Thursday, November 6, 2014

ANNIE SLOAN'S NEW RELEASE

HOT OFF THE PRESS
and at

is NOW available online and in the store
 for only
$27.65
This is a beautiful Hard Cover book!

Find the right interiors recipe for your ideal home with Annie Sloan

 World renowned paint effects guru and color expert Annie Sloan considers what makes a successful interior. Style and color lie at the heart of the matter, but both can be stumbling blocks for the amateur decorator. Annie explains how to achieve your chosen style by creating mood boards and analyzing key factors--scale, focus, display and layout. She examines nine popular styes:

 Boho Chic
 Neo-Classical
 Vintage Floral
 French Style
Swedish Style
 Coastal Style
 Classic Country
 Modern Retro
 and Rough Luxe

Discover, then, the key techniques you'll need to recreate these styles in your own home: color theory (why do some colors work so well together? Why can the same color look dramatically different in different rooms?), using storytelling with pictures and collected treasures, style fusions (combining your favorite styles), and, of course, paint techniques. With stunning photography and packed with practical advice, this will soon become your interior style bible.

Stop in Robyn Story Designs and grab your copy today. 
 Can't come in?  Click HERE for your immediate access to owning your own copy of

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

FINALLY!!! The Final Reveal


My kitchen journey has been wonderful, it turned out exactly how I saw it in my minds eye, actually, it turned out even better than I had expected.  The wonderful people that we met along the way only added to the completely positive experience!

My husband amazes me regularly.  Sure, he gets grumpy and at times he's my Negative Nelly.  But that's why we work so well together, I'm always the one that knows we can do it.  And if something doesn't go the way we planned, we'll find a Plan B that we're both happy with.  Thanks to him for tolerating my constantly changing vision and for working so hard to make these dreams a reality.

Here are a series of pictures of the "During" process as well as the FINAL REVEAL. To save some pennies (you've probably figured out by now that I'm a bit on the cheap side), I did most of the prep work myself.  That includes all the taping around the floor, brown papering the granite, the back splash, the floor, the above cabinet lights, taping the slide rails for the drawers....it seemed like there were miles of blue tape (actually 3, 2 inch rolls) and miles of brown paper.  I even did ALL the Zinssering of the miles of laminate as well as the raw wood on the island to save pennies in prep work.
The blue tape on the doors is covering the glass fronts on the cabinets of a separate bar area.

doors off, spraying  every nook and cranny

Seriously, the plastic was the number one worst part of the project.  I realize it was necessary but the kitchen is in the middle of my house, we were constantly lifting it to go into or around the kitchen!! Love the corbels and the shape of the granite on the high bar!  The corbels appear to be chunky to hold up the granite but they're just there because they look pretty!!

This is a separate bar area that we have.  We were keeping the wood interior (amazing it wasn't laminate!)  so the whole interior  had to be taped and brown papered to protect it from over-spray.  We have glass doors on this section and wanted the pretty wood to show through.  Notice the over-spray on the wall.  I didn't realize I'd be repainting walls after all was said and done.  Another thing I have to add to my list!!
George is adding my dark wood shelves!!  Love how these look!

Working on the hood, still loving the dark shelves. I have not painted above the cabinets yet.  Still working on what I'm going to do and which color I should go with.

The cabinets have been sprayed with three coats of Old Ochre and three coats of  Lacquer, all wood shelves have been installed.  Just waiting for the rest of the cabinet doors and drawers now!

 The above is my favorite picture! This is Jesse from Adams Multicare and he had the chore of replacing ALL the cabinet doors and drawers, making sure they all lined up and were level.  It was a two day process!  I know I underestimated how much work goes into lining up and leveling that many doors.

As you can see, I'm working on a design for above the cabinets.  I have a wonderful stencil that Robyn and I brought home from one of our Home Decor Shows that we attended and I finally brought it out.  I knew there was a reason I bought it.  It's simple and yet it visually fills the space.  What you can't see is that at each junction that the figures meet I added a chocolate colored upholstery tack for dimension.  It looks AMAZING with the chocolate colored glaze on the cabinets.

The corbel installed and painted - not glazed yet but looking great!!

Because I can, I painted the metal threshold from the dishwasher with Chateau Grey so there was more continuity as you look at the kick board.  Love the feet!!!  Love the Color!!!

