The Farmhouse: A Tour of the Outside

Hey hey. Hope you're all dwelling in that perfect in-between-Christmas-and-New-Years-bliss! I know we certainly are, especially since we're now three weeks into living in our new home. We hosted my family overnight on Christmas Eve Eve and, let me tell you, it was so much fun filling this house with people. We had people sleeping in every room, including the living room! Lots of great memories.

Today I'm excited to share the first photos of the house once it was finished, right before we moved in. An empty house tour, if you will. As I mentioned before, I'll bounce back and forth between the building process and the new finished house, but I just couldn't wait any longer to share the new space. All the heart eyes. And today I'm starting with what you see when you drive up... the outside!

The theme of the exterior of our home is simple, traditional, farmhouse. Our exterior siding is painted with Sherwin Williams Alabaster. The trim color is a standard bright trim white our painters used. We tried as hard as we could to stay true to the traditional farmhouse look and didn't add shutters or a ton of decorative things like fancy porch columns, railings or cornices. Just some solid 8x8 pine columns, unstained. True to my Charleston roots (I'm a College of Charleston graduate, go Cougs!), we painted the porch ceiling "haint blue" (here we specifically used Sherwin Williams Tidewater). We upgraded the soffits to a Hardiplank soffit and simply trimmed the porch ceiling out with simple trim work. Our front doors are made from Douglas Fir and we left them unstained (but with a protective clear coat, of course).

The front porch is pretty self-explanatory. But in the back, it's a bit more complicated. Our keeping room comes off the house at an angle, so we decided that instead of having both sides underneath the keeping room be at basement level, we would add another set of French doors off the keeping room and build up the dirt to create a courtyard between the keeping room and the additional detached garage we built. That's what you're seeing in the third to last and second to last photo. I love this little space now and I can't wait to entertain out here when the weather is warmer. I picture lots of sparkling twinkle lights : )

In the true back yard, we have a large space that I forgot to photograph, but it... looks like a backyard! Ha. It's basement level, so the back porch we created comes off the living room/kitchen on the first floor. We put a roof on the back porch which unfortunately lets in less light into the living room, but it's a fair trade off because that space is amazing. My entire family piled out there around the fire on Christmas Eve! Such a great spot to relax. Not pictured is a little open space grilling deck which opens up to this covered porch area. We truly love our entire outdoor space, to be honest. We built this house with simple, clean lines so that the true beauty and focus is on God's beautiful green earth outside. The kids are loving spending as much time as they can out there (especially riding their new John Deere Gator that drives fast enough to give their momma a heart attack every other minute) and I'm happy to oblige!

And I know everyone will ask, so here are a few of the sources!

over garage doors- barn lights and barn light neck
brick is Old Georgian Tudor with Savannah White ivory mortar
shingles are CertainTeed Georgetown Gray
metal roof accents are Sheffield Metal Slate Gray

Our 2016 Christmas Card

This year, we combined our 2016 Christmas card with our moving announcement and killed two birds with one stone! Of course, I edited out our new address for the Internet, but don't you just love this adorable card? Thanks so much to Minted for the cards this year!

It's Okay To Live in a Season of Being on Pause

This blog post has been on my heart for awhile. Let me start by saying that it has been so much fun sharing our house building process with y'all so far. After so much time planning and working to make our designs come to fruition, it's such a reward to share our house updates with friends and family. I can't wait to share more now that we've finished the house and have moved in! (seriously, I have so many photos to share!)

But for a long time, David and I (and the kids) were in a season of being on pause. Almost five years, actually. From the moment David accepted his dream job in February 2012, we put the house we renovated (and loved!) on the market and had no real idea about what our next steps were in terms of our living situation. We bounced around to a couple of different rental houses (like this one and this one) and finally, finally, found a piece of land we decided to build a house on last year. And, here we are today. Five years later and finally settled in a long-term home. That's a long time to be on pause when you're talking to two type-A folks! In the past few years, my blog took a big tumble. I stopped posting as much and lost many followers, mostly because I decided to prioritize my family and career, but also because I was living in a rental house and simply didn't have the heart or ability to take on big home projects. Kitchen makeovers aren't quite the same when you can't change much about the kitchen itself! Needless to say, without much content... the blog sort of shrunk. 

