operation: walkways is a go

We just embarked on yet another project at Firefly Cottage! As you may recall, we had a paver walkway going from the sidewalk to the front door, and it was not in the best shape. Pavers were coming up in areas and the steps especially were not sturdy despite repeated attempts to shore them up.

The leaves are turning at Firefly Cottage

The paver patio type area at the front was also not great. After we had the trees cut down last year, a billionty ants that had been living in the dead-inside Box Elders migrated and made little hills in between the pavers. I’m loathe to use any kind of chemicals in the yard, so we have sort of just been giving them a lot of side-eye and wishing they’d relocate. Hopefully they will find other spots in the yard to live now that their homes are once again being disrupted.

More rocks removed, soil added

The walkways around the side of the house and between the garage and the back gate were also not awesome – there were several different generations of paving at different levels, and all of it was extremely close to the house and very narrow. You can kind of see how narrow in this photo:

Trees removed (stumps not ground yet)

We decided that having stamped concrete in the front would look nice, while on the side and between the house and the garage, we don’t really care that much and regular plain sidewalk will do. It will all be easy to snowblow, shovel, and sweep, as well as be safe for walking on. While we’re at it, we are having the downspouts replaced with underground ones. There’s really no other way to do it without having either (a) water pour right down next to the foundation or (b) downspouts as a trip hazard over the walkways. A is a massive NO WAY, and we want to get away from B, so a buried system it is. So! Yesterday they started digging up the old pavers and concrete.

Walkway project day one lunch time

Would you believe they found an entire sidewalk buried under a layer of sand underneath the pavers? They did! Apparently it must have been easier in their minds to just install the pavers over top of the old sidewalk – seems odd, but that’s probably par for the course in terms of former homeowners’ DIY projects.

Walkway project day one lunch time

Things looked pretty torn up when I went home for lunch yesterday, but that is the first step!

Walkway project day one lunch time

When I came home, the mason quickly stopped working the Bobcat to reassure me that they would not leave things a mess. I didn’t expect that they would, but it’s nice to know that it’s on his mind. Next we move on to digging the downspout system and laying the framework for the new walkways.

Share

Things That Are Awesome: Manhattan Nest

There are plenty of home improvement-focused blogs out there, but so many of them are just product/brand-placement in disguise and/or feature such pricey projects and objects that they are completely out of my world. Not so with Manhattan Nest!

Manhattan Nest

This home blog has it all. Manhattan Nest is the story of a DIYer, Daniel, working on his home (and other projects), learning by doing, and putting it all out there – successes AND projects that didn’t go quite as planned. Throughout everything, he provides a hilarious narrative and manages to maintain a positive attitude regardless of what happens.

It’s so refreshing to see a blogger post pictures of their yard when it’s a complete mess, full of weeds and all uneven – EXACTLY like every yard I’ve ever had has started out! Maybe because so many other blogs are heavily sponsored, they’re afraid to post the ugly before pictures? Or the bloggers start out with something professionally landscaped and then just change it up? Well, in the world I live in, we start out with a neglected or at the least imperfect mess – and so does Daniel. And he manages to incorporate sponsors with ease, so it’s not obtrusive at all.

He’s got an immense appreciation for restoring and salvaging historical details BUT he also balances this with a realistic approach. Not every awesome detail can be saved, no matter how much ones loves it, and he provides a ton of examples of situations where he figured something out to preserve the character if not the original materials. He’s also not afraid to do things the way he wants them. Not sure the neighbors will love your black-stained fence, but truly believe it’s the best choice? DO IT.

Most of all, his candor about that feeling one gets partway into a big project – you know the one, where you feel like you have taken on far too much and the idea of it ever being completed or even just salvaged back to a usable state seems impossible? He gets that feeling! And he admits it! And he sees the humor in it, which helps me, as the reader, to feel a bit better when I have that feeling myself.

If all this isn’t enough, he also has adorable dogs. Just go look at any post – you won’t regret it!

