I hope that you and your family are safe, that your home was spared and that you are able to come away from this incredibly challenging time with perspective, gratitude, and the ability to help those who were not so fortunate. It has been humbling and inspiring to see the residents of Sienna Plantation come together for each other. These are early days yet and still dark for many, as damage continues to occur and assessments are only beginning. What has been most notable for me is the area of strength that individuals drew upon in order to be of assistance during and after the storm. We are not all first responders (bless those who are…) yet everyone helped in their own way. I saw groups of moms with children pulling wagons to remove any evidence of empty, evacuated homes to deter potential looters; the Cajun Navy with their fishing boats and own methods of communication; geologists and engineers band together to decipher any available data and advise of their own timely predictions; grocery store stock people announce which products were in supply; mortgage brokers provide guidance regarding late or missed payments that will likely occur as a result of this disaster. The drive to volunteer has been incredible and my favorite image had little to do with the capacity of our levee or the rising waters but of a long line of regular people waiting patiently for their chance to be of service.
A resounding feeling of not only hopelessness but helplessness as well has come in equal measure to the rain we’ve received in Greater Houston. It’s easy during times of crisis such as this to sink down and feel as though there is little contribution that will matter given the scope of what’s being faced. I have witnessed people “dig down” and find their way – whether it’s organizing volunteer efforts, contributing and coordinating supplies and donations, or participating in neighborhood rescue missions – and believe this is the most effective singular way we can all be of assistance, contribute to the greater good, and get the wheels back on the road.
There is a significant distinction between asking “How can I help” and “How I CAN help” and the latter statement is the most important. We all have a way. As a contractor, I’m capable of helping people get back to or get comfortable in their homes. I have tools and good people, and we are ready.
*photo credit unknown
Here’s hoping you survived (and enjoyed!) the first day of back to school. In my part of the world, the kids went back yesterday after a very full summer. There were lots of smiles, great vibes, and my favorite – a mom carrying a huge tumbler of what I thought was coffee until she raised it towards me with a wink. I think she’s got this all figured out… With the start of school came the inevitable scramble of paperwork, immunizations, supply runs, and last minute panic – of course, now that school is in session, we are in for more of the same. I run two weekly to-do lists; one for personal/family stuff, and the other for my business. Between preparing for the return to school and starting construction on a new home, it feels as though I’m adding to the list more often than crossing items off as completed – not the best feeling. In the spirit of celebrating those completed items, here’s a round up of this week’s successes:
The Harper has been listed for sale! Please click here to view the listing: www.har.com
The HOA sent notice of conditional approval for the construction plans, including the exterior color selection, St. Bart’s by Sherwin-Williams.
The Cottage Wall is coming along and features the smoothest wall in our house. I’m definitely enjoying the look of it as it reminds me of home. It also reminds me of the incredible mess and long time frame to have gotten to this point, so I may be willing to take back some of the mean things I’ve said regarding textured sheetrock.
In terms of your home’s to-do list which may or may not have been replaced by a Pinterest board, here are two lovely refresh projects that could easily be completed in a small room such as a powder room or child’s bedroom fairly quickly and affordably. My second grader is begging for the wall treatment below (not sure if it’s paint or wallpaper) – I’m glad she hasn’t figured out how to add to my to-do list!
If you’d like a consultation on a similar project, please don’t hesitate to contact The Ashbury Construction Company today.
Here’s to crossing items off our to-do lists while remembering to enjoy the space in between.
The month of August (September where I’m from) is full of promise and new beginnings – the start of a fresh school year has always been one of my favorite times of the year for many reasons, not the least of which is the end of those pesky summer camp bills ;) We’ve been busy buying school supplies, purging clothes that no longer fit, and talking at length about what this school year will look like in the second grade and kindergarden. Wishing you and your family luck over the next week as we prepare to send ‘em back, and much gratitude to the teachers and administrators for all that they do.
I’m beyond excited to introduce you to what feels like a new addition of different sorts – the home I’ll be building in the Quail Valley neighborhood of Missouri City. We are still tweaking the rendering, but here she is:
This 2016 square foot home will include three bedrooms and two and a half baths, a mud room, covered patio, and golf course views. Design fixtures will be chosen from the contemporary farmhouse style, with a white/gray color palette inside. Each bedroom features a walk-in closet and there is a bonus space large enough for an office, playroom, or craft area on the second floor.
The home will back onto the El Dorado golf course and with views like these, who needs vacation?
I’m finalizing the material selections and hope to have a mood board to post here shortly. A sincere thanks to the vendors who have been part of this project to date, including Houston Plans & Permits, BDX Renderings, Sherwin-Williams, and the Quail Valley Fund HOA. Looking forward to adding more names to this list shortly!
Finally, the name of the plan. Harper was my grandmother’s maiden name and I’m proud to remember her with this design. She was a strong lady and has a lot to do with how I’m in business for myself. She passed before my “something borrowed, something blue” time so the color is a homage to her as well.
The Harper will be listed for sale on www.har.com soon but if you have questions or are interested in receiving further information about the home, please contact us directly or the listing agent, Realtor Extraordinaire Philip Monkhouse at 832-774-3578 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
There’s a meme circulating that proclaims August is like the Sunday of summer and it didn’t feel more real until yesterday afternoon, when the sky darkened, the rain poured, and there was enough of a chill in the water to remind us that yes, fall is coming. Of course, this being Texas, fall is still considerably warmer than even the hottest days where I’m from, but it does encourage one to sit down with a coffee (PSL?), thumb through some inspirational home photos, and make plans for the upcoming school and holiday seasons – which hopefully include some remodeling/refresh projects for your home!
This week, we finished the kitchen project I’ve been writing about and it turned out even better than I imagined. The scope of work included removing one of three columns, relocating the electrical that ran through that column, removing the breakfast bar, backsplash, granite counters, and all plumbing fixtures before replacing everything with new and improved versions.
The column was not structural (while the other two are) and relatively easy to eliminate. I still can’t believe how much this change opened the kitchen/breakfast area:
Taking down the raised bar also helped heaps:
The client opted for Carrera Marble counters and they are stunning:
In lieu of traditional subway tile, she chose a larger size with bevel details – it made a huge difference and while there was a slight price difference, I would recommend opting for this upgrade wherever possible. The addition of a stainless steel farmhouse sink, new Kohler faucet, air gap for the dishwasher, and counter button for the garbage disposal unit completed this remodel.
We were also able to give a little facelift to the laundry room sink:
I’ve had tile on the brain, and it seems I’m not the only one. Houzz featured an article this week about adding color to your bathroom and most of the designs included a tile wall behind the sink. My handy friend and master of all pieces of painted wood was well-ahead of this trend curve having, incorporated white subway tile behind her navy blue vanity last year. It was one of the best bathroom refreshes (extra points for working with a production builder bathroom) and I’m only a little jealous. Working on sharing a picture here soon for you to admire ;)
The new build I’m working on has a small main floor powder room with an interesting layout and I was originally going to install shiplap on the wall behind the sink but am now torn between that option or tiling the wall instead. As always, your thoughts and suggestions are welcome! Here is what the area will look like – not large by any means which is a win when it comes to a feature wall as it won’t be overwhelming or terribly expensive to pull off.
The rendering is in the works and I will share it here soon. I’ve submitted the plans and exterior color selections to the Architectural Review Committee at the HOA. This spec house (which will soon be listed for sale on har.com) will feature Sherwin-Williams St. Bart’s as the primary color with Extra White (also by Sherwin-Williams) as the accent color. Looking forward to hearing back from the Committee next week, fingers crossed until then.
The door in the photo above is the St. Bart's color - not the best representation but it seems to be the truest showing of the color I can find on the internet.
Please check back for further details on the new build, and if you'd like a consultation on a kitchen or bath remodel or any other projects please get in touch today!
Every week, as I’m swiping through my camera roll to find photos suitable for sharing in a blog post (hint: the vast majority are more practical than pretty; useful on a material run or when working out a problem but not fit to publish – I’m working on this!) I struggle to figure out which projects are of interest to you. Many times I have “before” pictures but not the “afters” – or vice versa. I don’t look at projects with a marketing eye and haven’t gotten into the habit of documenting the finished product, unless it’s a full bath or kitchen complete with a heart-stopping reveal. In areas other than construction, I’ve tried to focus on the old adage ‘Progress, not Perfection’ and find it helps when trying to get started on a task instead of procrastinating. In areas including construction, this quote fits:
I’ve been sharing sporadic details about the home to be built in Quail Valley and while the concept is thrilling, I’ve found myself dragging my feet on the next steps to getting started and not knowing why. So, in the interest of both progress and perfection, I picked the plans up yesterday afternoon.
