Before and after bathroom tub2

New Year, New HGTV Dream Home

HGTV’s 2018 Dream Home

It wouldn’t be the start of a new year without a review of the highs and lows of the HGTV Dream Home.  The unveiling of the 2018 HGTV Dream Home was just one small thing to look forward to the night before everyone trudged back to work and school today.  As with the last several years of Dream Homes this one was also a renovation rather than a complete new build, because ya know, who can resist a stunning before and after?  I was particularly excited by this year’s contemporary style since it’s a similar style to my home that we’ve been slowly remodeling over the last few months.

Before, Exterior

The HGTV 2018 Dream Home is located in the Pacific Northwest, right along the Puget Sound.  The setting is gorgeous.  The previous exterior, not so much.  Let me rephrase, it wasn’t awful, just a bit outdated and weird.  What’s up with that asymmetrical ship’s watch?  My guess would be that similar to our home, this one was originally built in the mid-80’s.

dream home exterior

The back of the home looks slightly better, but all you see if building block looking windows, stark white railing, and too-big arborvitae bushes hiding the wall.

exterior before

After, Exterior

The after is much improved, sleek and truly contemporary.  None of that “I am a contemporary but would rather be coastal” that it previously possessed.  The metal roof over the entire home probably cost a pretty penny (I’ve been researching them as a possibility for my own home) but makes such a difference.  Removing that ship’s watch was also a great choice and the updated driveway, garage doors and landscaping don’t hurt either.

after exterior dream home

This home is just reaffirming many of the contemporary design choices we’re making for our own home, and the black modern windows and dark painted exterior help immensely.  I wish HGTV would name all of their products somewhere and the cost for the product and the installation and construction. I’ve found that black (interior and exterior) windows are not as readily available as one might think, and when you can find slick black contemporary windows, they are $$$$!

black windows

Dream Home Interior

I won’t bore you with all of the choppy wrong-ness of the before interiors, you can check them out for yourself on HGTV’s website but I did want to take you through some of my favorite parts of the completed interior.

Ok, here the view says it all, and perhaps that’s why they chose not to go with black interiors on the windows here but rather white with white trim? The millwork is simple and contemporary and honestly fades away unless you’re really looking for it, making the Puget Sound views the main event.

great room

I’m torn about the fireplace placement.  On one hand it’s ideal to have your great room furniture be focused on both the fireplace and the views all at once, but a fireplace of this size does take up a good portion of that view.  And while the look of this one is very coastal, I’d have gone with something a bit more contemporary that didn’t take up so much real estate, like this one here by Malm.

suspended fireplace

I am still a sucker for a white kitchen, and I really love that they are using a shaker cabinet in a contemporary home.  (More positive design affirmations for my home – yay)! The metal and wood railing are perfect and add the modern edge while the white wicker pendants over the island give it just enough coastal kitsch.  I may need to pick up these counter stools for my own home.

kitchen modern coastal

This entry door is perfection.  You can see in the second pic below it’s a very modern black interior/exterior French door.  I am hoping that this is what our new Marvin Contemporary door will look like in our in-progress kitchen. It’s harder to find modern looking French doors without mullions than you think.  They are not a standard off the shelf Home Depot purchase, trust me.  I’m a bit disappointed by the random hooks just hung on the wall with no framing or bench.  The hooks themselves are adorable whale tails but I wish this wall had been framed out (maybe with some board and batten) so that the coats weren’t the focus. The art is gorgeous though hung at a weird spot, probably to detract your eye from random coats.  And the idea of a burled wood boot tray in the Pacific Northwest is a smart and good-looking idea.

contemporary doors

In my opinion this is the best bedroom of the bunch.  The blues are calming, but not boring, and this is a great example of how things don’t need to be perfectly matchy-matchy but can still “go.”  See how those mirrors are similar but not the same, and the desk and dresser, too?  I also like how larger furnishings are used as nightstands.  Lots of folks don’t have room for a bed, nightstands and a desk and dresser in their room.  So it makes perfect sense to replace some of the less utilitarian pieces with those that can do double duty.

blue grey bedroom

There are so many things I like about this vignette even though I don’t love pink.  I adore large scale art.  I love this fish sign and it fits this house outside Seattle perfectly.  My other faves here are mixing dining chars with a bench, the mismatched table and bench and  the pendant trifecta.  There is so much interest and mixing of styles here that you don’t even really miss an area rug under the table… ok maybe I miss one just a little…

large art

Finally, the outdoors.  The view from this property is just amazing.  And while it may rain a ton in the Pacific Northwest, for those times when it is nice enough to be outside, it helps when it looks like this space.  Who wouldn’t want to snuggle up next to that fire pit or have a meal with family and friends at that outdoor table?

