What it was like building a home across the country

< dress linked >


We are officially settling into our new life in Charlottesville, VA. I’ve said it many times, but never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be raising our family in a state very far away from our home in California.


We were fortunate enough to build our new home with Stanley Martin Home. Today I’m thrilled to be partnering with them to share about what our home building process was like, floor plans, additions, finishes, with an unexpected pandemic thrown in for good measure. 


What it was like building a home across the country

<our first time stepping foot on the lot. We knew it was meant for our family!>




I talked more about why we decided to make the move to Charlottesville more in depth in this post, but it’s something I get asked all the time. Garrett had been working remotely in Pasadena for a law firm based out of Charlottesville for the past two years. There was never any pressure from the firm to move, but after looking up and down Southern California, nothing really felt right. We had never purchased a home before and being renters meant that we had the flexibility to move wherever we felt was right for our family. 


After searching and searching I agreed to check out Charlottesville. I *knew* there was no way that was in the plans for us, but I felt strongly like I needed to keep somewhat of an open mind. We made the most of a quick trip out there last fall and met with a realtor who showed us all that the city had to offer. I fell in love with the area and all of the freedom my boys would have to run and play. 


What it was like building a home across the country



Our realtor showed us a newer development by Stanley Martin Homes. We loved the idea of an up and coming neighborhood because that meant everyone would be new and we wouldn’t feel quite so isolated in that sense. While we were driving around looking at available lots, we pulled up to a beautiful lot situated in the same spot on a culDul-de-sac that our cul-de-sac home in Pasadena was located. I looked at the street sign and it was the exact same name of our street in Pasadena! I was incredibly emotional and continued to be an emotional wreck for the rest of the trip. It was the most crystal clear sign that we had found the spot to build our first home. Any time I felt fear or panic, I reminded myself of the answer we received the day we found our lot.



Our realtor spoke very highly of Stanley Martin Homes. As first time home builders and buyers, we were very picky with who we wanted to build our home. We spoke with other acquaintances in the area and everyone had amazing things to say about the quality and craftsmanship of Stanley Martin Homes. 


What it was like building a home across the country


We spent two days looking through various Stanley Martin model homes and both fell in love with the floorplan of one in particular. One thing that really drew me to Stanley Martin was that there were so many elevation options for each floor plan. I really loved the design of most of the homes and the cohesive look of all the homes in a Stanley Martin neighborhood was really appealing. There were enough different options that the homes in the neighborhoods still had a very custom feel while all remaining aesthetically pleasing. 



There were a lot of great floor plans, but we really fell in love with a plan called The Carey. The layout of the home was very similar to our current house in Pasadena and I loved that. It was a smart design that I could tell right away would work well with our family.



As you enter the home, the dining room is on the left and a music/library room is on the right. The family room and kitchen were connected in the back. This is how our Pasadena home was laid out and I loved it. I can keep the two front rooms more maintained and a little more elevated in my design/decor, and make the family room very family friendly. It was perfect.


Loft– This home came with a basement, an optional loft, and an optional four-foot extension on the back of the house. We loved the idea of having a loft for both of our offices. The loft miiiight be my favorite part of the home. My office up there is set up like a studio, with lots of natural light for shooting and plenty of space for styling, sewing and working. Another door leads to Garrett’s office. We chose to leave that unfinished for now, but we have some great plans for that space as well.


Basement – Never in my life did I think I would get a basement. It’s just not an option living in California. We have only had it for a few months now and I’m already so grateful! The boys head down there and play games and have nerf gun fights. We have a room down there we will convert into a home gym, and an unfinished room we will finish off as a guest bedroom. I really like that we have a space for family to stay that gives them some space and privacy.


Dual Owners Closets – I was sooo excited about the separate closets in this floor plan. I can’t wait to get my closet completed. I have a lot of fun design elements in mind for it.


What it was like building a home across the country


Owner bedroom sitting area – We added a 4 ft extension to the home, which gave us a really good size sitting area in our master. Pretty much all of our living room furniture is in that space now and we love sitting there at night while Garrett reads Harry Potter to the boys and while I nurse. It’s a space I didn’t think we would use as much as we do.



