Go Outside – The Ruth Bancroft Garden

Our newest Home Improvement project is the front yard – but you’d never know by looking at it.

The abundance or rain this winter brought the grass in the backyard back to life (woo hoo) but it also brought more weeds than we have ever experienced. We can pull 1 but 2 come back overnight. I’ve been referring to them as “Gremlin weeds” – they sprout-up like crazy, reek havoc on the landscaping and the rain only multiplies them.

But the weeds aside, we are planning an entire facelift on the front of the house (more to come on that project). And a big part of a new yard is NEW PLANTS!

So I found the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA which is 3+ acres of “dry” plants and landscaping. We really want a low maintenance yard that is full of plants but is also drought resistant (CA has a ton of rain right now – but that isn’t always the case).

We spent a good hour or so exploring the gardens and loved the different succulents, cacti and various plants and flowers throughout the carved out trails and walkways in the garden.

While this garden put my succulent garden in the garage to shame – it was also really inspiring to see what plants can do when they are well cared for and given the opportunity to grow, bloom and thrive. Not to mention, we got a ton of ideas for our future front yard – and possible back yard projects (but let’s get the front yard done first).

I really enjoyed the field trip and wanted to share some of the pictures with you all here on my blog!

For $10 (for adults) you get access to the gardens and get a small booklet to self-guide yourself through the clearly marked off and labeled garden.

You also get a handout of what is currently in bloom – sounds obvious (is it blooming or not?!?!?) but it was really helpful in identifying the plants that we saw as we explored the garden.

The entrance is very humble, but it’s the plants inside that are the WOW factor. And the new vistors center can be seen to the left in the above picture, I will totally make a trip back to see the new center when it opens later this year.

Near the entrance is a really nice titled wall depicting a lot of the plants that you will see inside. I appreciated the detail in the title wall so much I had to take a few pictures on our way out.

I have seen a lot of the same species of succulents that were on display in the garden – but never ones as big as I saw there! Some of them were literally 6 feet tall.

Reading along in the booklet, it was awesome to read about the different species in the garden that were brought in from around the world – like the fan-looking plant (below) that was brought over all the way from Australia.

Some of the plants were 6+ feet tall – while others were only centimeters big, like these baby succulents (below) that lined the trails near the cactus farm.

I was in constant awe of the different species but also impressed with the variety of colors on display. The brightest oranges and yellows and so many different variations of pink and green.

The flowers shown above had the coolest “watercolor / tie dye” coloring to them. No two flowers were the same and the bleeding of the colors looked almost hand painted.

The symmetry of the plants also impressed me. The way that the plants were shaped gave them so much personality and structure. I can see how their shapes and distinct lines could easily inspire architecture and design.

I want to create a similar feeling in our front yard (or back yard) like we saw at the Ruth Bancroft Garden. Ideally an effortless blending of varieties of plants, colors and sizes to create a beautiful venue to enjoy the outdoors – a task that sounds simple but clearly takes a great deal of planning and knowledge of the plants and their needs.

Another cool part about the garden, is that they sell a ton of different plants on site! The different species of plants in bloom also have picture indicators in the handouts to let you know if they shop carries similar species to purchase and take home with you.

And even after spending an hour+ roaming the garden, we still found wonder in looking at the different plants for sale.

I hope that we take some of the inspiration from the Ruth Bancroft Garden into our design and plant choices. It was a great trip and I highly recommend it to anyone in the Bay Area looking for something fun to do outside – especially if you have an appreciation for plants (succulents, especially)!

You can learn more about the garden at their website, here:

Ruthbancroftgarden.org

There is a lot of history behind the garden and how Ruth Bancroft started her fascination and appreciation of plants. Definitely worth reading up on!

If you know of any great places or ways to get inspired when designing a new yard, please share it with me! I’d love to hear what you have learned – especially if you have before and after photos to share!

Thanks for reading and I’m excited to share more on our projects as it gets moving forward!

 

 

 

A New Workspace is a Happy Workspace!

One of the MUST haves of our new home, was a functional office since I work from home!

But 10 months into living in the house, the “Office” was my workplace… as well as the storage room, the “I’ll get to it later” room and the “just put it in there” room. The other bedrooms already had bedroom sets and the rooms had a distinct purpose – but not the office – until now!

