better homes than yours · blogging · DIY · Renovation

Day 53: Come over to my house!

From the responses to last night’s post, I gathered that some of you would like to see my house — which is great, because I want to show you regardless of whether you want to see it. Mr. December and I spent several years planning this house and then another year working with the builder to get it built, and I’m very proud of what we’ve built.

So… welcome! You’ve come in through the front door and are standing in my entryway.

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We had a lot of discussion about how to do the entryway. Should we build a coat closet? No, if there’s a door it will be left open (which means in the way); and if the door isn’t open, nobody will bother opening it. They’ll just drop their stuff on the bench or the floor and wait for me to nag them. No thanks. How about built-in mudroom-style lockers? That vision was in the lead until I considered that when coats are wet from rain or snow, they need airflow to dry — and there’s not much air flowing through individual cubbies and lockers.

By this time, the house was in the final stages of the build and we still weren’t sure what to do — so we didn’t do anything. I went to IKEA and bought the rail-and-hook system from the kitchen department; I installed it as a temporary measure. Two years later, we love it and plan to keep it this way for quite a while. What I didn’t realize at first (but certainly do now) is that lots of open floor space is much more useful than a smaller space with built-in storage when you’re trying to get six people dressed in winter gear and out the door at the same time.

The flagstone floor was one of my must-haves, after having seen something similar at an open house we went to. I probably spent upwards of forty hours just calling around to find it. Eventually I had exhausted all possibilities with the tile and stone warehouses and ended up getting the very last skid of ½” thick flagstone from a stoneyard that carries all sorts of patio and garden stones. It was worth all the work — the stone is heated from underneath, which feels amazing in the winter, and it looks like we’re at a cottage. I love it.

(An unanticipated perk of the heated stone floor: if we lay wet snowsuits, hats, and mitts on it after school, they’ll be dry and toasty warm in the morning.)

Oh, and see the glass door in that first picture? It’s a sliding pocket door, put there so that we can open the door in the dead of winter and not have icy air rushing straight through the house. Later on we realized that it helped control the sound transfer between the rest of the house and the library, which is behind the mirrored doors to your right.

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(The library is awesome, but there’s too much that I want to tell you to include it today; It’s another post for another time.)

Between the library and the front door we have a bench. Another thing that was a stopgap measure — we took it from our patio set — that ended up staying because it worked perfectly. The crates under it are on wheels and hold things like rain pants and special shoes.

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We have a lot of shoes. Also a lot of hats, boots, gloves, mittens, scarves, neck warmers, and earmuffs. I hung some bins from the same IKEA system and added chalkboard labels so that we could each keep our stuff to ourselves.

Speaking of having lots of outerwear, You might be wondering why we have winter coats, spring jackets, and puffy vests all hanging here at the same time. Shouldn’t we put away our out-of-season gear?

Well, yeah, if it’s out of season. Right now it’s winter in the morning, spring around lunchtime, summer in the afternoon, and fall in the evening. We’re still using all of this stuff. Maybe by July we can put some away for a few weeks before bringing it out again.

The chalk board above the children’s coats was supposed to be for reminders, welcoming messages, and cute drawings. The reality is that up until I cleaned it three hours ago, it had read, “Welcome Home and Happy Birthday!” since last August.

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Despite all our planning, there were decisions we had to make on the fly. Most of them turned out really well, like our front door. The area around the door frame is inset because the stone walls of our original house were so thick that when we added a stud wall inside them, the wall was too thick for any standard door jamb. I suggested that we frame the frame, as it were, and we painted it the same colour as the door to make it stand out. Now it’s one of my favourite features. Doesn’t it look cool?

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Come along, now. We’re not done.

Just past the entry hall (and before the sliding glass door) and on the left is the powder room.

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The vanity and sink are from IKEA, but the vanity didn’t come that way. It was actually three separate vanity cabinets that I hacked into one long vanity that runs the entire length of the room.

The grasses around the faucet are, alas, fake. I tried every low-light loving plant I could find, but everything died in that spot. The bicycle next to it does double duty as decoration and as a towel rack.

What, you might ask, do we keep in the six drawers in our powder room? Pretty much anything we might need right before walking out the door. Hair brushes and elastics for last-minute ponytails; socks (because nobody wants to go all the way back up to their room for socks when we’re already fifteen minutes late); and, naturally, toilet paper and hand towels.

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That’s it for tonight’s tour; I’m late for my bedtime. I’ll leave you with this view of the entryway from just beyond the threshold to the rest of the house. I really love how we painted that door. This picture just makes me happy.

Next time I’ll take you around our living room and dining room. Fair warning: I’m not staging anything for you. We built this house to live in, not to impress others. If it also happens to be impressive, that’s cool with me.

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