Building Our Dream Home – Selecting Countertops
As promised in my Selecting Cabinets blog post, next up is Selecting Countertops! After all, our gorgeous cabinets would be nothing without something equally beautiful to sit on top of them!
I knew from the start that I wanted marble in the Kitchen…crisp, fresh, white marble. I know, I know…marble is “challenging”, but I want what I want. With all of the options out there, let’s take a look at them.
*If you’re just joining us, this is another installment of a series documenting the building of our personal dream home. So far we’ve tackled: Inspiration | Floorplan | Location | Breaking Ground | Roofing | Windows | Insulation | Sheetrock & Plaster | Selecting Paint | Selecting Flooring | Selecting Bathtubs | Selecting Lighting | Selecting Fans | Selecting Cabinets | Powder Room Reveal
First up, let’s consider all of the different materials available. If you’ve recently undergone a bathroom or kitchen reno you will understand what I mean when I say the choice is VAST. There’s so many different options and even when you’ve decided on the material itself there are even more options to look through. The choices are typically between: granite, marble, solid surface (like Quartz or Quartzite)
Granite countertops are very common and generally very hard wearing. It’s very hard to make a scratch or dent in granite countertops and they basically last forever. From a cost point of view granite countertops are a good middle ground depending on the fabricator you use. Here, in Florida, they are EVERYWHERE and I know I wanted something different. I use Absolute Black granite a lot for clients and it’s my go to if using granite.
Gorgeous and hard to maintain…that’s marble. Marble is more expensive than granite countertops but the natural veining of the material really adds a “wow factor” to any space. You can’t fake it with a faux version, so don’t even try in my humble opinion. Marble countertops are less durable than granite so they can be scratched, etched and stained more easily than granite if it’s not sealed correctly. Acidic substances like red wine and oils can stain the material easily if the seal is worn off or done incorrectly. It’s not easy to live with, but it’s worth it…kind of like me!
Solid surface countertops (Quartz and Quartzite) are still relatively new to the industry. They are made from bonding natural stone together with resin or acrylic. Quartz itself is one of the most durable materials on the planet so these countertops are fantastic for professional chefs and those with busy families. Often solid surface countertops come with an extremely long warranty (some products are lifetime warranties – always check before investing!) and that coupled with the durability of the material makes them very expensive!
Making a Decision
I knew I wanted white marble in the Kitchen and then work everything else off of that. I know, marble is tricky…it stains, it etches, it scratches…but as I’ve said, I want what I want.
Considering 3 of our 5 kids have moved out, things are quieter and the need for a “hard as nails” countertop material isn’t as high of a priority as it was in the past. The open Kitchen of this home is the center where everyone will gather. I’d rather live with a little etching and get to have what I love each and every day. Granite and Quartz just won’t give me that and I’ll use them elsewhere in the home. The Kitchen calls for white marble.
Now it’s time to select them! Time for an 8 hour round trip drive to the stoneyard!
Stone Yard Visit
I cannot stress the importance of a stone yard visit enough! 4 hours south to Naples to select? No problem! We also went north 2 hours to Jacksonville. All totally worth it!
Photos online are just not the same as seeing a slab in person at a stone yard. When you go to a stone yard you can choose the exact slab that will be put in your kitchen or bathroom, not to mention that it’s a fun trip out!
My daughter came with me to the stone yard, along with some samples from the house so we could have a look at multiple finishes side by side to make some decisions.
Following on from the decision on marble, I knew that if marble was the choice then it would have to be a Carrara or Calacatta marble but I needed to see them in person to check the tones of the veining details.
Here’s what we saw!
Seeing this photo above from the trip really emphasises the importance again of going to see stone slabs at a yard – you just wouldn’t see the natural beauty of this slab from a photo online!!
Are you ready to see what we selected?!
The Chosen Slabs!
So with Carrara or Calacatta being the top two to look out for in the stone yard, unfortunately most of the Carrara slabs we saw looked far too gray and didn’t really work with the samples from the house. They were all beautiful slabs but I was looking for something with warmer tones to it.
We then came across this Calacatta Gold slab… And I instantly fell in love! It’s the perfect marble with all the veins and detailing that I was looking for, and the warmer tones of the veins is perfect for the house.