Outdoor Entertaining Spaces

hgtv dream home

hgtv dream home

And HGTV, if you’re reading, here’s what I really wanna know:

1) How much does everything cost? Like regular retail cost that your everyday person would pay?

2) How much time does it take Ryan Patrick Flynn to design all these spaces?  How large is his team?

3) Next year can you create a list where everything came from. I mean everything.  Shingles, doors, windows, counters, light fixtures, a duvet, everything.  Not just those that pay sponsorship.  It doesn’t have to be emblazoned anywhere, just a list, no logos, no ads.

4) How much did you pay for the fixer initially?  How much did you put into it (labor and materials)?  What’s it worth now?

What were your favorite parts of the 2018 HGTV Dream Home?  What do you want to know about the HGTV Dream Home?  Lemme know in the comments, maybe we could get a petition going 😉

Before and after bathroom tub2

Land, glorious land!

These 5 sublime wooded acres outside Washington DC are the reason we bought this… ahem… less than ideal house. I may have mentioned that our last house, though it served us well, was crammed with hundreds of other houses in a community of tract homes. All of the homes looked similar and we were literally less than 6 feet from our neighbor’s home. While we enjoyed our old community amenities, like a pool and a small gym, but we longed to have our own private versions of these perks. Oh, and we also had one more not so exciting desire, a 3-car garage. We don’t have 3 cars but we have accumulated some fun toys like a jet ski, a kayak, and my husband has a grown-up Lego, a Jeep, which has parts that go on and come off routinely.  This land is lush and extensive and surrounds this contemporary home just perfectly.  Check it out.

1980's contemporary front

Our new house is on a quiet street.  I cannot hear traffic noise from my home, just the sound of bugs, birds and frogs.  Each home on our street has several acres so when the leaves are on the trees I cannot even see my neighbors.  Time will tell how much we will be able to see them as the leaves fall off the trees this autumn.  The house is at the end of a street with no outlet which means even more privacy.

driveway

Most of the 5 acres are woods.  One side of the property is bordered by a bridle trail – yes – some people in this area keep horses on their property!  There’s probably less than half-acre of our yard  property that is mow-able grass but the plants, gardens, ponds and waterfalls are plentiful, so we will have a significant amount of landscaping to keep up with.  There are 2 large ponds, 2 small ponds a wooden footbridge, a land bridge, and 3 man-made waterfalls.  The house also has various levels of decks and patios including the one that surrounds the free-form shaped pool.  In this county, installing a pool can be really expensive, especially on a sloped lot like this one.  It’s one of the major reasons we selected this house.

wooded acres

ponds

pool

hidden paths

The trees and plants are plentiful and wide-ranging.  We have a variety of pines, oak, boxwoods, azaleas, yucca, ivy, juniper, ferns and even flowering waterlilies.  The learning curve for caring for all of these plants is huge, but a fun challenge.  I look forward to one day erecting a small greenhouse and growing veggies or maybe figuring out how to capitalize on the 4 ponds for hydroponics.

ponds

We’ve already started opening up some walls so we can see some of the supporting structures and ultimately adequately determine how to safely remove some walls.  Next week see more of our demo!

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Before and after bathroom tub2

Creating Curb Appeal: Easy, Moderate and More Difficult Projects

Sure, it’s nice to flip through the pages of Southern Living or troll Houzz to longingly gaze upon houses with sweeping verandahs, wrap-around porches, or terraced front yards lush with mature shrubs and blooming flowers.  However, the more realistic view of our home’s curb appeal likely consists of a small patch of lawn that may be more weeds than grass, a miniscule porch or portico, and an ugly cement walkway.  If you have a smaller home and a smaller front yard, how do you get that elusive “curb appeal”?  The simple answer is to distract the eye with appealing things to look at, which is, truthfully, easier said than done.  Here are a few tips to up your small home curb appeal from the simple to moderate to the more difficult.

Easy:

Add 2 planters that match on either side of your door or walkway.  Go for a tall planter with a simple boxwood or evergreen for a classic look. This simple front door from Cococozy  looks loads more put together with the boxwoods flanking the black front door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The biggest mistake people make with large pots and tall planters? Well you spent probably over a hundred bucks for large planters and then you figured that you’d want to show off some colorful flowers in them…. only the flowers are usually miniscule compared to the scale of the pot.  So, if you’re using a large pot or tall planter, go with a large plant that matches the scale of the planter.

