Gardening Plans for the Front

Remember how we spent all last summer digging up and waterproofing our foundation? Well, this summer’s project is trying to make our yard look halfway respectable again. This is going to be an interesting project, because we will have a “Before, Before” with our flower beds and yard looking lovely, a “Before” for when we tore it all out to fix the foundation, and an “After” for when we redo all the grading, planting, and landscaping. I’m sure the neighbors were watching us last year and weeping for the previous owners, who apparently loved to garden- as indicated by the well maintained and lovingly tended perennials we used to have.

I tried to keep some of the plants but there just wasn’t the time to plant them somewhere else and salvage them. I feel super guilty about the planticide we are responsible for, but let’s face it, a leaky basement doesn’t make up for a beautiful garden!

Here’s how the front of our house looked before we tore it all up last year.

DSC_1916_blurredDSC_1920_blurredDSC_1921_DSC_1922_.blurredjpgDSC_1917_blurredIt might be too cringeworthy to share how it looks now. Imagine all the grass is brown, all the plants are gone, the front steps are sitting in the middle of the yard and there is treacherous boot-eating mud everywhere. Got that? Ok.

Now for my plans… I’m not going to be reinventing the wheel here. I quite liked how it looked to begin with- the bush beside the front door turned a beautiful red colour in the fall (a Burning Bush I think?) and I liked the variation in heights of the plants in the front bed. I’ll probably do something pretty similar to how it looked before. For the bed below the large front window, I’m thinking a few shrubs flanking a row of white hydrangeas with hostas in front.

hydrangeas and hostas

A La Campagne on Facebook

I haven’t decided yet what to do with the other bed below the two smaller windows. The same thing as the other bed? Something different? My mother-in-law offered me some of her bleeding hearts, so I might do a couple of those, maybe with something that can climb up the wall on a trellis? I like how astilbes look and that area gets a lot of shade in the afternoon… Obviously I still have some work to do on my plans. But seeing as we got snow a few days ago I probably still have some time!

bleeding hearts and trellisPinterest

astilbes hostas bleeding heartsPinterest
astilbesPinterest

Of course all of this can’t take place until we have regraded the yard, planted grass seed, and leveled out all the tread marks in our lawn from the excavator! Looks like this summer will be just as busy as last. Anyone have a green thumb I could borrow?

-C

PS. Oh yeah, we totally had the baby. My husband was right all along; Baby H is a girl! She is healthy and happy and keeping us very busy. Being a parent is just as hectic, terrifying, and amazing as we thought it would be… maybe more. :)

Reflections on Home Ownership

This time last year, if you’d told me to enjoy the days of apartment living, I probably would have smacked you. As the little sister and youngest of all my cousins, I’ve always been the last to reach the levels on the life-event barometer: when I was in high school, my sister had started university. When I started university, my sister found her first job. When I was still in university (#gradstudentproblems) my sister got married and then bought her first house. You get the idea! I’m always so anxious to get to the next step that sometimes I forget to just be and enjoy where I’m at.

firstiwasdying

I moved out of my parents home at 18, so I spent 10 years renting. I lived in 5 units in 2 cities with 3 roommates- the last of whom would eventually become my husband. I hand-washed countless dishes and suffered through sharing laundry facilities, walls, ventilation, bed bugs, and hot water with strangers. While I anxiously waited for our future home, I kept myself busy with various projects, like sewing elbow patches on my favourite old sweater, attending DIY workshops, and making canvas prints using acetone transfers.

don't rush anything

But it’s funny how you gain perspective on things. As much as I couldn’t wait to get out of that apartment and become a proper grown up with a mortgage, I’ve caught myself thinking wistfully of all the time I used to have to devote to things like sewing, crafting, shopping, and flea market hunting. I also used to think our apartment looked really great, and I loved how easy it was to decorate. Now I find myself feeling a little overwhelmed with the larger space and it’s hard coming up with a cohesive look, not to mention keeping things tidy when we’re basically living in a construction zone 24/7.

As exciting as it is to know that we can do whatever we want with our house, I can’t wave a magic wand to make it happen overnight. It takes a lot of planning, a lot of hard work, and a lot of time (not to mention $$$). And all those jobs start to feel like just that- jobs. I can’t even remember the last time I had my sewing machine out for fun. Whenever I get a burst of productive energy, I notice the holes that I never patched or the paint that needs to be touched up. So my old Janome will have to sit dormant a little while longer, and even then it will probably only get to hem the curtains in the guest room.

make the days count

I’m definitely guilty of wishing my life away; I’m so impatient for the next big thing that will happen in my life that I forget to slow down and enjoy where I’m at. Living in the moment and being grateful for what I have, instead of comparing myself to others and feeling shortchanged, is something I really need to work on. And even though it took many stressful months to find our house, while we weathered the storm of my husband’s career change and felt the disappointment of making an offer on a completely different house that eventually fell through, I know that all the waiting was worth it- that other house would have been a strain financially and wouldn’t have been as good a fit as the house we did buy. I really do believe that everything happens for a reason!

no shortcuts

So if you’re out there reading this and you’re feeling like I was before we bought our house, like you can’t wait to put your own personal stamp on your space and you hate every minute of renting, know that it will happen in time. Enjoy the benefits of renting, and use the time to save up for your downpayment and reno fund. Cherish the phone calls to your landlord about the crack in the ceiling or the leaky faucet, and crack open a beer while you watch them fix it… because one day it will be your problem!

-C

One Room Challenge: Week 2

As I mentioned in my last post, I am a linking participant in Calling it Home’s One Room Challenge, and for my room I chose to focus on our kitchen. You can check out the Week 1 post for the photos of our kitchen from the real estate listing- it has come a long way!

