Archive for June, 2012
*** This giveaway is no longer accepting entries – see who won below!***
We’ve got two names to announce as the random winners this week and they are… Eileen Marie (who lives on the edge by teaching on the “mean streets of Chicago”) and Kristin M (who is the mom to a “crazy 2 year old” – which is a life on the edge that we can relate to). Congrats ladies! And for everyone else, Cutting Edge Stencils added a 20% discount code – YHL20 - that’s good through Sunday. Sweet!
Who wants to jump on the wall stencil bandwagon with us (remember when Sherry spent 14 hours stenciling our office last October? Well how does a $50 nudge sound? Because the folks at Cutting Edge Stencils are gonna give two of you a gift card that’ll cover just about any stencil in their catalog – from florals and geometrics to damasks and graphic shapes. They’ve even got a new collection of stencils created by Design Star winner Kim Myles (we especially love her gingko leaf design on the right). And is the one on the top left giving anyone else Jeff Lewis vibes?
- PRIZE: $50 to Cutting Edge Stencils
- TO ENTER: Comment on this post with the words “EDGE ME!” and tell us…
- BONUS QUESTION: … how you live life on the edge. I ask this somewhat sarcastically since life on the edge for us usually includes eating a second dessert or negotiating a good yard sale deal. But if you’ve really done (or regularly do) something thrilling or outrageous, we’d love to hear about it.
- GIVEAWAY CLOSES: Wednesday, June 6th at 8pm EST or at 10,000 entries (whichever comes first)
- NUMBER OF WINNERS: Two
- PRIZE SHIPS: The United States (although we do try to wrangle as many international giveaways as possible)
- DISCOUNT: 20% off with code YHL20 through 6/17
- USUAL STUFF: One entry per e-mail address is permitted. The winner will be selected using random.org and announced on Thursday as an update to this post. That’s right, come right back here on Thursday for the announcement of our winner. Good luck…
We attacked this assignment very methodically. I laid out a bunch of tools (crowbar, sledgehammer, power drill). I lugged over my ladder (for easy climbing up and over the side). I had music playing (see the ceramic pig on the windowsill?). I had Sherry on standby (she was inside watching Clara but ready to lend a hand/take pics at a moments notice). You know, the works. I figured it’d be a very careful process of prying off boards and observing how this previous structure was created, so that I might learn something for my new deck.
Well, methodical quickly went out the window and my demo “technique” rapidly turned into this:
The “this” is better explained by watching this video. Basically I discovered that with some simple tugs the whole thing flapped apart.
So I pretty much just pulled and pushed back and forth on the railing until the whole outside edge of the balcony started to twist off from the two ledger boards affixed to either side of the house (so it wasn’t scratching the house, just grinding against those ledger boards flanking each side that I’d also be removing).
Before long, the entire thing had flipped over and completely pulled off the house. What you see below is the underside of the balcony floor (the top of the railing has twisted over to be on the ground).
Once the bulk of the structure was out of the way (which took all of 15 minutes – no tools required), my task turned to removing the various boards that had attached it to the house.
There was this ledger board that was bolted into the brick on one side…
…and this other one that seemed to be just nailed into the siding. From what I’ve been reading, this isn’t recommended. For one, you’re apparently supposed to remove any siding that’s in the way so you can attach the ledger boards directly to the home’s rim board. If I’m losing you on any of these terms, this is a helpful chart that has helped me keep things straight.
The other thing that I’ll do differently is install some metal flashing to help keep water from rotting away at the house. This previous installation didn’t have that, so the board and the piece of wood siding were both pretty rotted. But I was able to clear both away…
… to expose the rim board of the house.
Thankfully the new deck will run where that entire bottom strip of wood siding lives (the part that’s good and not rotted to the left of the part above), so it will be coming out. Which means I can reuse it for some of the rotten part above the missing siding strip that you see here. In other words, we’ll be reusing good wood siding that needs to come out anyway. And we’ll be adding metal flashing this time- so none of that nasty rot will plague us again.
Oh, and here’s the progress shot that we shared on Thursday.
This is me tapping the joist loose that sat closest to the house (the other joist came down with the railing). It just sat in the metal hangar, so all it took was a light nudge with the rubber mallet to get it out. No giant sledgehammer required (darn).
In order to remove the ledger board from the house, I broke out my wrench to loosen the hex nuts that kept it screwed tightly into the brick. You can see here that flashing wasn’t used and that this board too has seen better days.
Once I got it removed, you can see the bolts that are still set in the brick. I’m leaving those in for now. If I can’t reuse them, at least maybe I can get some tips for my new bolts by removing them once all of my materials have arrived.
But anyways, by this point the whole balcony was officially gone. Well, actually it’s officially sitting in a trash pile behind where I stood to take this picture. But we’re not thinking about that yet. Let’s just focus on the progress for now. That and our sliding door to nowhere.
I’m a bit anxious / excited to actually start construction. Materials should all be here within the next few days and I’ve got my dad scheduled to come help us get started later in the week. He built the deck on the house that I grew up in, so we thought it’d be helpful to have him around. Hope he doesn’t mind that we demoed without him! So by this time next week we should at least have enough going on back there to report back to you guys. We wish we could say we’ll be back with finished deck pics in three days – but HGTV, we’re not. Haha. We’ll definitely be tackling this project in stages – probably over the next few weeks. But you know we’ll keep you posted! And hopefully by sharing each stage of the process with pics and details it might help other folks out there who are planning to dive into deck-building someday.
