Whew!! Where do I even begin?!? There are SO many things I want to cover in today’s post and I am just not sure how to minimize it, lol! [This is not a new problem for me, I love sharing details! John always tells everyone “if you want the long, detailed stories – ask Em, if you want the quick version, ask me!”]
Well! If you can’t tell, the big news is that The Gemma Gang is building a new home! This has been our dream for 5+ years! Before we bought the home we are in currently, we knew we would be building down the road. We had a “game plan” and we had lots of goals set to make our game plan happen and it all ended up happening sooner than anticipated – I will explain everything as I go along so bear with me.
**Grab a coffee or some Chic-Fil-A bc this is a going to be a long post!**
So our home building process actually started in May of last year  – soon after Luke was born. At this point, we were ready to buy a lot. We had planned to buy a lot and then later on build on that lot but things got moving so much more quickly than we anticipated. It has truly been a whirlwind the past 15 months! First of all, we love our home right now – we did a ton of work renovating and updating this house and we just adore this home. One of the best parts of our home is that we live on almost 1 acre which is considered “large” [where we live]. In fact, when we were buying this home, the guy at the bank said “hmm is there a big pool at this home?” and I said [confused] “no… I wish!” and he said “hmm, it looks like your house holds more value because of the back yard – is there something unique back there?” and then I showed him that we have a large yard with great privacy and a beautiful view and explained that that was normal for this area. To some, this may be “typical” but in Oklahoma where there are no mountains, rolling hills- just lots of “flat” land. We have just loved this home so much and to be honest, part of the reason I have held off on sharing that we are building is because I often get so sad about leaving this home. We flipped the kitchen, master bathroom, powder bathroom, and floors and more – and we just love it. However, we find that we spend so much time driving several miles around the Tulsa area to shoot, run errands, go to appointments, go to our favorite grocery store, favorite restaurants, etc. and we realized we would be better off in a different area. I’ll be real – I want to be within 5 minutes of my regular ‘stops’. For example, my OBGYN is about 25-30 minutes away and when I was expecting Luke I always felt like it took forever to get to my doctor’s office / hospital! Obviously, my obgyn is not the only place we would like to be closer to- there are SO so many regular errands we run that we wish we could be closer to! I could go on forever but we just wanted to be in a different location so we spend less time driving, waiting at lights, etc.! Additionally, since I am self-employed I work from home so I have always needed a larger office space and a closet to call my own- amongst many other things! Also, I am a ‘creative’ [ha] so my mind is constantly creating ideas and thoughts in my head and there are so many things we want specifically for my line of work. Right now, we can’t eat in our dining room because it serves as part of my office as well, lol!
So, rewind to last spring , Luke was born and a couple of weeks later we began our hunt for ’the lot’. We found one lot that we thought would work…. kind of. We just knew we wanted a lot that was the same size as ours now if not larger. Again, this is not something that is easy to find. Where we live, if you want to live in an area close enough to ’town’ you have to spend a LOT of money to get a large lot. One of the reasons we like large lots is because we value privacy, but also because we want for Fitz to have a large area to run and play and we want Luke and all of my nieces and nephews to have a place to run and play as well. I probably sound crazy, but we would rather have a smaller home with a large lot than a larger home. I grew up going outside to play with all of the neighbors and making mudpies every single day after school/church so its just something special to me. John plays basketball outside regularly. In fact, as soon as we bought our current home he got a $2000 basketball hoop put in! I remember being so shocked like “hoops cost $2000??!” And all of his friends and my dad and brother being like “yes Emily and you will be so glad you have it later!” And they were right, of course. The family spend so much time playing at that hoop! Luke absolutely loves to be outside running and playing so with all of this – we just were committed to finding a similar sized lot – we just value yards I guess, haha! Anyway, we found one lot that we *thought* would work and we spent some time getting it looked at and evaluated thinking it may be the lot for us. There were a lot of questions about the lot though – for example – it was not flat – it had a lot of drop offs and we were concerned about the logistics of it, honestly. We had some people look it over and said it would be tough to make use out of the entire lot due to the location/levels/etc. Last summer we realized it was not going to work out – and that that lot was not ‘for us’ if you will. Looking back, though I was discouraged that it was not going to work out, it ended up actually working out perfectly. Funny how God does that right?
