Monday, February 20, 2012

Our (DIY'd) Home for 10 - Question 4c

"What steps did you take to make it functional for a large family?"...Continued... Again!

Materials meet Family-Life... and Contributions aren't all about Work

Materials/Atmosphere:  I had facts of life with which to deal... We have 8 active kids of varying ages.  We have 2 large dogs.  We live in a rainy climate with a yard with a dirt driveway that runs up in front of the house, meaning all feet coming inside, whether from playing on the lawn or coming from a car, traipse through dirt, and often mud.  

We certainly teach our kids to be careful and conscientious, and we take precautions like using door mats, etc., but I never want material possessions, including our home, to take priority over relationship.  I want to encourage fun, adventure, and outdoor play (and work), not just scream about footprints, and worry about delicate materials or objects.  

The materials that went into this house needed to be tough, hopefully, easy-clean, and user-friendly.  I wouldn't be asking my 90-year-old grandparents to remove their shoes, and I wasn't putting in floors that would require removing and retying young children's shoes multiple times a day.  Some people are comfortable with that, but not me.

This was the case with all types of flooring, counters, etc.  --If it couldn't take a bit of unintentional abuse, or if it was so expensive, we'd worry about it getting used, it just wasn't for us.  Paint had to be scrubbable, finishes had to be water-resistant.  And, obviously, everything had to be 'affordably priced'...

...But not cheap.  We believe in choosing quality materials that will last.  No use saving money at the outset, only to have repair and replacement costs come up in just a few years.   Our sweat and muscle should only be applied to something that will last and serve us well. 

I knew we'd want a home that we could dress up and be proud of, but yet was, more importantly, homey, welcoming, and comfortable for all who live here and all who visit... A "Barefoot House."  Not where one is required to remove their shoes, but where one is comfortable in every situation.... Where it lives like a still-nice-looking favorite sweater, or pair of jeans in which you look fantastic, but are totally comfortable...

I'm sure there are varying definitions of a "Barefoot House," but I like this one, written by "Oruboris" on a discussion on the Gardenweb Building a Home Forum

"Having a dress [or undress] code seems the antithesis of a barefoot lifestyle....
"I'd say the true hallmark of a barefoot home is a feeling of comfort and relaxation, both physical and psychological, that is low maintenence without being shabby. It asks little and gives much, it welcomes, it is genuinely gracious but never grand."                                                                                                    

Family Involvement/Input:

Keeping cost and durability in mind, we still cared about look and the color;  something that reflected our family style and personalities.  That often meant looking a little longer and further, but it was a labor of love and a privilege.  I didn't get the blessing of choosing everything new and to my taste and design too often... ever... so I wanted to get it 'right.'

In writing about planning this house, I've used a lot of "I."  True, I did the basic plan, and felt a lot of responsibility.  But making it into a true family project was most important in making the house ultimately functional for our large family.  As I made the many, many changes and adjustments in plans, I asked the family for feedback along the way... Often more frequently than they would've liked!  I made quite a few of the color and materials choices, but always with kids by my side, and with the OK from Hubby.  As you've seen in the building photos, everyone did a share of the work of construction, but all got to participate in the fun stuff, too...

Without a lot of strong opinion about decor choices, Hubby was happy to leave most up to me.  He did, however, love the raised, 5-panel interior door style more than I loved the flat, 5-panel door style, so we went with his preference.  
I had also planned on classic, round knobs, but he'd always loved the egg-shaped. Wanting both of us to feel it was our home, and be able to look at certain things and be excited about our decisions, we used his knob choice, too. 

He had been extremely impressed with Marmoleum Click flooring during a home show excursion, so that drove the flooring choice for the kitchen, back hall, and sewing room... It's easy-care, comfy, durable, and DIY-friendly.  So in that case, he chose the material, and I chose the colors.

Princess Artiste was a main source of thoughtful opinions.  At age 11, she was around the most, and was great company on many trips to tile shops, etc., not only helping watch younger siblings Eager and CuddleBunny as I looked, but lending her artistic eye and thoughts as I needed.  She was the one most willing to help... Or too nice to not!

Installation was a
"Mom & kids"group project.
I really wanted to do a 'tile rug' in our entry, and I let her choose the tile. I had seen intricate patterns, similar to Persian rugs or quilts, as we visited every tile shop or source in the area.   I couldn't determine which I liked best, and tossed the decision to her. 

Princess Artiste wisely elected to keep things simple.  She had fallen in love with penny round tiles early in our search, and was glad to return to them.  

I was slightly afraid they might clash with the also red-brown Brazilian Cherry hardwood floors, but they were an exact match!  It was meant to be.

Princess Bossy, also interested in design and interiors, helped choose the upstairs carpeting, and had free rein (within budget limits) for the library and the main bathroom.  

She chose to paint the library with a deep brown, similar to the color of chocolate syrup.  She kept the room in a rich vein by choosing a chandelier for the central lighting.  

She went a whole other direction with the lighting in her bathroom after falling in love with a moose-adorned fixture. She explained that the whimsical animals perched over her mirror would make any grumpy morning into a smiley one.  It was a little more expensive than I'd planned, but I thought the promise of a cheerful morning countenance from a girl, like her mother, who is decidedly not a morning person, would be priceless to all of us!  She chose the countertop and deep gray-green paint to coordinate with the fixture, giving that bathroom a lodgy, but elegant look.

Princess Sassy made the selections for the upstairs bath she, her younger sisters, and Prince Stoic shared when we moved in.  She aimed for a blue-green color scheme, with Beluga Formica, pale gray walls (BM Gray Horse), a combination of glass tiles in teal, gray and light blue.  With the chrome faucet and more traditional polished nickel light fixture, the room is light, clean, and a nice twist on a Craftsman, period style.

Sassy also chose the fun turquoise blue (Ralph Lauren Emporer) that brightens our laundry room.  Thankfully, it was a great transition from this bathroom, to which it's connected, and we were able to find vinyl flooring that went nicely with both.

Prince Inventive had control of the boys' bathroom.  He chose a masculine blackish, grid-patterned Wilsonart laminate with linear tiles to match.  The vanity knobs repeat the grid pattern, 
but the frog knobs for the linen cabinet were Prince CuddleBunny's fun addition.  

The kids were able to choose their own bedroom wall colors.  The younger boys put their heads together, choosing an "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach, and going with the taupish gray (Ralph Lauren Manor Grey) they had and liked in their bedroom in our last house.  

The girls had a bad outing with the seemingly spring-like Behr English Meadow, which turned into a garish green when reflecting back on itself from all four walls.  Second time was the charm, when they settled on the softer and bluer Behr Gray Morning.  

The dark red was a great backdrop
for Prince Stoic-made guitars
We were a little surprised when our staid Stoic chose Behr's Cinnamon Cherry for his room!  It was fun to see the stronger, brighter part of his personality reflected in his surroundings.

Of course, this involvement helped them all feel all the more that this was truly their house, too.  It was great to see them take ownership, and proudly point out the colors and/or materials they had a hand in choosing.  Their investment in work and input help them take pride in our home and, hopefully, makes them want to continue to keep it in like-new condition.

In the planning stages, the hope was to create Our Home for Ten (RHome410), but the result is Our Home by Ten.  :-) 

Thanks again, Ellie of  Beauty 4 Ashes, for asking these questions about our house and inspiring this whole series!

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