Outside – Current

I don’t know if you noticed that I used the word “tomorrow” several times in Thursday’s post about the state of our yard before we planted a bunch of stuff. That was intentional, so I would guilt myself into not putting off the follow-up post. But then I started to edit pictures and got all excited to show you what the yard looks like now anyway, so a self-nudge was barely necessary! And then? Chrome and WordPress decided to have a massive fight, which resulted in the browser crashing every other time I tried to insert a picture for the post. I struggled about halfway through it, but my bestest was coming for the weekend to visit, so I put it off anyway. Better late than never?

Away we go!

Tim’s mom is a pretty talented landscaper and has a bunch of really lovely gardens at both the family home and the lake house, so Tim wanted to get her opinion on what would work well in different parts of our yard. We all headed to Oakland Nursery, where we worked with one of their employees to narrow down our options more and pick some awesome plants for us. Sandy graciously bought all of our plants at Oakland as a joint birthday present for Tim and me. Thanks again, Sandy!

Our car was super-full of plants on the way home from the nursery! This was without getting any compost or mulch. And we got a few more plants (like the mums) at the second nursery we visited that day.

More inside! Plus, year-round interest!


Follow the red brick sidewalk

One of the things that we adore about the neighborhood we live in is the many historic touches. Parts of the streets are cobblestone (usually the parking lanes, while the center is paved, which I secretly like, because driving on cobblestones kind of makes my hands go numb) and the housing stock, while newer and less grand than our neighbors in Victorian Village a few blocks to the East, is a delightful mix of turn-of-the-century buildings, with some newer construction thrown in. One of the things we enjoyed about our house was a brick sidewalk running the width of our lot, one of two houses on our block where the old brick still existed. What we did not love about the sidewalk, however, was that it wasn’t in the greatest shape. Slightly undulating due to settling and an occasional tree root, it had some tough little weeds growing up between the bricks that we could never quite get rid of. There is tons of foot traffic in our neighborhood, so we had slight concerns about uneven bricks being a tripping hazard, but it wasn’t bad enough for us to deal with right away. We put “re-lay brick sidewalk” on our list of outdoor projects, along with “reconfigure brick patio,” “plant awesome-sauce garden in back yard,” and “figure out how to make a walkway from garage door to house.” (Speaking of undulating, our back yard has tons of little pits and hills. I am a giant klutz, so walking through it when the ground is frozen is like asking very politely to snap an ankle when I’m caught off-guard by an uneven part.)

After finishing the laundry room, we were pondering which project to take on next. We’d spent some time this summer doing some landscaping both in the front and the back of the house, so our brains were definitely thinking “outdoor.” (Also, we had pretty much decided on a plan of action for the front bedroom, which did NOT include ripping out plaster walls in the sticky heat of July.) The idea of the sidewalk came up, which we were originally planning to do ourselves. Just for comparison’s sake, Tim decided to get bids from a few different contractors. This is when we learned that the way our street is designated in the zoning, we’d need to put a bed of concrete down below the brick for it to be to code. (It’s weird, while our street is wider than some of the surrounding streets, we don’t even have a light at the end to get onto the East-West avenues to our north, nor does it really connect to anything major to the south. No idea why it’s zoned that way!) Re-laying bricks is something we could probably handle (we plan on doing the patio ourselves), but messing with concrete…we were happy to leave that to experienced professionals to get it right and to code.

The bids came in and it was…more than we had expected. The cost of putting the brick sidewalk back in over just laying down a new concrete sidewalk was also a tiny bit staggering. We took a week or two to muse it over. On the negative side, on our block, it’s just us and our neighbor with brick sidewalks left. (There are some stretches on surrounding blocks as well, but getting rid of it wasn’t going to, like, ruin the character of our block.) On the plus side, Tim mentioned that the brick will be extremely long-lasting and low maintenance, easier to care for in the winter, and it was a nod to the historic nature of the house. We’d intentionally not purchased a home in a subdivision in the suburbs (where, frankly, lots of homes don’t even have sidewalks), because we love the character of the urban neighborhoods and older homes. The guy with the most competitive bid even assured us he could reuse the brick from the existing sidewalk so it wouldn’t be, like, brand-spanking-new red brick. After lots of discussion, we decided to honor the history of our house and have the sidewalk re-laid with the brick.