Has anyone else demolished something lately? Or do you have a great demolition story? Were you ever surprised by how something was constructed – like a deck floor that flips up when you tug on the railing or rotten wood due to missing flashing?
Back on this hosta post I left a not-so-subtle indication that we were planting some fresh grass ’round these parts.
Though as pretty as superimposed text looks in that area (not), we’ve been working on getting the real thing for a while now and it’s finally (mostly) photo-ready. But let’s head back to the beginning, which is actually one step before the photo above… when it still looked like this:
Yep, we still had some weird liriope lingering to the right of the brick path, so we dug that up (to the point where it was even with the stone border on the other side) and called this area ready for grass seed.
Here’s the strip from the other side of the house. If you recall, this is where we used to have a line of boxwoods making the pathway look very, um, boxed in.
The area near our front porch wasn’t the only spot in need of grass seed. We also had a stripe of dirt (and ivy) where our “bush fence” once resided at the front of the property.
So once we ripped out all of the ivy, this area was also ready for some serious seedification.
Because this is not a good look. And we’ve been living with it like this since last fall. And we’re pretty tired of being “the house with the dirt path to nowhere.”
As for actually spreading the seed, we didn’t use our usual routine of starter fertilizer followed by grass seed in a broadcast spreader (detailed here). Since we were getting towards the end of the grass growing season (once it gets really hot the seed can burn before it begins to grow) impatience got the best of us and we bought this “seeding mixture” that has fertilizer and seed in one. I think it was about $20 per bag (sorry, lost my receipt to double-check).
I worried my broadcast spreader would waste a lot of seed by tossing it way beyond the bare strips. So instead I just tossed it by hand – kinda using the motion I imagine one might use to feed a bunch of chickens. Not that I’ve ever done that, so maybe I’m way off.
Once it was all spread, I got my water on. Again, since it was such a small area I skipped our usual sprinkler routine and broke out the hose. So picture me out there once a day (usually in the evening or the early morning, so the sun wouldn’t just burn it off) soaking both areas.
Now, to force a little bit of delayed gratification in this story (since it there was about two weeks of daily watering that delayed any real life gratification) I’m gonna switch gears momentarily. Let’s talk about these random ferns that pop up under our magnolia tree.
We both like ferns. Just not in this spot. It just looks messy to us and we have other plans for under this tree someday. So we dug them up.
They were actually a bit of a pain to get up – and there were lots of them too. I filled two whole wheelbarrows full of them (which I hauled to our naturalized side yard, where I’d be happy for them to take root). I also like how this photo unintentionally looks like our West Elm ceramic speaker-pig is trying to escape up the tree to avoid the wheelbarrow. #PigProblems.
Now it’s a big empty round of dirt – but at least it doesn’t have those gangly ferns creeping all over the place anymore. And someday we’d love to plant some green low-lying groundcover for a more seamless look (that screams big-ring-of-dirt-under-a-tree-where-grass-won’t-grow a little less). Someday.
Okay, now back to grass mode. It took about 10 days for any hint of grass to start showing up. A bit longer than our past experiences (which were usually seven on the dot), but we chalked it up to being late in the season when it was a bit warmer out.
Here’s a farther-away shot of the area just starting to get a subtle green tint to it around ten days in.
Fast forward another week or two and things are finally filling in pretty nicely:
You can still see the distinction between the fresh grass and the mature grass, but once the new stuff starts to grow out of its neon green newness it should be less obvious.
We can’t tell you how much this excites us just to see a carpet of grass here, totally unobstructed by bushes, ivy, or dirt. Kinda wish it hadn’t taken 18 months of living here for this to finally get done!
It’s also much easier to mow now that I don’t have to weave around a bunch of bushes (these pics were taken right after mowing, which is why you can see some fresh wheel lines in some of the shots).
The stripe closer to the house is having a bit of a rougher go at filling in. The area by the street is lower, so water runoff seems to go there – which makes all of the grass down there a little lusher. We might end up overseeding this path area another time this fall, just to help it fill in more evenly.
Here it is from the other side. Again, not perfect…
…but definitely an improvement!
And while we’re looking at old before photos, let’s take a peek at how the view from the front has improved. Here’s a before shot taken about a week after we bought this house (even before Sherry trimmed up the magnolia).
And here we are today.
It’s pretty grass-tastic if you ask me. And thankfully since it’s only a three-foot strip of grass out front and next to the path that we added in place of all those bushes, it only takes a few more runs of the mower to get ‘er done (five more mowing minutes are definitely worth the curb appeal that we gained).
Has anyone else played the grass seed game yet this year? Or have you had any past triumphs (or trials) with planting grass around your home? Are you slowly inching along with outdoor improvements? It used to make us so sad that outside things seem to take forever, but we learned with our first house that a lot of little updates over a few years can definitely make for some dramatic results. So keep the faith. And make sure your ceramic pig isn’t trying to run off…