Monday, January 22, 2018


Andy and I broke ground on our Sugarberry Cottage over 3.5 years ago. Since then our Sugarberry has been featured in 3 magazines, including HGTV Magazine. We receive so many questions regarding our Sugarberry daily, so I decided it was time to put all of those questions in one place for anyone interested in this home to find. When we started building our home a few years ago, I couldn't find any sources of info or inspiration for this home besides a couple homes on the plan designers website. I only wish I had found a blog, Instagram, Pinterest posts with information on this plan. I hope this post proves to be helpful and inspirational to any dreamers out there just like we were. We absolutely adore this home and it has been everything we wanted it to be. Enjoy! 

Where are your house plans from?
Our house plan is called the Sugarberry Cottage and is one of Southern Living’s Top House Plans. We purchased it from Southern Living, but the plan was actually designed by Moser Home Group and I’ve been told it is cheaper to purchase the plan directly from them.

What is the square footage?
The Sugarberry Cottage has a total of 1,791 heated square foot. 1,097 on the first floor and 694 on the second. It is a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath.

Did you modify the original plans?
The only thing we modified from the original plan was the foundation. The original plan is a pier and beam foundation. We chose to do a slab foundation. Other than that, the house we built is the original.

How much did it cost to build?
This is the most asked question I get about our home. So I am finally sharing our budget breakdown. Not everything is included on this sheet, because we did spend roughly $15,000 cash on different things like light fixtures, kitchen island, appliances, tile work, door and cabinet hardware, etc. We guesstimate we spent about $220,000 total to build this home from ground work to finish including all contractor fees. That comes out to about $123 per sq ft. For our area in Louisiana this is a very average cost for a new built home. Do keep in mind that this price per sq ft does not include land, since we already owned our property.

Since you built your home on a slab foundation, where did you put your HVAC system and your water heater?
The original house plan has a pier and beam foundation, so the HVAC and water heater are planned to go under the house. Because we chose to do a slab foundation we had to find a new spot for these things to go. Our HVAC for downstairs is in one of the “linen” closets in the downstairs hallway, next to the powder room. The HVAC for upstairs is in the attic. All of the duct work for downstairs is run through the ceiling between the two stories and the upstairs duct work is run through the attic. We chose to go with a tank-less water system, (which I personally LOVE). It is located on the exterior wall of the master bath.

Now that you’ve been in your house for a few years, what, if anything, would you change?
I plead with everyone I speak to who is interested in building the Sugarberry to EXTEND THE LAUNDRY ROOM. It’s just too small. Our laundry room has ended up being our main entrance, because we park around the back of the house.  So it has essentially turned into a mudroom, as well. Also, both laundry room doors open into the room, and they overlap each other if opened at the same time. It is almost impossible to get our little family of four through the back door, all of our shoes off, and then through the other interior door. If I were to do it again, and this is definitely on our someday to-do list, I would extend the laundry room and lose most of the back porch. We rarely use our back porch, anyways, so it would be nice to have that area enclosed and part of that room. The second thing I would change is in the master bathroom. I wish we had extended the window out by a few feet and added a bathtub. The original plan only has a walk-in shower. And I miss having a bathtub for me downstairs. Those are really the only things I would most definitely change. If I had the budget, I would consider extending the screened in porch, (If you do a ton of entertaining outdoors and need a screened in porch, extend this out. It is not large enough to entertain on.), adding square footage to the living room and kitchen, and an extra closet downstairs for storage, BUT that’s an entirely different financial budget and the square footage works just fine for us.

Do you have a basement?

No. But it’s definitely an easy thing to add, if you want one.

What paint colors did you use?

All paint colors are from Sherwin Williams. The exterior is painted in Pure White. The front and back door and also the porch ceiling is in Watery. The interior with the exception of the Master Suite is painted in Alabaster. All trim work and cabinets are in Pure White as well as the interior ceiling. The Master Suite is in Eider White. The green wall in the upstairs bedroom is Rustoleum Chalkboard paint in School House Green. 

