All posts by JanneZack

I grew up in Memphis TN, got a bit tired of humidity, so moved to New Mexico for College and then to Utah with a job change. I began working with an Architect there, and decided to change careers. I moved back to Memphis to apprentice in the Residential Home Design field. Now, almost 18 years later, I design custom homes which are built all over the United States. I LOVE what I do.

Rent House – The Chumley – is almost finished!


Yes, I’ve decided to name my rent houses.  I bought 4 lots right in a row, and since my son made this venture possible, I decided to name these first 4 houses after the initials U.S.M. C.  (left to right).  This first house, just happens to be on the far right, it earned the initial “C”.

So in choosing a name, I decided to use one of Garrett’s first nicknames given to him by his superior Marines.  They called him Chumley, after the old-timey cartoon character.  When he first became a marine, he was a bit chubby, and I’m sure that’s where the name probably originated.  Now, I’m old enough to remember the cartoon and remember Chumley being a rather dumb character.  Garrett was no where near dumb, but his superiors called him this to do what they do… probably considered hazing now, but much to their surprise, he embraced the nickname and was excited to finally have a nickname other than what his parents called him… Bear, or Garr-Bear.  So, Chumley he became.  This rental unit will be called “The Chumley”.  It is almost finished, here are a few more recent pictures of the unit. We have 1-2 weeks for completion.  So if any of you know of someone who would like to rent a BRAND NEW HOUSE, this is a very rare opportunity, please have them contact me by making a comment to this post.

The Chumley.  Still not fully painted, but it looks MUCH BETTER now with a garage door.  Shutters are coming as well as a few shrubs.  The nice level lot made a huge difference.
The Chumley. Still not fully painted, but it looks MUCH BETTER now with a garage door. Shutters are coming as well as a few shrubs. The nice level lot made a huge difference.
The Single Garage Door (with auto opener) has been installed.
The Single Garage Door (with auto opener) has been installed.
The water heater is located in the garage (rather than in the attic) so that if it fails/leaks, nothing in the house will be damaged!
The water heater is located in the garage (rather than in the attic) so that if it fails/leaks, nothing in the house will be damaged!
Master Bathroom with dual vanities and dual mirrors/lights.
Master Bathroom with dual vanities and dual mirrors/lights.
The Patio.  I know it isn't large, but it's about as large as we could possibly make it.  There is a big drop-off on the right. Still big enough for a grill and a couple of chairs.
The Patio. I know it isn’t large, but it’s about as large as we could possibly make it. There is a big drop-off on the right. Still big enough for a grill and a couple of chairs.


At Home Memphis – Magazine Writeup


At Home Memphis & Mid South Cover June 2015
At Home Memphis & Mid South Cover June 2015

I have some good news for those of you who follow our Home Plan Design business;  I was recently interviewed by Robin Terry of the West Tennessee Home Builders’ Association.  She was interested in new trends within the design industry.  She interviewed both me and a friend, and fellow designer, Gary Gardo.  The article is included below.

The photos are from my own collection, which they graciously printed.  And I want to give a “shout out” to David, Jon & Geoff Benson of Benson Builders, who did the work in both of these shots.  They are fabulous builders and without great builders it doesn’t matter how good a design is if it isn’t carried out to plan.

I hope you enjoy viewing this article.  I’m so excited to be published… in real print, not just the internet.

Enjoy, Janne

The Best in New Construction, by Robin Terry of the West TN Area Home Builders Assoc.
The Best in New Construction, by Robin Terry of the West TN Area Home Builders Assoc.
page 2
page 2

We’re Getting CLOSE to completion!

Wow, it seems every day new things happen and I just can’t wait until it’s all done!  Here’s what has happened lately:

Measurements for closet rods/shelves

Measurements for Garage door installation

Cabinets are in, Counters are a-comin’!

Bathroom vanities have been installed (see pics)


2015-05-12 18.43.03 2015-05-12 18.42.20 2015-05-12 18.41.52

Shower door and mirrors are ordered.

