My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Holiday House Tour (Part 1)

To part 1 of the holiday house tour of our new home!

Most of you have watched it materialize from a vacant lot and ambitious idea to my last construction post, published when it was still a mess just four days before we closed on it and moved in back in late August. It's been an exhausting whirlwind, and I'd be lying if I said we were completely settled, organized, landscaped, decorated and FINISHED. But, it's far enough along for a tour, at least of the downstairs (which is the only part we decorated for the holidays, if you don't count the candles in the upstairs windows!) :-)

Since we built this one from scratch ~ from finding and making changes to the floor plan to researching and choosing every single bloody item, finish, style and color in and on the house, I thought I'd include a few details. I've noticed that several visitors to my blog arrive from Google searches for things like paint colors (that I mentioned on past remodeling/redecorating posts), and we found really helpful info and ideas on blogs and websites that shared details about the various phases of new home construction (two that were especially helpful were Houzz and de Jong Dream House: Building Terms). So I'm sharing some info of our own for anyone out there, now or in the future, who is building, remodeling or decorating and might find it helpful. If you see anything you're curious about that I haven't shared a link to or info about, don't hesitate to ask. I've bookmarked nearly every source and resource from this project! :-) The prices shown on a lot of these linked sites are now in most cases not what we paid - I've noticed a big increase in some of them, and we hit a lot of great sales and got some wonderful deals. It really pays to shop around or to wait for a good sale if time is not of the essence.

To the extent we could afford to, we made the home as energy efficient and sustainable as possible. It's well insulated with R-49 in the attic and spray foam insulation in the walls, has a high efficiency furnace and water heater, cork flooring in two rooms, passive solar and two Solatube tubular skylights, zero VOC paint throughout, only Water Efficient and Energy Star rated appliances and plumbing fixtures, and built-in passive and active radon mitigation.

The south side of the house

Siding: LP SmartSide
Exterior Lights: Dolan Designs Craftsman sconces from Lighting Direct
Garage Door: Wayne Dalton 6100 "Brunswick" painted to match the siding,
with "Stockbridge" window style

Siding color: Sherwin Williams "Svelte Sage" SW-6164
Front Door: "Connected Grey" SW-6165
Exterior Trim: "Extra White" SW-7006

But I've kept you standing out in the cold and snow long enough. Come on in!

The front entry way and the study's French doors from the staircase.

Hallway wall color: Sherwin Williams "Kilim Beige" SW-6106
Interior trim color throughout house: "Pure White" SW-7005

You've seen a couple of these photos of the study in past posts, but here's a more comprehensive look...

A re-run from my Christmas Eve post, I'm including it because it's the only photo 
of the study that shows the big window, which is one of its best features! 

Wall color: Sherwin Williams "Smoky Blue" SW-7604

The Command Center of the Starship Mehitable Days :-)

As you may remember, I designed this bookcase around the Italian millefiori lamp! (Do you spy Foxy Love, Rose?) The Halloween school house gets replaced with Santa's Workshop this time of year, but Alice's Tea Party remains 365.

Some of you might also remember the ceiling lamp from a past post, but it's been awhile and I thought it deserved a second look.

Crystal glass reproduction door knobs on French doors 
from Rousso's Reproductions via

The hallway and front entry from the living room (dining room's on the left).
I hate that floor runner. 

Hallway ceiling color: Sherwin Williams "Divine White" SW-6105
Front Door: "Connected Grey" SW-6165

Looking down the hallway from the front entry into the living area.
The short little door on the left leads to the crawl space.

Floors: White oak with custom 1:1 mix of Minwax "Special Walnut" and "English Chestnut" stain with two coats of satin polyurethane

Looking into the hallway from the dining room.

