Operation Backyard Oasis

Anyone who has witnessed my backyard knows it is far from an oasis but that is the goal of my work this summer.

I know, technically, that summer begins on Memorial Day for many but the last 10 days of 100+ temps means that June was a wash for me.

I’d like to share updates every Sunday to stay on track and before I get into my plans I want to share the before pics. Prepare to be underwhelmed.

Here’s a shot of the back of the house including 2 of the dogs and my lawnmower:

The northwest corner of the yard is pretty boring with just a couple of surviving rose bushes (I’ve already taken out 2 this year):

The northeast corner has the patio that I had installed in 2013 that hasn’t held up very well. Right now it’s the holding spot for everything else while I work.

Standing at the sliding glass door and looking east there’s some trash cans full of green waste, the dog kennel, and a walkway of bricks which has seen better days.

Over to the side yard I had a bunch of crap leaning against the siding. The only good thing here is the raised garden beds with bougainvillea and lantana which are thriving.

While the front yard needs work, I’m going to focus on the side and back yard for the season and focus on creating a comfortable, beautiful space.

Right now the strategy is to work outdoors on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, aka the days I’m not at the gym and to work consistently throughout the summer months.

I have big plans for the yard and I’ll share more of them with you next Sunday. Until then I’ll be slathering on the sunblock and pulling on my gardening gloves.

 

 

I put the Pro in Procrastination

It feels like ages has passed since I shared in March about replacing windows and while it may feel like I’ve been lazy, I know a lot has actually been accomplished.

Primarily more windows. Over a weekend with some help I replaced 2 out of the 3 kitchen windows and the garage window and a lot of the surrounding T1-11 and 2x4s on the old kitchen bay window.

I’d known for awhile it probably had water damage since the 2×4 frame was literally crumbling but uncovering it all was a surprise. Thanks to the leftover T1-11 from the office window repair it was a pretty inexpensive repair (just time and paint).

But now I’m left with one more kitchen window to do, inside trim and then: paint.

I purchased 10 gallons of outdoor paint over the Memorial Day weekend (and still need to send in receipts for that rebate…) and will have it tinted in 2-3 gallon batches for the exterior.

While I’d really like to replace the sliding glass door before paint goes up, I think it’s a tad unrealistic with the summer budget I have in place.

I’ve also stained and assembled 2 new adirondack chairs that I purchased from Hayneedle and love them. They also fold up pretty flat to make storage easier in the winter. Soon I’ll need to pull out the outdoor rug and set up the front of the house for summer.

Indoors I’ve mostly been working to keep things clean and organized, decluttering slowly as I go through the house. I’ve already taken in several things to consignment and donation but it’s an on-going process.

I haven’t yet shown you the big upgrade I made to the dining room bench so that’s coming once I get the pictures done.

It’s probably time to go update my 2017 goals post since we’re almost to the midpoint of the year!

Trim it out

The trim project is well underway and I thought I’d give an update on how it’s going since it’s taking up the whole month. So far the quarter round has been installed in the living room, dining area, hallway, hall closet, office and master bedroom.

I started painting in the master bedroom and then worked my way back down the hallway to the living room before moving on to the office.

Since I’m working around the edges painting takes a bit of planning and time since I have to move a lot of stuff out of the way.

The order is typically to go along the baseboards with a nail setter and hammer to push in any of the nails that were still sticking out, then gather paper towels, a caulking gun and water to fill in the gaps. This is the most messy step but a bit of water cleans up any misplaced caulk.

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While the caulk is drying (a couple hours), I try to get the blue painter’s tape down on the floor to protect it. This allows me to go much faster when I’m painting.

Then I brush on the first coat of paint and yes, I usually need two. Since I don’t want the paint to pool along the floor or stick the tape to the baseboards I’ll load up the brush and put most of the paint at the junction of the quarter round and baseboard – then brush it down to the blue painter’s tape at floor level.

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I’ve found that the baseboards are pretty beat up after being pulled and reinstalled when I did the floors so I’m usually filling nail holes in the baseboards and painting them. The hallway baseboards were especially dingy, not just dirty but with a lot of marks and dings.

