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Building a home, week 2: Choosing cabinets, floors and tile

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There wasn't much work done on the house this week because everything came to a halt when we bought it so that we could customize it to our style and preferences. However, while the house was relatively quiet, elsewhere there were meetings and more meetings, interspersed with many Internet searches for products to go into the house.

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Here’s how it all played out in this ongoing weekly series, Building a Home:

April 5: Met with our builder, Steve Lecas, owner of Gander Builders at the construction site. We walked through the house and discussed adding access to the attic for additional storage. Confirmed with Lecas that we prefer a more traditional fireplace in the great room instead of the linear model that he had already installed. Lecas was more than happy to accommodate us. Ultimately, we decided to keep his linear, transitional model, Heat & Glo’s Cosmo, but install it in the basement instead of the great room.

Next stop was to see Alan Rutherford at Southwest Fireplace in Frankfort, Ill. where we chose a very traditional fireplace for the great room. We settled on Heat & Glo’s Cerona.

April 7: Met up with Lecas and his wife, Susan, who works as the designer at Gander Builders. We drove to White Eagle Custom Solutions, a custom cabinet manufacturer in Plainfield, Ill., to choose the cabinetry for the house. Because I like simple lines with a vintage look, we decided to install shaker cabinets throughout the house except for the first floor bathroom. For that one, we chose a vanity with a recessed panel and slight bevel. Not decided was whether we will install overlay or inset cabinets in the kitchen. It is a big decision with inset cabinets costing slightly more per opening than overlay, yet I can't deny that I love the look. To help us decide, we will have the cabinets priced both ways. For photos of some of our choices, please refer to the slideshow.

After the cabinet meeting, we stopped at the job site to discuss how the basement might be finished. We discussed a few options for where storage areas would be placed, an exercise room and how we might configure the living area.

Back at our home, I met with a potential realtor about putting our house on the market. We looked at comparables, which was very unsettling. When you’ve put a lot into your home and it is being compared to a short sale or a foreclosure, you, as the seller, are at a disadvantage; instead of your investment raising the value of the neighboring homes, your home value is pulled down. With this news, we decided to table any discussion of listing the home with a realtor until a later date. While we realize the value of selling the home decorated as it is, we are also contemplating listing the house after we move out. More on this topic to come.

April 9: Started the day with an early meeting with Lecas to review the budget. We’re making a lot of choices while still waiting for the estimates to come in, which leaves us in the dark when it comes to figuring out the budget. After that we met with Lecas' technical guy who wires the house for cable, Internet and surround sound. An hour later we met with a designer from Beary Landscaping to discuss ideas for the front and the backyard.

April 10: Went over to the house to check out exterior colors. The plan called to paint the brick exterior in Boral® PastelCote®, a masonry coating that creates a specially textured brick. We selected what we thought were three shades of sage green. Only one turned out to be a real sage green. Seeing colors in the sun and the shade really makes the decision easy. When choosing a paint color for something as important as the exterior of your note, the major rule is this: never trust swatches, particularly those on your computer monitor.

In the afternoon, met with Suburban Landscaping to get another quote on fixing up the front and backyards. Later that night, we went tile shopping at American Import Tiles in Orland Park, Ill. There, we found some very cost efficient tiles for the sunroom, mudroom and Jack-and-Jill bathroom.

April 11: Visited several tile shops at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. First, we stopped at Granite and Marble Resources, where we asked the sale representative to price out five-inch rift and quarter sawn white oak planks to be finished on site for our first and second floor. The rift and quarter sawn white oak will give us the vintage look we are after. Next, we walked across the street to Virginia Tile, where we made a few more selections for bathroom shower surrounds and flooring. Finally, we stopped in at and Dal-Tile to assure ourselves we were not missing something.

We made a lot of decisions this week; now we wait for the quotes to come in. To read the next installment, click here.

To read this series from the beginning, click here.

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