Waiting on one tiny sheetrock repair and then off to the paint wars!

Then install mirrors & Shower doors & Garage door

Then flooring….

Lighting, final electrical and final plumbing…

Inspection… Move in!  Hahaha!  I’m sure I’m forgetting something incredibly important, but so far, this is all I can think of… been running around like a crazy person dotting all my “T’s” and crossing all my “I’s”!

I’ve done a craigslist ad for the rental on this unit… hopefully we’ll be done within the month! So excited.


I can’t believe the progress as we near the end of construction.

We have Brick.




We have a cute little porch over the back door:

back porch
back porch

We have CABINETS!!!!!

Master Bathroom (double bowl vanity)
Master Bathroom (double bowl vanity)


Bath 2 Vanity (54" wide)
Bath 2 Vanity (54″ wide)
Incomplete Kitchen Cabinets
Incomplete Kitchen Cabinets

These are the kitchen cabinets here.  He is working on my corner cabinet.  This one faces him (the Dining Area). The dead corner is no longer dead!  I know this cost me a little money, but I wanted to take advantage of every square foot in this house. This may only house tupperware or children’s toys, but it is a much needed cabinet.

The cabinets now have crown molding around the top which makes them look like a custom home rather than a rent house. Stove goes against the wall and the sink/dishwasher will be in this island. The dining room looks HUGE with the cabinets now in! I Think this house will be NICE when finished!  I know there aren’t that many kitchen cabinets, but there will be a lot of counter space and the bonus, a HUGE pantry.

Below we have a pic of the Vaulted Master Bedroom.  Of course it doesn’t look like much YET, but it will be amazing.  10′ ceilings in a rent house.  Nice!

Vaulted Master Bedroom
Vaulted Master Bedroom

Walk in Closet(s):

Closet for Br. 2
Closet for Br. 2

This is the closet for the larger of the kids’ bedrooms.  It is a walk-in.  I utalized the space over the staircase (being sure to leave ample head-height below).  My framers made these two landings in the closet so that the space above could be used.  We will have double rods on the right wall until you get to that highest shelf, but the top rod will continue in an ‘L’ shape around the back wall (straight ahead).  The tops of these two shelves will be carpeted as well as the step.  There is a window on the left wall just out of the picture.  I can only imagine what a little kid will do with this closet as a secret hide-out.  I had a closet like this as a child and LOVED sitting on the shelf reading books.

The view:

Master Bedroom view
Master Bedroom view

The view out the master bedroom window is stunning.  There are undeveloped lands beyond my property.  I’m not sure how long it will stay this way, but for now, it is extreamly peaceful.  I saw deer walking across the property a few months ago and then as spring budded, there was a lone dogwood blooming near this dead tree stump.  Some of the trees will go away, we have some scrub-type trees too close to the house which we will remove, but this will give a nicer yard to my future tenants and will keep them from falling on the house during a storm.  Best of both worlds, loads of trees, just not on my property!

Tiny Home Subdivion Discussion

I ran across an older post on the Tiny House Newsletter about codes regarding building tiny houses on a foundation.  The question was simple, “can’t tiny houses be built on foundations? if so how would codes affect their construction, etc”.  The discussion that followed was fabulous!

I LOVE the Tiny House (TH) movement.  I LOVE most of the tiny homes (mostly on wheels/trailers) that are in the Tiny House newsletter, (you can sign up for your copy of the online newsletter by visiting the link above).

SO I’d like to start an interaction with all my Tiny House loving friends about the “WHAT-IFs” of a Tiny House Community, specifically located in a large city.  (Not necessarily out in the country off grid, etc.)

