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House designed by HOUZZ!
Tyler Smail
January 13, 2013 in Design Dilemma
Hello everyone! I am currently in escrow on a home here in northern California. The house needs a lot of work and my girlfriend and I absolutely love this website, so we thought it would be fun if we let the Houzz.com community make all of the design/remodeling decisions on our new home! We're talking everything from living room to playroom, kitchen to bathroom. Even the outdoor pool area and detached shop are open for input. Updated pictures to come upon close of escrow, but to give you an idea of what we're working with, I've included a few photos below.

A bit about the house: It sits in the middle of 6 wooded acres. 3600 sq ft 4 bed/3bath. Not included in the footage is a finished playroom/exercise room (300-400sq ft). It was custom built in 1989 by a retired engineer, so it has a unique split level layout.

The plan is to post 1 project/room at a time. We will show pictures of how it looks right now and then open it up to the HOUZZ community for suggestions. The post with the most likes will be the design we choose for that project/room.

To start, here are a few pics of the house as it looks today.

We would like to start with the red dining room pictured here. It has brand new hardwood floors that aren't bad, but everything else can be improved upon.

We are looking forward to all of your great suggestions!

Tyler & Vera
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
Okay Tyler, here we go!
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 10:14AM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
what are the two of you wanting (wiliing) to spend, and what lenght of time are you thinking of investing
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 10:16AM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
So do I have this right, you will let the 'viewing public' choose your design concept?
2 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 10:25AM
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E Klo
Does the furniture pictured belong to you, or the previous owner? What is your preferred style preference? I like the idea of letting us vote on the best idea - but you have to LIVE in this space.. so your preferences definitely need to be incorporated into the ideas your choosing from!
2 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 10:34AM
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Ramona
You are very lucky. We need an idea of your budget for sure. We need to know if you are willing/ready to make any structural changes. Off hand, the windows look small for the size of the rooms.
2 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 10:41AM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
this seems like a train wreck, waiting to happen. With the many spaces and rooms, this project should have an overall plan. With srtong direction, HOUZZ is great for discussions, but to ask the community to design and plan the house,and then cast votes for a direction, far too many details and hours of planning, to say nothing ot the day to day onsite information that will be needed to bring this off. I'll view from the sidelines or from the middle.
Have you both ever been involved with a project of this nature?
Tyle, was this your idea?
5 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 10:42AM
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Tyler Smail
Gary, that is a really great question and I'm glad you asked.

Money: We aren't looking to break the bank and I feel confident that we are handy enough to do most non-plumbing/electrical work on our own. We are willing to buy furniture as needed, but because we are combining 2 houses into one, we don't expect to make lots of additional purchases. As a general guideline, a few hundred to a couple thousand per project is the most that we would like to spend. We know some projects will be more.

Time: As long as it takes. This will be a permanent home for us. Most of the work will be done on the weekends and weekdays after work.

Yes, we plan on letting the viewing public design our house.
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 10:45AM
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solraven
My first suggestion is to see if you can buy that Drexel Profile dining set from the current owners! I love that collection!
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 10:47AM
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Tyler Smail
E Klo, no the furniture does not belong to us. We both prefer a contemporary style with a traditional flair. Weird I know, but that's what we like. contrasting colors using grays, blacks and whites seem to keep coming up as a color combo we like. However, we were both raised "country", so I think that's where the traditional flair comes from.
0 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 10:49AM
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Ramona
So you have a smallish budget and a huge house to do. Cosmetic changes at first with a plan for later. You need to think cohesively. You should choose a tentative color scheme for the whole house so you don't have rooms which really don't go together. I wouldn't go straight vote on houzz, but rather get a consensus and see what appeals to you in the end. We need a lot of information about you and your styles and the furniture you already have. Why are you starting with the dining room? You don't like the red? Generally people are most interested in their kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms/bathrooms. Do you need to upgrade the bathrooms? I think people go wrong here by not giving houzzers enough information at the start. Then they get a lot of conflicting advice based on people just looking at the original post and not reading the thread. I too am addicted to this site in a very short time and think there are wonderful people here, but this is a huge project. Take a lot of pictures, not just of the house, but of your things. Gary is right: this could be a trainwreck, but it doesn't have to be. Don't give up all your power to houzzers all of whom have different tastes and ideas of what is appropriate.
2 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 10:55AM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
I'M OUT
4 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 10:55AM
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azelizabeth
I am updating my home and I was going to use houzz and some store designers at Ethan Allen and Thomasville. I soon found it was pieces parts and I was spending money on "deals" and had no overall plan. I finally hired a designer to help me pull it together using some of my existing stuff. I feel so much better, you may want to do the same and then use houzz to ask this rug or that. Just a suggestion.

