the master bath.  I really think a warmer color fan would look better with our cherry bedroom furniture set, but I have some time to decide.  Here are the top two contenders, for now, at least

The Hunter Cortland

I like the light fixture on this one, its a little nicer than the typical ceiling fan.  It also has some pretty detail.

I also like the Hunter Crown Park

I think the detail on this one is very pretty, especially on the fan blades.  If I had to have to stare at ceiling fan over my head every night, it should at least be a little pretty.

We also made a small non-fan purchase for the house, we picked up these adorable little hooks at Ikea

I plan to hang them in the mudroom at a kid sized height so the boys will have a place they can hang their coats and backpacks.   My oldest is obsessed with owls, at least once a day he'll randomly declare "Its Owl Time!"  and then he'll start hooting and flapping his arms and running in circles, which my youngest thinks is the funniest thing ever.   I think the hooks are super cute and functional and one of my big goals for this house is to reduce clutter and improve functionality.  The amazing layout and storage space in the Rome will definitely help, but I need to be thinking ahead too!

next up- some thoughts on furniture and my new favorite website!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Guardian and Gratitude!

 Last week we had our appointment with Guardian.  We knew we didn't want to do too many upgrades, but there were a few things on our wish list.

Our sales rep was really awesome, he was very personable, and didn't try to upsell us at all, which was nice.  As it turns out we actually even have some friends in common back in the D.C. area, which is really crazy.  It really is a small world after all.

When you arrive at Guardian, you automatically get 4 phone or cable pre-wires from Ryan, and then you have the option to add on a security system, central vac, and surround sound speakers.   We ended up using our 4 pre-wires, and then added one more.  We put cable in the family room, loft, and master bedroom, and then a phone line in the master bedroom and in the study.  I'm still not sure it was the right choice to add the extra phone line, but for $125, it didn't seem like too much of a splurge.  Right now we don't use a hard phone line, but we might in the future, and if we go to sell the house I think it makes sense to at least have a phone line on each floor.

We also decided to have two speaker pre-wires placed in the rear of the family room.  I'm really excited about this option, because now Mark can set up his surround sound speakers, and we won't have to deal with wires running all over the house.  We didn't pre-wire the front speakers because I'm not sure how large of an entertainment unit we're going to purchase for the house, so we won't know the exact speaker placement until then.  Since we plan on hanging his rear speakers, furniture placement can be a little more fluid.

That is all we decided to do with Guardian, everything else was a little overpriced.  For the money they wanted for in ceiling speakers we could easily go buy some nice wireless  speakers that work with wifi.  I also was shocked at the price tag on the central vac.  I mean, I know that its nice and all and that people really love it, but for the money I could buy a roomba for every carpeted room in the house, and not only would it be cheaper, but it would do the cleaning for me.  Actually, that isn't a bad idea...

I also wanted to take a minute and express how grateful I am to have this opportunity to build a brand new house.  I feel so incredibly lucky that I get to create our home from the ground up and that everything from the inside to the outside has my stamp of approval.   It will also be such a wonderful blessing to have everything brand, spanking new!  I know we will leave our mark on this house, I'm well aware that with two active boys that the "new house smell" ,so to speak, will wear off quick, but every scratch and scrape will tell a story, our story.

I also can't express how comforting it is to know that everything will be new, new appliances, new roof, new windows.  The peace of mind is awesome, we won't have to worry about upgrades or renovations or replacements for a while.  We can just settle in and enjoy our new house and new neighborhood.

All of this has really come home this past week when within the span of 10 days both the air conditioning and the refrigerator broke in our rental.  The house we are renting is about 15 years old, and it understandable that things are starting to go.  If we bought an already built home we'd have to be dealing with things popping up sooner rather than later, with new construction, we're not going to have to worry for at least a few years (fingers crossed!) :)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Listellos, tile, and Berber, Oh My!

Last week we had our meeting with Rite Rug, which is the Ryan Homes flooring contractor for the Charlotte, NC area.  I have to admit, of all the choices we've had to make so far for the house, these were some of the toughest.  I can understand how people spend hours at their appointments, and then go back two and three times.  It is a lot of pressure to choose something that is going to be an integral part of your home, something you are going to look at day after day, in just one short sitting and based on just one small sample.  I tried to remember that if I was deciding between two virtually identical samples, and I liked both of them, that really either would be fine. I also tried not to second guess myself.  All in all we were in an out in under and hour and a half, so not to shabby.  Without further ado, here are our choices...


