Posts tagged ‘exterior’

September 27, 2011

Panic, Trees & Carport Planning

by Cait

We’ve been working a bit on our curb appeal on-and-off this year, mostly purely cosmetic things like the porch ceiling or the Spanish tile (and I still owe y’all a post on the door tile- oops). However, this time we need to take more of a form-over-function direction.

If you missed my photo-only post yesterday, the dying oak tree beside the driveway took out its post-rain wrath on my car’s window. My granddad always told me not to park under large trees because they can randomly huge drop limbs (especially the day after a storm), yet for some reason I never thought I’d learn this lesson the hard way by parking in my own driveway. You know, probably because of the conveniently placed driveway


If we’re being honest, this was not the first time the car-eating tree dropped a limb on my car. The last time was about 18 months ago while we were in San Francisco for Robert’s cousin’s wedding. For whatever reason (probably that the limb only made a small ding on my hood that time?), we decided not to do the smart thing and listen to our parents remove the ailing tree then. We did pull a giant, been-there-since-we-owned-the-house, wedged-in dead limb out of the same tree back before Hurricane Irene, though. And there may have been some really ironic “we’re such good, cautious homeowners” type high-fiving after that. Who knows what kind of damage that sucker could have done to my car.

Fast forward back to today. Robert and I have pretty much decided to stop taking chances by doing the bare minimum after the burst pipe in the guest bathroom wall. So rather than continuing to sacrifice our cars to the tree, we’re going to have the darn thing removed. We decided this amidst all the panicking and taping of bags over my car window, but we know it’s the right decision, and one we should have done months or years ago.


We have also toyed with the idea of adding a carport along the side of our house, possibly with a covered walkway to the front porch. I don’t know that  both removing the tree and building a carport are really necessary, but better safe than sorry I guess. It’s not like there aren’t other tress in the area, and a carport would protect my car from things like hail, too. 

The (first) problem we run into is that we would be putting it on the guest room side of the house, where it may block most of the light coming in the window. Young House Love has the same issue with the window over their desk, but their office still seems to get enough light (of course that room also has a second window). As I told Robert, we could add some sort of tubular skylight later on if the room is too dark. (Though we haven’t priced those yet. Heck, we haven’t even priced the carport or tree removal yet.)  Another option is just making the guest bath window larger when we get to working on that project again, and then adding the window I’ve been wanting in the laundry room when we get to that. (Oh how projects snowball into one another.)

Getting back to carports, Kara Paslay and her husband Tim improved their house’s curb appeal by adding an arbor in front of the carport.

Kara Paslay’s carport

I also found this carport on Pinterest, but it is originally from a company that builds carports.


And then there is YHL’s carport.

YHL’s carport

So that’s our latest need-based curb appeal project. We’re hopefully getting the tree removal estimate today, and after that we’ll work on figuring out what kind of carport we may add. We would love to one day have a garage (with a studio space above it), but after yesterday I think we’re planning on biting the bullet and putting up a carport, at least for the time being.

Anyone else have to make design choices after something unexpected happened? Any other tree horror stories? Or if you’ve seen any great carport designs I’d love to see them!

August 29, 2011

The Spanish Steps

by Cait

To break from the hurricane talk for a minute, I thought I’d share some details on a project we took on last week. I’ll have the rest of how we prepared for the high winds we were expected to have, as well as the rest of our tile project for you later this week.

We live in an area where it’s pretty common to see Spanish tile on houses, and we recently took the plunge and ordered some. I had been pinning Spanish tile designs and tiled steps to my Curb Appeal board on Pinterest for weeks, and we figured it was time after recently visiting St Augustine & also seeing quite a few tropical vacation photos featuring Spanish tile. I had done some research as far as where to buy tiles that were pretty & reasonably priced, and  when one of those websites offered free shipping we decided to order our tile.

Before we finalized the decision on which tiles to buy I did a couple of Photoshop mock ups of what our front steps would look like after we tiled them. It was probably an unnecessary step, but I’m a Photoshop nerd, and sometimes it helps Robert understand my ideas.

First this one:

And then, when we decided to take advantage of free shipping from another website with different tile options, I made the one below.

We also toyed with the idea of doing one design per step, like the mock up below.

We ulitmately decided that we liked the second mock up best, so we measured to see how many tiles we would need and placed our order.  We also measured around our front door and ordered some tiles go go around that.

A few days later our tile arrived and we got to work laying them out to see what pattern we liked best.

As far as attaching the tiles to our steps, we figured that we would probably use something like Liquid Nails rather than trying to grout the tiles in place. And as luck would have it, in talking to my dad about the project we discovered that he happened to have a couple of tubes of adhesive he was willing to give us. Sweet!

