July 7, 2014

The Mountain House is Finished!!

We just returned from a trip to the mountains in North Carolina.  As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been in the process of designing a vacation house outside of Asheville, NC for my cousin.  The project moved forward at a crazily accelerated pace- he bought the house in April and we installed at the end of June!!- because my cousin doesn’t do anything slowly and because half of our family (my other cousins, their kids & my dad & aunt) had planned a June-July trip and we wanted to have everything ready in time for them.  The renovation crew worked on the house until midnight some nights and all of us spent more than a few nights & weekends rushing to get this thing done in time for the family to visit.  Our assistant, Daniel, drove down to the house twice- once with a 17 foot truck full of furniture and then with a 24 foot long truckful.  (Thank you Daniel!!! 🙂

{The drive to Asheville from DC is scenic and, for us, very loud and long with three boys in the back}

We video’d the trip down, the installation process and the big reveal of the house to my aunt & cousin, so if it comes out okay (i.e. it’s not terrible 😉  I’ll be sharing that sometime in the future.   Getting the house installed on such a tight deadline honestly took everything we all had.   I’m so glad it’s over but don’t regret a minute of it.  

Doing the mountain house project was so incredibly satisfying.  Never have I had a home fully realized at this quick of a pace and been given this amount of control over everything.  My cousin had NO IDEA what was going in his house & it was so much fun!!!  I picked things out with him in mind- paying careful attention to how masculine & comfortable things were-  but I also did exactly what I wanted as if it were my own place.  It was sort of like giving someone a really cool surprise gift… that they’re paying for. 😉 😉  


{The house is surrounded by old stone walls}

 When I woke up in the morning for the first time at the house, after getting there the evening before & working on everything until the middle of the night, I opened my eyes and saw a painting I’d placed across from the bed on an empty cabinet…  I felt this immense satisfaction that I’m not sure I’ve ever had that strongly before.  (Maybe it was the fact that we’d slept in a KING-sized bed and I was super-comfortable?? 😉  But there was this calm freedom in seeing the cabinet empty of everything but a simple painting.  There was no junk.  The nightstands held only a book and a glass of water.  You know that hotel-visit-I-am-going-to-live-with-less-resolve you sometimes get when you realize how freeing not having a lot of stuff is when you’re on vacation?  It was like that, but in a room I’d designed just as I’d wanted.  Dave & I got out of bed and went outside on the balcony and were seriously standing in mist.  We were so high up and the view was just crazy.  I knew then that I never wanted to leave.  Soon after, the kids woke up, more movers arrives and the usual madness ensued, but that quiet time was just so invigorating and peaceful all at once.   It just felt like there was more room for my thoughts in my head.  I woke up knowing we had half a house to move in but had no doubt we could handle it.  Not to be a total cheeseball, but it was invigorating.  The mountains sort of make you feel big & small all at once… Connected to everything yet isolated at the same time.   It was awesome. 

  {The view from the balcony}

When we’d finished with the installation, I did not want to leave that house.  It and everything in it is so laid back and comfortable.  I felt house envy.  😉 😉 My aunt & I spent hours in the kitchen organizing & labeling and finding a place for everything.  We all had so much fun just being with our family- hiking, 4-wheeling through the woods, hanging out and eating…  Wow, we ate a LOT.  (It involved sausage from Chicago, prime rib smothered in garlic and home fried chicken & my Aunt Linda’s soups!!!)  


{Aunt Linda’s Soup prep… I think she used every pot/bowl in the house} 

I could not get over all of the oak leaf hydrangea, wild rhododendron and hydrangea growing everywhere!!!  

{Oak leaf hydrangea in the family room}

 Going on walks and picking wildflowers & blackberrries was amazing.


I didn’t have enough vases for all of the flowers we picked!!!


{More hydrangea in the kitchen}

Being done is bittersweet…  we spent half of our car ride home talking about doing another one.  We’ve always played around with the idea of flipping a house “our way,” meaning renovating as we would if we were to live there and then finishing it off and decorating it too.  Not simply staging, but really making some personal choices and infusing the home with personality…  Kind of like a decorating show house that’s for sale.  I looked at real estate listings on the phone, which has been  dangerous for us in the past.  (Don’t worry, I’m not making any moves yet 😉 😉 

In the car ride home, I was honestly scared I wouldn’t love my house any more.  I was inspired to make changes at home I’d never considered or that I’d never had the time to do.  (Like organize my kitchen drawers!!!)  When we got home last night, I had an intense desire to simplify it even more and in the midst of unpacking, I took my living room curtains down, craving bigger views of the outdoors.  (They’ll probably stay that way until Fall/ Winter.)  I started putting things away like a banshee and feel even more of an urge to purge than usual.  This sounds neurotic, but I can’t wait to go home and organize tonight!! hahaha

Anyway, we’re having the house photographed in September for my book.  I’ll be sure to share some sneakity peeks before it comes out & hopefully the video of the process if it works out.  

On a total sidenote- I’m learning firsthand how challenging it is to write a book and a blog at the same time.  It’s similar to having projects published in magazines in that I’m dying to share every little detail with you, but can’t quite do that because I want what’s being published in the book to be fresh, new, and exciting.  I completely understand people wanting to see mostly never-before-seen projects when they purchase a book or a magazine (it’s what I myself want when I make a purchase!!) but I also understand wanting to see a constant stream of before-and-afters on a blog, so it’s sort of a catch 22.  (And I’m only able to produce a certain amount of projects at a time.)  I can tell you that I’ve never been as excited about a project as I am about the book because it’s so encompassing, but I’m also like the kid who wants to come home and show the family what she did at school that day and it’s killing me!!! 🙂    (A Field Guide to Decorating will have a roughly 75/25 % split in new-never-before-featured-on-the-blog projects vs. projects I’ve shared before.)

I’d love to get your thoughts on blog-sharing & books featuring already-seen material vs. less sharing on a blog and books featuring mostly new material.  Which do you prefer?