Monday, July 18, 2016

River Rock / Slate Landing

This is the story about a little spot where we couldn't grow grass and where pool soaked feet track mud everywhere.  We had a bunch of leftover slate and Belgian Block that the prior owners had randomly all over our property.  I figured this was a good solution to get rid of leftover material and 'pretty up' the landing / dirt pit. 

The first step was to dig out the area roughly 3" with my helper.  I like to wait until it is 95 degrees to do manual labor outside. 


I realized why we couldn't grow grass.  Our hardscapers put down landscape cloth and crushed stone beneath only a couple inches of topsoil.  Thanks guys.


Then we lined up the Belgian block flush with what we hope will someday be grass so that it didn't create a tripping hazard.  We used post-set concrete to set it.  You just drop the concrete powder in, place your block and then add water.  It'll set pretty quickly.  Use a level and a staked string line as you go.


Next up I laid out all the leftover slate pieces we had and tried to come up with a design.  This was way more difficult than I thought.  I ended up with this layout.


Because I have a short attention span and not a head for details I would have just left them here and filled the gaps with river rock but Sean likes do things the right way.  The nerve.  So next up was laying sand and screeding.  To screed you lay 2 level and perfectly straight objects for guidance (we used pipe but you could use wood) on either end of the surface.  Dump the sand in the area.  Take a 3rd level object (we used a long piece of scrap wood) to drag across the pipe sections in the sand pulling the excess sand off.  This will fill in all the gaps in the dirt and ensure you have a perfectly level surface.  Then we dropped the slate pieces into place.  By screeding the surface first we are now confident that every stone is exactly in line with the top step down to the pool.  No tripping hazards.   


Next up, the fun part.  Outside of concrete and sand this was the only material we had to buy.  River rock.  We could have gone with pea gravel but I think it would be too tempting for little boys to pick up and let travel into our grass and get sloppy over time.

 
I spread the river rock between the gaps, flush with the slate.

 
Voila!  A clean landing patio for very little cash.  Eventually we'll plant some shrubs along the wall line to bring in some color and soften up all the stone... 


But for now my back is aching so I'll instead just enjoy the pool.
























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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Basement Slider

Remember last fall when we discovered the leak in the powder room while installing a slider door in our basement?  Well that epic scope creep put the basement on hold.  Back to our regular intended project.  Swapping out a rotted door and window with a 10' slider.  The view from the inside before:


The view from the outside before.  The original owners had a greenhouse on that brick slab so the window and door looked into the greenhouse.  That has since been removed and an awful slab, rotted window and a rotted door remained.


Our eventual (it could be years) plan is to install a small kitchen just inside the slider, accessible from the pool.  The pool is full sun so when we entertain the food sits in the hot sun.  This kitchen will be a place to keep food/drinks cool and act as some badly needed pool storage.  Something like this:


Sean removed the window and door along with the row of block beneath the window.  In this picture the pool is open and the leaves haven't even turned yet, that's how long ago we did this.


It literally looked like a bomb went off with all that rubble.  I'd love to say that pile of rubble isn't still sitting there but then I'd be lying. 


This was Piper's first major construction project with us.  He was unsure about the noise but stuck by our sides the entire time.


Only one animal was harmed in the installation of this door.  2 adults, 3 kids and a dog tried to chase this little guy out for a couple days.  He may still be living in our basement.  Eh, what's one more creature?


In!  Ah.  So...much...light!!!




Next up is a huge, gigantic, massive back yard project that we are NOT DIY'ing!!!!  I'll fill you in next time.
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Monday, February 1, 2016

Foyer Complete

After wrestling 3 boys into and out of snow suits a dozen times a day for the past few days thanks to the Bizzard of 2016 it became even more apparent that I needed better storage just inside the door.  Balaclavas always demand ninja stances.


A reminder of what we were starting with.  A very dark entrance with zero storage, an ugly baseboard heater and an uglier floor.


Voila! Solving 3 out of 4 problems isn't bad (the floor remains).


Eventually we'd like to add a shelf up top to hold baskets.  

Remember that mirror from our powder room?  Well I decided to place it adjacent to the door to reflect the light into the dark foyer.  Mission accomplished.  I added 2 sets of hooks.  The upper to hold hats, the dog's leash, etc. and the lower to hold the boys' coats, sweatshirts, etc. with enough headroom for my tall husband.


