Sunday, September 16, 2012

Let's Take This Outside...

The past couple of weeks we have been busy tending to the outside of our house.  Being a new homeowner, I had no idea the effort it takes to create and maintain an appealing landscape.  Not to mention we are the proud owners of a HUGE deck that was badly in need of stain.  Here's what we've been up to:

(1) Staining the Deck:  Since the deck has been up for a while, it was time to think about staining it.  There are a lot of stain products out there, but with the guidance of our paint contractor we selected Behr Premium Ultra stain in Mushroom.  This is a semi-transparent stain that allows some of the wood stain to show through.  Due to the size and height of the deck it was almost impossible for us to conquer this project ourselves....but I had a lot of fun watching the contractors swing from our deck as they applied the stain with a combination of rollers and spray guns.  Here are the results:

I must say that I agonized over the color...only to find that it ended up looking brown :)  My advice is to test your stain choice on a wood sample similar in type and color to your deck.  The stain colors in the store looked very different once applied.

(2) Adding to the Landscape:  Ryan Homes provided us with a basic landscape....sod (in front and on the sides), a few shrubs and 2 flowering mini trees.  This was a good start, but I thought we could liven things up with by adding some color.  We decided on these low maintenance plants:  Tropicana Black (large burgundy tinged plants) and multi colored Pansies.  We also removed the pine needles that came with our original landscape (I'm from the North and had never seen these before) and replaced them with Preen Black Mulch.  Hopefully the mulch will provide more of a weed barrier than the pine needles did.  Here are the results:


We plan on adding a few more Tropicana and bags of mulch next weekend to fill in the bare spaces.  It's amazing how just adding a few plants and swapping out the mulch has dramatically improved our curb appeal (see here for a before shot of the front yard).  There are great resources out there if you are a newbie like me planning a landscape.  I relied heavily on Better Homes and Garden's landscape planning tool at  Let's just hope I can keep these plants alive until the Spring! 

What are other folks in the RH blogosphere doing to beautify the outside of your new homes?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Front Porch Fridays

I've recently learned that a prerequisite for being "southern" is to have a charming front porch.  At least that's what it seems like if you drive around our community.  All of the homes have great curb appeal with stylish seating and just the right amount of garden/landscape.  Our HOA social committee has even organized a fall event called "Front Porch Fridays".  Each Friday a different house will host the neighborhood on their front porch (host provides the drinks and guests provide a snack or dessert).  When I got the sign up email I was excited for the opportunity to meet the rest of the neighborhood.  But then I looked in horror at my barren front porch and turned to my husband in dramatic fashion: "We can't host Front Porch Fridays on this porch!"

Well lucky for us Pier1 was having a great end of the season sale.  We were able to pick up some cozy seating for a great price.  Here are the results...

Where we got it:

Chair Frames, Cushions and Side Table from Pier 1
Outdoor Rug from Target
Accent Pillows from Homegoods
Container Garden/Plants from Lowes

I hope our porch is now worthy of Front Porch Fridays.  We'll have to see what our neighbors think ;)

Next project..........LANDSCAPING!!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mirror, Mirror....Part 2!

Congrats to all of the blogging community who have closed and moved into their new Ryan homes!  I have taken a little break from decorating (and consequently blogging) to concentrate on that pesky job of mine.  However, I am working on lots of projects both inside and outside of our home and will be sure to post more in the next few weeks.

The moment I have been waiting for has arrived....we finally installed our MirrorMates!  You may remember my previous post here about this great product to transform "builder basic" mirrors into something much more finished looking.  I am happy to report that the installation was as easy as described on the website.  Once the frames are assembled and left to dry it take less than 5 minutes to affix them to your mirror.  If you live in the Charlotte area, the MirrorMate headquarters is located in Matthews and you can pick up your frames to avoid shipping charges. 

Here are some pics of the finished product:

Master bath with Tribeca Burnished Bronze frame

Second bath with Permaquid Slim Dark Bronze frame

I am really happy with how they turned out.  The frames match perfectly with the upgraded bronze fixtures.  And the entire process was much easier than taking down the rather large mirrors and installing new ones :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Master Bedroom Retreat

We've tackled another room...the Master Bedroom.  When selecting the furniture, bedding, etc. for this room I was hoping to achieve a "hotel chic" feel.  Here are some pics of the results:

My favorite thing in the room is something you can't actually see....our fabulous iComfort mattress by Serta.  Ever since grad school, my husband and I have been sleeping on a hand-me-down mattress.  Don't get me wrong, we really appreciated it at the time, but one of the first big purchases we made for our new home was a quality mattress.  We are now the proud owners of an adjustable iComfort Insight mattress by Serta like the one pictured below.  It is made of gel memory foam and makes late night reading and working in bed extra comfortable.