The cute quilted Santas wallhanging was made by our own AdventureJo! :-)

The door leads to the little powder room, tucked under the stairs. 
The goose print on the wall is "Dinner Call" by Dawna Barton, mounted on wood
one of our several art finds from

The powder room is so small, it's nearly impossible to photograph. This is my attempt to capture the pedestal sink and one of the hardwood HVAC vents (I think those are cool!), without capturing myself in the mirror! :-)

That grey gadget at the base of the pedestal sink is a Watchdog Water Alarm.
Having suffered several water leaks at our old house, we have them throughout this one wherever a leak might occur. Could save a lot of grief and expense.

Wall & Ceiling color: Sherwin Williams "Misty" SW-6232

Looking into the dining room from the living room.

The pub table, bought for our tiny dining area in Dragonfly Cottage, is supposed to go in our kitchen's breakfast nook. But lacking a dining room set, at least for now, our pub table is having to fill in. Sure makes the dining room look big! :-)

Dining room wall color: Sherwin Williams "Grassland" SW-6163
Ceiling color: "Svelte Sage" SW-6164

Took this one without a flash. It's not great, but I like the warm, cozy glow of it!

We had a hard time deciding what to put on the dining room wall. We really couldn't afford another framed art print, especially one large enough. We looked at metal wall art, but didn't find anything that fit our taste or Craftsman style home. Then we looked at tapestries and found this one. We like the warmth and texture it provides, and it was more affordable than framed art.

The oak lawyers bookcase belonged to my grandfather (who was a surveyor, not a lawyer; hope the ABA doesn't find out he had one of their bookcases, lol), and is still home to my rocking horse collection. :-) The cardinal picture on the post to its right is a quilted postcard, again made by my very talented friend "AdventureJo". (Click here for a closeup!) And the antique radio to its right, which still has all its vintage vacuum tube guts but doesn't work, I bought in 1986 for $30 from a roadside antique stand in New Mexico for my little TV to sit on. Now it displays Texas Bluebonnets from our wedding (we got married in Abilene, TX).

Wall color: Sherwin Williams "Kilim Beige" SW-6106
Ceiling color: "Divine White" SW-6105

The Kilim Beige walls in these living room photos have a greenish cast to them (on my monitor) that is not how that color actually looks. The color is much closer to the color of the Travertine tile around the gas fireplace, only lighter.

We added the two little windows to the floor plan, and are so glad we did. And we LOVE our gas fireplace! The tile surround is travertine (at BW's insistence!) 
We had the alcove above the mantel wired for the television, but then decided we like our TV just fine on the media cabinet to the left, so hung a picture there instead. The next people can put their TV up there if they want to!

I thought it would be fun to include a closer view of my snowmen collection, though I miss my bay window where I could display them all with my birdhouses like a Christmas snowman village. (The little snowman holding the fox that's featured in my current holiday header is third from the right). :-) You can also barely see the very wee row of blocks, spelling out "NOEL," that I tucked into the mantel trim on the righthand fireplace column (beneath the tall Santa, which is made from a fencepost!) It fits there perfectly! I wasn't very satisfied with how our mantel was decorated. Next year, I'm thinking a garland draped across the front, along with our stockings. would be nice.

We ordered the picture above the mantel from AllPosters, figuring it was a perfect size, would go well with our wall color and coordinate nicely with the colors in the adjacent dining room, and because we liked it. I didn't realize how much I liked it till later when I was sifting through some of the images I've saved in my Photobucket account over the years and found this one! It was one of the first ones I ever saved there several years ago. I hadn't recognized it when we found it at AllPosters, but I guess when you really like something, you really like it! :-)

(We bought the art print, matted and framed, which is no longer available. So this link takes you to the unframed stretched canvas product at AllPosters)

Coming up: Part 2: The Kitchen :-)


  1. Fabulous job , took an empty lot,an empty shell and made a beautiful ,cosy and welcoming home.
    May you always find happiness in your home.
    Jane x

  2. Everything looks so lovely! You did a terrific job picking out the colors, and everything flows so nicely with the floors. It looks very cozy!

    I'm glad you like the gas fireplace. We love ours and wouldn't want to be without one when (if?) we purchase our next house.

