Archives for May 2018

Exterior: New Deck & Patio Projects: Part Two

Exterior: New Deck & Patio Projects: Part Two

Greetings! I had to laugh at this sign I walked by yesterday. Sometimes I feel like everything we do revolves around providing the ultimate comfort of our dogs. Weird, but true. Hahah. Our side patio and backyard projects are no exception, a big reason we even got started on our projects was for the dogs.

Yesterday I started a series which will finally catch you up on the before, during and afters of the outside projects we started just after we first moved in (if you missed it, here’s part one on our painted brick).

I’m definitely happy to be nearing what I’m calling “the finish line” of these projects. That doesn’t mean we everything is perfect or totally complete (I always have LOTS more ideas than time.) To me “finished” just means we’ve finally completed what we intended to finish (and a big project I haven’t even shared about yet, so stay tuned below for an introduction to that one!).

Exterior: New Deck & Patio Projects: Part Two
Projects take a long time. In fact, around our house, by the time a project is actually finished, it’s probably already needing a refresh! Case in point, our dogs were scratching up our Dutch door paint all winter (since it’s too cold to leave the door open for them), so we’ll be doing some door paint touch ups this summer. Keeping up with a house (and dogs, ha) keeps one mighty busy, doesn’t it?

Exterior: New Deck & Patio Projects: Part Two

The first outside improvement project we did shortly after we moved in nearly three years ago was an especially fun one (yes, that is said sarcastically). We got to replace the sewer. That’s a yucky project, so I won’t bore you with a before or after on that one. But trust me, paying good money fixing things you wouldn’t even want to blog about is the reality of owning an old house.

Not all of the projects we get to do involve pretty after shots, so if things ever seem slow around the ol’ blog at times, keep that in mind ;-). We also had the joy of replacing an old water heater after it sprung a leak last year.

Even though the sewer project was a big one to tackle right away, it was finished pretty quickly. The sewer was actually the ONLY large project we planned do to outside in the first few years, since I had my heart set on redoing the kitchen and the bathroom before heading to outdoor projects.

The kitchen still got done (gratefully), but the bathroom did not. That’s OK, though, because at least we have a new sewer, right?

So what prompted us to work on more outdoor projects?

Well, it goes a little something like this “as long as they are tearing up the driveway to fix the sewer, we might as well….” Fixing things around the house can sometimes cause a series of other projects. It’s kind of like knocking your hand into a lineup of dominoes. All of our outside projects were connected in some way, each one leading to another.

If you own a house, you probably have been there, too. Especially if you are also a perfectionist or creative person. One project almost always sparks another potentially splendid or smart idea, or even just one that would be “good to finish” as long as you’re working on another. Then nearly three years later you’re still looking for the best place to stop….

When I say our projects took three years to finish you might imagine with that much time invested we must have built a brand new house on our property! We didn’t. Or maybe I’m about to reveal a surprise snazzy new master bedroom addition that turned what was our modest house into one that could grace the cover of Architectural Digest!

Exterior: New Deck & Patio Projects: Part Two

I mean, I love makeovers for myself. But basically all we were really trying to do after the sewer got fixed was to clean up a few areas around our yard so it would be safer and cleaner for the dogs to be outside. LOL! For real. It’s always about the dogs.

The dogs do love spending time outside now, so they are quite happy about the changes! And as soon as our final gate is installed, I guess you could say we accomplished our goal of focusing on safety first for the dogs. Even though the decision to work on our side yard was really was about keeping the dogs safe, we ended up with livable outdoor spaces our whole family enjoys. So we’re all happy, the dogs and the people.

For those of you who love the process, here’s a run down of where it all started (and what let up to our newest backyard project!)

When the sewer was being updated, the driveway had to be torn up because the sewer ran under it.

Fair enough. We expected that.

But we thought we “might as well” re-pour the concrete driveway, rather than just patch it. Because, why not make it look a little cleaner and in better repair than when you started, you know?

Well, in hindsight it was that “one little decision” to redo the driveway that got me thinking about what else could be “cleaned up.” As long as they were redoing the driveway, it made sense at the time (lol) to have the contractor pour an additional parking driveway on the side of the house for guests or loading things into the backyard or side door.

Previously in that spot was just patchy grass and some mud. We had more than enough grass and planting areas, and I don’t like to walk through mud coming into the house. I’m all about simplifying cleaning and maintenance when I can! Plus, the contractor said he could get it done right away and that was motivating.

