Everything We’ve Written About The Mountain House So Far (& My Thoughts About Them Now)
Well. Our deadline for the mountain house was Memorial Day weekend (of this year), then July Fourth, then August first, then Labor Day and now it’s mid-October, so around the 15th. Despite having experience and a design team, we are still behind. I didn’t have help at the beginning but as I realized how underwater I was, I started hiring and now have three wonderful design assistants. At a certain point, I had to prioritize the Portland project because that one involved other people whereas this is just for our family. So I shifted attention and thus this house suffered a bit, timewise, but we passed our plumbing, electrical and framing inspection last week and now it’s time to close up the walls. I just want to live in the fantasy HGTV world of lies where these things happen magically fast, but I don’t, and they don’t.
A year ago, we bought this house and we announced it in September.
Look at us, all innocent and happy, unknowing that we would spend more time debating over that ceiling, rocks and carpet than I thought possible. In case you didn’t read the 27,000 words about this project, this house is for our family but also a social media experiment where you guys choose between two design plans or elements that I present to you. If I could go back in time, would I do it the same way? I don’t know. Keep reading.
My design process involved a lot of pinning and pinning until Brian started nixing and nixing. In this post, I wrote about the design styles that we didn’t choose.
Then we narrowed it down to two that we were equally happy having you choose between. Or so I thought…
Refined, Scandinavian Chalet won (over Rustic Scandinavian Cabin) and yet kinda lost because my seemingly easy-going husband realized that this was his chalet, too, and he wanted a rustic mountain cabin. The vote was almost tied anyway. So we ended up melding the styles and going for “Refined-Rustic Scandinavian-California-mountain-lake-mid-century-country-chalet-cabin.”
Once the style was settled on, the first decision that needed a vote was whether or not to use pebble tile. Your vote said yes, yet there were SO MANY commenters saying “no” and I’m still scared.
The fireplace was a debate between whether we work with the bubble rock or demo it out and replace it. Click through to see what won.
In between these massive I Design, You Decide posts, I wrote about what colors we are debating and you guys want us to go MOODY which I kinda forgot about. I am just starting to think about paint colors, more on that soon.
Demo began in February, with the hopes of being in by late May (I KNEW we wouldn’t but I generally like to live life with unrealistically high expectations and a sense of urgency so people feel rushed and panicked at all times. It works most of the time by the way, thus our ability to create great content so quickly). Our architectural plans were almost solidified, but the I Design, You Decides hadn’t even begun which meant that we had no idea what materials we would use, where the junction boxes for the sconces would go, etc. At first, we were choosing between wall-mount and deck-mount faucets which totally change the plumbing obviously. So yeah, we probably shouldn’t have demo’d when we did, but to be fair, we also had a lot of “exploratory” work to do to find out what was load bearing, what could be moved, what the ceiling would look like when demo’d out, etc. You don’t know what your possibilities are until you start demoing so we did it, which meant we had to stop coming up and spending time in my magical place.
The design process included a lot of pinning of rooms and styles that wouldn’t necessarily work, thus the above post about bathrooms. In that post, I show you how we pull unexpected elements out of inspiration. This is where I realized that the shower curb isn’t necessary and we should rethink the niche (more on that later).
Remember when I was scared to combine a wall-mount faucet with an under-mount sink because it wasn’t done too often? GEEZ. I mean, it’s just a no-brainer now. It’s such a beautiful, simple combo and while it’s not installed yet, I can’t recommend it enough.
OH DEAR. I forgot about this one. Here, I explored modern ways to bring “wood” into a bathroom without actually using wood. You guys. I learned so much about myself and even more about “design” by trying to design the perfect house in front of hundreds of thousands of people.
This post was strangely controversial with a lot of comments that bummed me out.
This is the post where I learned that more people than anticipated don’t actually want transparency from us internet folk. I learned that despite this “be real” plea, some of you with louder voices would like me to pretend that I’m just fixing up our family cabin in front of hundreds of thousands of people as a fun hobby. Some of you think that admitting to designing our homes to help create original, interesting, inspirational and educational content for you while working with sponsors, and increasing traffic somehow threatens my authenticity, when it’s actually the opposite. Every blogger or social media “influencer” creates content in hopes of traffic and likes so they can keep creating content, because despite it being “work,” it’s still what we love and want to be doing all day every day (it’s just better quality and with more frequency with more resources). I’ll continue to be transparent about my life and work, as I have nothing to hide because I only work with the best brands in the design world with full creative control. I also have 10 employees and two kids, so caring about traffic is not greedy, it’s survival. This blog implodes the second I stop telling you my rambling thoughts and subsequently listening to your reactions.
This is also the post where Brian and I laughed hysterically that people feel “bad” for him. Nobody should feel bad for that hot, bearded man. He’s my number 1 (together 18 years next month) and he knows that I’m incapable of steamrolling anyone, and besides, do you think he’d let himself be steamrolled? NO! I’ve asked his opinion more times than any designer/wife should, TBH, and he knows it and thinks its hilarious.
Moving on, to soft lighting…apparently.
Oh jeez. I pinned so many lights you have no idea before I came up with the combo that I did. Stay tuned, but it was probably 50 hours of staring at lighting making sure it fit into our Refined-Rustic Scandinavian-California-mountain-lake-mid-century-country-chalet-cabin.
This year is when I realized how many floorplan junkies there are out there. Floorplan porn, guys. It’s a real thing.
You guys helped SO MUCH on the floorplan front, I can’t even tell you. As someone who didn’t go to school for design, it’s not my strong suit, and while I’ve gotten better and we had an architect, there were a few genius solutions or great criticisms that you helped address and fix. THANK YOU.
