Construction Update #20 | One Year Later

We interrupt this regularly scheduled Monday Musings for a very important announcement:

Exactly one year ago today we officially moved into and spent our first full night at the Hardinge Homestead…WHOOMP!

We’ve survived all four seasons and every major holiday unscathed, and the house still stands strong as ever 365 days after occupancy 🙂

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Yeah…I was hoping for a much more radiant spring picture to use here, but the weather has just been so blah lately that it was unavoidable.

I wanted to commemorate this momentous occasion by completing the very series that inspired our Monday Musings: our Construction Updates! Plus I’ve been teasing a final one (#20) for some time now…posting it one year later just feels like the right time to do it.

Miss and I wanted to take a more retrospective approach to this post, but not wanting to break format, I’ve also included some old ConUpdate standbys as well. Hope you enjoy!

What We Love

Where to begin? There are too many to talk about here, but I’ll hit some of the highlights without going overboard:

  • Rooms. The additional separate “pre-school room” is probably the most utilized space in the house. Learning room, craft place, art center, and toddler restaurant…this room does it all.

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We also love the fact that the master bedroom is on the opposite side of the house from the kid zone…although it’s debatable how much we will regret that decision down the road.

  • Style. One of the best decisions we made in the pre-planning stages was to keep everyone on the same level by building a ranch-style house. A multi-story would have been OK, but the ease of not chasing kiddos up and down stairs all day has definitely been a major bonus.
  • Bigger Deck. The original plan included a deck half the size, but we decided it was worth the upgrade to go bigger. With the amount of time we spend on it during the warmer months, I’m glad we did!

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  • Basement. Our basement footprint is the size of our house (another benefit of having a ranch house), and feels even bigger thanks to full-height ceilings. Even though we haven’t finished it yet, it has still served us well as a storage area…a place for guests to sleep…and a winter survival room for the girls. It’s almost worth keeping unfinished until the girls are much older…but I think Miss would rather have it finished out sooner than later 😉
  • Geothermal! Yes, with the low cost of natural gas right now, a high efficient furnace would have been almost as cost effective on our monthly energy bills, but with the help the massive tax credit offered, the ROI was just a few extra years. Plus, there’s the added feel-good benefit of using some of the greenest energy available today!
  • Kitchen. Not only do we love the look (dark wood, range hood, etc.)…

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but no-slam cabinets and drawers are the best invention in the world, especially when you have young kiddos always willing to “help out” when we’re preparing meals.

Also, when planning our space we decided on drawer storage in lieu of cabinets for our big ticket items…I would definitely recommend this if a kitchen redo is in your future.

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  • High Ceilings. Even though we only did it in the living room & kitchen, 10’ is the way to go.

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  • Picture Window. Any time of year, this is easily the best view from the house.

Xmas Eve Musings 14

What We Hate

Ok, so hate is too strong of a word. How about: What we would do over if we had the chance.

That sounds a lot better. We don’t really hate anything about our pad, but after living in it for an entire year, there are definitely a few things that we would have done…differently.

  • Paint. We love the colors (most of them, anyway)…we don’t love the finish. Note to self: flat paint & children do not mix. It’s so bad that we’re considering having everything redone this year just so we don’t have to stare at this anymore:

finger prints2 finger prints1

…our feeble attempt to clean up little finger prints everywhere. Magic Eraser Fail.

  • Flooring. We went with laminate for two reasons: cost and look. We actually loved the look of our final selection a lot better than most of the hard wood floor types available. However, it doesn’t hold up too terribly well in wet areas (kitchen…half-bath…and laundry room especially)…so if you think about laminate in the future, keep that in mind! It also may be a little too shiny…if that makes sense…Miss & I feel like we need to swiffer daily to keep all those little prints at bay!
  • (More) Windows. I think the architect designed our house as if it was going on a lot in a residential neighborhood; the only windows on the entire east face are in the basement. The only reason for this that I can think of would be for privacy concerns…yet since we don’t have any direct neighbors within line-of-site, we’re stuck with a windowless wall for no apparent reason. We didn’t realize that this would be a difference maker until it was too late.

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(The windowless wall.)

  • (More) Rooms. And no, I’m not talking about adding more bedrooms for more kids 😉 Even though we love the open flow of our kitchen/TV/dining room, looking back we probably would have made them separate rooms…specifically so that the sound doesn’t travel throughout the house as it does now. This has hardly been deal breaker though…and once our basement is finished out in a few years this will be a non-issue, as that will become the main hangout area for the girls.

Up Next

First, let me just say that two weeks wasn’t nearly enough time to move into a new house and prepare it for a baby. Heck, I don’t even think two months would have been enough time. We didn’t officially feel settled in until September or October after all our visitors had come and gone last summer.