We applied the adhesive in a 4-dot pattern on the back of each tile, then held the tile in place for a minute or so to give the adhesive a chance to begin setting. We used one tube for about 57 tiles the first day, just to give you an idea of how much adhesive you’re going to want if you decide to tackle a similar project.

The whole project probably took about two hours from start to finish, and we only cracked one tile in the process (and we had an extra) so I’d say it was a success. We did run out of adhesive three tiles before we finished the bottom step, so this isn’t a complete after picture.

We  didn’t want to cut any tiles, so we do need to figure out a solution for the slight space you can see on the left of the second step (each step has a similar space, actually). We’ll probaly end up painting that area a different color to make it blend, or add some sort of edge tile.

Also, after giving the adhesive a chance to dry overnight we ran a bead of almond colored caulk along the top edge, just to give the whole thing a cleaner look.

Anyone else added some interest to their exterior recently?

July 15, 2011

Curb Your Enthusiasm

by Cait

Does anyone else ever feel like they are stylistically confused? As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve been planning a mini makeover for the front porch. I also mentioned in this post that the style we’re going for with the exterior of our house is rustic & electic modern with traditional & Spanish influences (no, I still have not figured out a better way to say that). 

This is what I’m considering:

door hardwarelight; paint color; mailbox; brushed nickel doorbell; house number; Mexican tiles; brass doorbell; iron doorbell; steel house numbers

We recently got a great deal on new front door hardware, thanks to Robert and our friend Lisa pointing out a mixup with price stickers at Lowe’s. It was actually marked $59.99 instead of $122, but the manager on duty would only go as low as $80. Legally we technically could have made him sell it to us for the marked price, but $80 sounded like a good deal to us. Robert & I bought one for our house, and Lisa & Jordan bought one for their new house. You can see our old hardware below, from when Robert & I were trying to decide on an exterior paint color (still no progress on that venture, but we’re thinking tan with light blue shutters.)

We decided on a new porch light (though I think the one at our Lowe’s is actually black instead of brushed nickel, which is fine with us). We’d also like to paint the ceiling a light blue from the Valspar Creative Ideas for Color line at Lowe’s, but we need to work on the porch ceiling. There are a couple of weird trim piece that need to be removed but we’re not sure if they are covering wires or just seams in the ceiling. Hopefully that will be fairly simple. (Famous last words?) 

sorry for the old, crooked iPhone picture

Then comes the issue of house numbers. Hopefully you understand that I don’t want to show you our actual house number, but I cant tell you it’s a DIY project we tackled pre-blog. I covered 6 inch ceramic tiles with scrapbook paper, stenciled the numbers on, and then we framed it with some molding we already had. The whole thing probably cost about $2 (for the scrapbook paper), and I’m ready for a change. I really like the idea of using Mexican tiles on the front of our steps (which is why I’ve pinned a few on my Curb Appeal board). I feel like these blue house numbers would go along with those  nicely with those tiles, and I also think they would pair well with our Swedish mailbox that Robert’s parents gave me for my birthday. 

On the other hand, I also like the style of these steel house numbers (and the idea that they could be backlit with LEDs).  I made a mock-up of how it would look if we mounted the steel numbers under the library window. Our current house numbers can be a bit hard to see up on the porch, even with the light on, and the tile numbers I’ve been eyeing are ever smaller. Maybe adding some well-lit ones beneath the window would help that?

Putting my Photoshop skillz to good use, though the tiles would be more random than that.

As for choosing a doorbell, I know that mixed metals are in right now, but I think it should probably be brushed nickel since it will be so close to the door hardware. I’m leaning toward the satin nickel one above, from Restoration Hardware. We’re going to have to figure out a way to move the doorbell to the right side of the door, because the ones we’re considering are probably too wide to fit in the same place as the current narrow one. Moving it to the other side may be tricky, thanks to the stucco/plaster wall and possibly having to rewire things in the attic. Here’s hoping we can work something out with all of that.

Replacing the doorbell sort of dovetails into an entryway project. If we replace the button we will probably end up also replacing the door chime, which is currently mounted on the wall to the right of the hallway entrance. Then that segues into a fireplace project because I want to remove the tile, which wraps around on three sides.

Very old photo, best one to show where the door chime is.

We’ll probably try to tackle the porch ceiling and light this weekend, and then work our way from there.

Do y’all have one design style or is it more of a hodgepodge like ours? What about mixing metals? And does anyone else notice that one project leads into the next, and the next, and so on?