Exterior: New Deck & Patio Projects: Part Two
But notice the area right behind the new parking spot. Well, actually, look below for what USED to be behind that parking spot.

Exterior: New Deck & Patio Projects: Part Two
This is the treacherous situation we had in the side yard when we moved in. It was right by our kitchen door, where our dogs would be going outside all day long. I couldn’t stop thinking about the potential hazards for the dogs walking around out here at night, let alone the risks for the people :-D. So as you can see, this was a matter of SAFETY FIRST.

Exterior: New Deck & Patio Projects: Part Two
Here it was looking at it from the other side. Most of the main fence had already been torn down for the neighbor’s house to be built, but we were assured she’d have a new fence up in a matter of weeks (it ended up taking over a year).

We decided that “as long as they were pouring the concrete” driveway, creating a level patio here would make a much safer and more useful side entrance for us …. and the dogs, of course. It was winter 2015 and I was picturing everything would be easily completed so we could enjoy it that very summer! Well, I was wrong…

Exterior: New Deck & Patio Projects: Part Two

In January 2016, this was the view from our kitchen. Our side yard project was about to begin.

Exterior: New Deck & Patio Projects: Part Two

By February of 2016, the framework was started for the steps and patio area. It looked promising, with so many people working on it!

Exterior: New Deck & Patio Projects: Part Two

In April of 2016, there was a neighboring house, steps and concrete. There were all sorts of mishaps I can’t even begin to explain while they were redoing the concrete, so everything else came to a standstill for a very long time. Still no fence. No posts attached to the porch. No railings. No lights in the steps.

Exterior: New Deck & Patio Projects: Part Two
By September 2016, nine months after we started, we had part of a fence next door and we had our house painted, but still no front fence or gate to keep the dogs safe. No railing to keep dogs from falling off the porch at night.

Exterior: New Deck & Patio Projects: Part Two

March 2018 (yes, as in two months ago, which was two YEARS after we started), we had a fence, but still no gate, nor were the railings or lights installed on our steps to the back yard. Our porch posts still need to be wrapped to make them more substantial. We’re growing weary of piling up barricades to keep the dogs in (not safe, not classy), but at least the dogs enjoy being able to bark at the neighbors.

This little side yard project definitely created a few bumps in the process, but it was mostly frustrating because it involved a lot of waiting. I don’t like to wait with unfinished projects, especially for years. We’ve had to wait for contractors. Wait for the weather. Wait to solve problems. Wait to have time or money to finish things. We’ve waited literally years just to have a simple front gate built. I hired a new contractor this spring and we are still waiting on him to finish the gate, actually, but I’ve been assured it will only be a few more days.

Exterior: New Deck & Patio Projects: Part Two

So very soon we’ll finally be able to say what’s done is done. It took exactly two years longer than I ever dreamed, but ALL THE PRAISE HANDS for actually being on the precipice of actually being able to call it all finished.

But as long as we were waiting (heheheh), we decided that we’d come so far already we might as well GO BIG OR GO HOME to slip in one more project outside. Why not? It made sense, though, to continue our projects into the backyard since it’s all connected.

I had a vision in mind for what I wanted to do, so this winter we designed and had installed a gorgeous new Trex deck around the back of our house (it’s built low to the ground). Our deck project is in partnership with Trex and Lowe’s, it has finished off our entire outdoor space beautifully. It makes us happy we started this series of makeovers in the first place! I can’t wait to show you!

We’re definitely going to be ready to host a summer PARTY this year, I’ll tell you that! And most importantly, our dogs are enjoying it all! Jack is looking forward to showing you around.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing the process of designing and building the deck and before and afters! Stay tuned for more updates on the completion of our side patio, too, it’s definitely looking spiffier (and much safer!) with new handrails (and knock on wood, there will also be a new gate on the front of the patio area, soon!)

Are you working on your outdoor spaces, too?
Come back tomorrow for a giveaway!

Our Painted Brick Exterior + Backyard Projects: Part One

Our Painted Brick Exterior + Backyard Projects: Part OneDutch Door source and FAQ

Greetings, friends! I’ve been wanting to get back to talking about our exterior and patio projects for such a long time. Good news, though, we’re finally nearing the “finish line!” That’s not to say I’ve done everything I want to do yet, that would take a few more years! But we’re just about to be “finished” with what we started, and even completed things we didn’t originally plan to do.