I think the feet just add another look of a custom job!  Close up of the glazing as well.

I want to take a minute to talk about the Glazing that was used.  As I mentioned I had a very specific look that I was trying to obtain.  I wanted as smooth of a finish as possible and as defined of a glazing job as possible.  I also wanted the sheen that the Lacquer provided.

One of my favorite ways to make a glaze with Annie's products is to mix the Dark Wax with equal portions of the Mineral Spirits until you get a Hershey's Chocolate Syrup consistency.  You then always use the Clear Wax first and then place the Dark Wax Glaze in the crevices that you want to highlight, wiping off the areas that you don't want to  leave the glaze.

The beauty of using the glaze is that it's more forgiving on the surface than the wax.  Meaning, it wipes off cleanly on the surface but stays in areas of definition.  However, you can't use the waxes in conjunction with the Lacquer.

So, after a consultation with my painters I picked out a color as an homage to Annie Sloan, British Brown!!  Love that!!  It's a lovely chocolate brown that was applied with a gun into the crevices of the cabinets and doors after they were Lacquered.  Remember, the Chalk Paint® is porous so sealing the paint before glazing was a must.  Let me tell you, using a glazing gun requires a very steady hand to achieve a look like this.
This is the living room side of the bar with the glass doors.

 The kitchen side of the bar with the glass doors.

A close up of the stencil with the tacks as well as a close up of the glazing.  I love how the stencil visually fills up the space.  I seriously do not want to distract from this area by loading it up with "stuff". This area now is integral into the entire design as a whole and takes it a little out of the traditional design to a more transitional space!

  FINALLY DONE!!!  
I still have a few finishing touches that I need to attend to.  I want to change out the pendant lights, reupholster the stools and add something special in the niches, but aside from those minor items it is a complete project!

BEFORE

AFTER!!!!!!!!

Thank you for you joining me on this journey.  It was a wonderful project made entirely possible by Annie Sloan and her Chalk Paint® as well as my ever supportive husband.
The painters that I chose continually sang Chalk Paint® praises.  They loved that there is virtually no odor (almost no VOC's), the over spray cleaned up with water, the color went on velvety and evenly with the sprayers and the colors are rich and have a density to them that their products don't have.

The lacquer was a pure pleasure to work with.  One thing I learned was that the lacquer should not be applied in hot conditions.  It basically dried too quickly, almost on its way out of the sprayer.  Once it was done in a more controlled environment, no problems at all.  A lovely velvet feeling.  Again, no odor.

I can't sing their praises enough.  Not everyone was willing to do what they did - paint with a product that they've never worked with.  They were committed to doing the best job possible and learning as much as they could about the product.  I applaud them for their dedication and thank them immensely for coming to my rescue during a stressful time in my life.  

Cleverson, the company's estimator and one of their painters, made several trips to  Robyn Story Designs & Boutique.  He loved the feeling of the Chalk Paint® and the waxes and is now looking to do projects using the waxes as well.  I love that - another fan of the paint has been born!!!





When you consider that our estimate for JUST NEW CABINETS was in the high $30,000 range I'm pretty tickled with the amount of work and the products that we purchased for 1/3 of the cost.  Honestly, I'm happier with our work than I was with any of the designs that we  received.  I also think it's our personality to tackle these projects on our own.  We're challenged to make them look like we've spent thousands of dollars on a much smaller budget!

We used more Chalk Paint® than the average person uses in their kitchen because we did every nook and cranny!  If you're just repainting your cabinets and using the Lacquer you can redo your average size kitchen for less than $300.00. 

If you've thought about doing your kitchen and are concerned it's too big of a project, I recommend you jump in and do it.  My words of wisdom:
Enjoy the process, believe in your ability and have fun!!! Even if you paint your own cabinets instead of taking the short cut (but not cheaper for sure) you will love your results.  Just know the look you're trying to achieve, call your local Chalk Paint® retailer for advice and go for it!!!

Next up, our master bathroom!!!  Stay tuned.  Once we recover from our kitchen re-do we'll be tackling our bath.  Guess what?  We have the same cabinetry in there as well and I have some great ideas..........

Monday, August 19, 2013

Kitchen Re-do Part 4

Welcome back to my crazy, upside down world.  

Last I left you I had posted about the additions to our kitchen in an attempt to make it look more custom.  I think we're doing a great job so far! 

