Farmhouse on the Mountain: Lessons I Learned as a First Time Project Manager

By Dawn D Totty                                                                                                          

Welcome toThe Farmhouse on The Mountain“!!!  A place where as the project manager, dreams really do come true , but only if you are willing to withstand the many, trials and tribulations that inevitably, are all part of being the person responsible for most of the decision making!

So let’s start with ALL of the many lessons I have learned along my journey as project manager of my very first new build!!

The lot will need leveling, then the foundation can be installed.


  • Plan Ahead and then plan some more!! The more you prepare long before the foundation is even started, the less pressure you will have when the build starts!!
  • Decisions, decisions! Be prepared to make decisions, lots and lots of them, lol! (I will prepare a list for you at the very end of the post).
  • Timing-I love all my contractors, they are good hard working folks, the truth is, I like to get things done and at times as a designer, or a project manager or just a woman (lol), my time line is usually days, or weeks ahead or others. Please be prepared for delays, builders very seldom ever have only your home to build and they are maneuvering between sometimes many projects at the same time!!
  • Don’t Over React– IF you take heed to only one of my little nuggets of hard earned wisdom, PLEASE remember this one thing! I will personally promise you, when the builder, electrician, plumber, painter, sheet rock installer etc… do not make an appearance for a day, two or three (sometimes more) or you receive a phone call that 5 of your windows are missing from your order and it will be a 5-6 week wait (yes, this really happened) and it is raining cats and dogs (inside the house and out)! All of the reasoning, screaming, or crying will get us nowwhere!! You will NEVER regret holding your tongue and being pro active to find a solution to what I call a dilemma!
  • Budget– The B word, whew, this is a biggie! As a budget conscience designer, if I can go a little over budget, anyone can!! Beware, this is far easier than ever imaginable, always prepare for additional that is super unforeseen costs!

    Step II, Framing!


                                    THE FINISHED FARMHOUSE!!

By Dawn D Totty Designs

The FINISHED Farmhouse!!
What an exciting, fun, creative and at times very challenging experience, one I will always cherish!!

Custom Farmhouse Kitchen Design by- Dawn D Totty Designs Chattanooga, TN.

The Farmhouse Custom Kitchen- Designed by Dawn D Totty Designs

The Farmhouse Custom Kitchen- Design by- Dawn D Totty Designs

Custom Designed Vanity for the Farmhouse Powder room!  This sweet piece was located at one of my favorite Chattanooga shops called Reliks Chattanooga. Ask for owner Tina Yeargain, she’s the BEST!!!

  • beautiful porcelain sink top which I was so fortunate to find is from my Favorite shop in Decherd called- Divine Re-designs 100 Main St.

    This Clean, simple, elegant and a touch of fun master suite has a few vintage pieces that always ads a unique feel to any space.

    Rich Jewel tone create a warm and cozy atmosphere in this elegantly simple 2nd master suite. Design by Dawn D Totty Designs

    A room with a view and what a view it is! Below is the open living space with a magnificent view of the Tennessee river and valley below!!

    Beautiful Blush Bathroom Design by Dawn D Totty Designs

    Light and elegant master bathroom Design by Dawn D Totty Designs

    Farmhouse style!!

    Farmhouse Custom Master En-suite features a sweet antique vanity finished in slate with duo metal vessel sinks with rubbed bronze delta faucets. Over-sized white subway tiles with dark grout and farmhouse style goose neck shower head bring the old and current farmhouse feel to this bathroom design.

    Who doesn’t love an open concept staircase, especially in steel & wood?!! Special feature- Kate & BooBoo Kitty!!!

    The Farmhouse was designed by Architect Michael Bridges & Chattanooga Interior Designer Dawn D Totty Designs. This was my 1st new build as the project manager and whew, what an experience, one I shall always treasure!! I couldn’t be more pleased with the finished product and I am so pleased to share it with all of you!! Thank you all so much for stopping in and I truly hope that you have gained knowledge and that If you too are embarking on a possible new build or a home or office renovation that this post has encouraged you to go ahead and do it! If I can do it you can too!!

I want to prepare you as much as possible with an itemized list of items you will need to select to complete your new home or renovation project, here goes!

      Dawn’s Top 20 List!!

  1. Window styles & brand
  2. Roofing materials & finishes
  3. Exterior siding material selection & colors- brick, stone, hardy board, stucco etc…
  4. Driveway surface materials- Concrete, gravel, pavers etc…
  5. All light fixtures – Interior & exterior (pay very close attention, lighting plays a very big part in any well designed space and builders are not interior designers) inc. ventilation systems for bathrooms with tubs & showers in particular.  Think of your light fixtures as the jewelry to your beautiful home!
  6. Plumbing Fixtures– Sinks, toilets, faucets & the hardware that goes with it.
  7. Doors & Trim– Interior & exterior
  8. Flooring– Selection of hardwoods, tile for floors and back-splashes.
  9. Counter Top Surfaces– Quarts,  marble, soap stone, granite etc…
  10. Appliances- *This is where the budget can creep up on you, so use caution.
  11. Cabinetry– Kitchen, bathrooms & sometimes bedrooms & offices
  12. Bath Fixtures-Tubs, shower inserts, glass shower doors.
  13. Hardware– for all cabinetry, doors.
  14. Window treatments & rods, shutters, shades etc..
  15. Paint Colors & finishes-Walls, ceilings, trim, doors
  16. Decking materials
  17. Design Details– Furnishings, area rugs, lamps, art work, dishes, towels, bedding,
  18. Landscaping
  19. Mailbox 
  20. Cable Hook up & Etc..

As promised, here is the star of the show, theses amazing retractable doors!!

Here is my favorite feature of the entire design, a retractable all glass door! This unit brings the concept of open floor plan to the great outdoors! It is a high price point so beware, however it is possible to cut costs in other areas if this is a big priority!

Retractable doors are such a show stopper and for me, my favorite feature of The Farmhouse!! If you love light, bright and open spaces with an ability to have an indoor/outdoor living space, then go for a retractable door!! Waning- they do have a high price point, so glass sliders are a great option and more budget conscious!! Design by Dawn D Totty Designs


Purchase as much of the contents of your new design as possible, way before you or your contractors need it. Online orders and even many box stores do not carry specific items. If they have to be ordered, you do not want to wait for 2 or 3 weeks to get your shower and floors installed if your tiler is ready to go!

Take great care of your pro’s, let them know you value what they are doing and treat them to a burger or cupcakes every now and then, a little kindness goes along way with them!

Workers can be a tad messy and quite often, things can get damaged, (I see it all the time) cover ANYTHING of value with heavy paper or cardboard to protect your cabinets, floors etc…

Price everything out from products to labor services, at least 2 sources, why pay more for the same product at one location when you can get it for less at another?!

Show Up- The more involved and hands on you are during your project the smoother and quicker it will all go, I can attest to this, remember this project was completed in 4 1?2 months!!

*Special Sources– These are just a few of the folks that I frequent in the middle TN area for many of my design purchases-

The Refindery-

Divine Re-designs-

Reliks Chattanooga-

Area 61-

Associated Fabrics-

Chattanooga Hardwood-

The Magnolia Home Showroom 804 Main St. Estill Springs, TN

Dawn D Totty is available for online, onsite and global interior residential & commercial Design. To schedule your custom design consultation contact

Dawn at- 616 339 9919 or

What an honor to have been selected Top 3% Best of Houzz for 4 consecutive years and Top Interior Designer in Chattanooga out of 185 designers!!!

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