Saturday, February 24, 2007

Keeping our feet on the floor

When we first started designing this house, Mr. Big and I were enamored with the beautiful rustic, plank floors that were available on the market. We had no idea how much to expect to pay for flooring, so there was a huge gasp when we realized that we had been considering floors costing between $18 - $25 per square foot. Gulp.

Last September we went to Miami for a major "home weekend" and found a wood that we liked at a much more reasonable price...around $6 per square foot. Definitely within the budget. It is called American Originals Maple (5 inch) in the color Shenandoah.

I have recently been looking for prices on the internet and have found this wood for as low as $4.50 per square foot. I love finding deals! It's amazing how much you can save by simply putting your selection in a google search.

Well today I came across another option that looks very interesting. There is a website called that sells directly to consumers at very reasonable rates. They have a good selection and will send you sample boards for free (you pay shipping only). The best part? They even ship to the Caribbean! :) Since their prices were so competitive (around $3.50 per square foot), I ordered a few sample boards.

Heck, if we save $1 per square foot on our flooring, that can add up to a few thousand dollars.

Build Direct also has stone flooring, siding, decking materials, roofs, etc. all at pretty good rates. After finishing with our wood flooring, I also ordered a sample of the following stone for our outdoor pool area, as my wonderful husband has been pining over an effect like this for quite some time. At $2.80 per square foot, this is very competitive with anything offered locally.

The internet has changed our lives and business in so many ways. Ten years ago we wouldn't have the bargaining power available to us these days. Yes, the beautiful $20 per square foot woods are worth drooling over, but the above options come very close for a small fraction of the price.

I'll give you all a review on the quality when the sample boards arrive. Keep your fingers crossed!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Inspirations: kitchens

Just because it's been a bit quiet on here in the past few days, I thought it might be fun to put up a few kitchens that have served as inspiration to this point.

One of my favs to this point. Simple and not fussy.

Lovely cabinetry color, great handles and unique counter.
Modern chair gives it a bit of kick as well.

The ceiling built down to the cabinets eliminates the
"what do I put on top of the cabinets" dilemma

Love concrete countertops (although Mr. Big won't have them).
The big chunky one in the first image is delicious.

Very cool range hood and simple cabinetry

As if. How amazing are all of those windows and open spaces?

Hope you enjoyed!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The roof, the roof, the roof is on...

No, no, no. The roof isn't on fire (or at least we we hope not). But it is on the house. We've been hearing that it would be up for the last two weeks, but there were a few small delays. It's not entirely done, but we've got progress. And progress is good.

We haven't shown pictures of the back of the house for a while, so it seems appropriate to start there today. You can see that there is still more roofing to go in, but generally, the house is taking shape nicely. The smaller second structure is the detached garage with a granny-flat-type-we-
cheaper-to-build-now-area. Clear as mud, huh? Let's just call it storage space for the time being. Storage space with some pretty decent views...

I love the fact that you can see the large palms at the front of the house. They are working out really well so far. And for the record, the smaller palm next to the dock started out as a wee 1ft Royal Palm on my back porch. He survived Hurricane Ivan and is still going strong. Apparently palm trees are the only plans that can survive Mrs. Big. :)

The front of the house is taking shape nicely as well. The roof will be finished and tarred (I didn't know this was done...) this week. With the tile order being placed on Monday, the roof may be complete in about a month. Here's to quick sailing on that tile delivery!

This obviously won't be our view for long (as there are regular murmurings about neighbors building), but we'll enjoy it for as long as possible.

So there are the weekly photos...we hope everyone enjoyed them!


While merrily making my way to lunch earlier this week, I passed by this sign on the side of the road. I think that I actually said "wow" out loud in my car. And yes, I was by myself.

Who would ever put iguanas and pools in the same sentence? And is this really that big of a problem here? It just struck me as so odd and funny...

...that is until I remembered that we have some iguana friends that enjoy living under our dock. And these aren't little fellas. And even more, that dock will be about 10 feet away from the pool.

It's very possible that the last laugh in all of this could be on us. Who would have thought? Looks like we may be calling Pool Patrol after all!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Inspirations: bedrooms

And it's time to move the inspiration to the bedroom. (Just inspiration pics...geez). As you will soon see, I appear to have gone through a bit of a poster bed phase. However, after searching out the perfect bed, it has become apparent that its not the bed (or the bed alone anyways) that makes the following rooms. Somehow they all give off a sense of calm...something that I'm certainly hoping to capture!