In order to move forward with HOA approval, I have to submit the exterior colors. The home will be clad in James Hardie fiber cement siding – a product I used on custom homes “back home” while every other builder was using vinyl siding – the difference being it was pre-painted from a small color palette versus the unpainted product used in Houston. Not sure if expanding color choice is a good thing for someone that can’t quite settle on a whole-home interior scheme of four colors, but I’m working through the fan decks I have collected over the years in hopes of finding the perfect shades for this lovely home. It backs on to a golf course, so I’d like a rich color to set off the view while not turning any potential buyers off. The interior will have a craftsman/farmhouse feel, and I’d like to mimic that on the exterior as well.
Sherwin-Williams and Pottery Barn Kids have partnered and put together this gorgeous assortment:
Almost as nice as looking at a dozen assorted donuts. Almost ;)
I’m wrapping up a kitchen refresh project as mentioned in previous posts and should have the photos to prove it next week. The homeowners have fabulous taste and stunning vision, I’m so anxious to see the project come together.
Finally, the Cottage Wall has seen some love this week. All three coats of mud/joint compound – depending on where you’re from – have been applied and the floors have the dust to show for it. The boards will be installed next and then…paint!
As always, thank you for reading and please check back next week for a kitchen reveal, Cottage Wall update, and more information on the Quail Valley build. Progress and perfection are promised :) If you have a project that you would like The Ashbury Construction Company to provide a consultation for, please contact us to set an appointment today!
In my life, and I’m sure in yours, there have been many miracles. Some of epic proportions – like the birth of my kids; some of medium proportions – such as the potty training of said kids; and some on a smaller scale – like a Venti Midnight Mocha Frappuccino after a long day with those very same kids ;) Professionally, I’ve witnessed miracles as well, but my favorite ones have to do with project completion when the clients look at each other in wonder, their only regret being that they waited so long to get started. Sometimes, these are large scale renovations such as gutting the master bath or reconfiguring the kitchen layout but just as often it’s work performed on a smaller but equally important scale. Creating a more efficient mudroom, custom carpentry, or a fresh coat of paint have all had the same effect.
In addition to the painted wall frame project a few blog posts back and the ongoing Cottage Wall project I started a few weeks back (sadly, without progress to report…check back next week!), the ideas featured below are low-investment but high-impact.
The paint job in this bath is incredible – slightly more of a challenge given our textured walls, but very doable nonetheless. Many of the consultations I get called for have to do with how to improve a “blah” powder room – I can’t think of any that wouldn’t be enhanced with this simple concept.
Finally, sheetrock and mouldings – every day miracle workers. I last wrote about lowering the breakfast bar and these ideas would increase the wow factors of those pieces.
After the Cottage Wall is complete, I'm hoping to add some detailing to my kitchen "island" (really a half-wall) similar to these images. Removing the raised breakfast bar would be ideal, but without extending the counters would pose a problem due to the placement of the sink. These mouldings might just be enough to help me forget why I dislike the raised bar so much...
If you would like to discuss a miracle on any budget, please contact The Ashbury Construction Company at any time.
Photo/Design credits: Future Builders Inc., Remodelaholic, Simply Swider, Pinterest, Decorpad
Hello July! Tough to believe we are officially closer to the end of 2017 than the beginning of it. I’m not one to set New Years resolutions for a host of reasons, but have done my best to follow some advice from Tony Robbins and Raise My Standards.
This advice really struck me as it was something that could be done no matter the situation – rock bottom, needing a boost, or from the summit. It could be something small, the first step towards improvement. In contrast to a goal (which is helpful in its own way), raising one’s standards felt very actionable as opposed to being more thought or planning based.