The hardwood flooring was really the easiest choice, I knew what I wanted going into the appointment and I stuck with it.   I had visited a model home that had my same granite and cabinets and black appliances with the Gunstock 3" wood floors and I thought it just looked gorgeous.  They were the level 1 engineered hardwoods, and I decided not to upgrade because A. the engineered hardwoods are a little more moisture resistant, which is better in the kitchen, B. I don't really care how wide the plank is, 3" is fine with me, and C. I really don't like the look of the hand-scraped hardwoods, which is the next level up.  The sales rep tried to talk me into it, telling me how popular they are, but its just not my style.

Gunstock floors with our cabinets, backsplash & Granite

Apparently I have terrible taste because just I don't like anything that is popular with kitchens and bathrooms right now.  I don't like dark woods, I don't like white cabinets, I don't like dark tile, and I don't like oil-rubbed bronze.  My sales rep was kind enough to say that I liked things that looked "classic", which I guess is a nice way of saying "old-fashioned".   I guess it makes sense that as an archaeologist I would like old things and  I'm just very happy that with new construction I can choose delightfully old-fashioned things for my brand new house! 

The carpet was also pretty easy, we knew that we wanted to upgrade to level 1 and that we also wanted to upgrade to the 8 lb pad.  The level 1 carpet has the 10 year warranty and is treated with stain repellant, so I think that was a wise choice.  I didn't want to get too crazy with the carpet upgrades, because I know that they'll take a beating by the boys no matter what we choose, but stain treatment is really important.

We chose the Collinsville Sahara Buff color, which was the darkest of the beiges.  I did like the look of some of the lighter beige carpets, but lets get realistic here, in our house darker is better, at least for the next 15 years or so.

The vinyl was also an easy choice, the only place its going to be is in the laundry room. so I picked the jazziest of the choices, Initiator.   It had a little bit of a gold metallic sheen to it, so it will be something a little more interesting to look at while I'm stuck in the laundry room.

I thought this whole flooring appointment was going to be a piece of cake, that is until we hit the tile.  There were sooooo many tile choices, really an excessive number, and they all looked like some variety of beige.   I had a really hard time with the backsplash, especially since I knew it would be on the walls of the focal point of the house.  I wanted to make sure it was going to look good.   We went with the Brixton 6x6 tile in Sand, laid on a diagonal.

 I had no interest in upgrading the backsplash beyond the diagonal, because the St. Cecilia granite is very busy, and I didn't want the look to be overwhelming.  I've seen some pictures of Ryan model homes with the St. Cecilia granite with the upgraded backsplash with subway tiles of different colors or with a listello and to me it just looks like too much.   I like simple, and hopefully when it all comes together it will look pulled together and understated.

The backsplash tile next to the kitchen granite

The bathroom tile wasn't much easier,  we decided to upgrade to a tile floor for the boys upstairs bath and we got the level C tile with our upgraded master bath.  I was debating over whether to upgrade the bathtub to all tile in the boys bath, and I really like the look of the tile with the ivy listello, but a fiberglass surround will be easier to clean.   We can always upgrade in the future.

For the floor we went with the Sierra Almond in a 12 x 12.  I think it will look nice, especially since I talked Mark into upgrading the boys vanity to the Maple Spice.

These are the honey maple cabinets, the ones we upgraded to are are a darker, richer brown

For our bathroom, I was once again flummoxed by the sheer variety of beige tile.  Who knew there were so many versions of tan?   I narrowed down my choices and eventually decided on SD92 (I hope the tile is more exciting than the name suggests!).  The next big choice I had to make was the listello, and this one was surprising easy, mostly because I didn't like many of the options.  We decided on the Marvel, and it is much prettier in person than it appears in photographs.  It has lots of copper tones and more shine and depth, it reminded me of a charm bracelet.  I really liked it and I kept going back to look at it again and again, I think I'm going to love it in my bathroom.

listello and tile

Close up of the listello

We also decided to add the corner caddy, I know that the shower had a seat, but I don't want it to be all cluttered up with shampoos and soaps and stuff.   Now Mark can put his stuff on there.  I think its funny that Ryan must have listened to all the bloggers.  I read in many blogs about how you should leave off the white soap dish because it ruins the look of your nice tile, now they don't even offer the white soap dish, and if you want a place to put your soap, you have to pay for it.

The master bath all put together, listello, bathroom tile, granite for vanity and vanity cabinets

At the appointment we also went over care for our tile and flooring and all the warranty information.  I found it most interesting that the carpet has a 10 year warranty that covers stains.   So, if the kids spill red juice on the carpet, and I can't get it up following their check-list, they will send someone out to clean it for me, and if they can't get the stain up, they will replace the carpet.  I have a feeling I will be holding them to this promise!

Next up- Guardian and 1st purchases for the new house!