And then I was able to choose the slabs for the kitchen… The biggest area we need stone for as we have the large island. I needed 4 slabs for the Kitchen and Master Bath and they had it. Perfect!
Once the slabs were chosen at the stone yard I booked the guys in to template the kitchen and bathrooms for the marble. This step in the process can seem quite slow but it’s crucial to getting the perfect fit!
I am so in love with our kitchen island now we have the amazing marble countertops!!
Some detail shots of the corner detailing to match the furniture style cabinets…
For the bathrooms I kept the same Calacatta Gold marble for our Master. It’s an ideal way to save a little bit on the slab cost. I then used a remnant of Carrara for my daughter’s bath. We mitered the edge to create a thicker look. All of them are relatively neutral and this marble works really well with these finishes that have been selected already.
Here’s an install photo from my daughter’s bathroom.
For 2 bathrooms I chose to use Quartz for the countertops…the pool bath and my son’s bathroom. The reason for this is two fold….durability and color. The pool bath will be used heavily during the Summer, and my son is still relatively young so it’s better to go for a material with a great deal of durability! Plus quartz offers a solid white-white option, which is what I had in mind for both spaces. The Pool Bath will have some crazy wallpaper and I wanted a solid white to offset it.
My takeaways for selecting countertops are this:
-Research online to see what you like. Look closely at all of those pretty Pinterest boards you’ve made and I’ll bet there are some commonalities
-Be really realistic with yourself about what’s important to you. If etching and staining will drive you crazy, marble is not the choice for you. If having a natural material is important to you, quartz is not the choice for you. Accept the materials for what they are.
-Narrow down your options, get a quote and then visit some stoneyards. Yes, they are probably far. Yes, it will probably take up your Saturday. Yes, you will probably end up making a few trips. But it’s TOTALLY worth it, I promise.
I hope this post has given you an insight into the decision making process of deciding on the countertops for our dream home! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Building Our Dream Home – Powder Room Reveal
It’s here!! The first reveal for our dream home! I’m starting the reveals small, and we will build it up as more of the rooms get finished but today I’m going to share with you my new Powder Room and how I designed this small, yet beautiful space. It all started with a piece of art I loved and no windows. All of the items I used are linked at the bottom of the post.
*If you’re just joining us, this is another installment of a series documenting the building of our personal dream home. So far we’ve tackled: Inspiration | Floorplan | Location | Breaking Ground | Roofing | Windows | Insulation | Sheetrock & Plaster | Selecting Paint | Selecting Flooring | Selecting Bathtubs | Selecting Lighting | Selecting Fans | Selecting Cabinets | Selecting Paints
inspiration for the design
The bathroom is small, like super small, and has no windows. Bummer. I knew it would be dark and decided not to fight it. I wanted to do something really bold here… so I decided to embrace it all and go dark with a rich color, like a little jewel box.
So with a dark aesthetic in mind, I actually found a painting that I fell in love with and based the whole design around it…
From this beautiful deep blue horse painting I decided to go for a deep navy paint color and settled on Benjamin Moore Hale Navy. It’s a rich and deep dark navy that is sophisticated and striking making it perfect for the powder room!
The paint was used on the walls, trim and even the inside of the door to really highlight the fact that the powder room is a jewel box!
The Design Details
With the base color decided I then started looking for a vanity unit that would work in the space. There wasn’t much out there as stock items that I really loved, so I ended up buying an inexpensive nightstand and cut a sink into. I love how this looks in the space because the curves of the nightstand offset the straight lines of the wall paneling.
For the faucet, I wanted to make the rest of room color “pop” so I chose brass classic style faucet. It was super cheap and looks super amazing! I matched the toilet paper holder and towel bar to it as well.. Gotta love Build.com!
The light fixture was a major player too! It’s stunning and gives the whole room a richness. Hudson Valley really makes the most interesting and impactful fixtures. I love the slightly oversized scale in this room.
I also decided to mirror the whole wall above the vanity instead of a wall mounted one because the space is SO small! It made sense to mirror the whole width of the wall as a focal point and to make the room feel bigger.