My thought is this.  If I’m going to live in a TH some day,  I know I’d have difficulty letting go of my car, but I’d LIKE to be able to live daily without using the car.  BUT to survive psychologically, I’d need shops, grocery stores, coffee, cafe’s, etc.  Let’s face it, if you live tiny alone or with one other person, you’d need a place to get away TO, not that you are angry, but just too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing and cabin fever is REAL.  So, to walk down the street to a coffee shop to visit with “people who know your name” is valuable.  In my city, that would be Mid-Town.  Live music, food trucks are often here and there, but lots of local joints.

So with that in mind, I want to know the answer to the following question(s):

IF a “subdivision” (for lack of a better term) could be developed in the center of  a large city, close to restaurants and shopping, but to keep it operating as a high quality subdivision (not trailer park trash), to keep home values NORMAL – relative to what it cost to build it plus a normal “builder profit”, but if it were operated somewhat like a Co-Op or Condo, meaning that the GROUND is owned by the WHOLE and each unit is owned by the individual.  An HOA fee is paid which would include the rental on the property, grass-cutting, parking maint. property taxes, and other maintenance issues which may occur, but otherwise, keep these as low a possible.  The goal being, let’s all get along like other “regular subdivision” dwellers do, but smaller with lots of outdoor living aminities, things like built-in charcoal grills, picnic tables, a Gazeebo or a Community Clubhouse for larger groups and parties.   What type of Subdivision RULES would you think are practical?  If you were developing the Subdivision Covenants, what would be your “MUST HAVE” rules.  What things that your NEIGHBORS might do would drive you batty?

In Normal subdivisions, the goal is to have your home increase in value build your equity, but if property taxes are going to disrupt the idea of living tiny, maybe there should be a limit as to their value, such as you build it for $25k yourself.  Add a 30% builder profit to achieve a fair market value.  While some rich person may be willing to pay $100k to buy you out, the value would still be assessed at the $32.5k ($25k+30%).  The TAX sould be assessed on this not the $100, but personally one of MY rules would be to not sell at $100k. Because this would mean that the TH in the area certainly ALL increased from the $32.5k to $100k, thus all our taxes will be out of sight.

I’m also not naieve enough to know that those who are original owners in the TH subdivision will live there for ever.  Life happens.  Plans change. People have kids. Stairs no longer work for you. Jobs move.  You’d need to be able to sell your unit, but in my opion, to let someone new in to your place, would need to be  community interview event.  They would need to sign a comunity agreement… Thus this post.

On the website above, someone mentioned the “Pleasantville” idea.  A place where everyone is nice, we all get along, it’s all beautiful, etc.  I know this doesn’t exist in most places, it is a dream, but not everyone is nice all the time.  BUT with a bit of self control we can all get along.  This would be the ultimate goal.  I could see large cities allowing a small community such as this as a trial run and if it works, allowing more and more.  It just takes ONE to get started.  If it doesn’t work, if the cops are called for domestic disturbances among the residents often enough, they won’t let it happen in the future. But I doubt this would happen, especially if these are not rental units at $300 a month (such as is often found in innercities – crap (crack) houses.

Would you want to park your car right beside your unit? Or would you be acceptable to a parking lot so that your unit could be all green grass/trees/flowers with parking blocked out of sight by a fence or shrubs.

Would you want a “committee” to interview each new resident, such as in a Co-Op situation to make sure there are no giant dogs to bark all night?  Should the units be SOLD, or rented? What to do IF a resident turns out to be “trailer trash” or an annoyance to everyone else in the complex.  What about that overly Nosie Rosie, who rats on everyone?

I REALLY want your feedback!

If you have developed a TH subdivision/community and IF you already have covenants in place, would you mind sharing?  I’d love to post them here, or at least pieces of them here depending on if they apply to my area.

So, with all that said, on your mark, get set, GO!!!!!

Extra Space – HUGE CLOSET!