Other than adding some personal photos and nick nacks on the dresser and night stands, I am calling this room done :)

Where We Got It:

Bedroom set, bench and accent chair from American Signature Furniture
Artwork from Homegoods
Lamps from Pier 1
Curtains from JCPenney
Bedding from Hotel Collection by Macys
Ceiling fan from Lowes
Mirror from Ikea

Sunday, June 24, 2012

30 Day Inspection

Since I have made little progress on finishing the remaining rooms (the whole working thing is definitely getting in the way), I thought I would post about our recent 30 Day Inspection. 

Last week our PM came by to run through any issues we had and take a thorough look at our house.  We really didn't have any issues for our PM and I think most of the things that folks bring up at the 30 Day are issues we had resolved prior to closing when we had our third party inspection (see post here).  I was surprised how thoroughly he and his handyman looked through the house.  I can't stress enough how great our PM has been throughout the entire process!

My only issue was the flooring.  We got our flooring through RiteRug and had the padding in the carpeted areas upgraded in the upstairs and family room but not the basement.  As soon as we moved in I "tested" the carpet and could feel no difference between the upgraded and non upgraded areas.  What is this test you ask?  It involves a very scientific bouncing up and down on the floor in one area and then doing the same in another area.  After our PM performed the very same "test" he called a rep from RiteRug to come and pull up corners of the carpet to see what was going on.  Turns out that the flooring folks decided to add upgraded padding everywhere.  That's why the flooring felt no different in the various areas.  I was extremely relieved for two reasons: (1) I would have had a mental breakdown if we had to move all the furniture so the carpet could be ripped up; and (2) I was happy to discover I was not crazy and the flooring issue was not a figment of my imagination.

So I guess we are all clear until our 10 month.  Hopefully I will have a productive week and will post additional pics soon.  Until then, here is a pic of my bulldog Willa enjoying the floors :)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Family Room

It is hard to believe that we have been in our new home for almost 30 days!!!!  We are STILL unpacking, but have checked another room off our list...the family room.  I wanted to make sure that the room is comfortable with lots of storage for all of our DVDs and kiddo's toys too.  Here are the highlights:

Everything together...

I often have design ideas with no real thought as to how to implement them.  I knew that I wanted the mirror to lean against the wall rather than hang on the wall.  After a lengthy discussion (read borderline argument) with my husband over why this was necessary, I took to the Internet to find a safe way to attach the extremely heavy mirror to the wall.  Leave it to the folks over at Young House Love to have the perfect solution: Furniture Safety Brackets (see post here).  Simply attach two to the wall (either screwed into the stud or using wall anchors) and two to your mirror, fasten the mirror to the wall with the straps and TAAADAAAA!!!

Another shot of the sofa and finished windows.  We previously tried having a separate sofa and love seat but the whole fam just ended up crowded together on one sofa.  A comfy sectional fits our lifestyle perfectly!

Still looking for a side table for between these chairs.  It has been challenging to find a table that is toddler safe and stylish.

Where we got it:

Sofa, ottoman and chairs from American Signature Furniture
Entertainment units, mirror and sofa table from Ikea
Ceiling fan/light from Lowes
Curtains and Pillows from Crate and Barrel
Furniture Safety Brackets from
Other miscellaneous objects from West Elm and the Mommy Esq archives

A big bonus feature you cannot see in these pics is the surround sound system.  We had it installed by Guardian and the speakers are in the ceiling.  I must admit that I was extremely skeptical about the entire thing (especially the price).  But even I agree that it was well worth the investment!  It sounds like you are sitting courtside when watching the NBA finals!!!  Maybe I can convince my husband to write a post about the specifics...

Well, I am calling this room done but there are still a lot of personal touches needed to make it complete.  The cabinets need to be styled and I plan to add more family photos to fill up the space.  But enough decorating for to the pool with my little one :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Roman Shades

Tonight while I was doing my weekly perusing of my fellow RH Bloggers' updates, I was inspired by Steve + Erica's post about their blinds.  There has been a long debate at my house as to whether or not window coverings were really necessary (after all we will only ever have one neighbor and the lot next to us is vacant for the foreseeable future).  Once I priced out the expense, the hubby was definitely against hiring someone to install the roman shades I so desired. 

Sooooo that left me with one option.....install them myself!  I would rate myself as above average in the "handiness" department.  I'm no Sgt. Rich, Steve + Erica or Thomas, but I can operate a drill and screwdriver well enough to install some shades....right?????

