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Building a Dream House: Frustration and Flooring

Hi! I’m Melissa. I write about food, family, and farm life at Lulu the Baker. My family and I are hopefully about to fulfill one of those good, old-fashioned life-long dreams: we’re building our Dream House.



It is said that good things come to those who wait. In the case of the Dream House, I certainly hope it proves to be true! October has been a month of waiting. In September, I said that if all went well, we’d have our permits in-hand by the end of the month because we had concrete scheduled for pouring. And people moved heaven and earth to get us our permits on time…and then we hit a wall of surprise paperwork at the bank that we are just now breaking through! It’s been really frustrating to have to sit and wait and not be able to do anything to get something going in that big hole in the ground. To add to the frustration, construction in the Pacific Northwest is kind of a race against the weather:  towards the end of Fall, the rainy monsoon season starts. We’ve had so many days of absolutely gorgeous weather in the past few weeks when no construction could be done, and I know the rains will start all too soon. BUT!! The exciting news is that we are placing footings on Thursday (huzzah!), and the weather forecast is still clear and warm for at least the next 10 days!


Since there are no less than a million things to do when building a Dream House, this unexpected month of waiting has actually been a great opportunity for us to do a whole bunch of little things that actually add up to a lot of items checked off our to-do list. Back in August, we visited the local flooring showroom and looked at some samples of really beautiful hand-scraped, wide-plank hardwood flooring. Our salesman said it had just been installed in a remodel and encouraged us to go have a look. My husband actually knows the homeowners, so two weekends ago, we stopped by, and they graciously let us look around their beautiful home. And it was the craziest, most serendipitous visit! We actually had a good chuckle when we walked in the door–so many of the things we’ve thought about choosing for our house were in their house! White kitchen cabinets with dark hardware, stainless steel appliances, wide-plank hardwood floors, wide, white trim around doors and windows, a sliding barn door here and there; they even had the exact light fixtures we bought from Pottery Barn back in the Spring. One of my big fears with this project is that when the house is finished and we go inside for the first time, I’ll realize that none of the things we picked out match each other. It was really comforting to see that we’re on the right track.



We also spent a day last week doing a marathon tour of showrooms in town. We looked at granite and quartz for kitchen counters, slate and porcelain tile for kitchen flooring, hardwood and carpet for the rest of the house, and a whole slew of kitchen appliances, bathtubs, faucets, door knobs, windows, and pillars. We made definitive choices in lots of areas, and considerably narrowed down the field in the rest. We are equipped with a list of granite and tile showrooms to visit on our next trip to Portland, and have quite the collection of gigantic sample boards stashed in our living room. If you come visit, I’ll probably drag them all out and show you how well they match, beaming like a proud mother hen.



Exciting things are on the calendar for the coming month: finally pouring that foundation! deciding between cement, metal, granite (maybe leathered—have you heard of it?), or quartz for the kitchen counters! maybe some framing! Don’t forget to follow along on our home-building adventure via Instagram. If you check today, I might even have a construction picture posted (fingers crossed!).

Lulu the Baker Builds a Dream House

Hi! I’m Melissa. I write about food, family, and farm life at Lulu the Baker. My family and I are hopefully about to fulfill one of those good, old-fashioned life-long dreams: we’re building our Dream House.

This is a story long in the making. Dream houses, it seems, take a lot of work.

It began almost exactly 7 years ago. When my husband finished grad school, we put everything we owned in cardboard boxes, strapped our 10-month old into a carseat, and spent Labor Day weekend driving away from everything and everyone we knew, and heading to the wilds of western Oregon. OK, not exactly the wildnerness, just Eugene. After settling into a motel room while waiting for our apartment to be ready and for our belongings to catch up with us, we went for a sunset drive in the countryside. And that’s when we first saw it: The Land. There was a little sign on the side of the highway that said, “Land For Sale,” and it led us to the most perfect parcel of land we could ever imagine. At the top of a hill, overlooking a valley filled with the greens and golds of Oregon in the early Fall, it was 2+ acres on a little country cul de sac, outside of town, but only 12 minutes from Costco (we timed it), and close enough to neighbors that you could borrow a cup of sugar in a pinch. And it was really, really out of our price range.

Nevertheless, we spent the next four years making occasional pilgrimages to The Land and dreaming of someday buying it. We made a few half-hearted offers on it along the way, but the owner refused to budge on the price, which, as it turns out, was a good thing for us! We saved and saved and saved, and when we were ready to buy property in 2010, The Land was still on the market. We made our first serious offer (accompanied by a little sweet-talking and much batting of eyelashes), and lo and behold, it was accepted! The very first piece of property we had ever looked at or dreamt of buying became ours that summer!

We were so excited that we threw a party on The Land. Our friend Annie turned 30 at the end of the summer, and we threw her a big extravaganza in the middle of our 2+ acres. Out there in the middle of nothing, we ate sweet potato fries and crab legs and corn on the cob and tart cherry cakes, and we thought surely we would be able to start building our Dream House before the end of the next year, because that’s how Dream Houses work, right? You just dream them up and they materialize, right?

As it turns out, dream houses take a lot of work. We’ve spent the three years since we bought the land poring over house plans, perusing magazines, catalogs, and design books, meeting with contractors and subcontractors, and saving, saving, saving. We finally broke ground on July 31st! There’s a big, fancy pit in the middle of The Land now, and the kids love to run around in it and wonder which room they’re standing in. With any luck, we’ll have our building permits by the time this article goes live (they were supposed to be issued 2 weeks ago!), and we’re scheduled to pour the foundation before the end of September. My husband spent his day off sinking a temporary power pole and digging trenches for the electrical work. Things are about to get busy at the Dream House!

Will we get the permits in time to pour cement? Will we figure out what flooring to put in the dining room? And will we ever find the apron-front kitchen sink we bought at IKEA last year? Tune in next month to find out what’s happening as Lulu the Baker Builds a Dream House! In the meantime, you can follow along on our building adventure via Instagram, and get a feel for our modern farmhouse style by following our Someday House board on Pinterest! See you in October!

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