By Karen Tyrrell
We’ve covered a lot in this journey so far, including preparing to bid the job, hiring a designer and landscape design. Now it has been approximately 6 months since framing started on our home and boy are we in the thick of it. My head is still spinning with choices and there seems to be no end to this adventure, yet I know in reality there will be (hopefully the end is June 1). And while there have been several huge decisions made, sometimes it’s the little things that creep up on us and make us the most stressed out in this whole “custom home building” process. Let’s dive into those little things, shall we? (I won’t belabor any of these topics too much because I could go on for days about every one of them and how nuts they all made me. And my designer. And my builder.)
We will start with electrical outlets and switches. There are, like, one million of each in our homes and they must be placed strategically and inconspicuously, but also conveniently. Kelly and Brian at Orangerie Home did my electrical plan because I was just an economics major and had a mild panic attack looking at the plans. They decided where we needed recessed lighting, chandeliers, sconces, fans, light switches, GFCI outlets, and plugs. At one point I was walking around the house telling them where I would like to control which lights, and what I would like to plug in where. They would tell me if I was spot on or being ridiculous and this seemed to work out nicely for us all. There are also different plate styles to choose from and a variety of light switch technologies to operate your lights, fans, and dimmers. To add to the confusion, you can have outlets recessed in the base boards and the flooring, and there are a variety of ways to do both of those. To round out the fun, how about adding surround sound and speakers throughout the house and finding a place to put those controls?! Since I don’t entertain enough to make a case for a home full of speakers, we decided to keep them only in the downstairs family room and outside on the lanai. Should we have family and friends over who want to listen to some sweet tunes we are covered, and the kids’ area upstairs wouldn’t bothered by the smooth Yacht Rock we are playing downstairs.
Now we move on to interior doors. Get excited. There are approximately 4,463 door styles in any given door line and, like, 18 types of material or wood species. You’ll most likely first choose the number of panels and thickness which, in my mind, are the most important features of a door. We went with solid core doors which help with noise reduction and fire safety, and I love the feel of a heavy, solid door. If that doesn’t hold much importance to you and you really want to focus on style, then the appearance of the door will dictate what you end up with. As I mentioned earlier, there is an obscene number of styles and panel designs to choose from. It’s as though door manufacturers all got together and decided to make this incredibly difficult and pricey for us lay people. And even though you may like one panel style, it might not correspond with the overall feel of the home. Someone may love the look of a clean-lined modern interior door, but if the home is otherwise very traditional the doors would stand out – and not in a good way. The other fun thing about doors is the fancier they are, the longer it will take to produce them. And currently every single thing that relates to construction seems to be backed up. Did we make a concession here? Yes. Did we still go over budget on doors? Without a doubt. My suggestion – choose a door style that complements the rest of the home BEFORE you start the bidding process. This will save you heartache when the door supplier gives you the prices of pre-hung, 1 ¾ inch thick, 8 foot doors with raised panels and applied moulding.
Let’s move on to another line item that kept me up at night second guessing my choices – hardware. Every cabinet, drawer, and door in the home needs hardware. And, of course, we couldn’t choose a run of the mill pull or knob…oh, no….it had to be special because, apparently, I like special. (Note: anything super adorable is special.) My designer Kelly and I spent a day at Ray Ware in Jacksonville choosing interior and exterior doorknobs, locks, hinges, pocket door thingies, pulls and other tiny but pricey items I initially thought were fun and pretty to look at, but at the end of the session were causing me to me cry in a corner and just tell Kelly to pick it. (If you have commitment issues like I do, take someone with you and have a safe word. It’s overwhelming.) The really exciting thing about hardware is that much of the time the finishes don’t match unless you buy them from the same line. This is mostly true for brass and bronze finishes. That adorable brushed French brass faucet you bought from Kohler? It will not match the brass knobs and handles you chose from Armac Martin which also don’t match the shower door handle, hinges and toilet handle. Now, I have found that polished nickel is pretty much consistent across the board, but of course that’s not what I want in every room. And, finally, a big shout out to the manufacturers who price their cabinet knobs at $50+ per knob. Cheers.
How about trim work? It’s so lovely to look at and imagine in your home and around your doors and windows, isn’t it? My favorite thing about trim work is that you’re given options based on a side profile of the trim. This literally means nothing to me. How am I supposed to know the difference between these until I see them up and painted? And by then it’s too late: aka “Change order”. That’s what Kelly is for. I show her Pinterest pictures, she tells me I am wrong, explains what is best for the design, and then makes the correct choice.
In addition to the use of crown molding or not, we went around and around 87 times about base boards and how they butt up against the door trim and the potential use of a plinth – which, evidently, is way too traditional for my home even though it would have solved the month-long drama about the base boards and door trim. Once again, I let Kelly decide because I trust her and was slowly going blind looking at trim options. Also, I’m not sure I cared enough about trim to binge eat cupcakes over it. (I saved that for faucets.) Here again is where you must choose something that is consistent with the overall feel of the home and the style of doors and windows. Stick with one theme – modern, traditional, craftsman…this allows everything to flow together seamlessly.
I guess the moral of today’s article, as always, is to have your ducks in a row with a designer before you get any builder bids and be prepared to make alternate choices. Some features and materials are just not worth the headache or the sting of blowing your budget. There are so many things I will give up or modify to make this project happen that no one else will notice, but I know I will and that’s just something I’ll have to be OK with. In the end, I know I will love my new home. We are thankful every day to have this opportunity (some days more than others) and I really do look forward to sharing it with friends and family. Our door will always be open to loved ones looking to escape to the beach. And that door will have amazing Emtek hardware on it.
Karen Tyrrell is a REALTOR with The Volen Group, Keller Williams Luxury International in Ponte Vedra Beach. As a 14+ year beaches resident, Karen is dialed in to all the area neighborhoods, schools, beach clubs, and community activities and is also a Nocatee Certified Agent.