The flooring is an inexpensive stock option… I knew I wanted something funky in here on the floor so patterned tiles was the best way to go!
To finish the space off with styling pieces, I went with a potted orchid to add a fresh and light accent. This dresses the vanity nightstand perfectly, alongside one of my favorite candles and a monogrammed towel the other side of the sink. Anything more in this space it would have looked too crowded because of the size. Keeping it simple in small spaces goes a long way.
The Finished Space!
Building Our Dream Home – Selecting Paint
Next up in our Dream Home series, we are covering paint. Let’s be really real…paint is hard…especially when it’s for yourself! So many choices, so little time. After hemming and hawing for weeks and having a long, hard talk with myself…it was time to make a decision. I rolled my sleeves up and put up some samples. Then a few more. Then a few more. Let’s walk through it together and see what we ultimately decided on!
Paint Colors Considered
- Natural Choice SW7011 by Sherwin Williams
- Shoji White SW7042 by Sherwin Williams
- Classic Gray OC-23 by Benjamin Moore
- Oyster White SW7637 by Sherwin Williams
- Heron’s Plume SW6070 by Sherwin Williams
- Ivory Lace SW7013 by Sherwin Williams
Let's Make Some Sample Boards
I headed over to my favorite Sherwin Williams store and purchased little sample quarts of the colors. Rather than put them up on the wall only, I like to make poster boards that can easily be moved around. Different rooms obviously show the colors differently, but so do the walls in the same room.
Let’s put the samples up on the walls
More information is always better! I painted the same samples on the wall to see what that looks like.
starting from top left to right, then bottom left to right
• Natural Choice SW7011 by Sherwin Williams
• Shoji White SW7042 by Sherwin Williams
• Classic Gray OC-23 by Benjamin Moore
• Oyster White SW7637 by Sherwin Williams
• Heron’s Plume SW6070 by Sherwin Williams
• Ivory Lace SW7013 by Sherwin Williams
So, now I’m starting to see a few favorites. Let’s dive in a little deeper to those. I really like Classic Gray (which in my humble opinion isn’t gray, like at all) so I painted an entire corner out in it and added the flooring selection (which is GORGEOUS) and the cabinet and tile colors. It’s looking good!
My Epiphany – Finish Considerations
I must mention that, at this point, I had an epiphany. Really. I’ve been using this little system of sample boards, wall samples, then bigger wall samples for 20 years and noticed something. Something bad. The little cans only come in a satin finish. Your actual paint for the room can come in several finishes and you likely won’t be using satin for your walls. I almost always use Matte or Flat. The two finishes of the same color look DRASTICALLY different. This photo shows samples of the same color, made on the same day at the same store, but because of their finishes, they look very different. I actually created an entire blog post about it here.
What did we ultimately decide on? Classic Gray, which I don’t believe to be gray at all. It’s the perfect warm neutral. It’s very light, which will be new to us in our personal home, but is just what I want. The white cabinet door contrasts with it nicely, which is perfect! A little tip is that I typically color match the white cabinet for the trim throughout. This is going to be perfect!
We decided to go with Sherwin Williams Duration paint in the Flat finish. It is perfect!
Building Our Dream Home – Selecting Cabinets
Let’s talk cabinets! We are nearing closer to wrapping up the building process of our dream home! Last time I shared the selecting ceiling fans process with you, and today I want to share what was a huge decision process for me – Selecting Cabinets. This includes the kitchen cabinets and those being fitted in the bathrooms throughout the home too. So how did we choose all the cabinets for an entire home? Let’s walk through the process together!
*If you’re just joining us, this is another installment of a series documenting the building of our personal dream home. So far we’ve tackled: Inspiration | Floorplan | Location | Breaking Ground | Roofing | Windows | Insulation | Sheetrock & Plaster | Selecting Paint | Selecting Flooring | Selecting Bathtubs | Selecting Lighting | Selecting Fans
Throughout my years as a designer I have been truly inspired by the cabinetry work by Christopher Peacock. In case you missed it, I dedicated a whole blog post on his beautiful work and my mildly obsessive design crush…you can go back and swoon over here. I absolutely love how he uses a variety of finishes throughout his work and pairs this with traditional furniture style cabinets. For our dream home there was no question about who I would draw inspiration from for our cabinets.