The one thing missing that REALLY made the Office and “Office” was a designated workplace. A functional yet aesthetically pleasing desk with storage but an easily accessible feel. I’m a self proclaimed crazy person (ask anyone who works with me regularly and they will agree…) and I like to SEE my binders, notebooks, books, awards and items I use regularly – so I “needed” a desk that met a long list of requirements.

This Sunday while driving back to San Jose from Vacaville (home of CAMPER WORLD – where we spent most of our Sunday – that’s a whole other blog entry in itself) we decided to swing through the outlet mall to avoid the Sunday afternoon traffic and we stopped into the Restoration Hardware Outlet – which was HUGE!

And against the back wall of the store was EXACTLY what I had been looking for – an open shelf, industrial looking, large workplace, tons of storage and not bad to look at desk! This desk was exactly what I had been wanting but couldn’t picture it.

And since we weren’t planning on getting such a large desk I spent a good 30 minutes measuring the desk in pieces and then mapping out how I’d make this thing fit into my (amazingly convenient and reliable – but not meant for large pieces of furniture) Toyota Rav4. Fast forward to playing Tetris with the desk pieces in the truck for (at least) 30 minutes – then we were on our way home!

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Now I could finally give the office a direction and a focal point – this wall length desk will officially declare the third room Ruler of all Seven Kingdoms, Mother of Dragons and King of the North… or it would just make it the obvious office (Bad GOT joke, but I need the humor now – Night King: 1 / Daneres: 2).

My only problem now, is that ALL of the accessories and fixtures in the room (and what was inherited from not fitting in the other rooms of the house) didn’t match the grey and gold desk… #Awkward

So I could clean house and go shopping for all new decor and desk accessories – or I could put on my HGTV pants (similar to Big-Boy pants, but more color swatches and hardware) and do some creative thinking!

So I took one of gold brackets from the shelf and headed to my favorite place of all places… The Home Depot! Did you know Home Depot has nine different shades of Gold Spray Paint?!?! Well, you do now (You’re welcome)! And luckily for me, there was a shade of Rustoleum that was a pretty great match to the desks fixtures!

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The majority of pieces I wanted to carry over to the new office design came from West Elm and were an awesome rustic green – something you’d imagine Frodo coming across in the Elf’ish wilderness on his journey to project the ring. #MyPrecious

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These pieces were awesome and I love that they reminded me of my old earth tone themed apartment. BUT like all things, change was bound to happen – and in this case – these babies are like Michael Phelps and are Going For Gold!

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The old kitchen table which was serving as my desk just hours earlier served as a great work place for my Arts and Crafts Monday afternoon! I applied the first layer during my lunch break on Monday and went back for a second coat after work. Luckily the Rustoleum paint was both a primer and paint and didn’t even need a second coat… but I’m not the best spray painter and i missed a few spots that a second attempt at painting fixed! For a spray paint I was thrilled that the Metallic color really shined and made these pieces look great!

If you plan on giving any items in your home a new life, i suggest using the Universal Paint line from Rustoleum – here is the link to the exact product that I used:

Rustoleum – Universal Metallic Spray Paint

Below you can see the gold bracket to the new desk and the similarity to the newly painted decor. They aren’t PERFECT matches – but I love that there is a variety of color, shape and to texture in all of the items I plan on working into the space!

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My biggest concern with an open concept desk and workplace that would house multiple electronic pieces was the nightmare of power strips and cords…

BUT I already planned a great solution! I strategically have a wicker basket with holes on both ends that I store all of the big power/electrical components to keep them out of sight and out of mind (but not jumped together or in a place they could overheat or get too dusty and create a potential fire hazard). And under the desk I’ve mounted a larger surge protector and power strip to connect everything in one place – this is also helpful to make sure everything is OFF and saving power when I’m not home!

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The top drawer of the file cabinet also has a built in power strip so I can charge my smaller devices in the drawer keeping those cords organized and out off of the workplace!

Then before I knew it, the desk and accessories started coming together just as I wanted and imagined!

Keep in mind – this is just Step 1 of the Office Reinvention – but I love the direction I’m headed! My dog clearly approves of the design!

The next steps include:

1) Painting the room a dark grey to compliment the desk color

2) Finding the perfect desk chairs – should I go with gold or find something with a pop of color to switch it up a bit? And do you think think the chairs need to match?!?!