July 6, 2011

Lighting the Way

by Cait

Thank you all for your well-wishes yesterday! I’m feeling much better now, and I’m turning my attention away from Grey’s Anatomy & How I Met Your Mother reruns and back to house-related topics, like exterior lighting.

It’s a subject I’ve touched on before, but we have yet to actually buy any. When we left off last time Robert and I had been planning on getting a couple of lights like the upper left for the backyard. Having looked at them in Lowe’s several times since then, we’ve decided  that we prefer the style of the  lower left light for the backyard (slash Robert used his veto power, and I agreed that the galvanized will look nice with the outdoor shower and eventual tank pool).

The light in the lower right is what we already have near the top of the driveway (we replaced it last year pre-blog when the old light began letting rain water in, which besides being generally unsafe was causing the bulb to shatter) and the upper right is what we are currently considering for the front porch. (Sidenote- we replaced the “boob” light from the former owners on pre-blog. Below is a super-old, super-crooked iPhone picture of our previous solution.) We also have these lights from Target strung across our porch.

cheap HomeGoods lantern turned porch light; worked like a charm for over a year

The  style we’re going with for the exterior of our house (at least for the front, but we’ll get to that later) is rustic & electic modern with traditional & Spanish influences*. Yes, that’s a mouthful. (Please, someone invent a design term for my style! If I have to coin a term it’s going to end up something like Dowisetrepla.)

So the question is: should our exterior lights on the front of the house coordinate with the ones in the backyard, or does it not matter? Generally speaking I’m a “buy what you love, the rest will fall into place” kind of person. I think the galvanized lights will fit better with the plan we have in mind for the backyard. We do have a corner lot, but for the most part you won’t be able to tell that the front and back lights are different styles.

What do you think? Do the front yard and backyard have to be cohesive? And also, does your design style mesh bewteen the interior & the exterior of your house or are they totally different?

*The direction of the backyard is a bit more rustic modern while the front of the house is (currently) more traditional. we’re working to make it more modern, with Spanish influences. (Both because of the area of town we live in, and the fact that we love some of the elements of Spanish houses, but more on that in another post.)

June 28, 2011

Guest Posting at Our Humble A{Bowe}d

by Cait

Today I’m guest posting over at Our Humble A{Bowe}d about our plans for the backyard, so be sure to check it out!

And a big welcome to anyone who is a first time reader! Thanks so much for stopping by!

June 14, 2011

Reclaimed Brick Patio: Day 3 and Still No Jackhammer

by Cait

I’m finally back with our progress pictures. But first, a before.

Weird Concrete

This is how it looked after the weekend’s hard work.

on Sunday

Yesterday it started pouring around right before we left work and because we had zero desire to use metal (and power) tools in the thunder & lightning we decided to take the night off. (Well, that and plus it kept pouring all night long). When I got home from work today Robert had it looking like this.

earlier today

We were planning on renting a jackhammer, but Robert decided he wanted to try a few more things first. What he ended up doing was drill a few holes into the thick concrete in a line and then sledgehammer the area where he drilled; apparently it works sort of like perforating paper. Then he was able to use the pry bar to further snap things along the crack that was created. Mostly I think he wanted to get all the way through without a jackhammer because he’s stubborn, but that hadn’t worked we definitely would have rented one this weekend.

While he was finishing that up I started tackling the wavy tile.

note the two types of tile, misaligned

I used two hammers in what I like the call the Jamie Hyneman Method  (except I used a rubber headed hammer instead of  two metal ones. Yes, that’s a “wubber headed hammer”, Mom). The plan it to rent a saw (what Robert refers to as “the regular one”, not a wet saw) to score a straight line about where the tile I have yet to remove ends and  as far down as the Frog Tape (which you can see in the first tile picture), which is right before that pile of rock I’ve been pulling out of the yard. Then we’ll retile with some terra cotta tile we got from my parents.

free terra cotta tile!

We’re hoping to use the square tiles in the back for next to the porch, because we have a plan for those lighter colored rectangular ones. Maybe you can guess what I want to do with them if you keep my love of exposed brick in mind.

Any guesses?

June 13, 2011

Reclaimed Brick Patio: Labor Pains

by Cait

Alternate title: The One In Which I Suggest We Change Our Blog Name to “Illegal Dumping”

For anyone who follows us on Facebook, you might have seen me talk a bit about the “weird concrete” in our backyard.

weird concrete in all its glory awkwardness

When Robert got home from work on Saturday we (meaning he) took a sledgehammer to the weird concrete and I loaded the pieces into the back of the truck. (Fun fact: When we put up our fence we didn’t plan on it, but his Ranger justbarely fits through the gate into the backyard. Granted it then got covered in some sort of sticky nastiness that dripped off our weed-trees, but it washed off ok.) My hamstrings (and I’m assuming Robert’s back and shoulders) want you to know that this process did not go as easily as I would lead you to believe on Facebook.