But it's more than just the blog- I think I actually felt bad about myself that I wasn't making my home a priority. Just one jump onto Instagram or Pinterest and I felt this sudden urge to buy a new bed or hang new art or DIY a modern wooden plant stand. But I didn't, at least not often. And I felt bad about it. What I didn't realize for awhile is that it's okay to live in a season of being on pause. I'm not even sure that makes sense, but what I mean is that it's okay to not do everything. In fact, it's okay to not do anything. If you're not decorating your house so that it's Instagram-worthy or DIYing the crafts and the birthday parties and the etc. etc. etc. etc.- it's OKAY. Really! I'm not sure when we all got so caught up in the push for more. And I'm totally guilty of it myself, don't get me wrong. 

I'm sharing all of this now because I, truthfully, feel bad about being a contributor to that cycle. Again, I am SO excited to share photos of our new house with you, but I don't want you, by any means, to think that means that we're perfect or have it all together or live in some magazine-worthy home. Trust me, it's a gorgeous home we are so fortunate to live in, but David and I have worked really hard for it. Years of saving our pennies and skipping big vacations and hoarding away budget deals are finally paying off. In fact, we haven't bought any furniture in yearsssssss. And with the exception of our new breakfast table, we haven't bought any new furniture for the new house yet either! We'll buy slowly. On a budget. It's real life, after all. 

Hopefully I'm connecting with some of you out there. I just felt like sharing that in this season of buying and gift guides and what feels like (to me) a huge push for consumerism, don't feel like you're out of place if you're not participating in the whirlwind. Or, even worse, don't feel pressured to participate. I almost titled this post: Your House Does Not Have to Be Instagram Worthy. It doesn't. I'm seeing more and more likes on my Instagram feed and my blog statistics are (finally!) going back up, but I truly hope that's because you're connecting with me on a genuine platform and understanding our journey is so much more than the pretty final pictures. I would never want any of you to feel like you're not good enough or your home is not nice enough just because you're seeing so many pretty images online. It's okay if this is not your season for that. Maybe it's your season to focus on your job? Or your family? Or your physical health? Whatever your focus is, be proud. And truly embrace that season of being on pause with the rest!

Alrighty, I'm off my soapbox, for now. The last time I shared a house update, we had just finished the drywall. I've decided to fast forward three months and start sharing the full tour of the house from last week right before we moved in! Don't worry, I'll bounce back and forth and continue the details on the building process, I know a lot of you are planning a build yourself and love the insight. But I can't wait to finally share the finished product (like our keeping room above!), so stay tuned for the start of the tour later this week.

Creating Cozy Christmas Memories

Guys. I can't begin to tell you how amazing it is that we'll be in the new house for Christmas. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that last weekend we spent the night on air mattresses at the new house and decorated our Christmas tree! That's right, no furniture. No utensils. Just pizza out of a box on the floor, air mattresses and a Christmas tree. It's all about those memories! And as of this Sunday evening, we'll be completely settled in... this time, with furniture. I am so ready to create more special holiday memories this year! And Sunday night presents the perfect opportunity... Disney is airing the first showing of Frozen on ABC Sunday night (December 11th)! Whaaaat. My kids are going to flip their lids. We love us some Olaf! And during the showing, Target is premiering their musical story, The Toycracker. Featuring John Legend and Christy Teigen, this sweet little presentation is an updated version of the Nutcracker story done in a Broadway-style production. I can't wait to see it! And, ah, John Legend. Love that man. Not sure I would have made it through my first year of law school without Once Again on repeat. Major crush!

Needless to say, you'll find my family cuddled up on the couch this Sunday night with the movie on, a fire in the fireplace and munching on some snacks and hot chocolate. And of course, creating new Christmas memories at our new house! Do you guys plan to watch?

Oh! And my friends at Target want you to get cozy this year with some extra Target bucks. If you're interested in winning a $25 gift card, follow me on Instagram and I'll post the giveaway there this weekend!

