framed house frontSafe to say that 2020 will go down as the year of the plot twists. Fortunately new construction seems to have been spared… for the time being at least.  I suppose that makes sense as much of construction takes place outside, most of the trade crews are just a few or solo, and construction was rightfully deemed an essential business.  So while the rest of the world came to a halt, construction carried on.  Often providing much needed jobs and a steady paycheck that can seem somewhat elusive these days.

The pandemic and unrest we are faced with hasn’t scared away our need for inventory, it’s created even more of a demand for new homes as a growing number of people gravitate to wide open spaces.

We’re only HALF way through a year that can best be described as unbelievable.  November-ish, when Coastal Heritage started construction on a pair of model homes, Carolina Capehouse and Harley Lane, and when our family broke ground on Southern Comfort Let’s Build a Spec, we certainly didn’t have a crystal ball to see how 2020 would play out.  And I imagine if we did, we would have come to a halt ourselves.  But I’m glad we didn’t.  By the time corona gave our country great pause, the homes were half built which doesn’t really do anyone any good, now does it?  So really our only option was to finish per our pre-covid plans.

exterior elevation Southern Comfort

Finish we did, and we’re ready to show them off.  But let’s skip back to last winter for a bit…

Selecting Selections

It’s no secret that I have a love affair with all the pretty things that finish a home at the end of the build.  But pretty things at a pretty price can take a while to find.  So while Blair and GC Jeffrey were lining up permits and crews, I (true to form) was fixture shopping before the ink was dry on the floor plans.

We were buying for both the Harley Lane and SoCo model homes at the same time, so when I saw a deal I snagged it, figuring we could use it in one or the other.  The homes had an undetermined personality at this point and for a while we bounced some of the finds between the two before we settled on a ‘coastal-farmhouse’ vibe for the Harley Lane model home and more of a ‘classic-meets-modern’ character for Southern Comfort.

Coastal Heritage Construction owner Kim Willis
Side note: Kim Willis and her crew at Coastal Heritage Construction built the Harley Lane house, I just did the selections.

Fixture pictures and paint colors are coming… keep scrolling!

You get what you pay for… or do you?

We’re firm believers in the ‘you get what you pay for’ motto when it comes to labor… most of the time at least.  There are certainly some folks out there that think quite highly of themselves, as evidenced by their invoices.  Try as you might, you can’t always find a diamond in the rough, sometimes your findings are just plain rough.

We wrote about some of our hits and misses in Going Vertical.

We did make deliberate decisions to go with some higher priced contractors because at the end of the day we’re building a house for our new neighbor.  Taking the low bid for the sake of saving a buck can cost you many more of those precious bucks down the road.  Blair had to talk me into some of the bigger budget-busters, and I (obviously the tighter of the two) now see the big picture that he saw the whole time.

Longevity and quality have to take center stage when you’re not only building houses but building a reputation.

So what is one to do when they have to maintain some semblance of a budget?  You control the few allowances under your control, and stalk sites like wayfair, houzz, overstock and for their clearance deals hidden amongst a sea of overpriced fixtures.  We don’t want a cheap product, we want a high end product for a cheap price. Big difference.

The real deal

Online shopping makes the next great find just a keystroke away.  It seemed like my favorite UPS guy brought me goodies just about daily.  Fellow fixture junkies will share in my enthusiasm… and the rest of you just probably think I’m weird which is fine by me.

Deals that made my day…

kitchen lighting Southern Comfort
$150 Millennium lighting retro pendants for $40 that now prominently hang between the triple kitchen windows.


exterior lights Southern Comfort
A pair of $250 gunmetal goose-neck lights for $100 mounted over the garage door.


master bath lights Southern Comfort
Big, beautiful 14” glass pendants for the master bath snatched up for $45 because they were discontinued.


island pendants at Harley Lane
Jumbo galvanized and wood island pendants for half price that are now the shining centerpiece of the Harley Lane kitchen.

And then there are some things that are just priced reasonably low.

garage lights at Harley Lane
I love the 4 exterior sconces we used to flank the front and garage doors at Harley Lane.

I’ve seen similar ones for $300, but I got all 4 of these on Amazon for less than $200.

A few decent finds like these and a $1500 lighting budget isn’t so far fetched.

I also like the sites where they let you shop by % off, like Houzz where you can filter your selections discounted up to 75%.  Of course some of the things are discounted for an obvious reason… because they are beyond ugly… but every now and then you can find some real gems from companies likely looking to clear out their warehouses for the next round of seasonal inventory.

House jewelry

Lights, faucets, tile are those ever important little details are a home’s best accessory.

master bath Harley Lane

Fixtures and finishes bring a plain house to life and give it a personality surpassed only by the furnishings added by the new owners.

Everyone has their own opinion of what looks good, and for model homes you’re supposed to play it somewhat safe.  It’s pretty easy to gauge popularity by keeping tabs on the latest and greatest on HGTV and Pinterest. cabinet hardware Southern Comfort

The trick is to find a happy medium between trendy and timeless.

And who says you have to match all of your metals throughout the house?  That’s a rule we’ve never really subscribed to.  In most of our homes you’ll find a mix of nickel, black, chrome and gold tones.  That might be too eclectic for some, but it works as a cohesive whole.

Spray away

I’ll often come across fixtures that have really cool shapes or designs, but the wrong finish. spraying lights for the Southern Comfort model home

Don’t bypass a good find just because it’s the wrong color.

