Sunday, June 23, 2013

The First Year

It's been a year (as of this past week) since we moved into this house, and man, have things come a long way! I thought I'd use this week's post to take a look at all the changes that we've made. Obviously, we're not done (is anyone ever "done" with their house?), but I have to say, we've accomplished quite a lot! Warning....this is kinda long.

This is the front of the house when we moved in...obviously taken by the realtor during the winter...

And here it is as it looks today.

You can see we chopped down that odd looking lollipop tree (to let more light into the living room) and added more in the way of landscaping. Oh, and here is what replaced the garage door, since it is no longer a garage.

I love the cedar shake framing the door. Still trying to figure out a good place for the trash cans...hmmmm....moving on to the back of the house!

Here's the before...

And the now (I wouldn't really call it an after).

You can't see in the picture above that I've painted the back doors. Better pictures are coming!

You can see in the one above the new shed and garden boxes.

If you stepped inside the front door the day we moved in, this is what the living room looked like.

And as it looks today

Huge improvement, no? Those built-ins make a HUGE difference in the functionality of this room. I still have some playing around to do with the furniture arrangement on this side of the couch, but this room has come a long way!

Here's the kitchen before...

and now.

Obviously we haven't done much in here besides changing the appliances and painting the walls.

Here's the dining room. Lots of knotty pine....oh my, that was a lot of knotty pine...

And here's now it looks now.

I'm still in love with the Ikea light fixture in here. And I love the way this paint looks in the natural light coming in from the sliding doors.

This might be the biggest change so far....the garage....or what used to be the garage...

...and is now my music room. What a difference! It's easy to forget this room was ever a garage.

The master bedroom also looks pretty different. Here it is before...

And now. Glad that it's bright and airy...and not dead body beige anymore. Still need to add a closet though.

This is the guest bedroom as it looked when we moved in. Almost exactly the same as the master. Boring.

And now. Could be a whole different room and is so cozy!

Our crazy fiesta bathroom is still crazy and fiesta-like (yes...there are still sunflowers in the sink)...

But it looks a little more cohesive now with it's dramatic green walls, white curtain, and new light fixture. It's liveable now until we save our pennies to redo this room. In the meantime, it can induce all the giggles it likes.

Lastly, the basement. Aka...the man cave. Here it is when we moved in.

Still very cave-like (which, I suppose, is the point of a "man cave" haha), but much more comfortable.

Anyone else celebrating their "house-iversary"? Any cool before and current pictures? It amazes me what we've been able to accomplish in just a year to make this house our home!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lesson Learned and a Little Rearranging

Last year, when my (now former) voice teacher and his wife gave us lots of pass-along plants to fill in my bare flower beds, I just plunked everything in the ground and hoped for the best. I didn't do any research, and I didn't really consider how they would fill in, what things would look like during the winter (bare) or how far they should be from the house.

During a conversation a couple months ago with my great aunt, I heard the term "foundation plant" for the first time. As she explained it, a foundation plant is one that is okay to plant near the foundation of a house because its roots are not invasive (aka: the roots won't grow into the foundation of the house, thereby ruining the foundation).  It also usually has a more compact growth habit, rather than something flowy or fountain-like. The other cool thing about this conversation: my 90-year-old great aunt walked around the house at the farm with my parents (the one that my grandfather built) and identified every bush and flower, making note of which were foundation plants and which were not.

This conversation made me wonder if the forsythia bushes I planted at the back of the flower beds (near the house) were foundation plants (if you squint, you can see the small leafy bushes in the back row).

I hopped on Google and started searching away, and, of course, forsythia are most definitely not foundation plants. Fortunately, they hadn't been there all that long, so I don't think any damage was done.

Around the same time I dug up that tidbit of information, my friend Patrick (who is a master gardener) mentioned to me that the red bud (in the pic above, it's on the far right with the heart shaped leaves) needed to be moved soon. See, when I planted it, I thought it was a shrub. WRONG. It's definitely a tree. Pat's comment was " know that seven foot tall tree by our driveway? That's a red bud."

So I started brainstorming places to put four-five forsythia and a small-ish tree. Fortunately, it didn't take long. I decided to put the red bud in the opposite corner from the hybuscus at the front of the yard. Here she blows, a little peeked looking, but otherwise none the worse for wear. Please ignore the downed mailbox in the background. That is a story for another day.

As for the forsythia, on the other side of our driveway, is a narrow strip of grass that is constantly forgotten. It always seems like a waste to restart the lawnmower just to mow the 3 foot wide section of grass, but it has to be done. I decided to forgo the issue and plant a forsythia hedge.

Once these fill in, I don't think we'll have to mow over here any more, but I am considering putting down weed cloth and mulch, just to be sure.

Once I got everything moved, I was left with this...and a similar situation in the other front flower bed.

Needing ideas, I took this picture, along with a few others, up to Bates Nursery (they are a local, family-owned nursery about 10 minutes away). One of the employees tossed out a couple of ideas once he'd seed the pictures and heard the description of sun, but told me that before I made any decisions, I should go home, measure the beds and the window heights above them, and come back with a rough sketch of what I'm working with. Here's what I came up with. