Construction – Week 1



We hired a contractor and construction is officially underway on our house! The crew started on April 14th and it’s amazing how much progress they made in the first week.

cnstrctn_wk1_ktchn_04_14The weekend before the contractor began, Jason and I completely gutted the kitchen. We donated all of the appliances to Habit for Humanity and sold the kitchen cabinets on Craigslist.

cnstrctn_wk1_dngara_04_14The contractor completed most of the demo within the first couple of days on the job. The existing front door will eventually be relocated and this space will become our new dining area. The coat closet in the old entry was the first thing to go!

cnstrctn_wk1_entry_04_14Next came the ceilings. We decided to remove the drywall on the ceilings throughout the house to get rid of the popcorn texture. This will also allow the contractor to blow in foam insulation and re-wire the electricity to add more lighting.

cnstrctn_wk1_gstrm1_04_14The closet in the front guest room will be relocated to the opposite wall. The old bedroom closet will become the new coat closet, which will be accessible from the new front entry.

cnstrctn_wk1_gstrm2_04_14The old master bedroom will become the second guest bedroom. In addition to removing the ceilings, the interior doors and flooring have also been removed throughout the house.

cnstrctn_wk1_gstbth_04_14The guest bath is one of the spaces that is undergoing the most dramatic transformation. We are combining two bathrooms into one larger guest bathroom by knocking down the wall that divided the old master bath from the guest bath. We will also be raising the ceiling height in this space to make it feel larger.

cnstrctn_wk1_addtn_04_14We call this the “money pit” because this is a very, very expensive hole. After the excavator did its work, they brought in a machine to pack down the dirt. This will become the crawl space for our new addition. The new living area will be on the ground floor and our master suite will be upstairs.

cnstrctn_wk1_addtn2_04_14At the end of the week, the contractor began to build the formwork for the footers. We had planned to start pouring concrete next week, but unfortunately it’s been raining today. Hopefully it will all dry out soon so that we can continue to move forward. The contractor is estimating 20 weeks for construction, which means we should wrap up the last week of August. It’s going to be a busy summer!

Proposed House Plans

Major progress on the home front. We finalized our design plans and submitted them for a building permit this week! That means once we get the town’s stamp of approval and hire a contractor, we can finally begin construction on the addition. We’re adding 836 sf to the house, as well as reconfiguring some of the existing spaces to make the floor plan more functional. When it’s all said and done, the house will be slightly more than 2,000 sf.

Here are a few of our architect’s 3D renderings to give you a sense of the proposed changes:

Front Exterior – Before and Proposed

We plan to make some updates to the front facade to increase the curb appeal. The front entrance will be moved a few feet over to where the gabled windows are now. The new front porch will be wrapped in Ipe for added texture and interest. The pitch of the garage roofline will be lowered slightly for aesthetic purposes. Our garage door will have translucent panels that will add to the contemporary look that we envision for our home.

Back Exterior – Before and ProposedThe addition will be on the back of the house. Part of the existing exterior wall will be removed completely in order to connect the old and new spaces. This will allow us to increase the size of the living area downstairs, open up the kitchen, and add a gas fireplace. The upstairs will be our new master suite and a small study.

Interior – Before and Proposed

The rendering gives you a better sense of what the space will feel like inside, although the finishes and furniture are just placeholders for now. This view is standing at the new front door, looking back towards the addition. We’re removing the half wall on the left (currently the coat closet) to create a dining area. The new coat closet (not seen here) will be on the right as you enter the front door. The sliding barn door shown in the rendering will open to our mud room (accessible from the garage and backyard) which will contain built-in storage for coats and mittens. The mud room is currently the laundry room, but we’re relocating the washer and dryer (there will be a stackable set upstairs in the master closet and also downstairs in the guest bathroom). The stairs will lead to a lofted study and then our master suite will be behind that.

Interior – Before and Proposed

Here’s another view of the kitchen, although we’re still working on choosing cabinetry and finishes. We want something very sleek and modern. We’re taking out the half wall (which contains the old pantry) to open up the space. The new pantry (not seen here) will be to the right of the hallway, on the wall adjacent to the kitchen. The hallway leads to the guest bathroom and bedrooms, which will all be updated as well.