This was partially my own fault. See, the thing is: I thought that getting the house built and moving our family in was, for all intents and purposes, the “end” of the journey…the finish line. Yet in reality, it has been just the beginning. Not to sound cliché, but a new house is a new beginning. A blank canvas where anything is possible not a completed masterpiece like I had envisioned.

In my mind everything…wall décor, room layout, and even outdoor landscaping…had to be done now, rather than accepting the fact our home will be changing, evolving, and improving throughout the next 20-30 years. It is and always will be a work in progress; we are constantly tinkering and tweaking, making improvements (another eye-opener…making “home improvements” to a brand-new house was an entirely new concept to me) and adding real value to our home.

But I digress…what’s up next? Two words come most immediately to mind: yard work. As in…working on fixing the entire half of our property that I’ve chosen to ignore for the past six months.

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While the new grass has (sort of) grown in around the house on the west side of our property, the east side remains an unmitigated disaster: loads of potential, but a disaster none-the-less.

We still need to get rid of the debris left over from our shed-deconstruction project last summer, as well as clear out all remaining stumps, logs, and branches left over from our venture into lumberjacking we unfortunately had to take. We made good headway last November, but there is still a lot to get accomplished.

Directly east of the house, the basement windows need window wells (started but not finished), weed removal, and final grading around the septic tank.

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After all that, we can finally start thinking about planting new trees, broadcast seeding, and landscaping. We also have plans for our fire pit/patio area, but those aren’t quite as pressing…it already serves its purpose quite well 😉

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We can’t wait to get started! Now, if only the weather would stop pretending that it’s March 1st rather than almost May 1st so that we could get outside and actually get started, that would be fantastic.


There is no way in hades that we could have done this all on our own, so I wanted to make sure I included a brief list of resources that we used along the way to make our dream home a reality:

  • Dallenbach & Larson // Plum Building Systems: Builder and designer team.
  • HousePlans  // ePlans: Although we never used a specific plan from these sites, they certainly helped start the process of thinking what would and what would not work for our family home.
  • Ikea: From kitchen cabinets and sinks to practically every light fixture in our house, our trips to Ikea inspired a lot of the interior ideas throughout (Word to the wise on light fixtures: make sure you check out the type of light bulbs they take before you buy! Ikea tends to have a lot of great looking fixtures, but some seriously whack bulb that we’re stuck searching the internet when we need to replace them).
  • Pinterest: Another endless resource for all things interior (and even some exterior) decorating!
  • 932:  We drew all sorts of inspiration for our house in Iowa from my childhood home back in Maryland…mainly in the subtle, often overlooked details. From the under-cabinet lights in the kitchen, to the interior door style and massive front door…these are reminders of the old house on Oak Hill. Sadly, all we have left of nine thirty-two are the memories, but I hope that we’ve done well in carrying on its legacy!
Making cookies was another Christmas tradition.

Making cookies was another Christmas tradition.

(Note the door behind my sis!)

Finally, a big shout out and well deserved thanks once again to G-ma, G-pa, and Shan for helping out with the girls while Miss and I were out making the millions of decisions that came along with building a house. I think we would still be under construction if it wasn’t for all your extra helping hands 🙂

Actual Conversation of the Week

“Look, dad…my toots make bubbles in the bath!” – Jovie (of course).

Non-Construction Update

One quick note: biiiiig congrats our good friends Nate & Jess and Tyson & Ashley who just welcomed new babies into their families!

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We had everyone over on Sunday for dinner and adult time and I finally had a chance to meet and hold baby Bennett Harper & baby Clive Turner for the first time. You forget how tiny they are! Of course, Missy was right back in her element:

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However, someone was quick to get very jealous…

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Congrats again, you guys!

Anyway…I think we’re closing in on 1,500 words here…so I’ll spare you any more screen time. Just make sure you tune in for the next addition of Thursday Thoughts or Monday Musings to keep up to date with all things Hardinge!

Previously >


3 thoughts on “Construction Update #20 | One Year Later

  1. Fantastic update. We too want to repaint our entire house. The flat paint doesn’t do to well, and we don’t have 4 toddlers running around.

    And, it sounds like you have some projects to do. Let me know when you need help!!

  2. Re: windows, you might think about Solo Tubes or some other kind of skylight. We love ours. But then again there are always those real thin sliver-type glass windows that do not open but at least provide light. They might fit between the existing studs with no problem.
    Nice post! It’s getting harder for me to tell the girls apart when they are turned facing backwards.
    Missy, no one would ever guess that THAT body produced three children at one time. You are a marvel. You truly look wonderful.

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