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Building a home, week 3: exterior color, interior wiring, shopping for counters

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This week was busy with a lot of decisions being made behind-the-scenes while other changes were taking place on the job site. Here's the progress we made on our new home in week three of this ongoing series, Building a Home:

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April 13: We arrived at the house to see that installation of the Dryvit on the dormers had been completed. We only chose the color for the Dryvit on Friday, a mocha shade, so to have it completed by Sunday was wonderful and it looks great. Happily, we noticed that the front door hardware was also installed. It is incredible how these little signs of progress have the power to make you so happy.

April 14: We want to install a wood countertop on the perimeter kitchen cabinets so I spent some time reviewing wood samples I ordered from Craft-Art Wood Countertops. We have a distressed American Cherry countertop in our current home and I love it, but don't necessarily want to repeat it in the new color scheme. Instead, I ordered samples of wenge, an exotic wood, along with three types of black walnut in planks: traditional black walnut, distressed black walnut and what Craft-Art calls Rustic Black Walnut, which includes knots. We're leaning toward the Rustic Black Walnut.

April 15: Met with Ron Abney of Unlimited Home Theater to discuss the plans for wiring the house for phone, cable, Internet and surround sound. We approved a plan for some basic wiring and installing our existing surround sound system in the basement. Stayed at the house for a meeting with K Brothers Fence of Orland Park, Ill., to get a quote on a privacy fence to keep our dogs enclosed in the yard. We were thrilled to find that they offer a fence in a sage green, which we hope will be the exterior color of the house.

Speaking of sage green, while at the house, we looked at five new paint colors builder Steve Lecas of Gander Builders put on the exterior wall. I'm amazed that many of the so-called sage greens we chose from last week's trip to Sherwin-Williams look like battleship gray on the brick exterior. It took just moments to decide on Sherwin-Williams 7734 Olive Grove. The Boral® PastelCote® masonry coating will be tinted to match this shade.

April 16: After much anticipation, we finally received the estimate from White Eagle Custom Solutions, Inc., a custom cabinet manufacturer in Plainfield, Ill. We had made a lot of changes to the original cabinet order, so we had a lot to review. The result: only two hours of sleep as I mulled over our priorities into the early morning hours. Ultimately, we decided to drop the idea of built-in cabinetry in the mudroom. We have furniture that can fill that need and on our many travels and trips to antique shows, I'm sure we'll find something to fill the space. Otherwise, we made a few tweaks to the estimate and sit back again, while we wait for the revised costs.

April 17: Susan Lecas of Gander Builders and I took a field trip to Norstone in Crete, Ill. to look for countertop materials for the kitchen island and bathroom vanities. We have decided to go with wood on the perimeter kitchen cabinets but would like something different as a focal point for the island and I'd like to keep historically true to the home. I like the idea of green slate, so we met up with Kathy Vescovi of TTS Granite Inc. at Norstone to look at several slabs. I found one I liked right away. Then, we went to TTS Granite's showroom in Steger, Ill. There, we found a couple of great options for the shared upstairs bathroom top, a marble top for the master bath and a small piece of LG's Snowstorm white quartz for the laundry room sink. Which pieces we choose, will ultimately come down to price. In the meantime, we sit back and wait for the estimate.

April 18: Vescovi of TTS Granite stopped by our home early in the morning to take photos of the Carrara marble vanity top in our current master bathroom. It looks like a vintage washstand and I'd like that look replicated in the countertop in the new master bathroom. Later, we stopped by the house and discovered the the mason is nearly finished bricking the entire house. Next up will be the garage.

To read the next installment of the article, click here.

To read this step-by-step account of building a house, week by week, click here.

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