Enjoy! The place looks great.
10 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 11:08AM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
from the sidelines: Thanks ELizabeth, wise lady
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 11:10AM
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sondramartina
This is mission impossible.
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 11:16AM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
from the sidelines: Tyle, good design comes from the exchange of owner/designer....hate to come-off as 'right' here, however any designer worth their salt, would run from this project as there is no one as the bottom-line here. For success the parties need to get their head around an idea, and run with it. The designer governs the project ot keep it moving and keep things on couse. It would be less than responsible for a professional to be involved with the many issues that have been offered here. I trust you understand and that you will reconsider playing this way with something as important, with as many choices to be developed, as creating personalized functional spaces and environments for you and Vera......you get what you pay for. and I see you throwing yourselves to the lions
6 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 11:25AM
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lessismoore
Ultimately, without a lot of direction (and pictures) from you as to "goals" for various areas/rooms, styles you love, pieces you own or what you hope to own .... comments would be really random. I think houzz is great if you have the "stomach" for crowd-sourcing ideas- because in so many threads, this is what ends up happening! It is the nature of the beast. What I also see happening is that one designer out of many ends up standing out as being in more tune with your goals; making suggestions, color choices, picks that really resonate with you and you form a working relationship. So, while I might love (or hate) the dining room ... you need to put more out there to get "valuable" feed-back, even at the crowd-sourcing level! From a brief look at your idea book, it looks like you are drawn to "gray" and are not going for a arts & crafts, or victorian conversion or "super" mid-century modern. The point is, it is your house, your budget, and ... not mine :-)
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 12:47PM
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feeny
Okay, lets look at this from a slightly different perspective. What your project REALLY consists of is not a blank slate; rather, you hope to see what Houzz contributors can do room by room, using pretty much just the furniture you already own, which will inevitably determine the choices of color and style. No one will be starting from scratch with this design. Comments will merely be about placement of furniture, wall color, window treatments and rugs (if you don't already own them, and I assume you do), based on the furniture you have. So if you want to start with the dining room, please post a clear photograph of every single piece of furniture you collectively own that could go in the dining room (so we know what we have to work with), plus a floor plan with measurements if possible. Then we can see if this system will work with even one room, much less a whole house. And be prepared that the professionals who post on Houzz may very well bail on this thread, viewing it as much too disorganized and chaotic (for all the reasons Gary outlined), so the bulk of the advice you receive will be from amateurs. If this sounds okay to you, then post away with the furniture options. I'm certainly game to give it a try.
6 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 1:08PM
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orangecamera
Careful, or you'll get suggestions to do all 10 (plus the additions) of the trends here: http://www.houzz.com/discussions/299168
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 1:32PM
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feeny
Or you'll get orangecamera suggesting tangerine walls, rugs, and furniture for every room! ;-)
0 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 1:48PM
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decoenthusiaste
This sounds like the way "Designer Showcase Homes" for charitable fundraisers are done in my area. An owner "donates" their home to the "cause." Went to one of them and each designer had a field day in their assigned room, but nothing was put together or coordinated throughout the home. The public paid $10 to attend and vote for their favorite space based on several categories - most functional, most innovative use of color, etc. I think the basement won, as an empty brick and concrete space was converted to a party/wine tasting room with a French country twist. This could be fun, if we're all up to it. I would suggest we start with photos of every piece of furniture you plan to keep. Place each piece on a white sheet background and floor cover so we're seeing only the piece and not any influencing factors. After analysis of your inventory, we'll have to propose and vote on a unified color scheme and design style. Colors will have to stay pretty conservative and unified until we choose accent walls or perhaps a bonus room, powder room, where we can express a bit more vibrancy. Then a room by room floor plan and furniture selection would be decided as we go. The owners will be the ones to give up first - guarantee! Well, no, Gary already threw up his hands!
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 1:57PM
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feeny
It actually reminds me of that radio cooking show where a chef has to come up with a nice recipe on the spot, using only the ingredients currently in the caller's refrigerator.
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 2:08PM
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decoenthusiaste
Well, we really have no (or almost) no budged, but no big time constraints. We can at least do the overall concept and then let them play and post as they run into dilemmas or decisions to make.
0 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 2:14PM
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Tyler Smail
Thank you for all the great feedback everyone. I can certainly understand where everyone is coming from with their feedback. So, let's try to give this room a bit of direction and see what happens.