We still have a long way to go considering we haven’t even broken ground yet, but it feels awesome to be making progress on this love shack!

Our Architectural Project Brief

After we went under contract on our house, one of the first things we did was compile our thoughts on the future remodel/addition into a project brief. I’m a visual thinker, so this process was a helpful way to organize and communicate our ideas in a linear way. We tried to include all of the key details about the project that an architect or contractor would need to get a clear understanding of the scope and determine if our project was a good match for their firm. Before scheduling any face-to-face meetings, we first sent the project brief to the architecture firms that we were interested in interviewing and gave them the opportunity to become familiar with our project. This proved to be really efficient way to convey a lot of information upfront. Jason joked that we were going to scare everyone away before we even met them, but the architects and contractors have expressed that they really appreciate having the project brief for reference.

Project Brief for Home Remodel Apparently we have a lot of thoughts about a lot of things. By the time I finished laying out the content in InDesign, our project brief was eight pages long (not so BRIEF)! I organized info into the following sections, including a few inspiration photos on each page.

  • Clients – provides a quick snapshot of who we are and what we have planned.
  • The House – this section outlines where the house is located, when it was originally built, the size, orientation, etc.
  • Vision – describes the ambiance we envision for our humble abode (open, efficient, contemporary, minimal, sustainable, organized, etc.)
  • Needs – a list of things we absolutely gotta have in this house, such as a new master suite, office space, added storage space, gas fireplace, etc.
  • Wants – a long list of things we’d really like to have if our budget allows, for example, an updated exterior facade, windows with views of Mt. Sopris, updated guest bathroom……this list goes on and on…..
  • Budget – this is the page where $hit gets real…and definitely scares a few folks away.
  • Next Steps – the final section discusses our timeline and scheduling a face-to-face meeting to discuss the firm’s design process and fees.

Project Brief for Home Remodel So, yeah, we definitely put a lot of time and thought into the architectural project brief but having it has been so invaluable. It provides a benchmark to help determine if design decisions align with the big picture goals for our home. In the long run, this has saved us time and hopefully money, too.


If you’re planning a design or construction project, I’d be happy to help you put together a project brief. Let’s talk!

House Update: 5 Months In

So, what’s going on with our house remodel you ask? Well, I regularly wonder the exact same thing.

Apparently molasses moves faster than the design/build process. The hammers haven’t even come out and yet I’ve already earned merit badges for patience. Granted, the middle of winter isn’t exactly the optimal time to start construction. Also, I forget that we’re now living on mountain time….everything moves at much slowwwwer pace around here. No one is in a hurry, everyone is just doing their thing, loving life. And, honestly, that’s what drew us to the mountains in the first place.

Our architect was able to put the whole thing in perspective for me, though. He regularly reminds us that we can only have two of these three things: a tight budget, high-quality construction, or an aggressive timeline. Since our budget and quality expectations are non-negotiable, the fast-paced timeline is the piece that gets sacrificed.

Before Exterior – August

As a refresher, we began this fun little journey 5 months ago. You’d better believe that I’m keeping track of every milestone (for my patience merit badge):

  • August 19 – House Went on Market
  • August 25 – Submitted Offer on House
  • August 27 – Received Counter Offer
  • August 28 – Went Under Contract on House
  • September 9 – Inspection / Consultation with Contractor
  • September 27 – Sent Project Brief to Two Architects
  • October 2 – Interviewed First Architect
  • October 4 – Interviewed Second Architect
  • October 28 – Closed on House
  • November 5 – Hired Architect
  • November 12 – Architect Began Measuring Existing Structure
  • November 19 – Received “As Built” Floor Plan from Architect
  • November 20 – Met with Structural Engineer
  • December 11 – Surveyor Completed Improvement Survey
  • December 18 – Met with Planning Dept. to Review Setback Requirements for the New Addition
  • December 24 – Spent Our First Night in the House (on an Air Mattress!)
  • December 31 – Received Two Floor Plan Options from Architect
  • January 9 – Received Two More Floor Plan Options from Architect
  • January 15 – Sent Floor Plan Revisions to Architect
  • January 20 – Meeting with Architect and Contractor to Review Preliminary Construction Estimates

Before Exterior – December

I’m learning that remodeling an existing home is a totally different animal than building a new home from scratch. It’s much like an onion – as you peel back the layers, you discover new surprises and perhaps shed a few tears along the way.

