One of the customizations that Sibylle and I get to make is selecting the various floorings, and paint colors.
The exterior of the house has to have, by development covenant, 25% masonry on the street side facade. We like limestone since that is prevalent here in Manhattan. The geographical area around here is called “Flinthills” and limestone is the native stone. Many of the campus buildings are entirely limestone, and the city is dotted with so-called “stone houses.”
After spending an afternoon driving around we decided to have the siding painted a very pale blue. While we can’t choose the individual pieces of the masonry, most of the samples we’ve seen have some blueish highlights that will be picked up by the siding. And the houses we saw that were painted pale blue with limestone masonry looked very nice. Clean and simple.
The interior walls will be nearly white, with white or slightly darker base boards and doors. Our bedroom will be a pale pink. Sibylle has had that color before in a bedroom and it makes for a soft inviting space. The paint will be something like semi-gloss, meaning we’ll be able to wipe it clean. Over time we may repaint a room or two ourselves, but for now we are satisfied to go with the two colors plus one trim color the contract provides.
The master bedroom, hallway, living room, kitchen, and dining room will have a manufactured wood floor. It has a hardwood core, but is more durable that just hardwood. The color we choose is dark and rich and will really enhance those rooms we think. The builder originally selected a distressed wood flooring for the kitchen and dining area, but neither of us liked the look of it. It seemed plastic and fake. And the living room and master bedroom were to be carpeted, however we were willing to pay extra for the hardwood flooring. Our present house has wood floors throughout and we really prefer that over carpet.
The master bathroom, hall bath upstairs, and half bath downstairs as well as the laundry room will all have tile floors. Personally we find the tile to be colder and less inviting than a vinyl floor but not using tile has a potentially adverse affect on the house’s appraisal value. The master bath tile we selected is very light in color and has some variation in color but not much. We specified a very narrow grout line to minimize the effort needed to clean the floor. The tile will also be in the shower stall, and on the surround for the garden tub.
The hall bath, half bath, and laundry room have a very dark tile, with greens and reds and a little yellow in them. The builder warned us that a darker tile might make the rooms seem smaller, but we both like the dramatic color of this tile so we are sticking with it. If we need to accessorize the room to brighten it a bit we can. This same tile will be used around the fireplace.
Downstairs in front of the patio door there will be a small tile landing, edged by carpet.
The kitchen back splash is also a lighter tile, with random insets of the same marble used for the countertop. Originally we had picked a marble counter top that had very little variation, but what variation there was had blue flakes in it. The supplier has indicated that they can no longer get that marble so we are faced with choosing another granite. Originally we were both leaning toward a black or nearly black marble as we don’t want an overly busy pattern. The interior designer warned us that a pure black surface shows dirty and wipe marks unless you are careful. We are careful and don’t want a surface that hides dirt.
Now that the patterned marble we liked isn’t available we are going to return to our original choice – black. That it shows dirt and requires more care when wiping so as not to show streaks is more a feature for us than a minus. (Sibylle adds: I still like the original patterned one best. It had a bit of very nice and friendly blue and somehow went really well with the “brandy” stained cabinets we chose. The builder said there is a chance that the supplier will be able to get this original patterned granite, so I am keeping my fingers crossed. If it is not available, then the pure black – with teensy-tiny specks of color – will be a very good second choice.)
Having the piano studio in the house means increased foot traffic, especially on the stairs to the studio level. We are a “no shoes” household, asking our guests and other visitors to take their shoes off at the door. This greatly cuts down on the dirt, wear, and tear on our floors. Even so, we wanted something durable and cleanable for the stairs and lower level. Sibylle visited the local piano showroom to see what kind of carpeting he had and we settled on a commercial grade carpet. It’s thin and very stiff, but should hold up to years of traffic without showing wear. Since it will be glued to the concrete underneath with no padding, it shouldn’t move when we move a piano. (Sibylle adds: my concern was also that a plush, comfy carpet might swallow too much of the sound and make the pianos sound dull and lifeless. If the very thin commercial grade carpet should prove too noisy or harsh we can always add more cushion by adding area rugs, curtains, etc.)
For the stairs and two upstairs bedrooms we went with a slightly plusher carpeting that has a very complementary coloration to the studio carpet. We have several area rugs that we like and hope to use, in some places on the wood floors and on the carpeted floors. The very light beige color we picked should set off the rugs we own very nicely.
Making these choices has been good, but not without some stress. The samples are usually tiny, and the harsh fluorescent lighting in the showroom doesn’t really let you see how things will appear in natural light. The builder, both agents, and the interior designer were willing to offer advice about how things looked together, and they made sure we were aware of potential hidden side effects (dark tile making the room seem smaller, for example). That some of our original choices aren’t available requiring us to revisit some of the colors and options has added to the stress, but not unduly so.
I think the only options we have left to make are the faucets and fixtures for the kitchen and baths, and the lighting fixtures throughout the house.