Today I’m going to share some photos of how our kitchen looks now and my plan for the ORC. Our kitchen is not huge and it’s hard to take good photos from all the angles, but here is my best attempt.

The view from the dining room:

Kitchen makeover before

Kitchen makeover before

Kitchen makeover before

Kitchen makeover before

And the view from the hallway on the opposite side:

Kitchen makeover before

Kitchen makeover before

Because I am a list-lover, here is the breakdown of my plan:

  1. What I’m definitely doing:
    – Painting the trim, ceiling, and walls
    – Changing out the light fixture
    – Pulling up that awful lino and putting down peel-and-stick tile
    – Hanging a curtain
    – Fixing the cabinet doors that don’t close properly
    – Organizing our sink with a soap dispenser and a holder for cleaning supplies
  2. What I might do, time/patience permitting:
    – Paint my fridge?!?! (Sadly, replacing it is not an option- ditto the old-school portable dishwasher)
    – Use Ardex to turn the faux-bois counters into faux-concrete counters (you didn’t think that was real butcher block, did you? Noooo, my friend)
  3. What I would love to do but am having a hard time convincing my husband probably won’t:
    – Replace the sink
    – Replace the faucet (complicated by the fact that it is super old and it will be hard to retro-fit without having a hole somewhere- one of the cold taps is hooked up to the softened water and the other isn’t. #hardwaterprobs #ruralprobs)

Note that #2) and #3) are interchangeable. Also, I am buggering off to Mexico in the middle of this so that might throw a margarita-drenched curveball at my plan!

You can also check out my Pinterest board to get a more visual representation of what I’m scheming:
Follow Cathy @ Dear DIY’s board One Room Challenge: My Kitchen on Pinterest.

Be sure to check out all the other Week 2 posts from ORC participants, as well as the featured designers!

ORC-LP-Blue-250x183

Chat to you in a week,

-C

One Room Challenge: Tackling the Kitchen

I’ve always wanted to participate in a blog linking party, and the One Room Challenge sounds like a great way to a) get to know some other bloggers and b) give myself the kick in the pants I need to finish our kitchen. Since we moved in, we have painted the cabinets, removed the scalloped border above the sink, replaced one of the light fixtures, and installed new hardware; but it is still far from done.

kitchen during 2

The ORC challenge involves sharing progress of your room each week, from the planning stages to the failures, modifications, and (we hope) eventual triumphs. I’ll be posting each Thursday with my progress on our kitchen, so be sure to check back to see how I’m doing, and also check out some of the other linking participants!

ORC-LP-Blue-250x183

I’ll be sharing more photos of what the kitchen looks like now in my next post- I’m in the middle of studying for a certification exam for work and I don’t have time to drag out my Nikon to do it justice.

To tide you over until then, here are the pictures of our kitchen from before we moved in:

kitchen 2 kitchen 1

I’m looking forward to getting this off my list and can’t wait to see how it looks in 6 weeks time!

-C

More bathroom plans

Ok, seriously: we are getting closer to making a decision on our bathroom reno. After 11+ SketchUp plans, I feel as if we are narrowing in on our dream bathroom. If you didn’t catch my last post on our plans, we have about 75 sq ft to work with and a want list of: separate shower enclosure and tub, double vanity, and storage space (thinking the toilet goes without saying).

My husband had found an idea a while back to fit both a tub and separate shower enclosure in a smaller bathroom, but I was having a hard time imagining how it would work in our space. Basically instead of having them separate with the usual amount of space between them (24-30″ is the guideline I’ve found), you could have them as one entity, making sure to tile around the tub so that the water splashing from the shower wouldn’t be an issue. I had a pretty hard time visualizing this, since the one example we found was of a long and narrow room. The shower enclosure took up the entire width of the room, and you walked through it to get to the tub, which also took up the width of the room. There was a glass half-wall between the shower and the vanity to enclose the shower area and the rest was open. We lost the link to the image, of course, but here is a rough idea of how that layout looked.

sketch up long narrow bathroom layout

As I said, that wouldn’t work in our bathroom because it is not long and narrow. But we found another example online with the same idea, except with the shower and bath perpendicular to each other, like this:

joint shower and bath enclosure

joint shower and bath enclosure 2

I have a really hard time visualizing spatial orientations of things so having this photo helped me see how this could look in real life, and I quite like it! We really like the glass enclosure, which will keep everything looking open in the small space we’re working with. We also like the gentle slope for drainage from the floor to the shower- no curb to trip over or stub your toe on! Finding this photo got the old cogs turning again and I came up with a new layout.

sketchup layout 11

It ticks all the boxes on our list, but without the compromises that some of our previous layouts had; the biggest in my mind being a double vanity so small that two people couldn’t use it simultaneously, only 40″ wide. I found a slightly larger vanity from Home Depot online that is 17.75″ deep by 48″, which I’m not completely sold on, but it gives us a starting point. We could even get away with one a bit larger!

Virtu USA Model # UM-3067-C-ES Opal 48 in vanity

Virtu USA Model # UM-3067-C-ES Opal 48 in vanity

Virtu USA Model # UM-3067-C-ES Opal 48 in vanity

I love that this layout gives us space on the wall between the vanity and shower enclosure for towel racks, and space for a small storage cupboard to house stuff that doesn’t fit in the vanity drawers. It affords us a bit of flexibility too; once the tub and shower enclosure are built, if we decide it’s too tight for both the cupboard and the toilet beside the bath, we could move the toilet over and have a cupboard mounted above the toilet for more storage space.

What do you think, are we ready to start knocking down walls? Any last advice before we start putting the wheels in motion?

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