Off to find granite. Of course, the projects just grow!  I figured we were saving so much money not having a custom kitchen that I could afford to upgrade from Corian to granite.

This was my Corian.  Not my favorite!

My new granite !  Autumn Leaf from Brazil.  Filled with quartz that reflects the light at every angle!
Granite up against my glass and tunbled stone tile backsplash that I did last year.
Another area of our kitchen.  A bar with glass front doors and a nice new slab of granite!
Time is approaching where we're going to have to start painting.  I know that I wrote about doing a dozen test cabinets.  When I did those I did them using several different techniques.  

First I just brushed the paint on.  As you know, Chalk Paint® was designed to leave texture.  The beauty of this is that it gives the waxes a wonderful place to snuggle.  The waxes enhance all areas of texture whether it's definition from a carved design or just brush strokes..  However, I'm not using the waxes so all of that texture wasn't necessary.

So, I watered the paint down a bit to give it a more smooth finish.  Actually, because I am a very meticulous painter this method appeals to me on many levels.  I love a smooth finish and then burnishing it before waxing.  It's just luscious.  But again, I'm not waxing.

Then I used a high density foam roller to see if this would speed up the process a little and give me the smoother finish that I was looking for.  It did but I still wasn't sure which direction to go in.

Once we started to remove the cabinet doors, it occurred to us that the laminate continued through the inside of the cabinets as well.  Inside is a white laminate with white shelves.  I tell you, I'm in laminate hell!

Our project just got bigger, because my ideas have gotten bigger.  I now want all of the insides of the cabinets painted and I'm going to change out the white shelves for dark wood shelves.  I love the idea of opening up the cabinet and seeing the dark shelves pop against the Old Ochre interior.  Ohhh la la, it sounds magnificent.....but oh boy, I still have to paint on the Zinsser's Clear Shellac all over the interiors of the cabinets as well as the entire box on the wall that is laminate.  I also need to prep the raw wood on the island.  I plan on using the Zinsser's for this as well.  Raw wood will absorb the paint differently than my cabinet doors.  I want all things to be even!!

For those that don't understand what I'm speaking of, Chalk Paint® - the wonderful product that it is - will paint over almost any surface!!  Even laminate.  However, for extra assurance it's best to paint the laminate with a product called Zinsser's Clear Shellac.  This is a product that will adhere to many surfaces and then allow you to paint Chalk Paint® over it without concern that the paint won't adhere.


 I have A LOT of surface areas to paint over.  It also comes in a spray can, and as much as I love this product, my experience is that the spray does not provide a solid enough coverage to be effective.  It's best to brush on a nice even coat or two for the best bonding. 

My project begins.  I bought several cans of the Zinsser's and have begun painting all laminate areas.  I have to be honest.  Not only am I painting all laminate areas but then I have to paint all surface areas with the Old Ochre and Chateau Grey.  I'm beginning to get overwhelmed at the thought of 45 cabinet doors and drawers as well as all of their internal components.  Not to mention working, planning my daughter's wedding and dealing with my father in law's estate as well as all of the everyday chores.

I decided it was time to investigate having the Chalk Paint® sprayed on instead of me hand painting it.  This would take less time, give me the super smooth finish I'm looking for and free me up to deal with the messes in my life.   I also loved the idea of sharing this product and it's abilities to be dealt with on a commercial level.  

I called a local refinishing company, Adams Multicare Company, and told a gentleman named Derek my sob story.  He had someone come out the same day to take a look at the project.  I showed the estimator, Cleverson,  my cabinets that I'd painted and gave him a long introduction into the world of Chalk Paint®.  He was intrigued and loved my prototypes.  He wanted 'in'!  I was thrilled.  I loved his enthusiasm and we became instant friends.

 They showed up the very next day to take over my project!  This was what I walked into after a long day at work.  This is the picture of progress, right???

Stay tuned for the reveal. I hope you like it...it's been a long haul but I am incredibly thrilled with the transformation. 








Saturday, August 17, 2013

Kitchen Re-do Part 3

Sometimes life throws us a curve ball.  

Our house has been in shambles for weeks.  Progress is occurring, slower than I had hoped but I do see changes that I love each day.  However, we hit a major stand still.  
One of my favorite men has passed away.  My first father-in-law (a story too long to tell in this blog)  John Corman is no longer in my world and I feel that my foundation has been shaken.  He's been a part of my life since I was 15 - that's a long time.  So, our project had been on hold while we dealt with our emotions and managing his estate.