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Working in the office I found damage to the drywall in one corner due to a leak we repaired a few years ago. The final room that needs quarter round is the guest room but first comes finishing the office and getting that furniture back in. Once I’m 100% done with all this trim I am really looking forward to rolling out those new rugs!

Tools I’m using (click on photo to see sources):

Nail set kit

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Ryobi Airstrike Nail gun and 18 gauge nails

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White latex paintable caulk

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quarter round trim such as this type (though I buy it by the foot).

 

2017 House Goals

Looking forward to 2017 there are a lot of things I need to get done, some things I would like to get done and a bunch I would love to get done if I win the lottery. I’m breaking them up into tasks by room like I did in 2016 to help keep me focused on what needs to happen around here.

My travel schedule is filling up for the new year so I know that the weeks I am home I’ll need to make the most of my time and getting these projects done.

The kitchen:

  • Get the counter tops re-sealed
  • fix or replace garbage disposal
  • remove the pull out trash can

If budget allows:

  • Replace the stove/oven
  • Replace (3) windows
    • Trim windows inside and out

The dining room:

  • Install bookshelf
  • Add lighting to bookshelf
  • Fix chain on hanging light
  • touch up wall paint

The living room:

  • Re-finish the dresser (possibly paint)
  • Get fireplace working
  • Replace window
  • Trim window inside and out
  • Hang new shade in window

The guest bath:

  • Install a can light in the shower
  • Fix transition piece
  • Touch up wall paint

If budget allows:

  • Re-tile around bathtub
  • Replace bathtub fixtures

The office:

  • Touch up wall paint
  • Replace damaged drywall on ceiling
  • Finish off closet shelves
  • Replace window
  • Trim window inside and out

The guest room:

  • Hang rod in closet for curtains
  • Remove hooks from ceiling
  • Replace window
  • Trim window inside and out
  • Hang new shade in window

My master bedroom received a whole new bed set up and mattress but I’m still eyeing that sliding glass door.

  • Trim transition piece by back door
  • Touch up ceiling paint
  • Remove canopy and patch ceiling
  • Fix chain for hanging light

If budget allows:

  • Replace the sliding glass door
    • Trim back door

The master bathroom:

  • Remove glass door
  • Hang new shower curtain

If budget allows:

  • Replace shower floor pan
  • Re-tile shower stall
  • Replace shower fixtures

The backyard :

  • Remove 2 dead rose bushes
  • Remove corner patio
  • Replace fence boards on east side
  • Add lights to fence for night
  • Create a walkway to the side yard
  • Disassemble flower boxes on corner patio
  • Fix gutter downspout
  • Build cart for table saw

The side yard:

  • Empty compost bin
  • Hang lights
  • Replace damaged siding
  • Take the old gutters in for recycling

The front yard :

  • Replace gutters and downspouts
  • Set up bricks along the fence
  • Replace mailbox and post

If budget allows:

  • Pull sprinklers
  • Pave square by front door
  • Demo sidewalk
  • Re-pour sidewalk
  • Extend fence to front of the property
    • add a gate to the end of the fence
  • Landscape the front yard

The garage:

  • Add overhead lights
  • Trim the window, caulk and paint it
  • Build a new box for the water heater
  • Build workbench

If budget allows:

  • Add a water softener

There are a few bigger projects that impact the whole house: 

  • Add quarter round to all baseboards
    • Hallway and hall closet
    • Office
    • Guest room
    • Master bedroom
    • Living room
    • Dining room
  • Re-caulk and paint all trim
    • Hallway and hall closet
    • Office
    • Guest room
    • Master bedroom
    • Living room
    • Dining room
  • Replace rotting facia boards on roof
  • Paint house exterior
    • back wall
    • Sideyard
    • Entryway
    • side from kitchen to garage
    • around garage door
    • up on the roof

 

2016 Master Plan – Final Update

This post has been in draft mode for months now because I knew I would want to post an update on what’s been done around the house in 2016. While I hoped to get it out in December it’s a few days late.

In the kitchen most things are done with the exception of those counter tops.

