Our last house was a spec home and we were the first owners. Everything was fresh and new. But it wasn't us. From the vinyl floors and the traditional cherry cabinets in the kitchen, to the standard trim and doors, to the spa tub that we never used, we just didn't feel at home. But since there was technically nothing wrong with the house, it didn't make sense to invest money in renovations.
Once we decided it was time to move, we looked at several houses for sale but just couldn't find anything in the area of town we wanted to live that had the character we longed for. But we did find a spacious fully-wooded lot in a great location, and decided to buy it and build a house to our own specifications.
|The babbling brook on our lot|
We hired an architect to design a house that had an English cottage flair. The floor plans were fairly simple, but the house was large in square footage and ended up being too expensive for us to build. Soon after that, we fell in love with the 2006 Cottage Living Idea House, which was a Craftsman bungalow style.
|2006 Cottage Living Idea House|
It had a little less square footage than our first design, but the design was so incredibly detailed that it was waaaaaaay over budget. I was crushed. By that time, we were sold on the Craftsman style, but we needed to find something that had reasonable square footage plus the right amount of detail and character without going overboard (and over budget). I spent hours upon hours scouring online house plans, and even drawing up many of my own. We have a fairly large lot, but the buildable portion was narrow (because of a dropoff toward the creek), which limited our floor plans because it could only be about two rooms wide plus the garage. We finally found a house plan called the Highland Cottage that had the basic style and dimensions that we were looking for.
The Mr. and I enjoyed the construction process and even created a blog called "New Old Craftsman" to track the process. If construction details are your thing, check it out here. Luckily I was only working part-time during construction, so I had time to go out to the site on a regular basis.
Literally every single surface of the house, both interior and exterior, was chosen custom by us (mostly me). If you've never built a fully custom home, you would never know all the minute details that have to be chosen by somebody -- down to the location of every light switch and what each switch operates. Because we were building a home with features of Craftsman houses from the 1920s, we had unique decisions to make that most homeowners would not have to fiddle with, like rafter tails and porch columns on the outside and medicine cabinets on the inside.
I spent many hours poring over internet photos, books about Craftsman design, and driving around town to the older neighborhoods that had houses of the same style, trying to narrow down every decision. It was tiring and frustrating at times, but totally worth it. At many points in the process, I wished I had a designer to help me, because I have a hard time making decisions, but somehow I muddled through. And we're totally stoked about the finished product!
|Front view including garage|
|View of the front of our house|
|Front door and porch view|
|Porch columns and railing|
|The handmade doorbell I purchased at a local art fair from an artisan|
|The mailbox, which was crafted to match the front porch columns.|
I found the handmade number tiles at a local art fair.
As Nate Berkus would say, we are very "house proud."