The Forest Modern: So Many Decisions

Hello! Excuse me while I dust off the cobwebs here. I haven’t blogged in 3 weeks and it’s been even longer since I gave you an update on The Forest Modern. When we dove into this project I never imagined it would suck the life out of me, but let me tell you, it has! So may decisions are on my plate every single week that I finally hit a wall this week and had to put it all on hold. What’s the problem you may wonder?  This may be a wordy post so beware. Y’all have been so good and supportive so I’m peeling back the layers of our life a bit here today.

Is there ever a good time to throw something into your life that you know will devour your time and energy? I’m having flashbacks to when I chose to go through nursing school 18 years ago and finish my bachelors degree when I was pregnant with Austin (our firstborn). Timing was crazy, yet I did it and I did it well. Tim was just starting his career and we were still newlyweds. When there is an end goal, life will always throw you curveballs, you just have to learn how to prioritize and manage and keep your sanity somehow along the way.  Not sure how sane I’ve been these past few weeks but I hit a wall recently and realized I needed to pause. Tim urged me to pause because he could see all the overwhelming decisions that were hitting me all at once with the new house.  I had lost my creative being and couldn’t make any concrete decisions.

Let’s dig deeper, back to when is good timing? Austin is leaving for college next week. Next week…..I can’t even believe it. We have made every intention to soak up every moment we can with him and play hard as a family with vacations and weekend getaways all summer long. We’ve had a very busy summer and have filled it with so many memories.  In June we flew to Seattle and spent 10 days exploring Canada and the Olympic National Forest. We drove 1200 miles in our little rental car!

We toured the city of Seattle and explored the outer perimeters.

We explored rain forests in the Olympic National Forest and discovered the most beautiful beaches along the coast.

We toured Castles in Victoria, BC and hiked every mountain trail we could find in Vancouver and Whistler.

We spent time at our beach cottage in July.  The boys went deep sea fishing and Ethan even caught a 400 pound goliath grouper!  Dylan’s face cracks me up…boys and photos (eyeroll).

We filled weekends here in Colorado with boating and hiking.  Kodak experienced the lake for the first time. Isn’t his life vest hilarious??  As you can see, under all that fur, he’s a skinny mutt.

Our summers look like this every year, but this one was special because we knew it was our last with Austin at home. Sure, he will probably come home next summer, but family dynamics change as of next week. Only four of us around the dinner table, only two boys to hug every morning as I send them off to school. I cry as I write this. Actually, I cry ALL THE TIME lately.  In the grocery store, driving down the road, folding laundry, during a morning run. We are so happy for him to go off to college and succeed but it’s just hard letting go. Next week we drive him to Boulder, CO which is only an hour and half away.  I am so thankful he’s not going out of state.

In spite of all the emotions and all the playing this summer, I’ve had a very hard time focusing on our new home. My heart has been where it needs to be, but my mind has felt like mush. I had this vision of our home and I know the direction I want it to go, yet pulling it all together has been challenging. Especially since our architect failed us (I talked about that HERE) and I’ve had to spend a good portion of my time working through “fixing” things that I didn’t catch in our final plans. It’s all worked out, but it’s been stressful to say the very least.

I had a friend recently refer to building a “custom” home as being able to pick out things like your doorknobs.  I had to chuckle because that is like one percent of the decisions I’ve been making. By the way, I don’t even know what my door hardware is going to look like.  So where do we stand so far? Framing is complete! Can I get a hallelujah?!!

We are now working on the exterior and are doing a mix of board and batten siding with stone.  This was not an easy task for me to figure out.  Where to put the stone. Actually I’d slap it over the entire home if it weren’t so expensive! The vertical board and batten definitely gives it a bit of modern farmhouse flare. Here’s a peek of the side of our garage and the direction we’re going. Excuse the dark photo. We’ve had so much rain this summer and a lot of cloudy days.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you may recall this home I shared recently. I love the dark siding painted in Rock Bottom by Benjamin Moore with the dark metal roof. Kind of perfect for our home nestled in the forest.

Architecture & Design by: Carlton Edwards

I’m trying out paint samples and originally was going to go with Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron, as seen on this sample board.  I’m afraid it may be a bit too dark though so now I’m looking for a shade or two lighter. If you know of any good dark gray paints with no brown or blue undertones, I’d love to know about them!

