Weekend Project: Garden Paths

Weekend Project: Garden Paths

Another chapter in our neverending backyard projects saga wrapped up this year with the installation of a firepit area and garden paths. 

We have really crummy grass because I can’t be bothered to invest time and money into maintaining something that provides so little benefit; I need more time to tend to my tomato plants and echinacea flowers! So replacing some turf with gravel seemed like a great way to reduce the workload and improve the esthetic of the yard. There’s still (always) so much more to do but I will show you how we made our paths and pit and talk about what we hope to achieve by the end of next summer!

When we first moved here this is what our yard looked like:

Its been a busy few summers with the construction of our upcycled greenhousegarden plotchicken coop, and pond. Our yard is slowly transforming into a beautiful and diverse space for growing food, observing nature, and playing and entertaining with friends and family.

Before we began the path project, our yard looked something like this:

At the time that photo was taken, we had already settled on a plan of action and begun the work of removing the old culvert firepit and digging the new one.

I used garden hoses to guesstimate where I wanted the paths to be and I started digging away the sod over the course of a few weekday afternoons while hubby was at work.

We found some cement stacking stones on a local classified for a really great deal an bought them before we even knew exactly what we would use them for but I’m lad we did because they turned out o be a great border for the firepit circle.

 I began piling layers onto the areas that would become new lasagna beds (or ‘sheet-mulched’ beds). New Gardener Blues shares a great post about how to properly sheet-mulch a lasagna bed here.

In the meantime, hubby was hard at work with the rest. After laying down heavy-duty landscape fabric in all newly dug areas we ordered a load of 4 tonnes of 1/4″ crushed gravel, and rented a bobcat and a tamper. 

Here’s the hubs levelling and tamping the gravel in the firepit circle:

1/4″ crushed gravel compacts very nicely and provides a fairly hard surface area for walking on. It’s low-maintenence and cheap. We used an old tractor rim for the new pit and buried it halfway into the gravel.

With the leftover concrete blocks we made a small patio under the apple tree and a step-down on the slope from the gate. I’ve been slowly propagating creeping thyme and trying to encourage it to grow in and around the stones to soften the space and suppress some weeds

The family took a daytrip to a local beach where we found some sandstone and other flatrocks and I used those to create a small retaining wall below the grapevine as well as some step-up access to my water collection system (another future project)

Before:

We had to cut the grapevine right back to the base so we can re-train it and get it to produce fruit for us again. By the end of next summer it’ll again look like a neater version of this:

The beginning of planting and naturalizing the space:

Things are slowly coming along and of course all I can do is dream about the beautiful and delicious and medicinal plants I’ll be able to grow next year. We have already planted some blueberry and ornamental bushes and cutting flowers and spring bulbs. Next spring I’ll make space for some vining plants like pumkins and melons. We left the option open to invest in some quality flatstone for the paths if it’s ever within our future budget. Since packed crushed gravel makes a great sublevel to stone pathways we’ve already done the hard work! If not flatstones, maybe we will add a layer of pea gravel so I can resume barefoot gardening (my favorite!) -without puncturing my footsies on the crushed gravel. 

Only 7 more months until spring!

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Makeover: Shared Bedroom

Makeover: Shared Bedroom

The time has come for me to accept that my baby is no longer an infant and that I must start teaching him to sleep in his crib if I ever want a good nights rest again. 

The only solution is to set him up with his youngest sister in the only other bedroom that is on the same floor as ours. It is small! She previously shared it with her 7 year-old sister and they had bunkbeds. 

Now 7 year old sister has moved up with 11 year-old sister and brought her bunkbeds with her. 

The challenge: hubby the hunter insists we mount some of his antlers SOMEWHERE in the house. He also never gets much say in decor, so I had to figure a way to make camo and hunting themes work. 

So here I am with this big ole moose rack and camo crib bedding and I’m tasked with making it work in a gender-neutralish room for the daughters sake. She’s not so much about pink and barbies but she loves her butterflies and kitties. 

NATURE! I decided we would try for a nature theme with a scandenavian kinda simplistic look.

First thing I did was paint the walls a light grey.

I chose to paint her funky dresser a sort-of peachy orange by mixing the pink paint it was previously coated in with a tinge of yellow.

Before

After

See the little cariboo antler? For to display future macaroni necklaces and such.

I also painted the dresser a lighter shade of the grey that went onto the walls. Pretty much white.

The green curtains came with the house. I tried to give them away ages ago but had no takers so they’ve been in storage for years. They arent perfect but for something free that I already had, they’re perfect enough!

I also have an assortment of pillows that normally reside in the Boho Guestroom in the basement and found a similar green throw pillow to match the curtains as well as a peachy pink one to tie in the dresser. 

An antique throw blanket made by my dear gran sometime around the 70s finally has a place in our home now too

The chandelier was a bit too frufru I think for the space so I swapped it out for a cheapo Amazon cord light with a paper lantern for a shade.

Chandelier before

Paper lantern after

In the room previously there were various paper lanterns and pink paper poufs hanging from the ceiling. I saved a couple to put back up in my daughters’ corner.

The bear rug was a thriftstore find a year ago! I put back her butterflies for now. When I find a suitable lamp I may move them. The little wooden shelf was also a thriftstore find and will house my collection of glass deer figures and ornaments and whatever else she wants to put up there.