  • Fix the faucet or replace it with one that has more clearance
  • Get the counter tops re-sealed
  • Add trim around the cabinet base
  • Line the curtains with a solid white fabric NEW
  • Fix the curtain hangers so they don’t fall off the wire

Dream goal:

  • Replace the stove/oven

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The dining room saw the most changes this year with help of an electrician. I’m tackling the bookshelf in January

  • frame out the door to the garage and paint
  • reconfigure the garage light switch
  • Install new outlet and move existing outlet
  • Install built in dinette and bookshelf
    • build a built in bench 6′ long
    • create a countertop along the back
    • build a bookshelf 8′ tall across 6′
    • add lighting
    • trim and paint the entire contraption
  • Reinstall baseboards
  • Paint base of bench and add cross supports

In the living room  there wasn’t much on the goal list. I really wanted to buy a big leather stuffed chair and as soon as I went to order it the item was discontinued. Womp-womp.

  • Add 2 new feet to the couch (in the middle) stained to match the others
  • Re-finish the dresser (possibly paint)
  • Replace green arm chairs

The guest bath had a lot of progress early in the year and I’ve scheduled the electrician for January for the light.

  • Skim coat the walls
  • Paint the walls blue
  • Install a can light in the shower
  • Trim out the door
  • Sand and re-paint the tall cabinet
  • finish replacing floor tiles
  • remove the baseboards
  • install new baseboards, bead board & chair rail
  • paint the trim

 

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Dream goal:

  • take down the shower surround and re-tile it with subway tile
  • upgrade the faucet in the bathtub

In the office the paperwork is mostly organized and now I just need to finish scanning and shredding things I don’t need to keep. Looking to do the windows this spring as well.

  • finish trimming out the door and paint the frame
  • trim out the window with a new frame and sill
  • replace the window
  • organize all of the papers, boxes and binders 

The guest room has been moving along slowly and I’ve had a good amount of fabric used up in projects this year.

  • finish trimming out the door
  • find a runner/small rug for the guest room
  • recover the desk bench with a new fabric
  • paint the foot chest in the guest room NEW
  • create a pad and cover for the foot chest
  • add feet to the window bench to raise it up (used a different bench in here)
  • work on fabric projects to use up material – HALFWAY DONE

My master bedroom received a whole new bed set up and mattress but I’m still eyeing that sliding glass door.

  • finish the trim on the door (hallway side) and paint
  • find a solution for the bed frame to raise it up 12-24″ higher
  • make a headboard
  • buy a new frame for picture above dresser NEW

Dream goal:

  • replace the sliding glass door with a single french door to the backyard

The master bathroom still has the dream goal:

  • re-do the shower
    • take out the shower surround
    • replace the floor pan
    • tile the walls with subway tile
  • recycle the door and install a shower curtain

The backyard stalled after the guy I hired to help stopped showing up and I got tired of people on Craigslist being less than responsive. It’s definitely on the new list for 2017.

  • take out the corner patio and save the bricks
  • take out the raised garden bed under the guest room window
  • take out the back door patio and walkway to the side yard
  • build a new patio outside the back door with access to the side yard
  • install a water barrel on the gutter downspout
  • take out 2 dead rose bushes
  • make minor fence repairs
  • reseed the lawn

The side yard doesn’t have much to do but those gutters really need to be recycled!

  • build a trellis around the bougainvillea to support it growing up and over the raised garden beds
  • keep the lantana from taking over
  • make space for the lawn mower and garden tools (protect from the elements)
  • Take the old gutters in for recycling NEW

The front yard got a lot of work done in the Fall which made me happy

  • haul away the rest of the wood from the maple tree
  • grind down the 2 tree stumps and take out prominent roots
  • remove the palm tree 
  • take out 2 orange rose bushes
  • get rid of the bricks around the old tree and level that flower bed
    • replant the lily growing in that box
  • build a fence out to the front of the property
    • add a gate to the end of the fence
  • fix the walkway up to the house
  • take down the patio cover over the front door
  • replace the gutters along the side and front of the house
  • install new downspouts to divert water
    • add water barrels
  • plant a tree in the front yard

And I made a lot of progress in the garage

  • install new can lights throughout the garage
  • paint the floor when the temps are within range
  • finish trimming the window, caulk and paint it
  • reconfigure the wood cabinets
  • get the holiday storage bins up on the walls – reduced them instead
  • build a new box for the water heater

Dream goal:

  • add a water softener for the house

Then I have a couple of whole house changes:

  • Add quarter round to all baseboards, re-caulk and paint all trim
  • Install and secure floor transitions for laminate flooring 
  • Choose color and paint the exterior of the house

Dream goal:

  • install crown molding in every room
  • replace ALL windows with new, more efficient models and trim them out

 

My newest project

It’s been well over a year of planning but finally, finally I got out the power tools and got to work on my most ambitious goal yet!

