Interlock Installation: Day 2

Hi everyone,

Sorry about the delay. I’m finally back with Day 2! Hurrah! Let’s dive right into the pictures shall we?

Side note: I was trying not to bother the workers so I was mostly taking pictures from our upstairs windows. That is why there are weird angles and lots of dirty window sills and curtain reflections.

In the backyard, more gravel kept being added and compacted, added and compacted. This happened at least twice more.

We even had a whole other dump truck of gravel delivered!

Then, they began getting down to the fine tuning. They added gravel to the string levels and compacted yet again.

And, while they were working on the back, work on the front also began! =)

First, they dug out most of the area with their mini backhoe. [I only managed to get one decent picture of this. I had no good vantage point.]

IMG_20150721_103405Next up came….surprise, gravel and compacting! [Please ignore the curtain reflection.]

At the end of Day 2 we had a backyard that looked like this:

And a front yard that look like this:

The side yard still wasn’t getting in on the action:

IMG_20150721_191937

It may look like things are slow to start, but digging and re-filling those holes takes a lot of time, energy, and precision to get the grading just right. In some ways, it’s the hardest part!

Check back for Day 3! I promise to post it sooner this time. =)

~Robyn

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Interlock Installation: Day 1

After waiting for what seemed like an eternity (read: 2 months), the day for breaking ground on our interlock plan finally came! It was quite exciting to see all the action. Since we didn’t do anything ourselves, get ready for lots of pictures. =)

First come the before pictures.

Goodbye grass, dead and living!

Goodbye horrible back steps that always gave us splinters!

Goodbye evil weed growing area along the side of the house! (Don’t let the appearance grass fool you, we got lots of mean weeds there, I had just pulled them all out before taking these pictures.)

Goodbye uneven concrete pavers and pitted concrete porch!

Let the work commence!

There was lots of digging.

And dirt being piled up on the street.

A whole dump truck full of gravel arrived.

They finished digging the hole for our back patio and lined it with a barrier fabric.

Then it was gravel time!

At the end of the first day, we were left with this:

Phew! A lot was accomplished in one day. Next up will be Day 2. See you then!

~Robyn

Getting a new (outdoor) room {Part 2}

Hello everyone!

I’m back with more information on our outdoor changes. =)

This spring we decided we wanted to actually use our outdoor space. We did some research and went back-and-forth talking about the pros and cons of a deck vs. interlock.

If we built a deck it would most likely cover one of our basement windows and/or vents and that would be bad. We love the amount of sunlight that streams into our lower level and need the fresh air circulation. It would have also meant being higher up. This would make our outside space be at almost the same level as our inside space. I wanted a bit of an elevation difference to make the two spaces feel separate even though they would be right next to each other. Plus, we weren’t too thrilled with the idea of maintaining a deck. It could be pretty time consuming depending on the size. So, interlock it was… if we could find a company, and price, we were happy with.

We can up with a basic plan and then meet with four different companies. Needless to say, our plan changed as we discussed things with the professionals. In the end e choose one of the companies and our finalized plan looked like this:

hardscape plan
Yeah, that’s my to scale drawing. And yes, I know it probably wasn’t necessary but it helped me visualize things. Also, I’m a nerd, I couldn’t help myself.

And that is where I’ll leave things for today. Next up will be the actual installation process!

~Robyn

Getting a new (outdoor) room {Part 1}

Hi everyone,

I realize it’s been a while since I posted. We have definitely done projects, I just haven’t been good about writing about them. I’m going to try update this blog a bit more regularly with what has already done and what is to come. *fingers crossed*

This summer has been the summer of change around our neighbourhood. A lot of people have been completing outdoor hardscape/landscape projects and installing fences and we are no exception!

We’ve got a fence! Well… most of a fence. We didn’t have it finished because of other changes that are happening as I type this. =)

Here is our yard pre-fence. This is an old picture from our walk-through. I apparently have no other close ups of our backyard.

backyardAnd here it is now, with (most) of our fence!

IMG_20150618_184644IMG_20150709_111725IMG_20150709_111818As you can see in the last picture, we still have to get our gate. The fence is going to be a bit longer on the right side too, to meet the gate. But that should be happening soon!

