Friday, June 29, 2007

From grumpy girl to over the moon

Work has been out of control for the past while. Utterly completely crazy. The days where you get to work early in the morning (ok, maybe at 9am for me...), stay through lunch and dinner, and finally find your way home between 10pm and 1am in the morning. Ugh. On top of this, everyone keeps coming to you to solve problems (really, do they all need to come in the same week). The sole blessing is that I work with a group of extremely talented, wonderful people. But even that can sometimes not be enough to keep your chin up.

Wednesday I was a grumpy girl to say the least. G-R-U-M-P-Y. Nothing was flowing easily, the hours were long, and the deadlines two days away. S-T-R-E-S-S-F-U-L. And on top of that, we had a meeting with our architect to discuss some final details on the house. Did I really have time for it? No. Did I particularly look forward to going given everything else going on? No.

The good thing is that I have a husband who pushes me, even when I'm not sure that I want to be pushed. And he does it with a smile, even when there's clearly a grumpy girl looking back at him. I'll never figure out how he does this, but it is truly a skill... :)

We arrive at the architect to go through the final details...the layout of the backyard patio and pool. He pulls out two hand-drawn sketches and I'm thinking "you've pulled out someone else's plans...some very lucky someone at that". To my utter amazement, it was our proposed backyard.

It was as if angels started signing in the sky and the entire frustration of the day immediately flew out the door. Before he even had the chance to say "so here's what I was thinking...", I was proclaiming my absolute love for his vision. How can people do this? Where does this talent come from? It was stunning. In my wildest dreams, I could never have imagined anything as wonderful.

So there you go. We've always known that we had an extremely talented architect, but I didn't really that he actually had therapeutic qualities about him as well. :) An hour later I was bounding back through the doors at work, eager to finish our projects and have a laugh with our staff. Inspiration really can go a long way...

Furniture already?

The bones, brain, and arteries of the house are substantially done (being the blockwork, electrical and plumbing). We've really focused to this point on the actual structure as opposed to what furniture we would be putting in it.

Last weekend, we were out on a lovely Saturday stroll and I suggested that we stop in a new shop in Cayman to run a few ideas by Mr. Big. By the time that we left the store 45 minutes later, we had a few new pieces of furniture to our name. Huh? What happened in there?

To be fair, I shouldn't trivialize this as we have searched and searched for a sofa for quite some time that fit Mr. Big and my decor ideas. You see, Mr. Big is on the rather tall side, so the low-to-the ground sleek sofas that I love just don't cut it. Low and behold a little shop here in Cayman had this baby beckoning for us to flounce into it.

It's 39 inches deep and 34 inches tall, which fits my friend perfectly. We'll forgo the dress kick and get a stacked-tailored finish similar to the sofa below.

Before we had the time to leave the shop, Mr. Big plopped himself down into a highback chair that he proclaimed to be the perfect size for him. It was a light linen version of the following and absolutely beautiful (somewhere out there my mother is laughing..."wait until she sees what happens to light linen chairs"...)

The deal was sealed when the saleslady informed him that it was actually a recliner. I tried to hide in the corner (pretending to look at rugs or fake plants or anything else), but ultimately the rings of praise and twinkly eyes were two much. Mr. Big's recliners have finally found a place in the house.

So the sofa has been identified and the recliners purchased. I guess that the next thing to do might be to get the windows on the house. :) Yes, we were ahead of ourselves last weekend, but as Mr. Big says, "when it's right, it's just right."

Stairwells and Balustrades

Ages ago I fell in love with this image which has a really unique balustrade. It perfectly mixed modern simplicity with a bit of old world charm. My heart was set. I was even able to find the manufacturer online. Unfortunately, it will not work because of code here on the island. And yes, if we did ever have kids, those sharp corners might not be the best (the sacrifices that we make for imaginary children). :)

So we kept looking and looking for something to "wow" us. This week, we were pretty excited to find these stair rails and balustrade. The oblong circles mimic the front windows of the house (you can see them two posts down) and all of the arches that continue to be a theme throughout the house. We met up with the local metal worker to show him our inspiration and he's hoping to come up with something similar (within our budget) in the next two weeks.

The good thing about this option is that it could be used for the interior and the exterior of the house. We're keeping our fingers crossed that he can come up with something really close. Budget (mind), fancy (heart), budget (mind), fancy (heart). Here's to hoping that he'll be able to marry the two. :)

Outdoor facilities

Just so that you don't all feel disappointed that our fascination with plumbing, toilets, and all-things-bathroom are behind us, I leave you with an inspiration image for our outdoor bathroom.

This was the product image for a Duravit sink. Truth be told, they got me hook, line and sinker. (I suppose that is the purpose...) This is a really simple bathroom dressed up in soothing colors and clean fixtures. And best of all, for an outdoor bathroom, it appears that it would be easy to maintain.

For those of you amazed that I could honestly be spending time posting inspiration images for our outdoor bathroom, don't worry, you're not the only ones. Mr. Big is going to be really happy when his normal wife returns once the building is complete (at least we hope he is...).

