Backyard Update – Lots of Paint!

Those who follow me on Instagram may have seen some snapshots of my progress with this project this week (@apluscphotography). I have been busy painting all of our finds for the backyard in shades of white and cream so things will look more cohesive and like my dream shabby chic garden. I went through a few different types of paint before I found the ones that I liked the most. I ended up settling on two from Rustoleum (I found both at The Home Depot). I have been painting early every morning while our baby is sleeping, and again while he naps in the afternoon.
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For our bridge, I wanted a slightly textured look, so I used the Multicolored Textured paint in the cream color. For the rest of the items, I found that I liked the Ultra Cover Paint + Primer in Heirloom White the best. The add-on handle really helped cut down on my arthritis pain from when I broke my fingers and wrist (relying on a bicycle as your method of transportation in Los Angeles is dangerous business).

I tried some other paints first and the whites were too cold and didn’t provide enough coverage. I absolutely love the warm, creamy tone of the Heirloom White. I am hoping to finish up painting today so my husband can start trenching the irrigation lines tomorrow morning! 🙂

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Kitchen Preview!

The kitchen isn’t completely finished, but it is finally functional!  My husband has a few more projects left to finish in here (trim, tile backsplash, etc.), but we have decided to put those projects on hold temporarily.  With the baby coming in just a few months, we need to finish getting the rest of the house organized.  Once everything else is a little less chaotic around here, he will come back and finish the remaining details with the kitchen (and I will do a fully detailed kitchen post then).

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Just in case you were wondering…the cabinets are still covered with their protective film.  I am leaving the plastic on until the knobs and pulls that we ordered arrive.  🙂

Kitchen Remodel

Our plans for this kitchen have changed so many times in the past 7 months.  We originally wanted to keep as much of the kitchen intact as possible to reduce the amount of waste that we would be contributing to a landfill.  Home improvement shows always talk about kitchen remodels with “eco-friendly materials”, but no one ever addresses how much landfill waste is generated with each remodel.  We planned to keep as much of the existing kitchen as possible and make it work for us.

Plan A was to clean and repaint the existing cabinets, update them with some new hardware, and replace the existing cheap, chipped laminate countertops with new bamboo countertops.  We also planned to keep the existing floor tiles since they seemed to be in decent shape and we kind of liked them.  We soon realized that using the existing cabinets would not really be possible since they were falling apart, and they were dirty beyond the point where any reasonable amount of cleaning would help the situation.  Some of the pieces were even missing, and that plan got thrown out pretty quickly.

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Plan B involved removing the existing cabinets and quickly replacing them with some cabinets salvaged from my aunt & uncle’s recent kitchen remodel.  The cabinets were only a couple of years old, so we figured that would be a great low-cost and environmentally friendly option (saving their old cabinets from the landfill, yay!).  We planned to get the cabinets in and set up, and then repaint them after they were installed (in the interest in saving time and work space).  We were still planning to use the bamboo countertops, so we went ahead and ordered them, thinking it would take a while for them to be delivered (it did not – they came way faster than we expected).

Once the original cabinets in our house were removed, we quickly realized that replacing them would not be as simple as we had thought.  There were holes in the wall, areas of missing drywall, no exterior insulation, and many other problems.  My husband then had to make the decision to tear out all of the walls and fix all of the problems before putting the cabinets in place.  That was the longest part of our kitchen remodel, which got stretched out over many months with him being gone out of town quite a bit of that time (for work and with prepping our Texas house for sale).

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Here he replaced the window, and found a very clever way to repurpose some found materials.

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It turned out that there were actually three layers of wall that needed to be removed.  Once the walls were finished, we now had a huge gap of space where the existing tiles did not cover the floor all around the kitchen.  There were also spots under the old cabinets where there were no tiles at all.  As much as we didn’t want to rip out the old tiles, we felt we were left with no choice.  My husband ripped out the old ceramic tiles and began replacing them with the new marble tiles that we picked out.

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We planned to set aside the usable cabinets that were originally from our kitchen and save them for when my husband builds us a garage (originally high on the priority list).  However, we have had to adjust the priorities around here quite a bit lately and the garage project has unfortunately gotten demoted to the bottom of the priority list with the new baby on the way.  We may end up donating those cabinets since it is driving us nuts to have cabinets sitting around in the yard and patio.

At this point, my husband started seriously evaluating our plan to repurpose my aunt & uncle’s old cabinets.  His original plan for those cabinets involved cutting apart and rebuilding many of them to get them to meet the sizes we would need.  We would also need some additional cabinets to fill in some areas where we had nothing that would work.  Before we started any of the kitchen remodeling, we picked out and ordered our appliances, countertops, and our farmhouse style kitchen sink, all of which have been sitting around in various rooms of our house, still in boxes.  The salvaged cabinets would not fit the microwave vent combo or the farmhouse sink, and would need some major modifications.

Life with a pregnant woman with multiple food allergies and no kitchen in our home has not been easy for my husband.  This kitchen remodel dragged on way more than either of us ever expected.  We also did not expect that I would be pregnant in the middle of the whole thing.  Given all the things on his plate currently (work, a year+ long intensive training program for his work which involved a lot of traveling, fixing up & trying to sell that house in Texas, etc.), he was afraid that it would take him another number of months to get those salvaged cabinets functional for our needs.  As much as we weren’t looking forward to another huge expense at this moment, we decided the best option was to move onto Plan C.