~Robyn

Lighting Updates: Master Bathroom

We have two light fixtures in our master bathroom. The first fixture is over the sink area and the second fixture is in between our shower and toilet. While the fixture over our sink is doing just fine, the other one was not. It’s a basic builder grade light with metal clips that hold the glass bowl in place. Even though we run the fan and often leave the bathroom door wide open when showering, the metal clips were getting pretty rusty. It obviously isn’t rated to be in a wet space.

So, we began brainstorming about what type of fixture we’d like to replace it with. We liked the idea of a light that would sit flush with the ceiling, like a pot light, but with a larger circumference than “modern” pot lights. Something closer to 4″-6″ across, instead of 2″. However, after some research we learned that to install a pot light can we would have to make the hole in our ceiling larger. The thought of drywall cutting, patching, and the ensuing dust was extremely unappealing to us. Strike one.

Next, we found a few pot light converter kits. Getting warmer. But, they required a junction box for a flood light, not a standard flush mount light. Something that is not straight forward to switch out, and, again, would probably necessitate drywall cutting. Strike two.

Then, while at a lighting store making purchases for other areas of our home (still waiting for our order to arrive!) we asked if they had anything that converted a flush mount junction box to an imitation pot light flush mount. And….they did! Success! They had exactly what we we looking for, and it was on sale! This is the light that we got and it is rated for use in wet spaces like bathrooms.

The next afternoon we decided to get to work while the sun was still shining. First, we turned off the power and I took out the original fixture in no time flat. Then, we opened up the new light and read through the instructions. We installed the new light, following one step at a time.

Once all the wires were connected and the new light was working (we turned the power back on to check in case anything wasn’t connected securely/correctly), we tried to fit the fixture and wires back into our box. And thus ensued a 45 minute battle….

See, at the very top of the instructions was a note saying the minimum height required for the fixture to fit was 2.25 inches. Why this isn’t in larger writing I don’t know, since we easily overlooked it when reading everything else. Our junction box, obviously, wasn’t this height. It’s only 1.5″ high.

20140813_095931-rect

We were already committed at this point (read: I’m stubborn). So we disconnected some of the new connections and made the wires shorter. Then, we struggled to get the wire connector caps a far away from the centre of the junction box as possible. At some point we were both ready to leave the light hanging in mid-air in favour of our sanity. Somehow though, with our two brains working together, we managed to solve the puzzle of fitting everything in the junction box AND getting the light fixture to sit flush with the ceiling. This was no small feat. There was a good amount of sweating and a healthy dose of overhead arm exhaustion related swearing.

Luckily, it’s a pretty great transformation! Check out the difference! I feel that the space looks and feels much more open/clean now. But, perhaps that’s simply my brain’s way of justifying all the effort it took to install the darn light. What do you think?

 

~Robyn

 

There’s A Goose Neck In Our Kitchen!

When we moved in, one of our favourite spots was our kitchen. It turned out better than we had imagined; both the way it looked and the way it functioned. The one thing that stood out as a sore thumb was our faucet. It looked basic, felt basic, but worst of all, it had terrible water flow/pressure. We compared it to our bathroom faucets and it performed noticeably worse in a Liters/minute volume test.

P1030175

After living with it for a few [frustrating] months, we started looking for a new faucet that met our criteria: 1) built-in pull-down sprayer, 2) a handle that didn’t change orientations when the water was turned off (i.e., didn’t always end up back in the centre), 3) a higher neck so that is was easier to access the sink. We ended up loving the Kohler Simplice faucet from Lowes (found here). So, when Lowes had a promotion on, we ordered it and crossed our fingers we would love it in person……which we did! *Phew*

Next up, the switcher-roo…

First, I removed the original faucet.

Then I was left with this plumbing situation under the sink.

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Notice the white pipes just hanging out with no connector hoses? Luckily I had bought some (like this) in anticipation of probably needing them. So, armed with my connection hoses, instructions, various YouTube video knowledge, and an afternoon, I went to work. It took me a few hours from start to finish. I had the tiniest work space to maneuver in! I could barely budge an inch either direction, and I’m small. I still managed to enjoy myself, although my shoulders were sore the next day.

