Constructing the ‘Dream Home’ with Tara McGuire
Just outside the small borough of Middleburg, Pennsylvania, lies an up-and-coming rural development that’s rich with tremendously breathtaking sights.
Within this quiet suburb that’s surrounded by green pastures and farmland, a newly constructed home sits atop an acre-and-a-half of land overlooking silos and a small mountain range.
“I call it a ‘view for miles’ because you can see for probably 20 to 30 miles,” said Tara McGuire.
But what’s even more spectacular, she said, are the sunsets.
“The sunsets there are phenomenal,” she gushed, explaining that the horizon stretches as far as the eye can see.
Tara and her husband, Ryan McGuire, have spent about the latter half of this year constructing their dream home, which was completed earlier this month.
The McGuires knew they wanted to move closer to the neighboring town of Selinsgrove where Ryan works as a kindergarten teacher. There, their 15-month old son, Brooks, could also attend the same school district where his father teaches.
“We wanted to eventually live in the Selinsgrove school district so that our little guy can move in there,” said Tara, a multimedia marketing consultant who splits her time between work and being a stay-at-home mom.
For the new family, building their own home was always in the stars; they just didn’t know when. That was until they happened to find their picture perfect location.
“We actually just stumbled upon this piece of land out in the country,” Tara said. “We had heard that they were kind of putting in a small development and we just decided to take a drive one day [and] check it out.”
When the couple arrived at their would-be acre lot and stepped out of their vehicle, it was love at first sight.
“We just knew that it had to be ours,” Tara recalled.
“We also always wanted to able to customize our home and we felt that if we bought a house … we would be constantly doing projects to be making it our home,” she added. “We thought if it was custom, it would be ours right off the bat.”
Tara, of course, speaks from experience, noting that she and Ryan had done quite a few DIY projects in their previous home, including installing a shiplap wall in their sunroom. The upside to doing such projects gave them insight into the type of interior and architectural styles that would be incorporated into their new home.
“When we were considering what we would want our house to look like, since we did that [shiplap] project, we knew what we liked,” Tara said. “It had a texture to the wall. We knew that we would want to add similar texture to our house.”
Because constructing their own home from the ground up isn’t exactly like installing shiplap, they hired a professional contractor.
“We also knew that we wanted someone professional to do it for us,” Tara said with a laugh, adding that “When you pay that much money on a house, we want it to look perfect – to look great, so we were happy to hire someone to do that for us.”
For the McGuires, the most important aspect of the relationship between homeowner and contractor was the level of communication. But having a solid portfolio of work certainly didn’t hurt, either.
“We hired our contractor based on the fact that he communicated very well from the beginning,” Tara said. “And we also saw his work because he built our friend’s house. It really helped us visualize what kind of work he does.”
Loving the shiplap and the ranch vibe it had given to their previous home, the McGuires wanted the new home to evoke some more of that craftsman appeal. For inspiration, Tara said they looked online as well as drove around neighborhoods to find exteriors they liked. From there they began drawing up different designs based on what they found.
“Obviously it took a while to make a decision as to what we’re going to go with,” she said.
What they ultimately decided on was a one story house that featured a vaulted great room with an arched window. For the interior décor, Tara combined aesthetics from three themes that she felt matched her personal style: farmhouse, rustic cottage, and French country.
“I’m definitely drawn toward vintage décor, and so for me, it’s been about adding character into our house by mixing old and new,” Tara said. “My style is definitely a mix of cottage and French farmhouse.”
For the colors, Tara had the inside of the house painted mostly white. To add a bit of warmth, the cabinetry and vanity doors were painted in a neutral shade of revere pewter from Benjamin Moore. But to really give it the farmhouse look, she included a lot of stained barn wood, primarily on the doors and column beams.
“We’re doing a lot of barn wood in our house, like stained barn wood,” she said. “So you get the mix of the wood mixed with white, which is definitely something that I’m drawn to.”
And to drive home the farmhouse aesthetic, Tara turned to Kingston Brass for its myriad of bronze and vintage finish options. From sinks to faucets to even a specialized dog shower, Kingston Brass was happy to provide the McGuires with all the necessary appliances they needed to tie to the new home together.
“They look great. I love the dark bronze color that we got and they just look solid and sturdy,” Tara said. “Aesthetically, the design of them really ties together with the French country farmhouse style that we’re going for.”
In the kitchen, Tara went with the matte white Gourmetier Apron Front Farmhouse Single Bowl Sink. To accompany it, she chose the American Classic Pull Down Kitchen Faucet and Vintage Soap Dispenser, both in oil rubbed bronze.
The McGuires’ kitchen island also features the Gourmetier Undermount Single Bowl Kitchen Sink and the oil rubbed bronze English Vintage Bar Faucet. And as a last minute addition to the complete the kitchen setup, Tara selected the vintage brass Restoration Wall-Mount Pot Filler to be installed above the stove.
“Initially, we weren’t going to get a pot filler, but we decided to at the last minute. And we went with the vintage brass because we wanted to mix that with our oil rubbed bronze hardware, with our [bar] faucet, and kitchen faucet,” Tara said, adding that she was “trying to mix metals in our house.”
But the appliances that Tara and Ryan are really excited about are their new shower and bath fixtures. Wanting to also incorporate the dark metals aesthetic into the master bathroom, Tara chose the oil rubbed bronze finishes for the Heritage Roman Tub Filler and Victorian Shower Head and Arm Combo.
“I’ve never had a nice soaking tub and I think that Roman tub filler just really adds a lot of character into that space,” Tara said. “My husband is very excited about the big rain showerhead.”
And because no family home is complete without a furry companion, the McGuires have also added a bathing area in the garage for their Australian Shepherd, who’s likely to get muddy from running around their wide-open acre. For the dog shower, Tara went with a two-toned design, utilizing the matte black Showerscape Hand Shower, Hose and Slide Bar Kit with a brushed nickel shower valve.
Prior to the move in, the family had been living in a cramped 400-square-foot space, so as anyone can imagine, they were happy to be able to stretch their legs throughout their new 2,800-square-foot dream home. But no one was perhaps more elated than little Brooks.
“The other day I put him down (and) he walked right into his bedroom and hid in his closet to play hide and seek with me. It was so sweet,” Tara said, later noting that “there wasn’t a lot of space to move around” in the previous home, “so he’s excited about” getting to roam about a larger house.
Tara noted that the last several months have certainly been stressful at times, but it was all worth it in the end.
“It was definitely a stressful process, but it’s totally worth it to be able to design your house and see it all come to life and just to have a
space that you can call you can call your own that we created together,” she said.
Tara said she could give a mile-long list of tips on how to prepare for a project of this magnitude, but the most important pieces of advice she could offer was to stay organized with a list of things that need to be done and check that everything works properly.
“Double and triple check everything that you order before it gets installed. Make sure once things are installed that they work correctly,” she advised. “And don’t make any assumptions. Like I have lived off a checklist to make sure that certain things are done (and) get done correctly. That’s been my saving grace.”
And from a designer’s perspective, she added, it doesn’t hurt to make collages of the style you want for your home.
“Pick a style that you like and make photo collages of all the various fixtures and finishes that would be in a space.” she said. This is to ensure “when you look at that photo collage that it coordinates well.”
Check out additional photos as well as videos of the McGuires’ new home and the construction process on Tara’s Instagram account.