Where do you store all of your Holiday decor and outdoor stuff?

We sold our previous home before we started building our Sugarberry. While we built we moved in with Andy’s sister, so we had to store almost everything we owned. Instead of throwing away money on a storage unit, we bought a 10x24 portable storage building and had it placed on our property. We now use that building for storing all of Andy’s tools, lawn equipment, the kids outdoor toys, Holiday decor, and any other random junk we don’t have room for in the house.


What material did you use on your roof? What color is it? Is it worth the price over shingles?
We went with a standing seam metal roof. The metal color we chose is “Polar Ice”. A metal roof was important to me. I really thought the metal look just completed the farmhouse look I wanted. We chose to go with standing seam, because it not only looks more finished, but it is basically a forever roof. We were comfortable paying more upfront knowing that we wouldn’t have any unexpected costs to replace a shingled roof later on down the road. Both shingles and corrugated metal would require replacement or upkeep.
I must tell you this though, we did have a leak soon after we moved in. Because of the peak of this roof, it is essential that every corner and edge is sealed. We had an issue where one of the corners of the dormers wasn’t sealed, and we had a roof leak. Since having that corner sealed, we haven’t had any further issues, but do be aware! We are still paranoid and check the attic for leaks frequently after any major rains. Recently, I spoke with a friend, who is building a beach cottage with similar roof elevation, and he told me that his builder insisted that he first do a shingle roof to ensure that everything was properly covered, sealed, and waterproof. And later on down the road, when it is time for their shingles to be replaced, to then do the metal roof right over shingles. I thought that was a pretty genius idea if the metal roof isn’t currently in your budget or you are afraid of everything being sealed properly and having water leaks. Despite our water leak, I still love our metal roof and wouldn’t have done it any differently.

What siding do you have?
We have HardiePlank Lap Siding in Smooth. It is painted with Sherwin Williams, Pure White.

Do you have a garage?
We do not currently have a garage. We had the slab poured for one when we built the house, but we really wanted to build a garage with a suite upstairs for our overnight guests. Unfortunately, that wasn’t really in our budget at the time, so we just decided to hold off for what we wanted rather than building something that we didn’t. We hope to eventually start this project in the next few years. It will be located to the left of the back porch with a covered breezeway connecting the two.

Where is your front door from?
Our front door is an exterior fir wood crossbuck 9 lite style door. It was purchased from our local home builder supply store, so unfortunately, I do not have the exact source for it. This one (here) is so very similar, if not exact. It is painted in Sherwin Williams, Watery.

Would you extend the screened in porch?
The screened in porch is not large. We have enough room for a small patio set and the grill, but it is tight and doesn't leave much room for walking around. If you are wanting to entertain out there, then you might want to consider extending the screened in porch.


How tall are your ceilings?
Our ceilings are 9ft throughout.


What kind of fireplace do you have?

We chose to do a gas insert. This was a cheaper option for us and more convenient. It eliminated the chimney, so you will notice our Sugarberry does not have one. 

Is the living room large enough to entertain in?
Because the living room is open to both the dining area and kitchen it makes the space easier to entertain in. We don’t host too many parties, but we have squeezed 20 folks in this little house for a Christmas party and it was fine. This house is meant to be small, you are meant to be close, so just make sure you really love the people you host. (haha!)


Do you like your open shelving?
 I adore open shelving. I love being able to display all of our pretty kitchen dinnerware and things. The plates, bowls, and cups I have displayed on our open shelving is the dinnerware we use daily. Dust isn’t much of a factor on all of these things since they get used and washed often.

Where are your cabinets from?
Our cabinets were custom made by a local company, AWT Custom Cabinets. They are a standard shaker style cabinet.