Although we have some ideas for structural changes over the long term, we have no plans for making any right away.

Theme for the house - Contemporary w Traditional flair. We like grays and whites for color scheme but are open to other ideas. Here is a pic of the only piece of furniture that we want to use in the Dining room. It is a custom built table made out of refurbished barn wood. Custom made by Vera's father. The picture does not do this table justice.

The whole point of putting the design of our house out on Houzz is to see all of the amazing ideas that you all can come up with. Don't worry about what our preferences are, we can always tweak the top idea to make the room our own.

Budget for the room: $1000
0 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 3:16PM
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feeny
Well the only way you are going to incorporate that very rustic table style into a contemporary design is with some very modern, streamlined, chairs. But I'm afraid that may quickly blow the budget for the whole room.

3 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 3:46PM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
So, I'm not the lone ranger (designer) here, it seems. Tyler, I love a challegne, so I'm nosing around. Where is Vera, does she have any imput?
Have you moved all your furniture in the house?
I assisted a couple in Chicago, a few years ago. They were ready at the first meeting to run out and buy furniture. I suggested seeing what they had, arranging what they had to make the best of it, before adding anything.
Tyler I trust you will get Vera involved, as well.
I still am catching a bit of a 'condescending ' something of what I read here, I hope I am mistaken.
0 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 5:02PM
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carbary
I know when you buy a new home $1,000 on decorating a room may seem like a lot, but I think you may find it a bit of a challenge. Having said that, I would spend the bulk of that on paint and a new light fixture. Perhaps you will have enough left over for some chairs.
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 5:22PM
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calikym
Check out Ikea. They have rooms already set up on their showroom floor and are inexpensive. But you have such a gorgeous property and NoCal is expensive/home to high dollar homes!. What about going to a local interior design school or architect school and allowing the student/s to use your house as a project or assignment? In SoCal, at Cal Poly, the seniors in the landscape design program had to find a real life project and submit plans for a garden/backyard. my friend's niece actually won an award for her design and then got an incredible job straight out of school. Seems like you have the right mindset to work with a student or students to help design your house.
2 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 5:43PM
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ellie0149
To feeny they might find some modern chairs at an upper end thrift store,kijiji or craigslist.
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 6:45PM
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feeny
That would be my hope!
1 Like   January 13, 2013 at 6:51PM
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Cheery Curtains
What about some nice curtains?
0 Likes   January 13, 2013 at 10:01PM
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Tyler Smail
no condescension, I assure you. we just cant afford an interior designer. Your input is appreciated though! Vera is following this post, so she knows what's going on. Feeny and Cheery, great feedback love the pics as examples!
0 Likes   January 14, 2013 at 5:58AM
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michigammemom
Tyler, as long as you have realistic expectations I'm certain that you can IMPROVE the dining room with a limited budget. Being that your reclaimed timber table has warm wood tones, I would suggest a greige paint on the walls. I like the idea of pairing your table with these Fleet brushed nickel chairs from CB2. They won't break the bank at $179/chair and you can always wait for a sale. I also like the Firefly pendant from CB2 for $199. I love the look of your home and grounds. Good luck!
4 Likes   January 14, 2013 at 6:21AM
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Tyler Smail
michehamemom, thank you for the great idea! we have marked down greige as a color preference and Vera is a big fan of the chairs and CB/CB2.
0 Likes   January 14, 2013 at 6:30AM
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Tyler Smail
