{project house} our backyard makeover.

our yard has always been a bit more than we could handle since day one. there was lots of landscaping done by the previous owner, but without a strict yardwork regiment & a very green thumb, the plants just took over! there were big privacy hedges on two sides of the yard that needed at least annual, & very expensive, professional trimming, & lots & lots of plants planted right next to each other. needless to say after three years of minimal yardwork on our part, things had gotten a little out of control. plus, the lawn (at least in the backyard) was super uneven & very spotty.

sure enough, I got a bug this past spring to get our yard under control so that it looked as nice as the rest of the house! (apparently a big house remodel will do that…) we started figuring out what we wanted our yard to look like, what our budget was, & reaching out to landscapers to start getting bids. we also decided it was worth it to hire a landscape designer since neither of us know anything about landscaping & we didn’t want to put a lot of time & money into our yard without some kind of design. a friend/neighbor of ours gave us the contact information for Erin Lau Design & she was wonderful! we initially had her out for just the front yard design, but brought her back out later in the summer to do a backyard design as well (we did two 2-hour consults, if that helps anyone who is interested!). not only did she give us simple, easy-to-maintain designs, she gave us a plant list to choose from, & the offer to buy any plants we were interested (cheaper than going to a big box store & saved us from having to drive out of town to a nursery).

of course though seattle had other plans for us & really tested our patience with this project. even though we started the process in the spring (may-ish), our spring & summer were so warm that it didn’t make sense to start any work. if we would have had removal of the old plants & grass done that early, our yard would have been a dirt/mud pit the entire summer! some times it stays cool enough to plant grass in the summer, but everyone we talked to told us to wait until the fall to plant grass & other plants & trees. so we waited. but, the wait did allow us to do some of the work ourselves & save some money. we removed all of the plants from the yard over the course of the late spring & summer, aaron chopped down the laurel bushes that ran the entire east side of the house (with a hatchet & a chainsaw!), & we removed a lot of the rocks that were all over the flower beds. we hired some crews to take out the big bushes that lined our back fence (north) as well as a stump grinder.

after going back & forth with a few yard contractors, we decided to go with EcoYards to do the sod removal, levelling, sprinkler & drip-line installation, & new sod installation. yep, you read that right sprinklers. it was a decision that we sat on for a long time, mostly due to the high cost, but we decided it was worth it after hearing from a neighbor who has the most beautiful front yard that sprinklers were the big secret & a friend who is in the lawn & sprinkler industry. for us, it was worth the investment since we both knew it was the best chance we had at keeping everything alive! {side note: most homes in seattle don’t have sprinklers. we get quite a bit of rain, & during the summer almost everyone lets their lawn go dormant (yellow) & then wait for it to come back green in the fall.} plus, a major selling feature was that this irrigation system has rain sensors so it can adjust the amount of water it puts out based on the rain fall – so cool! we have a little weather station on the back of the house.

finally (finally) we had the crew on-site & they were here for two weeks. it was crazy to see the transformation & we are super happy with the results! we have planted six trees in the backyard, plus mulch in the flowerbeds. then in the spring we will plant the remaining plants in the backyard, & do the removal & planting of the front yard.

without further adieu, before, during, & after pictures! {sidenote: the yard was really hard to photograph with the privacy hedges!}

BEFORE {May, June, & July 2014}:

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{the back hedge & rhodie (left).}

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{the back hedge. you can see our neighbor’s garage back there.}

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{the laurel hedge that was on the east-side of the house.}

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{the back hedge coming down!}

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{& the hedge is gone!}

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{we actually had the laurels trimmed this spring since we were on the fence about whether we wanted to get rid of it or not. we quickly decided we wanted it gone… oh well!}

20150530_235614269_iOS  {aaron putting together the shed.}20150627_190245140_iOS

{after years of being behind the back hedges, the side of our neighbor’s garage was in rough shape.}

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{the side fence (west) coming down in July, along with all of that ivy!} 20150703_195756981_iOS

{aaron & our neighbor taking down the old back fence.}

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{setting the new posts.}

20150705_173758172_iOS{a new fence!}

20150712_200407391_iOS  {the old laurel. you can see the gap to the right where we had a quince taken out in the spring.}20150809_180438419_iOS

{aaron chopped down ALL of the laurel hedges – by hand! – over the course of the summer, & then we slowly got rid of it in our yard waste.}

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DURING {September & October, 2015}:

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{the lines sprayed for irrigation – white – & the flower bed boundary – orange.}

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{aaron planting our new trees.}

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AFTER {November, 2015}:

20151115_214648396_iOS{peering in thru the east-side gate.}

20151115_214706282_iOS{along this side of the yard are three trees which will hopefully give us privacy in a few years.}

