Showhouse Smorgasbord

The Homearama Showhouse train continues to careen towards our deadline (you can read more about it here, here, here, and here). The show opens May 1 – although we have a baby who’s due a few weeks before that – so we’re scurrying to get things done and holding on for the ride. It simultaneously feels like we have a million things to tell you, yet no tidy way to share the news, so this post may feel a bit scatter-brained as I attempt to update you on everything swirling around the project these days.

First up, thanks for all of your input on the front door color. We can’t believe 38,000 votes came in (!!!). It was fun to see you guys launch rust into the lead early on, where it remained the winner with 36% of the votes (the runner up was red with 21%). As we mentioned, we’re waiting for the porch columns to go in and get sealed (they’re going to darken a bit), so we need to take that into consideration before a final decision is made.

One surprise was a strong “write in” option that emerged repeatedly: white. Sherry had actually wanted to include that as one of the vote-able options, but I assumed it would show dirt too easily and wouldn’t be practical, so I talked her out of it. My bad. The good news is that the constant “what about white?” comments gave us the opportunity to ask folks with a white door if they liked it, and the resounding response was that many people with a porch/overhang like this house and a white door had no issues with it, and generally loved it.

So if the sealed beams, the porch floor tile, and other elements that we’ll be layering in start to feel too heavy, this write-in candidate could just steal the show. We like how it would integrate the white sidelights and make the whole entryway appear wider and more grand. So we’ll have to see what the builder, architect, and realtor think once the beams get sealed and we grab some paint test pots for the door. We promise to report back to you guys with all the details!

One exciting step forward, as some of you saw on Instagram, is that the porch columns are now in! It was so quite a moment to pull up and see them smiling (staring?!) back at us. They still need to be sealed, which will enrich/darken the tone of the wood, so we can’t wait to see how they look when they’re done.

Now onto the rest of the house. We’re facing a pretty constant internal debate when it comes to the choices that we’re making for this project. Do we pick the “safe” and more universally appealing option? Or do we take a risk and try something unexpected or against the grain? Since the home will eventually be put on the market, we don’t want to create a wild-card house that scares everyone off.

But the whole purpose of Homearama is to showcase a variety of interesting design ideas across all seven houses in the show, so they don’t all look like clones of each other – or of every other home in the neighborhood. So nearly every decision for this house has been an interesting (and sometimes paralyzing) dance between “is this too polarizing to please the masses?” and “is this too safe to make for an interesting home show?” We were even debating this yesterday while checking out some unique wall-to-wall carpet options for the kids bedrooms…

For the most part we’ve been trying to lean more towards the “risk” since the folks putting on the show have really encouraged that (along with the builder, who reminds us that the house only needs one buyer). Of course that doesn’t mean every element that we choose will be crazy, but it does mean that we’re shooting for a few showstopping choices in each room. And since there’s a whole team involved – the builder, the contractors, the architect, the Homearama coordinators, the realtor, etc – we’ve got a pretty good safety net to keep us from going off the rails.

Speaking of decisions, we’ve been checking more and more off of our TBD list. We recently picked all of the interior paint colors, and we’re starting to pin down furniture for each space. Can I just tell you how much furniture you need when you’re outfitting an entire house at once?! Our lists go on for pages. The good news is that it has been much easier to visualize what we need now that the house is all drywalled.

Filling this place with furniture, rugs, curtains, art, and accessories is an exciting design adventure, but also a bit of a puzzle. Things that will be sold with the house (like hardwired lighting, plumbing, tile, and paint) come out of the builder’s budget, and then each designer (or design blogger, in our case) is given a separate budget to spend on decor. But that decor budget breaks down to less than $500 per room, which could be drained by a single rug, bed, or couch.

Thankfully Homearama has arranged for each of the seven showhouses to borrow furniture from a local-ish place called Green Front Furniture (which we’ve randomly explored a few years ago here and here). So that means we can check off some of our big ticket items without bleeding the budget. Green Front is made up of twelve massive buildings with floors upon floors of options, so we road-tripped there last week and did as much shopping as Sherry’s little pregnant feet could handle.

Even with that HUGE helping hand, there is a limit to how much we can get there, so like all of the design teams for each of these seven homes, we have to hustle to fill out this house. For some of the other designers it may mean borrowing items from other models they’ve decorated or calling in favors to stores they work with frequently. And for us, it means tapping some of the local artists or favorite shops that we’ve grown to know through blogging (so it’s sort of like how we recruited decor donations for The Children’s Hospital a few months back).

In the end, the more we can hustle to get donated or discounted for this house, the more it’ll help our goal of supporting Richmond’s Habitat for Humanity, because every dollar that we save from those building/decorating budgets means more can be donated to them.

We’re also donating our design fee to Habitat, and Homearama itself is collecting a bunch of generous contributions from their sponsors, vendors, and ticket sales. Oh and locals, take note – there are going to be goodies to grab at the ReStore when the show ends, since we’re also donating some furnishings and decor to them – and they’d love your business!