also, I like the way that table is decorated!
0 Likes   January 14, 2013 at 6:31AM
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lessismoore
Definitely - a more "modern" light fixture. (if you are going on the cheap, what about multi-level white paper globes and oblongs - like what they have at cost plus?) the gray-iege paint, and accents in black, and love that shade of green rug there. I think in your "environment" it sort of echos the colors of the surrounding acreage. Some white, some yellow .. In the dining area michigammemom has posted are lots of wonderful ideas ... I "don't love" the window in your dining area and don't think curtains, however cheery, will help. The room is sort of boxy and needs ... height, to balace the length of the table. I could see a bold screen somewhere, sort of like the exterior screening in that pix above though ... Also, what about black metal "lawn" furniture as less expensive seating option?
1 Like   January 14, 2013 at 9:31AM
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jjandhk
med. gray walls; white woodwork; long wide white drapes; rustic table; Ikea Kalvo or Tobias dining chairs; Ikea Tidig 6-lamp pendant light. Total : $6-800.
0 Likes   January 14, 2013 at 10:37AM
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carbary
Here are some lighting fixtures I found on e bay all under $400.00
0 Likes   January 14, 2013 at 12:02PM
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Tyler Smail
Lessismoore, great thoughts! Really like the idea about paint and adding height to the room. We are also not very big fans of the window. I didnt understand what you meant about adding a screen but it sounded interesting. Could you elaborate on that idea a bit more please? Great comments, thank you!
0 Likes   January 14, 2013 at 7:53PM
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lessismoore
By screen, I was literally thinking of a free standing folding piece, but tooling about on the internet, I found this bookcase which is "screen-like" but also would create shelving/display space. I guess I'm headed in a rather "rustic-zen" direction? http://www.allmodern.com/Hokku-Designs-Masima-Unique-Bookcase-Display-Cabinet-in-Black-FM-38101-KUI2134.html
The window is the problem for me. In most dining rooms I see (both traditional and modern ones) a deeper window seems to be a feature and this one, feels skimpy. Maybe it needs the simplest rice paper blind, hung high on the wall, and a matching (aka white) simple bookcase, scaled as if it were a built in, right below it, so it creates a longer look - not a deeper one, .
I'm looking forward to a picture of this room with your dining table in place to better gauge proportions.
The photo you have is too small for me to photoshop any possibilities. Have you moved in?
1 Like   January 15, 2013 at 8:05AM
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lessismoore
Here are some nice green/gray combos - ( note the paper lanterns :-) and the super slim white bookcase in photo #6 ...

0 Likes   January 15, 2013 at 8:23AM
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lessismoore
Hey Tyler - Rain washed here in beautiful No. Calif. How's the escrow going?
I got this in my email and thought of your dining room. Great chairs and lamps in this collection (good pricing too). Hope all is well and we hear back from you. http://www.myhabit.com/?#page=b&dept=home&sale=A1MQFSFZYETG89
1 Like   January 24, 2013 at 11:48AM
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PRO
0 Likes   January 24, 2013 at 12:21PM
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Tyler Smail
Thanks for the feedback everyone. Still wrapping up escrow and its going slow but smooth. Hopefully will be closed w/in the next 2 weeks and moved in in the next month! I will post again once we have everything moved in and will post pictures!
1 Like   January 24, 2013 at 12:28PM
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Tyler Smail
Good news, we closed escrow and the house is officially ours! Also, I proposed and Vera said yes! We have agreed that the dining room will definitely be the first room we work on. I plan on going over tonight to take some pictures and will post to this thread.

Initially I said we would go with the most liked idea on this thread. Right now, it looks like the most liked idea is to hire an interior designer. As much as I would love to get a professional to come look at the house, we just cannot afford it! In addition to our mortgages, we have a wedding to pay for!

However, we do not discount all the great advice that the professional and amatuer designers continue to give us here on Houzz.

