Category Archives: home improvement

Summertime Shenanigans

Long time, no updates from me. Sorry. But I’ve been busy. I mean really busy.

As I mentioned in my last post (which, yikes!, was over a year ago), The Boy and I bought a house together in 2015. In addition to settling in, we’ve kept ourselves busy painting all but one room and the upstairs hallway, building a storage shelf in the garage, replacing an exterior door, installing a storm door, and having the most decorated holiday house/yard on the street. You’d think we take the summer to relax and enjoy some free time. But no. Instead we took on more than we probably should have. Way more.

On March 27 (count ‘em, that’s nearly eight months ago), we started our backyard transformation by cleaning up a part of the yard where I originally intended to put my garden. Long story short, that’s not where my garden ended up because of sunlight, but the area needed cleaned up—and so began our never-ending battle with rock.

initial-garden-area

 

Due to my schedule and the weather, we didn’t actually install my garden until mid-April. We used a temporary fence until my schedule freed up more and we could build and install a custom fence for the garden. Doesn’t it just look so cute? (Please note that between the bottom two pictures the aforementioned rock has been added between the garden bed and the fence.)

Andrea's garden

 

After the garden, we turned our attention (1) expanding our pond, (2) improving and expanding our patio, and (3) cleaning up and dealing with all the river rock used in the existing landscaping, which much to our disdain and almost demise, turned out to be very poorly installed. Now don’t let me lead you astray. We fully intended to do the pond expansion this summer because the pond had really become a hobby of The Boy’s and the existing pond left something to be desired. (Though let me tell you, I likely wouldn’t have agreed to such a project if I could have conceptualized what The Boy had in mind…) The patio project, however, was a bit of an afterthought. At first we thought we were going to do a deck, but the existing concrete really threw a wrench in our plans. So, on a last minute whim (and by that I mean there was a both a major sale and an 11% sale at Menards), we designed our patio and placed a gigantic order.

On July 12, our order was delivered to our house. All 18 pallets of it. For better or for worse, it was officially too late to turn back…

2016-menards-delivery

On November 12 (count ‘em, that’s four months since the delivery), I was able to take decent after photos of the pond and patio.

before-after-pond

 

before-after-all-2

 

before-after-all

As much as it pains me to say it, neither of these projects are 100% done. Rather they are “done enough,” in that we can’t do the finishing touches with winter right around the corner. The pond needs edge treatments, like plants and landscaping, and we need to work on the transition between the patio and yard. Comparatively, these finishing touches are small tasks, but nevertheless require us to revisit our projects in the spring.

Additionally, (because why wouldn’t there be more?), after the garden but before the pond and patio, I applied for and received a sustainable landscapes grant from the City of Lincoln. Through the grant, homeowners receive a 50% cost-share to incorporate sustainable landscaping into their properties. I chose to do rain barrels and a rain garden. We installed the rain barrel system ourselves, but worked with Finke Gardens for the design and installation of the rain garden. Any other year, I might have been tempted to install the rain garden myself, but by the time we had the rain garden installed the first week in October, I had already had my fair share of dirt for the summer. Plus, as easy as it might seem to install a rain garden, this summer’s work taught me that all landscaping tasks are harder and take longer than you think. Needless to say, coming home to a finished project that I didn’t have to do was a much welcome feeling.

rain-barrels-2016

rain-garden-2016

So there you have it: a garden, cleanup of existing landscaping, a pond, a patio, a rain barrel system, and a rain garden. All in 230 days.

In hindsight, it might have been a better idea to do the pond this year and the patio next year, but we managed to pull it off—thanks to some awesome help (namely The Boy’s dad), fantastically warm fall weather, and lots of painkillers and patience. As you might imagine, there were many times in the midst of these projects we wanted to quit. (In fact, there was even one day that I really lost my cool and threw a rubber mallet across the yard—it wasn’t pretty but I should get some bonus points for consciously avoiding the fence.) Thankfully, though, the few bad days that each of us had never fell on the same day, so one of us was able to pull the other one along so we could make progress.

Now that I’m safely in the done or very-close-to-done stage of these projects, I can honestly say it was worth the time, effort, and money. We really do have a whole new backyard. I can’t wait until next summer when we can actually enjoy it.

P.S. I promise to follow up with more photos details about the garden, pond, and patio.

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Changin’ It Up

Life has been full of change lately. Most notably, The Boy and I bought a house. It’s been a crazy whirlwind since (and I’ll eventually share photos), but we’ve gotten settled enough that I was able to take on a little project (because why would I wait until the boxes are unpacked to start something?!).

With a new color scheme throughout my house (where I opted to not cover the kitchen ceiling with green floral wallpaper like someone did in our rental), it was time to change the color of my wine rack. Before I unveil it’s new look, though, it’s only appropriate I remind you of where it started.

Remember, I repurposed an old school entertainment center that my parents had tucked away in their basement.

before_after

Then a couple years later, I turned it into a wine rack (with substantial help from Uncle Buck).

wineracktoday

Now, a couple years later and as my first project in my new house, I stripped it,

winerack-stripped

primed it,

winerack-primed

and painted it. (Can I just say paint sprayers are totally worth the investment?!)

winerack-painted

And might I say, it looks pretty good in my dining room. Not only does it contrast the blue wall well, it compliments Mocha Jo’s fur-tone nicely (check out Mocha’s “let me look off into the distance” pose.)

yellow-mocha

The color and size of the wine rack turned out to be perfect for the space, not to mention it gave me much needed access to my wine… And, thanks to a pretty awesome paint stripper, it was a relatively easy project. If only the other project my sister and I have going on could be this easy…

But alas, I’ve completed my first non-house related project in my new house and I’m one step closer to being able to park in the garage. I can’t wait for all the exciting future projects I’m going to take on, but for now, my sister and I need to finish her project (and I should try to finish unpacking).