Remember when I asked you to be my neighbor? I am finally showing you some of the wonders that await you when you move into one of these houses on my street. Both are built by Riverstone Homes, a high-end, low-volume, father-and-son, hyphenated-hyphenated builder and are ready for you to buy. I’ve gotten to know both the father and son builders a little bit. They are deadly serious about the quality of their homes and spare no expense in the construction. They are also both taller than me which makes them very, very tall indeed.
A couple of people went through our house and the Beige House and said they couldn’t see why the other was so much more expensive. I see the dollar signs everywhere so I thought maybe you’d like to see them. It’s a bit like analyzing poetry or music in that some people feel it destroys the magic. Personally, I’ve always loved analyzing poetry and music which is the fine art of dissecting an animal without killing it. Never kills it for me.
So come on a housetour with me (as many of you have in person) and I will tell you what I see when I look at these rooms.
The cool thing about these houses is that they are the exact same floor plan in mirror image, but their finishes reflect different styles. There’s the Beige House which is a little more traditional. The finishes and fixtures of the Beige House were chosen by the father. Then there’s the Grey House which features more contemporary finishes and au courant colors chosen by the son after he saw how gorgeous my house was. I may be fooling myself about that, but I will say he was very keen to have me approve his selections at the first open house–and I did!!
So here’s the Beige House facade. I like the slightly French Provencal influence in the craftsman look. I do not like the cream trim which on the beige house looks a little dingy to me. So where’s the money? Everywhere. The headers on all the cased windows. Windows on the side-entrance garage. All those charming corbels on the eaves. It’s nice craftsman detail like that which drives up the price. And the stone! The stacked stone watertable is really gorgeous, and that Pennsylvania blue stone flag walkway is about as expensive as you can get without doing some custom mosaic stonework. I kind of like that this craftsman doesn’t have a giant porch. I love the look of giant porches, but I never see people use them and I hate to shade my windows. I wish we had a portico like this for the comfort of people who visit in the rain and snow and so that my wreaths didn’t get destroyed. Maybe someday I will put one on. The many and varied and semi-dormer rooflines are money as well. Personally, I don’t love that look, but it is definitely money.
Okay come inside.
Here in the small parlour we see more money. A gas fireplace, one of three in the house is very nice, but it’s more than that. Look at how the mantle is built out from the wall by several inches. Look at all the trim work on that mantel. And you can tell those floors are sand-in-place oak with no microbevel viciously hoarding crumbs from your exasperated broom. The son builder was ambivalent about the mid-tone oak. He would have rather gone dark (which is still popular but trending out) or light (which we see more and more out here) or greyish (okay, I added that because I am hip). Look how substantial that mantle is, but also how tall. If you put a TV over it which the outlet hints at, your guests might say “That’s too high!” Those people are lame, and you shouldn’t be friends with them anymore.
Same mantel? WRONG! Here’s another gas fireplace in the same house. I don’t like that there isn’t a stone flag in front of these. Sure no coals are going to roll out onto the floor with a gas fireplace, but it still looks weird to me. Note that this one is a streamlined craftsman look with corbels under the mantle as opposed to the other with all the traditional shadow boxing. Not that kind.
Whoa kitchen! Nice right? These are the same Armstrong Trevant cabinets as mine except they 1) do not have the 4 piece frame around the drawers (which makes them cheaper if you’re looking to save) and 2) are the new Linen color which is not nearly as yellow as the Vanilla, but not as icy as my Artic White. Tons of money went into these lit upper cabinets where my (infinitely superior) transom windows would be. Do you love the–erm, do we call them newels or pillasters or what? Am I overthinking it and they’re just posts?–thingies on the corners of the island? I do. Are you loving the bin pulls on the drawers or is that over? I tell you what I don’t love: using the 4″ granite (looks like venetian gold) backsplash and the travertine overtop. Pick one or the other, not both, imho. They have a nice herringbone mosaic travertine over the stove, though, a slamming stove, great prep sink placement, and a big fat gorgeous natural light window right where you want one. Does the white-white of the window casing make the linen-white of the cabinets seem dingy to you?
Okay, keep that in mind as we check out the more contemporary version in the Grey house (note the Grey House was not 100% done when I photographed it.)
Oooh. Sexy grey contrast-color island. I love it!! Again using granite instead of quartz thorughout both houses despite quartz’s growing popularity. At least I thought it was Azul Platino. These are exactly my Armstrong Trevant 5-piece cabinets in Arctic White. There are also super-long contemporary appliance pulls on the long drawers. Dollars.
Check out the contemporary tile too that runs horizontal on the backsplash and vertical behind the stove. Contemporary pendants over the island, too. I have to say all the lighting in both houses puts me to sleep. It’s probably all Kitchler which is the more expensive version of bland if you ask me. Look how well the casing goes with the cabinet color.