Share

Project Bathroom: De-80s-ification

I have finally given in and am going to do some cosmetic updates to the bathroom. I kept saying that we’d wait to do anything to it until something broke and/or we had the money saved up to redo it completely, but I’m just so sick of looking at it in its current 1980s glory. Peach and forest green, who would’ve thought that color combo wouldn’t age well?

Of course I can’t quite decide what’s the best way to kick these 80s to the curb, so I am asking for your input! Here, so you can get the idea, are some pictures of the room in its current state.

bathroom: before

As you can see, it’s not a large room. It’s 60″ wide from wall to wall, and about 80″ from the door to the tub. This is going to be a purely cosmetic redo – we’re not moving pipes, we’re not ripping out the shower insert (even though it hides a window. Thanks, stupid former owners!), and we’re not planning to do anything that could appear to be a quick fix but then turns into a major freaking deal. Which happens 150% of the time in bathroom and kitchen redos, right?

Also, I’m thinking that since this floor is peel-and-stick vinyl tile, we can just stick a new layer of peel-and-stick vinyl tile on top, right? Maybe sand it first? It doesn’t have a texture, really, so it should just stick on, right? (Someone please tell me this is as easy as it looks.)

To the left:

bathroom: before

You can’t really see it behind the towel, but there’s a Totally Awesome old laundry chute on this wall.And ofcourse the best shower head! I made fun of it when we first looked at the house but I have come to completely adore it. Everything falls into a laundry basket right near the washing machine. It’s perfect!

To the right:

bathroom: before

You can see the “vanity” here. I put that in quotes because in reality it is just a bunch of plywood assembled into a vanity-shaped object. But I fear that removing it will make chaos ensue, so we’re going to repaint it and call that good enough.

And here is Hideous Light Fixture #1. The 80s loved their theatre dressing room lights, didn’t they? We also have the “medicine cabinet”, which is really just a void in the wall and these two framed mirrors attached as doors. Removing the doors to paint and then putting them back up doesn’t seem like it would be too dangerous. Also it’s HUGE compared to most medicine cabinets and I really don’t want to decrease the amount of stuff we store there.

bathroom: before

From the back (in the shower):

bathroom: before

Bonus dog appearance!

And up above:

bathroom: before

And that is Hideous Light Fixture #2. Which, like a lot of things here, should probably be in quotes. It is a recessed area in the ceiling, framed with the plainest base trim molding available at Home Despot, with a basic fluorescent tube fixture mounted right in the middle. Yep, right where that aluminum slat rests to hold up the two pieces of plexi or whatever the hell that stuff is. I struggle to imagine what the person who installed this was thinking.

I put out a quick paint color poll on twitter/fb earlier this week and a lot of people recommended going with other shades of grey, since the fixtures are grey. I picked up a couple of paint chips at Home Despot and set them on the oh-so-lovely green faux marble countertop to see how they look.

bathroom: before

What do you think? Is there some other color that would tie together the green of the countertop and the grey of the fixtures? Or is introducing another color just pushing it? There do seem to be a fair number of greeny grey paints out there. As you can see above, the towels we have right now are either purple or a wheat sort of color (same as the bathmats.) (They went with the decor in the bathroom at our previous house.) And what can we do about these light fixtures? I’m ALL EARS, people!

Share

driveway

Our driveway has had cracks in it since we bought the house nearly five years ago, but one section has been getting worse.

driveway

The cracks here are to the point where they interfere with snowblowing – you have to remember where they are and try to remember to lift up the snowblower so you don’t catch it on the lip of the crack. Not the thing one usually thinks about while blowing snow.

You can also see in this next photo that the entire driveway has clearly shifted down from where it once was, evidenced by the line of old adhesive/tar stuff that once theoretically sealed the house and the driveway. The difference in height gets larger the closer you get to the front of the house (furthest away in this photo).

driveway

So this means that I am now researching concrete repair and figuring out what makes the most sense. Do we have that pad fixed by one of those places that drills holes and squirts stuff in to level it out? Do we have that pad replaced? Can we just have that pad replaced and leave the others as-is? Anyone who has experience to share will be thanked profusely!

driveway

Share