How to choose a floor plan for your home

how to choose a floor plan for your home

Choosing a floor plan is obviously a crucial decision. My advice for this topic: really think about your lifestyle and how you want to live in your new home. One of my biggest pet peeves in any home is wasted space (formal living room with plastic seat covers, anyone?). It also helps to consider how long you plan to be in this home and what your lifestyle will be like over those years. Case in point: we’re considering this the “teen years” home. We have at least 10 more years of kids in the house, and we really want our kids and their friends to feel comfortable hanging out in our home during the high school years. We wanted lots of open space, but a defined kid hang-out area and an area the adults could use for relaxing, entertaining, and watching tv at the same time.

choosing a floor plan

We ended up using an existing Pepper Viner floor plan, which saved us thousands of dollars that we would have had to pay an architect to design a home from scratch. Pepper Viner had built this home as a model a few years ago, so we were lucky enough to have been able to walk through it in real life, which was a huge benefit in getting a feel for the layout. Unfortunately that’s not always possible, but you can always spend some time touring model homes to get a feel for the size of rooms and layouts you like so that when you’re viewing floor plans, you have an idea of what you’re looking at.

The floor plan we chose has a large open living/dining space, which we will use as the kid area and for extra dining space when we entertain – but our approach to this space will be casual, not formal. Formal spaces just aren’t necessary for the way we live and entertain in our family. The kitchen is open to the family room, and I love being able to cook and work in the kitchen and still be with my family. There are doors from all of these living spaces onto the back patio, which is perfect for Arizona since we spend a lot of time outside.

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We did want to make a few changes to the plan, so we went to the architect who designed the original plan to make those modifications. We added a walk-in pantry – it’s more spacious than the cabinetry that had been designated as pantry space in the original plan. Again, this is an example of thinking about how you like to function in a home. In my case, I like deep, open shelves where I can see everything all at once. I not only store a lot of food (I like to stock up at Costco) but I also store big appliances like my crock pot and blender and large serving dishes in my pantry. We like to entertain and I like to make it easy on myself. To eek out the space for the pantry, we had to lose some cabinet space, but it was worth it to me. Another change we made was eliminating a small door and window along the back of the open living/dining area, and instead installing a large 18-foot sliding door. This required some engineering on that load-bearing wall, so again, we need the expertise of the architect to map that out. In making that change, we realized one of the patio columns would be right smack in the middle of the view from the door, so we had him reconfigure the column placement as well.

Overall, choose a floorplan that suits the way your family lives instead of trying to force yourselves to function in a space that doesn’t make sense. Consider whether you entertain, host houseguests, how much storage you need, and how much maintenance you're willing to deal with. Once you have that basic layout in place, that’s when you can have some fun choosing finishes and touches to really make it your own. More on that soon!

Choosing finishes: the bathroom edition {how to choose plumbing fixtures}

photo credit: BHG

With building a house comes SO MANY decisions. One of the big debates I had was deciding on the finish for the plumbing fixtures (faucets, shower heads, etc.). Part of the struggle was that I wanted to carry that finish throughout the house — towel bars, door handles, hardware, etc. — so it wasn’t going in just one place. During my debate, I posted this photo (--->) on Facebook and Instagram, and I had to laugh, because I don’t think I’ve ever gotten such a response on anything I’ve ever posted before. People are PASSIONATE about their plumbing fixtures.

Here are some inspiration images I found as I trolled Pinterest and Houzz for hours on end while I debated:

We’ll have white cabinets, and I wanted something classic that I won’t hate in a few years. The trick, I suppose, is that it’s hard to know now what you’ll hate then. The majority of responses to my informal survey were in favor of brushed nickel or oil rubbed bronze. I like them both. I had thought about the beautiful champagne bronze finish — sort of the matte gold that is so popular right now — but vetoed that because it’s pretty pricey, especially when using it on everything, and I wasn't completely sure I would continue to love it for years to come.

The winner? Brushed nickel. Several of my friends who have oil-rubbed bronze warned me that the finish wears off, so that decided it for me. Added bonus? Brushed nickel doesn’t show water spots and fingerprints as much as shinier finishes, and with two kids, every little bit helps. And since it’s been around for a while, there are tons of options for brushed nickel — different styles, price points, etc. In a future post, I'll write up a list of links to tons of places where you can comparison shop for fixtures.

We ended up choosing Kohler faucets and are buying them through Ferguson Kitchen & Bath, the vendor used by Tucson Plumbing, who is doing all of the plumbing in our house. Chad has been working with Tucson Plumbing and Ferguson for years through his job with Pepper Viner Homes. We’re so glad we were able to source our choices through a local vendor, and we love that Kohler has a lifetime guarantee on all of their items. Once everything is installed I'll post some pictures!

So to sum it up, here are the factors to consider when choosing your finishes:

  • Style (Does the finish go with your color scheme and cabinetry? Do you like the styles that are available in that finish?)

