Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Porch Plans for the New House

I recently teamed up with Arhaus to collaborate and brainstorm with them on the subject of turning an outdoor space into an additional living space with the comfort and warmth of the indoors. This trend is growing everywhere as we seek to make porches, patios, and garden areas into secondary living rooms set right into nature.

If you know anything about houses in North Carolina you will know that living out the country almost always necessitates having a screened-in porch!! We already use our screened-porch as an additional room for entertaining, dining, storage, and a whole host of other things. 

We are planning to have a screened-porch at our new house that we are building (getting closer to starting--yay!) and it will be significantly larger. Actually, it will be pretty huge.  I'm so excited about the possibilities of turning this room into another space for dining, entertaining, lounging around, and as a place for growing some plants and a little bit of extra storage. We tend to host a good number of get-togethers with a lot of family and friends and we always need more seating for dinners. The porch will be our perfect party spot.

Below is a look at our porch from our 3D model of the new house. You will notice we did not include any screening or a porch door on this model so you just have to use your imagination.

Rear elevation of 3D modeling of house, the porch is located at the center and right (imagine screening between those posts). There will also be a screened porch door and steps, as well as two windows on either side of the French doors that are missing from this rendering.

Side elevation of 3D modeling of the house, the screened porch is to the far left.

I've also drawn up a little sketch of my plans for our new porch using the current porch furniture we have as well as a few new things I hope to have (aka, getting my hubby to build me a super long farm table!).

We have already picked out a few of the details like fans and French doors but there is still much to be decided. Making a porch feel more like another living space requires that you fill and decorate the space with things you wouldn't expect necessarily in an outdoor space. Things like:

-Furniture (check out the sofas and sectionals from Arhaus located here and here)

-Pillows and throws

-Storage pieces (the one on our current porch is made from free wood pallets!)


-light fixtures

-outdoor fireplace (not sure if this will ever happen, but hey, one can dream!)

I put together an inspiration board (see below) for my porch on Olioboard, to better see what everything will look like put together. I love rustic wood elements, a few of industrial accents, and styles that remind me I do indeed live on a farm and the screened porch will indeed get dirty :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Selecting Fruit Trees for the Homestead

One of the most exciting things about homesteading for me is planning our orchard and reaping the sweetness of fresh home grown fruit!

Fruit tree selection and placement definitely requires some forethought as some fruit trees are very high maintenance. You don't want to go to the expense of planting a lot of fruit trees only to have them fail to bear fruit or succumb to disease.  Well-drained soil is very important as is exposure to full sun and proper pruning.

 I've made a list of the fruit and nut trees we would like to plant for our homestead (see the plan above for where the orchard will go) that would work for our area in North Carolina:

1. Apple

Can't have a farm without apple trees, right?!?  I'd love to have several varieties of apple trees, some of them heirloom perhaps.

2. Pear

3. Peach

Peaches are the most high-maintenance of the bunch that we are looking at. I'm planning to plant only the white-flesh variety, as they have a higher antioxidant level (and I like the taste better too!).

4. Nectarine

5. Plum

6. Fig

We cannot wait until fresh figs!!!!  In North Carolina a really common type of fig is the Brown Turkey fig and that is probably the one we plan to go with.

7. Cherry

 We will probably only plant one or two of these because I'm not sure how well cherry trees actually do in our area.

Nut Trees:

1. Pecan

2. American Hazelnut

3. Walnut

Are there any that I'm missing? What kinds of fruit trees are your favorite to grow?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Cutting Costs in a Custom Build

This is the current state of our dining room table. Oh, the fun of building a house!

Our cost-to-build estimate for our new house went over budget of what the new house appraised for--by quite a bit. So, we are finding ourselves having to cut or change things in order to find more cost savings.

We knew with our budget we certainly wouldn't be building our "dream home" but we are still hoping to include a lot of nice custom features. As we analyze the cost-to-build numbers with our builder, we are making changes and cuts to save some cash so that we can invest in the few things that we absolutely don't want to compromise on  (which is mostly me putting up a big fight on things like windows, ceiling height, and the fireplace). Building a house can cause a lot of arguments with your spouse, so choose your battles wisely!

Below is a list of some of the things we are doing to save on costs:

1. Lower grade flooring in some rooms. Carpet for all bedrooms and upstairs loft, linoleum in the laundry room. Save nicer hardwoods for great room, dining room, kitchen and entry hall.

2. DIY open shelving instead of upper cabinets in the kitchen.

3. Stock/inexpensive bath vanities in the children's and guest baths

4. Inexpensive tile in bathrooms (and for Kitchen backsplash)

5. Minimizing the complexity of the roofline

6. Minimizing corners of the exterior of the house

7. Simple interior moldings and woodwork, no crown molding

8. Composite interior doors instead of solid wood. Save solid wood for front door and French doors.

9. Wood decking floor for the screened-in porch instead of tongue-and-grove flooring

10. No cabinets in laundry room (we will build our own in later)

11. DIY shelves in pantry

12. Reuse of our current refrigerator, washer and dryer

13. Doing all of the landscaping work ourselves

14. Painting all the interior walls one color to start, no complicated paint designs

15. Finding light fixtures that are on clearance or repurposed from Craigslist or Ebay

16. Finding cheap salvaged brick to use for foundation, fireplace and chimney

For those of you with experience in house-building, can you add anything else to this list?