We moved in last week and I have a LOT to show and tell you. I’m extremely overwhelmed right now and feeling like a really happy chicken with my head cut off. I don’t know where to begin, or what to prioritize, and am super distracted by people working all day every day so I feel like I’m so behind and not moving forward. I am looking to hire an assistant – social, personal, design (someone starting out, looking to build their career, willing to do anything, learn a ton about all the aspects of this crazy business) which I hope will help. But the morning that we moved in, with 19 workers trying to finish every room, Kaitlin (my photographer) and I tried to shoot as much of the house, fully empty, as possible but it was hard. It was 1/2 a construction zone with dust and tarps in many of the rooms and we didn’t have time to clear it because that would hold the work and we needed to move in 2 hours later. But this room was fully cleared and ready to go. And my goodness it makes me so happy (more life update at the end).
As a reminder we added on this sunroom, to be a formal dining room, writing studio, and where I’ll do the bulk of my meetings. At times I was worried that it wouldn’t be worth it, but every time I thought about the tile I knew we had to do it. And I’m SO GLAD WE DID.
It’s wild to think back to where we started…
Move-In Day – It’s Done
Y’all. It’s just incredible. As a reminder, the tile was made here in Portland by Pratt + Larson in a custom blue and white, with a light gray accent color. It makes me so unbelievably happy, and I feel like the luckiest person in the world to sit in here and work.
It was installed by Level Plane Tile and Stone and they did an incredible job that required a lot of math, precision, and experience. We did 3/16th” grout lines, with a light gray epoxy grout. We used 8×8 tile (that is their biggest size in porcelain tile) with 1×8 pencil tile, 2×8 brick, 2×2 squares, and triangles. It was very important to us to cut the diamond in half, which affected the math along the border (making the border not the same all the way around) but it looks awesome. By the way, we didn’t have time to mop or clean it very well, so some of the little paint lines will be gone.
The windows are custom from Sierra Pacific (and the sashes still need to be painted – they are only primed right now, long story). They are SO PRETTY it’s unbelievable. Double-paned, simulated divided lights primed on the inside and aluminum clad on the exterior.
The light fixtures and outlet covers/switchplates are all unlacquered brass from Rejuvenation (Rose city fittings, with the deco glass shade) and I can’t wait for them to patina (which might take a while, but will be worth it).
We added the skylights late in the game and am SO GLAD we did. They add so much soft light to this room and to the living room (which was a huge goal of ours). This is a north-facing room so no harsh light ever comes in through them (it’s also west-facing which means sunglasses for dinner sometimes :)). We didn’t really need the light filtering shades in them but am also glad we have them.
A lot of people are asking how it feels to finally be in the house and it really is surreal. I have a lot of emotions, stemming from absolute elation (some rooms are so perfect IMHO that I wouldn’t change a thing), unbelievable gratefulness to the point that I must be dreaming, all the way down to some slight regret and disappointment (a couple of rooms just don’t sing the way I want them to yet). I also need to probably check myself into some sort of institution made specifically for design content creators – You know, help for those of us who publicly document our own homes, showcase all the ups and downs, please a lot of partners who are putting large budgets in their hands, all with high expectations while also making a home that we love and works for our own family needs…I’m not complaining at all and I LOVE my job so much and am incredibly privileged to be able to do this and have this home, but it can be very, very, very, very stressful at times and living inside a regret can be embarrassing and make you feel ashamed and dumb. Brian thinks I’m NUTS and he might be right, but here’s my analogy:
My Wedding Dress Analogy
It’s like I’m a famous fashion designer, designing and sewing my own wedding dress for my very public wedding (think Bachelor style, on ABC, etc). It’s not just a dress, it’s not just for my family, and it’s not just for “a day”. But I haven’t done a wedding dress before (design a farm, in Oregon) and I certainly haven’t designed anything like this dress for myself. I don’t know why this home feels more stressful to me than the mountain house, our LA house, or the first Portland project. I have my theories, but for whatever reason, I’m putting this crazy pressure on myself to not have any regrets and yet I do. Maybe it’s that I just published my book about “design rules”, a title I didn’t even want for this exact reason, and maybe I feel like a hack. It just became such a massive renovation with so many decisions at the same time. Back to the dress, this wedding dress needs to represent me and be really special, but in a lot of ways I want to just be really comfortable and casual so I can let loose on the dance floor and just have fun. I want a fun wedding that isn’t stressful, but after our wedding, this dress doesn’t go in a closet, no. It will be in a fashion museum, photographed til the end of time and people will stare at every. single. stitch. So right now I’m regretting that I did ivory instead of silver thread on the cuffs, and I wish I had lowered the neckline by 2 cm to create a different volume in the shoulders. Dumb stuff. To most people, it’s a beautiful dress. You might think that I’m being crazy for wanting to change some things, but to me – I guess I just really really need it to be as close to perfect as possible. It’s new. It was JUST DONE. So having to change something just sucks. As I started to have some of these fears and regrets a few weeks ago (as rooms started to get revealed after painting plastic came down) I had two options – 1. Stop the work, convince Brian something needed to change, troubleshoot the change QUICKLY, and live through REAL construction for weeks and weeks. Or 2. Be fine with it for now. Move in, slow down, decorate for a bit, finish the rooms that are SO CLOSE and then if I still think that something needs to change, take the time to make the right decision. I need a clear head and some perspective and I just can’t make another “permanent” decision right now. I feel like I’m off my game and I’m just full of self-doubt. So for now I’m going to try to enjoy the wedding, focus on the things that turned out even better than I imagined (the kitchen! the mudroom! the primary bath!), and enjoy living here for a bit as they wrap up the punch list. As I tell my kids every single day, “there is a solve for every problem” and per usual you guys will join me in that part of the process, too. So that’s how I’m doing. And thank you for reading. xx
*Photos by Kaitlin Green