Our roof will be black metal over the garages and “the barn.”  I keep referring to this structure of the home as the barn because I’m designing it that way. It will be a multi-purpose part of our home where all the fun will be happening for sure.

Since I shared this photo with you last, the opening for the carriage doors has been blown out and I am working with a custom door guy who is making the doors I designed for this space. Oh they are so good! May be the best feature of the home!

If you live in Colorado Springs, have you been to The Till Restaurant? Here’s a glimpse of inside.  The beams, the planked ceiling, the exposed mechanical, the lighting…all the inspiration I needed for the barn.

Here’s a peek at what it looks like currently.

This is the timeframe when building a home that it seems to stand still. All the “not so fun parts” are being installed.  Like the plumbing, mechanical, central vacuum, and electrical.  Here’s a sneak peek of our master bathroom with our clawfoot tub (minus the feet, obviously).

The plumbers had to set it in place temporarily to properly align where the freestanding tub filler would go. I seriously LOVE this tub! Can’t wait to show you when this bathroom actually looks like a bathroom and not a drywall mess. As you can see, the fireplaces have been installed as well. We have 5 total.  I guess I need a warm cozy fire to snuggle up to in every room during our long cold winter months.

Now that you are up to speed with our progress, here is where we stand. Electrical. Ugh…the house needs electricity and lights, right?? I was supposed to have our electrical walk with the electrician earlier this week. This is where the mental breakdown all started. Its way more complicated than figuring out where light switches and can lights go.  As a designer, I always say that the lighting is the jewelry of the room. So basically, this means that my design plan for the entire house must be set before I do my electrical plan.  Why does this matter? Well, for example, in a few of the bathrooms I’m doing sconce lighting over the vanities. BUT, I need to know what mirror I will be placing between those sconces in order to determine the proper placement of wiring.  It’ll make the electricians job so much easier and my electrical budget safe by not having him go back and rearrange his wiring because my lights fixtures weren’t planned out properly.

What this has forced me into doing is finally making some firm decisions on the interior of the home. I’ve collected thousands of inspiration photos for every room in the home.  Problem has been finding my direction. I love so many looks and elements of different styles. Time to get focused though! Super duper hard to focus when I’m crying all the time about my college boy leaving (yes, I just opened that can of worms again). You would think I would have figured out this design plan many months ago, but truth is, I haven’t had much time.

As I was frantically trying to rush through our electrical plan this week and figure out all my lighting, I realized its just crazy to rush. There is no rush. Our home can pause for a couple of weeks. If it sets us back then that’s okay. By me telling the electrician to hold off on starting his work on our home, I feel like the sudden clarity of vision came flooding through my brain. Instead of jumping from room to room every time I sit down to work on a design plan, I’ve decided to focus on just one room at time until it is finished. Starting with the kitchen, because it is the most important room in the home, right?

This kitchen is a good example of the direction I am going with ours. It doesn’t have the same layout but there will be some very similar elements. I am absolutely obsessed with this architect firm which is in Boulder.

Surround Architecture

Darn it I wish I would have hired them for our home instead of the yahoo we ended up with.  Do you sense some bitterness? Maybe a tiny bit, but lesson learned.  Moving on. Here lays my vulnerability. I tried to play architect after we had to release ours of his duties. I’m a designer and can easily design a room, yet structures and floorpans turn out to be so challenging!!  I’m figuring it out though and am working around a few things that didn’t quite turn out how I wanted. Right now the designs that are evolving in my head are insane and I’m so excited to watch them unfold.

Thanks for sticking through this long (emotional) post.










  1. We built our custom house from scratch too (still have the original sketch I drew for the architect!) and felt similarly about our architect. I ended up designing and drawing about 80% of the house, including redrafting several versions of the plans he came up with that didn’t make any sense. Our builder said that wasn’t all that uncommon of an occurrence, so it’s not just you! We had so much fun with the process though, and at the end of the day we love our house and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. It’s so fun reliving it through your blog. Enjoy!

    1. Thank you Jenelle for the sweet comment! I’m so glad I’m not alone in terms of the architect issue. That was so daunting but I think we figured it all out. At least I’m hoping it all looks good when it’s done! The process has given me a few wrinkles in my forehead for sure…lol.