3) Replace the few storage items that don’t quite fit the look – If you are crazy like me, you know which items are current eye sores below – but again, the goal here is functionality FIRST even if the current items fall short of a Gold placement (haha- get it… again, terrible joke).

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If you have any design advice or feedback please feel free to send it my way! This project is clearly under construction and has a long way to go – but I feel like I’m taking steps in the right direction!

Thanks for following along on this journey and stay tuned for more updates to come!

-Matthew

Check this off the “To Do” list… Central Air & Heat

California has some of the best weather year round… Our summers are never too hot. And our winters are never too cold. Which I guess is why a lot of older homes don’t have central heating and air conditioning… but unlike our predecessors from the 50’s and 60’s – We are millennials and need air conditioning to survive.

Now before you call me a big baby, let me remind everyone that California had an extreme heat wave last week and temperatures were 110+ which is unheard of here. Businesses were losing power, the outside looked like a ghost town with no one to be seen and it became a serious health risk to keep pets in extreme temperatures without proper cooling. Luckily I was able to be home to take our dog to Home Depot (to get some fresh air conditioning) and supervise him in his baby pool in the backyard to cool down!

Fast forward to this week – we start our next big home improvement project – (Drum Roll Please) Installing Central Air and Heat!

Day 1:

We have moved all of the furniture and wall hangings away from possible overhead vent additions, stowed all of our rugs to avoid unnecessary traffic and covered anything that may get dirty when we cut a ton of new holes into our ceiling. Luckily for us we have a highly rated and well recommended team coming in for the AC and Heating install – with a ton of equipment!

I don’t know what half of this stuff is, but it will live in my attic by the end of the week!
They keep unloading boxes, and pipes, and silver snakes with bad wrinkles…

We are removing the wall unit furnace from our main hallway and replacing it with a larger unit in the attic. Which means widening the attic entry to accommodate the new unit and removing the old furnace and patching the hole where it was. We got lucky and will be using the existing footprint of the furnace to run the heating and cooling lines from under the house to the overhead duct work. While the furnace is going to be in the attic we have to run the gas line from under the house through the wall and into the attic. We are placing the AC unit in the backyard between our exterior windows (with the plan to move it before the future addition) and will run that cooling line under the house and parallel to the heating line.

Make sure you do pressure tests on your gas lines if you are piggy backing a gas source!

And if you are a crazy person (like me) you’re going to want all of your vents to (#1) make sense for efficiency purposes and (#2) be as close to symmetrical and centered in any room. For us, we had to put the vents just off of the center of the rooms because of the overhead beam work and move the vents 8 inches from the wall because our roof slants down and the closer we got to the wall, the lower overhead space we had for the duct work.

This dude spent hours at a time in the attic prepping the space for the new furnace and laying the new duct work!
Cutting into drywall is one of the most annoying sounds on the planet – that partnered with the anxiety of people putting holes in your ceiling makes for a stressful day…
This vent was able to be placed in the center of the room – I figured, since this wall is shared with the garage and not the exterior where roof issues would dictate where the vent could be.

And for anyone that has ever done work on their home – just get use to your stomach dropping and feeling like you are going to throw up every time the crew ask you to take a look at something – because it generally means you are about to have to pay for something you didn’t even realize you needed – “Hey, Can you take a look at this pipe – its corroded and needs to be replaced.. It’s not bad, we only need your left lung and your first born child.”

This monster of a device took all afternoon to get into the attic then assemble. I will be so happy to have you when the temperature drops below 60!

Day 2:

Today we had to clear the foundation in the backyard for where the AC unit will live. We decided to place it between the windows in the back so we wouldn’t be able to see it from any of the back facing rooms – AC units aren’t exactly aesthetically pleasing. We will eventually knock out the back of the house – so this will be moved in the future so we aren’t loosing sleep over its location.

In addition to widening the attic entrance to accommodate the new furnace we had to create an intake vent as well. The hallway is the center of the house and has the most traffic so we decided to put the large vent there – we are excited to have this additional filtration in the home as it should help clear the air for our allergies!

Being a first time home owner, seeing large holes in your wall – partnered with holes in the ceiling and the floor is enough to make you want to puke… but I’m keeping my eye on the prize and understand that all of these steps are necessary for the ultimate goal.. I’ll be thrilled once they patch this hole in the hallway – even though I short enough to use this as a shortcut to the master bedroom.

