We visited the house once the drywall was complete and I was itching to see what it would look like with cabinetry. I’d been especially picky about the kitchen, and I was nervous, hoping it would be what I wanted it to be. I didn’t have to wait long. A few weeks later we got pictures of the carpentry progress:
Our railing was installed (perfect!) and the window and door trim was up and painted!
Our laundry room cabinets were in place! Looking good! I’m already imagining the open shelves we’ll put above…
The ensuite vanity looked perfect, and I was glad to see the scale of the hardware on the cabinets.
But the pictures that elicited squeals of delight: That pretty ole’ kitchen:
That is what I had pictured in my head. I can’t wait to cook in there. But also, I never want to get that place dirty. Ha ha. Dilemma.
(Pictures from Warman Homes)
I’ve been posting pictures of our house-building progress… but partly to build suspense (dah dah DAAAAH!!!), and partly to get back to more pretty/less construction-y stuff, today we’re taking a break to share my direction for the dining room design. It has a long weird side story about giant gold French-ish dining chairs owned by an Iranian mafia family in Saskatoon, which you can choose to read or not.
Also, I refer a little bit to the kitchen design, which you can read about here.
For many moons I’ve had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted for our dining room. It went a little something like this:
As I perused my inspiration pictures it became surprisingly formulaic: big, rustic farm table + drippy chandelier + Louis chairs. Over Christmas we ordered the Norden table from IKEA. Sean and I both love it, and it fits the simple farmhouse look I wanted. The chandelier pictured above is, in fact, the chandelier we are having installed in the house. But the chairs… there’s a story there…
SIDE STORY ABOUT THE CHAIRS:
I adore Louis chairs. I hunted for some Louis-esque dining chairs for months and months. I convinced Sean that this was what he wanted too. Then finally one day I found a dining set with some oval back Louis-ish chairs. They were a bit more ornate than the chair pictured above, not to mention they had gold-leafed frames and gold damask fabric. A bit over the top. But I figured with some neutral upholstery and a fresh lick of paint they’d be tamed. I convinced Sean that these were THE chairs, and they were even worth a trip to Saskatoon to retrieve. I emailed the seller and finagled a price that was reasonable (though maybe a bit high considering the work I’d need to put into them. But I didn’t care. My plan was coming together. Mwa Ha Ha…) So we planned to go pick them up on one of our trips up to Warman to work on a few house details.
We arrived at the address we’d been given by the seller. It did not appear to be that of a psycho killer or drug dealer. Yesss. (Though, in retrospect maaaay have been the home of someone connected to a foreign mob. Like, seriously.) We went to the front door and were ushered by a somewhat tired-looking 30-ish woman into a house that was, on all accounts, normal. Except for the furniture. Every piece of furniture in the front living room and adjacent dining room was the same ornately scroll-y sort-of-French-but-not-really antique style. And all of it was gold, with the coordinating gold damask upholstery. It looked like maybe the Palace of Versailles Theatre Company had stored some relics in a mid-80’s split-level in Saskatoon. Who were these people? There were all kinds of crazy looking tchotchkes and eery religious pictures on the wall too. We told her we had come to buy, and pick up the dining chairs.
Through a thick accent and some broken English she ushered us in to the chairs and I was aware of a rowdy crew of boys wrestling in the basement. She snapped at them to be quiet. I sat on the chair. Hmmm. It was pretty ornate. And big. But I convinced myself I could make it work. She began to apologize for the crack on the gold dining table. ”Oh, we’re not buying the table.” I said. She didn’t like that. I said, “So we agreed on $_ _ per chair”, and I began to rustle around in my purse for my wallet. ”No.” She said. “$_ _ _.” She looked offended and appalled at my stated price. We tried to discuss this, but there was a language barrier and some piece of information obviously missing. And what was her accent, anyways? Russian? Iranian? I’m pretty decent with accents, but I could not figure it out.
She proceeded to call her husband and have a rather irritated conversation about how much they would sell the chairs for. I have no doubt the set cost a fortune originally (it was obviously custom). But it was not worth that to me. I figured out through their conversation that they had (hired?) someone else to post the ad online. And she was not happy with that person. And that person was the one who had agreed to my price. Not her. The phone conversation ended and she curtly informed me they would only sell the chairs for her price. Ohhhh Kaaaay… So as quickly and politely as I could, I said we would not be buying the chairs and left. Sean and I got down the street and into the Jeep and laughed. What had just happened? That was so weird. We couldn’t wrap our brains around who these people were, and how they planned to sell that crazy furniture for that price in Saskatoon. On the way home we figured they really weren’t THE chairs anyways, and they would have taken a lot of work.
But now Sean was really stuck on the idea of a Louis chair too. He began doggedly deal hunting online. He’s really good at that. And he reeeally loves me. He came across this GREAT chair from Structube:
“Is this kind of what you want?” He asked,
“Ummm, like exactly what I want.”