  2. Shauna, such a great update! Thank you! I’m obsessed with that kitchen layout too and I can see why you love it! Can’t wait to see it come to life for you! The sconces/mirror thing is always an issue when building or renovating but what I normally do is just have the electrician leave the wire in the wall where they can grab it when the time comes to hang the sconces…that will give you more time to decide on your mirror and the two can be hung (in theory) at the same time.
    I know you are beside yourself with Austin leaving and I know it’s hard to let him go but I know he will be fine and so will you … but I totally couldn’t imagine being where you are right now and please know I’m sending prayers your way!! I know you can do this and hang in there…you are an amazing person and designer and this house is going to turn out so fabulous, friend!!! xoxo

    1. Bree, you make me all teary eyed. Thank you friend for the kindest words. I’m so proud of Austin but gosh I wish he could be 5 again! Our babies grow too fast. Thanks so much for the electrical tip too! I’m still debating on sconces vs. hanging pendants in a few bathrooms so there’s a whole other dilemma. Sigh. You know how much I change my mind!! 😉 YOU are the amazing designer and I cannot wait to see your beautiful masterpiece unfold! Love ya friend! xoxo

  3. I love keeping up with this house and your updates! We are currently building a semi custom home so I only get the fun parts without all of the insane stress you have to deal with! I can’t wait to see what you decide for the lighting 🙂

    I am writing because I know where that photo came from, I found it on Houzz (h The architect is Carlton Edwards. Hope this helps!

    1. Thank you so much Emily for giving me the source of this home. Now I can properly credit it. What an amazing home it is!! Good luck with your new home and all the fun decisions you get to make. Our current home was semi custom and I think I actually enjoyed that process a lot more…lol.

      1. Thank you! It is such a fun process (I think my husband might disagree but I love it!) but I am sure it won’t even hold a candle to yours when it’s done!

  4. Oh I do know the pain. I remember when mine left for college. It is earth shattering to say the least. Life does change, but for good, it just becomes a new normal. You home will be stunning and you will make all the right decisions. Just take a deep breath and relax, then it will all come together.

    1. Marty, those are the sweetest words and exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you so much. I can’t wait to finish this home so I can join back in your fabulous home tours! I miss those!

  5. My daughter and son-in-law recently painted their home (on a wooded lot in Olympia) using Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron and it’s spectacular – not too dark and no discernible undertones…I say, go for it! Another color they considered was BM Iron Mountain but I think it reads a touch brown. Can’t wait to see what you choose…

    1. Thank you so much Brenda for the paint tips. I know both those colors and they are definitely contenders for our home. I bet your daughter’s home is beautiful in Olympia! Thanks so much for following along with our new home!

  6. I can totally relate to you although my project is still in the city building department with doom lingering. I am also experiencing a log jam in my brain and love your idea of hitting the pause button. I will keep that idea in my back pocket. Thanks for sharing the raw emotion. And PS: We’re driving our son off to college on Sunday with a three day drive to Boulder!! Hang in there. You have amazing ideas and it’s going to be great!

  7. Your house is looking absolutely amazing Shauna! My daughter built a custom home in North COS and even thought it is beautiful, the architect totally let her down. I have built several homes but because I was working at the time and live in Louisiana, I could not give her much guidance. Every time I have built, I’ve found things I would change. This was my daughter’s first time to build and she put her faith 100% in the architect. Being from the south, she and her husband were totally uneducated about certain build issues unique to CO. Every time she made changes to the plan, the architect wanted more money. You’re blessed in that your talent allows you to see the problems while they can still be corrected!
    I can’t wait to see the finished product!

  8. Absolutely love your inspirations and choices thus far! I seriously look forward to your updates!
    Way to take a moment to recharge! Aren’t we all so guilty of overwhelming ourselves?!
    Love your work and can’t wait to see more????

  9. It is so amazing to see this gorgeous house develop on the pages of your blog! Thank you for sharing the process! You are wise to slow it down (so you aren’t so overwhelmed) and I appreciate how you always seem to make the right priorities, putting faith and family first! We drove our son up to Golden last year and of course there were many tears and a new normal to adjust to. You will adjust and I’ll tell you that just receiving a quick text during the day helped my momma’s heart so much! It’s also so nice to know that in a little over an hour you can be there to take him to lunch! (if he’s anything like my son, food is never turned down!! Ha!) I really appreciate your blog and your heart and your amazing eye for detail, and it is even more special knowing you are in my hometown!

