Choosing a Rock (is making me crazy)

There are so many decisions you have to make when building a house. Lots of them are small, quick decisions…and some of them are big ‘ol monster decisions.

Choosing rock is a big ‘ol monster decision. Rock is a big investment, and you can’t change it. I feel like exterior paint was a big decision, but the fact it is, it’s just paint. If I had decided to paint my house purple and a year later I was like “wow, that purple paint is really obnoxious”, then you just paint it again. Rock though, it is what it is. If you bomb your rock selection, that’s it. You hate it forever.

Adam and I have spent quite a bit of time looking at rock. We take pictures of things we see while we’re out and about, and collect photos online. We both like a lighter, rustic, fairly monotone look, and want rock that looks like it’s been there for a hundred years. We also both love extremely heavy mortar, which is called “German smear”.

exterior stone
rustic exterior stone
exterior stone
exterior stone
 So after visiting a couple of stone suppliers we had three samples delivered.
choosing exterior stone for your house
Adam and I stood there looking at them, and I started to second guess everything. The first sample (called rattlesnake chop) was too pink, the second sample (called Sisterdale top rock) was too orange/yellow, and the third sample (cream limestone) was too light, and was afraid it would look washed out against the white siding. If we were going to pick a cream stone I probably should have gone with Alabaster (brighter white) paint instead of Shoji White, that way they would stand out against each other better. And if we get cream, then the whole house will be white except for the barn wood bump out, which will look horribly out of place. Except for the cedar poles, which are super orange. Why are they so orange? And then I looked online and all the white farmhouses I saw had darker gray metal roofs, not the galvanized silver one we do. Now along with our washed out white house we have a too light roof, plus the horrid orange poles and sore thumb of random dark barn wood. Good grief, I’ve designed the ugliest house imaginable and spent all my money doing it.

This is how my brain works, y’all. It’s like “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”, but house ruining style.

Okay, so back to reality…my house was not ruined. I had three kinds of rock. The rattlesnake chop was too pink. Gone. The Sisterdale top rock was a bit yellow, but I’ve seen it in real life and it looks really good. The cream might look washed out, but it might not. So we had the rock guys put up samples of the Sisterdale and cream.
rock samples - building a custom home
(top half is cream limestone and bottom half is Sisterdale top rock)


After it was up I went to go check it out, and my first thought was one of relief…they both looked great and not washed out at all. We really could’t go wrong with either.

rock samples

But we still had to choose. Adam and I stared at them for a long time, comparing them to the other things on the exterior… siding, barn wood, cedar poles, and window trim color. Then I said, “They both look great, but I have a favorite.” and he said “Me too…on the count of three lets say which one we prefer.” So he counts down and I say “top” and be says “bottom”.

Dang…we were so close to being totally in sync and getting another decision in the books. “Now what?” I asked, and he said “It’s a good thing I have a wife that likes to decorate and design things. Enjoy your decision.”

Ack…I love him and I hate him.

So I proceeded stared at it. I stared at it up close and I stared at it from far away.

picking an exterior rock

back porch beams

building a house

I stared in the sunshine and in the shade. I polled family, friends and Instagram (which was a 50% split). I stared at it for days. I looked at rock on houses in real life and houses on Houzz. I went back and forth, and finally decided to go with the bottom sample but pull out the random orange ones. I liked the way the bottom looked more rustic, but the orange ones scared me…I don’t want a polka-dotted house. Plus then I’d score some points with the hubby for choosing his favorite.

But, if we pull he orange out of the bottom sample it’s basically the top sample. And the top sample would be roughly $1,000 cheaper. That isn’t a ton of money in the scope of things and I wasn’t going to let cost make the decision for me…but still, it’s money saved.

So I chose the top sample, the cream limestone.

And I am 100%  NOT sure that I made the right decision.

cream limestone for the exterior

cream limestone pile

Either way, it goes up this week!