Like what you see in the photos? Check out the links to some of those products below!
·         Archer Farms Hot Cocoa Mix
·         "Let It Snow" Threshold Mug
·         Disney Frozen Olaf Throw

Building Our House: And the Walls Went Up

[because someone will ask... hi mom!... here's what room each of these photos is: 1. keeping room 2. breakfast nook 3. standing in kitchen looking at living room 4. Lu's room 5. laundry room 6. master bathroom 7. living room looking into kitchen 8. master bedroom]

I just can't stop the 19 year old in me from singing "to the windooooooooow, to the WALL! till the sweat drops down my..." okay, okay, I'll stop. But seriously. This post is about walls. It doesn't sound that exciting and, much like the framing process, there's really not a lot to say about it on my end. This was one of those phases we sat back and watched and thought, wow. This looks like a house! This is happening! FYI, these photos were taken before the drywall was taped and mudded, so these are the rough edges. It got a lot prettier, I promise ; )

Enjoy this short post, though, because I have a lot to say about what's coming up in the process: paint choices, trim design, tile and counter selections, lighting and flooring sources, plumbing choices/sources... oh, it's all coming! I've taken a million photos along the way and I can't wait to share them with you.

Spoiler alert... I think I've mentioned it before, but I'm not blogging real time. Life got craaaazy during the build (read: choosing all of the paint and trim and tile and counters and lights etc. etc.), so now I'm working backwards and documenting the process. Which brings me to two things. 1) WE'RE MOVING INTO THE HOUSE THIS WEEKEND! YES! THIS IS HAPPENING! Follow me on Instagram for real-time updates. and 2) WHAT do YOU want to hear about the build process? Let me know what subjects you want me to blog about in detail. Or what subjects you don't want to hear about at all, like "Michelle. Just show us the pretty, finished house." I want to chat about what's helpful to you, so let me know!

A Few of My Favorite Things + $300 Minted Giveaway

I have a big time love affair with Minted. From personalized stationary to oversized art prints to birthday party paper goods, there are about a million and one things I love about that company. I've also used them for both of my kids birth announcements and the last four years for Christmas cards! And guess what? They're adding new items on the regular. So many items that could be the perfect gifts for you and yours! Check out a few of my favorite gift ideas from Minted below.

art prints (I have been eyeing these birthstone prints forever!)

And my absolute favorite thing that Minted has going right now is their completely custom art. Options include silhouettes, watercolor renditions from photographs and turning your kid's art into prints. I have already requested a commission for Little Lady June's new room... such a great concept for commissioned art on a budget!

Want to purchase some of these great gifts for your family and friends? Sign up to win ONE OF THREE $100 GIFT CARDS TO MINTED. Entry and details over on Minted's website here. Good luck and happy gift giving!

Filling Our New Walls with Scripture, Quotes + Love

Back in August, David and I spent a Sunday afternoon at the house with the kids. But it wasn't just any visit to check out the progress of the house build. The workers had just finished framing everything, so we decided to spend that Sunday afternoon making our first mark on this home as a family. We sat down and talked about Bible verses, quotes, song lyrics and sayings that were important to us and made a long, double-sided legal paper list. Then we each grabbed a permanent marker and went to work writing those special scripture verses and quotes on the wooden studs, floors and beams in our new house. I left David a love note on the walls of his closet. We wrote out the lyrics to the kids' favorite lullabies on the floors of their bedrooms. And, most importantly, we cemented in writing some of our favorite verses from the Bible. Verses that mean so much to us and are a foundation to our family. Now they're part of the foundation of our new home, too. David and I are so grateful for this home and want to make sure that we move forward and continue our lives in this new house under His words and in His spirit. We felt that writing scripture on the walls of our new home was a great way to start that process!

So there I am, basking in this special afternoon, permagrin on my face... and while I was thinking "aw, sweet family moment!", my two year old was thinking "aw! mom gave me a permanent marker!" Within seconds, she decided to draw on her face... maybe arched eyebrows are her thing? Future makeup artist? Needless to say, we laughed so hard we cried. And then we scrubbed her face (hand sanitizer takes permanent marker right off of skin!). I love that such awesome memories are already taking shape in this house!