Amazing inspiration photo from Christopher Peacock
Let’s start looking at the design for our cabinets!
I have always dreamed of having furniture style cabinets – very similar to the work by Christopher Peacock above – and now I have the chance to incorporate this into our new home. Cabinets designed like furniture feel more built-in for me, and I love the classic detailing. They are the perfect mix of traditional and modern!
For the main design of the home, interior and exterior, I have taken huge inspiration from the Hamptons, and for me, getting the cabinets on the same page is important.
We worked with our go to local cabinetmaker, here in Florida, Carson’s Cabinetry & Design. I cannot say enough about them! Their quality and craftsmanship is fantastic and, best of all, they are reliable and easy to work with.
First up is the cabinet designs for the kitchen.
Undoubtedly up there as the most important area of the home to get the design right. The kitchen is open to the main double height family room and dining area – this really is the heart of our new home!
So here’s the plan for the kitchen cabinets…
For the cabinets here, design-wise I want them to look like furniture… The base helps to make them look built in. And having them painted in white were – and always will be – the choice for me. I love the clean and light look because it’s a timeless classic but also looks contemporary.
A 3D view of the kitchen cabinet designs…
I knew I wanted to do something different in this kitchen… So in the main run of cabinets – either side of the range area – I decided to stack glass cabinets on top of the countertops. These cabinets will be great for storing glasses, vases and other display-worthy items!
Inset cabinets were also a must-have. They are more expensive (by about 30%) but they’re definitely worth it! They really create that furniture feel.
Another key consideration for these kitchen cabinets is the hardware. The finish and style you choose is like the jewelry you add to an outfit.
So let’s look at some hardware options…
Hardware plays an important part of the overall design for the kitchen so getting it right is key!
To begin with, I considered using brass to really make the design “pop” and would give a modern and trendy look but after careful consideration, I settled with polished nickel. It’s a classic finish that works perfectly with the tones running through the marble of the countertops. I also feel like nickel for the hardware is more timeless than something like brass.
Again I took some inspiration from Christopher Peacock, and I reference this amazing blog post by Willow Decor! They go through each piece of hardware that Peacock uses for his kitchens – including some funny looking latches that actually make the design too! – so it’s well worth the read if you’re a fan.
Here are some of the hardware styles we have chosen…
I have chosen these cup cabinet pull style handles for the drawers as they are really practical and give a farmhouse style feel to the drawers:
And for the main tall cabinets I’ve gone for these slightly ornate style cabinet pulls! I really like these because they’re modern with a slight traditional feel.
I am IN LOVE with these cabinet latches! They will be used for the super high-up cabinets above the glass fronted ones.
And of course, I had to get some standard style knobs!
This is another really important room of the house – my sanctuary of course! We have his and hers sinks in the Master Bathroom – an absolute MUST if you and your partner get ready at the same time each morning. It helps to keep our toiletries separate (and gives me more storage for mine…) and gives us our own individual areas.
For the design of the vanity units here, I saved a whole load of images to my Pinterest Board for how I wanted them to look and also the furniture design style for this area.
In terms of finishes here, I love the warmth of walnut timber and how it is paired with a classic white marble…
Here’s the plan for our master bathroom vanity cabinets…
The his and hers sinks are actually on opposite sides of the bathroom rather than next to each other… These are the cabinet makers final drawings before they start building.
Similarly to the cabinets for the kitchen, I wanted the vanity units to look like pieces of furniture. Not only does this help increase the storage space for my husband and I it’s the modern classic look that I love! We’re going for a furniture look with extra tall legs that is almost like a server or credenza, and they will be finished in walnut to add warmth and richness to the space.
For the hardware of these cabinets we will be using a dark bronze finish to add a modern touch to them.
Next up – the other bathrooms in the house!
I decided to keep the same furniture style cabinets for most of the bathrooms so there is a consistent style throughout. But as you will see below, the space is limited for some of them so the design is simplified slightly to account for this.