We, of course, forgot to take a picture of the sidewalk before it got ripped up, but here’s a little pictorial of the construction and finished product. We could not be more in love with it!

The ripped-up stage. You can see our neighbor’s concrete sidewalk was a little crumbled where it met our bricks.

Our lovely new sidewalk inside!

Flashback – Upstairs Bathroom Demolition

Since we hadn’t planned on blogging our journey in renovating our house from the beginning, but wanted to document it, we ended up taking tons of pictures of the process. Periodically, I’ll be sharing some photos of the transformation of the upstairs bathroom, while we gear up for future projects. (We know what we want to do next, but September seems pretty late to be demolishing a bedroom that we expect people to be staying in when we host Christmas. Fall tends to get super busy for us, so we can’t count on as many solid working weekends as we can in, say, February.)

So how about some sooty, dusty pictures of a bathroom getting demolished? Sounds good, let’s get started!

Wielding a prybar and hammer was SO FUN! More inside!

Downstairs bathroom – cabinets and appliances

Previously on “Oh, lord, can we please do laundry in our own home again”: we ripped up half a bathroom and then we put a bunch of finish materials in (with some plumbing and electrical work in between that I did not photograph).

We wanted the laundry room to be as functional as possible, so we thought about what things might give it a boost. Raising the appliances up meant we wouldn’t be stooping to pull things out of the dryer (and Tim checked to make sure our platform would also work for current popular appliance models, so when we’re ready to upgrade, everything should still work out fine). We didn’t want the window to be blocked, so we replaced it with a smaller one. We also knew that storage would come into play, keeping all of the necessary laundry powders and soaps nearby, along with some stain treatments and a bucket of clothespins, etc. We hunted around for some cabinets and then found some awesome options on sale in an outlet in Columbus, with tons of different widths, so we could maximize the amount of cabinet along the length of the wall.

More “finished” laundry room inside!

Downstairs bathroom – framing and flooring

I like to think of the next phase of the laundry room construction as “boy are we glad that we now have appropriate nail guns.” We did all of the framing work in the upstairs bathroom with a normal hammer (and by we, I mean Tim, because it turns out that I do not have the kind of power it takes to drive framing nails, eesh), and Tim kept talking about how we’d get an air compressor and nail guns for future projects. It turns out that they make things go so very much faster. We built a platform to raise the washer and dryer off the floor (we considered putting storage under the platform, but looking at drawer kits, we quickly realized that we weren’t going to gain a whole lot in storage and it didn’t seem worth the trouble), as well as reworking the area around the door we removed and the window we replaced. The heavy duty nail gun made those projects…not a breeze per se, but certainly move much more quickly. Then we busted out the finish nailer for some trim.

Here you can see the platform in all its glory. It had to be pretty hefty to guarantee to hold the weight of a washer full of water and a dryer of wet clothes, but we’re pretty sure it isn’t going anywhere.

The nail gun makes me either think of Tim the Tool-Man Taylor or The Wire. I think both references are fine. More inside!

Stained glass door panel

So, as I mentioned in the post on prairie-style stained glass, Tim and I worked with the Franklin Art Glass Studio to create a custom piece to go in the door to our bathroom. We walked in with printouts of a lot of those Frank Lloyd Wright art glass pieces that I’d pinned, and sat down to talk options. The guy from the studio (and this is so long ago, that unfortunately I don’t remember anyone’s names, but honestly EVERYONE we talked to there was exceedingly nice, please check them out if you need custom work done) sketched on a few of our drawings, showing how the proportion of our door would make each one look, and we decided on altering this piece from the F. F. Tomek House to be two repetitions wide instead of 3. The next step was waiting for one of the glass artists to draw up the pattern at full scale.

We went in a few weeks later to approve the pattern and pick out glass colors. This was such a fun process. The glass studio had marvelous big tables for drawing and laying out the glass pieces and it made me very nostalgic for architecture school. There was a whole wall of windows with sliding racks on them for looking at different small pieces of glass. We had brought in a scrap of our glass mosaic tile so we could color-match where possible. Once the artist pulled the larger pieces of glass from the samples we chose, he set them up on these skinny little rails along the windows, so we could see what they’d look like with light coming through them. This was especially helpful for the textured glass, so you could tell at what distance things were obscured by the texture.

Actual glass colors, finished panel, and bonus accessories inside!