We continue to do what we can in between flights up north and cleaning out the house etc.  George has been traveling with work as well.  So, it's been slooooooowww.  Painfully, slow.

We have managed to get our microwave built into another area of our kitchen.  What used to be a pantry has now been divided.
The tall cabinet next to the refrigerator is a pantry, but George broke down the middle cabinet and built a shell to hold the built in microwave and repositioned the cabinet doors
Now the new microwave is in!!  Notice the drawer at the bottom.  That never existed before, however, with the reconfiguration of the cabinet we had an extra twelve inches at the bottom.  Since I'd lost a little storage space to relocate the microwave George built a large drawer to accommodate lots of stuff!!!  He even found a cabinet company online (again, thank goodness for Google) that would replicate your cabinet profile.  So we ordered it and it looks identical to our existing cabinets.  Of course, the wood doesn't match but we're painting it anyway!!!

We also removed the existing crown molding and added the taller molding.  I also had George add a one inch piece of wood below the molding.  Essentially it gave us an additional five inches in height from the top of our cabinet to the top of the molding.  This gives the cabinets a grander appearance.

I also started playing with the Old Ochre - getting a little anxious to start
Next, time to start thinking about the island.  Below is the before picture.  It was finished with just dry wall when we moved in and again, it was another area that screamed for some sort of design.  So, because I love painting stripes I thought I'd give it some personality.  It really looked better in person.  However, this is not a custom look.  I wanted a nice, chunky, more custom appearance.
look at those tiny little corbels.  I even dislike the shape of the bar and of course, the counter-tops will have to go!!!

 Here we've wrapped the island in unfinished wood

 We also decided to build in a niche - why not!! A nice little place on each end of the island to display something. Don't worry about all of the gaps in the woodwork.  One thing I'm great at is caulking - I actually love to caulk.  Thankfully, because George hates to caulk - did I mention we're the perfect team!!!

 
The other end of the island

Below is a picture of the very boring kick board that bridges the floor and the base of the cabinets.  This was where I wanted to add the furniture feet to give it a more custom look.  Again, notice the difference in the wood color and the laminate!

 Below is a picture of one foot glued to the kick board.  Loving the look.  In my minds eye I see it complete and know it will be exactly what I'm looking for.

Unfortunately, our project is on hold again for another trip up north.  I'm concerned at this rate that I'll never get a minute to start painting.

Keep checking back!!!  More to come....a big REVEAL is on it's way soon!!!
a sneak peak...
the island, no where near done but so far the color is GORGEOUS!
 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Kitchen Re-do Part Two

Kitchen Deconstruction has begun.  Exactly what did I get myself into???

In our kitchen, as I've mentioned, we have these not so nice wood and laminate combination cabinets.  Who doesn't love wood?  Well, there's a time and a place for all things.  Natural Maple being one of them.  The laminate is the bain of my existence.

notice the two different colors!!

I want one of those beautiful custom kitchens.  You know the ones I'm talking about on HOUZZ.  Seriously, whose idea was HOUZZ anyway?  I love them but I hate them at the same time.  How can lil 'ole me, get that look without the unlimited funds that are spent to achieve the looks on HOUZZ!
A look I love

At least Pinterest has lots of us DIYer's posting ideas that are attainable on an average person's budget!

When we were out looking at having a kitchen made for us I kept going towards the painted/glazed cabinet.  I just love that look.  We have a separate island as well and we thought about doing the contrasting color and then having it all finished with a nice mocha glaze.
Another look but I want a contrasting island color

After getting the estimates - not changing the footprint at all - just new cabinets with crown molding and light rail molding (the molding that goes under the cabinet to hide the under cabinet lighting) we were looking at a minimum of $30,000.  Of course, I wanted some of the bells and whistles.

My wish list was:
  • Furniture feet at the base of the cabinets to look more custom
  • Large corbels on my island to give it some gerth
  • Taller crown molding
  • Stainless Steel Range hood that would go to the ceiling
  • Built in microwave, as opposed to the one above the range

That didn't seem like too much to ask.  Apparently it was.  These items increased our estimate by several thousand dollars.  Aaaarrgghhh. 

