Archive for the ‘before’ Category


Thursday, April 21st, 2011

The house is mostly a blank slate when it comes to fixing up the landscaping, well, except for the spring time weed “lawn” that shall be pulverized. Though the plan is to do everything in stages as budget and weather and will power permit, I have to admit to being a bit overwhelmed by the scale of the project. This will be a massive undertaking requiring oodles of hardcore filthy labor and serious cash. My brain refuses to acknowledge how long this project will drag out (years, likely) or how many new skills are needing learning or that the future holds face to face dealings with nests of earwigs, feral cat crap and other horrifying surprises lurking in the dirt.

Thankfully, I’ve been working with the talented and soothing (and award winning) Ryan Prange of Falling Waters Landscape fame to help quell my anxiety and give the low down on drought tolerant low maintenance landscaping. We’ve whittled out my landscape needs (cheap, low maintenance, desert modern, neighborhood appropriate, water friendly) and he’s been pulling together some design recommendations for plantings.

In response to the layouts and ideas Ryan’s been sending over, I’ve been screwing around with SketchUp to flesh out the landscape.

Admittedly, the free version of SketchUp’s plant selection sucks. The program also goes wacky with the 2-D face me plants which wander out of place as the viewing angle shifts – not just a little out of place, but jumping 10 plus feet out of their plant “zone”.

These renderings are supposed to include a bunch more feather grass or rush or grassy bush type things to help fill out the blanker areas. Putting the right amount of plants in the model causes it to start resembling very sloppy and confusing photoshopping. The pared down renderings do illustrate basic layout of the major plantings and hardscape elements which are still getting fiddled around with and finalized.

In terms of making this stuff physically happen (without hiring contractors and workers) I need to learn some new skills like pouring and finishing concrete. Initially, concrete seems messy and hard and fits neatly in my frustrating projects that I suck at category. I also want to figure out how to install drip irrigation and exterior lighting. Sexy and thrilling projects like those will need some in-depth research, which is is fantastic, since there is nothing more exhilarating than researching piping or timers or whatever.

The neglected side yard needs some attention and extreme weed annihilation. The more obvious question though – who the hell installs a spigot like that? Extend that sucker over one foot to the right and out one foot please. Perfect. Logical. Extra functional.

We picked up the ridiculous blue spa cover at the local thrift store for a couple of dollars.  The cover is a few feet wider than required, so it’s rocking a stylish droop and devil may care attitude whilst keeping leaves out of the empty tank. Trust that I know it’s looking kind of ghetto.

Still working out the plan of attack in the side yard, but the idea is to keep it simple and add an eating area. We need to rip out the brick planter and install hot rolled steel edging, pour some concrete pavers, plumb the pool, build a deck, stain the fence, grade the yard, throw decomposed granite everywhere, plant many plants, build a table, install lighting and then done? Maybe? This is going to take years.

Above are a few of the design options Ryan has been sending my way. I’ve been picking and choosing ideas and incorporating a little of each into the finalized plan, which shocker, might ultimately change as we dive into the nitty gritty of finances and skill levels and what stuff actually looks in real life.

Landscaping. You soul crushing monster.

The big sale will hopefully raise funds to help get us going on some projects. I can’t wait for the exterior to shape up a bit and be usable.

Also, if you have a landscaping project in need of some help, design, project management or otherwise, give Ryan & Falling Waters Landscape a shout. He’s good people, with a great eye and super easy to work with personality. I might know, because admittedly, I’m a demanding she-beast with a highly specific design sensibility who worries that it’s not as easy to switch out trees as it is sofas. Then again, I don’t have to sit on trees and constantly look at and criticize them.

Should be fine, right? Right?! RIGHT. We are nowhere near ready to plant trees.

Weedy, The Aftermath

Friday, April 8th, 2011


Who knew that $10 worth of wacky weed killing could be controversial? LOOK at that, though. Just look. Weeds? Vanquished. Those are some results.


Remember my burgeoning meadow? This wasn’t even the worst of it, I was a little too embarrassed to show the madness happening behind the garage. Let’s just say there was a forest of weeds (about four feet high).

There are still a few areas that have a dusting of weeds, but these little jerks are checking into the hospice. Death throes and such.

Just to keep reminding folks, my gravel driveway is gigantor. For illustrations sake, our entire house is 1,300 sqft compared to the driveway’s 4,000.

