Archive for July, 2008
Let it NOT be said of me that I cannot admit my weaknesses… because I fully admit to you now that I am landscape challenged. It hurts me to say that I’m not good at visualizing something to do with my home, and yet for some reason I have a mental block when it comes to the yard. What’s making it especially hard is that I have an extremely low budget for any upgrades.
One of the big reasons for wanting to purchase this house was that my dogs would have a great place to play outdoors, and I’d be able to have people over as well. However, it turns out that what seemed to be rather simple has now turned into something much larger. (Isn’t that ALWAYS the way it happens?) So anyways…here are the issues to contend with:
- Extremely large mulberry tree in the back right corner. Presumably with a large root system as well.
- My yard slopes TOWARDS the house. Definitely need to fix that in some way.
- I have a basement window at ground level to where the yard is now…so a window well would need to be installed if I’m to fill in with more dirt.
- I need at least some some type of retaining wall in the lower left side of the lawn because of the sloping.
- I have an existing cement landing that can either be ripped down or built around, but obviously keeping it would save money.
So those are the big things to remember. I’d definitely like to have more (rather than less) space to entertain and enjoy outdoors. Currently the way that it is definitely doesn’t fit my aesthetic…nor does it make me want to have guests over. In fact, I’d be worried that someone would get hurt back there if I had more than 2 people over.
So here’s the original landscape design (Plan 1.0) drawn up by a local landscaper. Note that I LOVE it…it’s just that he said it would cost $20K to do it. (My reaction was to almost break down in tears when he told me the price. He got a little flustered when he saw that I started to tear up. It’s SOO far above my price range that I was speechless for about 5 minutes. Who knew landscaping was so damn expensive?)
This plan includes ripping down the existing landing, installing a curved retaining wall, brick patio, and steps up to a terraced lawn. Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE this plan. However, my pockets don’t run that deep. And me and N are all up for tackling some (or almost all) of the backyard ourselves, but we have no idea how to even get started! This was one of those moments when I seriously looked into calling a home makeover show. This was the first time in my life I would have EVER considered that by the way. However, as it turns out there’s no landscape related reality home makeover shows happening in Philly.
Well guys, I’m about to road test my first eco-friendly polyurethane. After reading a little bit about Low VOC poly on the internet, I decided I’d check into it. First off, it seems that a lot of regular hardware stores aren’t sure what “Low VOC” and “eco-friendly” means. Several people pointed me to just the regular water-based polyurethanes, which didn’t seem accurate.
So I went to the knowledgeable folks at Greenable who were able to give me lots of great info on this soy-based product. It was also comparably priced to regular floor sealers at $44/gallon. I like that it is self-levelling, and supposedly requires none to very little sanding in between coats!! (I’ll have to let you know about that in a subsequent post.) I also spoke to the people over at The Environmental Home Store to see what they offered. They’re actually in my neighborhood, and I really wanted to use their products…but at a cost of almost $85/gallon, I couldn’t justify the cost difference. (Their version wasn’t soybased, but rather some different Low VOC water-based poly that wasn’t self-levelling and seemed to require additional sanding.)
Besides just price though, the folks at Greenable went out of their way to break a 5 gallon container to sell me 2 gallons of satin finish [of which they were out of stock in the smaller size]. I loved Greenable’s knowledgeable staff and their customer service! I have to say that in today’s economy, I really appreciated that they were fighting for my business. It made me really happy to shop there. (So…kudos to Greenable’s staff!)
Meanwhile, soon I’ll let you know how my experience with Acri-Soy Poly-Soy Eco Procote Polyurethane works out. Cross your fingers!
*Update: Thanks to Angelo at Greenable for clarifying what I purchased. Since they broke the 5 gallon container into 2 smaller ones, I didn’t have a label and assumed [wrongly] that I’d gotten the Acri-Soy. At any rate, more info to come on the end result of the floor finishing eco-friendly style. But so far so good.
In an effort to spend as little money as possible on further renovations (because hey, I already spent too much as it is)…I’m playing a little game with myself to see just how low I can keep my costs. That means no more hiring people to do my floors for me (as in the kitchen). Because of this, I decided to refinish one of the guest bedrooms myself. However, as usual, nothing is ever as easy as it seems. I figured that I’d rent one of those big floor sanders, however it turns out that I can’t lift it by myself from out of the car, up my front steps, and onto my second floor. So tonight, I borrowed my neighbor’s orbital palm sander and went to work.
Yes, you read that right…I decided to sand the floors with a palm sander. Let it be said that they invented floor sanders for a purpose — that purpose being to make large scale floor sanding easier & quicker. However, let it also be said that it CAN be done with an orbital palm sander…assuming that you are crazy, cheap, and have time and brain cells to kill. For better or worse, I chose to not wait until someone could help me lift the large one and did it by hand instead. And sheesh, am I tired!
Today while exploring Etsy with their Geolocator tool (an awesome way to find locally-made product by the way), I discovered Wondercabinet’s shop filled with all sorts of magical creatures. Considering the fact that she’s been featured on several blogs before, I’m shocked that I’ve missed her work up to this point. (What rock have I been hiding under?!)
Her prints [done on old book pages] remind me of something discovered in a mad scientist’s laboratory. (Which is probably why I love them.) These particular ones are from her BEASTIARIUM series, and feature animal hybrids…such as a Half rabbit – half jellyfish…or part fox – part bird. At any rate, they make me want to be a kid again…and pretend. And that’s what makes them so great.
During sweltering summer days like these, I can’t help but be transported back to the Southern front porches that I grew up with. I could always expect to find sweet iced tea, a porch swing, and wicker furniture. For some reason lately I can’t stop thinking about how much I love wicker…and it got me looking on the internet for the best of the best that’s out there right now. (Remember that now is the perfect time to buy summer furniture because of all those season end sales!)
More after the jump (more…)
While in Maine several weeks ago, I discovered a great little store with prints by Marc Tetro. As it turns out, I’m a sucker for all things dog-related. (Well, okay, not ALL things. I am actually quite choosy when it comes to “doggie decorations.” For example, it boggles my mind how this item could be SOLD OUT at Wisteria. There are THAT many people that want it?)
Anyways, it was with great excitement that I discovered Marc’s prints because they’re fun, graphic, and affordably priced. The Boston terrier chasing the vacuum is the one I purchased as my memento from Maine…but there are a ton of other great ones at his online store. He also does self-framed canvas giclee prints, but personally I think the ones done on cardstock to be framed are a little nicer…
Thanks to Leah at More Ways to Waste Time and Holly at Decor8 for featuring my kitchen remodel on their blogs today!! I’m so glad that everyone likes the way the kitchen turned out!! It was a lot of hard work, but definitely worth it.
When I think of beautiful architecture, I rarely think of rustic landscapes or log cabins. And when someone says the word cathedral, I certainly NEVER think of simplicity and beauty of the sort that architectural photographer Richard Davies captured in his travels through rural Russia. This month’s issue of World of Interiors features his stunning photography. These structures are like nothing I’ve ever seen. It seems almost as if someone made them out of old popsicle sticks..and for some reason I feel compelled to own a HUGE print of one of them. If only I could track him down…and afford it.
More photos after the jump (more…)
Well, it’s been quite a few months since I moved into the new house, and quite a bit of that time was spent obsessing over the kitchen during the renovation process. Gutting it down the bones, and building it back. Well, finally I give you the before and after photos!!
More photos after the jump… (more…)