Entries Tagged as 'Outdoors'

Outdoor Furniture and Decor Picks

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20.2.13

  Anyone else ready to shed the layers and start enjoying some time outdoors? I’m dying to get outside and soak up a little sunshine. Over the past few years of overhauling our yard we’ve been focusing on the big stuff, like building the deck around the pool, sprucing up down by the lake and building the side patio. All that work left little in the way of time or budget to furnish all those new outdoor living spaces.

But this year I’m declaring that we will get some outdoor furnishings. Bryan and I have been keeping our eyes open for some affordable (him) yet stylish (me) furnishing for the great outdoors. Care to take a peak at what we’ve found? Outdoor-Furniture

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Lake House Tour – Come Outside with Me!

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19.11.12

It’s time for another installment of our Lake House Tour. Last week I shared the Living Room and this week we’re moving to the outdoors. I’ve plan to add a House Tour option in the menu at the top of the page very soon where our tour will live on for eternity so feel free to pop on over there to see the whole shebang as we go along.

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I pretty amazed by the progress we’ve made. While you’re living through the changes it all seems to go slowly and the small things that add up over time seep into your consciousness making them feel somehow less dramatic overall. Well let me tell you the before and after pictures of this post are dramatic, each time I found one I thought “Wow I can’t believe it used to look like that!”

By far the most work we have done is to the landscaping. The yard before was perfectly fine. It has good bones was nice size yard lot, but it lacked personality and defined areas to enjoy it. Obviously the best thing it had going for it was the view. Our goal always has and always will be to maximize the spaces to relax, eat and enjoy the weather while simultaneously loving the view.

Outside001The very first project we tackled outside was the addition of a the garden above, it was mostly just grass before with a few random shrubs thrown in for good measure. The area needed to be defined and plantings to soften it up. We built a rock wall added soil and plants to make it a focal point.

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Next up we added another garden along the fence to soften those linear lines. Our plan was to tackle the smallest least expensive projects first while saving up some funds for the more expensive projects. Gardens are the cheapest thing to add for a dramatic impact. Plantings can be added over time without killing your pocketbook and it’s surprising how quickly buying a plant here or there will make a big impact. The fence is over 100 feet long and felt overbearing before. Now it’s a cool rustic backdrop for our lush garden.

Arguable the single most defining project of the yard was building (and later staining) the deck around the above ground pool. This change increased the usefulness the pool by leaps and bounds. Before the pool felt like it was an island floating off in the distance, there was no place to sit and relax. This deck integrated it into the yard seamlessly and made if feel more like an in-ground pool.

Staining it was no small feet, rather than keep it light and have it be the focal point we chose a dark color to help it blend into the landscape. The fence and railings that enclose the pool and separate the top portion of the yard from the lake below was part of that project and was critical to keeping Nikolas out of harms way while simultaneously defining key areas. Now with three distinct zones created. The grassy area, the pool area and the/lake area the direction of our yard had been established.

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The pathway that was there before wasn’t easy to navigate, it made walking up and down difficult at best and dangerous at worse. This picture does not give the true angle of the slope justice. It was bad

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It got worse before it got better and we had a few uhoh moments while the stones stairs were being built. Like uhoh are we really going to be able to shimmy these into place? It took some time a ton of sweat and good old brute forces to push those large stones around but it all worked out in the end and they look gorgeous.

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Since those stairs have been done it’s now one of my favorite moments around the yard. I like to sit on a step and enjoy the breeze coming off the lake as the boats hum by.

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Another garden added on the side attracts butterflies and dragonflies that like to sun themselves on the warmth of the stones.

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We added a cool wood patio under the shade of the Maple trees what was once just dirt. We’ve chosen to keep the materials similar throughout the yard to give it a cohesiveness that was once lacking.

Outside006The shade is a welcome retreat in the hot summer days. Is nice a comfy place to sip ice tea and relax in the shade.