Also, on a completely unrelated note, I need you to help me settle a dispute between Adam and I.  Adam was proofreading this post and when he got the part about “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” he didn’t get the reference at all. I was like “The children’s book…you know…where one small thing snowballs into another, and another, until things are completely out of hand? It has a ton of spin-offs, like if you give a moose a muffin, or if you give a pig a pancake”. Blank stares. Man, you think you know a person….

Anyway, I was under the impression that pretty much everyone was familiar with this book. He says it’s an obscure book that no one has ever heard of.

So, did you get my “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” reference?

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  1. Got the reference. We have alllll the books. Maybe it’s because they’re popular in Canada?

    Good choice on the stone.

  2. Yep, got the reference. Mom of two young kids here. Love hearing your decision process – sounds like what goes through my head for even small decisions!

  3. I think you made the right choice with the cream, because I agree that the bottom one looked almost polka dot. Also, definitely got the give a mouse a cookie reference!

  4. I’m in my late 20’s and I totally got the reference! It’s funny you used it in this context because I feel like it’s the same phrase I use to describe ALL of my DIY projects :)

  5. Sorry but I did not get the reference….I actually had to google it. I am in my late 40’s and I don’t have kids, that could be the reason why? But love the stone you picked and it will look fabulous !!

  6. I totally got the reference to Give A Mouse A Cookie. My kids are 26 and 19 and I read it to them.

    Love the stone and it looks great. My fave pics are the ones with your kids playing on the piles :)

  7. Got the reference! Maybe it’s because we moms read more stories to the kiddos. I love following along with your house creation, decisions, etc.

  8. I’m 28, and I thought that was the BEST reference! Totally got it. The limestone will look amazing! I can’t even imagine the pressure. I chose the wrong rug for our living room last year and I am so mad about it. Especially because my husband has started saying “Are you sure? Because you change your mind a lot.” Agghh!

  9. Absolutely got your reference ? It has been used the same way around our house when one project leads to another which is often bigger and more complicated?

  10. I do not know the book, but we’re catching at least 1+ mouse a day right now, so I get the concept. I just wanted to share that I know exactly what you’re going through with your stone. I picked our stone for our fireplace with much less deliberation and planning than you… but then I agonized for three weeks about whether it was the right stone. When it finally went up, I was over the moon. So I think given all of the work you’ve done, I think you’ll be fine in the end. Interestingly, I thought I wanted the smear grout, but when our mason did a sample for me, I didn’t like it. It obscured the shadows and the edges of the stone too much for me. I love the look in photos, but it turned out not to be right for our fireplace. I’m looking forward to seeing your stone (and grout) all done!

  11. I think either stone would have been a good choice, so it will be beautiful! I didn’t get the reference, strangely, as I am a bit of a children’s book fanatic . Must have missed that one – but I did get the idea!

  12. Of course I know that book…. but I was a preschool teacher for 5 years….. maybe my vote doesn’t count lol! Anyway I love everything about your house!!!

  13. I live clear across the country and totally know the book.

    Rest assured that you made the right decision on the stone. They both look great so you really couldn’t go wrong. You didn’t feel strong enough about one to have a clear winner and Adam didn’t have a strong enough opinion about it because he deferred it back to you. So, then you move on to a different factor beyond how it looks, price is a good one. Saving $1000 is good. Sure, it’s a small percentage of the total cost but it’s still $1000 that you are totally going to either shell out of pay back. $1000 is a significant amount of money. Remember how long it took you to buy new dining room chairs?

  14. Ugh! That wasn’t supposed to post twice! Please erase one. Plus, I love the German Smear style and love the name even more. I had previously never heard of it.

  15. One of my favorite books. I regret not bringing money with me on a school field trip (around 20 years ago) when we got to meet the author. I would have bought it and had her sign it. I think I’ve even used the reference myself a number of times. I think the stone will look great.

  16. Yeah I got the reference. When I got that book last year at my baby shower, it stressed me out to read it (at first). Ha ha!

