Let me start this disclaimer out by saying that insulation is a TOUGH topic to wrap your mind around... and I don't want you to take any of this as architectural advice, but more of a general conversation about insulation as a whole, and the many challenges and questions that you should ask yourself and your professional when you are thinking about insulating (or re-insulating) your home.

Here are some examples below:
  1. What is my climate? Do I use air conditioning or heat more? Is it humid or dry where I live? 
  2. What direction does my home face in regards to the sun exposure? Is it mostly shady or does my home receive direct sun most of the day?
  3. How much can I afford when it comes to insulation?
  4. Are there any pre-existing conditions which would determine the type of insulation I should use?
  5. How is the condition or presence of a vapor barrier on my home?
  6. Will the insulation be exposed to any of the elements? Air, rain, animals, etc.
  7. Do I want to decrease my energy bill as much as possible, or is my home already quite efficient?
  8. Where are my HVAC units located?
  9. Do I have a hot damp crawl space or a hot damp attic?
  10. Is this an older home or new construction? 
Basically, the main idea is to figure out your problem areas and the best way to fix them within your budget. I think insulation is has good, better, and best categories, and personally we went for the "better" for our home build.

Below I will share with you the choices that we made and why we made them:

Spray Foam:
The single most important number one place that needs to be insulated well is at your roof deck, and the best insulation out there is spray foam. We chose closed cell spray foam because it also adds some vapor protection and we are housing our HVAC units in the attic... this will put them underneath the insulation and within our thermal barrier, thus making them more efficient. We did pay about twice as much for it as we would have if we had gone with regular insulation, but a few thousand dollars now will save much more in the future.

Exterior Walls | R-19 batt insulation:
There are studies out there that have been conducted and there is also conflicting information about sealing a house too "tight" and that it "needs to breathe." This is one of the reasons that we went with batt insulation at the exterior walls. We want to keep out MOST of the water and humidity and heat down here in the south, but if some water happens to get in our walls via a window, etc. it will be able to get back out.

Crawl Space | R-30 batt insulation
This would have been the area in which I would have chosen to add spray foam if we could have afforded it. Even upgrading to R-30 in lieu of R-19 only cost about a quarter of the price of spraying foam underneath our house. We saved several thousand dollars and if we decide to add it in the future, it is much easier to add here than at the roof deck or within the envelope of the house.

Sound Batt Insulation
Any area that you can add sound insulation, especially between floors and including bathrooms, media rooms, and bedrooms at least, do it! I would say to just insulate at every interior wall for simplicity, but this may not be feasible. It cost us about $1,000 to have a much quieter house, but I have a feeling that after they install, we will be buying additional rolls from a hardware store and sticking it where we can!

I hope this helps! Any areas that I can share our home building experience with you, I will try to do it!

Note: Compressing batt insulation decreases the value of it... never force extra into a large space - leave it soft and lofty for maximum insulation-ability.


Tile, tile, and more tile...

Tile selection, by far, has been one of the most difficult parts of the interior design process that I am working through for our personal house. Not only are there a bajillion choices in color, size, and thickness, but there are also varying degrees of price ranges and that makes it incredibly hard.

I really had to start narrowing down.

For me, that process meant finding an inspiration room and I have looked at probably 1,000 or more bathroom pics online and came up with this one as the inspiration for our master bath.

Because I have been searching for tile and perusing types online, I feel like I am now surrounded by it. Every ad, article, and targeting marketing strategy is now aimed at getting me to buy their tile... nice try. I cannot be coerced, it has to be perfect!

The trick with tile is to have a few pattens and colors for visual interest, varying degrees of sizes for the type of application (floor, wall, shower, etc.), and just a little bit of the really expensive stuff for that wow factor. And don't forget that it all needs to coordinate!

I have an appointment with my favorite tile person in a few days... we shall see what I come up with! 


ALS Ice Bucket

I do want to start this post by saying that I love all the attention that is being brought to ALS lately due to the viral fad of the ice bucket challenge. It is a horribly debilitating disease, and bringing awareness to the world about it along with raising money and having a little fun are all good things.

That being said - I really don’t get the ALS bucket challenge. The concept is great! But, I think people are doing it wrong? 

Let me explain… the idea is to give money to the charity, or spread the word by posting a video of yourself dumping ice on your head as punishment. Right? Why would people donate money AND throw ice water on their head?

I have seen in some videos where the pre-wet individual states the names they are calling out and a statement that they must donate $100 or dump the ice water… so by posting that video, are they saying that they did NOT donate? Or that they did donate, but just not $100 so they still dumped the water?

I don’t make a big deal out of my yearly donations, and I certainly don’t tell the world that I did NOT donate, so I am not sure if the challenge is for me. However, I haven’t been “called out” yet. Either way, ALS has now had MILLIONS of dollars given to their cause, so in the end, I guess it worked!


Here's a tip, Miami

I just got back from a 40th birthday trip with my older sister to Miami, FL. We had a great time! But there was something I had rarely experienced before, and it seemed to be the norm in Miami.

Tips were included. Like everywhere.

Normally, I get it. People suck and they don’t know how to tip… but what about bad service? Isn’t the WHOLE idea behind tipping in the service industry is that they work extra hard and give you better service and thus their tip can be more or less depending on the quality?

We had HORRIBLE service one day during lunch and 18% gratuity was included automatically… just seems to go against the entire idea behind tipping if you ask me.

All in all, I typically tip more than 18%, but in the case of the lunch that took 2 hours, she would have only gotten a couple of bucks.

Either way, Miami is fun and beautiful and we had great weather, as indicated by the below.


40th Birthday Cups!

My sister and her friend are turning 40 this month, so we are headed to Miami for some girl fun this weekend! I am trying to be budget friendly as of late because of our house build, but I still really wanted to do some special things to make the trip as memorable as possible.

While perusing the fun cup section at a local craft store, I was drawn to these cheetah print and pink insulated tumblers and thought they would be fun to have on the beach! But they were $10.00 a piece! and kind of plain if I'm being honest, so I would want to decorate them which equals more money.

Putting them back and feeling defeated I went next door to the Dollar Tree just to see what they had and low and behold, the perfect drink cup for the beach! For a dollar. That means I bought up the four pink ones that I needed and headed BACK to the craft store to pick up some ribbon, jewels, and initials.

Here they are! A little hot glue to affix the ribbon and $4 a piece later and now we have blinged out birthday cups perfect for the beach. Tip: Have a light hand and use the hot glue sparingly... I accidentally cracked one where I puddled the glue up, good thing it was mine!

From Charleston, South Carolina to your computer. I hope you enjoy. :)