Turns out that the roman shades I purchased from Home Depot were very easy to install (about 10-15 minutes per window).  I chose the DesignView brand because they come in an array of colors and had lots of sizes in stock.  The only tools required to install were: (1) drill with 1/16th bit; (2) screwdriver; and (3) pencil (to mark holes for drilling).  All the other necessary hardware is included.

Take a look at my handy work...

Two rooms down :)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dining Room

We've tackled another room...the dining room!  Here are some of the highlights (I apologize in advance for the poor picture quality.  My cord to transfer pics from my REAL camera is missing):

China cabinet from Ikea...

Lighting from Lowes...

Window coverings are still a work in process for most of the house.  I am experimenting with woven roman shades in the family room first...

Rug from Homegoods (love this store!)...

The dining room still needs a little decoration, art/wall hangings and maybe some large vases on the floor.  But for now, I'm calling this room mostly DONE!

Friday, May 25, 2012

One Room at a Time

Here is a LONG overdue picture of the finished dinette area.  The painters have finished the job and we are slowly but surely getting things unpacked.  My goal is to have the majority of the first floor finished by the end of the weekend.

Friday, May 18, 2012

HGTV Here I Come...

Not exactly...but the decorating phase of our journey to homeownership is officially in full swing.  The painters started today and I am anxiously waiting to see if my color choices look as good on our walls as they did on the swatches.  We are using the Sherwin Williams HGTV HOME Neutral Nuance collection.  I choose this line of paint for two reasons: (1) the paint is low VOC with little to no fumes (no need to flee our home while it is being painted); and (2) all of the colors in each collection go together, so it makes the selection process fool-proof (the jury is still out on this assertion).  Here is a sampling of the colors I selected:

Base Color for most of first floor, kitchen/dinette/family room, and all hallways: 
SW6150 Universal Khaki

Dining Room: 
Paint Color SW7048 Urbane Bronze - Sherwin-Williams below chair rail, SW7046 Anonymous above chair rail

Powder Room: 
SW6185 Escape Gray

Master Bedroom: 
SW7639 Ethereal Mood

Master Bath: 
SW6207 Retreat

Upstairs Bath: 
SW6136 Harmonic Tan

Kiddo's Room: 
SW6123 Baguette

I agonized over these color selections.  Who knew that picking colors could be sooooo difficult?  Pics of the finished rooms to follow...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

When we packed up our little apartment in Philadelphia and headed to North Carolina, I had no idea what to expect when we entered our new home for the first time.  We had not seen the house in person since our predrywall meeting and I was naturally a little cautious about what the finished product would look like.  Well let me tell you, the HOUSE IS GORGEOUS!  All of the finishes look really nice together and the craftsmanship is AMAZING.  Shout out to our PM Abe for doing such a great job!!!

In the last week we have been busy unpacking, installing and generally trying to get things organized.  The painters are coming this week so I hope to get at least a few of the rooms completely done so that I can post some boxless pics.  In the meantime here are a few of my favorite things about our new home:

(1) Neighborhood:  One of the things that sold us on building with Ryan was this neighborhood.  The second you turn into the development it has a great feeling of southern hospitality.  Also, there are several builders in this community and all of the houses are very unique and custom looking.

(2) Space:  Ironically the James Joyce is one of the smaller floor plans we looked at.  We were actually interested in the Dorsey Hall and Canterbury, but would have had to pay an additional $23,000 lot premium to build a basement with those plans.  Needless to say we "settled" on the James and looking around today I now think I am CRAZY for ever asking "is this enough space?"  Our apartment in Philadelphia would fit into our basement!

(3) Details:  During the building process I really fixated on some things more than others.  I am pleasantly surprised by all of the little details that were not on paper but appear in the house.  For instance...

Crown mouldings and chair rail...


Garage and Outdoor Lights...

(4) The DeckIT IS SPECTACULAR.  Even our neighbors have noticed and refer to our home as "the blue house with the great deck".  Again, shout out to our PM Abe as this was his brainchild.

(5) Kid Approved:  There is nothing like seeing the smile on my child's face as he runs around the house.  You can tell that he loves it, which is all that really matters :)

If you cannot tell by all of the capitalized words in this post; we are really pleased with everything.  After a thorough walk through, I have only found 3 minor cosmetic issues.  Hopefully within the next week we will be all unpacked and I can post additional pics of the decor coming together.

Happy Building!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mirror, Mirror....

Now that we have survived the build and skated through closing, it's on to my favorite part about being the owner of a new home.....DECORATING!!!!  I have been busy purchasing furniture, lighting, fans and other goodies for the house and will reveal them as we put things together. 