Teen Daughter’s Bathroom…
For my teenage daughter’s bathroom I have kept with the same furniture style cabinets, but chose a painted gray finish. The plumbing for this bathroom will be a gold finish so we will be using that for the hardware too. This will create a cohesive look.
This 3D view shows you how the style of cabinets work for a smaller space, while still keeping the furniture style!
Again I have decided to keep with the furniture style cabinets for my son’s bathroom… But chose a painted navy finish to flow well from his bedroom and the hardware will be gold to make the color of the cabinets pop! The design for the vanity unit itself is simple yet practical.
The Pool Bathroom…
Another super simple furniture style cabinet design here. We will be having wallpaper installed to this bathroom so keeping the cabinet design simple will help to ensure the walls do all the talking! I’ve gone for furniture base detailing.
We have decided not to have cabinets in the main powder bathroom, and instead we will be using a piece of furniture.
Here are some photos from the installation!
The Kitchen coming together nicely…
And of course the PERFECT inserts!
These are an absolute MUST for anyone getting custom kitchen cabinets made! I can’t wait to have everything organized in this kitchen – it will make cooking and any preparation in this room so much easier for everyone.
Including knife slots for this drawer was a no brainer! It reduces any risk of injuries because the blades are all facing downwards instead of getting mixed up / upside down in a normal open space drawer…
These slanted inserts will house herbs and other small jars…
I love the separate compartments of this drawer! Perfect for all those kitchen utensils that would previously get shoved into whatever spare drawer I can find!
The final slanted drawer like before! This is so aesthetically pleasing…
FINALLY! Every utensil has it’s very own space! Not only that – it’s so much easier to see what you have in each drawer with these inserts…
One of the Master Bathroom vanity units…
I am so over the moon with how the master bathroom vanity units are coming on! The walnut finish here is absolutely beautiful – I can’t wait to get the countertops put on!
My daughter’s bathroom vanity unit…
I love how the warmth of the hardware comes through for this vanity unit and the gray painted finish of the cabinets blends seamlessly with the countertop veining.
And my son’s bathroom vanity unit…
We went with a more industrial style for the plumbing and light fixtures here so it made sense to incorporate this into the vanity mirror and tie all the metal finishes together.
So…what do you think? I’m in love! We’ll dive into countertops soon!
Building Our Dream Home – Selecting Fans
After a very unforeseen hiatus, we are back on job. It’s time to wrap this home building process up! Last time I shared the selecting lighting process with you, and today I want to share another important decision process – Ceiling Fans. So how did we choose all the fans for an entire home? Let’s walk through the process together!
*If you’re just joining us, this is another installment of a series documenting the building of our personal dream home. So far we’ve tackled: Inspiration | Floorplan | Location | Breaking Ground | Roofing | Windows | Insulation | Sheetrock & Plaster | Selecting Paint | Selecting Flooring | Selecting Bathtubs | Selecting Lighting
Where To Start
Selecting ceiling fans for an entire house can be pretty daunting. The old school fans from the 90’s (with chains and light canopies) weren’t too designer friendly. Well, they’ve come a long way! I live in Florida…we need ceiling fans in every single room…so if we’re going to use them, let’s “make them fashion”. Here is the one I started with. Simple, clean, traditional but fresh.
Just like the other decisions I have made for the new house, I started off by selecting one line as my supplier. It makes things easier and the finishes go together instantly. Fanimation is my to go every single time…solid fans with a wide range of GREAT styles. You can select different finishes for the blades and the motor individually to fully customize each fan, along with different wall control panels. If you don’t know about them, you should totally look them up. Their Pinterest boards are inspiration enough. If you want to go down the rabbit hole, you can dive into their boards here and my blackhole of Pins for our new house here.
The design for ceiling fans lie greatly in the style of blades. It’s more about the blades than the motor itself, and choosing between a centrally housed fan (a circular metal ring with the blades within it), or exposed (main motor with open blades coming off it from the center). From previous experience I knew I wanted to have the exposed style ceiling fans throughout the new house as the performance is better. It’s important to decide what sort of style of ceiling fan is applicable and suitable for each room so you can narrow down suppliers based on this if necessary. Next the quantity of blades is a key consideration… Generally this is totally down to personal taste – 3 blades creates a minimal barely-there look and 4 or 5 blades is fairly standard. Most importantly though, the number of blades does correlate to the performance and efficiency of the ceiling fan too. As the number of blades go up, the quieter the fan but circulates less air.