  17. when we picked for our house, i had no idea how many colors there are and different ways to make it look different! and one brick that we got to decide if would look good on your whole house was crazy! live and learn….

  18. I totally got the reference! Pretty sure I read it to my younger siblings when I was a kid, and have definitely read it to my three year old! :)

  19. We know the mouse and cookie book, as well as all of the spinoffs, in this house. Your hubby is crazy. But your place is coming together beautifully. :)

  20. I did not get the reference & I was glad you explained it at the end of the post. I love your choice for the bricks. I believe you’re right. The random orange bricks could look like polka dots.

  21. Yep, I got the reference- and I don’t have kids! I also think you chose the right stone. The more orange-y one was nice, but neutrals are so much easier to decorate around for holidays, etc. Looks great!

  22. The books are definitely not obscure. If you give a mouse a cookie was on reading rainbow! Currently on Netflix ?
    I don’t envy your decision making. We’re fixing up an older house and my husband is the same way. He has an opinion (which is sometimes frustrating) but then ultimately leaves it to me (no pressure!). Making choices on a real life budget aren’t nearly as easy as most bloggers/tv shows make it out to be. Thanks for keeping it real!
    Also, to comment on a previous post, I live in chacos too and wouldn’t change it!

  23. I’ll be the middle ground for you both… although I’ve heard of the book, I’ve never actually read it, so I really didn’t get the reference exactly. I wouldn’t necessarily call it obscure.

  24. Sometimes there is no “perfect” decision. I think that even if you pulled out the orange stones out of the Sisterdale stone the smaller size of the blocks would not quite fit the scope of your house. The limestone gives you awesome big bricks and fit the scale of your house and roof. Plus, the stone will provide texture and the horizontal placement will allow it to stand apart from the vertical whiteness. With your porch, there is SO much you can do to add color if you want and your house will be timeless. It’s beautiful! And I always say…”If you give a moose a muffin” : )

  25. Got the reference right away (my kids are 5 & 7). I could also relate to everything you wrote–we are deep into a remodel project on a 1986 home with wall-to-wall carpet (bathrooms and kitchen included) and dark paneling in every. single. room. The design choices feel like a house of cards…if one goes wrong, the whole vision might collapse. lol. Like you said, it’s daunting to risk making a wrong choice AND spend all your money in the process. I love the way your home is coming together, though. Simply gorgeous!

  26. You chose correctly. If you don’t like the random orange stones now, you soon would ONLY see them and hate your choice. And yes I give a mouse a cookie (and then it’s 3 am and I have something much worse than a pancake) all the time. Hang in there.

  27. Wise choice! They both look great and if they are both solid in the quality department, go with the most economical! I think it might be a stay-at-home parent/young child care-taker/teacher thing. I was tracking you with the analogy, but I am both (a) a former teacher, and (b) a current stay-at-home-parent. : )

  28. First, I totally got the reference and he has got to have been living under a rock to not know that one. hahaha

    Also, the whole time you wavered between the two rocks, I was yelling “Pick #1!!!!”. It’s what all your inspiration photos look like. It’s beautiful and bonus, cheaper! I know you are in panic mode, but I think I can see it and it’s going to be beautiful! Have faith!

  29. Totally got the reference. One of my favorite spin-offs is “If you give a mom a muffin”.
    Also, I like your choice and can’t wait to see it all up!

  30. Yup! Got your reference and AM so glad I’m not alone in the snowball effect of design (or life, for the matter ;)
    The house is looking gorgeous!! Great decisions.

  31. Don’t know the book but got it. Your house is a beauty! I kinda love contrast so I was going for the bottom choice but think the top will look just as beautiful! You can’t make a bad decision with those choices. Win win!! So happy for ya’ll and am so excited to see the final results! Congraulations!

  32. I love those books, and understood it immediately! Adam loses on this one – you need to read the book to him now!
    I was going to tell you to mix the two choices of rock together and thought that is what you were going to say you were going to do. Now that I think about it, they aren’t the same size and that wouldn’t have worked. I love the huge blocks of rock – that is a huge heat sink for the cold sunny days – you’ll love it!

