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  • Tara Lenney

our new house design inspiration + plans

Man oh man, you guys. This is a FUN post to share. I am struggling to even find the words to express all of the excitement I have for getting to design a house for our family!


As someone who spends her entire life designing for other people, I need to tell you about a strange phenomenon that takes place - it is quite possible, after designing hundreds of homes and looking at millions others on Pinterest, to lose touch with your personal sense of style. Design a Parisian kitchen....now I want one! Farmhouse master bathroom? That's fun too! Mid century split level? SURE, I'll take one of those as well. Who am I anymore?!?!?

The plus side of this is that playing with different styles is one of my favorite parts of the job, and constantly being exposed to different styles and trends allows me some freedom to let my style evolve over time. Which I think is important for everyone, not just designers! Let's face it, we aren't the same people we were when we were 20 (and if you're 20 reading this, let me tell you, as you inch closer to 40 this will be true for you as well! Also, start treating your skin for crow's feet now. You will thank me later.


Our homes in our 20's and early 30's were dominated by mid century design and COLOR. And I don't regret a single bit of it. Well there was a questionable avocado green apartment way back there, but I still stand by my blue velvet sofa. But I find myself being drawn more and more to minimalism, natural colors, and a more subdued color palette. Still color, for sure, but less vibrant. Maybe this is a part of getting older? Maybe it's a reaction to the fact that my children are loud so my walls don't have to be? Or trying to create a calm home to escape the chaos of our crazy world? I can't be sure of the reasons, but I am sure it's happening.


This house is going to be a bit of a style departure from what we've had in the past. The architecture of the house is very Classic Southern. If you wanted to put a technical term on it, it's probably a cross between Victorian Farmhouse and American Foursquare. But labels are limiting so I'm just calling it BEAUTIFUL.


This is what the exterior of the house will look like, but with a different color palette:


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Can we call just take a moment to take in this front porch situation?!? OH the amount of iced coffees and mint juleps will be consumed on this porch. Color palette-wise we're going in a slightly different direction, like these beauties:



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I went back through every dream house I'd pinned over the last 5 years, and 90% of them were white houses with black accents. This is why Pinterest and Mood Boards are SO handy, because when you look back at things you have loved over time and step back and view them as a whole you can start to see patterns emerge. I'll talk more in a future post about how to negotiate with your builder to get the color palette you are after, even if it's not being offered to you (spoiler alert - I created my finish package out of thin air).


There is just something magical to me about a black and white house. So classic, and such an incredible backdrop for landscaping. Also it doesn't hurt that nearly every Scottish Distillery (the land of my people + the water of life) has white walls and black accents!


Onto the Inside, which I clearly have passionate feelings about! Like I mentioned, this house is much more traditional/classic than our current 1970's house which leans much more mid century. I am a huge proponent of having the inside of your home compliment the exterior, so everything we have now will not 100% translate to the new house. But MCM is a part of my soul and I will never let it go. My goal is to combine the clean lined modern elements of our style along with a new-traditional spin on a classic southern home. SO SIMPLE, RIGHT!?


Here's a few inspiration images that are checking those boxes for me. I'm culling hundreds of pins down to hopefully a manageable dozen or so for your viewing pleasure.


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We are going to have a stair situation very similar to this guy. I'm loving the light wood floors, modern balusters, and wood handrail combo. Overall I want to stick with a warm white paint like we have now (our current walls are BM White Dove, but we have to use Sherwin Williams, so I'm leaning towards Pure White) but with some deep, rich accents for contrast.

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Also we will definitely be needing a bench like this. The entryway is loooooong and we have zero entry furniture in our current house! And clearly as many house plants as Steven will allow me to have (and probably a few that we won't tell him about shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh).


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This house will have an office right off the entry looking onto the front porch (insert happy dance here!) and we are definitely leaning towards a moody look. Steven has always wanted a dark moody library office. You're welcome, babe. It works out because I want it too but with the bonus that it makes me look gracious.


Onto the Kitchen! Y'all, I could share inspiration for dayssssss on the kitchen. It is truly the center of my world.

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The kitchen is open to the living and dining room, and it is just BEGGING for some rich color to anchor that wide open space. Also I've never regretted painting the base cabinets at our current house a dark color - they wear well and it keeps me from obsessing over cleaning them constantly. Leaning towards Sherwin Williams Greenblack or Mount Etna.



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The living room is a little tricky. We will have a corner fireplace, which is NOT my favorite. It's a space planning challenge and I just don't think they look as welcoming. But not all battles with a production builder are winnable, and this was a fight I had to concede on. The plans were already permitted and they weren't willing to make the change. Can't win 'em all. I do think we'll be able to make it lovely though. I keep going around on what I want it to look like, but leaning towards a very simple mantle (either wood or cast stone) and maybe some thin brick up the wall behind it?? If you have any corner fireplaces that you love PLEASE feel free to send them my way!



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The master bathroom is funny. I had in my mind that I really wanted a dark (probably black) floor, but when I went back to my Pins I found that the vast majority had white floors. WHO KNEW?! I do think I'll do a darker shower wall tile so it's not all white. Definitely want a light wood vanity to bring in some warmth.



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I am really wanting to try our hands at wall paneling! We have the tools and the basic understanding of how things go together. What could go wrong?!? Thinking about adding details like this in the powder bath to start (maybe a half-wall with wallpaper above??!) as well as some board and batten in the laundry room. Maybe we'll get really brave and add moulding to the entryway hall?!? I'm getting ahead of myself.



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Now for the boys' bathroom! All three boys will be upstairs and sharing a bathroom for the foreseeable future. I have been DYING to do a plaid tile floor for some time now. I've proposed it to a few clients and none of them have taken the bait, so now is the time!


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We won't splurge for a stain grade vanity in here most likely. Probably a painted deep green since that keeps showing up in all of my images?!?! Something dark and masculine, but not black.


That is absolutely the shortest version I could manage, you guys! Here's the floor plan in case any of you love reading floor plans as much as I do, and to give you a feel for the layout of the house:




Have I mentioned that I am so pumped? I feel like that's the only phrase I've said for the last two weeks (other than the phrase I AM SO TIRED). Over the next 2 weeks I will work with the builder to nail down all of the cabinetry, appliances, finishes, and fixtures for the whole house. You KNOW there will be a post on that for you and how to navigate all of those choices. Stay tuned!


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