But this house won’t just be filled with new items. We’ve also been visiting some secondhand stores to score vintage and thrifted things that we’ll upgrade with everything from fresh paint to new upholstery. For example, we found this great wooden full-sized headboard for $9.98 that we can’t wait to paint for the girl’s bedroom (it reminded us of this $1,559 version from Ethan Allan).

After we paint it and add a bed, it’ll sit against the right-hand wall in the picture below, which we’re also planning to treat as an accent wall with a cheery wall stencil donated from Royal Design Studio. Oh, and you can see the beginnings of the built-in desk that the carpenter (also named John) has been working on based on some very sketchy plans that we drew with him right on the wall.

Since there’s no specific client to design the house for, we’re approaching it as if we’re accommodating a future version of us. So that might be a tweenage Clara’s space. Can you tell she’s very studious? She’s got one desk area for homework and another for artistic pursuits.

The second kids bedroom is an imagined room for the 8-year-old version of Barnacle, who is getting a sweet built-in bed/storage system. Clearly we instilled a love of built-ins in him at birth. It’s fun for the builder to add these custom creations so he can show future clients what his team can do, and it’s really fun for us to help design them since, for once, we don’t have to build them.

I’ll leave you with a peek at one last room: the living room, which opens to the kitchen (your back would be facing the kitchen island in this photo below). Said island will be painted navy and have some great gold pendants hanging over it, so we thought it’d be cool to pick up that same navy color on the fireplace column across the room. We think it’ll help the white mantle and the light stone surround that we’ve picked pop – sort of like this living room shot. We even have an artist friend of ours painting a big colorful portrait of Burger to hang up there. At this point we work some random Burger reference into every side project that we do, so we couldn’t resist.

We’ll do a more comprehensive overview of how each room is shaping up, well, once they’ve shaped up a bit more (perhaps with an updated video tour). Right now we have around 20 mood boards that are 40% complete, so we can’t wait to get those finished up and share all the plans with you guys. This baby boy of ours is coming in less than eight weeks, so we better get cracking.

PS: Homearama tickets are now available for pre-order! They’re $10 (children 18 and under are free) but you can get them for 20% off this month (and show some love to Habitat if you’re so inclined) here. The show is open Thurs-Sun, the first three weekends of May.


  1. Jessica M says

    Wahhh I can’t believe it’s only 8 weeks until the barnacle gets here. It only seems like yesterday you guys announced the new addition!

    I like all the built ins :)

  2. says

    Looks great – what a fun project! I love that you’re taking design risks with this one. Sometimes that can lead to amazing discoveries. The kids rooms in particular are looking really intriguing – can’t wait to see how those turn out!

  3. says

    Gah! I’m in love! It’s looking so gorgeous! Next time, come build a house in my neighborhood in Dallas, mmkay?

    BTW, what navy are you going with? We’re still shopping navys for the kitchen (it looks like a patchwork quilt with all the sawtches we have painted everywhere.

    • says

      We brought all of our swatches over to see how the light in the house looks and Hale Navy was the winner! The irony of that was it was also a contender for the outside of the house but we preferred another swatch more out there, but the inside light of the house made it stand out as our favorite.


    • Jess says

      For what it’s worth… we just painted our kitchen cabinets Hale Navy on the bottoms, Simply White on the uppers with maple butcher block. The walls in the kitchen are Edgecomb Gray and the adjoining dining room is Revere Pewter. I love how the Hale Navy has enough of a greyish undertone in it to make it blend nicely with the neutrals on the walls, but is still navy enough to pop and give the kitchen a nice, classy feel.

      Before picking Hale Navy, we also considered Old Navy and Deep Royal. Both those colors are great in their own respect (Old Navy makes a feature on our shutters outside), but they didn’t work with the greys. Good luck!

    • Elise says

      I agree! I don’t remember what I voted for the first time, but I think a white door would be perfect!

    • Jennifer says

      I agree! I love the white option…clean and classic. The rust and blue combo don’t seem to compliment each other. I vote white!!

    • paintergal says

      Totally agree on the white! I was not loving any of the options, but that rust just doesn’t do it for me.

    • Crystal says

      I’m really liking the white too – especially when I picture green grass and landscaping around the house.

      I think I really liked the plum too though.

    • says

      We have a white front door under a covered porch and it only gets dirty from fingerprint smudges which are easily removed with a clorox wipe or some white vinegar.

      I really wanted to paint it an accent color (still sort of want to) but my hubby pointed out that, since it’s so shaded, if we painted it a darker color it would sort of just fade away.

      I was a rust fan too, but I really like the white. It might be “boring” but it’s so bright and does make the porch look bigger!

    • deb says

      Yep, I’m for white, too! I don’t think I voted the first time, but if I did, I suspect it was for red (which I always love)…but I really like the white with all the other trim!