As of this past week, I feel like we’re finally making some progress. We have a functional floor plan that we’re really excited about and now we can begin to get preliminary estimates from contractors. Hopefully we can then move from the schematic design phase into 3-D massing and more detailed construction documents. Then perhaps we can finally get this party started. And you’ll all be invited! BYOHH (Bring your own hard hat).

Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on a sledge hammer.

Thirteen Things About 2013

Well, it’s the end of another year and I feel the need to write an obligatory New Year’s post. First, though, I realized that I never shared our holiday card like I have in the past (you can see previous ones here: 2009, 2011, 2012). This year’s card wasn’t very Christmasy because, frankly, I got a late start and wasn’t confident that I’d be able to design, print and send them out before New Year’s. So it’s more of a year in review, really. I’m not dedicated enough to write an annual holiday letter but, looking back, we had a pretty big year so it felt appropriate to include some of the milestones from 2013.

2013 Year in Review Christmas Card

Thirteen Highlights of 2013

  1. January: Celebrated Jason’s 30th birthday with a staycation at the Viceroy in Snowmass.
  2. February: Learned to cross-country skate ski.
  3. April: Survived our first hut trip.
  4. May: Traveled back to Tulsa for Jason’s law school graduation.
  5. June: Traveled to San Francisco for a design conference.
  6. July: Traveled to Austin and Malibu for beautiful weddings.
  7. July: Jason took (and passed!) the Colorado Bar exam.
  8. August: Celebrated Bar exam completion with a staycation at the St. Regis.
  9. September: Our precious niece Wimberley was born.
  10. October: Purchased a new home.
  11. November: Jason was sworn-in to the Colorado Bar.
  12. November: Spent Thanksgiving in Aggieland with family.
  13. December: Celebrated Christmas with family by snowshoeing at Ashcroft.

My new year’s resolution for 2013 was to explore and I feel like we did a pretty good job of that.

Fourteen Goals for 2014

  1. Work smarter, not harder.
  2. Turn the computer off and just walk away.
  3. Write the outline for that children’s book that I’ve had in my head for 3 years.
  4. Make space for spontaneity.
  5. Break ground on our home remodel so, you know, we can actually move in someday.
  6. Step outside each day, get some fresh air and remind myself of who I am and who I want to be.
  7. Spend less time cooking and cleaning.
  8. Spend more time creating.
  9. Replace negative self-talk with encouraging words.
  10. Replace complaining with gratitude.
  11. Replace screen time with face time.
  12. Remember that happiness is the journey, not the destination.
  13. Trust my heart.
  14. Breathe.

Happy 2014! May the coming year unveil the deepest desires of your heart.

Our Pick: The Central Location

Congrats to Liz who was the first to correctly guess “Central Location“! Yep, this little beauty is our new abode:

Exterior – BeforeAfter perusing countless real estate listings, I can believe that the house we purchased was right under our noses the entire time. I walked by this house almost daily on my way to take the dogs to play in the park and never really gave it a second look. I mean, just look at it….it doesn’t exactly jump out and scream “curb appeal”.

Let me back up a little bit and recap our house hunting journey. The first house we pounced on was The Foreclosure. It was on a beautiful piece of property in a quiet but somewhat rural neighborhood. That house had loads of potential, but went for much higher at auction than we were comfortable spending given the amount of work it needed.

Next, we put an offer in on The Corner Lot. We liked the newer-ish neighborhood, but the seller needed to get more out of the house than we felt it was worth in today’s market. At the end of negotiations, we couldn’t come to an agreement and had to walk away. I’m still a little heartbroken over that one.

Then, we went really crazy! Although we hadn’t originally considered a condo, we loved the location of The Downtown Condo and began to fantasize about living in the historic district above our favorite little coffee shop. We submitted an offer and things happened quickly – our offer was accepted, we went under contract and passed the inspection period. But, two weeks before closing, the appraisal brought up some concerns that made us feel like a condo might not be the wisest investment. We listened to our gut instinct and walked away again.