Side Deck Build 11

We’ve been surprised everyday how much we use this space. Nikolas’ sand pit/horseshoe pit is just beyond in the clearing. I like to sit and read while he plays.

Side Deck Build 6

The yard slopes from the house down to the lake so the addition of a new set of stairs helps ease the transition were added. Grass wasn’t an option due to the dense shade and trees that suck all the moisture from the ground so we brought in river stones to cover the remaining dirt areas.

Side Deck Build 4

Next we turned our attention to the area nearest the lake. White rocks blanketed the space, weeds were almost impossible to pull. The lack of trees and spiders that hid in all the crevices made it very uninhabitable.

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The before picture is taken from standing on the stone steps, the after picture below shows the same area but with your back to the lake. The planters on the left side along the fence are waiting for the summer and will be filled with tomatoes that will surely love the spot filled with sunshine.

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More white rocks and a barren wall make for a great before picture.  Outside009

To add even more functionality the wood patio was added along the seawall which we usually refer to as the dock even though it’s not technically a dock. This house lacks storage both inside and out so a shed was built to store life jackets, fishing equipment, tubes, and general boating supplies as well as a ton of other things. In the spring we’ll paint it out but we have yet to agree upon any kind of colors.

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The Rubbermaid outdoor storage unit will move along with all the odds and ends that still need to find a proper home. I’m lobbying for an outdoor shower in that area but that project has yet to be “approved” ha!.

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And my newest favorite project has to be the outdoor bar. Just (mostly) completed a month before the cold set. We’ll trim it out in the spring add a bar top and stools. We also want to add an dining table and a few lounge chairs.

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Wow that was a lot. Is anybody still here? We still have lots more we’d like to accomplish. There are areas of the yard (not picture here) that still need a ton of work and machinery to make it workable. All in good time though.

Building a Covered Outdoor Bar

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06.11.12

After laying the sod down around the pool and finishing the low lying wood patio that ran parallel to the lake the next step in our grand plan was to incorporate an outdoor bar area for hanging out in the shade and serving drinks under the summer sun.

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The outdoor bar was a little more complicated than most. Our property runs at an angle from the corner of the where the tiki bar stands back towards the house. After thinking and talking and thinking and talking some more about it we decided to go with a trapezoid shape for the bar with the wider end closer to the camera in the picture below and the narrower end towards the lake. It’s a little hard to see in pictures but I’ll explain it better a bit later. Take my word for it though the odd angle made for a few pretty complicated cuts and re-cuts and some cleaver calculating to ensure it looked OK from each side.

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Once the basic structured was framed out the plywood was added to the roof to provide stability, protect the bartender from the rain and give some much need shade to the yard. After the plywood was screwed to the roof, tar paper and then shingles were nail  to finish off the top. For a while we had contemplated shaker shingles but the cost proved to be too high for even a small project like this so we opted to go with a standard roof and splurge on some stone for the base.

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During the whole build Nikolas’ wanted to me in the thick of things, we even had to go buy him his own hammer so he could use that one and not steal his father’s all the time. One of my favorite pictures of Bryan and Nik is below, it sums up how he helped them build throughout the summer. Nik’s whole body is completely tense as Bryan “helps” him to remove a bolt from the frame.

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After the main structure was up and the roof and sides had plywood attached it was time to add the stone facade. The stones are actually manufactured stones and are much easier to apply than real stone due to their uniform shape and flat blacks. P1210045010

To get the pattern for the wall we laid each brick out on the floor before applying it to the bar and did a “dry-fit” of each stone. A dry-fit is like a trial run on the floor with no commitment you’re able to move and reposition each block to ensure will fit like a puzzle. We wanted to cut as few stones as possible so this was key to eliminating waste and achieving a consistent spacing between the stones.

P1210046011 Once we had the each stone laid out on the floor they went up one by one with a little cement and a lot of elbow grease.

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We started to finish the inside adding bead board to the back wall and roof Although progress has been halted now due to the cold days we’re loving the progress so far.

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You can see a better view of the odd angle in this picture. Do you see how the horizontal wall closet to the camera is wide and the wall nearest the lake is much narrower? It’s a really unique design and fits the space perfectly. The view from the inside of the bar is killer. I love how the little summer island is framed by the timber structure.

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When done the ceiling treatment will have the bead board finished as well and a few lights to make it useful after dark. Just for comparison sake here’s what it looked like just a few short months ago.

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We’re loving our new outdoor bar and looking forward to finishing it up when it thaws out in the Spring. So much better than before.

Psst if you want to read more about this project click here and here.

Laying Sod Against the Clock

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16.10.12

Unexpected Sod 9

In the midst of our deck building project we had an unexpected but welcomed surprise in the form of some free sod. How did we happen upon free sod? Well it pays to have a relative in the construction business who was working at a job hat ordered too much. They  were about to throw out almost 2 pallets full of perfectly good sod and we snagged it for free, all for just knowing someone in the right place at the right time.

Unexpected Sod 1

Scoring the free sod was a blessing for our wallets in the long run. However, in the short term it left us scrambling to get the remaining white stones removed and a truckload of top soil brought in to frantically finish prepping. On an particularly hot and steamy Saturday morning a large truckload of topsoil arrived and we were ready to get prepping.

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Sod needs to be laid as soon as possible after it’s cut. Ideally you would lay it the same day, so once we were left with the sod we knew time was ticking to get the stuff down in place and start watering. To prolong the lifespan of the sod until we were able to lay it all out we unrolled a number of pieces in the shade and continued to water it to prevent it from drying out, turning yellow and ultimately dying on us.

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The guys (and Nikolas too) work hard to move stone as quickly as possible, which unfortunately still left us with a terribly rocky base. To remedy the unfriendly soil conditions we lay down around 6 inches of top soil over the entire area to be grassed and raked it out by hand so it was a smooth and even foundation.

Unexpected Sod 11The old stones had a reflective quality in person that blinded you, throwing a force field of heat back at you. That combined with a severe lack of shade made it feel like you were sitting on a sheet of tinfoil rather than a refreshing retreat near the lake. By just removing the stone and adding topsoil the area already looked a million times better than before despite it’s still unfinished state. Unexpected Sod 12 Throughout the day work continued. Trimming out a few odd and ends and creating a nice edge for the sod through the walkways and gates so that everything would look nice, clean and ultimately finished. Once all the prep work was complete the sod was ready to be laid out. We were hoping and praying that it would survive despite the longer than ideal time it hand been waiting.

Unexpected Sod 13

Although quite heavy, sod is relatively easy to lay down once all the prep work is done. You simply set it down, roll it out and stagger where the ends meet so that it’s laid out in a brick pattern. When it comes to a corner we’d lay it up to the edge and cut it around the object. Probably not how the professionals would do it but we’ve found that a long serrated bread knife works wonders for cutting through the grass and roots.

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Overall most of it survived and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Over time some of the spots unfortunately did yellow on us due to the time it spent hanging out waiting to be set down. We remedied that by adding in some top soil and grass seed. By next spring you won’t even be able to tell which was sod and which was patched by us.

Reimagining the back yard

In the end we love the new found lushness of the space.  So much better than the barrenness of the white rocks before.

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Project Sneakity Peak

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10.8.12

Hey everyone, Happy Friday! So happy it’s the weekend.

I had a little bit of a bug this week that slowed me down a bit. The beginning of the week mostly involved me huddled on the couch under a blanket watching my favorite soaps. My soap of choice is Genera Hospital by the way. I’m feeling much better now and can’t wait to share all of the exciting stuff we’ve had going on around here. If you follow us on Facebook you probably already saw a sneak peak.

New Project 1

New Project 2

This all came together so fast that I only had time to snap a few photos with my iPhone. Can you guess what we’re up to? I’ll share more next week. Until then have a great weekend!

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