It seems that going with a grey-eige color for the wall, modern chairs, updated lighting is the common theme, so that will be the way we will go. Of course, if you have more ideas, feel free to chime in!
0 Likes   February 21, 2013 at 1:33PM
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lessismoore
Congrats on everything! When is the wedding? Looking forward to new pix to inspire! I actually started a pinterest board with you in mind :-)
2 Likes   February 21, 2013 at 4:15PM
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Barnhart Gallery
Congratulations Tyler and Vera! Now I have a proposal for you, or perhaps it'll be a wedding gift if it suits you and the Houzzers.

Budget:
$50 Bamboo Blinds
250 Faux Silk striped panels
free Dad's fabulous table
150 Chandelier, Lamps Plus #W2931
548 4xAnnie dining chair, HomeDecorators
414 2xWingback parsons chair, "
125 Denis Jully art - ebay
140 Avanti dinnerware set for 8, Target

I'd keep your eyes open at yard sales etc. for a slim console to fit between the panels under the window. I'm thinking a straight lined iron fish tank stand to mimic the clean lines of your window and keep it modern, since these chairs are more a nod to the table and your country roots. I'm hoping the art compensates for that. Cheers on your engagement!
1 Like   February 21, 2013 at 7:58PM
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violinist3713
Oh my this will be so fun!
1 Like   February 21, 2013 at 8:37PM
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violinist3713
This lamp from ikea would look really interesting withyour rustic table an some modern chairs. Also brighter fresh coat of paint would really brighten up the dark room. You could add a buffet right under the window. and maybe a mirror or some artwork on the wall. I think the biggest thing would be to paint a brighter color and that will definetely not break the bank. Can't wait to hear when you will start the next room!
0 Likes   February 21, 2013 at 8:59PM
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Tyler Smail
lessismoore, the wedding will be in October and we decided we are going to have it in our front yard! I will be sure to post pictures on that as we move into summer.

Barnhartgallery, what an amazing mock up! We really liked the chairs with the color of the room. Grey-eige was a
popular choice among houzzers and we particularly like the shade you chose.

Update: We have painted the dining room and found some chairs that are similar to Barnhart's suggestions in the pics above. We also managed to re-paint/decorate 2 of the bedrooms. Below are the "before" pictures of each of these rooms along with the same "before" pic of the dining room.
0 Likes   April 22, 2013 at 2:56PM
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Tyler Smail
Lessismoore, We decided to go with your Grey suggestion on the red bedroom. I think you will see a pretty noticeable difference. Will post as soon as I'm home tonight!
0 Likes   April 22, 2013 at 2:57PM
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lessismoore
Hi Tyler - so glad to see you back. October should be a beautiful time for a front yard wedding. Hope you enjoy many years in your new home, with the unique opportunity to look out your windows and remember each day where you both were wed. Really looking forward to the after photos of the work you've done so far.
0 Likes   April 23, 2013 at 9:29AM
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lessismoore
Tyler - hope all is well. We are all waiting for the reveal :-)
0 Likes   May 3, 2013 at 11:32AM
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Mona Ives
Tyler - I have to say that I'm wondering if you had considered that your budget is really inadequate for this project. In looking at the photos I thought instead of just complaining I'd like to make some suggestions:

1) Pool up all your money into 1 or 2 areas of the house that matter most to you and spend a decent budget on those areas. Wait on the rest of the house until you can afford to do it right. Otherwise your money will be wasted re-doing it later when you are unhappy or when items of poor quality disappoint you in a year or so.

2) Like many new home owners or couples, save before you spend. Spend your money on a good sofa and a good mattress. After that save up for the stuff you love, and yes, hire a designer to come up with a concept for you that you love. Then save up for each piece in the concept and buy it as money allows.

You are not the only person in the world who would be "house poor". Many rooms in my own house stayed incomplete or even empty for years. It's better to do it right - ONE TIME - that wrong over and over with stuff that won't last. It actually ends up being more expensive in the long run.

Hope that my two cents will help you in some small way.
1 Like   May 3, 2013 at 11:48AM
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Jeannie Nguyen
Hi Tyler, how did things turn out?
0 Likes   June 6, 2013 at 5:31PM
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