Sticking to simple, tried and true rules I’ve created for myself over the years makes selections much easier. Here are my rules for fans:
-No chains. None. Don’t do it.
-Clean lines. Nothing frilly.
-Dark and as monochromatic with the blades as possible
OK, now for the logistics. Your fans need to fit in the rooms they’re going in! There are some critical factors to take in to consideration, particularly for small rooms or low ceiling heights. If you install a large fan in a small room it looks silly and equally a small fan in a large room looks weak and isn’t effective!
As a general rule:
-Rooms 75 square feet or smaller, the ceiling fan should be no bigger than 36 inches
-Larger rooms of 75 – 144 square feet, the ceiling fan should be 36 – 42 inches
-Rooms 144-200 can hold a fan with a 60 or 70″ span
-Rectangular rooms over this size can usually hold 2 fans. Space them out consistently
-Ceilings over 10′ or so will need a down rod… or 2! Read about the sizing here.
Once you have decided on a style and how many blades you prefer, thinking about the finish of the ceiling fan is another important consideration. Typically the finish of ceiling fans should relate to the lighting fixtures and hardware within each room. This may be different for each area and that’s perfectly ok! So long as the finish works with the room the ceiling fan is in.
I stuck with the Dark Bronze finish from Fanimation because we chose a mix of aged brass and polished nickel for internal rooms and a vintage finish for external lighting. I always knew I wanted darker ceiling fans throughout so they had a strong presence in the spaces and make up part of the overall design to each room. I paired the Dark Bronze finish with Dark Walnut blades for all of the ceiling fans which creates a cohesiveness throughout the house.
So here’s a round up of the ceiling fans I’ve chosen for each key room…
I chose different styles of ceiling fans for most rooms, but kept the finishes the same throughout for consistency.
For the family room I decided to keep the design of the ceiling fan simple, as the overall design is very Hamptons chic. We need two fans for this space so opted for the 60″ blades. This is without a lighting kit as we have alternative light sources going in here.
Family Room Ceiling Fan, finished in Dark Bronze with 60″ Dark Walnut blades, without lighting kit, with wall control
A few installed photos from the house:
For the master I’ve chosen this classic 5 blade ceiling fan, again because it relates nicely to other aspects of the design for this room specifically. This is without a lighting kit.
Master Bedroom Ceiling Fan finished in Dark Bronze with 52″Dark Walnut blades, without lighting kit and with wall control
Guest and Daughter's Bedrooms
I chose the same ceiling fan style for these two bedrooms as we needed the same size blades so it made sense to simplify these. This is a really sleek and modern 3 blade ceiling fan which will look amazing with the other furniture and finishes used in these bedrooms! I chose to add a lighting kit to these fans so it provides some of the lighting for the rooms.
Bedrooms Ceiling Fans finished in Dark Bronze with 52″ Dark Walnut blades, with lighting kit and with wall control
For my son’s bedroom we chose this sleek yet simple 3 blade ceiling fan to keep the ceiling minimal as the room is slightly smaller in size to the others. Again, it actually has a lighting kit with it because this is one of the main central source of light for the room.
I’m using the same ceiling fan here as the guest and my daughter’s bedrooms. It made sense to use a sleek design here, and without a lighting kit.
Playroom Ceiling Fan finished in Dark Bronze with 52″ Dark Walnut blades, without lighting kit and with wall control
The outdoor spaces require three ceiling fans, so we’re keeping it simple but going for two 60″ and one 72″ sizes.
Outdoor Ceiling Fans, finished in Dark Bronze with 60″ and 72″ Dark Walnut blades, without lighting kit and with wall control
I’ve decided on something slightly different for the exterior to the house! I just LOVE this old-style wall mount fan!
The FInal Selections
So here it is! The final selection of ceiling fans for the new house below! I am so in love with them, I love how they all relate to each other but are slightly different in blade styles.