  • Cost (Some specialized finishes are really pricey — take that into consideration when you're deciding where you want to spend your money!)

  • Durability/Quality (Does it make sense for your lifestyle? Is it easy to clean? Will the finish hold up if it's somewhere where it will get a lot of use? Is there a guarantee on your selections?)

  • Availability (Are there plenty of style options available in your price range?)

Which finish do you like best? Any strong opinions out there?

Want to read all of our homebuilding posts? Find them here!

Why we're building a new house

Why build a new house / new home construction / building a new home in Tucson, AZ

For a long time now Chad and I have been ready to build a new home. We’ve built three homes together in the past – two in Georgia and one with Pepper Viner Homes, the company he’s been with here in Arizona for the past 12 years. The house we’re in now has served us well over the past nine years; we moved into it when Maggie was only one month old. The kids are approaching their teen years now, though, and we need a little more elbow room. 

Over the past couple of years the stress and hassle of commuting to work, school, and activities for all of us has really taken its toll. We started looking seriously at lots about a year ago, and the process of finding a piece of land in the right location at the right price has been much more difficult – and much slower – than we anticipated. More on that later.

Another reason – with the housing market on an upswing after several rough years, prices and costs are going up. We’re hoping to get moving along with this process sooner rather than later.

Our Work in Progress - why we're building a new house

Luckily, with Chad having worked in the homebuilding industry for most of his life, we’re coming at this process with a pretty clear picture of what we want to do. We’re excited to be using one of Pepper Viner’s existing floor plans with a few tweaks to customize it for us – that alone will save us time, money, and angst. We know the plans are well-designed and engineered. Our floor plan was built as a model home at one of their communities last year, so after touring it several times, we knew this was the one. It will give us the space we need, with plenty of room for a home office, guest space, and for the kids to hang out with their friends.

To sum it up, building a house is the right decision for us because it will save us money, allow us to customize our home, give us the space we need, and allow us to choose our location.

We’re so excited to get started – and I’m going to chronicle our process right here. I hope you’ll follow along and chime in with your thoughts, questions, and suggestions as we go!

Re-redecorating Luke's room

Remember when we redecorated Luke's room a few years ago? I still loved it. Still loved the navy blue furniture, the light gray walls, and the setup. But for several reasons, we recently redid it.....again.

Sadly, my grandmother passed away last fall. My parents were kind enough to offer some of the furniture from her house, and I was happy to have some special pieces of hers. One of the bedroom sets was perfect for Luke: a full-size bed for our growing tween, and a really nice corner desk/dresser combo that would give him the workspace he lacked in his current room. If we wanted it, we needed to take it, so another room shift ensued. 

I purchased some full-sized bedding and some accessories, and luckily the neutral gray walls, white curtain panels, and woven blinds still work fine with the new setup. I'm still looking for some wall art – once it is all set up, I'll post the final results, but here are some in-progress peeks. 

Decorating for Fall

Fall is my favorite season, and I'm always ready to break out fall colors and decorations in August. This is even more comical since I've been living in Arizona for 10+ years, and fall weather begins sometime around....November. So I hold off until around late September and inevitably decide that I'm not waiting for a change in weather to change some things around the house. I don't do anything that takes tons of time or money, but I love the results when I add some little touches of fall.

First off, I pick up small pumpkins in orange and white and place them here and there. I like mixing the real ones with the rustic brown ones that I bought at Michael's years ago.

This year I balanced a few of the white pumpkins on candlesticks in front of Maggie's little abstract art canvas. I remembered that I had this black tassel garland left over from a birthday party, and threw that up on the wall since it looks sort of Halloweeny. 

My assistants wasted no time stretching fake spider webs anywhere they could. I let them have fun with it.

I also put out the canvas trick-or-treating art that Maggie made a few years ago, along with this little candy dish that my grandmother made for me when she was taking ceramics classes years ago. Still makes me smile when I look at it.

After Halloween, I'll take down the spider webs and jack-o-lanterns, leaving the pumpkins and fall leaves for Thanksgiving.

For more simple decorating ideas, seasonal or otherwise, check out The Nester's series on vignettes. I love to use her ideas - like incorporating some simple kid-made art and sentimental items - when I change things up. How do you decorate for fall? 

Joining the linkup at www.roubinek.net! Stop over and check out the ideas over there.

Color for warm weather months {decorating the living room}

coral ombre throw and floral pillows for summer

I'm a big fan of light, bright neutral palettes for home decor, and I have an official fear of color  -partly because I'm afraid I'll get tired of it. The up side to having a neutral backdrop is that I can work in little pops of color that can be easily changed out, so I jumped in and did just that this summer. I'm loving these bright patterned pillows and coral ombre throw that I picked up from Marshall's for this summer, and I can tuck them away when fall comes and I'm ready for warm earth tones. 