    • Anastasia says

      I completely agree- white really would be awesome!

      While I love a painted front door and I nice pop of color, I feel like you have a lot of other bold elements going on that white would keep those things the shining stars. With that intense blue (which I love) the stone work and the woodwork, you don’t really need another thing thriving for your attention.

    • Valerie74 says

      I think I’m the only one not feeling the white! I didn’t like the rust either – I was so surprised it was the front runner!

      I’m a big fan of the red. Call me patriotic, but a splash of red just looks so distinguished with that gorgeous navy blue!

      Whatever you choose always looks great! Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    • Kylha says

      Hey guys, it’s looking great! I’ve been reading through the whole ‘white door’ comments and I totally resonate with a few of them!! I LOVE a painted door, and the red was the best, for me, for that pop of color. I apologize to anyone who liked the rust, but all I see is a door the color of baby poo! I really like the white- it opens the space up, ties everything in, and is unexpected when everyone else is painting in color.
      Anyways, that’s my two cents. Have fun!!

  4. says

    Looking good!!!! Please share the mood boards when you get them done(or at a later point if you don’t want to give anything away). I miss those and often go back and look at the ones you have done in the past.

  5. Emily Mc says

    This is such an awesome project, wish I was local and could come see them all in May! And by see I mean become a squatter and not leave. LOVE the living room fireplace/island color and cannot wait to get a peek of the kitchen, squeal!!

    • says

      Oh man, we’re itching to see the kitchen too! It’s just a white drywalled box right now (no cabinetry has gone in yet), but once the painters get done (and I think the floor refinishers too) those cabinets are on schedule to be dropped in.


  6. says

    What a fun project to get the opportunity to work on. I think this is definitely the perfect place to take daring risks – do things you might not necessarily do in your own home. I’m sure it will pay off and show a new side of you!

  7. says

    You know, if only you guys applied yourself you’d really be able to make something of your lives. ;o) Wow, that is a whole lotta sawdust going on at the project house. I’m so giddy now that the drywall is up. It’s shape is taking…shape. I wish I lived up there so I could hit up the home show and donate some cash to the cause and see it in person of course. But these recaps are great. Thanks! Have a great weekend.

    My best, Lynn
    *Just got out of the hospital yesterday (oy!) and just wanted to say that your site and you’s guys were my happy place to turn to when all the visitors were gone and all was quiet and I felt lonely or weepy. So. Thanks. Keep up the great work.

  8. Annie R says

    I take back my rust vote! The white is a definite winner, especially seeing the columns in place. It’s so exciting to see y’all put together an entire house and even more exciting that it’s for such a worthy cause. Keep it up Petersiks!

    • Hillary says

      I agree! I voted rust (but secretly wanted mustard yellow) but I think white would look great and make the dark blue the focal point. However, waiting until the columns are sealed is a great idea and might change everything. I have a feeling I will love whatever you guys choose, I always do!

  9. says

    You know, I voted for Rust, and my first thought when you mentioned what was, “WHAT?! ICK! BORING!” But the mockup you posted is actually really nice – I think that white would really brighten up the whole porch – not only with the color but with the reflection the door would cast on the whole area. I say this having just painted my front door plum, and wishing I’d gone a bit brighter with the color. It looks kinda dark from the street, and it bugs me that you can’t really tell it’s purple until you’re knocking on the door :/

  10. julia says

    Just curious – how much will this house sell for (roughly)? I live in California and dream of living somewhere where normal people can afford a nice home like that. my husband and I are debating moving and wonder if Richmond should be on our list. Would this house cost less than $1,000,000? Where I live, it would easily cost about $2-3 million. Thanks!

    • says

      These homes will sell for around $500,000 here. They get filled with new kitchens and top of the line appliances/finishes (along with awesome landscaping and outdoor patios and stuff) so they’re like getting a car that’s fully loaded!


    • Chloe says

      Julia, I think I see what you mean about housing prices being more affordable in some parts of the country than in others. But i thought I should mention that the comment about “normal people” affording a mansion like the Homearama houses bothers me. (Maybe you meant non-celebrity, non-multimillionaire?) The median US income is just over $51,000, so the typical, “normal” person would be nowhere close to being able to afford that house. To the people for whom this house or similar houses fit in their budget, congratulations and be thankful (never guilty) about what you have. But please remember that owning a house like this is a huge blessing and sets you way above average in assets compared to other people in the US. So in that respect you are remarkably abnormal :)

    • says

      Oh yes, it’s definitely more of a “fully loaded” house (these showhouses happen once every two years through Homearama and they go all out). I mentioned in another comment that it’s way out of our price range, so it’s not even close to a median house price in our area :)


    • sally says

      I was thinking the same thing Chloe. It’s all relative to your location and life. I was recently visiting family in the Midwest where an aunt remarked that her in-laws had bought an extravagant house beyond their means…it cost $150,000.

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