One afternoon in late August, I was walking the dogs to the park and noticed a for sale sign in front of The Central Location. The house didn’t appeal to me at all, but I immediately realized that the lot was pretty incredible. It backs right up to the park and city swimming pool. The public schools, historic downtown and Jason’s office are less than a five minute walk along the bike trail. Plus, there are nice views of Mt. Sopris from the backyard. Sold! I didn’t even need to see the inside.

As you can tell from the MLS photos, we have our work cut out for us…..

Entry – Before

Living Area – Before

Kitchen – Before

Guest Bedroom – Before

Guest Bath – Before

Master Bedroom – Before

Backyard – Before

Park – Summer

We actually have some pretty big dreams for this house! We’re already working with an architect to draw up plans for an addition and to reconfigure some of the existing spaces to make the floor plan more functional. Hopefully we can take better advantage of the mountain views, too. Once construction begins, it will likely be 6-9 months before we can move in and, you know, actually live here. In the meantime, I’m excited about making this house our home and documenting the design and construction process along the way. I fully expect that Lucky #7 will be our nuttiest adventure in homeownership yet!



House Hunting

We started perusing real estate ads back when moving to Colorado was still a pipe dream and quickly learned that the market here is crazy with a capital C! We knew that we’d probably have to adjust our expectations and standard of living if we eventually wanted to purchase a home in the Roaring Fork Valley. Last April, once we made the decision that Basalt was the place we wanted to called home for the long-term, we seriously started hunting for houses. Honestly, we didn’t have much to choose from – there is very little on the market in Basalt proper (especially in our price range!) and the homes that pop up tend to go under contract very fast, usually for full market value and often even higher.

Our realtor was so patient with us, despite that fact that we were all over the map. One week we were bidding on a 5 bedroom house on 1.35 acres in a foreclosure auction and the next we were putting in an offer on a 2 bedroom condo in historic downtown. Bless his heart for sticking with us! Here’s a peek at a handful of the houses we looked at over the last 7+ months. Some we put offers in on, others we were actually under contract on before finally finding “the one”.


House Hunting – 1The Foreclosure
Year Built: 1995
Size: 3,445 sf – 5 beds and 4 baths
 1.35 acre lot with its own creek and the
quiet neighborhood with a private pond and tennis courts
Quirks: bizarre interior color scheme and needs at least $100K of work

House Hunting – 2The Handyman Special
Year Built: 1998
Size: 1,798 sf – 3 beds and 3 baths
 view of Mt. Sopris
Quirks: strange layout of interior spaces and needs lots of work

House Hunting – 3The Corner Lot
Year Built: 2001
Size: 2,537 sf – 3 beds and 2.5 baths
 bonus room above garage and location near the park and Whole Foods
Quirks: cramped galley kitchen

House Hunting – 4The Downtown Condo
Year Built: 2006
Size: 1,247 sf w/ 2 beds and 2 baths
Loved: mountain views and awesome location above our
favorite coffee shop in downtown Basalt
Quirks: issues with the mixed use development

House Hunting – 5The Treehouse
Year Built: 1998
Size: 1,607 sf w/ 3 beds and 3 baths
Loved: expansive views of the valley from every window
Quirks: choppy layout and lots of road noise from the highway

House Hunting – 6The Rambling Ranch
Year Built: 2004
Size: 2,433 sf w/ 3 beds and 2.5 baths
Loved: the open ranch layout
Quirks: cramped lot and tiny backyard with no privacy

House Hunting – 7The Central Location
Year Built: 1986
Size: 1,145 sf w/ 2 beds and 2 baths
Loved: walking distance to downtown, the park, schools and city pool
Quirks: original, dated finishes and tiny bathrooms

So, yeah, literally all over the map! Can you guess which home we actually purchased? I’ll leave the answer in the comments later this week. There will be a prize for the first person who guesses correctly (unless you’re my husband, mother, realtor or dear friend – you people have the inside scoop and are disqualified from this contest!).

Prize is winner’s choice of a custom daily planner or custom holiday card! Enter to win by leaving your guess in the comments section.

Update: The answer is here

The Houses We’ve Called Home

I recently realized that in the eight years we’ve been married, Jason and I have lived in six different houses. Apparently we like to move a lot. Or we’re gluttons for punishment, I’m not sure. Let’s take a little tour of the places we’ve called home, shall we?