Building Our House: Framing

Guys. Framing was probably one of my favorite steps of our building process. At the end of each day during the framing process, David and I would rush to the farm after work. Our gravel driveway winds to the house from the street, through the trees and into the pasture where our home site is. Each time we pulled up during that framing process (okay, let's be honest, every single time we pull up to the house even now!), we would stop the car and sit and stare. And maybe say "wowwwwww!" One day there was dirt, a few days later there was something that resembled a house! It was incredible. As my uncle (our architect) put it, the framers are true artists. Not only do they put together the puzzle pieces of your house based on the construction plans, but they're actually building the puzzle pieces themselves! Pure genius. And we were really lucky to have an amazing framing crew that worked long hours and got the job done, well.

Once we got the floor plan completed (as I described here), there wasn't much for us to do during the framing process. So it was really nice to sit back, relax and watch the wood go up! If you have any specific questions about the framing process and our choices, feel free to shoot me an email and I'll update the post with the answers. Until then, enjoy what was about a three week framing timeline in about six seconds!

Building Our House: The Foundation and Floor Plan

Ok! Here we go! Another house update! Two blog posts in one week! All the exclamation points!

Last time I checked in, we had finished our site prep work, the initial stage of the build. Also known as a great big hole in the ground. Our next step was to lay the foundation for the home. 

As a quick side note, David and I designed our floor plan with an architect, who also happens to be my uncle! All relations aside, he is incredibly talented, smart, down to earth and is a well-known residential architect here in Georgia. I can't say enough good things about him. If you are looking for an architect in the Atlanta area, shoot me an email and I am more than happy to send you his contact information. He's got a great set of stock plans and is a dream to work with on a custom plan, I know that from experience! Many of you have asked me how we got started with designing our home from scratch- about five years ago, David and I (for fun, I know, we do cool stuff in our free time, ha) drew out our "dream home" and when it came time to meet with the architect, we pulled that plan out and started from there. We also searched plans on Pinterest and Google (I used phrases and key elements to search like "farmhouse" or "keeping room") to add ideas to our base plan, and of course we took a ton of advice from my uncle, the professional. For weeks... honestly, probably months... we worked on the floor plan, playing with the spaces until we got it just right. At one point (after weeks of work), we scrapped the entire plan and started fresh because things weren't feeling right. I know, my uncle probably wanted to kill us, but we really wanted to get this right! A floor plan is everything! We finally landed on what I'm calling a modern farmhouse style- lots of open, modern spaces mixed with traditional elements like a wraparound front porch combined with a few touches of Craftsman style. For a few reasons I'm sure you understand, I don't plan to share our floor plans here on the blog, but happy to answer any specific layout questions y'all might have.

As the builder started laying the foundation of the house and we saw everything finally starting to shape up, it felt like our hard work on the floor plan paid off. I know this foundation topic can get a little dry (no pun intended... ok, yes it was), but I want to document every step in this process for you guys and, hello, the foundation is the first major step in building our house!

The concrete guys first laid out the concrete footers in the shape of our basement floor plan.

You can also see the metal rebar rods they added before the concrete went in to keep things structurally sound. Yes, please.

Then things got real with the concrete guys! They came in full force and filled the footers with their super cool mixer trucks that pretty much rocked HDawg and Lu's little worlds. Preschooler heaven.

Next, they let the footers dry (about a week or so) and then set up the forms for the basement walls. 

Once they poured the walls, let them set for a week and then pulled the forms off, it was kind of shocking. We had walls! It looks like a house! I mean, kind of. The start to a house, at least.

It was at this point that we had the waterproofing membrane sprayed on the basement walls.

Then it was time for a basement floor. They poured gravel first, flattened it, added a water barrier and then poured the cement over it. 

And just like that, we had a basement floor. This photo makes our house look giant, but don't forget you're looking at the basement, outdoor patios and retaining walls. Lots going on!

And just like that, we had a foundation for our new house. So exciting. Up next? My favorite part of the build process so far... framing!
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