This first image has been the "be all, end all" bedroom inspiration for quite some time. The low hanging light gives a really neat intimate feel to the lounge area. The ceiling is fab. Not too masculine, not too feminine. And while I'm quite certain that those ficus trees wouldn't last three minutes in my presence, I might just have to give them a try.

Here are more beautiful rooms. The piece above the bed in the first photo never fails to capture my attention. The headboard and the neutral linens give it a real resort feel. In fact, most of these rooms are rather neutral. Does that mean that I am boring? Probably so. ;)

Friday, February 16, 2007

The daily victories

I'm quickly coming to realize that you have to celebrate the small, daily victories that take place in building a home. It's just simply too overwhelming to consider the entire project, so why not celebrate the small decisions and construction feats. At least this is what I tell myself.

Recently Mr. Big and I have been trying to decide on our roof tiles. We both agreed on Mediterranean tiles, but there is a wide variety to choose from. Red, salmon, salt and pepper, glossy green (blech) name it, they make it. There are five homes currently under construction which showcase the tiles offered locally. The picture doesn't do them justice, but voila:

We went back and forth between the second (my favorite) and last (Mr. Bigs favorite) for ages (as in we've probably been out there more than six times to try and decide). On Wednesday, we did our last "drive by" and all of a sudden Mr. Big preferred the second house...FAB. Except now I liked the first house. Huh? (And yes, I was even frustrating myself...)

This morning it was time to pull the trigger, and after being completely frozen on this decision for two days, I ventured to the roof supplier to get their suggestion. Well, am I ever glad that I did! A new 2007 color line was introduced (who knew that roofs had model years?), which had all of the elements that we were looking for. I didn't even need to consult Mr. Big because I just knew that he would be thrilled.

So ladies and gentlemen, I present to you our roof choice...the beauty of all beauties (in our eyes at least).

I felt like doing a little happy dance when I left the offices. One more decision down the drain! (P.S. Mr. Big loved the new tiles)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Boys, pay attention...

Around the holidays, I posted about finding the online mecca of men's gift ideas at Uncrate. The pressure to come up with clever gifts somehow miraculously dissappeared after scrolling through their suggestions. It almost felt guilty having it so easy.

So imagine my pleasure when I came across the female version today...Outblush. There are literally loads of ideas for gifts for girlfriends, housewarmings, etc. I was giddy over gorgeous bags, clever garlic graters, and useful travel lotions. It's certainly worth a visit. (Psst boys...don't say I didn't help you on this one!)

Friday, February 9, 2007

An opportunity for development

I would consider my interest in lighting as an opportunity for development. Sounds like "performance evaluation" term, doesn't it? Other than the chandelier post below, it's just not an area that evokes much emotion. Many people have outlined how the proper lighting can have a huge impact on a home. Yes, I hear them, but to be honest, I would rather drool over textiles and artwork (and yes, I realize that drool would ruin the artwork...).

While perusing a magazine today, I came across this cool little gadget...a parrot corkscrew. How cute is this? Seeing as it would make for a fitting Caribbean gift idea, I googled it and was sent to a lighting website of all places. (By the way, the corkscrew also comes in other fun colors and you can find it here...)

Lumens Light and Living is an interesting site because it has all different ranges of lights, from $30 to true art pieces (loads of zeros behind those!). The nice part is that the styles are generally fairly contemporary, while offering more than the standard white plastic shade that you see on most sites these days. Just for the record-keeping, here were a few items that caught my eye:

Porcelain pieces by Justice Design that give off a beautiful glow
(and are surprisingly reasonably priced)

Basket sconce from Dform that gives a similar effect

Wall sconce by Sonneman (perhaps a bit too ordinary?)

Okay, I can hear my dad groaning in the background with this one,
but for some reason, I like it. Sorry Dad.

After looking them all over again, I think the porcelain lights are taking the lead. I'm pretty pleased with these finds.

But before I close, I have to leave you with one more treat from the site. I was very eager to see this floor lamp after the following description:
The (Mrs. Big doesn't want to get sued so she removed the name) Large Floor Lamp, by (again covering her rear), is a bold statement of tightly clustered, sculpted metal flowers forming a nosegay light bouquet for indoor living area tables or floors. Guaranteed to garner attention in any environment.

Are you kidding me? I realize that I don't know much about design (and please excuse me if I am offending you...), but I am quite certain that one of my brothers made this in the fourth grade for a science fair project. And it's worth pointing out that this is listed for a mere $4,060. What a bargain considering the lovely red cord that you get with it! Don't all rush out at once please.

