So I have given a before tour of the Grove Ridge house. I thought I would share why we got this house. It is for one simple reason...the backyard. All 13,000 square feet of it.
Isn't that INCREDIBLE?! And you want to know what we have done with all that space? Well, pretty much nothing. And it's all a pile of dirt right now. And that makes me very sad, and we hope that 2017 will finally be the year that we get something done back there.
What we found, as we looked for a house, was that the corner lots had the same floor model.
This model had a hidden gem in it...
See that, in that circle...OPEN SPACE!!! Here's a better picture of what I am talking about.
The genius of this floor model is that there was space to grow square footage. I do not know why this wasn't an option for this model, but it was not. There are a couple of reasons why I REALLY do not like that this is such an open space. The first one is economical...you are heating a cooling a tremendous amount of space here that isn't going to be used very often. And that leads me to my second point...the high ceilings create a very formal space here. Those high ceilings make this a formal entry and dinning space. The problem with "formal" spaces is that they don't get used very often. What I loved about our last home is that we used every room all the time. I don't like paying for a house that I am not sure I will use every square inch of. The previous owners had a mini grand in the front room, we don't own a mini grand. And that brings me to my third point...this high ceiling made the kitchen look TINY!!!
It is hard to capture in pictures here. When you walk into a grand space like the front room, and then walk into a space that has a lower ceiling, it feels more intimate, more, well, small. Even though our ceiling height in the kitchen is good, it feels smaller because of the expansive space you just walked in from. This kitchen is actually smaller than in our last home, but it felt TINY because of that trick with your eye. Adding space in the front would give you matching ceiling heights, and the kitchen would not visually seem so much smaller.
So as we kept coming back to this model, we started to dream a bit about what we wanted in that space. At one point, we talked about having a loft space so the stairs wouldn't seem so cramped.
Going from such an open stair case, to what you see on the right, well, you can see how an open loft would have kept that space a TON more open!
Next, we thought of adding a full laundry room and guest room with it's own half bath. We get guests about 30 days out of the year...that seemed like a waste.
So what we kept coming back to was a 400 sq ft room for our 3 girls to share. At the time, they were 7, 10 and 12. When we finally got the house, we had settled on a design that fit what we needed and what they might actually like.
The first, and most important part of the design came from Urban Outfitters
This wallpaper is no longer available. But when I found it, years ago, I wanted a room so very badly to put it in. And then, after we put an offer in, the wallpaper sold out. I was devastated. I looked obsessively for something as yummy as this, and just never found it. I even asked one of my favorite designer friends to help me look, but nothing touched my design soul quite the way this did. And then, in December, I was on the website checking out a wall decor sale they were having. And there it was...it was back in stock! I needed 10 roles, so I bought it. Merry Christmas to me!! The problem, of course, was that we didn't know yet if we had the house, and wouldn't find out for another two months. It was a HUGE gamble that paid off. After I got it, it was sold out again. I think they only carried 10 roles at a time. I don't think that it ever came back into stock. And in the end, as we put the wallpaper up, I loved it even more than I could have thought!
Any who...so we got the house at the end of February. I asked the girls if they wanted to have two rooms to share (we rotated one out every 2 years), or one big room for all of them. Without hesitation, they all screamed ONE! So we knew what we had to do. The funny thing about this, three years later, they don't really like sharing a room as much. Next month, they will be 17, 15, and 12, so go figure. As much as they complain, though, the truth is, no one wants to be sleeping by themselves. And that is why they wanted one room.
When we finally got the keys, we hired an architect to stamp our plans so we could get a permit. This amount of work was WAY more than we could DIY ourselves. We needed a beam and some people who really knew what they were doing. We had to take out 3 windows, and replace four non opening windows with ones that actually worked (means of egress and all). Although, those windows are so tiny that if there were a fire, I'm not sure they would fit through them. We had drywall to be hung, paint, wallpaper, carpet, and a closet all to be installed. We did what we cold, but left at least half to the pros (drywall, wallpaper and carpet).
I still can't believe that I am lucky enough to have a room for all of my girls. This really was a dream of mine since the day we found out that our baby was another girl. I think there is something truly amazing about a sister-you learn how to really fight and how to really love from your sisters. And this new home was such a blessing for these girls!