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sweet dreams

It wasn't until our staircase was built that we truly realized just how special the space and windows were. Originally, we just planned wall sconces to light this area, but it is now absolutely begging for a gorgeous chandelier.

Of course, the standard chandelier isn't what has caught my fancy. Rather, I've fallen pretty hard for these romantic Bocci lights which are made by a designer in Vancouver.

"The pendants are articulated seamed cast glass spheres with frosted cylindrical voids in them, which house halogen light fixtures. The pendants are designed to be clustered in groups - the effect being of many tiny candles encased in floating spheres of water. The light interacts with the imperfections / bubbles in the glass to make a visually rich halo of light around the piece."

Imagine your final steps of each day being met with magical twinkles. If these wouldn't send you to bed with sweet dreams, I'm not sure what would.


In an interesting twist of fate, I ended up at a blog chronicling the "restovation" of a Drummond home in Kansas City. Some will understand the significance of this find, while others can just admire the beautiful planters that he and his wife built.

I love them...simple, sturdy, and natural. Mr. Big has already agreed that these would make a great project once the house is complete. We're going to be doing house projects for the next two years... :)

Friday, June 22, 2007


Yes, I am a six-year-old. I'm sulking. After arriving at least a month late from the manufacturer, our windows have now been sitting on our land (all alone...pout, pout) for the past three weeks. From what we understand, they may not get in for another two weeks because the installers were not booked by our builder. Imagine the crocodile tears that I could muster up for our builder.

A good friend had two new sliding glass doors shipped with our windows. His were installed the day after arrival and he has been raving non-stop about how much he loves them. We're talking multiple text messages and phone calls about how excited we should be. Okay already! Then we go out to the land and look at the lonely container, wishing for the boxes within to finally be freed.

Honestly, this is like being six-years-old and Santa is supposed to come tomorrow...for six weeks now. Pout, pout.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Come hither bedding

Have any of you experienced the come-hither bed? No boys, not the one with the scantily-clad woman lying across it...nice try. It's the bed that makes you want to lose yourself within it's soft sheets, plush pillows and cozy surroundings. I love these beds.

The problem is that I have a really hard time recreating them for myself. Somehow the options at departments stores don't quite get me there, and as a result, I almost entirely lose my steam for trying to recreate that feeling. My mom is a great inspiration in this area. She will find amazing fabrics to make her bedding, but it must just be one of those things that skips a generation, I'm useless.

Seeing as we will have a few beds to cover, I have intermittently looked about for options....albeit unsuccessfully. Today, thanks to Decor8, I came across bedding that made me stop in my tracks. Say hello to Ankasa.

Look at those b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l pillows. So much detail, yet not overpowering. Their bedding combinations are equally as breathtaking.

They've just opening a new store in New York, and unfortunately for Mr. Big, I'll be traveling there later this year. So there you go, if they've successfully lured me through their doors...I guess that you can say that I've been come-hithered. :)

Monday, June 18, 2007

The barbeque

How to choose the much-anticipated barbeque? They shimmer, shine and gleam in front of salivating men, but the real question is how can you choose from among all of the different models available? (yes, the same situation is true with shoes and women...) In the end, the recommendation of a fellow griller is second to none.

When we were home for the holidays, a good friend suggested that Mr. Big seriously consider a Lynx grill. Not having seen or experienced these grills before, we set out for an afternoon to get more information. After all was said and done, Mr. Big was impressed enough that he won't even entertain the option of other grills...a Lynx it will be.

The next challenge was to determine which size and model would reflect the grilling prowness of Mr. Big. I let out a deep breath of relief as he passed on the 54" and 48" models. He then declared that this 36" masterpiece was exactly what he needed. Perfect! This will leave lots of counter space for dishes, preparations, etc.

Lynx L36R-1

Not so fast little wifey. You see, I had underestimated the impact of having more than one male recommendation. (Silly me) Apparently it is going to be very difficult for us to have diversity in great tasting foods without a Big Green Egg in addition to the grill. A what?

Mr. Big is more excited about this smoker than probably anything in the entire house...and he will be sure to pass on his suggestions to your mates. His eyes actually sparkle when he talks about it. For the record, I don't understand why we need both. But then again, he doesn't understand why I need three pairs of fairly similar black heels. So fair enough. It makes him happy and I'm sure that we'll get some delicious meals out of it.

That being said, don't say that I didn't warn all of the ladies. Beware of pointing and asking "what is that thing?". You may just end up with one yourself...

Friday, June 8, 2007

Modern marvels

At times, building this house has made me realize how out of touch we are with the real world. Life is great on an island because it's simple. But at the same time, we aren't always aware of the latest and greatest improvements or products on the market.

Going back to the toilet fiasco, I was completely unaware that there are now quiet-close toilet seats on the market. Am I the only one in the dark on these? What a good improvement...toilet seats that slowly release themselves with a mere touch, thereby alleviating the dreaded seat slam. No, I do not need that loud proclamation that my business is done. Surprisingly, they are virtually the same price as a regular toilet seat.

Kohler Cachet Quiet Close Seat with Quick Release Technology (spiffy!)

