Hi friends!  It’s been a little while but I can feel the interest and inspiration for decorating & DIY creeping up on me again.  The only difference is that now my decorating budget is even smaller, haha sigh…

When I think of the projects we have going, most of them are creeping forward at a very slow pace – the granny flat, refinishing the windows, various minor house decor tweaks.  Much too boring to blog about.  I have a few awesome things to share in the weeks ahead as I work on some more interesting ideas, but right now  I do have one great project to tell you about – our backyard!

Here’s the motivation for putting a fenced backyard onto our property.

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She recently turned one, and she’s been walking for two months now.  Baby needs a safe place to roam where I don’t have to be standing over her every second to keep her safe.  Because this is the backyard before.

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Not really safe for a little one to run around, and so many sharp/dangerous things to climb on or put in the mouth, so the Chief did a blitz backyard 1000% makeover in two weeks.  Two weeks people!!  He is a star.  He just decided that if we were going to make a yard, we were going to put down sod and have it ready for the Cinco De Mayo party we had planned.

Step one: well really step one was install the fence but I forgot to take any pictures.  We got simple 3′ squared off black iron fencing from Home Depot which was one of the cheaper options they had, and also isn’t so enclosing as to stop the sightline to the rest of the property.  The yard still feels big.

Step one that I have a picture of was to put down a truckload of composted chicken manure.  This stuff smelled kind of bad for a few days until all the ammonia had evaporated, but it is the best for growing things – I wish I’d thought to keep some for my veggie garden but when the Chief gets a wild hair he just goes for it till the project is done, and I didn’t really have time to think of that till it was too late.

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We watched.  It smelled.

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Later on I helped shovel it around the whole yard with Miss E on my back.  You can see the gate here – a friend made it by hand and the Chief has been storing it in the shed for years now.  Amazingly, it fits perfectly with the rest of our fencing system!

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Then the Chief rototilled the manure into the soil so everything was nice and deep and loose for roots to take hold.

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Lastly, he used a wide pushbroom to make everything flat and level.

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I didn’t get pictures of the next two steps, which were laying the sod and putting in the last sections of fence.  It’s important with sod to really wedge the edges tightly against each other when you install it, so that you don’t get gaps or dead edges.  The Chief did a really great job with that.  Lastly, he installed a small area of redwood decking to put the barbecue on and open up the patio, with two redwood steps leading down to the lawn.  It makes such a difference to the finished feel of our yard.

Here’s the patio!  The house exterior has work yet to be done but the yard is soooo amazing already.

backyard after

 

Here’s another view where you can see how the Chief put in a tall wooden fence with a locking gate in between the shed and our house.  On the other side of that will be the granny flat’s little enclosed front yard, so we’ll both have privacy.IMG_2852 (1024x767)The back yard is amazing and we all use it and enjoy it every day.  We were able to keep costs down by borrowing all the heavy equipment we used and by DIY of course!  Sod cost about 4x what seed would have cost, but the Chief wanted grass for the party and it wasn’t that big an area to do after all.  Now that it’s established it only takes about 4 minutes of watering every day, even in the crazy heat we’ve been having.  Oh yes, the Chief installed the sprinkler system himself too!

Any tips on backyards with little kids and maybe (hopefully) getting in some garden beds?  What have you done to make a haven of your yard for your family?

 

 

 

Whoo! Sorry to go so long without posting an update. In a twist on the Golden Rule, I always feel that if I don’t have anything interesting to say, I prefer not to say anything at all.

The rhythm of life has changed a lot around here. Miss E hit the 6 month mark in October and started crawling, so she is requiring fewer naps and more attention and interaction. It is raining regularly. And the Chief and I both seem a lot less driven around the house.

Our project with the window reglazing reached a sad end – at first it was going okay, but despite his best efforts it got harder and harder to work the glazing putty, so the Chief abandoned it in frustration and decided to try again when it’s warm out and hopefully the putty is more malleable.  Meanwhile half our window still looks like this.  Womp womp.

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Financially, we are both motivated to save as much as possible (we want to travel to Italy next year, among other things) and now that the house is overall looking pretty good, I am finding that I don’t want to spend money on changing the decor. There are still some lower-cost projects I hope to get to in the next few months, like making a headboard for our bed and some art for the dining room, but I’m not in a hurry.  Right now, my spare dollars are going toward baby gear.

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In the past two months, here are the things I’ve done as far as house projects go:
– cleaned the dining room baseboards in preparation for finally painting them (the Chief still needs to caulk before I can do that)

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– Bought a faux fur throw for the living room to switch out with the summery orange striped cotton one.  I love it.  The cats love it.  The baby loves it.  You should get one too.

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– dyed an Ikea duvet cover from white with red print to golden brown for our bedspread

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That’s it!   My goal when I started this blog was to post faithfully once a week for a year, and almost without exception I did that for 18 months.  I am satisfied. I will definitely continue to post as I complete projects, but I think my days of weekly posts are over for the time being.  Our granny flat project is coming to life again so that will definitely be a fun thing to chronicle too.  IMG_0468 (800x599)

Till next time, have a wonderful Advent season and be blessed!

As I’ve dreamed about fixing up the front of our house, I have been taking notes on what the neighbors are doing.  Miss E and I go on walks with her in the carrier on most evenings, and sometimes in the afternoon as well.

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We live in a development built in the 1950’s and for blocks around, there are really only half a dozen floorplans or so (and their mirror images).  Since being built there have been several decades for the various owners to build additions, change the facade, move doors and windows, add porches, etc. etc.  This means that when I go on walks, I have tons of opportunity to take notes on what works and what doesn’t on our exact same house!

