Behind the Build: Our December Update

Jenna Kutcher 

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December 22, 2022


Oh man, so much can happen in a month! In life, in children growing up, and in homebuilding. This past month we flew down south for a little sunshine and reprieve before winter set in, while we were away, so much work was being done on the home! When I tell you it was like Christmas coming home to see all that was new, I’m not exaggerating. We usually head to warmer temps in the early months of the year but knowing that we would be close to completion, we decided to fly the coop early and then return home to start packing and preparing for the big move.

While we were hoping to be in the house for the holidays, reality sunk in that it wasn’t going to happen and we had time to prepare Plan B! We’ve been so fortunate to have been able to stay in our current home but the new family is ready to move on in (and we thought the timing would work out well!) The great news is, we’ll have movers come and get all of our stuff, store it, and then we’ll spend some time at the lake house while we await the finishing touches. While it’s not totally ideal to have Coco out of school and to be 2.5 hours away from the project, it’ll be a fun little winter escape and more focused time as a fam before we move on in.

Details, details, details

So many of the things we picked out a year ago are now being installed! From light fixtures to drawer pulls, shower heads to faucets, it’s all going in and making the house feel like a home! While we were away, the hardwood floors were installed throughout the house and while they are covered up for protection, they look SO good! Seeing the sconces and chandeliers and all of the lighting go up really adds warmth and charm to the home. The shower glass was installed, mirrors were hung, the rubber flooring in the gym was laid, and garage doors were installed. It’s hilarious, but I’ve never been more excited to see things like a toilet in its proper place.

Part of the building process that’s intimidating is making so many selections, especially with a custom home. You’re choosing tile, lights, fixtures, paint — literally, everything for every room and I’ve honestly been delighted and surprised to be reminded of some of our selections that I totally forgot about over the last year. I’m also so crazy thankful that we’ve had input from the designers at Alma Homes to spring ideas off of and to help us nail the design that we want for the house.

One of my favorite features, our fireplace, got stone put on and it totally transformed our great room! Something I love about the stone for our fireplace is that it’s Fond du Lac stone which was from a quarry miles from where Drew grew up! Little details like that make our home feel so special. I’m already so excited to snuggle up on the couch with the family and watch the seasons change through the massive windows in the great room!

Part of the Process

Can I just say that this entire process has been smoooooth sailing so far? Like whenever we tell people we’re building, we’re usually met with “Oh my gosh, are you so stressed?” And to be honest, we haven’t really had any big delays or concerns — I mean, I know there have been some things but our builders have just handled them and we’re on a “need to know” basis which is honestly fabulous for my anxiety!

The biggest snafu happened this month and it’s quite frankly a mystery we’re still trying to solve! When choosing our paint and trim colors, we just went really simple (remember: I wanted really traditional, timeless choices for the big stuff and bold design in areas that easy to change down the road!) Well, we choose the same paint color for the walls and trim, just different finishes and the painters were doing their thing. When we got home from Arizona, I walked into the entryway, a space where we have some really cool molding and I immediately knew something was off.

I couldn’t put my finger on it but the contrast between the walls and the molding was funky. The walls looked butter yellow, the trim looked more like primer white and together, they didn’t really work. I said something to Drew who thought my eyes were playing tricks on me (don’t try and convince a photographer that she can’t see color!) and dreaded sending an email to our team. I honestly was convinced that it was something that I chose (and chose wrong) but upon further investigation, somewhere in the process of mixing the paint color, something was off. We checked our selections, hunted down receipts, called the vendor, just about everything and while I mainly noticed it in the entryway, the reality was that allllll of the trim and doors in the home were painted the wrong color. (Such a bummer!)

The worst part was, it wasn’t anyone’s fault! So we had to figure out the plan in terms of what truly needed to be repainted, what we could leave as is since it wasn’t as noticeable in places, and then push out the timing on a few key items like carpet install and wallpaper install while we got the painting team on the schedule again and made sure we got the right shade of paint!

What’s Left to Do

Here we are wrapping things up and this is the FUN part! Wallpaper install, carpet install, cabinet hardware, garage epoxy flooring and cabinet install, appliance install, backsplash install, Modular Closets install and more! Once all of the general construction work is complete then we get to move to the design phase. A lot of our furniture won’t arrive until spring so we’ll be bringing what we’ve currently got for the meantime and I am so excited to decorate and watch the interior come to life with our furniture selections!

Saving Until Spring

Let me preface this with saying: I love where we live! However, being in a tundra-like climate can present challenges when it comes to building. We were cutting it close on a few crucial parts like getting a septic tank in before the ground froze and getting our stucco up before the temps were too low. We had to opt to finish some major things in the spring, which means our exterior will be incomplete but fully functional. From the final coat of stucco which will make our home a creamy white (I can not wait!) to pouring sidewalks and a stoop, landscaping and painting our garage doors black, it’ll feel like we get two big reveals on this home, the interior so soon and the exterior in the spring!

It’ll give us time to settle on in on the inside and then see how everything settled and thaws out after the snow melts, so I’m honestly not too mad about it! It’ll also give us time to thoughtfully plan landscaping and figure out how we plan to use the space! So excited to keep watching our home come to life over this next year!

What we’re most excited for

I feel like every day we inch closer to the finish line! We keep looking at each other and saying what we’re excited for. From living into the woods and having privacy to fun features like our cold plunge and sauna, there’s so much we can’t wait for! Coco’s very excited about her “tie dye” wallpaper and her Pottery Barn bed that looks like a little tent, I can not wait to have my own office space (typing this from our spare bedroom with a dog and a kid next to me!) and Drew can not wait for our home gym. One thing I love about our house is that we built it exactly how we plan to use and enjoy it.

We always chuckle when watching HGTV and how people obsess over the perfect house for hosting and while we absolutely can not wait to host our family and friends in the space, we recognize that 98% of the time it’ll just be us, our family, and so we wanted to design something that would work well for OUR every day lives and we did just that!

One of the biggest blessings has been how Alma Homes has advocated for everything to be done juuuust right for us! I don’t even want to see their punch list of the final puzzle pieces because they are perfectionists to their core but I am utterly thankful to have full confidence that the home we’re moving into is not only our dream home but it was built right! Hoping our next house update includes US living inside of it!


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A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

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