Follow along as we adjust to life on the farm and attempt to bring a little urban sophistication to prairie living.
read more

Search
Tuesday
Apr152014

Front yard landscaping—what we're starting with

Spring seeding season has begun around here, so it will be a few weeks before we have any time to work on outdoor house projects. Until then, I am trying to get myself excited and motivated for the work involved. I thought I would share my plans with you, and since I have a lot to share, I'm going to spread it out over a series of posts. I welcome your suggestions and feedback!

If you need a refresher on what we are working with, here are some posts about yard projects we've done to date:

Our farm house—on the outside (August 2010);  Yard progress (June 2011);  Paint your front door (October 2011);  Don't try this at home (putting in our rock staircase, October 2011);  Landscaping project update (lower yard finished, November 2011)

Here's what we started with:

So far, we have replaced the front door, roof and gutters. I also painted the exterior sconces. This past fall we were able to keep one of our harvest hired hands (Jake) on for a little longer and he and I worked together to paint almost all of the trim on the house. (What a job!) 

Jake also used a grinder to get all the ugly chipped blue paint off of the concrete steps. So here is my first question for you. Should I leave the front steps as-is (nice and simple) or dress them up by staining and sealing them? What would look more modern?  I definitely have some other work to do to dress things up: a new doormat, new planters, and possibly a bench. Now it more closely resembles the original colors.

The areas we plan to tackle now are the two small front/side yards. We have the yard to the left of the front door (I'll call this the patio) and the yard between the house and shop (I'll call this the courtyard). Previously they were both planted into grass, but because we often have water shortages, they haven't been watered consistently and they had turned into weed/dirt patches. It was a hassle to mow them. 

This is the patio side before:

(From the opposite angle) This is the patio side today:

We plan to leave the existing concrete border/planters, even though they are a bit rough in places. Last fall we removed this side of the deck (the entire deck needs to re-decked, and it desperately needs a new railing.) This side will be rebuilt altogether because we intend to put a patio door in place of the window (that is why that window trim is still blue). The deck will wrap around and extend all the way under the door.

We also excavated all the grass/dirt out. Tom installed PVC drainage pipes to extend the gutter drainage. Next steps will be to build this back up with a gravel base and install hard-scaping (more on that later).

 

Now for the courtyard side: 

This isn't the best photo to show this, but most of the plants here were grossly overgrown. There was a tree that was cut back (again and again) to avoid growing into the power line, a couple of dead junipers, and somewhere back there a rickety fence and a fireplace. (Yes! An outdoor fireplace!)

Today it looks like this:

We excavated this out very odd-shaped yard to prep for hard-scaping also. We removed all of the overgrown bushes and trees. (The evergreen is probably too close to the house and maybe should have been taken out also, but for now we just limbed up the bottom. Now you can see the (partially dismantled) fence and that fireplace!

The fireplace was built by my uncle years ago, but we don't use it for a couple of reasons. The firebox is set too far forward so the smoke doesn't ventilate out the chimney as intended. Instead it just comes out the front into your face. Secondly, it sits pretty close to the house, and obviously that tree is in the way. 

So, here is my second question. Should we keep the fireplace? If we want to actually use it as a fireplace it will probably need to be moved and modified. We might be able to add some sort of hood extension that would help it ventilate properly. We could move it to the other side closer to the shop, but our propane tanks sit behind that fence. Or, we could leave it where it is and plant flowers in it. I do like it, but maybe it doesn't fit with my modern vision? 

Coming up—I'll show you what that vision is.

Monday
Apr072014

a few new things

Happy Monday, my friends. It is a glorious and sunny day outside and I should be out enjoying it for a change. Too much computer work to catch up on today. 

Since I'd rather do anything other than book work I will procrastinate and share a few of my winter acquisitions instead. 

Last fall I shared this photo on Instagram. I had been saving for a while to purchase a rug for our living room, and I had narrowed my options down to this shag carpet (that I would have bound into a 9 x 12 rug). I was deliberating on a color and looking for advice. I was leaning toward one of the medium green/grays shown. You see, I didn't want to make a wrong decision since it would cost me approximately $1200 to have it made. Ouch.

Around this time, Sam's Club was offering some shag rugs in their store. You know, Sam's Club! The store everyone turns to first for their decorating needs, right? Ha. I had seen the rugs there and had dismissed them as an option because the colors werent' quite perfect. They were also 8 x 10, when 9 x 12 seemed more ideal for my space. Nevertheless, the price tag ($250) made me take a second look.

I brought a gray rug home with me, but it was too steel-colored. Too cold for this room. I went back and purchased the light cream rug to try instead. And, well, it stayed! 

I was pretty sure the light color would be a bad decision, but since it is out of the way of main traffic areas, it seems like it is going to be okay (excepting any accidental spills come it's way). For less than a quarter of the cost, I decided it was worth the risk. 

The cozy factor of this rug is the best. And it does a great job of anchoring the space and absorbing sound.

The 8 x 10 size seems to work okay. I just put the front legs of all my furniture over the rug. I also kept my cowhide rug in the room and layered it underneath.

I thought I would point out that I just love the function of the u-shape furniture layout in this room. The room is fairly large, but instead of hugging the walls the furniture floats in the middle, focused around the central ottoman. At New Year's time we had company over and all gathered around the ottoman to play games. There is plenty of seating, but a few sat on the cushy new rug as well.

Some of my furniture in this room is getting a little tired. The couch style is dated and no longer my taste, and the finish on the leather is peeling (odd!). The ottoman is showing a lot of wear too. At some point I would love to update... but I am going to be patient and look for the right things. (I couldn't commit and ended up missing out on this Craig's list sectional. I did get bids to reupholster and they were $1600–$2200, not including the cost of about 25 yards of fabric.) At least for now I am happy with how this room has evolved, and especially with how it functions.