Patterned Wallpaper Accent Wall in the Office {removable wallpaper from Target}

I've been working on an office makeover for way too long – it's one of those projects that I got started and then kept putting on the back burner. My office is also the guest room, which always presents decorating dilemmas, but more about that in another post. 

Today I wanted to talk about the one small project that we did that made a huge difference in the way this room looks. We put up some patterned wallpaper - Devine Color Diamond Wallpaper in Twig from Target - just on the window wall. I love the mod pattern and the soft grayish taupe color scheme, which looks great with the brushed gold accessories and curtain rod on that wall. The wallpaper has a sticky back and is supposed to be removable and repositionable – perfect for commitment phobes like me who have always shied away from wallpaper because of what a task it is to take it down when you tire of it.

Chad found that it was a little tricky to work with, which resulted in one visible seam and a few bumpy areas – this would totally drive a pickier person crazy, but I was able to disguise the imperfections with the wall art and bookshelves that are placed in front of the wall. The result? A big difference that took less than one afternoon to accomplish, and that can easily be undone when needed. What do you think?

 removable wallpaper - Devine Diamond in Twig by Target

removable wallpaper - Devine Diamond in Twig by Target

Has anyone else tried this removable wallpaper at Target? Check out their other great patterns and colors!

Decorating with gold

Are you on the gold bandwagon? All of a sudden it's everywhere, from parties to design to home decor. I'm glad for a change from pewter and iron - loving a little sparkle in the house. I'm working on some fun graphic design projects that are incorporating some metallic touches too - stay tuned!

gold home decor accessories

girl's room DIY update - new lavender paint and built-ins

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I posted years ago when we updated Maggie's room from a toddler room with a crib to a room with a "big-girl bed" and a few adjustments to the decor. More recently, we did a bigger overhaul since the walls were due for repainting - and repainting leads to rearranging, which leads to the need for more storage....and on and on it goes. 

I loved the yellow walls in her room, but it seemed silly to keep the same color if we were going to go to all of the trouble to move everything and paint, and it had been six years.....so it was time for something new. She wasn't really ready for a "tween" room, and I"m not a big fan of theme decor, but her one request was lavender. So lavender it was. I did a lot of looking for a shade with a bit of muted earthiness to it - nothing too bubble-gum or neon. I also want the room to be light and bright, so I was worried about going with too dark of a shade. I'm pretty happy with the one we chose. 

I was inspired by this image, which I found via Pinterest and originally from this site

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I loved the open, white shelves and the gold sconces. Chad created a similar setup - the nice folks at Lowes even cut the shelves to size for us, saving him a few steps in the construction process. We still want to put cabinet doors on the lower shelves, and perhaps build a bridge over the bed like the inspiration photo.

I bought inexpensive sconces from Ikea, spray-painted them gold, and was happy with the result:

gold sconces with lavender walls girls room.jpg

To organize her accessories, we painted a pegboard the same lavender and added hooks - perfect for her many hats, belts, scarves, etc. 

I added a few other lavender accessories (some of them spray-painted with Krylon ColorMaster in Gum Drop), canvas wall art from Wayfair, and we were done - a fun, fresh made-over room on a very small budget!

a boy's room makeover

Although it didn't seem that long ago that we did a little sprucing in Luke's room, the time had come for a major overhaul. This overhaul was needed mostly because Luke hates to get rid of anything, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to get any semblance of order with all of his STUFF. Added to that was the dire need for new paint on the walls and a better system for organizing his belongings.....and perhaps most importantly, a place to display his prized Lego creations. We also had a very, very low budget for the whole makeover.

We started by emptying the room of everything except for the furniture, and that was no small task. Chad then began the process of painting the room a pale, clean gray (Behr Silver Drop) and I did some thorough cleaning. We shipped the kids off to the grandparents' for an overnight, and then we set to work organizing. We spread out all of Luke's belongings out and categorized them – stuffed animals, cards (Pokemon, Bakugan, Ninjago, etc.), Legos, action figures, cars, books, the list goes on.... We made a pile of items to donate and brainstormed about how to organize the other items.

For the stuffed animals that were too sentimental to give away, I purchased two large canvas bins from HomeGoods, and we placed those, full of stuffed animals and too-young but special toys, into the display nook above his closet.

For the rocks and seashells that he just. could. not. part. with., I bought large acrylic canisters (also from HomeGoods) so that they'd be on display, neat, and new arrivals to these cherished collections would have a home. Luke was pretty excited about these, and we also added a couple for special Lego parts.

We added new hardware to the furniture that we painted navy blue a few years ago

Chad designed and built shelves for Lego and toy displays, and we painted them a slightly darker shade of gray.

We added a few new accessories – a lamp and shade purchased on clearance at Target, coverlets from IKEA, and accent pillows from HomeGoods.

We reassembled the room and were finally finished! It is so nice, bright, and clean  – I no longer cringe when I go in there. Here's hoping it lasts!