  33. 42-yr-old male with 5 kids (ages 8 to 17). I got the book reference easily. What’s wrong with your husband? Has he been hiding under a cream-colored rock all these years?

  34. I definitely got the reference & it was a good one. Those books are great and they are in every bookstore, library and school! I also think you made the right rock choice.

  35. Got it. It’s a Reading Rainbow book for crying out loud!
    Its been so much fun watching the house progress and hearing your crazy thought processes along the way. Sorry you don’t feel more confident but we all know you’ll kill it in the end!

  36. Give a mouse a cookie! My mind works the same way! One idea leads to seventeen projects to be started before the original idea is completed. Lol, you need to read the book to Adam and then he might understand the female mind. The house is looking great.

    1. LOL about the female mind! True. It’s probably also compounded if you have a creative mind. I have a good 70+ items on my to do list at all times with about 15 of them in the works at some stage or another.

  37. I totally understood the reference and I am 22. I love seeing your house progress. I’m sure you’ll be happy with the decision!

  38. I know I’m way late to the party here….had a baby late November and got behind on reading your posts so I’m binge reading them netflix style!! But yes…understood the reference! Have the book and read it to my daughter! Back to season 2016 of domestic imperfection!

  39. I knew exactly what you meant! I taught preschool for years, and that book was in our lesson plans every year. Adam must not be reading the right books! ;)

  40. I too am way late to the party…but, had to say I totally got it & Adam is outnumbered for sure! And I Love the stone ;)

  41. You had my husband and me in tears reading this post! Y’all are basically us on every decision we’ve had to make building this house!!! I thought it was hard just choosing the tile and the countertops…then came the stone fireplace… Lordy, lordy if I had one more person tell me what they thought I wanted I was going to commit hari kari (had to look up that spelling). I feel like I’m making sense and yet no one seems to hear me. ???? Ugh, what a nightmare!!! Hope you loved your decision because I think I’m following your lead! Thanks for the blog. Made me feel better about this daily, horribly, sickening and yet delightful experience. ????

  42. Yes, I got your “Give a Mouse a Cookie” illustration. Decisions lead to other decisions which sometimes snowball into a mess ????. We are just to this point in our build- actually choosing fireplace stone. Hoping and praying it’s easy and that my husband and I can agree!

  43. LOVE THIS. Thank you. Duh, everybody knows If you give a mouse a cookie….thanks for the help. We are building.
    Crazy Person

  44. totally loved reading your post and YES…totally got If You Give a Mouse A Cookie!!!
    I laughed and laughed the first time I read it to my kiddos and said… my life is a children’s book!
    Buy it for your husband! :-)
    You soooo helped me choose my rock!

  45. Gosh, I do the same thing when I build. Bring home samples, obsess, ask everyone I know, put it up. think I made a terrible mistake… then realize I love it!

  46. Wow! Finding your post was amazing! This is the exact same dilemma I am facing – right now (6 years after your post)! You’re like a best friend I have never met! Choosing the faucets and hardware, no big deal. Light fixtures? They are like jewelry – I can change them later if I want to. But the stone?! It is monumental! I take pictures everywhere I go! And I don’t want the house to look like a shopping center – it has to be elevated. We are building a home with board and batten, stone, black framed windows and wooden posts. But 80% of the house is stone so it’s a bid deal. We have asked the mason to create a sample wall for us, too! Anyway, I feel ya! What happened? How did it turn out? Any advice?

    And everybody knows that book! I think I have 4 versions of it in storage right now (because everything we own is in storage while we build our dream home.

    1. I do have advice…wait till the sample is 100% dry before you make your decision. My home turned out beautiful, but I do wish we would have gone with the other option. The one we chose lost all its color after it dried completely…not three days later, but three weeks later. I LOVED the german smear though…great decision if I do say so myself :)

      Good luck with your build!

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