Saturday’s status update
Sunday’s status update

Sunday morning we resumed the process of trying to break the last three or so feet of concrete out. Forty minutes or so later we said “screw it” and decided to brainstorm while dumping the concrete we had already broken out. (I owe you pictures of that truck-load, I just haven’t pulled them off the memory card yet. Whoops.) While we were tossing our concrete into a dumpster (with the manager’s permission if you want to get technical, though he wasn’t working this time) I joked that we should change out blog name to “Illegal Dumping”.

To wrap things up, the first 22-24 feet of concrete busted out fairly easily because whoever put it down had no idea what they were doing. What we thought was rebar was actually just a couple of long bolts (which we’re guessing were connected to supports for a deck, maybe?) The last bit, the part Robert hammered on for 40 minutes and only managed to chip tiny pieces off of, is an L-shaped area where the long side of the L is the horizontal part in the foreground of the picture above. The concrete there was much thicker, as if they had a lot left over so they just dug deeper and dumped the rest in that area.

We’re thinking about renting a jackhammer for that last part (though Robert just texted me saying he’s still brainstorming other ideas). It’s about $200 cheaper than renting a saw would have been, and it should also help with chiseling up the tile. At the moment our plan for the tiled area is to square it off with (groan) more concrete and then re-tile the area using some terra cotta tiles we scored from the shed on some family property. In theroy it should coordinate well with the brick patio, cross your fingers for us!

Anyone else do anything house projects that left them sore this Monday morning?

June 3, 2011

Reclaimed Brick Patio: Budgeting

by Cait

Yesterday Robert went to a local stone and landscape supplies place to get quotes for sand, weed blocker fabric, plastic edging, polymeric sand and whatever else we might need for our patio.  (He has short work days on Tuesdays & Thursdays, so he usually does weekday-only errands on those days whenever he’s not in class.) I’m kind of a planner (despite the fact that I bounce from project to project) so we came up with a list of things we thought we needed for the patio while watching Criminal Minds the other night. After talking to the owner & several other employees at the landscaping company Robert determined that we not only don’t need gravel, but the 2″ of sand that I was thinking about (I guess to make up for the lack of gravel, or to make myself feel better) for a base is excessive in Florida. Also, apparently the plastic edging is also something you can skip as long as you are ok with the idea of having to redo the edge bricks every 10-20 years when they turn under/get buried by surrounding dirt.

919 Lime Rock, from the landscaping company’s website

I should mention that when I say “sand” what I really mean is what our landscape company calls “919 Lime Rock”. They list it as “compactable base material; pathways, wall footings, driveways, pavers, etc”, which sounds about perfect to me. As you can see from the picture above it kind of looks like a cross between sand and gravel, and Robert says it feels really weird. 

According to the the site, one cubic yard covers 162 square feet at a 2″ depth, so since we are planning on a 1″ depth for a 12×26 patio we can get away with only one cubic yard of 919. We are also thinking about getting  2-3 bags of polymeric sand to fill in the joints between the bricks (the guy said we can get away with 2 bags if we’re careful, so maybe we’ll go with 2).

weird concrete/tile in the area where the patio will go

The patio is going to go just slightly past the door in the picture above (about where that pile of river rock that I’ve been pulling out of the yard is rather than the end of the tile). We could have planned it much larger, but eventually we want to add a half bath off the living room (that will also have a door to the outside/patio) and the planner in me really doesn’t want to buy the materials (or the furniture!)  for a huge patio that we’re just going to have to redo when that happens.

Budget Breakdown:

  • 919 Lime Rock – $63/cubic yard
  • Polymeric Sand – $27.95/bag (need 2)
  • Delivery – $35 regardless of amount ordered
  • Weed Blocker – $12.97 for 3′ x 50′ at Home Depot (need 2)

Total: $179.84

We also have to get a quote on a tamper/compactor for the 919 base and possibly a concrete saw for cutting the weird concrete & tile seen in the picture above. Thankfully Robert knows some of the employees at local DIY and tool rental stores through work, so we may be able to get a deal on rental of those. Fingers crossed on that one. We may also need more “interior brick” (since we’re hoping the brick from Ryan’s dad will be enough for the perimeter), which is 40 cents a brick. So far though, $180 sounds a lot better than some of the patio costs I’ve seen, so I’m not too worried about the thought of tool rental or possibly needing more brick.