    My parents have a TV above their fireplace and we hate it. We always feel like we're straining our necks to look at it when it's on. I think you made a great choice to put art there instead, especially with one that you love so much! That's a pretty awesome coincidence that you marked that one so long ago.

    Thanks so much for the tour! I'm looking forward to more!

    Oh, and how do the girls like the new house so far?

  3. How beautiful you've made it, I love your floors to death! I now want internal french doors from the hall into the living room - we have a weird wooden thing going on which is, well, weird. And I beg to differ, but your powder room is huge compared to our downstairs loo - our is so small that your elbows can touch the walls on either side if you sit on the loo, and you can rest your head on the edge of the sink (which is a teeny tiny wall-mounted one) at the same time. I know this because I've tried it. The only thing of interest in there is a large framed print of me as Hamlet courtesy of the RSC Open Day we went to! I digress...

    I love how roomy your house looks, yet so cosy at the same time. What's that pic of the cardinal (is it a cardinal?) on the pillar near the bookcase? I'm intrigued... And I agree with you about not putting the tv above the fire place. Never understood how people could want to sit with their neck at a strange angle to watch stuff!

    It's all just lovely Laurie - you done good girl!

  4. And I keep meaning to say... I love that Serbian proverb on the right of your blog.

  5. Jane ~ Thank you so much, that's very sweet of you! I hope we can be content here until it's time to move on again - and then sell it for a handsome profit. :-) BW wants to live on a boat along the west coast for a while after he retires - I'm gradually warming to the idea, though I have a little vintage cottage cottage (on a bigger piece of land) in mind for our retirement home! Just don't know where it might be yet.

    Molly ~ Thank you very much, Molly! Choosing the colors (and light fixtures) weren't necessarily easy, but they were the most fun to select, and we're really happy with them. I'd use most of the colors again in our next house (Kilim Beige is a perfect neutral, it really goes with nearly everything, and Grassland and a color we have upstairs, Napery, are so pretty I'd do them in another house in a heartbeat!)

    We feel exactly the same as you do about our gas fireplace!

    Glad to hear your experience tells us we made a good choice about our TV placement! And I thought it was amazing that I'd ended up unwittingly choosing a picture I'd admired years ago! My subconscious was busy helping me choose things even if my conscious mind was burnt out on making such decisions. :-)

    The girls seem to really enjoy it here. Of course, we did a lot with their comfort in mind! Ironically, though our place in Big Horn was on more than 10 acres, their yard here is much bigger! They love that they can watch us through the glass French door to the patio and all the low windows in the nook and living room, And they really love their heated kennel and see-through dog door - Tess and Josie are so thick-furred they get much too hot in the house, but the garage is heated to 60ยบ and that seems to be a perfect temperature for their comfort. Willow has staked out the breakfast nook where she can keep a close eye on all food-prep activities :-), though she does think she should be allowed to wander at will on the hardwood floors (sorry, kid, no way!) They also enjoy the walking path and all the different walks they get to go on, though Josie will NEVER like being walked on a leash. (For now, though, there is an abandoned golf course very close by and we take them off-leash there from time to time. Josie loves that! And of course when weather permits, we take them for long off-leash hikes on "Mocha's ranch." We avoid the dog parks in town because most of the locals don't see fit to clean up after their dogs and they're usually too nasty! Anyway, the girls thank you for wondering how THEY like the new place! :-) Of course, dogs are pretty content to be wherever their people are. We are so proud of how well and how quickly our girls adapted to all their different living arrangements this past year!