I’m not buying that salt wise what we sprayed over 4,000 sqft of gravel is commensurate with agricultural runoff or road salting in cold climates. Also, it’s totally hard to decipher in my writing sometimes, but when I say “green” in quotes? Total sarcasm. We all can agree that “green” can be overused and inappropriately thrown onto questionable stuff to give everyone the warm fuzzies.

We try to be good around here, but come on, I’m not going to boil water and pour it over our entire driveway. For small areas, yes, but that process would be a nightmare on this large of a scale. We have put plastic coverings down and found it to be less than effective and a total pain to control with the high winds. The Round Up/glyphosate chemical route still freaks me out and is extremely expensive, plus I’m pretty sure Monsanto doesn’t always have my best interests at heart.

The vinegar/salt treatment was super effective and I’m looking forward to finding the super strength vinegar stuff that you guys recommended – I didn’t realize that vinegar could get more vinegary. I am surprised how well the normal household stuff worked, it killed everything in its path, but I’d be wary of spraying the crazy industrial stuff anywhere near plants that want stay alive.

I am terrified of using a blow torch. I just know that I’d light a fence on fire or something.

Of course I don’t recommend salting areas that you actually want to plant in. That’s dumb. Or spreading tons of salt all over the place – because yes – it’s terrible. We were looking for a cheap and effective way to sterilize the dirt that had gathered on top of the weed barrier and between the gravel as well as kill the current weed growth in an area we don’t want anything to grow in. Ever.

We used one of those cheap pump sprayers we had laying around. A good mixture to spray:

• 1 gallon of white vinegar
• 1 cup of table salt
• 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap (we totally forgot to add this)

I don’t mind mixing it up and spraying on any new weeds to keep things under control until the inevitable summer die off. This was a little experiment undertaken as we move into thinking more about fixing up the landscape. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out and love the low low cost.

DEN, continued

Friday, April 1st, 2011

I mentioned that the den was oddly laid out. I swear, it totally is. It’s tiny, has three entrances, a huge built in desk and most importantly houses the precious cable and television that our lives and decor must revolve around. I watch TV unashamedly and I love it.

Check out the small walking gap between the desk and the chair. This is precise reason the sofa is always in the corner – there is physically no other place it can go. I know, it’s not ideal, but it’s all the space allows for. Suck it den.

This office half of the den is one of my least favorite parts of our home, but ironically, also the place where I spend insane amounts of time. I’m not bitter. I’m not totally seething with fury over this.

When we bought the house the first thing I wanted to do was rip out the desk. This plan was vetoed, but every time I clip that desk edge with my upper thigh I dream of taking a sledge hammer to this thing.

This stupid effing desk. This ugly bulky poorly laid out terrible crappy built in desk. I try to avoid photographing it since its dumb and ugly and I hate it – and normally its covered in paper – because yeah, bloggers lie. My desk is this clean on photograph day or like once a month for special guests.

We can’t tear it out because all the flooring would have to be replaced and frankly, I’m just not willing to dump a bunch of cash into the desks removal and the repair that goes with it (because, oh yeah, there is even more stupid effing wainscoting that would have to be dealt with and the last thing I’m paying for is to fix that hot mess).

I would like to put a door on the weird open section since its stupid. Also, I need to move the electrical outlet down inside the desk, because WHY IS IT OUT THERE ANYWAYS? Then all the ugly cables could be hidden, and not by loose papers, but by being smarter than a desk.

Does this very simplified floor plan explain what the layout dealio is? There isn’t a lot of leeway for another type of furniture layout – although I have tried and failed – so our biggest hope is to just get the right pieces and live harmoniously with the awkward space through sheer perseverance and willpower.

On a happier note, I did recently acquire this vintage Eames DCM chair. This has been on my must have list for forever and I’m ecstatic to report that it is much more comfortable than the Eames shell chair I was rocking before. My big ol’ booty is supported and lower back is enjoying the scoopyness.

I actually picked the chair up on the same trip that I found the lotus pendant. I grabbed it in a little antique store along with this vintage Winnebago toy as a gift for The Boy. He loves motor homes? I guess that’s something you can love right? He’s always trying to convince me we need to get one and is constantly showing me craigslist postings, but if we go traveling via a car I want a vehicle we can stuff furniture into. Talk to me about a box van, honey pants.