Central air and heat installation literally takes over the entire house – since they have to put a vent in every room in the house! I am looking forward to putting the house back in order since it’s furniture and household items are stacked in every corner of the house and in the garage.

And if the holes in the ceilings, floor and walls weren’t enough.. I just realized we needed to drill a hole in the front of the house for drainage from the AC and Furnace – again, witnesses holes being cut or drilled into your newly purchases house isn’t good for my blood pressure. I found my self repeating “I am one with the force – the force is with me” for some reason – I figure if it could keep Chirruts safe from Stormtroopers it could keep me calm during the renovation (if you don’t get it, you probably don’t speak Wookie either).

Luckily for us, we were able to piggyback the gas line and the AC lines in the wall. I mentioned us using the exiting footprint a few times – damn it… Looking down the road I wish we would have moved the lines to a different wall because we will potentially knock out the wall these lines have been set-up in… You live – You learn. I should have trouble shot that a little better – but as is, this wont affect anything negatively for this step of the renovations.

Paint, Paint and Paint… Thank the Lord for touch up paint. We are lucky that we have kept extra paint on hand for ceiling, wall and exterior touch ups. Already we have ceiling spots that need to be updated, once the hole in the walls are patched – we are going to have to paint them and this ugly eye-sore in the backyard is going to need to be painted to match the other ugly eye-sores of electrical piping.

Just to give you a sense of how big our new intake vent is – I could easily fit into this box and could squeeze in the duct… if there were gummi bears waiting for me on the other end.

This large mental box is going to be my best friend if San Jose gets hit with another heat wave… But for now, I wish I knew a way to disguise this monstrosity since we have put so much energy into making the backyard comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.

Does anyone have ideas or experience with hiding AC units without blocking its ability to take in air?

Luckily we did do some trouble shooting when we picked out our AC unit – as I’ve mentioned before we are planning an addition in the future. So we made sure that the furnace was sufficient for the current space we have – AND is strong enough to heat and cool the potential addition in the future!

I can’t believe we are only wrapping up Day 2 of this project, i feel like we have been at it for weeks… Tomorrow should be the home stretch and I cannot wait to consider this project, DONE!

STAY TUNED –

Two (Green) Thumbs Up!

Moving into our first home was the catalyst to a lot of things: Learning how to fix things when they break, realizing Home Depot is a toy store for adults and not just enjoying but really appreciating a “home” cooked meals.

For the first time in my life (when I am home) I am eating more meals at home and learning how to prepare a diverse menu of meals – and focus on clean and healthy eating (please disregard the past 12 days of meals on Disney World Property).

And to sound like a total hipster Californian – you really start to appreciate a good farmers market and fresh produce! One of the simple pleasures of living in California is finding fruit stands along the coast – and you know we bring our own reusable bags with us so we are always ready to stock up on fresh strawberries or avocados! And it’s shocking how different naturally grown produce can taste compared to “organic” purchases at big box stores – and is anyone else freaked out that there is an organic section of produce at the grocery store?!?! Aren’t they all organic?!?!?

But cooking and eating healthy starts to add up which does not work well when your budget is being gouged with home improvement projects! Eating healthy is a hard choice to make when a McDonalds Double CheeseBurger is only $1 and that’s the same price as one Bell Pepper… (Speaking of McD’s Doubles, am I the only person who actually gets a craving for a McDouble and an Ice Cold McDonalds Coke?).

So – to put our green thumbs to the test we finally struck ground on our very own produce garden! And by “we” I mean someone (😊)  surprised me and did all of the work and I came home to two above ground gardens in vintage bourbon/wine barrels! Not only do we like fresh produce – we like Burboun and Wine so the barrels fit our personalities (now if only we could grow bourbon…) Regardless, I am so excited to see our cucumbers, bell peppers and tomatoes grow and add to the greenery of the backyard!

Anyone have experience with growing cucumbers, peppers or tomatoes?!?!? Brand new to this gardening thing and welcoming any and all advice!

Is it weird that I really want to grow tomatoes but I don’t like eating tomato’s?
How soon till we can expect grilled peppers and cucumber salad?!?!?
Fingers crossed that these plants keep up at this pace!