  6. Barbara ~ Ah, thanks so much!!

    I agree the floors are beautiful, and we really love the custom stain that we and the invaluably helpful guy at Sherwin Williams (Mike - gotta give him his props) came up with when we couldn't find anything we liked. BUT, hardwood floors are a bugger to keep clean (especially in a dusty environment - made worse by the fact it's new construction; the dust is horrible the first year or so - and forced air heat, plus all those windows that let that bright eastern sunlight in, illuminating every dust mote and dog hair on the floor! We are constantly vacuuming and dust mopping it. And despite our best efforts (like keeping all dogs and shoes off it), there are still scratches in it already. I think they're just superficial scratches in the polyurethane and not the wood - they look like Willow's white hairs and I keep trying to pick or vacuum them up in vain!, but still. Most annoying. I'm not sure the beauty of wood floors is worth all the maintenance. But I would love to inherit some vintage, rustic wood floors whose character is only enhanced by being slightly roughed up by daily living! :-)

    I just love French doors and think you should definitely get some - though I'm intrigued by your "weird wooden thing." :-)

    You definitely win the Smallest Loo Award!! Though we too can touch the walls (with elbows bent) while on the throne, the sink is 3 1/2 to 4 feet away, definitely beyond head-resting potential! And the sink is big, too. The print of you as Hamelt may be the ONLY thing of interest in your powder room, but it is of GREAT interest - I wanna see it!

    I agree that the house feels roomy (those 9' tall ceilings and open floor plan really help, because none of the rooms are big) yet cozy, and that's what we were hoping for. So thanks for noticing it too. :-) And I'm happy to hear that you, too, agree with our change of minds about putting the TV above the fireplace! As for the cardinal (yes, that's what it is - good eye!), it's a quilted postcard that Adventure Jo also made and sent to me a few Christmasses ago! I love it - will have to take a closeup of it for you (if I don't already have one in my stash somewhere). Doesn't it fit perfectly there?

    Thank you again, Barbara! Wish you could come see it in person - and accompany me on a Wyoming-style photo shoot in a cultural exchange for photo privileges in Batsford, et al. :-)

    Oh, and thanks for mentioning that Serbian quote! I don't remember where I found it, but I loved it instantly.

  7. Yay!!! A lovely, long picture-filled blog post about your beautiful home! It looks like a dream house, outside and in, and I can’t wait to see the kitchen! I, too, agree about not having the TV on top of the fireplace. Much nicer at the side with a picture up there instead. And, talking of pictures, that tapestry in your dining area is so pretty!
    What a useful wee device that Watchdog Water Alarm is! We could really have been doing with those. Don’t know if they’re available in Scotland, though…
    Your Christmas mantelpiece is lovely and festive and that Snowman with his wee foxy friend is gorgeous! A beautiful header for your blog! I hadn’t realised he was so tiny until I saw him with the other snow people!
    I love your lampshade, and your rocking horse collection and so much else. You’ve done such a great job on your home!

  8. Thanks for sharing, in such detail, your beautiful home. It looks very comfortable. We loved the gas fireplace in our Wis. home and are looking to put one in here, but the sizes available for our fireplace don't seem worth the expense. What brand and model did you select?

  9. Wow, what a beautiful place! I love the blue walls and how cozy it looks all glowing in the evening. Can I come live with you? I won't take up much room...just a wee corner somewhere.

    Also, I meant to say that I love the fox and snowman in your header!

  10. Penny ~ Oh, thank you! I'm so glad you stopped by (I'll put the kettle on!) :-) I'm very gratified at all of you who are agreeing with our TV placement. We're definitely sticking with it, and don't see ever entertaining the idea of a TV over the fireplace again. (Especially now that we have the console, which we bought after moving in as we had nowhere to store our electronics, never mind put the television).
    Check for those water alarms, you may find them there! Very handy. They emit a very loud noise if their little electrode sensor thingies on their base come into contact with moisture (let me know if I'm getting too technical here. LOL)

    I'm so glad you like our tapestry, because we were more pleased with it than we thought it would be - and extra pleased that the greens in it go so well with those green walls, since green can be so tough to match! And I'm also glad you love my foxy snowman friend, he's my favorite snowman, and a main reason I wanted to share that photo of all of them is because I wanted folks to see how wee he truly is! :-)
    Isn't it fun to get to see each others' homes? I always love my visits to yours - wish we could do it in real life, too! :-) Thank you again for your visit and your lovely comment, Penny! I hope to post the kitchen one in the next few days.