In contrast to raising standards, I’ve been very focused on lowering the bar – the breakfast bar. Many of the homes I have visited lately for kitchen consultations have them, and the consensus from many homeowners is that they have to go. Because they are narrow, they don’t serve their intended purpose, and can be tricky with kids as they add extra height to already-tippy barstools. The scale is too small for some homes, and the backsplash between the counter and bar area is generally very short which isn’t very appealing esthetically. The fix isn’t as intensive as you may think and I believe the investment will be well-worth the final outcome. I’m excited to start a kitchen refresh project this week that will remove the raised bar altogether in favor of a larger space and a more modern look. Before and after photos should be up in the next few weeks, but here is a teaser to get started:
The coffered breakfast wall nook project has been renamed Cottage Wall for simplicity’s sake – and also because it was confused with Coffin Wall which is not the impression I was hoping for! I was able to pick up materials this week, prepare the area, and perform the required demolition – it was minimal. Here are some progress shots, not terribly exciting but the Northerner in me is happy to see a smooth wall in the midst of all this texture – even if it’s only temporary.
Finally, the plans for the new build are done and the files have been sent for rendering. Once I have the images back, I’ll share them here. The home is to be built in the Quail Valley neighborhood of Missouri City and should be listed on www.har.com shortly as well. I’m hoping to break ground in the next six weeks or so – this will be my first permitting experience in Texas so I’m not sure how long it will take to get going. I’m excited to start and share the details of this home with you.
If you’d like to lower your breakfast bar or talk about a project such as my Cottage Wall, please contact The Ashbury Construction Company today!
This is the fourth week without HOMEWORK! and I’m not missing it in the least. In my house, it barrels through the door in all caps with an exclamation mark because it seems to be a manic, panic-inducing thing most nights. Often left until the last minute, when everyone is at their most tired and least focused, there it looms: spelling test preparation, math worksheet completion, and my (least) favorite: composing facts about a historical character. After working all day and often after the kids go to bed, I find homework wholly undesirable and often complain that I’ve done my fair share already. I think that must be the biggest teacher’s joke ever – for every child complaining of homework and counting the years until they don’t have to do it anymore…only to learn as an adult the misery of doing HOMEWORK! with your KIDS!
Our home was built with a desk area in the kitchen, helpful with one school-age child, but once we have multiple kids working on multiple projects, this space will no longer suffice. The current trend seems to be the purpose-built Homework Center and it’s something I can get behind.
Besides these centers, I’ve been working on a few other projects lately that all have one thing in common: wide open spaces. From enclosing them to accommodate a set of French doors (or in one case, these fabulous barn doors):
to opening them up to create a custom wine nook where there was once a lowly coat closet:
It’s all been about spaces. I’ve also been busy estimating outdoor spaces including concrete additions, stone fireplaces, and full kitchens as well as a tricky support post issue and the sweet homeowner that wants it OUT OF THERE, like yesterday ;) I’ve been fortunate to work on some masonry repairs as well, including an outdoor grill that required full removal and replacement of the stone cladding, and some mortar repairs.
In terms of my lofty home ambitions, the paint project is on track and and I’ve managed to get a material list together for the coffered wall. I’ve spoken about half-measures before, and it’s sometimes funny what the universe attracts. I’ve witnessed the chalk paint refinishing craze and have lustfully admired the finished projects completed by many of my accomplished friends. I like the idea of a side project, one that isn’t tied to a client or a deadline and managed to find one this past weekend.
I know it doesn’t look like much right now, but that’s exactly the type of piece I was looking for. I could have done without the chewing gum affixed to the headboard, but this bed has great style, is substantial, and came with all the pieces. I was counting on building or buying a frame separately but was pleasantly surprised when the rails and additional slats appeared. I have no intention of joining the ranks of professional furniture refinishers but am excited to share the progress of this project with you. Starting with removal of that gum ;)
What spaces are you working with? Let’s make the most out of what we have, whether it needs to be opened up or closed in. The Ashbury Construction Company is happy to look at any project you’re contemplating. Please contact us today!
*photo credits: babble, Sand and Sisal, Shea Homes, Talk of the House, Home Depot
What comes to your mind first when you hear the word “zone”?
I’ve been fortunate to receive an increase in consultation requests lately, and consistent among the ever-changing variables during these appointments are the tacked-on projects that typically come up at the end of the meeting or as we’re digging in deep on a particular feature.
“Do you do that?” It’s a question I am asked frequently – often for difficult or where-do-I-start jobs such as brick replacement or chipped floor tile.