There are areas in your home, most likely that have some wasted space.  many times you aren’t even given the opportunity to use those spaces.  The most widely wasted space inside a home is under a set of stairs.  The builder/designer may add a closet, it may have a bit of sloped ceiling, but they usually block off all  that other space under the stairs.  That space is incredibly useful.  My kids and I spent many a night under the stairs in our old home after returning from Salt Lake City to a Tornado Zone in Memphis.  The sirens would go off and we’d climb under the stairs.  Part of it was opened, yet unfinished, so the kids would crawl into the “short” area with their sleeping bags, blankies, and stuffed animals.  The dogs and I would sit on the carpeted area of what was our pantry. This was a fabulous use of our “under” stairs wasted footage.

Another great space is ABOVE the stairs in a 2-story home. (See the picture below.) The Investment Home I’m currently building had a bunch of very useful area above the staircase which was at the back of a small closet.  SO, I simply had the builder omit the back wall of the closet and build several shelves over the stairs to flatten out the usable area.  NOW what was going to be about a 4′ wide x 3′ deep closet is still 4′ wide, but about 6′-6″ or more deep!  This is a KID’s room!!!  Just think of all the things the family living here could do with this closet!  A little girl might make it a doll house.  (There is a window up high on the left wall).  Mom could do double rods in this closet and put those “don’t fit yet” clothes up high, and shelving down low for all those toys.

One of the Kid's closets above the stairs.
One of the Kid’s closets above the stairs.

I maintain, I’d rather have a huge closet and a tiny bedroom so that all my “stuff” has a home out of the sight of guests.

In a kid’s room, I’d love to have a small walk-in closet if at all possible.  Let’s pretend for a moment we have a 6′ wide by 4′ deep closet.  The door would be on the 6′ wall.  On one side, I would do double rods (or triple rods depending on the age/size of the child) so that all their clothes could hang nicely.  Clothes that fit, lowest, especially if the child is old enough to pick out their own clothes.  In the upper would be the “still too big” clothes to be used next summer and the “too small” clothes, saving up for a good garage sale.  On the opposite wall I’d have shelves floor to ceiling. The shoes would have a home and the toys would too.  On the upper shelves would be the things I need in the child’s room, but I don’t necessarily want the child getting into.  Keepsakes, breakables, toys that have been confiscated because the child refuses to take turns, etc.

If there is a PLACE to put everything, the room CAN be cleaned.  If there isn’t a closet big enough to hold all the toys, the floor of the bedroom will be forever cluttered, or the under-side of the bed will be nonexistent!


We’re just beyond the half-way point!

I say we’re just beyond the 1/2 way point because I’ve spent a little more than 1/2 my money, so we’d BETTER be past the 1/2 way point!

We are getting Sheetrock and Brick this week and probably a bit of next week too.  Both are going well!

Brick on Left Side
Brick on Left Side

Here we have the left side of the house.  They are almost finished with it.  I didn’t bother to look at the back side.  The front and Right sides are only about 48″ high, but in a day or two they’ll all be finished.

The front porch, which I believe I’ve talked about previously, can’t have a window at the bottom of the stairs (unless we bought a really expensive one), so we cut that window, but to keep it from looking so bad/plain, we are adding a pair of closed shutters to give the front a little “pretty”.  Those haven’t been put up yet, but it will give a punch of “non” color to the front. (They are black, which really isn’t a color… go ask your art teacher.)

Here’s a bit of the front.

Front porch partial brick
Front porch partial brick

There really isn’t much to see as far as the sheetrock is concerned, so I’ll save photos of that for a later post.


Funky Remodels – to do or not to do?

I’m about to get controversial here, but since I own this blog, I can say what I want.  I reserve the right to be wrong, but I believe I am voicing my own OPINION as well as a few facts.

Consider the next few before and after photos of a house that was recently shown on the Houzz website, to which I made the following comment:

Before Living/Dining Areas
Before Living/Dining Areas
Before - Kitchen Closed off from Dining Room
Before – Kitchen Closed off from Dining Room
After kitchen without wall, with new cabinets.
After kitchen without wall, with new cabinets.

