The journey of two millennials

Welcome to Fun Home Building, a blog on design, construction and building a dream house on a budget. We are documenting our journey of building a custom home in the suburb of twin cities, Minnesota and will share what we learn along the way.

  • House on West Shore

Choice Overload - Making Design Selections

Updated: Nov 4, 2019

The last two weeks have been pretty crazy. Between our full time jobs and family life, we somehow have to figure out how to squeeze in building a house. To make things worse, everything seems to be happening all at the same time. We met with our designer one week before construction. Since then, we have to decide on flooring, tile, countertop, plumbing fixture, electrical design for in-ground installation, and lighting, in a short 2-3 week timeframe.

In our current home, whenever we need to upgrade or replace anything, DH and I always spend hours doing research online, looking at inspiration pictures, comparing options, reading reviews, trying to make sure we find the product with best value. We do that even for a $30 tissue holder. As you can imagine, it is extremely hard for people like us to go to a showroom, spend a couple of hours and make decisions right on the spot. It’s an unsettling feeling that we might pick something we’d regret in the future.

We ultimately did it. Not without making tough choices and definitely won't be possible without the help of our designer, who is amazing by the way. After many family meetings (heated discussions), we finally finalized majority of the items. The exciting part was albeit such a short timeframe, we stick to our budget and came under the allowance amount in most categories. We went with simple and modern design that does not require a lot of mixing and matching. And we knew if we wanted to upgrade these finishing materials further down the road, it is still possible.

Now let me walk you through all of the design decisions we had to make.

In early July first meeting with interior designer, we went through majority of exterior and interior selections on the above list. Our designer kept bringing out samples for us to look at: siding materials and color (James Hardie cement board Arctic White and Majestic vinyl Liberty White), windows, stone veneer, front door (Simpson), roof (GAF Timbertex Pweter Gray), soffit/fascia, garage doors, interior doors, trim and cabinet style (simple shaker) and color (BM Decorator's White), wall color (BM Nimbus), door handles (Schlage Century and Latitude), kitchen countertop, railing and balusters style...probably some more that I can't even recall.

Picking garage door color, we eventually went with white instead of the medium oak tone

Originally I had my mind set on quartz for countertops because of its low-maintenance feature and was hoping to use this material throughout the house. It also has a variety of styles to choose from. One of the styles I loved was Brittanicca used by my favorite DIY couple Sherry and John. It is absolutely stunning.

Source: Young House Love

Cambria Luxury Series Brittanicca

Here is where the dilemma for our house comes in: we loved the look of Brittanicca, but we were on a budget. Splurging on the countertops meant we would need to make significant sacrifice in other areas. We had already cut our budget to the bare minimum in almost all of the areas. There was simply nowhere else to cut. After going through various options and visiting Cambria showroom, we decided to use Torquay from Cambria's Signature Series on the kitchen island, and stayed close to our budget by using granite in the kitchen perimeter and marble in the master bath. Talk about making tough choices!

Cambria Signature Series Swanbridge (left), Torquay (center), Weybourne (right)

Our second meeting with interior designer was at Design Gallery, a place full of flooring and tile samples. There were a few brands we knew such as Mannington or Inhaus, but most of the flooring and tile options were brand new to us, walking in to the room we definitely felt kind of lost.

First off, wood flooring. Inhaus has some really authentic looking laminate flooring (Applewood has a beautiful medium oak look), but our designer highly recommend the engineered wood floor by Urban Floor called Savanna. It is $1 higher in pricing per sqft. After looking at the two samples side by side, we could tell the huge difference between the real wood and the man-made wood. Although laminate floor gives us the peace of mind of being hardy, we decide to go with Savanna.

Next up, it was tile for kitchen and master shower. Inspired by the Fullmer Kitchen Chris and Julia remodeled, I originally wanted to use the same tile for backsplash. Sadly, Design Gallery does not carry this brand. We didn't want to spend too much on tiling, so ended up picking the 3x6 white subway tile in a herringbone pattern.

Source: Chris Loves Julia

Bedrosians Tile & Stone Cloe 2.5" x 8" Wall Tile in White

For master shower, we were looking for something different from white subway tile, just to mix it up a little bit. The grey tiles shown in the picture below with the shower niche look so serene and beautiful. It inspired us to pick a similar matte finish grey tile for the shower and a fun-looking hexagon black tile for the shower floor.

Source: Pinterest

Source: Home Bunch Lindsay Hill Interior Design

Flooring: Annata 8.63″ x 9.88″ Porcelain Field Tile in Charcoal Gray, Wayfair

With these decisions defined, the rest was relatively straightforward. The pictures I saved on Pinterest from the beginning of the project really came in handy when making design decisions. We would look for similar styles that come at a knockdown price.

Plumbing fixtures are fun to see in person, but we didn't get too carried away, everything we picked was in the more affordable line of Delta and in Chrome finish

Visit to Twin City Hardware was quick and easy, we brought an inspiration picture with us and picked everything in Amerock collection

The wish list on the website of Muska Lighting was such a great feature, we could easily add an item to the list, find lights in the same collection, add comment and see the total price of selected items


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