 

If you are one of the few people who follow my blog, you may remember my fondness for the brightly colored wild flowers that have taken over the hills and trails of Northern California since the torential March downfalls we experienced. While I was gone for work, someone also dug up the entire right hand side of the yard and planted wildflowers to surprise me! I’m beyond lucky to have someone who “gets me” and knows how much the little things mean when I’m gone all the time for work.

Caesar isn’t totally sold on the idea yet – I’m not sure he gets what’s going on yet.
Under Construction – Check back soon…

And we lucked out because the neighbor to our right has a HUGE pomegranate tree that is taking off and about to bloom! Now, I have never tried a pomogranite BUT I hear they are super healthy – and now that they will be free to pick and will be hanging over our fence they will work their way into my diet!

I’ve never met a pomegranate tree I didn’t like… because I have never seen a pomegranate tree before.

Thank you for following along with us on this adventure, one to do item and surprise garden at a time!

If you have any landscaping or gardening tips, please send them my way!

Allergies are worth it…

I have always loved nature… being outside, playing in the grass, climbing trees, etc… Anything that would definitely trail dirt and mud into the house is right up my ally!

But now that I have a home and we are trying to do a lot of things on our own – like the landscaping- I am really gaining an appreciation for the art of gardening agriculture. I had no idea what the FFA and agriculture clubs did in high school but if this is it, I sure missed out! But to be fair I thought FFA worked exclusively with manure so I passed and joined the debate club instead – less messy and a different type of bull-sh*t.

This weekend I got to spend a lot of quality time with my parents who’s flew in to visit. And luckily for me they actually enjoy running around with me and exploring nurseries and the garden departments of every Lowes or Home Depot we drive by.

This post doesn’t really have a point – but I wanted to capture some of the beautiful plants, bold colors and awesome views we captured this weekend.

Just as I was taking my parents to the airports we stopped and purchased some brightly colored Snapdragons to remind us of the great views we experienced on their trip to San Jose. I lucked out and found a really neat planter I hadn’t seen before. It was a mix of grey clay and a silver paint – shaped like what I can only describe as a futuristic walnut (makes sense when you look at it).

So now I can remember my parents spring visit and our day trip to the California coast when I see these awesome flowers! 🙂

Another Day, Another Project!

We are just about 6 months into living in our “new” home and only (what feels like) 5,000 years away from completing renovations! We loved the location of our home. We loved that the footprint of the house met all of our needs. And we loved that we were able to make it ours. Can’t say we “love” the unexpected surprises and process of updating an older home just yet…

While we have been focused on the inside of the home and the backyard (damn, I love having a back yard) we were thrown a curve ball from left field… and by left field I mean the front yard. A pipe from under our home to the main sewage line under the street decided it had enough of its crappy job – so it split… Overnight we had to have a crew come in and dig up the front yard and install a new pipe, casing and access points. This was a crappy job – like, the whole process stunk – it was a sh***y situation (you get it). 72 hours later – all was back and better than ever. But it was reality check and exposed the hardest fact to swallow when making renovations on a property – not being able to SEE where the money is going. We have piece of mind know and we sure do value the ability to flush the toilet but there are less warm fuzzy feelings if you can’t see the changes happening around you.

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It took three guys a day and a half to dig down into the yard to access and replace the piping.
I don’t think our neighbors appreciated the eye sore or the distinctive odor.
Atleast no one fell into the holes overnight. Caesar was ready to play Lassie and save Timmy at moment.
They say this new piping will last 50 years – and I sure as hell hope so because I never want to see it again!

But aside from the expected surprise in the plumbing, we have had some more opportunity to add some additional color and life to the backyard! We have purchased some colorful pots from Home Depot (my home away from home). But I am excited to see decorative vases and canisters being repurposed! Some of these items use to hang on the walls of my apartment in Louisville, KY while others helped me organize my stashes of Gummy Bears and M&M’s in the kitchen!

We decided to mix up the plants to incorporate some fruits and color. We don’t know much about foliage or agriculture but the tags said “Full Sun” and we can provide that as a step into the right direction. Does anyone else feel the pressure to keep plants alive once you’ve replanted them? I honestly feel like the flowers are counting on me to survive, I’ve always been told that you should talk to your plants so these plants have had a lot of communication. If they could speak their first words would be “Please don’t die.”