There were TONS of comments regarding this kitchen.  MOST of them were, “WOW, this is SO gorgeous!” or, “I wish I had the guts to do this it  MY kitchen”, or “This is an incredible Mondrian inspired kitchen.”

I have to agree, this IS an incredible Mondrian Inspired Kitchen.  That’s not what my original comment was about, however. My original thought was, I’m an adult and I wouldn’t want my kitchen to look like a preschool classroom.  BUT, you’ll notice I didn’t say that out loud on my post.

My original post: 

Nope. Why? I don’t get it. This is not a nursery where you need to entertain your newborn with bright colors. This is a kitchen, a home. In my opinion, this is not a ‘style’, this is weird. Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) ala Picasso. You WILL get tired of this color scheme and to resell your home, you will only appeal to a very small percentage of buyers. I know you should live in the home YOU like and not worry with future potential buyers, but I doubt that even YOU will like this for many years before you think it is tired and needs updating. I love the open concept you’ve created, but I am not a fan of the patchwork random colors.

For all you ART buffs out there.  Yes, I do know the difference between Frank Lloyd Wright, Picasso AND Mondrian.  They all had value in their own right. I know many people who collect art pieces which remind them of their favorite artists, but I have never seen it taken to this extent before.  Yes, I’ve seen FLW knock-off houses, I call them FLW-esque homes.  It is one thing to build something that is LIKE what FLW would have designed, however, times have changed and what HE designed into a home back in the day would need to be different now…. think pre-1959 bathrooms & kitchens.  Exactly, build a modern home to LOOK like FLW, but function as a modern home.  We have to imagine what our sunken jet-tub would look like in his mind, don’t we?

After making my original post, I received many “likes”, which was nice, but then. WOW, the claws came out!  Some people said that “the Professional Designers” on this site probably just don’t know anything about Art History. (What has THAT got to do with anything.)  For this reason I didn’t major in MUSIC in college.  I never cared who wrote what, nor when!  I just wanted to play music.  With Art, I never memorized who drew/painted what, nor when, I just know what I like and what I don’t like.  And, I am NOT a modern painter lover!  I like clever and original, but not just paint thrown on a canvas.  (I know, gasp!)  To be truthful,  I don’t know a LOT about Mondrian but I am familiar with his designs/art pieces AND, at one time I was really fond of them, just like FLW’s designs.  Every art class in the country does a piece in his style just for the Art History knowledge.  I remember drawing random straight lines on a page and painting them in bold primary colors.  I personally thought it was an “ok” piece of art, but I wasn’t really proud of it.  Consequently, you won’t find it stored in my attic.   Just because I appreciate a piece of art, does not mean I’d redo my entire kitchen to honor that art.

I thought about posting a rebuttal, but thought better of it.  If I was going to drag my name through the mud and let 10,000 of Houzz readers attack, me, why not be on MY ground where I can DENY comments if I like.  SO, here goes my rebuttal.

To further explain my earlier comments:

I never said that this was not artistic, and I never said the designer of this space was a lunatic.  I never said that this was not Mondrian-esque. I like Mondrian, but I would never make my kitchen a gigantic Mondrian piece of art.  I never said this was ugly and I never said that the owner should not have done this.  The “NOPE” comment meant it was NOT for me.

I simply asked why?

Even if I were simply in love with Mondrian’s inspiration, I would not make my cabinets the piece of art, I’d decorate or paint a wall, find some wallpaper, use tile on a table to convey my love of Mondrian, or make those HUGE new windows the work of art.  I just know me!  I know I would tire of it at some point. If it were wallpaper or a painted wall, or a stained glass window I could simply undo those things, change wallpaper or repaint, when I tired of the design, but this kitchen won’t be as easily undone at a later date.

As a professional Home Designer, I am asked to design many things that I don’t appreciate and often totally dislike, but I draw them anyway because that is what my client wants.  After all, I don’t have to live there, so what do I care if I think it is ugly or illogical?  