What's a girl to do?  After our last custom estimate I came home depressed.  I just couldn't justify spending that much on something that didn't thrill me or on a house that I'm not sure I want to die in!! ( I really do want to get to the water eventually).  So we abandoned the ship.

Now you all have probably already thought the obvious.  It took me another week of mulling over my options until it hit me!

CHALK PAINT® a decorative paint.

I've seen others use it on their cabinets, I work with the paint on a regular basis, I've assisted in doing other peoples cabinets (melamine no less!!), we hold workshops that tell people how to achieve any look they desire and here I am not practicing what I preach. 
 I should have been fired for not thinking this first!!!
check out our blog post http://robynstorydesigns.blogspot.com/2011/12/fabulous-melamine-update-with-annie.html
So, after a bourbon Manhattan that I mixed up for George, I started my discussion on how I felt the kitchen should go.
I am incredibly lucky to have a very talented and incredibly patient husband that loves and embraces my ideas.  He's the one that actually takes the ideas that are in my mind and creates magic!  (And they say men can't read women's minds......mine can!!! )He loves the challenge of wood working and if I promised to buy him any toy, ahem, excuse me - tool, he may need surely, he would oblige my every whim, right?
my Mr. "Bring on the Challenge" and Me
As it turned out, he was excited about the project and what we could do together!  So we hit the ground running!
We started by taking a trip to our local Sears Outlet.  I also realized that the Wolff and Viking appliances were not in my budget.  But I wanted a built in microwave.  Low and behold, they had a great one with the teeniest of dings that you can't see!!!  For a bargain.  So we purchased it and brought it home with great plans to build it in to an existing area of our cabinetry.
this shows the mircrowave and the cabinet above the range

oh boy, point of no return.  We took out the cabinet in preparation for a stainless hood
The work has begun.  We already knew where we were going to put the new microwave so we sold our old one on Craigslist (I am an addict and need a 12-step program to stop selling/buying on Craigslist).

Now that the area is void of anything we also needed to find a range hood that would fit our 30" opening.  We searched high and low and nothing really fit the bill (that also fit our price range).  There are hundreds on the market but their prices are unbelievable and many of them look like flying saucers!!

We actually walked into our local IKEA and stumbled upon the range hood that encompassed all of my design needs - it wasn't too contemporary and definitely had a more transitional appeal
(We learned that although there is no brand name located on the hood it is actually made by Whirlpool and privately labeled for IKEA.)

Next decision was how, when, what color, what finish to do the cabinets in.  So, we took a trip to our local Habitat ReStore and purchased a dozen old cabinet doors that look exactly like ours.  Then I got busy painting each one a different color, mixed a few colors of Chalk Paint® together and kept on painting.  After many test cabinets I stuck with my original thought.

Old Ochre for the majority of my kitchen, this is truly my favorite neutral!
and
Chateau Grey for the island.  I am a green girl, this color has always been my favorite.

Next was how to finish them.  Of course, I adore the waxes and the finishes that you can achieve with them, but I have also grown very fond of the Annie Sloan Lacquer.  So, again, test cabinets galore....we opted to use the Lacquer. 

The reason was pretty simple.  I found a cabinet from a major cabinet maker that I loved and this was the way I wanted my cabinets to look - exactly like them.  The look was: color, slight sheen with a gorgeous defined glazed in a deep chocolate.  We are trying to bridge traditional style into a more transitional style, perhaps with a nod to contemporary.

So, after doing a dozen test cabinets, which took me a few weeks to accomplish because of my schedule and George's, we finally figured out the look we were going for. 

Now, I've accomplished two of the items on my wish list.  We needed to source out my furniture feet to put along the kick board under the cabinets for a more custom look.  Thank goodness for Google!
here's where we found them here: http://www.osbornewood.com/4084.cfmthe The best price and the perfect design and measurements.
 Now to find the chunky corbels.  I knew exactly the look I wanted so we found another source online for those as well.
These are gorgeous and so chunky with great length;  I found them here:http://www.vandykes.com/28-scroll-low-profile-corbel/p/210179/

Last, but certainly not least was the crown molding.  I wanted something taller (our existing molding was only three inches, I wanted a four inch molding at minimum.  George's office is across the street from a custom wood manufacturer.  During lunch he took a ride over and checked it out and found the exact molding we have in other areas of our home.  Perfection.