20151115_214718293_iOS{there are two more threes along the north/back edge of our yard.}

20151115_214725856_iOS{I wanted to keep the old rhodie!}

20151115_214739720_iOS{another tree at the end of the flower bed.}

20151115_214749660_iOS{a work in progress, but on the west side of our house is a dog run – the dog door is on this side of the house – & the new home for our little shed.}

20151115_214754487_iOS{we still have this giant tree in the back corner. it’s nice to have a big, mature tree, but boy it has so many leaves! i also added our little lawn flamingos!}

20151115_214806594_iOS{& back towards the east-side gate.}

we are thrilled with the work that was done & how the yard is shaping up. it has been a lot more work on the weekends, since we are actually doing work. & by “we” i mean aaron! he is out there every weekend raking, mowing, etc. we are SO excited for this next spring & summer! i’ll be sure to update this spring too!

have you done a yard makeover lately? any suggestions or hints for us newbies?

M

project house {pro photos}

so many of you have been asking about seeing updated photos of our newly renovated space. we have been so eager to share, but nothing seems quite finished. I know the rooms will never really be “finished” but I am hoping to get to the point (soon!) that they are blog worthy enough to share.

any-hoo, I did want to share some professional photos that our architects had taken a few weeks ago.

Lower Entry

Lower Entry Bathroom email

Lower Entry Stairs email

Lower Exterior email

{photo credit: Perspective Image Photography}

I also finally updated the Project House tab so you can see all of the phases of construction (pretty much until we moved in).

I wish my house always looked that good!

M

project house {diy sputnik chandelier}

a house update – it’s been a long time, huh? I guess that’s what happens when you have a baby at the end of a house remodel… in happy news, I am going to share a fun house update! {& in even happier news, we are 100% DONE with construction!}

as soon as I started seeing the entryway come to life – demolition of the office & old entry walls, & drywall – I started brainstorming what type of light fixture would go above the stairwell. the space is so big & bright with two big windows centered in the space, & was begging for a big, bold, & dramatic light fixture. given our very tight light fixture budget, I started the hunt for an awesome DIY & found the perfect one!

much like jenny over at Little Green Notebook {her blog is absolutely inspiring!} I was dreaming of a sputnik chandelier (like the one pictured below). wouldn’t that have been amazing? needless to say, this wasn’t in my budget. luckily, jenny created an ikea hack for a DIY version of a sputnik!

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{sputnik chandelier via}

I followed jenny’s tutorial pretty much exactly, but have included in progress photos of my version. while I had plans & the supplies to do this project by late spring, I didn’t find the time to actually do any of it until I started my maternity leave at the end of july. so, you can picture me at 37 weeks handpainting all of these flowers {that’s two coats on each side!}. by the time I had finished painting the flowers, I made aaron find our paint sprayer so I didn’t have to handpaint the rest of the fixture!

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& the final product!

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this is such an amazing piece & I am so, so proud of it! it makes such a statement & you see it as soon as you walk in the front door. one of my favorite DIYs to date!

& for reference, this is what the original ikea fixture looks like. an improvement, right?

sputnik

have you DIY’d a light fixture?

M

project house {week 18}

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{wall sconces in master bedroom // vanity in master bathroom // clawfoot tub in kids’ bathroom}

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{light fixture in master bedroom // downstairs hallway lights}

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{dutch door for the laundry room & handles on the closet doors // bath fixtures waiting to be installed // living room is coming together}

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{downstairs hallway looking towards master // upstairs hallway with new light & attic access}

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{light fixture in entryway // front porch light fixture // stair hand railing}

this week at the house {& for the rest of the project!} is all about details. the electricians were in this weekend getting lighting fixtures installed, & outlets & covers installed. the interior paint is mostly finished with touch-ups needed, but that will probably not be totally done until after we have fully moved back in.

this week the plumber is in to install the bath fixtures &, fingers crossed, the electricians will be back to complete their work. at the end of the week the entryway floors & stairs will be fully finished & sealed.

we have been able to “move back in” to the main living space, though we aren’t yet living there full time. hopefully that will happen sometime this week! the new space is starting to come together though & hopefully we can really start on the nursery soon!

fingers crossed our completion is a bit earlier than more recently anticipated {maybe, next week??}

M

project house {week 17}

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{paint touch up in kitchen // “moving back into the living room” // windows over the stairwell papered for painting // door painting in the office}

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{paint touch up in the living room & readying the space to move back in // lots of cleaning happening – so. much. dust. // the new hardwood floor peeking thru // painting doors in the kids’ bathroom}

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{entryway window // looking downstairs at the new paint // painting supplies including our handrails // door painting in the master bedroom}

