When we built our home eight years ago, we never intended to be living in it this many years later. We were planning to build, finish the interior ourselves (which we did), and sell within a year or two, and do it over again a few more times. That plan changed within the first year of living here, and even though we built our home for someone else to love in the end, we fell in love with the location and privacy we have here. We knew some of the design decisions we were making had to be those that the majority of buyers would want in a home. At the same time, however, it was crucial for us to make choices that we would also love and that would be statement-making. Our home is 1700 square feet, on one level – so the footprint is on a bit of a smaller scale. Taking the size into account, coupled with the fact that we’d intended to sell our home right away, our decisions had to be frugal and defy the constraints that come with a smaller build. Today I’ll be walking you through our favorite design choices that we made when we built this home. Choices that helped us save money, help give the illusion of a larger space and choices that are still as relevant today as they were eight years ago. Let’s get started! *Affiliate links are provided in this post for your shopping convenience – see my full disclosure policy here.I’m starting off with one of my favorite features that we chose in the design process. Our home’s architecture is that of an east coast traditional style, and has a heritage feel to it. Naturally, we chose to use finishes inside that would compliment the look and style of our home on the exterior. It’s very important to create continuity throughout your home from the outside in. Our home is an open concept design, which we maximized on even further with details that help to create a more grand, more open feel. We used these traditional-style transoms in the front rooms of our home, as well as between the two spaces. We also made sure to widen the doorways as much as possible, to help visually enlarge the space, and let in as much light as possible as well. The front of our house is south facing, and we get a ton of natural light that pours in here, which helps create that feeling even more. Painting all of the trim work throughout our entire home the same color also helps with that continuity I was talking about. We used a bright, crisp white, Ultra Pure White by Behr.
We recently made over our entryway with a new rug, mirror, and fresh coat of paint on our console table. It helped to brighten and visually enlarge this room even more. Even though we have a smaller layout, it was important to me to have a decent size entryway, with that open feeling that would also provide sight lines into the house. An entryway is the first thing people read when they come into your home, and it should tell your home’s story, and what is to come next. It’s your chance to make that first impression and wow people as the enter. You can see this resent makeover of our entryway here.
One of the most important design decisions in here was choosing to forego upper cabinets on the back wall and create a focal point with the custom range hood and flanking windows. We installed counter to ceiling white subway tile to create depth, add visual interest and texture, and again, make a statement.We built the open shelves next to the sink (where I want to add the mirrored cupboards) to bring in some added character to the space and I love having a space to display my collections. You can read about it here.Having that back wall without cabinets was a design decision that is not for everyone, that’s for sure. However I wanted to create a traditional kitchen that was atypical, and transport you to another era. I had an old-world-meets-modern-day vision fort this kitchen! We have ample cupboard space and our island holds all of our dishes and flatware, as well as trash and recycling and the microwave. It is one hard working island!
In our living room, or great room, which is central in our home, we wanted to make sure this space felt airy and bright since we spend most of our time here. The back of our home is north facing, and we don’t get much direct sunlight. We wanted to a make a big statement with as many windows as possible so we added the large transoms at the top as well to maximize on the height of the room.It was a small upgrade, but with a minimal investment, we have the statement we were looking for and this space gets great light year round, which is exactly what we wanted. By the way, I get a lot of questions about why we have no windows treatments. We have a very private yard, especially in the warmer months when the trees are filled in. I love having bare windows to maximize on the views of our foliage outside. We are in a very wooded area and we’re lucky to have so many trees to look at year round, it’s gorgeous!Building on the idea of creating a living room that feels as big and as bright as possible, we chose to raise the ceilings in this space from nine to eleven feet. We have nine feet everywhere else, and we realized during the planning stage that it would be a worthwhile investment to raise this ceiling – and it allowed for the taller doors at the back as well.Having the height in here makes a huge difference in the feel of the room and it also allowed us to make a big statement with the bookshelves we built after we moved in as well. You can read all about these shelves here. You won’t believe the difference in the room once we added them! Taking advantage of the height in here was a key factor, and makes the room feel even larger than before. I’m still talking about this room because it really is the central gathering space of our home (aside from the kitchen of course!) and the focal point of our home. We focused much of our energy in here to create a room with wow factor. Another detail we added was the double chandeliers. For a room this large – 15 x 23 feet, it needed the two lights for balance as well. I’m big on symmetry and that was another reason I wanted both lights. I love the way they frame our shelves as well. It was nothing to add a second light to the electrical plan, and again, the second fixture was a small investment…with big impact!Our home is 1700 square feet, which is not small, but it’s not considered large either. It was integral when we were in the design phase to create as much vertical space as possible and again, to give the illusion of larger, more open rooms. Opening up doorways, adding transoms, raising ceilings, tiling walls, double chandeliers, it all makes a huge difference and helps to sell a home as well, which was our original intent. We wanted to create a home that would capture your attention from the first moment you stepped through the door. With the small investments that we made, the rewards are that much bigger in the end, and the added resale value will be that much better too. I hope you enjoyed this post and if you’re building or remodelling, I know some of these design choices can help you too! Thanks for reading with me, I always appreciate your time! xo