Baskets and bins below to hold mittens, hats, etc. in the winter and baseball gloves and sunscreen in the summer.



I can't figure out the wall color.  It has been 3 different colors in 8 years and I've tried countless samples.  It is currently Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray which works in basically every scenario except this one.  It is reading pretty green.  Its ok for now.

I think I "need" to paint the interior side of the front door.  I love a black front door but I'm wondering if painting it a lighter color may also help lighten up the space?  What do you think?  Also I think I eventually "need" to cover that ugly floor with a sisal carpet tile.  Agree?



So that's a wrap for now.  Maybe some tweaks down the line.  It already provides some much needed interest and storage to a previously unused space.
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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Floating Bench

Last time I mentioned that I liked the idea of a floating bench or ledge to maintain some visual real estate.  I love all of these:

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So step one in my project was to figure out the bench situation.

Then why am I showing you a picture of my kitchen when we moved in?  See that butcher block counter top on the island?  We saved that and it has been sitting in our basement for the past 8 years.


Sean and I ripped a piece down to the size we needed to fit the area.


I dry fit the wood into place using my porch garden stools.  Good fit and height.



There was some leftover crayon, stickers, etc. from the prior owners so I sanded everything smooth using an orbital sander.

Then my 5 year old and I conditioned, stained and poly'ed the wood.  I used 4 coats of poly because I imagine that bench is going to see a lot of use.


I used Minwax Special Walnut.  I wanted a brown color without hiding the grain.


Once we finished staining and poly'ing we had to figure out how to mount it.  It is a solid 1.5" thick which means the bench is probably 80 lbs.  Figuring out to mount a piece that heavy (that also has to hold a person) and be floating was challenging.  While not a perfect solution we decided to mount them using these brackets (affiliate) which hold 1,000 lbs:

2 brackets were mounted into the studs.  My stud installing them into the studs.


You can see they are a little visible but once boots, baskets, etc. are placed under the bench they really do disappear.  


Side note, how ugly is that floor?  It is sitting in 2" of concrete so while we've pulled most of it out of the house this small section remains.   For as ugly as it is, it really does hold up well against the snow and salt.  Does anyone know if I can tile right over it?  It is about 1/2" lower than the hardwood that meets it and is in solid condition.



Now that the floating bench is complete, time to move on to the wall storage above it!


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Monday, January 25, 2016

Foyer

Mudrooms are the things my dreams are made of.  I've thought long and hard about how I could create one but based on the way my house is configured it is impossible.  We're being overrun with kid coats, sweatshirts, hats, gloves, sporting equipment, etc.  While we can't have a mudroom there are still some spaces that could be put to better use.

Enter the foyer.  I really didn't take any before pics - sorry.  This is the best I could find on my hard drive.  See that itty bitty 16" deep space just inside the front door?  That's what I decided could work a little harder.


I want to turn that 16" narrow span next to the front door into storage area.  These are my inspiration:

I like the floating console table to keep the space visually open.  That would be key for my narrow space.  Don't even get me started on all that natural light.

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Hooks and a bench and best of all it looks like they're hiding a baseboard heater just like we have.  But come on.  Look at that staging.  A basket of wildflowers and a few scarves?  Show me a basket of baseball gloves and a few jock straps and I'll show you reality.

BHG.com
So cute.  I'll have to remember this for summer pool storage this summer.

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So the goal is to transform the unused foyer into a more interesting space with better storage.  Oh and I don't want to spend a lot.  Famous last words.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

2015 Year In Review

It was a relatively slow renovation year for us.  Only a few big projects.  I'm hopeful that our renovations are slowing down.  Who am I kidding - we're just saving our pennies to tackle the outside.  This post will be a quick walk down memory lane.  One of the rooms in this post was renovated twice this year.  

First up was the powder room.  What started the year with bold stripes...




Then what was going to be a fresh paint job...





Then to properly bookend the year we were forced to gut our newly redecorated powder room and turn this gross floor...


...into this beauty!




I know I still haven't shown you the family room.  I need to figure out the walls.  Hopefully in the next couple weeks.

2016 is gearing up to be the year of the outdoor space.  Hopefully we can make some decisions and share something soon!
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