Not too long after we realized the first lot wouldn’t work, we were given the idea to think outside of the box more. Initially, I was nervous about this part, but it worked out so well! We ended up buying a much larger lot but spent months jumping through hoops to get it all worked out. We worked with a builder on this part and he actually helped us get through it all. So much of it I didn’t fully understand but we hired some specialist to help with it all. John and I both work full time and travel for my work so we were oftentimes not even in the state! Our builder kind of worked through all of the details. I didn’t realize what it took with building – buying lots, working with banks, have people come out and see if things pass code or having the city approve of changes, going to monthly city meeting for permits, the list goes ON and ON! There are SO many things – it is just crazy! Prior to closing on this particular lot, we had already had our meetings with the architect and our builder. Last summer we had our first meeting with the architect and woah, that was also a blur. First of all, I was late to the meeting! I had just flown home from a trip only to find out that my SD card was corrupt and I stayed up the entire night [w/a newborn mind you!] calling experts all over the country trying to find someone to rescue this SD card. I had several campaigns on it and I had to go live with them that week and I had contracted deadlines. [No I didn’t recover the card – had to reshoot it all in one day!] Anyway, I was late for our first meeting, luckily, John had filled the architect in as did our builder. I don’t tell people what I do for work – to be honest – very few really ‘get it’ so I don’t share it. However, John did tell the architect about my work and woah, he went above and beyond! By the time I got to the meeting, he had a great understanding and I could tell his brain was turning with ideas. I’ve always had certain things that I love – and we put all of those down & he helped make it evolve! Two weeks later we met him again and he had our first draft and so many ideas – he also said “I read your blog and I saw that you use your bathroom to take photos of makeup and hair things so I really want to get creative with X,Y,Z”. It was really sweet and I totally didn’t expect that! He really helped us think through details – little things like windows and doors and the time of day I shoot and where the natural lighting would be best! It was amazing honestly. Our home is completely custom so we have chosen every little detail. Since 2012 I have had an album on my phone of homes I love and ironically I have continued loving that style so it was not hard to make a lot of decisions. [And fortunately for us, John likes the same things I do!] I also had little things like entry way floors, doors, my closet floor, and our formal living area flooring saved -they were things I knew I’d always dreamed of having in a home.
As summer ended and fall approached our builder was busy trying to get all of the work done on the back end to get the lot we wanted – it was a complicated situation so it took longer than expected. It also didn’t help that we were out of the state/country every other week from September through December pretty much. It seems like a blur to me, honestly. Every couple of weeks we would drive out there and look at the lot and imagine what it would be like- I will post photos below! I remember when the concrete was poured I was just so giddy! It’s so funny because my friends who are building drive by daily and check in on their homes all of the time and I always think “wow, its’ been two weeks, I should drop in!”. As we close in on the process, I do go by more now but the first few months I was just too busy. I did have several large meetings last winter where I sat down and ‘nailed’ down everything- it was so much work but I would do it in large batches at one time. One of the challenges with building a custom home is trying to stay within your budget – this is especially hard for me, haha! I am fortunate that I had done a lot of the renovations on my house now so I had a good idea of the types of wood flooring, marble, quartz, etc. that I liked!
This is SO long so I will try to wrap it up! Basically, we are more than half way done with the house! In fact, we are probably 3/4 of the way done! Its crazy how quickly it came along once the details were all worked out! My good friend called back in May and asked when I was going to share that we were building and I said “good question!”. She got on to me because she had just found out we were building and couldn’t believe we don’t talk about it more [but that is just because we have a lot on our plates]. I explained to her that it is not always at the top of my head because of mom & work obligations and I had actually assumed I’d already told her! She laughed and said “well, you need to share it soon on your blog, it seems like a secret now!” SO! I am excited to finally share. I said I’d post about it in May but May got busy so I said June and then June got busy and once the house progressed we decided we’d share before fall gets here! When it comes to building, I find that the last part is the most interesting – where you see the most character & detail so I didn’t want to drag it out.
I am so thrilled to start sharing all of this with you guys and especially to get your opinions. I have learned SO much over the years from you all and I am anxious to ask questions and see what you think! I know the end of building a home can take longest because of all of the little details so I try not to think too much about it!
I’m writing this post on Monday night and I think this will go live tomorrow morning! If I can, I will try to go by and show clips of where it is at right now – if I can’t on Tuesday – I will this Friday! I have some work things I am dealing with so I am going to be bogged down but I will for sure start sharing inside looks on my IG stories! I am actually dying to swing by myself! We have been out of town a lot the past two weeks so I am anxious to see the progress!
Here are a few photos I’ve snapped over the past year! I can do full posts and updates if you’d like – so please let me know what you want to see! I have hundreds of photos on my phone in an album from all of our trips – and videos!!!