I have been looking high and low for a solution to the "builder basic" bathroom mirrors that RH provides.  Browsing the Internet, I haven't found replacement mirrors that I love (for a reasonable price) and I hate the thought of getting rid of a perfectly good mirror.  I have stumbled across the perfect solution: MirrorMate!  This company sends you a custom cut mirror frame that sticks right on to the glass of your existing mirror.  The website boasts that it only takes 20 minutes and the prices are extremely reasonable.  I plan to order one for the master bathroom and 2nd bath upstairs.

Here are photos of my favorite options from the site.  I'll be sure to post a follow up once the kit arrives.  Happy decorating everyone!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Today is the day....CLOSING DAY!!!!!!!  It should be pretty uneventful since we are doing a "mail away closing".  All of the documents will be sent to us via FedEx and we just sign everything and mail it back to the closing agent in Charlotte.  We had a couple of good surprises...our closing costs ended up being much lower than estimated AND because we locked our interest rate at 3.75% our payments are more than manageable.  We did not finance through NVR, and coordinating the closing has been easier than I anticipated.  Our PM repaired all of the items we requested from the inspection and even had someone cut our grass since it is getting long! Hopefully all will go well and we will be in our home next week :)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ryan Homes Official Blog

Fellow blogger Charissa (see her blog here) just brought it to my attention that Ryan Homes has an official blog here.  My blog along with a few others are listed on the Bloglist.  Looks like there is interesting home decor and DIY info.  Thanks for sharing Charissa!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Results Are INNNNNNNNN!!!!!

Today is the day I have been waiting for ALL week.....the inspection results are in! We went back and forth trying to decide if we needed an inspection in the first place, and today I got confirmation that it was money well spent (only $357). Although the results were mostly positive (the report was over 40 pages!), there are a few things the inspector suggested we have fixed prior to closing:

(1) Splash blocks need repair to route water away from foundation.

(2) Deck needs to be tightened in several places and the railing attached to the house better secured.

(3) Get verification the truss system in the attic is appropriate for the house.

(4) Screws missing on panel for HVAC unit.

(5) Air conditioning units need to be leveled properly.

(6) Deadbolts to rear exterior doors need adjusting.

(7) Need overflow pan installed under washing machine (Ryan Homes threw in the front loading washer and dryer as part of our "deal" so we may have to purchase this ourselves).

(8) Determine source of standing water on the sump pump.

With the exception of the water in the basement and AC issues, all of these items seem relatively innocuous but require immediate attention. There were other minor/cosmetic items, but I will save those for the 30 day check up. Since we are only 12 days from closing I am interested to see how Ryan Homes responds.

Wish me luck :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

We have GRASS!!!!!

Today I received a great surprise when I opened my weekly update email from our SR...PICS OF OUR NEW FRONT YARD! I must admit that I wasn't really paying attention to this part of the discussion because I assumed that we would likely redo any landscaping at a later time. I am pleasantly surprised by what a good start this is. My parents gifted us a landscape package for Christmas, so I am excited to see how we can make this even better :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

To Inspect...or Not to Inspect???

I thought I would pose a question out to the Ryan Homes Blog Crew:

Will (or did) you get an inspection of your newly built home?

I have heard various opinions on this topic (especially since I work in real estate) and wanted to get opinions from you all. I've heard everything from, "you should get an inspection at various stages of the build" to "wait until just before the first year so the house has time to settle". All thoughts, opinions and testimonials are welcome :)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New Developments

This week has generally been a slow one at the house. Since our PM is on vacay (and things are soooo far ahead of schedule), the only major development is that the fireplace is finished:

The stone is Kentucky to match the exterior of the house. I'm a little nervous about my little one climbing all over it...but it looks great! I am told the floors have also been installed but are still undercover until all of the final touches/installations are complete.

In other news, we finally heard from the Division Manager that Ryan Homes will honor our requested closing date in May. Not sure why this was an issue in the first place, but I am glad it is resolved :) So, I have officially scheduled the packers/movers and we will be NC bound before we know it!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Granite and Backsplash and Shutters....oh my!

Congrats to all my fellow Ryan Homes bloggers out there who are making tremendous progress on their homes! The crew working on our house has also been busy. We now have; granite countertops, tile backsplash in our kitchen, the glass for our shower in the master bath and the outside the house now has all of its shutters. Here are the latest update pics (in random Blogger order):

In other news....we are inching towards a resolution on the closing date situation. I don't want to jinx things so I will disclose the details once we reach an agreement with the District Manager :)