Sunday, June 2, 2013

Things that I love - a brief update

We've been in the house for a little over 3 months, and obviously I've been a slacker on updating this blog.  What can I say?  Boxes needed to be unpacked, we don't really have a functioning computer, and my little family seemingly stays busier than ever.

I recently checked my stats and have over 10,000 page views with some of my pictures ending up on Pinterest!  I never thought that this blog would become popular enough to make Pinterest, so if you're a regular reader: thank you.  I'm not a professional blogger, I have no idea how to take great pictures (other than by accident) with our digital SLR camera, but it's really fun to know that this blog is helping people in their quest to build and decorate their dream home.

I've gotten several e-mails in the past few weeks asking about paint colors.  One reader said that she had a custom color consultation with Sherwin Williams, hoping that it would lead to picking the perfect gray.  In the end, she thought that the color suggested by the consultant was a bit too green.  One of the biggest lessons that I learned is that choosing a paint color takes time.  You want to splash the color up on the house, preferably on walls facing in different directions, and then take the time to look at the walls in different lighting.  I can assure you that a paint color will look different in the morning, noon and night, so be sure to take the time to look at your favorite swatches throughout the day.

I took a couple of pictures to show you some of my favorite things here at our house.  I'm going to come back and take you on a tour of each room, detailing what I love and what I would do differently.  But in the meantime, here are a few things to get you started!

I love the way our front porch turned out!  I have yet to hang a wreath on the front door, because I'm too afraid to scratch the finish.  I'm sure that will change when Christmas rolls around.  In the meantime I'm content to just let the front door be the focal point.  We used a chrome handle by Schlage on the front door and it adds a nice touch of visual interest to an otherwise classic front porch.

You might be wondering what my thoughts are on Sherwin Williams Cityscape Gray:

I love it!

Sherwin Williams Cityscape Gray has proven to be the perfect gray.  It's not too blue, not too green, not too light and not too dark.  How's that for an overall description for you?  I can honestly say that I've never had a moment looking at the house where I didn't love it.  I was recently across the Sound near a naval base, and I said to my husband "The perfect color gray is the color of naval ships."  I think Sherwin Williams Cityscape Gray is really close to that.

The flowerpot by our front door has been with us through 1 apartment, 1 house, 1 18-month stint living with my parents and now graces the front porch.  It was given to us by our landlord in our first apartment.  This year I went with hues of red and put in 2 varieties of geraniums, creamy orange petunias, white and red "million bells" and a small fern.  
Our front door with Sherwin Williams Cityscape Gray and pine tongue in groove ceiling
 One of my favorite rooms in the house is the kitchen.  It's the heart of our house, where we spend a lot of time and a place where visitors congregate.  I can honestly say that I adore the quartz countertops.  They're easy to clean, seem to take a beating with pots/pans/baking dishes and have a distinct look that is different from granite.  You may remember when I was selecting the quartz for the kitchen countertops - and now that we've put the Pental quartz to the test, I have absolutely no regrets!

A tip: Our particular quartz is a brushed finish, so it doesn't have the sheen that many other quartz countertops do.  Upon installation, someone ended up sealing the quartz by accident.  If you know anything about quartz, you know that it doesn't require a sealant.  With a bit of acetone and some strong elbow grease, we were able to get the residue off, bringing the quartz to its natural and intended look.

Once we decided that we were going to put quartz throughout the house, I decided to e-mail Method.  It took a few days, but the customer service folks got back to me and assured me that my favorite products were safe and effective on quartz.

I've been using two Method products to clean my quartz countertops:

  1. Method Daily Granite spray.  This spray can be somewhat hard to find, but I did find it sitting on the shelf at my local Target.  It's exactly what it says: a daily spray for natural stone, including quartz.  Don't let the black bottle scare you as it smells like apple.  It's not too strong or too heavily scented.  I like to use it when the counters really need a good cleaning.  Otherwise I use #2.

  2. Method All Purpose Pink Grapefruit spray cleaner.  This is by far my favorite spray cleaner.  It smells nice, cuts grease, does a good job cleaning up the counters and an entire bottle seems to last for several months.  I like to keep one bottle downstairs and one bottle upstairs.  Again, this product is safe for use on quartz.  It's also safe to use on marble, which we put in our master bath.

One of my favorite features in the kitchen is the small 8" pendants by Kichler that sit above the island.  I was worried that they wouldn't be the exact look that we wanted, as they don't have a diffuser.  Pendant lights with a diffuser were significantly more expensive and generally tended to be 10-12" in diameter.  These 8" mini pendants are perfect!  The inside of the pendants are white and since the actual pendant is pretty deep, you don't really even see the bulb - even when you're sitting right underneath them!  In hindsight, I might have moved the pendants about 6 inches towards the center of the island, but that's neither here nor there.
Pental Riverbank Brushed quartz counters, Kichler 8" mini pendants, Kitchen Aid stainless appliances, Moen prep faucet, stools from School Outfitters (approx $30/ea!)
 My next "thing that I love" is the keypad on the outside of the garage man door.  My Dad installed this for us during construction and it was a great way to access the house without a key.  We were also able to give individual codes to our subcontractors so that they could show themselves in and out.  It's easy to use, codes can be added and deleted at any time, and it's great to have access in and out of the garage without raising and lowering the main door.
Garage man door keypad, by Schlage
 Our master bath soaking tub is awesome.  Our builder gave me two choices for tubs.  While I attempted to find this tub in real life so that I could actually sit in it before purchasing it, I wasn't able to.  Thankfully, the Maax Slimline Oval has been a dream!  It looks unassumingly small, but let me assure you: this thing is plenty big and deep.  The drain is in the center, just below the hand shower.  My only word of caution with this tub: if you're changing from a drain at the end to a drain in the center, don't forget to watch your toes!  I ended up giving myself a pretty good slice on the drain.
Maax Slimline Oval with Kohler Bancroft fixtures
 The last thing on my list for today is the caulk job that I miraculously did adjacent to the master bathroom hutch.  If you've ever seen my parents' kitchen sink (sorry Mom & Dad!), you'll realize that the picture below is nothing short of a miracle.  Let's just say that I had previous tendencies of applying caulk a little too thick.  After reading an online tutorial and a few plumbing message boards, everyone said to line your area with blue tape.  Why I never did that, I have no idea - but that explains my prior caulk jobs.  Lining your work area with blue tape allows you to get the perfect amount of caulk into the space.  Put the tape on, dispense caulk, smooth with a wet fingertip, remove tape and voila!
My best caulk job yet!  Silicone, white caulking


  1. Thanks for the pictures! Can't wait to see more! I decided on quartz too for my counters, 'Sechura Mocha', its brown with flecks of mirror for some sparkle, so I will check out the products you mentioned for cleaning it!

  2. maax shower door
    :-very nice information, we are glad to read this news or post,