I’ll let you in on a secret – I always say yes.
When I was eight, my mother referred to me as being “resourceful” and I will never forget the pride I felt at that moment. As an adult, maintaining this trait has set me apart time and time again – I’ve learned in life and in construction and the places where they intersect that almost nothing is impossible. Most projects can be broken down into small segments and there is almost always someone with experience willing to collaborate or lend a hand when necessary. With few exceptions, there is always a way – it may not be straightforward, inexpensive, or quick – but most things can be done.
Fast forward to the comfort zone – the subject of this post. We’ve all been there – comfy and cozy and downright settled in to a spot in life that feels good – it doesn’t ask much of us, and likely doesn’t give much back in return. It’s a great spot to rest on one’s laurels with a view of the next step, which almost always looks overwhelming, especially in contrast to the comfort zone. After ten years in construction, I’m nestled fairly snugly in my own version of the comfort zone, which includes quoting (with confidence!) and completing (with ease!) jobs such as water penetration fixes, sheetrock/paint repairs, bathroom remodels, flooring, and carpentry. Aspects of construction that I am fairly uncomfortable with include working at heights, anything to do with electricity, and the use of power tools – especially anything with a blade. If you’ve seen me on site, I almost always have a screwdriver and am happy to pass on the drill. I stay off the ladders and scaffolding makes me light-headed. I installed two lightbulbs for the first time IN MY LIFE a few weeks ago and only because the homeowner was watching me do it. Ridiculous. So, in the interest of continuous improvement, I’m going to undertake a project requiring the use of most of my woodworking equipment. I’m going to take this wall:
I’m looking forward to sharing a progress post (with pictures!) or two along the way. These spans of empty walls in production-built homes are fairly common in this area, and I'm looking forward to sharing a solution to fill the space that is less expensive than installing additional cabinetry.
If you have a similar project and would like a consultation, please contact us. If you have a job that falls in the “do you do that?” category, we’re happy to look at those as well. But you already know what the answer will be…
*Photo credit of Houzz
Happy Monday and hello June! Thank you for reading and for your kind words and incredible support regarding the master bath remodel. My client was sweet enough to post photos and a shout-out to my team on the Sienna Plantation Neighbors Facebook page which has resulted in some amazing feedback and a big increase in appointment requests. It’s my pleasure to answer any questions regarding material sources, colors, and of course to provide an estimate for your project. Friday was our last day at the job and I’m thrilled to share new photos with the 88” frameless glass shower enclosure featuring copper (stay with me) hardware. After debating the differences between bronze and copper over the phone, I brought one of the body sprays into the glass manufacturer to ensure we were ordering hinges and the door handle to match the plumbing fixtures and I am so glad – what they call copper was the winner and the color is stunning. The homeowner was able to test the shower on Saturday morning and tells me it’s heaven.
In administrative news, I’ve completed a new document to add to the contract package called ‘House Rules’ and here’s a peak:
As my client base is (fortunately) growing, I was looking for a way to track the details regarding their expectations of the manner their home is treated, as well as information such as access details and contact preferences in one place. This form will allow me to keep it all straight, from whether I can contact them during business hours to the names and habits of their pets. It also lays out my job site management strategies and what they can expect from my team. I’ve always felt that it’s a privilege to be invited into someone’s home, especially when asked to perform work in such sacred spaces, and want to ensure that we are doing it right and with respect.
Finally, those poor cobbler’s kids… You’ve heard the old saying the cobbler’s children have no shoes, a phenomena where people who are successful at doing something don't demonstrate it in their own lives. I’m disappointed to report this is the case in my home. Save for two of the bedrooms, we are living with the dreaded builder’s beige – two years into ownership. The good news is that I’m ready to change this and will gladly post before and after shots shortly. Until then I’m happy to share the colors we’ve chosen:
Hale Navy and Bunny Gray by Benjamin Moore and Plumage by Martha Stewart (paint is no longer available so it will be a color match mixed in Sherwin-Williams base).
At three years, my "baby" tells me he's not a baby anymore and would like his room painted as well. In red. We're working on a color ;)
If we can be of help with any projects in your home, please reach out by phone, text, email, or the contact us page on this site. Looking forward to putting the House Rules document to use for your home!