On the other hand, I do have a conscience. I would hate for my clients to one day say to me, “I wish you had told me that this wasn’t a good idea.”  I wish you would have mentioned that it would be really expensive to build a house like that, or whatever. I’d hate my clients to think less of me because I didn’t warn them of a potential pitfall with the design of their home because THAT is part of my job as a Professional Designer. I understand clients have in their heads what they want, but seldom know how to count the cost of that decision.  IF these homeowners knew that it would be difficult to sell their home in 3 years they might think otherwise about building it they way they have decided.  Many never plan to sell the place (let the kids handle that after we’re gone).  Ok,  fine.  I get it, they’ve wanted something bold for a long time now and they finally had the money and the guts to do it.  Good for them!  GOOD LUCK if “life” happens and you are forced to sell it for whatever reason.  Good luck getting your money back out of it if, heaven forbid, someone dies and you have to sell at a huge loss and end up bringing money to closing with you because you made a huge bold statement.  

More about the kitchen pictures above:  I love the fact that they opened up the wall between the living area and the kitchen, This is the wave of the future, just watch a bit of HGTV on any given day, but some folks are still old-school and prefer the kitchen to remain closed off.  I’m not offended at the old-school lights and cabinet knobs, this is quite the retro look.  (Some of the other comments really knocked the cabinet hardware and lighting fixtures).  I actually thought the overall design was brilliant, though I didn’t say that.  I really only dislike the color scheme with the primary colors because it reminded me of a preschool and not a kitchen belonging to adults.

Just like clothing, houses have a style and that style often goes OUT of style.  Then to sell the house, the owner must pay a lot of money to change to yet a new style (or reduce the sales price so that the new owner can fix what they feel is wrong).  If the owner has that kind of money, I say go for it. Enjoy it for as long as you can.  Do what you love and pay the consequences later.   However, it’s not as simple as painting the cabinet doors back to white again.  The cabinets appear to have been professionally painted (spray painted, no brush marks) and appear to have an epoxy finish.  So to repaint would be more difficult than jumping into some old clothes, your husband’s shirt and slapping on a new layer of paint over a long weekend.

Someone said this kitchen reminded them of legos, yes it does. It also reminds me of a preschool classroom with brightly colored bins for toys and equipment. There is nothing wrong with this kitchen, I just asked why and warned that it would be hard to resell later, which is a fact not an opinion.   Since it’s a vacation-beach home on Martha’s Vineyard, no less, they won’t be looking at this all day every day, so to say they will tire quickly of the design may take longer than if it were your full-time kitchen.  All houses have to be sold at some point.  People get transferred, people DIE!  Maybe by that time it will be in need of new cabinets yet again. OR, maybe a huge Mondrian fan will buy it, who knows.  I just know that this will appeal to only a select segment of the house buying population. I did not mean to offend anyone’s design, (from an overall design standpoint, this is brilliant in theory), nor did I intend to belittle Mondrian’s artistic styling.  I think it was a bold choice to do this. But,  I think the owners will eventually tire of this and want to do something else later. That’s all.

All things are possible, but not all things are profitable.  If you have the luxury of doing things that are not profitable, go for it!  If you have the money to do this just because you’ve always wanted it, go for it!  I’ve always found my money too hard to come by to be frivolous with it.

A real life example of what I was trying to say earlier:

I was recently hired to design a new contemporary home to be built in rural Mississippi.  The Tri-State area (TN, MS, & AR) are not really states accustomed to “Contemporary” houses.  We went through a contemporary phase back in the 80’s, but it passed, and EVERY real estate agent for miles will admit that those are HARD to sell.  It is simply hard to get people to go inside the ugly.  IF you do get them inside, the volume of these homes is beyond belief, but they, too, wonder if they’ll ever be able to sell it later when the time comes, so therefore, they are hard to sell.  