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Here is the final result. It was pretty spectacular. Instant kitchen classiness upgrade!

P1030185

I used plumbers putty to ensure a good seal around the edges of the escutcheon so that water didn’t get into places it shouldn’t. We also used clear silicon caulking to seal where our sink meets our counter top. Btw, an escutcheon is the plate that is between the sink and the faucet, although doesn’t it sound like an animal that would sort of resemble this?

I installed the new faucet near the end of January and we are still really enjoying it. The faucet and handle rotate and glide smoothly and feel really solid. The sprayer works great and it is easy to switch back and forth between spray and stream. And, the best part, we have great water pressure! Yay! Now we can fill up pots in a handful of seconds instead of a handful of minutes!

 

~Robyn

A Little Frosting Please…

The first hands-on thing we did after moving in (aside from unpacking) was add frosting film our front door sidelights. The sidelights were great for letting in light, but we could see every person and car that went by, and they could all see us! Here is what we started with:

Front door sidelights without frosting

 

Project Breakdown:

Difficulty: Easy

Time required: < 45 minutes for both sidelights

# of people: Easier with 2

 

Materials:

– Frosting film of your choice (I’m pretty sure we used this one from HD)

– Spray bottle full of water + a few drops of dish soap (we originally bought a kit with special spray  but water + dish soap worked perfectly fine so we returned it)

– Credit card (not for purchasing things in this case!)

– Razor knife with a fresh blade

 

Steps: (sorry I don’t have any pictures, but you can see a great tutorial with picture on YHL here)

Step 1: Free your glass surface of any dirt, dust, finger prints, or paint splatters. This is an important step since anything on your glass will make it more difficult for your frosting film to adhere correctly/smoothly.

Step 2: Measure and cut your frosting film, allowing for at least 1″ of extra film on all four edges (this makes things easier later on).

Step 3: Thoroughly spray your glass surface with your water + dish soap solution.

Step 4: Peel off about 1′ of the paper backing the film and place the newly exposed side of the film against the top of your sidelight/glass area. Make sure your film extends past the glass a bit on the top and both sides.

Step 5: Use your credit card to smooth the film against the glass, working from the centre out to the edges. This is where you want to work out an bubbles by pushing them to the nearest edge.

Step 6: Here is where 2 people comes in handy. Have one person continue to pull the paper backing off in increments, while the other person smooths out the film. Work your way down the entire glass surface.

Step 7: Take your credit card and lay it flat on the glass over the film. In this position, use it to hold the film up tight against the edges. Now, use your razor knife to cut off the excess film on all four sides. We found it easiest to do the top, then the sides, and end with the bottom.

Step 8: Step back to admire your work. Then, when you’re ready, do the other sidelight.

Step 9: Relish in your new found privacy!

both frosted full

We did this back in November 2013 and they still look identical 9 months later. It was a small and quick project with a big impact factor.

 

~Robyn

New Trees!

When we moved into our house, I was so excited that we had 2 trees, one in the front and one in the back.  Since it was mid-October, it was a little hard to tell whether the trees were healthy/alive. The Canadian climate wasn’t helping much.

We just had to wait for spring to arrive. When it did, our front tree started off great but we noticed some pretty severe trunk damage in mid-June, and our back tree still looked petrified… (sorry for the bad image, it’s all I could find)

Luckily, the builder has a 1 year warranty on landscaping so we were in line for at least 1 new backyard tree. Well, as of Thursday, we have 2 new fresh trees! They dug up the front one and could almost just pull out the back one like a tall weed. Now we have a fresh maple in front and an oak in the back. I’m so excited to have an oak tree! I love their leaves and acorns. Can’t wait for it to mature.

 Maple tree getting replaced:

 Oak tree’s turn:

Hav

Having a maple that is damage free and a living oak tree in our backyard makes our yard look soooo much better. And the fact that the oak tree helps distract from our neighbour’s giant shed is refreshing.

 

~Robyn

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m hoping to create a space where I share updates, projects, lessons learned, inspiration, and much more as we work towards making our house into a home that reflects who we are and what we like. Feel free to follow along.

 

~Robyn