I buy an embarrassing amount of spray paint and have sprayed everything from drawer handles to chandeliers, and I’m pretty sure no one is the wiser.


We switched up the pallets a bit on these models. Of course we couldn’t help but use a few of our tried and true colors, but the color combinations were for sure different.  For coastal cool, we painted the exterior of Harley Lane the perfect shade of gray, Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray, with bright white trim.

Harley Lane curb appeal

And for contrast on the pergolas and porch columns, we chose our go-to barely black, Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron.  The doors make quite a color statement in Valspar’s Utterly Blue, aka Carolina Blue… go heels!

Step inside our coastal farmhouse and you’ll find medium-toned walnut looking LVP floors throughout with the mantel, open shelving and lighting mirroring the same tone… very farmhouse-esque.  The coastal flavor comes in with board & batten accents and our favorite shade of light blue on the walls, Sherwin Williams Topsail, our blue neutral that’s the perfect compliment to the wood.

Just down the street, the Southern Comfort model home was painted one of our go-to off white colors Benjamin Moore Navajo White.  We’ve used this color half a dozen times, but I almost spilled my wine when I saw it painted for the first time (we take after dinner golf cart cruises to check on the homes)… how did our beautiful off white turn yellow?  Nope, I decisively decided this was not a look we could live with.  The second coat was switched on the fly to a much more toned down Sherwin Williams Toque White for the siding AND trim, which now replaces that fickle Navajo White as our go-to off white.

SoCo home, Blair on the porch
just right… Sherwin Williams Toque White

We also used Coventry Gray on this house but just as an accent on the exterior doors and soffits.  The house was looking a bit simple until we added cedar shutters and corbels, lovingly crafted by my talented dad.

And what’s a proper Southern porch without a traditional haint blue ceiling?  I’ll never grow tired of Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue.  This particular shade of blue with a hint of green is the perfect colorful surprise as you gaze upwards.

palladian blue front porch ceiling


We wanted the house to be light and airy, so we chose Benjamin Moore Simply White for the walls and a pale gray for the doors, Benjamin Moore Moonshine.  I wish we had done Coventry Gray for the interior doors for more of a contrast.  The Moonshine is pretty, but a bit lighter than envisioned.  Of course I had already asked the painter to change the outside color, so I wasn’t about to bring up repainting the doors!


powder room board and battenFor an unexpected splash of color, we painted the board & batten in the powder room a greenish-navy, Sherwin Williams Underseas.

Want to try a funky color?  Do it in a bathroom.  If you hate it, it’s a small space to repaint but it usually ends up worth the risk.

The upstairs walls were another go-to color, Sherwin Williams Sea Salt, that looks green or blue or gray depending on the time of day.  Yes, we did the downstairs one color and the upstairs another.  A transition that I was nervous about but it blends surprisingly well.

Let’s finish this

I’m a sucker for the classics… sign me up for marble and subway tile any day of the week.  With the closest Floor & Decor 3+ hours away, our tile selections are usually limited to Lowes, especially when the specialty shops are closed due to Covid.  So I made sure to hit up Floor & Decor while visiting my sister in Alexandria.

We found a marble-look 12×24 tile that was so inexpensive and so timeless.  For the SoCo kitchen, we chose an over sized handmade looking subway tile that I’m convinced will never go out of style.

custom shower Harley Lane

Tile hack: For the Harley Lane shower, we wanted a thin blue accent stripe.  Buying the individual tiles was crazy pricey, so we found small tiles on a 12×12 sheet and cut the backing in strips for a quarter of the cost.

Simple trim details also give a house an identity.  Repeating throughout the SoCo model is 8” shiplap on the fireplace, range hood, peninsula and sink wall.

And the Harley Lane has coastal board and batten and fireplace trim that is a nod to judge’s paneling.  It’s an easy way to dress up a house and almost always a bang-for-your-buck.

These are a few of my favorite things

reclaimed pantry door Southern Comfort
A reclaimed pantry door on a sliding track


mantel and fireplace Southern Comfort
The 10’ mantel that goes across the fireplace and flanking built-ins


Southern Comfort kitchen
Triple kitchen counters


pantry pass-through Southern Comfort
The pass-through from the pantry to the kitchen counter


Harley Lane, great room windows
The huge picture window in the living room


entryway, Harley Lane
Board & batten as you enter Harley Lane with a picture ledge


counter tops, kitchen Harley Lane
Honed Calcita counters that look like marble but have the properties of granite… the best of both worlds

So is the Harley Lane the perfect blend of coastal + farmhouse we set out to build, and does Southern Comfort live up to it’s name?  Time for you to be the judge.

On to the next

The (construction) dust has settled for now… just as the Saharan dust comes ashore, seriously 2020?  The pandemic and unrest we are faced with hasn’t scared away our need for inventory, it’s created even more of a demand for new homes as a growing number of people gravitate to wide open spaces.  We can only build but so fast, and with these now complete we’re designing three more model homes that will be breaking ground soon.  And I might have already started shopping for them 😉

Arlington Place blog author Becca Lang. Story by Becca Lang

Hey there, I'm Becca... my husband Blair and I were thrown into the deep end of the development game in 2007. I have overlapping passions of real estate and design, he has overlapping passions for building and fishing. Between the two of us, we gotcha covered on all fronts! Each build is unique with it's own successes to be celebrated and lessons to be learned, and that's what I hope to share with you in the 'Sink or Trim' series.