This couple had been looking online for contemporary designs and had printed out thousands of pictures from Pinterest, Houzz and other websites;  pictures of all those things they wanted in their home.  They had decided they wanted all three children’s bedrooms to be a 10′ x 10′ box, all encompassing, all equal size.  Inside that square the outside wall would have a built-in twin bed with a big window above and the closet (a 36″ x 36″ square at the foot of the bed). The opposite wall would be filled with other built-in desks and shelves.  The floor area (for playing with Legos and GI Joes and all would be about 5′-9″ x 10′-0″.   The kids, who were still in preschool and early grade school would be asked to live in those rooms until they were at least college age if not beyond.  

This contemporary (odd to North MS) home would be located on family property, not parcelled up so it could be sold individually. This couple was planning on “Life” not happening (circumstances beyond their control) so they were relying on their work situation being constant until they died.  You and I both know that can happen, but often doesn’t work out.  People die before expected.  Companies outsource, and you lose your job. No job is 100% guaranteed.  Husbands sometimes run away.   Even if tragedy doesn’t strike, other things come up.

I asked the couple, “What if your kids grow up, get married and come home for the holidays to spend the night?”   Would the newlywed couple be asked to sleep in separate rooms in these built-in twin beds? This wouldn’t work for me at all!  I’d want to sleep in an adult bed and in the same room as my new husband, but because the parents designed this house with their kids’ current ages in mind, and not thinking of the future (kids do actually grow up and require a little more room) I thought it would be a mistake to limit the rooms to only a twin bed.  To undo all of that later would be expensive and a bigger bed simply wouldn’t fit.  Luckily these parents responded to my advice, they allowed me to make the bedrooms a little larger and move the closets outside of the footprint of the bedroom.  Now the rooms are a minimum of 10′ x 12′ and the closets are outside that limit so that they have room for at least a queen size bed with night stands for their future adult/married children.

They didn’t take ALL my advise.  They live in the country.  They are surrounded by traditional country homes with big wide porches.  Their home will overlook a gorgeous lake, but does their Master Bedroom face the lake?  No.  Did they make a big Salon Bath with a big tub or shower that overlooks the lake?  Nope.  Do I think they made a mistake?  Yep.  Do I care?  Well obviously I do!  It bugs me to this day that their house will be, in MY opinion, ugly and that they didn’t take advantage of the beautiful lake set before them where they could have had EVERY room face the lake!  The kids’ bedrooms have a big 6′ wide window facing the lake.  The Great Room/Kitchen all have giant windows that face the lake.  Guest room and Master bedroom have a window to the lake, but the beds will be sideways, so you couldn’t wake up in the morning and see the geese landing on the beautiful lake.  There is not ONE window (that can be looked out of, on the “front” of their house.  There are French doors (all glass) for the front door and there are some high windows up above the 9′ level to let light in (and to bake you in the summer if you don’t get the good ones) but otherwise, no windows on the front of the house.  Oh, and VERTICAL siding, yes, you heard me right vertical!  WOW, they should have gone all the way and put diagonal siding, right?

Yes, I think they made a mistake by building a contemporary house in the country.  NO it will not be cheaper to build than a traditional country house.  YES, it will be weird for all their guests who live there, because contemporary “Ain’t Normal in these ‘hure parts!”  YES it will be impossible to sell should LIFE happen because it is on a family parcell and a lot of subdividing will have to be done to sell it as an independent home should that come up.  PLUS, it AIN’T NORMAL, so the country folks who live around them will probably not be very interested.  It will probably require an out-of-towner to buy it, or someone from So. Cal. who wants it for a hunting lodge… but I digress.  It will be a lovely home on the inside.  It will look like something out of DWELL magazine, or Architectural Digest, but it will be very difficult to sell.  SO, I hope and pray that LIFE doesn’t happen to these folks an that they never have to move away.  I hope that they both stay perfectly content with life forever and that their kids want to stay there, and their kids, and their kids….. kids….. etc.