A little repurposing! We used some of the yards mulch and decorative stones to give these items a very outdoorsy and natural look. They look a little rough right now, I’ll post better photos once they start to grow!
We planted an orange and a lemon tree to frame the furniture. Hopefully they will take to the soil and be large enough to plant in the ground in the future!

One of my favorite things about the California weather and having our own space outdoors, is to plant succulents! In our old apartment I had two awesome little succulent gardens growing a winter storm murdered them almost overnight in the new backyard. I’m trying to earn my Succulent Merit badge back by bringing some of them back to life and bring new varieties to the yard! We found an awesome side table at Lowes and have made it the home of one of our succulent arrangements. The colors aren’t at all what we were expecting but love the variety and pallet that it is turning into!

We didn’t plan on the color scheme, but we are loving it and hope the plants keep providing inspiration through the spring and summer!

I’m bringing #GotoGrassWatch back are we now have to transition the grass from a winter rye to a spring and summer hybrid of grass. I had no idea there were so many different kinds! You can see in the photo below that we have a few darker patches that may be grass from a previous lawn that died or went dormant before we brought the yard back to life… Personally, I hate it – color blocking isn’t my thing and I’ll be happy if I can get the whole yard one consistent color! So its routine tilling, air rating, planting seed and watering again to make sure the lawn stays green and healthy for the change in seasons!

 

And if we didn’t have enough going on – we still had to keep making progress inside! So today we brought our contractor friend back to update more of our electrical needs and tackle more of our wish list items! As the 1952 styling had limited power outlets and lighting, we are updating more sockets to allow for 3 prong inputs! We are also brightening the place up – starting in the guest bedroom by installing a 4 corner set of LED canister lights! And since we were on a roll we decided to add a low profile ceiling fan to the room for our guests comfort as the warmer weather is around the corner!

I don’t know how anyone stays calm as people blow holes into the roof of your home – I was anxious and panicked the whole time!

And while the total bathroom reno is way down the timeline of things to do, we did go ahead and add a bathroom fan to help the airflow in that space and also provide proper ventilation for the steam and condensation that develops from the shower and sink! While the bathroom looks like a scene from Dexter or American Pscyco the only casualty we had today was an enexpected whole in the well when the measurements didn’t add up from the attic down into the bathroom – so we had to patch and spackle the hallway and will have to apply a few coats of touch up paint to hide the “boo boo” over the weekend!

I know I said that I wasn’t “loving” the process but I am really loving the results! Every project big or small, inside or outside, stinky or well ventilated the house is becoming more of our home! Excited to share the “after” photos soon and share the other projects going on here – but I felt like this was way more than enough for one post! Thank you for following along and please keep the feedback coming! I love the suggestion, the feedback and advice from those of you have who have been in our shoes!

It’s feels good to step outside!

When being outdoors is one of your favorite things – having a backyard of your own is a dream come true!

We are six months into our first home and our outdoor living space finally feels like an extension of the inside! We finally decided on a patio set that felt warm and inviting but also doubled as a lounging and dining space. And because the California temperatures drops significantly when the sun sets – we had to have a fire pit!

The furniature had to have plenty of seating for friends, it had be comfortable enough for working outside on a sunny day and it had to be a place we could kick back and even take in a siesta! Caesar has already given his two paws up approval for nap-ability.

We planted a lemon and orange tree and added some pops of color with the pots. And the added greenery helps make the space feel lived in! The concept of an outdoor rug seemed ridiculous – but it makes a big difference in the look of the space and helps define the area.

Who would have known that my favorite thing to do at home would be mowing the lawn?!?! I had no idea I could get so much satisfaction from cutting and trimming grass I thought would never grow. And apparently I planned Winter Rye grass and it’s all going to die soon, so if anyone has suggestions for the Spring/Summer seed I should be planning soon, please let me know! Now that the grass is taking off I need to reevaluate my landscaping attempts from Dec/Jan as the border I installed between the mulch and grass only looks great from a distance (the closer you get you realize I have very little experience as a landscape architect). And we need to add more trees or shrubbery along to fence for privacy and also to dress up the space a bit!

And there’s nothing better than being able to light up the grill and spend the evening cooking and hanging out under the stars – this may have only happened once, but will definitely be happening again and again soon!