It was on sale for half price (on an already decent price) putting it near enough to our budget that he was OK with it. Yesss.
However the nearest Structube store is in Edmonton. (Darn you, Saskatchewan, and your limited selection of cool stores. You’re lucky I love you.) We looked at every possible way of getting them here - taking a road trip, shipping via a courier - but everything ended up being pretty pricey and not all that practical. Gah.
So I stewed for a while. Kept pointlessly checking Kijiji and UsedRegina.
Finally it was time to choose another style of chair. Goodbye Louis. The dream was beautiful. Then I remembered this picture, originally from Elle Decor:
(Image via Remodelista)
Wicker. Huh. Did I like it?
It was tempting.
If they were outdoor chairs I could take them outside and hose them down.
It had a much more laid back vibe - and I liked that. I want people to feel at ease in my home, not like it’s fussy.
It would probably be more comfortable.
That’s a good point, Justine.
And, wait - how great would they look with a ticking stripe seat cushion?
Oh wait, there are rattan chairs for $40 at IKEA?
My husband gave me a weird look over the suggestion of wicker chairs, but when I showed him a few inspiration pictures and the price he was heartily on board.
Here’s the chair we’re looking at getting:
(AGEN chair, IKEA)
Sean wished for something more greyish, like the Elle Decor shot, and I concur. I may see what DIY-ing I may have up my sleeve once we’ve had the chairs for a while.
(Home of Thea Beasley featured on Design Chaser)
But I’m totally digging the casual vibe of a wicker dining chair.
—-END OF CHAIR SIDE STORY—-
The drapery fabric in the inspiration board above is merely a suggestion. I’ve loved that Bethe fabric from Tonic Living for a long time, and I definitely want pattern in the dining room since the adjacent living room will have solid drapes. But I’m totally open to other fabrics, and may want some blue to draw in the blue from the nearby kitchen island. I really like this one:
(From Tonic Living)
I also like the idea of this navy ikat:
(from Tonic Living)
And this one may have the right balance of light and dark. Plus it has birds. I like the birds.
I’m feeling even better about the direction of my dining room now. It’s a little more casual, cool, beachy/farmhouse. Sometimes it’s nice when buying crazy gold chairs from the wife of a Russian mobster doesn’t work out.
What do you think? HAve any of you tried the Agen chair as a dining chair?
After receiving the first set of progress pictures on our house we were thrilled with how quickly our house had been closed in. A few weeks later we received more pictures of the speedy progress. Here are a few:
(Siding is up!)
(Nice to see that overhang and imagine sitting on our veranda one day!)
(Future kitchen… can you imagine it?)
(Dining room in front of the french doors and the living room under the 11’ ceilings - all drywalled!)
Stay tuned for more updates…
(Pictures from Warman Homes)
We’ve known a few people who’ve built houses. They usually post pictures on Facebook: “Hey! The hole is dug!” and a long while later: “It’s framed!” and months later they post a status about waiting and waiting as they’re completion date is moved AGAIN. Now, not everyone has this experience, but we’ve known a few. But we’re building an RTM (which I wrote about yesterday, here.) Our experience was a little different:
I remember Sean and I were driving somewhere and discussing our house. ”I wonder if they were able to start our house yet? Didn’t they say they were supposed to start it last week?” Then in the middle of our conversation we got an email from our salesperson, Courtenay with pictures of the progress.
As we waited for the pictures to download we imagined a stick frame.
Um. Wait. What?
Yup. They started our house:
There it was - our pretty farm house - framed, closed in, windows, doors, before we knew it. Crazy.
(The back of the house)
(Our side mudroom entrance)
So freaking exciting!!
(Pictures from Warman Homes)
Our farmhouse dream is finally coming true this year. (You can read about it here, here, and here, for a start.) Pretty amazing. As I talk about our building experience people can get a bit confused, though, so I’m gonna’ fill you in on what I know about building an RTM.
Almost the whole way along we’ve planned on moving a house onto the farm, as opposed to building on site. There are generally three types of new pre-built homes you can move (As I understand from our 7, or so, years of researching this.) The home is constructed completely at a factory or yard site, then moved to its location:
- Manufactured or Mobile Home - this is the term generally used (we found) for what most people call a trailer. This is your long, narrow, one-piece building. But don’t immediately assume we’re talking white-trash trailer park. We looked at some that could cost almost as much as our house. You can get pretty much whatever you want within the 16, 18, or 20-foot wide options, and you can even get them with full drywall or put them on basements. They are generally built so that they can be easily moved again, though. We considered this in the early years as a temporary plan until we had more money.