And how about remote sink drains? Apparently there is this new gadget that you place on your sink counter top that will drain your dirty water so that you don't have to fumble through murky left-overs when you are done cleaning your dishes. For some reason, I always find myself tentatively wading through less-than-fresh water when there are sharp knives deep within. This little gadget may just save me a few stiches...

Franke pop up sink strainer

And the final advancement that I will leave you with today are mirror de-foggers. This is my absolute favorite advancement. A thin heater installed (even retroactively) behind your mirrors keeps your bathroom mirrors from fogging up while you are taking a shower. No more handtowel wipe-downs needed! Mr. Big is uber-excited for the shower model that allows for shaving in the shower.

These are all relatively inexpensive little options (all less than $100). And for those of us living in remote locations, they sure are exciting. What improvements are you aware of that we wouldn't have seen yet? (can't wait for these answers!)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Floors being ordered

With the windows officially on island, we've received a flurry of emails from our builder. The travertine floor order is about to be placed. Before finalizing, the supplier sent through a photo of the stock on hand to make sure that we are happy with it. Mmmm...we're both loving it.

This is an example of how the floors will be laid. You can really see the grey and beige undertones, which are far more pronounced than in other, less colorful travertine options. To me, it warms up the floor and gives it a bit of character.

So based on these photos, the order has been placed. Can't wait to see it in the house!

The windows are here! The windows are here!

We've been in a holding pattern until the windows arrived on the island. The much-anticipated call was received today...the windows are here! Now we can get going once again. Hopefully they will start installing early next week. Unfortunately, Mr. Big will be traveling for the duration of their installation, but he'll have a real surprise when he returns (and a motor mouth wife describing every detail until then). Woohoo!

It's 1am and I'm shopping for toilets

No joke. People claim that the joy of building your own home is in the details. While true, I also have come to understand that insanity is in the very same details. Tonights detail is the toilet for our powder room.

Originally we had a planned for three bathrooms in the house (two upstairs and one downstairs). After much consultation, we decided to add a powder room downstairs. This worked fine, however, this extra half bath is fairly narrow. As a result, our plans reflected a wall-mounted toilet, which did not have the same depth as a normal toilet.

When the slab was poured, we mentioned to the builder that the plumbing for said toilet was incorrect (through the floor rather than the wall). They said that they would fix it and a few months later it still wasn't done. In a moment of accommodation (and forgetfulness), we told them that we would change the toilet rather than making them change the plumbing. Aren't we nice? In retrospect, we were ignorant as we failed to remember that a standard toilet would not in it would block the doorway. Oh yeah, that's why we needed the (rather unattractive) wall toilet.

So here I sit tonight, well past midnight, frantically trying to find a shallower-than-normal floor toilet. This seemed to be an easy task two hours ago when I started searching. The solution has now been identified, but only after squinting at about thirteen hundred toilet bowl depths. Is that a pathetic use of time or what? At least it's a photogenic toilet after all that.

Duravit Happy D Toilet

Honestly, for our friends and family, if you ever have the pleasure of sitting on this much coveted toilet, feel free to have a giggle at my expense.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Inspiration hits

Wow. Just wow. These ceramic wall compositions by Jennifer Prichard are absolutely breathtaking. Even if I had to, I don't know if I could choose just one. For me, they bring elegance and texture to monochromatic scenes. Lovely.

Patio retreats

Patios, terraces, verandas and other outdoor spaces offer so much opportunity. Everyone seems to love these areas, but they often don't seem to get utilized to their full potential.

When designing the house, our architect planned for a balcony off of the Master Bedroom as our little retreat. Think Sunday morning mimosas and all those nice moments which we all dream of (but somehow rarely take advantage of...) Mr. Big made sure that this balcony had a roof covering so that it wasn't too hot and I was offering all sorts of options on how to make it an "outdoor room". This was all to make sure it was a space that we would use.

We were in Spain for a conference last year and our hotel room had this beautiful little balcony. We spent loads of time out there. At the end of our stay, we realized that it was the cozy seating, comfy pillows and intimate setting that drew us outside throughout our stay. We decided to plan something similar for our space.

The Westin La Quinta in Marbella, Spain

Our seats have been roughed in and the lighting locations have been identified. This will be a great little area to design further down the road.

As you can image, outdoor living is an important element of life in the Caribbean. I'm hopeful that we can find ways to make our outdoor areas just as relaxing and inviting as their indoor counterparts.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Controlling the clothes

I must come clean...Mr. Big is actually much neater with his clothes than I am. We're not bad, but there are times when we don't always get everything put away immediately (enter smirk here).

Looking forward to the house, our master closet will not have a door to hide our messes. Rather, we will have an area in our Master bedroom that will have built in wardrobes.

This would be a good option for those moments when clothes don't immediately get put away (properly that is...). It is actually a coat rack made by Materia, but clothes could also be hung as well. Hmmm...may be an option to keep in the back of the mind. We have good intentions that we'll be nice and tidy, but we all know how intentions can turn out... :)

Minimalist bedside clock

So often bedside clocks end up looking like boom boxes. This option from Park Life is simple and organic.