Makeovers don’t start with an “after shot” so I want to share what led up to the upcoming reveals by offering a peek into the thought process and stages of our projects, too. So over the next couple of days and weeks you’ll be brought up to date on what we’ve been doing, get some sneak peeks (be sure to follow me on Instagram, too!) and lots of good ol’ after shots coming up, too!

This has been such a crazy story with unexpected twists and turns and delays, so I really don’t even know where to begin!

But I’ve never shown you the back of our house, before or after it was painted, so we might as well start there. This is where a big part of the makeover took place, so you’ll be seeing this side of my house quite a bit in the upcoming weeks!

Here’s what the back of our house looked like the day we moved in.

Our Painted Brick Exterior + Backyard Projects: Part One

So when we bought this house, it was a fairly typical looking brick rambler. It wasn’t the style I ordinarily  would have thought to look at, but the Seattle housing market was (is) crazy so we were looking at nearly everything.

The previous owner of this house had told us ‘you are going to love living here’. She was right! We do.

There were things we knew we would want to update, but it was solid and well-maintained! This is the kind of house where you just feel happy to be in it. It’s filled with glorious light and a wide view of water, trees, sky and mountains as you look out the back of the house. The property has beautiful blooming trees and the sunsets are spectacular. And, we are within walking distance of a beach (on Puget Sound)! We really couldn’t ask for anything more.

All in all, this house had quite a bit going for it from day one. Yet even so, these types of houses in our area are sometimes torn down to build something new and more grand (when we moved in there was actually an empty lot next door, the house had been torn down. But now there’s a big house!).

Even though I’d personally rather preserve structures when possible, I understand that remodeling an old house can be difficult and very expensive. Building new often makes more financial sense and offers people the chance to get the features, views and square footage they want. But for us, we’re ok with our modest home! In fact, we love modest :).

Our Painted Brick Exterior + Backyard Projects: Part One

Kitchen Makeover

While the footprint and basic elements of our house remain primarily as they were, it’s been fun to watch how a transformation has taken place in other ways. I often say at heart she is still the same ‘ol gal she always was, she’s just starting to look and feel a little more updated and rejuvenated. Or dare I say spunky. May we all feel that way as we age, right?

There are so many ways to transform a house inside and out, but there’s nothing quite like the transformative power of paint.

You may already know we painted our exterior brick white (as I’ve showed the white brick from the side yard ever since we revealed our kitchen last year). It’s made such a difference in the feel of our home! We love it.

Our Painted Brick Exterior + Backyard Projects: Part One

I know some people get very sensitive about painting brick, or worry that it isn’t a good idea to paint brick, but we have ZERO regrets even two years after painting ours. We’ve had no trouble at all with the paint. It still looks fantastic! I expect the paint to last for years to come. It’s Sherwin Williams (Reserved White).

Like any painted house, of course, eventually it will need another coat of paint. Yes, that’s the beauty of NOT painting brick, you don’t have to repaint it! But if you don’t like the brick you have, why live with it for years and years just so you can avoid having to repaint it years down the road?

I kind of think you should love the home you have, you know? ;) I’ve lived in a couple of painted brick homes and I’ve always loved the look, so we took the plunge and are so glad we did. White brick makes this house feel like home.

Our Painted Brick Exterior + Backyard Projects: Part One

Now, there were quite a few other things I knew we could improve at the back of the house. Some we could change right away, some in time. I did not “love the awning I had” so I was very happy to see that go before we got the house painted. (I’d also love to relocate those electrical boxes, but that will be a project for a future time).

Our Painted Brick Exterior + Backyard Projects: Part One

So once again, this is what the back of the house looked like the day we moved in.

Note that this image below is just a progress shot, not the final reveal of the back of the house. But it’s still coming, I promise!

Our Painted Brick Exterior + Backyard Projects: Part One

And this is what our house looked like this past winter. Two years ago it became a cleaner, fresher painted white brick house (Reserved White by Sherwin Williams)!

We are very happy with how paint transformed our home! Yet the exterior projects didn’t stop with the paint (can’t stop, won’t stop!).

So in addition to catching you up on the completion of the side yard projects, I’m super excited to show you all that transpired this winter around the back of the house, too!

Stay tuned, friends, more to come … (find POST TWO on our outdoor projects here!)