(A manufactured home from Grandeur Housing in Manitoba)
- RTM Home - stands for “Ready To Move”. An RTM is essentially a one-piece pre-built home that can be moved by trucks and trailers. There’s a lot more flexibility on the dimensions, and customization. And an RTM is a house, not a trailer. (And there are a lot of construction differences between a mobile home and RTM that I won’t even pretend to understand.) We are building an RTM because it combines our two desires of a real house with the most efficient moving costs.
(An RTM Home being moved onto a basement foundation by Nelson Homes from Alberta)(Fully-built RTM home being transported by Neufeld Building Movers for Warman Homes.)(Fully-built RTM home being transported by Neufeld Building Movers for Warman Homes.)
- Modular Home - Modular homes are also houses, but come in several pieces. (Actually there are also some condo/apartment buildings that are being built in modular form now, too.) One home we considered for a while came in a front and back piece (both of which come completely finished inside) that were attached on site then the roof was built on top. This required a crane for assembling, however, and that put the moving costs out of budget for us.(Diagram of how a modular home is assembled from Grandeur Housing in Manitoba.)(A modular home being assembled by Grandeur Housing)
Here’s why we decided to go the RTM route:
- Though our farm is pretty close to the city, and a site build by a conventional builder may have been doable, in rural areas it can be a pain to find a reliable builder who’s willing to come out and build on site.
- An RTM is usually an incredibly efficient way to build a home. The builder keeps all the trades on staff and they come every day to the same factory site to work on a number of houses at a time. This obviously seriously improves the time frame and can also improve the quality when there is this consistency. We’ve had people working on our house every single day since construction began.
- Supplies are ordered in bulk and kept in a controlled environment, making the construction more cost effective.
- The houses (made by a good builder) are built well - they are made strong to handle the move, and they’re built quickly (so they aren’t sitting vulnerable to rain, wind or snow in an unfinished state).
- A good RTM builder can completely customize your home.
- The costs stay pretty controlled with an RTM builder, meaning that it will stay on budget.
Now there are obviously some shoddy RTM builders (we ran across a few) and also some non-RTM builders who can do a lot of these same things - but for us an RTM made the most sense.
We looked at a LOT of floor plans and a LOT of builders and our research essentially brought us down to two builders whom we felt were the most professional, efficient, and experienced:
(You’ll also see from the pictures above another builder, Grandeur Housing, who we seriously considered when we looked at a modular home several years ago. Everything we saw from them was really good, but we never got far enough along to visit their facility or work with their staff, so I can’t say definitively that I would recommend them. But if you’re looking into builders, I would definitely say they’re worth a close look.)
We worked closely with Nelson for a while, looking at building with them. We drove out to High River to visit a show home version of a house Sean loved. I would unequivocally recommend them - super professional and quality building. I was actually pretty sad when we decided we weren’t building with them.
But Warman Homes made me feel not so sad. They too, are experienced (they built Sean’s parents’ house nearly 20 years ago!), super professional, and great quality. Our experience with them has been amazing. In the end we found a house that exceeded what I thought we could have that fit comfortably within our budget. Plus Sean’s family experience working with them, plus a long warranty plan, plus the nearness to the farm (only a couple hours to drive and visit our house!)… we decided this was the way to go.
People assume that you need to have a “package plan” with an RTM - a set floor plan and a set design scheme. But we actually customized our floor plan based on someone else’s customization that we really liked. Then we smushed together the floor plan from that house and the exterior from another house, and changed a few more things, and… Ta Da! Our house! Besides that, a good builder will have a decent range of finishes to choose from. And in some areas (like lighting, hardware, etc.) I asked for the supplier names so I could look up even more options online. My salesperson, Courtenay was awesome; getting excited about our plans and being OK with my super-specific vision for every single detail.
If you’re not super specific and don’t even know where to start they can help you with that too, and you can certainly select from pre-set plans. But for me, the level of customization we were able to achieve is so exciting - I really feel like we’re getting our dream house.
As soon as they started building we began receiving updates and pictures from Courtenay every few weeks (which I’ll begin to show you tomorrow!) Plus we’ve driven up to see the house in process. We cannot believe how quickly and beautifully it’s taking shape.
When the house is delivered I will certainly be posting about it with plenty of pictures! Our house will arrive by a truck and be placed onto a basement and foundation that we’ve had constructed by contractors here. The movers will secure the house to the foundation, and then also come back to touch up paint and repair any nicks or scrapes from the move. Warman has a pretty good follow-up plan, which is something to look for in an RTM builder.
So there’s my plug for RTM’s. Let me know if you have questions!
OK… and one sneak peek of our house in the building process:
(Photo from Warman Homes of OUR HOUSE [!!!!] being built in their yard in February)
I was smitten with this bathroom makeover when I saw it in March’s House and Home. Such a great balance of gorgeous and simple, classic and trendy. You can see more about it by following the links or reading about Mandy Milks’ renovation process here.