Plan C meant donating those salvaged cabinets and ordering new ones.  It all actually started when I was at Home Depot looking for more paint swatches, saw a Martha Stewart Kitchens catalog and brought it home for organizing ideas.  I kept telling him how nice it was that they gave away such a beautiful catalog for free. 🙂  Next thing we know, I am obsessed with a particular style in the catalog and we are in the store ordering all new cabinets.  They said the cabinets would take a minimum of five weeks to be ready, but (surprise!) we got a call that they were ready for delivery way earlier than we expected (so they had to sit in our living room for a while).

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The cabinets being ready early was both good news and bad news.  The flooring was not finished yet, and we had not had a chance to donate the two sets of cabinets that have been cluttering up all of our spare rooms, side yard, patio and trailer.

Originally, I was planning to stencil the accent wall in the kitchen with a large scale stencil that I ordered.  However, I have been having some problems with my pregnancy, including a trip to the emergency room due to way too early contractions.  I have been put on bed rest for the time being and have not been able to work on any of the projects with the house that I had planned for the past few weeks.  The kitchen walls will just have to be solid yellow until I am feeling a little better.  I also have not been able to work on the gardening at all, which unfortunately means all of my second season veggie garden plans have been postponed for the time being. 😦

Here is a quick preview of all of the progress my husband has made on the kitchen lately…almost functional!
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Unexpected Summer Project #3: Prepping Our Texas House For Sale

Just when my husband had taken a bunch of vacation days to try to work on hopefully finishing up our kitchen, he found out that something much more urgent had come up….

When my husband lived in Texas, he purchased a space of empty land, and built a house from scratch, for some of his family members to live in.  With the help of his dad, they spent weekends and vacation days building this house.  He put his heart into designing the house to be as energy efficient as possible, and did a really nice job with the design of the house.  There were a few cosmetic finishing touches that he never got around to finishing, but the house was finished enough for family members to rent out.

When he recently found out that the current tenants were vacating the premises, it came as quite a shock.  We figured that the place needed to be cleaned up, and those finishing touches needed to be completed.  We did not expect how much time it would take my husband to get the place ready for renting or selling.  Originally we planned that I would fly out there, do a bunch of the cleaning, yard work, and painting.  However right after everything happened, we realized that I was not medically able to fly for a little while.  In addition to that, I am not experienced or strong enough to handle tasks like finishing the skirting on the house, redoing the deck, and laying down paver stones for a walkway (tasks my husband had to tackle).

My poor husband had to end up taking much of his vacation time to work on cleaning up the house and finishing the projects needed on the outside of the house, all in the middle of Texas summer heat.  After that still wasn’t enough time, he had to fly back and forth so he could be at work during the week here in California, and out there in Texas on the weekend to work on the house.  I barely saw my husband for a month…it was a difficult time.

We were originally planning to find new tenants to rent the house.  However, managing a property in another state is quite a daunting task.  My husband works too much at his full time job to have to worry about flying out for a week at a time every year to clean up the house every time a tenant moves out.  I have some major changes coming up in my schedule that will not make it feasible for me to fly out to handle the clean up either.

As much as we love the house since he built it himself, we have decided to put the house on the market for sale.  Life is constantly throwing unexpected changes and challenges at us, and we decided simplification is best at this time.  Although it is unfortunately not the best time to put a house on the market for sale (especially now since school has started), we decided that for us, the benefits of simplifying our life outweighs any potential gain we might get from selling at a later date.  We are hoping for a relatively quick sale!

In case anyone is interested, here is the link for the house!  The kitchen and master bath make our current home seem so inferior, but they give me so much hope for what I have to look forward to! 🙂

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Patio #1 Updates!

I have been quite busy lately reworking everything in the main patio.  We realized that it was poor planning on our part to mix in the dwarf fruit trees with the flowers in the planters for watering purposes, and that it would be better for both if they were segregated into their own areas.

Since the planters have two levels, there are a few distinct zones now.  The upper level was already primarily roses, and we are leaving it like that (I added in some more flowers between the roses).  The upper level in the area closest to the house was originally overrun with weeds and ivy when we moved in.  We found some roses on sale that were too good of a deal to pass up, and those are placed up there, waiting for us to be ready to plant them.

The lower level by the fire pit now has just the dwarf almond tree, one of our 3 dwarf lemon trees, and a dwarf kumquat tree.  There is also a straggler artichoke that is waiting to be relocated, but I need my husband’s help with removing a large stump in the flower bed area where the artichoke will find its new home. 🙂

The lower level closer to the house is now completely dedicated to flowers.  I dug up and divided some of the shasta daisies.  They don’t look all that great at the moment, but I am hoping that they will be hardy enough to recover being divided  and replanted at a less than ideal time of year (ideally this should be done in early spring, but that wasn’t really an option since we were busy closing escrow at that time!).

When I was reorganizing all of the planter beds, I realized that there were a lot of hidden plants from previous owners!  There were tons of tiny little begonias planted behind and under the shasta daisies, away from sight.  I also found an asparagus fern which was very sad and droopy in nearly full sun.  I relocated the begonias and fern to my partial shade garden in the front, and they are so much happier!  I also found a large spider plant, which I happily divided into plantings for tons of hanging planters around the pergola.  Nothing like finding free plants that you didn’t know that you had!

I also finished out my decorating plan for this space…the theme of this patio is Texas Bohemian!  It is really inspired by a lot of the amazing funky boutiques my husband has taken me to all over Texas.  We have two patios, and decided to go with a “his and hers” decorating style for them.  Since this is the patio where the barbeque is located, this is “his” patio.  I made sure I didn’t use any pink in the decorating here. 🙂  My patio will be a little different…post coming soon!

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