We made our finishing selections at Stanely Martin’s Design Center. We made a special trip out here back in January just for this meeting. Here are a few of the finishes we picked that I am thrilled with:


What it was like building a home across the country

What it was like building a home across the country


Flooring: Armstrong Rigid Core Elements “Society Oak”  – we went with this lighter colored LVP throughout the main level, second floor, and loft (we opted for carpet in the basement). I am so in love with our floors!! I was back and forth trying to decide between real wool and LVP and I think multiple times a day how happy I am that I went with LVP. It is pretty much indestructible. The lighter shade is exactly what I was looking for.


Wall color: Super White – there were a handful of interior paint options the Stanley Martin design center offered, so I just went with this white and it ended up being a really great matte white throughout the whole home with high gloss molding in the same shade throughout. I plan on adding paint and wallpaper to a few of the rooms, but I’m really happy with this shade of white! It really sets the tone for the whole home.


Kitchen countertops: Carrara Marmi Quartz  – I debated between quartz and marble, but again, I’m glad I went this route for now. It’s really durable and great for our family.


Doorknobs: I went with black door knobs and hinges with a 5 paneled shaker style door throughout the house and I’m so happy I did! It finishes off each room nicely with a bit of a modern feel, and works well with our shaker style cabinets.  


Owner Bath Cabinets: Sonoma Painted Stone – a really pretty grey/blue.


Honestly, I think I may have been more stressed if we lived close by! With a baby on the way and a pandemic, I think there were so many big things going on at once I didn’t really have the time to stress a ton about any one thing!


What it was like building a home across the country

< picking out our finishes at the design center >


The team at Stanley Martin made the whole process really wonderful, even with the curveballs of Covid. Did you know the building of our home wasn’t delayed at all? I was shocked. I thought for sure we would have to postpone our move with the craziness of Covid. From the day they broke ground to completion our home took four months. 


We had weekly calls with the lead builder and our Stanley Martin rep. They filled us in on the progress of each week, sent us pictures, and talked through any concerns we had. I was very specific with a few of the changes (moving /adding windows, moving light switches, electrical plug placement, etc). We had multiple facetimes with the builder so that we could see details of the progress. 


Knowing that we were working with a home builder that was so highly recommended by people we trusted really put our minds at ease. Our builder and Stanley Martin rep were also great at responding to emails and assuring us our home would be finished in the time we were planning on.



I am so happy that we went the route of building with Stanley Martin instead of buying and renovating or building completely custom. I felt like I had enough say in quite a few structural elements that I could create a home that was definitely “me”, without the complications of a remodel or the endless decisions of a 100% custom home.


What it was like building a home across the country

What it was like building a home across the country


In the end we have a beautiful home that fits my style and works well with our family that I’m excited to dive into and add my own unique elements to as we settle in.




My design to do list is endless, but that is so exciting to me! I graduated with an emphasis in interior design, and I have been waiting for my own home to design.


What it was like building a home across the country

I’m starting with our main level and adding built-ins and a custom mantle in the family room, changing up light fixtures and hardware in the kitchen, custom molding to the dining room, and I have the most gorgeous wallpaper picked out for our music room.


I’m also really excited about designing my office with built-ins and molding, finishing our home gym, adding wallpaper and pretty design elements to the owner’s suite, and finishing the basement. I also can’t wait to design all our landscaping! We are adding hydrangeas to a large section of the front of our home, planting dogwood trees without most gorgeous blossoms, adding a deck, and one day putting in a pool (still working on getting Garrett on board with that one). We have a lot planned and I can’t wait to share the transformation of each space with you.


I’ve received messages from you that are looking to build your own home, and I can’t recommend Stanley Martin enough. They were so wonderful to work with and I’m so happy we picked them as our home builder. They have neighborhoods all over Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Maryland. I’m so incredibly happy with how our house turned out. 

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    1. Thanks Jenilee! I got the wallpaper from Sanberg Wallpaper. It’s so so gorgeous and I can’t wait to see the whole room done! Their wallpaper is incredible.

  1. Stunning. I have loved your design aesthetic since the days when you first started blogging and doing sewing tutorials. And LVP is AMAZING. I don’t have kids at hone anymore, but I have 3 rambunctious dogs and there’s not a scuff or scrape anywhere.
    I’m so glad you love your new home and town. We moved to GA exactly a year ago. I wish we’d done it years ago! I love VA, too. The South is beautiful. Congratulations on your lovely home and beautiful family. Make sure you grab a subscription to Southern Living magazine! All kinds of useful info in it.

    1. Thank you so much Christine! I’m grateful I went with LVP every single day! And we are so so happy here. I’m so happy I get to raise my boys in such a lovely place!

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