We are trying to minimize clutter and reduce the amount of time we spend dealing with STUFF. A few simple storybooks with a catchall basket to save unfinished lego projects or coloring supplies until they are properly put-away is all we need to keep here.

A trunk for legos, a picnic basket full of toy foodstuffs, and a bottom drawer for miscellaneous toys solves all our storage problems. 

I have to say; I’d prefer her bed to be a little less feminine and I might replace it some day. 

Its funny how a room can take on it’s own life; this isnt exactly the nordic style room I originally planned for. But as I dug around the house to find ways to save money and use what I have, it became it’s own kind of awesome. And I never would have happened upon the peachy-green color combo (which I love!) if it werent out of necessity!

Sectional Sofa DIY

Sectional Sofa DIY

If you’re like me, you hate paying big money for functional furnishings.

I had these crummy sears sofas.that were really uncomfortable and the seat cushions always slid off the couch whenever anyone tried to get comfy on them. Sorry about the poor-quality photo; it’s the only one I could dig up of this monstrosity

I also had just tossed out a broken bunkbed but had saved the slats and mattresses.

I decided to use those materials to build myself a temporary sectional sofa!

It was pretty basic; I laid the slats out and measured/cut/screwed together a frame. 

Then I added some rough-cut 2×4 legs and brought it all inside

The kids approved.

I went to the thriftstore to find some neutral blankets and throw cushions and this is what I came up with:

Again; terrible quality photos. I did this project over a year ago and had to dig these photos out of an old cameraphone

Total cost was for the blankets and throw pillows which was only about $30! 

Not bad! I played around with the ‘boho’ look for a while after moving in my big frumpy sectional. 

The mattress sectional served the family well for almost a year before we finally began putting a budget into designing the living room. definitely worth the cost and small effort to build. I MADE money on the transition because the old crummy Sears sofas sold for $200! 

DIY DropCloth Area Rug

DIY DropCloth Area Rug

I’ve been really wanting a large area rug but it’s so hard to find one that doesn’t cost a fortune. I’ve seen a few painted rugs on Pinterest that looked pretty nice so I thought I would give it a try and I’m glad I did! I love how it turned out!

I bought a 9’x12′ thick cotton drop cloth and some matte BeautyTone paint in London Fog from Home Hardware for a total of $70.

The dropcloth is pretty thick but wasn’t stiff enough to hold it’s shape under traffic so I started out by folding the edges multiple times and ironing them down to strengthen up the mat. I ended up with about 4 layers of dropcloth folded into each edge.

Each time I started a new round of folds I cut the corner off to reduce bulk.

Once all of the folding and ironing was done I used speed-sew to glue the folds in place.

Then came the ironing of the rest of the dropcloth. I had to use a spray-bottle of water because those creases were stubborn!

Next came the painting of the dropcloth. 

USE A DROPCLOTH UNDER YOUR DROPCLOTH!

I made the mistake of assuming the paint wouldn’t go through, and it cost me an hour of scubbing paint off the floor.

Woops!

Back to painting (I used a heavy pile roller)

While the paint dried, I crafted up some stamps using some corkboard and waited for them to dry before beginning the tedious task of hand-stamping the entire rug.

I darkened some of my paint with black to get a deeper grey shade and began by filling up my stamp:

And got to work!

I chose to stamp instead of paint directly onto the mat because I wanted to get that blotchy aged look. 

The stamping process took almost 2 hours. It was very tedious, but it was worth the effort!
Ta-da!

Curbside Fireplace Refurbish

Curbside Fireplace Refurbish

I’m in love with mantles because they are so fun and easy to decorate. A friend let me take a weathered electric fireplace that had been leaning against a shed in her yard and I gave it some love in my living room.

It was pretty weathered but for its purpose it was perfect. The electrical was all shot but thats ok because I had a different idea right from the start anyway. 

First thing I did was get to measuring and planning. I decided I wanted to build a corner wall with room to mount the t.v. and store the media consoles in this corner:

Instead of doing a full wall I built the frame so that the fireplace could be tucked beneath the wall, leaving room for configuring cords and such behind it with easier access. I measured the center and made sure to add a stud there for the tv mount to screw into.

You can see in the above photo that I removed the center panel from the face of the fireplace. I cut a new panel and put it on hinges so that I could add a shelf to store the media console inside. 

I literally had all this stuff on hand. The scrap piece of wallboard, the remnant of crown molding. I’m telling ya; hoarding pays off sometimes! Once I had the wall up I filled the edge seams and holes in the wallboard.

I cut a hole for the tv cables to hide in. Then I attached the new hinged face to the fireplace and got it all Painted White while the joint putty dried on the wall.

There were some casualties as stubborn residents refused to evacuate prior to painting.

By the end of day 2 the t.v. was mounted ( crooked in photo; thank goodness for the levelling adjuster on the mounting hardware!)

I’m no carpenter but I got the job done best I could, cracked joint compound and all.

The finished product! All I am missing now is some pillar candles to fill the fireplace. 

Here’s how the console cabinet turned out:

Theres a gap for ventilation beneath the wooden shelf but above the metal inset in case I ever burn real candles in the fireplace. The little screw in the back of the hinged door snaps into the little vintage spring-loaded clip you see in the bottom left corner of the shelf. More stuff I had in my stash that I didn’t have to buy! I could have painted the inside but I’m a corner-cutter.

Total cost: 

-joint compound $14

-two brass hinges $4

Thats it! $18 for a new built-in fireplace/media console!