Easy:

Change up your house numbers.  Most of us probably have numbers that look similar.  Why? Because whomever built the house put the cheapest numbers possible on.  They probably look something like this, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new font can make a big difference.  There are a ton of options out there, modern, art deco, a variety of metals or tile.  Such a simple switch, for just a few dollars and a screwdriver…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moderate:

Brighten up the front door with some paint.  Sure, it may be a bit of a hassle, especially if you have to go through the process of getting approval from a homeowner’s association, but a new coat of paint on the front door especially in a bright or unexpected hue can make a world of difference.  Be sure though to limit the colors on the front of your house to no more than three or it can go awry quickly.  So, if you have red brick (a neutral, doesn’t count as a color), white trim, black shutters, you can introduce a new color on the front door.  But if you have a blue house, white trim, cedar accents, adding another bold color might be a bit too much.  These doors here are so bright and inviting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moderate:

Add new porch lighting.  Typical homes probably have front porch lights that look like this.  The ones that builders put on community homes are almost always too small (and usually lacking style).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instead, opt for a light or a pair of lights with a bit more visual impact, in either size, finish or both.  These are all better scaled and have much better visual impact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Difficult:

Swap out that boring cement walkway for pavers.  For most, unless you are an uber-DIYer, this will require you to hire someone, especially to remove the old cement walkway and to haul it away because your garbage man won’t appreciate gigantic chunks of concrete in your trashcan.  However, the impact will be amazing and immediate.

This is not appealing, I would not want this walkway to welcome me home every day:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, these walkways would be downright enjoyable to stroll along:

 

Difficult:

If the front of your house is naked and adding a complete porch is out of the question, consider adding a small pergola.  Sure, you’ll still need to probably consult a professional to do it but it’s not nearly as much of an investment as a porch but will provide instant curb appeal and visual impact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before and after bathroom tub2

Garage Door Makeover

Last week we talked about those boring blah garage doors and showed you lots of fancy, special, gorgeous doors.  For those of you who can’t currently do a full garage door replacement, there are some great options for DIY upgrading your door by adding just a little hardware or paint.  In some cases you won’t even need a single tool.

First up, here’s my own garage door with the addition of magnetic, that’s right, MAGNETIC, hardware.  So you can take them off if your homeowners association sends you one of those nasty notes for overstepping your bounds without fear of having holes in your door!  In this example, I’ve also shown an option to either paint or use vinyl decals to create the illusion of windows.  Be sure to use high gloss paint or vinyl so the reflective quality will give the illusion of being a glass panel.  Shown here is the Cre8tive Hardware, Classic Spade Magnetic Garage Door Hardware Set (6-Piece)  $36.

garage-door-before-and-after

 

Ok, full disclosure, I did this garage update digitally but this is another great way to see if you’ll like the final results.  Just take a photo of your doors, and cut and paste a pic of the hardware from the manufacturer’s website and place it on your doors to see if you like it before you make the investment.   Tip, be sure to be perfectly straight on when you take the pic, I am a bit off center here so the handles look a little angled.  I like the results so I’ll put this project on my list for sure!

Other ways to make an easy update to your garage is with paint.  Adding a gel stain can make your door look like a real wood door.   Check out the entire DIY instructions at Made to Love.

gel-stain-before-and-after

 

There are a number of great garage door additions that can convert your blah doors to something really special.  This $99 panel can be screwed on to your door to create the appearance of arched windows.   This is the Crown Metal Works White Decorative Faux Window (2 per Pack).

gd-window-panel

garage-door-window-panels

Before and after bathroom tub2

Gorgeous Garage Door Design

Most people probably don’t give garage doors a second thought or really have an opinion about them, so long as they open and close when we hit the button.  I am not one of those people.  In fact, I have some pretty strong opinions about garage doors.    First, I love a two-car garage, a three-car, even better.  But in a two-car garage I much prefer if it has 2 separate doors, not one large door.  Certainly, the large two-car door has advantages… if you want to park something wide, angle park or push in a boat that wouldn’t fit any way but diagonally.  But aesthetically, I think two separate doors looks better.  I also much prefer when a garage is a side-load, in other words, when you can’t see it from the front of the house.  If it has to be a front facing garage, doors that are attractive and beautiful are of course ideal if your community association allows it.  It’s one of the things I wish I could change about my house, I’d love to have something more appealing than my standard 16 panel contractor grade door to welcome me every day.

There are a million options out there in garage doors these days for every style house in a number of materials.  Doors now come in vinyl, wood, steel, fiberglass, composite and glass-paneled in roll up, swing up, swing out and other various options.  I’ve assembled a collection of great looking garage doors in both single and two-door varieties check back next week when I’ll show a few ways to transform a builder grade door just by adding some strategically-placed hardware.

garage-doors
Garage Door Design

 

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