Well, I'm feeling a bit better after my excursion. I may have opportunities for development when it comes to lighting, but then again, I'm not the only one. :)

The dilemma with personal photos

What to do with family photos? How many do your guests need/want to see? Do they really want to experience our memories all over again? I've never been huge on putting out lots of personal photos in common areas because of these dilemmas.

However, when I came across the following photo, it really struck home. It's like a little gallery in one concise location...a true trip down memory lane. We will have an upstairs gallery (open to the great room below) and a perfect wall for something along these lines.

This next image is another option although it shows artwork as compared to photographs. I suspect that it could be easily updated. In general, this is another inspiration photo for overall tones and colors as well.

Thoughts? I think that these are both "do-able", however, the challenge will likely be in finding the right frames and mats. This challenge won't be on the plate for another year or so, but I still look forward to it. Wish me luck!

Falling in love with a stairwell?

Just curious...what does this image make you think of? For me, I think of lazy Sundays curled up with a good book. Mmmm... After longing to be in the photo for sometime now (yes, I really am that crazy), I've come to realize that its the large windows that give me the ethereal, yet cozy feel.

We didn't really have the opportunity for a room along these lines, but I showed it to our architect anyway. Am I ever glad that I did! He was able to use this image to design large windows on our staircase. Now, they aren't exactly the same, nor can we fit gorgeous chairs in our stairwell, but they are really beautiful standing at 11 feet tall.

To be honest, these windows have received more compliments than anything else in the house so far. And from the outside, they would look absolutely beautiful with a large chandelier hanging within. I'm so pleased that this inspiration photo didn't make it to the bin.

And for those that come to visit us in Cayman, I apologize in advance if you trip over me...I very well may be spending my Sunday mornings reading a book right there on those stairs.

Inspirations: the great room

It has been my intention for weeks to share "inspiration images" that have helped to guide our building process. (Who am I kidding? You're entirely right, they have nothing to do with building.) Instead, they give me guidance on the overall feel for the decor of the house...once it has been built. Of course, the images are always shared with Mr. Big, who usually doesn't have a strong opinion. Either he trusts me or he isn't too bothered. I like to think that it's the former, but the realist in me begs to differ.

We'll start this little journey with images of general living areas. Apparently many of these rooms are called "great rooms" today. When I was a wee one, I believe that they were family rooms. The purpose of the areas haven't changed so much...just a new catchphrase to entice 30-something year old suckers (like us!).

The great room will be two stories high in our house. The question of what to do with the second story can be tricky, so we're planning a psuedo-chimney effect. The television will be where the fireplace would normally go and the chimney will be covered in stone (similar to the image above). Hopefully this will draw your eye up to the second floor and fill the empty space.

I love the second, more modern image, but Mr. Big would never let me go this contemporary. The first image probably is most representative of the overall inspiration for the house, (although it is four times the scale of our home!)

Do you see a common theme here at all? It was lost on me until a friendly face pointed out that all of the images have neutral walls with dark accents. I seem to love this effect, but, I can hear the concern in others though it's a ways off. Something tells me that this blog won't make it far enough for me to journal about crayon-covered walls, but I'm sure that everyone would get a good laugh out of it.

So there you have it...the inspiration photos for the great room. Our room won't be one-tenth of those above, but hey, everyone needs to start somewhere.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

It's taking shape!

When I came across this sad looking gallon of paint last weekend, I was a bit perplexed. We are ages away from paint, and yet, this certainly lead me to believe that something was going on. I'm sure that you will all agree...that gallon has seen some action!

Our builder was at the site with me shortly after this discovery and he clued me in. The plaster was about to begin! Plaster...that means that the "dega, dega" concrete block was about to be covered. Our home would have a new, more presentable, facade. Over the past week, I visited the house a few times to be pleasantly surprised with the shape.

All that being said, Mr. Big and I were absolutely shocked to drive up this weekend to find....a plastered home, a driveway and the roof started on the garage. These guys are motoring!

The rest of the roof will be coming this week, so it should actually look like a home for our next post. (Imagine excited, giddy facial expressions here).

Growing up, we always had loads of natural light in our house. I never noticed this until I started renting condos after graduation and sorely missed large, open windows and light. When we started designing the house, it was pretty clear that I wanted loads of natural light and large windows. I think that you will all agree that our architect heard my requests:

I'm going to cut this post short tonight, but look back next week for roof updates! :)