…Building Series – Building a Home. Interiors.

Building a home can be so much fun because you get to choose every faucet, door handle, hinge, crown molding design, window, door, etc. Actually, it can be really hard and exhausting. When we built our first home in 2008 I had no idea what I was doing. I knew what I liked, I did my research by collecting about a billion design magazines and counseling with the Bensten women that had done this before. I remember agonizing over the kitchen faucet for days before deciding. Then once I did that decisions came a bit more easy.

If you are renovating or building as I know many of you are or will be in the future, do your homework and make your binder of every space that you love. Colors, layouts, windows. Another important tip is to think about the furniture that you want in your space and how you will lay it out. Where will the couch go? The flatscreen? Sounds a bit trivial, but if you don’t leave a large, blank wall between some windows you will have no place to watch TV. If you don’t put a wall there then you have no place to center your grandmother’s console on. Very important stuff.

When choosing paint colors, you need samples. Benjamin Moore now makes 18×18 inch square paint swatches that you can buy and literally hold up to your wall to get an idea of what color you want. Much easier and less messy than putting paint from a small jar on your wall.

Think about your ceiling height – what I learned was most important. And your window transoms because whether you notice during construction or not, the amount of light that you created with your window choice will make a huge difference in that space. We agonized over these windows by, again, doing our research. I must have taken photos of every new build house in Arlington!

A shiny new floor. Don’t remember what that looks like anymore as my 100lb chocolate lab has scratched mine up! Make your floor guy/gal show you stain samples in front of you and then decide. We went with a dark Jacobean mixed with black. Oh, and NEVER try to sand & stain your floors yourself. DH and I did that and it’s a messy disaster.

I wanted a cute throw back tile for the jack and jill bathroom that we designed for the upstairs. Loved this marble mosaic, which you see a lot in bathroom magazines. It’s a bit playful so I wouldn’t recommend it for a master bath, but certainly a guest or secondary bathroom.

Love a traverine for the master bath. Used it in this first house and the home we are in now. You can pick large or small tiles all in Travertine. Looks elegant.

I’ve walked a few homes with my FIL, a builder himself & residential developer, and I’ve heard him say you can tell a well-detailed house by it’s trim. A mantel, wainscoting in the bathroom, built in shelves. They can be expensive and maybe you don’t do them right away, but they will always make a home looked finished.

I think no matter what kind of build you are doing, you will want french doors that lead…somewhere. They let in so much light and connect the interior with the great outdoors.

Lastly, when you decide to put that house that you spend 8 long months building and even more designing, try to make sure you don’t list it right before the housing meltdown as we did.

In spite of the heartburn, we were blessed yet again with the sale of our first build and our now dear friends that moved in across the street.

(Meanwhile, this is what was happening during the build…..

I was growing a little Fiona in my belly. Ironically, I was growing a Reid during our next build.)

Question for Brent the Builder? Post and he’ll answer!


…Building Series – Building a Home

Timing is everything, so they say. So, when our neighbors came to us and asked if we wanted to buy their home in order to build the home we were in (confusing, I know!), I knew that it was a shot in the dark. And yet, here we are.

The timing for us little Benstens was right for us to finally tear down the house we bought as newlyweds and build it. You saw demolition last week and now here is the rise of the house.

This would be the molds that the concrete that gets pumped into for the foundation.

Ah, there’s nothing like being out of the ground & seeing framing go up.

Daddy & Greta Belle agree.


This is the second story, which Brent made me climb a very shaky & narrow ladder in order to see the rooms.

eeek! Windows never looked so gorgeous as they do when you are waiting 5 months for them to go in!

Almost there!

Meanwhile, across the street looking on…me and my sweet.

Questions for Brent the Builder on how to build a house? Post and he will answer!



…Building Series – Building a Home

Yes, I could talk more about the kitchen we gutted, slate floors we installed, hardwood floors we finished (sanded, stained & poly’ed ourselves – yes we were nuts), french doors we put in and oh, all the painting, but I think it’s about time to get on to the fun stuff. When we decided it was time to tear down our sweet, first home to build.

The story goes something like this. House. (Oh, DH built those shutters too!)

Bulldozer arrives at house.

Bulldozer starts by easily plucking the large oak from the ground.

Bulldozer climbs the hill and in it goes. Christen & Baby Greta gasp from across the street at the sight.

Is that the innards of the front stoop?

Why, yes, it is.

And that is the family room.

There are the deck railings I was telling you that we couldn’t afford right away. I think we enjoyed them for at least 6 months.

Tear. That’s the champagne yellow color of our basement. But, like a falcon, our dear house will rise again! Stay tuned.

Got questions for Brent the Builder? Post and he’ll answer!