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Backyard Before & After

I’d say we’re pretty close to “done” with the backyard. It’s gone from a completely unusable space to a secluded and calm place to relax.

Check out the photo evidence:

September 2009

“carriage house” turned garden shed, with a chicken coop lean-to

shot of the chicken coop lean-to attached to the carriage house/shed

after tearing down the chicken coop lean-to, and this photo shows the mass of weeds and blackberries. It doesn’t show very well that this was large hill, peaking on the right side of the photo. It also doesn’t show the mass amounts of broken glass, medical waste from the dental office next door (ew), and general trash we found buried throughout the yard.

another view of the carriage house/shed and lean-to facing the back of the house.The metal roof porch-thing was still on the house, and the for sale sign is leaning against the back porch!

April 2011

dismantling the shed (we saved the siding)

enjoying the new patio! (the bricks were from under the house, we’d been storing them in the shed)

Another view, showing the mess of a yard, and the pathetic wisteria

July 2011

leveling

August 2011

installed a brick perimeter, topsoil, and sod

August 2011

built the pergola – check out the mess of bricks and concrete in front of the red Honda

May 2012

After planting trees and bushes around the perimeter of the backyard

June 2012

the wisteria in full bloom. I trimmed it back a lot since then, and it has gotten a lot of seed pods. I’m excited for next year’s turnout.

July 2012

my fence nearly done!

panoramic view, showing my “Design Star” herringbone or chevron fence! LOVE! We also got rid of the mess of brick and concrete and poured a layer of gravel to provide a space to park our wooden sailboat.

At our 5th wedding anniversary party this July 28 (yes those are 36″ balloons and they were worth every penny). I’m considering buying restaurant quality outdoor lights, but I can’t decide if it would be a good idea or not since the wisteria likes to climb everywhere.

Again:

So, that’s it! Pretty impressive, huh?

“pantry” window

Here is the new window in the old “pantry” area, which consisted of a dark, narrow closet-like space, housing a refrigerator and set of cabinets and counterspace.

We cleared everything out and added a “new” old window from the Re-Store. Then we tore a hole in the wall to the bathroom and added a pocket door. In the process, we also raised the height of the doorway so it felt like an open space to the kitchen rather than a closet. The window faces north but lets in an amazing amount of light.

back again, round 3?

Once again, I am behind. I think my posts may start consisting of pictures, which will help me reduce the amount of descriptions I feel I must add.๐Ÿ™‚

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new pantry window

When we found the window in the pantry, we figured we would repair and replace the existing window, at a cost of about $150 plus lumber and other supplies to fit and secure the window back in place. On Saturday we decided to head up to Bellingham to the Re-Store and spend the day on a mini vacation. We ended up finding a huge single window (the previous was double hung) that was similar to other windows in our house and would probably be easier to install since it was just a single, non-opening window, and would be cheaper than repairing the old one.

Here it is after some careful measuring and moving the front seats of the Subaru all the way forward (we were squished!)

After a fun little trip to Bellingham, including a stop at Boundary Bay Brewery, Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, and Goodwill, we headed back home. Bright and early on Sunday we started tearing out the wall for the new window. We have quick turnaround here (otherwise known as impatience).

The hole here shows the size of the old window, and the exposed black paper (over the original siding and under the cementboard siding) is how much we’re about to open up for the new window.

Here’s a blurry photo of me standing in the new opening for the window. We centered the window on the wall, which really doesn’t exist anymore because the new window takes up most of it! In this picture we have yet to build the window sill or the framed area above the window.

And here is the window framed and shimmed in place. The window has 27 little pieces of glass like some of the other windows in our house. The difference here is that our other windows have wood dividers and this one has lead. Also, our other ones are even taller than this one (hard to believe?)

Remember, this is what we started with:

and the original window:

Next up: move the light fixture to the center of the room and drywall!

 

Kitchen continued

I thought I’d do another kitchen update – it’s kind of cool to showcase the progress in a few photos. The reality is it took us all day!

We were reflecting tonight how fun it is to work on these projects, though, and for friends and family to stop by or share in it through pictures.