How many upper cabinets do you have?
We have 8 upper cabinets. We have 3 uppers to the left of the fridge, 2 uppers above the fridge, and three small upper cabinets above the range. Our uppers go all the way to the ceiling so that provides quite a bit of extra storage. In the 3 cabinets to the left of the fridge we store all of our ugly dinnerware, like the boys plastic plates and cups. The 2 cabinets above the fridge have dividers on the lower shelf for us to store our baking pans, and on the higher shelves I can’t reach easily, I store all of our party serving ware that I don’t use very often. I don’t use the cabinets above the range.

How many lower cabinets do you have?
We have 14 lower cabinets. 12 of those are pull out drawers, which I LOVE, and would recommend to anyone. They provide so much more functional space than regular cabinets. We have 6 deep drawers that are perfect for storing all of our glassware, Tupperware, small kitchen appliances, and pots and pans. The pull out drawer to the left of the range is a spice rack, which is super handy, and the one on the right is a hidden trash can.

What kind of counter tops do you have?
We have Vicostone Quartz counter tops in the stone color, Bianco Venato.

What kind of tile and grout color do you have in your kitchen?
The tile is just a standard white subway tile from Home Depot and the grout color is Charcoal Gray, (it’s a true black).

Where is your microwave?
Our microwave was originally designed to go in our custom built island. However, when we found our antique butcher block island we had to come up with a different idea for it. We installed an outlet in the pantry (more about it below) and have our microwave stored in it. We just make sure to always keep the pantry door cracked if the microwave is on to allow for plenty of ventilation. We also have a small convection oven in the pantry as well. 

Where did you find your butcher block?
We found our butcher block at a local antique store. We’ve been told it’s over 100 years old and came out of a governor's home in Mississippi. I can just imagine the life and stories this thing has seen. She’s a true gem!
What are the dimensions of your butcher block island?
The island is 5ft x 2.5ft.

Where did you find your range and what is it?
Our range is a 1940’s Magic Chef. Andy’s boss was renovating a home. He pulled this beauty out of the old kitchen and asked Andy if he might want it. Of course we said YES and much to our surprise she was fully functional.


How big is the dining area?
The dining area is part of the living room. Our table is 6ft long and 2.5ft wide. Our table sits 6 adults comfortably, but I can squeeze a few more extra kiddos on the bench seat, when we have friends over.


Do you have a pantry?
This house plan does not have a designated pantry, but with very little kitchen storage, a pantry is imperative! This plan does have two small linen closets in the hallway downstairs. We designated the closet right outside the kitchen for our pantry. We have shelves from floor to ceiling to maximize the storage space. I’ve spoken with a few other Sugarberry owners who have actually combined this closet with the closet under the stairs to create a walk in pantry, if you need extra room there. We needed the two bedroom closets more than a walk in pantry though, so this is what worked best for us.

What do you use the two hallway closets for?
Like I mentioned above, we use one of the closets as our pantry, and the other one for our HVAC.


What size is your bed?
We have a California king bed and it fits comfortably in the master bedroom along with the rest of our bedroom furniture.

How many closets does the master bedroom have?
The master bedroom has two closets. 

What are the dimensions of the closets?
The closet under the stairs is 7.5ft x 3ft. The other closet in the master is 3ft x 6ft.

Where are your interior doors from?

Again we purchased these through our local home builder supply store. They are from Masonite and are in the style 3-panel Shaker. See them (here).

What kind of floors do you have downstairs? What is the finish?
We have concrete floors. They are called polished concrete and are just the natural color of the concrete, sealed with a clear poly coat.

(This is what our floors look like in natural light and is the most accurate depiction of what they look like. In many of my photos the color of the rugs and furniture cast an orangey-brown onto them making them look much different.)

Do you like your concrete floors?
Concrete floors are a popular flooring option where we live, probably because they are so affordable. Flooring wasn’t a major concern for us, so choosing concrete floors was a great way to save some money in our budget to use somewhere else. I think the main reservations people have to them are because they have young children and are concerned about how hard they are. We have large area rugs to provide safe, comfy places for our kids to play. And I feel like it’s pretty similar to falling on tile or even hardwood floors. It’s totally a personal preference for your family though.