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{painting supplies – a better set-up than I use! // 38 week bump at the house // more doors}

in the first picture of the kitchen, the floor looks a little wonky because there are two plywood pieces in the floor – one over the old chimney space & the other over the old heating vent. there is currently linoleum in our kitchen & it would be more hassle than it is worth to try to patch these two small pieces. we have grand plans to do a kitchen remodel on that side of the kitchen, including new flooring {hopefully we will uncover old wood floor underneath the laminate!} at some point in the {near} future.

last week the interior painting started, including all of the new dry wall & trim, & the touch-ups of the upstairs space {living room, kitchen, hallway}. this work was technically supposed to be done by the end of last week so we could start moving back into our old space this weekend, but when we showed up at the house on saturday morning, the painters were there. & that repeated on sunday too. a bit of a bummer for us since the continued work prevented us from really being able to move back in. at this point we are shooting for a move-in at the end of this week. fingers crossed!

in better news, we are getting so close to the end of this remodel! tomorrow the electrician is supposed to be in to install the outlets & lighting fixtures. the plumber is scheduled for later in the week or early next week to install the bath fixtures. exterior painting touch-ups are also on the agenda, but not quite as imperative as that work doesn’t effect our ability to live in the space.

in the final countdown! how much longer do you think we have?

M

project house {week 16}

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{window trim & picture rail in stairwell // trim in stairwell // stairs covered & ready for painting // sadie’s dog door installed // trim around doorway in entry // window trim & trim in stairwell}

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{floors downstairs prepped for painting // master bath vanity waiting for installation // sadie’s dog crate & under the stairs closet // office window trim // hinges are up // down the hall towards our master bed & bath}

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{floor & trim patching in the kitchen // trim patching in living room // doorway trim in living room // stair hand rails ready for installation & painting}

last week all of the millwork – trim – went in & it all looks great! we have pretty traditional craftsman style trim in the upstairs that we wanted to continue into the new space. the picture rail was continued into the entryway & stairwell, but not anywhere downstairs; it may be something we add to the master bedroom perhaps at some point in the future but since the ceilings are almost a foot lower downstairs, we decided to hold off on putting picture rail thru-out the new space. the hinges are also all installed & the doors are ready to be hung & just waiting for hardware.

this week we will have interior painters in, starting with touch up in the upstairs spaces – kitchen, living room – & continuing on to paint the new space. lots of people have asked about paint colors & then I think are a little disappointed in my answer. most of the new space – entryway, stairwell, laundry room, hallway, office, nursery, kids’ bath, & master bath – will all be simply white by benjamin moore. the master bedroom will be revere pewter by benjamin moore. under other circumstances {mostly not being almost due with baby!} I probably would have chosen an actual color palette to save aaron & me the work of later needing to paint any walls. however, I went with white because I knew it would be a safe choice & a good canvas for any future color. I do have color plans for the rest of the space, including painting the ceiling of the kids’ bath {like this} & painting stripes on the nursery ceiling, so no worries!

like I mentioned last week, we are going to start moving into the house slowly starting this weekend. I don’t know if we are more excited or nervous! there is so much stuff packed into our living room right now {though our contractor will clear out his stuff} & there is more stuff to fit in there, like the crib, dresser/changing table, & other baby necessities. if that doesn’t sound like a good nesting project {except for moving the really heavy stuff} I don’t know what is!

M

project house {week 15}

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{gutters! // extra storage under the front stairs // east side fence // west side fence}

**I realize every picture shows the house a different color – the first one with the fence is the most accurate**

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{floors in the upstairs entry & hallway // floor panel in closet under stairs // floors in entryway // stairs & landing // stairs & downstairs floor}

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{penny tile in kids’ bath! // doors // subway tile & marble in master shower}

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{master bath floor // master bath shower // subway tile}

this past week all of the flooring was basically completed – salvaged wood floors upstairs were stained & conditioned {first round}, stairs were completed with new fir – stained & conditioned, & tile in the bathrooms was grouted. it is looking so amazing!

up this week: hanging doors & installing millwork! for both of these elements we are trying to keep true to the original craftsman style in the house, & having 5 panel doors & simple, thick trim with quarter-round.

as for timeline {which is everyone’s question these days!}: we are planning on moving into the main level {living room, kitchen, bath, & bedroom} in a week & a half, & the entire project is slated to be finished sometime the week of august 18th. not ideal I know since baby lower is due on august 12th, but there really isn’t much we can do {trust me, I’ve asked!}. all of this finish work takes a lot of time! & for those of you wondering, nope, I won’t get to set up the nursery until after the house is done. that means setting up baby’s nursery furniture in the living room for now so that its ready to move downstairs as soon as we get the greenlight – anyone want to help?

M