We still have a lot of work to do and our vision for the backyard isn’t totally clear… but atleast we have a comfortable place to think about it and stay warm until then!

HGTV – I’m still waiting for my pilot episode! 🌱🌿🏠🥂

Crazy to think that a big open space could transform so much in a short period of time!
A little TLC, a lot of shoveling, plenty of seed, crazy amounts of rain and pretty sweet patio set make the world of difference!

Call The Leasing Office… 

For anyone reading this with a landlord, leasing office or leasing agent – enjoy it while you can! There are hundreds (if not thousands) of benefits of owning a home – but being the plumber, maintinence man, gardener and housekeeper is exhausting!

Going on three months in our new home, we are really proud of the work that we have done! From updating the windows, replacing exterior doors, new paint and of course my favorite – the backyard – we really feel like we are “home!” But you quickly realizes light bulbs die when your trying to put in your contacts. You need to update plumbing when your “hot shower” is really “warm” at best. Rugs don’t naturally stay put on hardwood surfaces (Rug: 2 / Matthew: 0). And our latest update in the series of “Now What” events – the toilet won’t flush (#YouOnlyHadOneJob)!

But University of YouTube taught me the basic engineering behind the commode and a trip to my favorite place on earth right now (The Home Depot) helped me tackle this project!

The handle on the tank is fancy on the outside but was just a combination of oddly shaped plastic parts that over time loss traction or grip on the tanks surface and wouldn’t allow the lever to rise which  lifts the stopper that allows the water  to flow from the tank to the basin (do I sound like Mario yet?!?!? Ya’ll know he was a Plumber, right?). SO – I replaced the inner hardware and upgraded the handle on the outside (all in one kit – I really didn’t do much work) and just had to connect the existing chain to the new lever – and that’s basically how I saved the planet.

New Year – New Closet! 

January 1st means a lot of things to a lot of people – but to me it’s the day before I go back to work and 24 hours of home improvements!

Today, I’m putting to use a Gift Card from my Brother, Sister-In-Law and Nieces I received at Christmas and I’m redoing my 1952 closet!

Apparently people didn’t own much in 1952 – but I need more room for clothes than is currently offered with the closets current single bar design, so it’s off to Home Depot!

But first, I had to measure the current space and make sure everything was accurate. I think the original phrase was “Measure Twice – Cut Once” but I think “Measure Twice so your significant other can’t say I Told You So” is more fitting.


I went in pretty open minded of what I wanted to do – knowing my options would multiply once I got to the store to see what was available. And ofcourse, my gameplan changed when I priced out my options and took a look at what was out there!

There are a ton of options at Home Depot – from the luxury and custom fitted designs, to the straight out of the box and into the closet… I went middle of the road with a solid and sturdy design with options to change it up in the future without much more work!
The ClosetMaid Shelf Track system had hundreds of different configuration options and looked like an easy Do It Yourself Project! In addition to four Vertical Rails, I went with two mounting bars, four bracket supports and two shelves with hanging bars for clothes!
This project required a Drill, Bolt Cutters, A Level, Measuring Tape, Drywall Screws and Small & Large Shelf Caps (depending on the Shelf used).

 

I didn’t want to remove the original mounting equipment in the closet, in case I decide to go back to the original design in the future, so I just removed the top shelf and hang bar.

I know my longest shirt is 36 inches tall, so I can seperate the shelves 3 feet (and can move them around thanks to the adjustable bars mounted on the back wall!


The shelves came in an 60 and 80 inch option, so I went with the 80 incher and used the bolt cutters to fit it snug from side to side giving me the most shelf and hanging space – and the new design give me double the space with the additional top rack! 

Now I have 120 inches of hanging space and shelving – DOUBLE of what the 1952 design gave me to start with! And I still have 12 inches at the bottom for storage or to throw shoes!

Replacing the closet door is next on the to do list – I would love to go with a barnyard style sliding door! But this closest is the only space that would allow a sliding door option. Do you think the closet doors need to match in all 3 bedrooms or can I make this one a barnyard door to be different?!?!

Thanks for reading and I welcome design feedback and tips and tricks if you’ve done something similar – and Happy New Year!

THANK YOU again to my Brother, Sister-In-Law and Beautiful Nieces who made this project possible! 😘❤