This is where we started this morning. You can see the current bathroom door (that’s where the fridge will go), and the widened pantry area. We put up a new header (which was tense and interesting because the ceiling is not level – it’s bowed from over the years). You can see the false wall in the pantry, since we were working on the header to the new bathroom entrance. The entryway to the dining room is going to be widened, so the oven will need a new home sooner than later.

Oh yeah, in this picture we also discovered that the pantry was likely an old porch, because the wall between the pantry and dining room is exterior walls, and the floor run differently. We think…who really knows.


Kitty gets various names depending on what’s going on at the house, like Adventure Cat or Crazy Cat and in this project she is Construction Cat. She’s constantly under our feet and sitting where we need to be. Her white sock-paws are tinted a bit gray from the dirt, and I had to wash them white again. She even tried to climb one of the new posts and got about halfway up! (After that I trimmed her nails๐Ÿ˜› )


This was after we got the 2nd header in place and could take down the other false wall. Look how HUGE the old pantry looks!


After building a small wall under the header and then installing the pocket door.

As a reminder, here was before:

I’m trying to do better about taking more photos from various angles. You never really know what angles you’ll want once things are changed, and then I don’t have matching comparison photos! This afternoon I wandered around the whole house taking photos toward the kitchen because someday you’ll be able to see SO much more of the kitchen than right now, and I want to be able to remember what it looks like now.

This week we’re going to spend time working on replacing the window we uncovered and finishing up the new pocket door space. We’ll also build a recess for the refrigerator in the old bathroom doorway. Next up….opening up more doorways! Either the back doorway or the kitchen to dining room doorway. Both have the possibility of a snowball effect of work. We’ll see…

Back in action

Maybe my blog is going to be seasonal. It seems we didn’t do a ton of work to the house during the fall and winter, and now we’re picking back up again. I did forget a major project we completed at the very end of the summer and enjoyed a few times before it got cold: the backyard pergola. But, I’ll get to that in a little bit. The newest project is the kitchen.

Really, it started with this idea that we just can’t live in the dirty, grungy cave of a kitchen we have now for much longer. And then we toyed around with completely gutting it and reorganizing everything to just updating what we have. I think we’ll land somewhere in the middle.

Our house is a like a big square:

two rooms at the front (entryway and living room), two rooms in the middle (day parlor and dining room), and two rooms at the back (kitchen and bedroom). Each room is about the same size, so they are all basically little squares within the big square that is the house’s footprint. Within the kitchen’s square, we have a little space carved out for the bathroom and a small pantry. The bathroom door is in the kitchen. Very attractive, I can assure you. And it wastes a wall. At the same time, we have this tiny little pantry (that we pretty much use as a tool shed for all these house projects) and the refrigerator lives there. It’s very strange. Anyways, we decided to switch things up a bit. Here’s what’s going on:

This isn’t entirely updated because we’re not putting a pantry or base cabinets back into the pantry area. And we’re not doing a half wall with bar stools separating the dining room and kitchen – it’ll just big a big, wide doorway like the rest of the doorways in the house.

At any rate, currently the bathroom door is where the fridge will go. And the fridge is at the end of the pantry area, which you access through a small doorway.ย  That’s what we’re working on now. Here are some pictures:

So this is what we started with. As you can see, that’s the pantry area to the left (with cool old drawers for flour) and the fridge.


We took out the cabinets and found some old wallpaper, and for some reason this wall was built using exterior siding (You’ll find out why in a minute). You can see the rest of the kitchen from here (obviously a construction zone).


This is the entrance to the pantry area from a different angle. That’s the wall we are taking down, and where the new entrance to the bathroom will be. We had thought that this wall was a more recent addition from when the bathroom was added, but were surprised to find that it’s a wall exactly like all the other walls in the house: made of 2 layers of wood, one vertical and one horizontal. The little room also had baseboard trim.


This is the new bathroom door, it will be a sliding pocket door. It’s solid wood and we thought the design complimented the house (obviously the other two doors in this picture don’t match, so we aren’t really concerned about doors matching). Oh yeah, I painted the dining room blue.๐Ÿ™‚


This is a picture of some REALLY old linoleum we found in the pantry area.


