Building a House in Texas

Once we signed on all of the dotted lines and the house buying deed was done, the process quickly began. Being that it was our first time, we really didn’t know what to expect and how it would impact us to see our home being built. They said it would take roughly four months and our next step was the design center.

I was beyond excited about the upcoming design center experience! I almost fell out of my chair when they told us we would only have three hours with a designer split into two visits to get all of the selections for the exterior and interior of our home on paper. We had to decide on lighting, flooring, tile for the kitchen and bathrooms, design patterns for the tile, counter tops, wall paint colors, cabinet finishes, sink styles, faucet hardware, etc. for an entire home in three hours. There were a lot of decisions to make, I like to play around with different options, I like to see them in different light, I like to stare at them and imagine them in the space, and I like to see my choices together. Since I was new to this, I wanted more time! I wanted to spend the night in the design center! I had every intention of getting into the design center before our scheduled appointment to see our options. They frown upon this type of extra visiting and getting in prior to our appointment felt like trying to sneak into a private club that has a secret handshake. But I was going in, three hours was not nearly enough time for me!

Being surrounded by all of the different elements for a home was exhilarating and headache inducing all at once since I knew several decisions would soon have to be made–and quickly! Fortunately, as my husband and I looked things over, we liked a lot of the same things. Unfortunately, turns out we have expensive taste. The task became staying within a certain amount while achieving the look and feel we wanted. It wasn’t easy.

This is when I discovered that people were blogging about design. (clearly I had been living under a rock prior.) I was already an avid fan of HGTV. To then discover that Emily Henderson had a blog full of inspiration sent me over the moon! I can’t go a day now without soaking up fabulousness from a myriad of design bloggers. My gratitude for their time and talent is huge! Houzz became another source of inspiration as I spent every night leading up to our design center appointment pouring over various options.

Exterior choices we had to make:

home design, landscape design, elevation, stone and brick, color of mortar

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garage door paint color, trim color on entire house, style of the front door and privacy glass,                                                                                                                                                                                                                               front door

stain on the front door,

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I added brick pavers to the design along both sides of the walkway.

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Other exterior decisions we made included where to have water spigots (we have them on both sides of house), whether to wire for landscape lights (yes, please!), whether to place spotlights on the back of the house to light the backyard at night and where to put them, where to have the stairs on the back porch lead to the backyard, whether to add an additional fence entrance, how far back in the backyard to clear the wild landscape for grass and what to do with the division between suburbia and wild landscape, whether to trim out the front and back porch overhead in cedar, whether to add an outlet for a TV on the back porch and a gas line for a grill.

I remember sharing with people before anything was final that we were thinking about building a home and hearing a lot of groans regarding the process. One friend sent me photos of homes for sale somewhat similar to what we were looking at building and told me what a headache building a new home can be. Now that I am on the other side of it, I want to do it again! Being in the design center surrounded by all of the samples was a bit of heaven on earth. Seeing our home come to life was amazing! I wanted to check on the progress of our home everyday! My husband would often say, “You just saw it yesterday.” I couldn’t help it. I wanted to witness every bit of progress. Design had me by the heart.

Here is a look at our build from the outside over the course of four and a half months:

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I could hardly wait for the day when they cleared the lot. I was so excited to see the view.

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We have a first floor!

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View through the front door.

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We have a second floor!

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I couldn’t wait to be there when the sun set.

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It really felt like our home was taking shape when the frame for the roof went up.

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At this point I was dying to see the stones and bricks we chose come to life!

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My heart beat a little faster when I rounded the corner and saw this!

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I had fun coming up with the landscape design. I love working with plants in design!

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I would still love to stain our driveway and walkway.

My first time at the home building rodeo was pretty amazing (minus the stress of the mistakes that occurred during our build). I am so grateful to have had the experience. Seeing decisions that were made from tiny samples turn into larger than life designs and all come together was beyond exciting! The design fire was definitely lit in me and almost three years later, it is burning stronger than ever!

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My Model Home Experience

The first model home I ever stepped foot in was in San Antonio, Texas in 2010. I’ll never forget it. There was a rush of endorphins, a quickening of my pulse and not enough time (with my 4th baby at my side) to take in every detail of the design. Be still my heart to this day. In those moments, it felt almost dreamlike. For the first time, I was surrounded by design that was more beautiful and tangible than I had ever experienced. It had me by the heart, in an instant.

Building a home was just a fantasy to me at the time. I didn’t see us moving anytime soon–years maybe. We certainly were not talking about doing it. (Although the hubs working in an upstairs bedroom with a child’s room on each side of him was not ideal.) But for us, looking at model homes was something to do on a weekend afternoon for inspiration and fun–not because we were looking to buy.

Then at the end of a weekend afternoon, ready to turn home, we came across a sign for a builder we had never heard of. We ventured off course to an area we had never been to take a look. Walking through the front door of the model home and being greeted with an open floor plan with vaulted ceilings, wooden beams and living room windows that reached the sky stole our hearts. Little did we know in that moment that we were about to build our first home together (pictured below):

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I told the sales person that we were already on a great lot with privacy and wilderness behind us. Not thinking for a second that he could offer the same, he did just that. He said they owned a street in a different neighborhood that was yet untouched by builders, offered a view of the Texas landscape (facing west, hello sunset!), and had lots available for purchase.

Three days later, my mom was in town and my husband suggested she and I check out the street together. This is what we found:

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You couldn’t see through the trees to know what the view looked and felt like.

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You had to walk through the woods to get a sense of each part of the street. The further down the street you went, the steeper the lots became.

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shot from our back porch

After seeing the street, I told my husband it was worth a look. The next time we went together. This time there had been activity on the street. The lot next to the one that was my favorite had been cleared. My heart skipped a beat when I saw this. But we still weren’t thinking about actually buying a house.

My husband drove away jokingly saying, “The only way I would ever move here is if they built a Whole Foods near here.” It was a “when pigs fly” or “in your dreams, lady” statement because there was only one Whole Foods in town and almost twenty years later, there was still only one Whole Foods in town with zero talk of another one showing up anywhere.

And then it happened. You can’t make this stuff up. Three days later, I came home (from a doctor appointment and had just cried my eyes out), and my husband greeted me with, “You are not going to believe this…” He showed me an article that said they were going to break ground and build a Whole Foods not far from the street we had looked at. I died. Seriously, I died. And then the clouds must have parted.

The rest is history because we bought a plot of land and had a home built on it (sorry dislocated wildlife).

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It was not because of Whole Foods that we decided to move. Although, it didn’t hurt the decision process. My husband and I are both planners and savers and our decision involved calculations, considerations and a lot of prayer.

The decision to build a home did nothing short of change my life. The artist in me had the chance to create something I never had before and a part of my soul was set on fire. Now we are in the ever evolving process of creating a home that functions well for our whole family and suits our combined styles on a budget. I am having the time of my life!

More of the floor plan that stole our hearts:

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You can see more of our home construction here.