Another thing to keep in mind is that we’re trying to budget our exterior projects in a way that maximizes the amount of material we get for the delivery cost (since it’s $35 no matter what we order, assuming it all fits on one truck of course). We have been wanting to add some 1/2″ river rock around the house for improved drainage, we need a walkway to the outdoor shower, and I kind of want to make a wall beside the patio out of flagstone or fieldstone,  so maybe we will order some of those things. Whatever we decide to do will definitely get its own post and budget breakdown.

June 1, 2011

Reclaimed Space

by Cait

I’ve mentioned a few times how Robert and I want to work on the backyard this summer. We built the shower surround earlier this spring, and we had plans for a few other projects before it got derailed by the guest bathroom. Since I am impatient (and scatterbrained) I have been trying to come up with a more budget friendly idea for a patio or deck. Preferably something that we can do once and be done with it. We strongly considered trying to make a deck with pallets, but in the end we decided to go with a brick patio (partially because of this post on Re-Nest, and a bunch of pretty pictures on Pinterest).  

Brick seemed like the most economical option after poking around in the blog world, and especially after we found out that a local wrecking company has a very, very large pile of brick for 40 cents a brick. That price beats pants off of the cheapest patio pavers at Lowe’s or Home Depot, and it’s reclaimed, which makes me feel better than buying brand-spanking new pavers.

for scale, the smallest pile is probably about four feet high

We were lucky enough to get two smaller piles of reclaimed brick (the below is only half of it) from my parents and Ryan’s dad.

this is a Ford Ranger’s bed with about three layers of brick

My basic plan (especially after talking to Emily and hearing her & Pete’s experience) is to break up the weird concrete & tile, level & tamp the ground, weed block, add sand, lay the brick and fill in gaps with sand. I know that generally speaking it is recommended to use gravel after tamping the ground and before the sand (and that not doing so seems to go against my desire to “do once and be done with it”), but Emily said that neither her mom nor Pete’s parents used gravel and their patio/walkways have been fine. So, this is me throwing caution to the wind. Please hold any I-told-you-so’s until our plan crashes and burns, k?

We really don’t want a picture-perfect patio, we are much more drawn to the rustic look. Besides, our brick is reclaimed and a lot of them are broken in half anyway.

Last night (after half-off frozen yogurt, because I’m a cheap date) we were piling our second truck load of brick in the backyard and I pitched the idea of using the brick from Ryan’s dad (which is slightly larger) for the perimeter of the patio, and the brick from my parents (which we think came from my grandparents’ house) to fill in. If we need more fill-in brick we will buy some of the 40-cent bricks from the wrecking company, because it looks to be the same size and general style. 

Then I mocked up this design, but it looks to perfect and uniform (I was impatient and just made three basic brick sizes for the interior and then alternated them). Basically we want to stagger the rows of brick, sort of the way you stagger subway tile except that our brick is not anywhere near uniform.

Hopefully this post was less scattered than the previous two have been.

Does anyone else have patio plans in the works? I’ve been loving Rebecca & Mike’s patio.

May 24, 2011

Life of the Party

by Cait

I had a short day at work yesterday, so when I got home I spent a while clearing some underbrush out from along the fence line in the backyard. The below is the before. Sadly? The after doesn’t look much different (to me anyway – Robert says it looks much better, so that’s good).

Also I think I may have been weeding out Poison Sumac (or so says Google). Joyful. I didn’t follow any of the suggestions mentioned in the comments here on Re-Nest, but this morning I seem to be mostly rash-free. Sweet!

I’m going to pretend (for Robert’s very low-key party) that the yard has a fence like this:

from Cottage in the Oaks

And lights like this:

from Pottery Barn

In actuality (especially with the bathroom remodel & a tight budget), I think we’re going to string some already-owned mini-bulb Christmas lights up and I might use some left over fabric as a table runner (or turn it into a banner). Which is probably more Robert’s style anyhow, seeing as he doesn’t want to have a party. I guess what I’m planning is not so much a party as an informal gathering anyhow. We’re not really birthday people and a lot of the people we would have invited have kids’ birthdays and weddings going on that same day/weekend. 

from The Sweetest Occasion

So despite the fact that I want to spend $100+ on patio lights, make balloon garlands, tissue paper pom-poms, and just generally decorate the yard like the picture above, I think our budget is going to mainly be spent on food and drinks instead. Maybe we’ll have a just-beacuse party when the bathroom is done. 

That being said, here is my ideal backyard party design board if our budget were unlimited (although everything is pretty inexpensive or DIYed anyhow).

Anyone else have summer party plans in the works? I’d love to hear about your plans!