    Andrea ~ You're most welcome, thank you for your visit! :-) It is very comfortable. You know, there are always a few things you'd do differently, but there are actually very few and they are mostly minor. (I'd insist on hiring different painters if I had it to do again, though - they sucked!) So we're pleased with the majority of our decisions, and in some cases are even more pleased than we anticipated (like with most of the paint colors we went with).

    In my post, the words "gas fireplace" actually link to the product we chose. But here it is again ~ it's the Heat & Glo brand 6000 Series. If you click on "Compare" in the black box on the left, you'll see the three models. We got the middle one on the list, and paid several hundred less for it than the list price. In fact, it was one of the things that came in under Todd's budget allowance! (Don't worry, we more than made up for that windfall on other stuff!) We are really pleased with it. We got the Folio front, which was basically just unadorned glass. We got it because it was the least expensive, but it was one of the pleasant surprises - it's really nice, and would have been our choice even if money were no object. Especially for our Craftsman house.

    Rose ~ Thank you! And of course you can - I actually like our guest room better than the master bedroom! :-) You'll just have to share with AdventureJo when she comes to visit in October. :-) And if you promise to share your wonderful creations, you can have all the kitchen privileges you want! :-)

    And thanks - I love that header too, and wish I didn't have to take it down so soon! Expect to see it again next December. :-)

  11. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. And a home, not a showcase though it could be that too.

  12. Ellie C ~ Thank you! Oh, trust me, it's definitely a home and not a showcase ~ it's very "lived in!" Doesn't look quite this tidy on a typical day. :-) I'm glad you enjoyed your visit!

  13. At a loss for words, really! We love tastefully decorated and "homey." We feel at home already ;-). Can't wait for part two. New is nice!!

  14. Spud ~ "At a loss for words," oh what a copout. LOL I'm glad you feel at home - bet Jo's cardinal postcard helped there, lol - as that's how we'd want you to feel if you were here in person! I'll get busy on Part 2 as I'm able between de-trimming and organizing all the decorations! I should have it done by the weekend.

  15. Ok, I will comment on one thing specifically. When I saw the pic of your new study, it sent me back to "several" years ago when you posted one of your Webtv den in your downstairs at the ranch. My, how things have changed ;-). Back then, did you ever think you'd be where you are now?
    Yes, loved Jo's cardinal. Have I ever shown you some of Mom's? I'll have to do that ;-).

  16. Spud ~ Funny you should mention that, as I was just telling Barbara in a recent email (about that cardinal postcard) how you were one of my first Internet buds, back in the WebTV days in 1996! We met in "40Up," didn't we? Lots of interesting changes have happened for both of us over the years, that's for sure! It's been, and continues to be, a very fun friendship and a very fun (well, mostly) ride! :-)

    I'm don't remember if you ever showed me any of your moms cardinals - don't think so! Please share!

  17. I've already been here for a long visit and I have a lot to say so it'll be a longer one. I really appreciated this post.

    I appreciate how much time and work it was to put all the links in so thanks!!!

    I love the candles in the windows. Having just come back from NH I appreciate the yankee"ness" of that. I'm sure you planned your outlets accordingly and that helps alot since you have alot of windows.

    I really like the crystal glass reproduction knobs on the study doors. I hadn't noticed them in the first photo but after you mentioned them, it's the first thing I see now.

    The paint in the study is similar to the paint in Melissa's room. She had to cry for 4 days and beg to get it; what did you have to do? :-) Of course BW is probably not addicted to beige as Melissa's dad is!

    Two shout outs to me! I'm overwhelmed. And the quilt made it into no less than 5 photos so I'm as proud as a peacock right now. Of course that photo of me being goofy makes me LOOK like a peacock so I guess it fits! I had forgotten about the little cardinal postcard - what a clever spot to display it!