This might have been when I started going a little nuts. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making ANY mistakes or missing any opportunities. So instead of just choosing a lighting style and going with it, I decided to use my time to look at every sconce, pendant and chandelier that has ever graced the internet. Then I attempted to put my favorites together in a house of 30 fixtures. The result I think is going to be pretty darn beautiful once it’s installed, but the process taught me so much about choosing and combining lighting (obviously, I’ll be doing a post on that).
Okay. We FINALLY got into the first “I Design, You Decide” with real products and the master bathroom led first out of the gate…
Oh man. This seems like vintage EHD because we now have a design team that creates such amazing renderings and the editorial team has stepped up the branding.
I obsessed about that bathroom to a point. OBSESSED. Click in to see what you guys chose, but in case you forgot, it involves a black pebble floor and I’M STILL VERY SCARED.
Here I thought it would be fun to walk you through the mind of a designer and show you all the options I had been considering for the master bathroom. You are welcome and encouraged to steal one of those design plans. Someone should benefit from them.
GOOD NEWS. We no longer need a marriage therapist that specializes in “arguing over the tone of your wood ceilings?” We are hoping to alter the ceiling, while keeping it wood. More, very exciting news soon.
Yeah. Remember when we put plaster all over our fireplace but called it a German Schmear because the internet convinced us that it was somehow a different material or technique? HA. We like the schmear, though.
The kitchen has always been a beast and it’s just been obsessed over to the point of insanity by myself and the design team. Lucky for us, I really think it’s going to be amazing.
If you can’t tell, this is when we started upping our content game. Arlyn joined our team as the Editorial Director and she and Jess really stepped up the game, meanwhile, Velinda and Grace joined Julie and me on the design team and they know how to do awesome renderings with Sketchup and Podium. I think it slowed down the process because I liked to tweak things all the time, but it upped the visual content game for all of us. Having their help was invaluable to designing and actually starting to blog about the project with better pacing.
Things have since changed in that kitchen and will change again, but if you are renovating or designing your kitchen, please read up as there is a lot of info (and your comments are certainly helpful, too).
Up next, I gave you two designs for the guest bathroom and I loved them both, truly…
You all made me make a bold choice and I’m still scared by it, but excited.
At this point, we started rapidly putting out the I Design, You Decides because well, we needed to actually design these bathrooms so we could place orders for materials.
You made me choose an emerald green quartzite for the bathroom. Brian may never forgive you (he’s kinda excited, too, I promise).
DUN DUN DUNNNNNN.
I’ll regret forever not being able to see both of our kitchen designs in real life. Maybe we need an art installation called I Design, You Decide: The Rejects and do a whole house as the rejected design…this could be a thing…
They were both so pretty, despite the fact that we ultimately changed the cabinet profile (AND MAY AGAIN).
With the Portland project almost wrapped, we were able to hunker down and really design the mountain house and my team stepped it up…
Our fantasy bunk room was designed and boy are we excited about it.
The reading nook has secret magnetic treasure drawers if that is interesting to you at all.
Our family room fireplace plan had more suggestions than I would have predicted. We thought we were done with this, but so many of your comments and notes were right so, we went for a “Round Two”…
We took your notes, comments, suggestions and questions and either implemented and answered them or explained why we didn’t.
By this point, we present you with tons of materials that you voted on, so it was time to start showing you the actual plan for each room.
Brian is still scared but he says that since its not his bathroom that he’s curious what it will turn out to look like. It would be like if he wanted to create a vintage pinball-themed room…I’d be scared but I’d want to see the result. I don’t think it’s actually like that at all, because I’d get excited and offer to lead the execution. But I am a 7 on the Enneagram, which means “enthusiast”, so there’s that.
Then I realized that those grooves were going to collect dust all day and become disgusting and chip. So after months and month of pursuing something more custom, we documented how we got back to shaker. Wake up. I know it’s boring. It’s not over yet…we may have the perfect wood partner for wood fronts.
Then last week, Velinda revealed my dream master closet that gives meaning to the hashtag #closetdreams.
So that’s where we are, friends. I can’t even TELL you how much I’ve learned about renovation through this process. Renovating publicly and opening yourself to criticism and opinions isn’t normal and, of course, can cause some adverse effects. I think the worst of them all is second-guessing followed closely by placing too much value on “design regret.” I don’t know why I’d strive to be perfect when I have never been nor will I be in the future.
Now, to answer the question that I posed at the beginning…what would I do differently thus far? I wish that the Portland and Mountain projects hadn’t been such huge projects at the same time…and for the record, they weren’t supposed to be. So if I could go back in time, I would have pushed off the demo and renovation of the mountain house until next winter. I would have still planned and designed it with each I Design, You Decide being totally flushed out months before posting because even if the floorplan did change, the materials could have been dialed in and that is what really affected so much of the design. Blogging about it could have had a better cadence, and we could have prepped in the background while we focused on execution of the Portland house and the blogging about that important project. They weren’t meant to be executed at the same time, it was just kinda tricky timing. But like giving birth, you kinda forget it all when its done.
The silver lining? The learning curve I suffered by renovating two huge projects at the same time did lead to my second book deal. After years of my publisher asking for another book and me replying “not until I have more time or a new idea” I finally have a new idea AND I’M VERY EXCITED.
Coming at you starting in January. If you are planning on updating your house in any way, I suggest you wait until September of 2020.
Remember when I was going to write some “fluff” posts for the week when I’m out of town? HAHAHAHAHA. xx