HOW TO BUILD A HOME WHILE PREGNANT WITH TWINS
It is still very much a vivid memory embedded in my mind. Three wonderful years and a few busy months have passed and I can still see every detail. The footprint. The plans. The breaking ground. Usually most days when I drive up my long driveway, it’s the architectural landscape that gives me all the butterflies. Because I can remember day 1. It was a piece of land and a longing in my heart for another baby. And on that fourth day after we moved in 2 years and 2 days later, I gave birth to not only 1 baby, but 2.
It’s all pretty surreal. You know, the way life works. How it’s all conjured up and mapped out in God’s mind. And we just glide along the journey clueless as to how it’s all going to work out. But somehow it does. And as much as I’d like this piece to be mostly about my interior favorites and why marble isn’t the best option in the kitchen, I’m here to tell you, there is more to learn about building houses while pregnant with twins, than countertops and high dollar toilets. And here’s why.
I’ve never built a house before this one. I’ve reno’d plenty of houses and condos along the way, from Los Angeles to Glasgow Scotland, but building something from scratch is exactly that. Building something from scratch. It’s dirt. And wood. And nails. And choices. It’s kind of chaotic. And it’s kind of my favorite. But before you go and assume that the process is uncomplicated or a “dream” with a perfect manicured lawn and a bright rainbow hanging over your roof when it’s all said and done, let me just share with you what I learned from building a house while pregnant with twins.
Let’s just nip it in the bud and get it over with. I’m about 98% confident in uttering this sentiment across the board. You will go over budget. You will overspend. Building on a budget is mostly the case for everyone, but no matter how you design it whether it’s 1500 square feet or 5000, it’s not always cost correct. Be prepared for seeing your numbers change and rolling with it effectively. Talk to your builder consistently about how you can stay within the budget to the best of your ability so you’re not surprised with the overage outcomes. I learned this early on in the building when I knew I was pregnant, but found out I was having two babies instead of 1. Things change, and so does your house plan.
RESEARCH AND REST
Building is exhausting. Building a baby (or two at the same time) while building a home, is beyond. It’s nuts. The one thing that I began the process with, was focus. Focusing on exactly what I wanted, having the pinterest files to present on hand to my builder and designer and a bottle of water and snack at every turn, was paramount. You wouldn’t believe how light headed I was after looking at soapstone and marble for an hour. Know your ideas, love your ideas and focus on your ideas. Present and pick. And then move on. Wavering back and forth between which white color is the perfect white color is fine, if it takes a day. Weeks, no. Check it in the light in different rooms, decide, and mark it off your list.
INVEST IN WHAT YOU TRULY LOVE
Every day I walk into my master bedroom and bath, I feel my happiest. It was the one sacred space I knew had to be as close to perfect as I could get it. It’s where I begin every day. Where I set intentions, where I rest, where I cleanse and where I close the end of every day. It’s my sanctuary. It was the one space I wouldn’t budge on any component of it. And every day I walk into my Master Bedroom and Bath, I love every inch and feel a huge sense of pride. Find your happy place and make it count. If that’s every room in the house, that will be difficult. And if not, congratulations! But really, If it’s the master and the kitchen that must be what you want it to be, then start with that. Let the other pieces fall where they may. And by fall, I mean, design it the way your creative heart desires, but if you can’t afford pricey carpet or light fixtures in the kids rooms, don’t sweat it. You don’t live in there, your toddlers do. Spend the money where you want to. They can buy fancy fixtures when they are working 60 hours a week.
You know what’s fun? Being inquisitive about something that inspires you. Like building a home. It is after all, your home. Ask questions. Take notes. Pull ideas. Bounce ideas off your friends. Follow designers on insta and pinterest and be inspired. The most surprised I was with myself was not in the final design aspects of the house (which is my forte) but it was a last minute change to the left side of the house plan. As much as I loved where we put the Master bedroom, the staircase seemed too far away from my kids. As a new mom to twins to be and also a 4 year old daughter at the time, I needed to be able to run up to my kids in a split second if I needed to. This lightbulb went off and I immediately called my builder and said, whatever I have to change or square footage I have to lose, please install a staircase right off the bedroom. Smartest decision I ever made. Call it mother’s instinct. Call it creative thinking. If you have an idea, be vocal. (Also, a sisal runner on that staircase was my second smartest idea. Less toddler falls. More style.)
IT’S JUST A HOUSE
When you’re pregnant with two babies in your belly and building your forever home, that’s a lot of pressure. It’s intense. It’s decisions. And more decisions. And so many choices. It’s basically a full time job. (Especially if you have your hands in the design). The details are important. The doors, the moldings, the windows, the stove top burner, the island size, the shelving, the floors, the size of the boards of the floors, the color of the stain of the floors, the side of the bathroom that the toilet goes in, the carpet feel, the right color white, the lighting, the plumbing, the coping of the pool, the lay of the concrete, the design of the flower beds and the list goes on and on.
It’s just a house. 3 years later and I look around and realize we did a great job on our home. We built strong bones, with classic lines. The design is exactly what I wanted. But just as designs trends change, so does your style. Don’t fret over every little detail to the bone because you will most likely be changing some light fixture or paint color down the road. Build the house you love, not the house you want everyone to love.
FROM DIRT TO DREAM
It’s your home. Your residence. From dirt in the ground, to a house full of six, we completed the dream. We brought home two tiny baby boys to a freshly painted house, crisp and clean, and empty with no furniture in sight. From the moment we bought the land and envisioned a life and a home on this lot, to this morning watching our toddler twins and daughter ride their bikes around our circular drive, it’s hard to believe that some dirt in the ground became the dream. The dream to live, to love, to see the walls get scuffed up with toddler dirt, to see the hundreds of windows we installed with current toddler fingerprints shining through the window panes with the sun, to teaching babies to swim on a piping hot Sunday afternoon, it is this that we prayed for. There was blood sweat and tears through every inch of building a house while pregnant with twins. But the payoff keeps paying. The dream keeps living. And sure, you do eventually learn that you should always upgrade to a good toilet, and that the size of hardwood floors seems so stressful in the moment when choosing, but in the end really does not matter. What matters is, you built it and it came. The house, the babies I prayed for and the ability to live in a home we built from scratch. I’d say 1 out of 10, the experience was a solid 11 and I’d totally recommend it.
Takeaway: That’s what my ex-Italian mother in law to be use to say. In other words, here’s my two cents. Building a house is strenuous. Arduous. Mind blowing. Creative. Enticing. Exciting. Fulfilling. Expensive. Stressful. Incredible. And that’s what my Dad always says when he comes to visit. And that’s my favorite take away. Building a house is incredible. It’s the beauty of knowing the capability. The will to complete and having the ability to do so. So what if you noticed a crooked molding a year later. It happens. So what if you upgraded your toilets a year after the fact. You lived. You learned. And you were ABLE. That’s pretty incredible. Be thankful. Be humble. And enjoy the process. I’m slightly addicted. And if I wasn’t so emotionally attached to this place, I’d do it all again. Tomorrow.
(Also, you can get creative if you do your homework and have an eye for good design at an inexpensive price point.)