    I love the glowy photo. It's so welcoming and so you since lighting is your thing. I can't wait to see it like that!

    I've not seen tapestries hung like that before. What a great idea! Of course I love the softness and texture of it too.

    I got the answer to my question of whether your snowman with the fox was from your collection and am glad I got to see the banner before it disappeared. Thanks for the heads up on that.

    I think it is true that when you really like something you really like it but that was a very concrete example of that happening. How fun to know that you picked out something recently that you had also picked out years ago. How cool is that.

    That was really fun and I can't wait to go upstairs! Thanks again for all the hard work you put into this post!!

  18. Jo ~ Since we got to talk about this over the phone, I haven't been too quick about replying to your comment here. But I see that there are some things I failed to respond to, so here goes!

    First, thank you again for acknowledging the amount of time and effort a post like this requires (and you're not even a blogger!), and for your appreciation! :-)

    I really miss that candle-in-every-window look of Christmas in New England, and hope to start a trend here. :-) I only saw one other house that had candles and in their windows, and those were just in their three front windows, were candleabras instead of single candles, and had orange bulbs instead of white (hey, I'm a purist - I like the white bulbs! And don't even get me started on Biddeford, where many people would use blue or green bulbs in their window candles - ugh!)

    I loved the company those doorknobs came from. I needed to ask a question so I called the company, and the owner himself answered - an elderly man who was SO NICE! And their shipping was incredibly fast. And the knobs are gorgeous! I wish we'd gone with them for the study closet door, but that was at the end when we were feeling very pinched, so we ordered a knob that was $15 or $20 less and I do NOT like it. But I can't justify replacing it.

    I didn't have to do anything to get these wall colors approved by Himself, he helped me choose them and was in agreement on all of them. And when I started second-guessing some of our choices, he was having none of it. If I said, "Can I ask you something?" he'd reply, "As long as it doesn't have to do with color swatches!" LOL So no, BW is not addicted to beige at all - but he does have his color-browsing limits. :-)

    I could have done a third shout-out to you, as I failed to point out the quilted pilow in the wingback chair!! Isn't it pretty there? LOL about you looking like a peacock in that photo (I love that photo, that was such a fun time!)

    I can't wait for you to see our home in person either, and it will definitely look glowy at that time of year! Don't know when I'll get the upstairs posted, I still need to finish the kitchen post! I've had too much going on - still have my birthday lunch with Robyn (today) and a couple more thank yous to write, THEN I can get crackin' on that post (I hope!) :-)

    Anyway, I was very eager for you to get a chance to visit this post, and am so glad you enjoyed it as much as I hoped you would! :-) xoxo

  19. Jo~ P.S. Ah, you know me too well. Yes, I made sure the electrician put an outlet beneath every window, just for my candles! :-)

  20. Thanks for taking the time to reply to this and the birthday post. I know that's alot of effort. They were both fun to read.

    And about the candles - I thought so!!

  21. Hi! I was referred to your blog from your shout out to our blog. Thanks! :-)

    You have a beautiful home. Congrats! I look forward to reading through some of your older posts.

  22. Jo ~ You're welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed them - I know it takes time to read and comment on my posts, so I appreciate that! :-)

    Re: the candles: :-)

    Jen ~ Well howdy!! I'm glad you found out I'd given you that mention, because I never did manage to leave you a comment (I promise to rectify that soon!) Thank you for stopping by and commenting, for your congrats and compliment, and for that glossary of building terms. That proved invaluable from the get-go, when we were trying to learn how to talk to our contractor about our foundation! :-) We quickly found ourselves in Overwhelm Territory and I never managed to thoroughly visit your own home tour, but I started rectifying that earlier this morning. So, I'll see you on your blog soon!

    By the way, I just posted Part 2 of our house tour a little while ago. But you may already know that if you're reading this! :-)


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

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