Now, I have all the components that I need to continue with our re-do.  Check back to see the progress!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Kitchen Re-do Part One!

My name is Lori and I work at 
Robyn Story Designs - a job that I adore.
I think Confucius once said
"Find a job that you love and you'll never work a day in your life"
Enough said......
There are far more pro's to my job then con's.  
On a regular basis I meet the most amazing people
Loyal customers come by each day and I'm happy to be able to say they have become friends
I work with a group of people that I simply adore. 
I am paid to be creative...seriously, that in itself is a HUGE bonus
and of course, Robyn.  She's qwerky and crazy and one of the smartest women I know.
One of the best aspects of my job is helping people create a home.  Robyn Story Designs has the most beautiful home decor items.  We are fortunate to be asked regularly to please help someone with their house.  So we load up Robyn's van with all sorts of wonderful goodies and head over to our clients home to re-accessorize, reorganize and redesign their spaces.
an example of what we do!

a picture of one of our client's homes
This is for sure an amazing thing, however, I then have to come home to my house.  I love my home but after you've spent a day at one of our client's homes, mine feels a bit 'inadequate'.

 Here lies the 'con' of my job.
Robyn and I say regularly that we wish someone would come in and do for us what we do for others,
there just isn't enough time in a day to concentrate on your own stuff when you're busy running a successful boutique and design service.
one of my favorite vignettes, filled with lovely beauties

So, not feeling content with our home we started the search for perfection
or at least something that was a change from what we have

We spent our winter house-hunting
condo searching...
Thinking we could downsize to a place on the water.
If you are lucky enough to live in Florida
why not surround yourself with all that Florida has to offer

Water
Boats
 Palm Trees

and
Sunshine

Well, we learned after 6 intensive months of research and house hunting
Why we needed to stay put.
Apparently, I have expensive taste (this surprised no one!) and a very light wallet
Living on the intracoastal or the beach is BIG bucks
So, we came home after the last exhaustive day and decided to redo things in our own home.
After all, we live on the water...
Okay, a lake...but we have an amazing back yard so why not stay and spend a little in our home to make it even better. 

And that's where it all began.

The kitchen is the heart of our home.  I love to cook and it always seems our family congregates in the kitchen.  Moving South from Pennsylvania was a big decision and one that I was totally onboard with, but the one thing I struggled with most was leaving my beautiful kitchen.
 It was just a dream kitchen.

Down here, things are different, homes are built with different priorities.  It wasn't until months of searching that I finally asked a builder why the kitchens are just 'eh' unless we spend a lot more money than I wanted to spend.  The reason was simple - does a builder invest $40,000 into a great kitchen or do they spend $40,000 into a gorgeous pool/lanai area?

Pools in Florida are as necessary as fireplaces in Montana.

That being said, we decided to start in our 'eh' kitchen.


 Don't judge me on this kitchen.  Yes, it is mine before our transformation.  But you have to work with what you have....right?
Let me point out what I DO like, I like staggered cabinets.  It gives a little more interest to a kitchen.
 But the problem with them is what do you do above them?  There's a large expanse of wall above them just screaming for something.  So I filled it up with stuff to visually fill the space

  I LOVE crown molding above cabinets
But if it's insignificantly sized, it looks like it's missing something.

The below picture will tell you what really started our disdain.  The cabinet doors are all natural solid wood with a natural maple stain.
However the box that held the doors is all laminate.

What happens over a period of time is that the wood will age, naturally, and the laminate will stay the same...........FOREVER.  Ugh, how I hated to see this and it is very obvious when you enter our kitchen.  Look at the pictures above, between the doors you'll see the lighter color.  Hated it.

So more research had begun. We went to Home Depot and Lowe's (my home away from home) and had them redesign our kitchen.
We went to Kraftmaid Kitchen Center and had them redesign our kitchen
We checked out several local Kitchen and Bath centers for their ideas.

We discovered that a new kitchen (just cabinets, not granite, not new appliances and no real bells and whistles) was going to cost us roughtly $30-40 thousand dollars.

GULP!!!

Not in this home and not in this time of our economy.  But you know what the kicker was?
Nothing excited us.  How can we spend that kind of money and not be excited about what we were getting?!

Seemed ridiculous.

Stay tuned for our progress, the decisions we made and our finished project!
This is the beginning of a journey.  Feel free to offer advice or share your stories.
We all learn from eachother!