A few other things I didn’t’ like:

  1. No porch to view the lake.
  2. No Garage – only a carport.
  3. No window in the playroom/media room which is in the basement with the kids’ bedrooms.
  4. The parking area is on the lower level too, so all the groceries must be brought up the stairs and across the 40′ great room to the kitchen.  (WHAT A PAIN!)
  5. Master Bath is just “ok”.  Nothing Master-ish about it.
  6. Laundry is on the lower level, so it’s convenient to the kids, but not the parents.  Kids grow up and move away!  Remember this!

Could this family remodel later? Sure, if they have the money.  Could they  move out walls to make the kids’ rooms bigger later? Possibly.  But, why not plan for the future today? Why not plan for the future now? Can I turn a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 800 sq. ft. New York City condo into a 4-bedroom, 2 bath condo?  Possibly, but those rooms and bathrooms are going to be really small and there will be no room for a dining room or kitchen much less a living room.  There may be some random posts (structural supports for the hi-rise condos) in the center of your bed, but you can sleep on either side of those… theoretically, they won’t get in the way… much.

So, Yes, the design was bold and well done.  BUT, I couldn’t possibly commit to that much “style”.  I suppose I’m just not gutsy enough!


Bunk Beds for Kids
Bunk Beds for Kids

Imagine this room is 10′ wide (the bed/closet area).  The stairs aren’t there, neither is the bunk.  There is a window where the bunk bed is. The wall of book shelves/desk is directly across from the bed.

Q.   Is this really, really cute and would you like to do this in your home?


Q: Do you like this decor?

A. Sure, it’s happy, fun, great, my kid helped me pick out the colors and wallpaper.

Q. How old is your child?

A. 9

Q.  How long to you expect him/her to love these color choices?

A.  Ummmmmm, hopefully forever, that was hard to do and expensive…. etc.


Q.  How  many times have you made up a bed that is attached to 3 walls?

A.  Haven’t done that much…. (Will eventually grow to HATE this!)


Your child will outgrow those colors and wallpaper choices.

Making up this bed is a nightmare at  best.

To undo built-ins messes up a LOT of stuff.  You’ll probably need new flooring if it was done around the built-ins. You’ll need sheetrock repair, mud, paint, wallpaper removal, etc.

This is when your adult self says YES to the funky wallpaper on one wall and the funky color on the others and YES to the very cool and age appropriate bedspread and curtains, but NO to the built-ins.  Walls can easily be painted and de-papered, but to undo thousands of dollars worth of built-ins is disheartening at best.

Take my advice, enjoy from afar, pin on pinterest or Houzz, but admire, don’t do.




Getting brick on the new house!

Because of the rain, the brick has been waiting for about a week. More rain tonight. The ground is so muddy they can’t set up the scaffolding. Ahhhhh! Rain!!!!!

Note to self, start next house during the summer!!



2015-04-14 11.26.15

I like color.  I especially love seeing a house come together, the entire process impresses and thrills me.  A friend asked me the other day how things were going with this, my first investment home build… I told her I was equally thrilled and freaked out by the entire process.  I was worried about interest payments, etc., then I calm myself down when I realize I only have to pay 3, or maybe 4 months worth of interest.  It’s all good!

Anyway, We were supposed to be getting brick laid starting yesterday, however, it’s been raining off and on for the past few days so the  sand for the morter is too wet, so the brick-layers have not yet begun their work, but the painters came  today said that the wood was dry enough to put a layer of primer on the wood-work, so here we have some primer.

The siding will be about this color, but the trim/cornice will be much lighter as well as the trim around the windows and the garage door and column at the front porch.  The shutters will be solid black and will be inset on the porch to the left of the front door to give the illusion of a window (but a window can no t be placed here because of the staircase directly beyond.  Well, it COULD be a window, but it would have been very expensive tempered glass, and I didn’t want the liability of someone falling down the stairs, through the glass and out onto the front porch, so we simply omitted that window.  There will be shutters at the tiny window above the front porch as well as the window above the garage door.  This house should be really cute when finished.