(See what I mean about the doors. This is why I recommend extending the laundry room.)


Are the bedrooms upstairs big enough for children to share?
The upstairs bedroom at the back of the house is the largest of the two rooms. My boys share a room. They currently have a bunk bed, but when we first moved in they each had their own twin bed. Both twin beds fit perfectly in this room with still plenty of room for their dresser and all of their toys. The smaller upstairs bedroom at the front of the house is being used as my office. I've had my boys in this room as well when we used the larger bedroom for a playroom/homeschool room. When I ended up needing an office I condensed their playroom and bedroom into one room and moved them back to the larger room. The smaller bedroom fit their bunk bed perfectly. I could not, however, make two separate twin beds fit in their together. It would fit a full or queen bed fine though.  To answer the question, I think you could easily and comfortably fit four children in the two bedrooms upstairs if they share rooms.


How big are the closets upstairs?
Each upstairs bedroom has two closets, so there are four closets total. The two closets in the back bedroom (larger room) are 3.5ft x 2ft. The two closets in the front bedroom (smaller room) are 3ft x 2ft. 

What kind of carpet do you have upstairs? Do you recommend it?
We have Mohawk Carpet. It’s called San Sebastian and is in the color, Oyster. We picked carpet knowing we wanted something comfy for the kids to play on while they were little, but knew we would eventually install hardwood. So the carpet we chose was cheap. The carpet is fine. It’s a nice quality carpet for the price. I don’t love the color I chose though. I should have picked a darker color carpet that hid stains a lot better. It shows stains bad, and I’ve tried several things to clean it to no avail. 


What did you do with this space?
I use this space as a craft area. The boys have a play table and easel here. They have a cart filled with crayons, markers, coloring books, and playdoh for all of their creative play. We had little built in desks made here and I use one as a sewing desk. There are so many options for this little area though. It is truly whatever you want it to be.



How do you suggest starting the decorating process of a new home?

Take your time. We've been in our home three years and there are still rooms I haven't finished decorating yet. My office is a perfect example of that. I'm currently using an ugly fold out table for a desk and it's very bare in here. But I don't have a clear vision for this room just yet, and I don't want to buy furniture and decor just to fill the room, when I'm not even sure what I want for it yet. So my thoughts are to take time getting a clear vision for what you want. Get on Pinterest and Instagram and find inspiration. And then take time searching for pieces that you absolutely love. Don't settle for something you don't love just to fill a void. And you don't have to do the whole house at one time. Take it one room at a time. Our home is still a work in progress and will continue to be.

(If you want to check out my shop you can find it here.)

Do you like having a window on every wall upstairs?
I chose this house plan for many reasons, but one of the reasons being the amount of windows this home had. I love windows, and all the light they let in. So for me, yes I love them.

If you have any questions that I did not answer in this post, please feel free to leave me a comment, email, or find me on Instagram (@brittanyork) and I will make sure to update this post frequently.


Living room:
Framed Silhouettes:  Mcauley and Co.                 
Chandelier: antique (present from my mom and stepdad)
Coffee table, side table school desk, pew bench: thrifted
Appliances: GE Artistry Series (discontinued)
Range: thrifted
Butcher Block Island: thrifted
Cabinets: AWT Custom Cabinets
Dining Room: 
Shutters: thrifted
Pendant Light: thrifted 
Master Bedroom:
Bed Frame: DIY
Dressers: thrifted
Achitectual Salvage (above bed): thrifted
Laundry Room/ Powder Room:
Bedding: Beddys Bed Dash Set and I'm Drawing the Line Set

Lego Table: DIY from The Decorated Cookie
Book Shelves: Ikea Spice Racks
Rocket Tent: Land of Nod (similar)
Upstairs Bathroom Wallpaper: Milton and King The Plains