For comparison’s sake, here’s a reminder of what our house looks like.

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There are two houses nearby that I particularly like.  They haven’t done anything drastic but the homes are updated and have tidy front yards.

I really like gray houses with crisp white trim, which is part of why this one appeals to me.    It just looks spick and span in person.  The paint looks fresh and new, and the lawn is always taken care of.  That’s more than I can say for a good percentage of the homes around us!  All the windows have been updated and have mullions (hard to see with the reflections), which I also love.IMG_1552 (800x598)

This house has a simple ranch-style porch that fits well with the rest of the house.  It also looks beautiful at night!  They have pretty, low-care landscaping with grasses and mulch and perfect outdoor lighting.  It really makes things look high end for our modest neighborhood.  Isn’t it amazing how great lighting can have that effect?

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So as the Chief works on restoring our windows, I’m dreaming about the end result.

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His project will likely take all month at the rate it’s going so far – the old paint is diamond hard and tough to get off, then everything needs to be primed with oil based primer, let that dry, then re-glaze each pane with window putty, which takes weeks to dry, then paint it all white.  He’s working on it a sash at a time and is currently about 25% done.

Are we the only ones who go around cribbing ideas from the neighbors?  Or is this a common DIY tendency?

I’m delighted to report that the front of our house currently looks like this:

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It’s fall and that means it’s time for the Chief to stop working on car projects and switch to house projects.   I love this time of year!!

The front of the house has been getting me down lately.  The three original wood windows were in dire need of re-glazing because the putty was flaking and disintegrating.

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There were still paint swatches from a year ago next to the door.

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And there were stucco patches across the front.

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We decided to prioritize an exterior update this fall.  This is Phase One (of two) to complete our curb appeal update.

Phase One Tasks

  • Re-glaze windows
  • Re-paint windows
  • Trim out windows with new, thick trim
  • Paint front of house (yay, no more piebald look!)
  • Paint house trim white (currently dark gray)

This will definitely elevate the appearance of our home!  After that we will probably take a break before continuing with Phase Two in the next year.

Phase Two Tasks

  • Tear down ugly metal porch and build nice new one (I wish we could tear it down now but we need something to keep off the winter rains!)
  • Replace the siding and brick on the far right facade of the house
  • Pour concrete walkway
  • Add landscaping

Here’s what the house looked like at its best before we got started.

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And here’s the in progress shot from the top of the post.

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It always gets worse before it gets better!  I’m really excited.  I’ll be back this week to share some more details.

When fall arrives do you tackle big house projects?  What small updates have boosted your curb appeal the most?

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for – I am ready to show you pictures of the new and improved living room!  The impetus for all these little changes was the fact that, with no dedicated nursery, I found myself changing Miss E on the floor in the middle of the living room… and realized I didn’t really want to be doing that for the next two years.

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BEFORE

I redid a thrift store lamp to make a pair of navy blue lamps on either side of the loveseat, moved the diaper station to the new entryway console, and replaced the office-y brown rug with a synthetic sisal rug.

Here’s what this view looks like now.  No more diapers in the middle, hurrah :)

AFTER

AFTER

I love the new rug!!  It’s not the most noticeable change in the photos, but it adds quite a bit of texture to the atmosphere.  Here’s a side by side comparison of the old rug (left) getting rolled out of the way for the new rug (right).

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The rug is baby-approved too.

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My next problem area was directly across from the front door.  This is what you saw coming into the house.

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BEFORE

I moved the grandfather clock to the dining room, where it has finally found a permanent home.  It’s been all over and it never quite looked like it belonged until it arrived at its newest spot.

I turned the desk 90 degrees so as not to have everything on that wall shoved up against it in a line, tweaked the spacing of the printer stand to create a more defined office spot, and moved in a tall bookcase where the clock used to be.  I hid the worst of the cords with some wraparound cord binder (not sure what that stuff is called).  The stroller is not bee-you-tiful but it has a good, handy home in the corner now.

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AFTER

Here’s another shot with some more of my “before” issues.

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BEFORE

I cheated on trimming my curtains – you can read about it here.

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In this “after” you can see that the mirror has a new frame (psst… it’s a $5 thrift store find that is just leaning against the mirror while we decide how to make one that is a perfect fit.)  It gives the mirror a ton more presence!

AFTER

AFTER

You may have noticed that I also messed with the gallery wall.  It was a little too random for me before.  It felt more kitschy than I liked, so I regularized its shape.  I can’t swear that I’m done tweaking that…

I’m very fond of my bright pillows & throw on the loveseat.  I like to think they detract from the BLACKNESS of the black leather furniture – please smile and tell me I am totally right :)  Darlene at Fieldstone Hill Design posted about ugly duckling furniture a couple weeks back and this is mine.  When I nurse Miss E I sit in the armchair opposite and stare at my gallery wall and bright pillows instead of the loveseat, and it feels good inside.

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Finally, here is the old view of the back wall…

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BEFORE

…and the new and improved view.

AFTER

AFTER

I have a bonus for you too.  Guess what, I actually painted the inside of the front door!  It’s been this bluish gray primed steel for three years and I finally finally finally painted it white.  It took a day’s worth of naps and four coats but it was so overdue.

Before…

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BEFORE

And now…

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AFTER

So there you have it!  This was not a dramatic makeover but a series of important tweaks that make the living room look more intentional and cohesive.  And that’s what a good re-design should do.  I’d still love to paint the walls a deeper tobacco tan shade but first I have to convince the Chief ;)  Other than that, the living room is pretty much done.  At least for now!

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