Our First HouseHome #1
Austin, TX
House Number: 3708
Lived Here:
1 year
Life Phase: newlyweds
Loved: the novelty of living under one roof….in Tarrytown, no less!
Quirks: the washer and dryer was in a funky shed in the backyard
Favorite Space: the retro kitchen
Favorite Memories: regularly walking to Mozart’s for coffee/dessert
and taking Denver for swims in Lake Austin
Lesson Learned: sharing closet space should have been it’s own chapter
during premarital counseling

Our Second House

Home #2
City: Austin, TX
House Number: 5919
Lived Here: 4 years
Life Phase: first time homeowners
Loved: the backyard and deck
Quirks: we never got around to putting up curtains the entire 4 years we lived here
Favorite Space: master bedroom
Favorite Memories: remodeling almost every square inch
(see before and afters here)
Lesson Learned: one trip to Lowe’s or Home Depot inevitably leads to ten more

Our Third HouseHome #3
Keystone Lake, OK
House Number: 2957
Lived Here:
 2 years
Life Phase: law school
Loved: the lake view
Quirks: earthquakes!!!
Favorite Space: the gourmet kitchen
Favorite Memories: happy hours on the back porch overlooking the lake
Lesson Learned: maintaining a big lake house leaves little time or money
to actually enjoy the lake

Our Fourth HouseHome #4
Billings, MT
House Number: B-21
Lived Here:
 1 summer
Life Phase: law school internship
Loved: the convenience of downtown loft living (see more loft pics here)
Quirks: a busy train track that ran mere feet from our bedroom window
Favorite Space: modern bathroom
Favorite Memories: home base for weekend road trips throughout Montana
Lesson Learned: sharing a washer and dryer with strangers is awkward,
especially when said strangers fold your “delicates”

Our Fifth House

Home #5
Tulsa, OK
House Number: 4119
Lived Here: 1 semester
Life Phase: last. semester. of. law school.
Loved: short commute to work and school
Quirks: no shower, only a funky little bathtub that was
apparently made for little people
Favorite Space: the dog room
Favorite Memories: walking to restaurants in Brookside
Lesson Learned: scalding hot showers are underrated

Our Sixth House

Home #6
Basalt, CO
Lived Here: 10 months and counting
Life Phase: mountain goats
Love: living right on the river
Quirks: living in what is apparently a black hole as far as
mail delivery is concerned
Favorite Space: the great outdoors
Favorite Memories: falling asleep to the sound of the river
Lesson Learned: 700 sf condo + 2 rambunctious labrador retrievers = insanity


In summary, we’ve lived in a duplex, three single family houses, one loft and a condo. We’ve lived in a big city, in the suburbs, in a small town, on a lake, and on a river in the mountains. We’ve lived in spaces as small as 700 sf and as large as 4,500 sf. Some have had yards, others haven’t. We’ve lived without modern conveniences like dishwashers and ample closet space…..and somehow lived to tell the tales. I guess that you could say we’re flexible and up for a challenge.

Our next home will be just that….a challenge. Stay tuned for our latest and perhaps craziest adventure in homeownership. Home #7 deserves a blog post of it’s very own…..


Sweet Little Pumpkin

October is my favorite month of the entire year. I just want to slow down and savor everything about it – the changing colors of the leaves, the chill in the air, shorter days, cozy fires in the fireplace, fall festivals, Halloween candy, layered outfits with riding boots, and pumpkin-flavored everything. In my opinion, good months like October should have more than 31 days. This month has flown by way too fast and I’m not quite ready to turn the calendar to November.

Fall Pumpkin Baby Shower Invitation
Work has been all-consuming lately, but fortunately I’ve had a few fun projects sprinkled in between the less creative stuff. This baby shower invitation was one of them. Not only is the new mama a precious friend and colleague, but she’s also a fellow graphic designer. No pressure, right?

The baby’s gender is a surprise, so the hostesses chose a fall theme and neutral color palette for the shower. I must say, designing for another designer is quite intimidating, but Emma was so appreciative and excited about the invitation I created for her sweet little pumpkin. Maybe it was just the hormones, but I think she even shed a tear or two…


Yes, I can create custom invitations for your next event! Contact me for a quote.

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