Back in the hallway I added another new element—these stainless picture rails from Crate and Barrel

I had a bunch of gallery frames from our house in Utah to display. It was fun to get them out again, but since we moved right before Eva was born, I definitely need to update them all to include her!

The hallway where they are displayed leads to two of the girls' rooms and bathroom. This is a good shot to show you what the doors look like in my house. They are inexpensive hollow core doors that I really want to replace. I keep debating whether or not to paint them and update the hardware—or if it is really worth the work. Maybe we will get around to replacing them first! (The cool light fixture was $6 from the Habitat for Humanity Restore).

And back to the topic of rugs, I encountered this awesome Nate Berkus rug on clearance at Target recently. (Sorry, it's no longer available!) I wanted it to work in my bathroom, but it was the wrong shape. I then tried it in the kitchen—and while it looked awesome, I knew I wouldn't be able to tolerate it. It didn't stay put well enough (even with a rug pad) and this area sees WAY too much traffic and food. It had to go back to the store, but not before I shot a photo of just how perfect it looked.

So there you have it; a few of the smaller tweaks we made to our house this winter. Now with the nicer weather my thoughts are turning to outdoor projects. My next post(s) will tell you all about it!

Wednesday
Mar262014

Utah getaway

Tom and I had really been wanting to get away before the spring farm work kicked into high gear, so we finally decided to combine a little fun with a business trip and drive to Utah for a few days. We left the kids with my Mom and Dad.

Driving without kids for a change is liberating! We stopped along the freeway at the Calf-A for some yummy lunch. It's a cute little spot in an old school house. Once we got there we stayed a couple of nights downtown and enjoyed the views. 

 

The morning after we arrived we were pulling our car out of Marriott parking and the attendant suggested we might want to get a car wash. Ha. Yes, well, we had gotten a car wash only a week before but the next day it had snowed and rained. So, we took his advice and found the closest car wash which was one where you leave your car to be washed and go inside to pay.

When I got to the cashier she said "Was that your SUV that just pulled in?" 

"Well, yes".

"What HAPPENED?"

Uh, normal life on gravel roads in the middle of Montana, I guess! Made me laugh. Welcome to the city.

 

Tom had lunch with his old coworkers, and I had lunch with some favorite besties:

Of course we made a point to visit some of our favorite restaurants: Red Iguana, Pawit's Royale Thai, Cheesecake Factory, Zupas, and Rumbi. We each gained at least 5 pounds on this trip, I'm sure.

Like I said, this was part business trip, and we did a LOT of shopping. This isn't the first time we've filled up a car with (mostly) Ikea merch, but this time it was mostly for clients. At this point we were wondering if we would have room for our suitcases!

We stayed two more nights in our old 'hood at our old neighbor's house. (No photos- ack!) We had a game night with them, just like old times. On the way out we did a little "drive-by-shooting" of our old house.

When we got back home my neighbor texted to say that their was a new for-sale sign in front of our old house and were we sure we wouldn't just want to move back? :) 

I did manage to buy a couple of things for myself, of course. We had a chance to visit the infamous HomeGoods store, which came to Utah about the time we moved. I wouldn't mind having one of these near home to frequent. Anyway, this cushy flokati rug was just too good to pass up. 

 

We could have used a few more days, but we were glad for the days we had. The weather was balmy and warm, and we returned home to Arctic cold. Brrr. 

Monday
Mar172014

Eva's room

Thank you ever so much for your nice comments about our bath renovation last week! Just for that, I have another before and after post for you!

We completed this project in just over a week. We didn't do any major design back flips or murals in this room though. Like I said before, our goals became a little more practical, and a clean canvas is a great place to start. 

We already had everything just as it is—we just scraped and textured the ceiling, patched and repainted the walls, put in new flooring, and replaced all the trimwork—then moved it all back in. Oh- we did add a new light fixture and rug. 

My before photo was taken back when this room functioned more as a nursery and Eva was still in a crib, but you can see that everything was VERY blue. The carpet was original, and we were pretty anxious to get it out of her room because Eva was suffering from what we thought might be dust allergies.

Here is an even earlier before photo—back before we moved into the house. Pink and blue!

The built-ins used to have doors in the lower portion, but they were difficult to slide open. We removed them to make the shelves more functional for toy storage.

 

And after—whew! Relief from all that blue. And this is a north facing room!

The room still needs window treatments. I have white linen and all the supplies to sew roman shades.

Her bed is a Craig's list find from quite awhile back, though I never blogged about it. I was saving it for this post! I love LOVE both girls' antique beds!

The shelves took for-ever to paint. I lost track of how many coats it took to cover the blue with white. 

But they sure are great for storage!

The mirror was a prop I purchased for a photo I styled at my former job. I always loved it so I was able to buy it back from the photo department a couple of years after I left!

Simple, clean, and fit for a princess. One more room completed!

SOURCES:

  • flooring: Ikea Tundra in white
  • bed: vintage
  • quilt: Land of Nod, no longer available
  • bench: Land of Nod, no longer available
  • mirror: vintage
  • school chairs: vintage
  • Chandelier: Ikea Kristaller
  • Rug: Home Decorators Collection, Cozy Shag Rug in Hot Pink
  • Closet curtain: custum sewed by moi
  • Mirror in shelves: Ikea
  • Artwork: Etsy, prints from Tiny Fawn
  • suitcases: vintage
  • Paint colors: Walls–Benjamin Moore Silver Sage, Trim—Behr Powdered Snow

 

 

Saturday
Mar152014

Buy this

If mid century is your thing and you live in the Great Falls area, here is a beauty listed today.

While it lasts: http://greatfalls.craigslist.org/fuo/4375330393.html