Here’s a better shot of the gorgeous, gorgeous grey island which has enough traditional detailing to make the kitchen seem transitional instead of full-on contemporary. One word about island bar seating. Never use a curve. Think about putting chairs under it. The curved portion is literally unusable because you can’t get your knees or your barstool under it. By curving the bar instead of making it rectangular you go from a full 4-seater bar to a 2-seater, or squishy 3-seater. Not cool.
See that hole under the winerack? That’s the vacuum where you sweep your crumbs so you never have to get a dust bin out. Money. I love everything about this island except the white faceplates on the outlets. Take one quick look at island back at the Beige House and note that the faucets are the same in both. With the contemporary cabinet hardware at the grey house, and the overall contemporary finishes, I would have expected a more contemporary faucet.
And yes, you see two dishwashers. Luuuuuust!!!
Now behind these kitchens at the family entrances you’ll find the command center desk. I love that this is out of the kitchen. I hate to have a messy desk in the main living space. Nice pantry, too, but those wire shelves are really bumming me out. This is one of the only cut corners you will see in either house, though. The master closets are KITTED out with custom wood shelving, drawers, racks, the absolute works. Grey House:
And both of the houses have a little mudroom bench and a double door coat closet. But being completely overprivileged by my amazing mudroom locker system, this bench looks way too small to me. And I don’t like the border around the shoe cubbie aperture. I don’t need to lift my shoes into their cubby. I want to kick them in. And that bottom board is going to get jacked up in like 2 minutes by my kids.
I definitely do love the fact that the bench is stained oak. That’s hot. Fluffs and I called this the selfy bench.
Let’s talk trim detail. Grey House:
You see Flufferella in this dining room? You see this nice board and batten wainscoting with ogee/cove? That’s money. You see this standard contemporary chandelier? That isn’t.
But do you see this hardcore trim work in the tray ceiling? It’s actually three pieces, two ogee baseboards and a cove-shaped crown molding. I don’t know how into millwork you are, but trust me it’s stunning in person. Updated craftsman perfection.
And what about the coffered ceiling in both. Love the crown inside, but also that wood trim that comes down about a half inch in all the coffers? Mo-ney. Really nice detailing. I wish for a pot light in each of the coffers, but then, I wish for a lot of things I can’t have.
Okay more money coming up. Not only are the stairs and landings in both homes oak, the major league master bedrooms are more sand-in-place oak as well. They are also an ample but not overwhelming size, and a usable shape.
In the bathrooms, the Grey House keeps the same cool tone color scheme with of-the-moment tile work. Check out this blisteringly hot master bath!
You could have a dance class in that shower. Three shower heads plus body jets. Very current 1′ by 2′ tile (ceramic not stone). An entire foot of stacked stone mosaic listello. I mean money. Excellent use of a transom window! Who doesn’t want natural lighting in the shower to highlight their every flaw across from a giant mirror? I can’t think of anyone.
Plus a freestanding tub, of course. Money.
And here’s what it looks like over at the beige house. Again, the light fixtures are bumming me out, but I’m very adventurous when it comes to lighting.
Note the frameless glass on that enormo-shower. Dollars.
Back to the bathrooms at the Grey House. Super current long, horizontal format tile in this surround in the obligatory grey. This faux bois tile so 2015. And it will look so 2015 in 2019, by the way. But at least it won’t look so 2010, right? Home fashion never holds still.
Check out this glorious granite in one of the bathrooms of the grey house. Looks like Alaska White to me. $$$$. Nice chrome faucet, too.
But egads the contrast grout! I hate that floor. I totally hate it. Solid dark tile in a bathroom? It will always look dirty. And that white grout is doomed. And even the glass brick pattern listello in the shower surround already looks dated to me. Why am I hating on this bathroom so much? Oh, you can tell by the traditional doorhandle that this is the Beige House.
Above is contrast grout at the Grey House. Contrast grey grout in the white ceramic subway tile surround. Very now. Contrast white grout in the grey ceramic faux stone floor? Me no likey. Same granite as the kitchen. Same cabinetry, too, except in espresso. I’m all for contrast grout, but man, you have to do it right.
And below please enjoy my least favorite bathroom of all (Beige House). The quartz countertop appears a) peach, b) like it might be cheap Corian (even though quartz is totally expensive), and c) did I mention peach? If you put a seafoam green hat on the toilet it could be 1988. Also I infinitely prefer my shower niches to these corner shelves that could give you a concussion. And I am so over 1×1 glass mosaic tile. The end. If you’re haven’t put in tile since 2008 congratulations, you can skip right over 1×1 glass mosaic.
Wait, one more. Check out these gorgeous Craftsman crown entry casings. Look at that projection detail on the corners. That is money. Nice butler’s pantry, too, right? I asked the builders why they used these flushmounts instead of pot lights, and they said they just like them better. They use them in the basement instead of pot lights, too. I don’t really get it, but then again, all I can see is that stunning cased entry with the recessed wainscot panel on the frigging wall casing. Laaaah! (Beige House)