    1. Hi Laura, thank you so much for such a sweet comment! You truly lifted my spirit today just hearing your words, especially from one mom to another and the pains of sending our kids to college. Thank you for following along with our journeys, I appreciate it so much and love hearing from readers in my own town! I hope you’ve adjusted to the new norm in your home with a kid gone to college. Please tell me it gets easier the second year!

  10. Hi Shauna,
    Welcome back! I’ve missed your blog. Taking a breather is a good idea! Helps to let the mind clear out!! You’ll be refreshed when you’re ready to start again.
    I feel your pain about your son leaving. My children are still small but I’m already anticipating them going off to college and I swear I’m having panic attacks about it!! I guess I have to keep reminding myself that they are healthy and doing what is normal. My mom had a hard time with us kids leaving. She said the pain felt like a death but it was short lived….. we all came back and then she wanted us out!!????
    The house is looking good and I LOVE that tub!!!!

    1. Hi Brenda, hold those babies tight! They grow in the blink of an eye! What your mom felt is so true! Thanks so much for the sweet comment, I LOVE hearing from my readers. So happy you love the tub too! 😉

  11. Shauna!! Oh Shauna. I feel your pain so deeply it’s hard for me to read this! Honestly building a custom home is beyond crazy hard and it completely overwhelmed me every single day for two straight years. Just designing and building our one theatre room has brought all the stress of it back to me this summer and while I love our house and am so grateful we were able to build exactly what we wanted, I won’t be doing it again any time soon. 🙂 You are smart to pause and take a break! You need that for your sanity. And you have raised such an amazing son who will always be your son! No matter where he goes from here. I wish so badly I could be there to give you a hug and a box of tissues. But just think.. before you know it we will be chatting and laughing next to one of your amazing fireplaces in your beyond gorgeous home and building will just be a distant memory. I can see us there now. Next to a big bag of Fritos. 😉

    LOVE YOU! Can’t wait to visit and see this gorgeous home (and gorgeous you!) in person! XO

    1. Erin, thank you so very much for being my sounding board through this whole process! I cherish every single conversation we have and can’t thank you enough for all of your words of encouragement. You’re my little cheerleader, what would I do without you?? I can’t wait for you to visit soon and see all of this in person!! EEEEEK!! SO excited to hug your neck! I’ll have Fritos waiting! 😉 And thank you for the sweetest words of encouragement about Austin. I needed to hear that and you always know the right words at the right time!! Love you friend, xoxo

  12. Shauna,
    When my husband and I built our home, we were in our 20’s and new nothing! It wasn’t until after the house was built, that I realized I didn’t have a SINGLE CLOSET on the main floor and nowhere to put one! The closets I do have are way too small and every room should have been 3 feet wider. What kind of architect designs a home with no closets??? (Insert Emoji with eye roll here).
    I am glad your sweet husband is watching over you and being so supportive.
    I have 3 boys and when my first was a senior in high school, I literally cried at after holiday and family gathering and school event. But I wish I could go back and reassure myself that although it is very different, my boys are still in my life and our bond is as strong as ever.

    You are amazing and I am constantly moved by your kindness and generosity in responding to your faithful friends and followers.

    I’ll be praying for you through this process.

    1. Kimberley, thank you so very much for leaving me such a sweet, heartfelt comment. You are a kindred mom of 3 boys like me so I know you GET it! Your reassurance makes me feel so much better. I truly appreciate your prayers, just so kind of you.

      I have to laugh about the closet situation because I’ve been working around that very issue because I don’t like closets in front entries. Ruins the statement entrance I want…lol. I think I may have a creative solution though 😉

      Have a great day!

  13. Your home is coming along beautifully! And as you said, it can wait while you attend to other matters. We have a custom home as well, but we are not the original owners. I am in the process of renovating the home completely! But after reading your story, maybe it’s easier to do it after the fact! Not sure…it seems like a ton of work as well…but it is fun 🙂 I enjoy it. Keep your chin and sorry that you’re so sad about your son leaving. He has so much to look forward to, I bet he is excited.

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