So here’s the pantry area completely cleared out (fridge is in the dining room). There was this panel, and we knew based on looking at the outside of the house that there was a boarded up window frame here. Sure enough, we found the frame and it was filled with insulation.


We took out the insulation and were really surprised to find the window was still there, although half of the panes are broken. You can see the plywood that is on the outside of the house here – it’s really a boarded up window. The plan is to have the panes of glass replaced, allowing a lot of light into the space – it’s so dark right now because it’s basically a closet. This is a very tall window – almost floor to ceiling. Most in the house are this height.


We removed the wall between the pantry and the bathroom. It was A LOT of work to take out those two layers of walls, and they’re not 2×4 studded walls, it was just solid layers of wood. The new pocket door will go along this wall. The current bathroom door (just to the right of that hanging apron) is where the fridge will go.

We’ve now figured out that in order to put in the new wall in the space in the picture above, we need to widen the entrance to the former pantry. We took off some thin plywood (the kitchen is lined with it), and found this awesome wallpaper. It’s so delicate and detailed. I need someone to date all the wallpaper we’ve found in this house. Every room has something different and cool.

Under the wallpaper we discovered fire damage. Which is probably why on the opposite side of this wall, the horizontal boards were exterior siding – they probably just rebuilt the wall with what they had on hand. What we can’t figure out is when this fire happened – the horizontal boards are exactly like the others in the house, so it has to have happened near the time the house was built. And the wallpaper in the kitchen has some detailing that reminds me of Craftsman style. Underneath that is another layer of wallpaper with some shimmery parts that is very similar to other types of wallpaper we’ve found throughout the house – another indication it is probably very old. We know there was a fire in the house because when we drywalled the ceiling we discovered extensive fire damage coming from the kitchen. Considering the kitchen is covered in a layer of thin plywood, I’m guessing we’re in for finding a lot more interesting fire damage as we move forward!

I’ll be sure to continue to update our progress on this project!

front door post

I finally got around to painting the front door. I am normally impulsive and want to buy a gallon of paint when I’m at Home Depot, but I forced myself to collect all the greens, yellows, and greenish-yellows they had and take them home to compare to the house color before purchasing paint. How good of me.๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a good thing I did, too, because I was originally aiming for a chartreuse and I definitely did not go with that.๐Ÿ™‚

I slid each paint sample under a shingle of siding, stood away from the house and began eliminating them. I finally got down to two similar colors and ended up going with Martha Stewart’s Dusty Gold. I SWEAR I didn’t have a preference because it’s a Martha Stewart paint – I was strictly focused on which colors matched, and once we picked it, Johnny pointed out it was Martha Stewart. But I do love my Martha Stewart paints!

I was surprised that I went with a color that is more yellow than green, but the yellow just looked ‘right’ with the blue of the house, and the greens all looked murky and didn’t match the house at all. Check it out:

Before (with the new grass!):

After: SO much cheerier!

I hope you like the color as much as I do! Now we have to see about getting a new screen door (the old one is still on there, it’s just opened in the “after” picture) and painting the railings.

How did I do this?

First, I knew I wouldn’t be able to take the door off the hinges by myself, so I just opened the door into the house and laid plastic underneath the whole entryway. Then removed the door knocker (no doorbell here!) deadbolt and doorknob, and lightly sanded the door with a high-grit, superfine sandpaper, sanding with the grain of the wood. Next I used vinegar to take off a sticker residue, and after a few minutes of scrubbing, the residue came right off. Then I cleaned the whole door really well with Simple Green. It is an exterior door afterall, and it was REALLY grimy. I didn’t tape around the windows because I have a pretty steady hand from painting so many windows and small spaces, but this is probably something most people would do. Finally I got around to painting, and I started with Killz Primer. After that dried, I started with the paint. I didn’t realize that with a high-gloss exterior paint you should apply the paint generously. I was more worried about it dripping everywhere and I applied it a little thinner than I should have. At any rate, it required that I put on a second coat, which I was able to do the same day. After some hours with the door open and the paint curing, it’s done! And it looks awesome! What a quick and powerful improvement!

(iPhone photo here!)

I’m so in love with it – I will probably be taking a lot more๐Ÿ™‚