I started by having the electrician come and move an outlet + add another one high up on the wall. He also took the switch for the garage light and moved it to the garage wall. Here we are cutting holes in the wall:

 

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And all done:

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I picked up 2x4s at Home Depot and began cutting them to form the base:

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As you can see it’s not just a box, there’s a cross support that’s 12″ from the wall (intentionally).

Then I created an identical box and measured vertical supports.

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Here it is all screwed together using kreg jig holes:

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If I were just building a bench this is where I would finish but my bench/banquette will also have a back and top. Here it is with the top attached:

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With the frame done I’ll need something to cover it up – I decided on 1/2″ MDF for the sides, front and back, 1/2″ plywood for the seat and a 1″x12′ board for the top. With the exception of the top everything would get painted white.

I took the board outside and first hit it with a wood conditioner, then 2 coats of Jacobean, and finally 2 coats of Poly.

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Now it was time to cut the MDF which came in a sheet 4’x8′ and was a BEAR to maneuver and cut. I mean, cutting it with my jigsaw was easy enough but stabilizing it was a pain.

I started by adding the front:

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Then the side:

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And then sidetracked to work on the bench seat. I wanted the bench to lift up for storage so I cut the Plywood to fit around the supports:

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Then a cut where the bench seat would hinge – making sure I had enough clearance for the MDF for the back.

 

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Before attaching the bench I attached a piece of trim on 3 edges to make it easier to paint. The trim was a little bigger than the plywood so once it was ironed on I trimmed off the excess with an exacto knife. Gave everything a quick sand and then it was ready to install.

I primed the bench seat on both sides and then attached a 30″ long piano hinge on both seats:

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With the top in place I was able to trim the pieces for the back and the final piece on the side. It got nailed in and then caulked around the edges before a coat of primer.

Finally, I needed to cover the gap in the back pieces – due to a messed up cut on the first piece of MDF I intended for this to be one piece but hey, it’s 2! This 1″ piece of white trim got a layer of liquid nails on the back and then was taped and clamped into place.

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Finally, the top piece was attached with a couple of 1-1/2″ nails.

So… all done, right?

Not yet, to finish it off and look seamless throughout the living room I added baseboards around the bottom and the everything got a nice coat of white glossy paint. Here you can see the primer coat on the left, first coat of white on the right.

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It was still pretty streaky so the last coat went on with a foam roller to smooth things out. Here we are with the table and freestanding bench:

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and after the final touch ups:

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It’s hard to tell but there’s actually a 3″ foam piece on the bench right now which I’ll be trimming down and covering in fabric. But even that’s not “done” since I have big plans for the TOP of this bench/banquette built in to execute, just as soon as I’m ready to emotionally survive a living room full of sawdust again.

 

 

Master List 2016 – June Updates

It’s nearly halfway through the year and so I suppose it’s a good time to update what’s been done around the house so far and what’s coming. I’m also linking to the static pages which I’m in the process of updating with new photos

In the kitchen I haven’t made much progress and still have most of these things on my list (plus added another one)

  • Fix the faucet or replace it with one that has more clearance
  • Get the counter tops re-sealed
  • Add trim around the cabinet base – started
  • Line the curtains with a solid white fabric NEW
  • Fix the curtain hangers so they don’t fall off the wire

Dream goal:

  • Replace the stove/oven

FullSizeRender 7

The dining room project will be underway soon and I’m excited to work with the electrician soon

  • frame out the door to the garage and paint
  • reconfigure the garage light switch
  • Install new outlet and move existing outlet
  • Install built in dinette and bookshelf
    • build a built in bench 6′ long
    • create a countertop along the back
    • build a bookshelf 8′ tall across 6′
    • add lighting
    • trim and paint the entire contraption
  • Reinstall baseboards
  • Paint base of bench and add cross supports

In the living room I can’t think of much that needs to be done but I would very much like to replace the two green arm chairs with a big leather stuffed chair. It’ll be low on the priority list but I still want to think about the seating situation.

  • Add 2 new feet to the couch (in the middle) stained to match the others
  • Re-finish the dresser (possibly paint)
  • Replace green arm chairs

The guest bath has had the most progress so far.

  • Skim coat the walls
  • Paint the walls blue
  • Install a can light in the shower
  • Trim out the door
  • Sand and re-paint the tall cabinet
  • finish replacing floor tiles
  • remove the baseboards
  • install new baseboards, bead board & chair rail
  • paint the trim

Half of the bath is done all the way to the chair rail but I still need to fill nail holes, caulk the edges and paint.

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Dream goal:

  • take down the shower surround and re-tile it with subway tile
  • upgrade the faucet in the bathtub

In the office the paperwork project is well underway and getting really organized!

  • finish trimming out the door and paint the frame
  • trim out the window with a new frame and sill
  • replace the window
  • organize all of the papers, boxes and binders –HALFWAY DONE

The guest room needs a bit more work in organization within the closet and around my fabric but overall has been working really well.

  • finish trimming out the door
  • find a runner/small rug for the guest room
  • recover the desk bench with a new fabric
  • paint the foot chest in the guest room NEW
  • create a pad and cover for the foot chest
  • add feet to the window bench to raise it up (used a different bench in here)
  • work on fabric projects to use up material – HALFWAY DONE

My master bedroom has a new bed set up which added a ton of storage and I also got a new mattress

  • finish the trim on the door (hallway side) and paint
  • find a solution for the bed frame to raise it up 12-24″ higher
  • make a headboard
  • buy a new frame for picture above dresser NEW

Dream goal:

  • replace the sliding glass door with a single french door to the backyard

The master bathroom still has the dream goal:

  • re-do the shower
    • take out the shower surround
    • replace the floor pan
    • tile the walls with subway tile
  • recycle the door and install a shower curtain

The backyard has some goals for the new year to make it more useful:

  • take out the corner patio and save the bricks
  • take out the raised garden bed under the guest room window
  • take out the back door patio and walkway to the side yard
  • build a new patio outside the back door with access to the side yard
  • install a water barrel on the gutter downspout
  • take out 2 dead rose bushes
  • make minor fence repairs
  • reseed the lawn

The side yard hasn’t changed much since spring with everything growing out there

  • build a trellis around the bougainvillea to support it growing up and over the raised garden beds
  • keep the lantana from taking over
  • make space for the lawn mower and garden tools (protect from the elements)
  • Take the old gutters in for recycling NEW

The front yard also needs a lot of work:

  • haul away the rest of the wood from the maple tree HALFWAY DONE
  • grind down the 2 tree stumps and take out prominent roots
  • remove the palm tree (attempt to re-root in the front yard)
  • take out 2 orange rose bushes
  • get rid of the bricks around the old tree and level that flower bed
    • replant the lily growing in that box
  • build a fence out to the front of the property
    • add a gate to the end of the fence
  • fix the walkway up to the house
  • take down the patio cover over the front door HALFWAY DONE
  • replace the gutters along the side and front of the house
  • install new downspouts to divert water
    • add water barrels
  • plant a tree in the front yard

And I made a lot of progress in the garage

  • install new can lights throughout the garage
  • paint the floor when the temps are within range
  • finish trimming the window, caulk and paint it
  • reconfigure the wood cabinets
  • move the food pantry
  • get the holiday storage bins up on the walls
  • build a new box for the water heater

Dream goal:

  • add a water softener for the house

Then I have a couple of whole house changes:

  • Add quarter round to all baseboards, re-caulk and paint all trim
  • Install and secure floor transitions for laminate flooring – all but 1 is done
  • Choose color and paint the exterior of the house

Dream goal:

  • install crown molding in every room
  • replace ALL windows with new, more efficient models and trim them out

Should be easy, right? I’ll keep telling myself that.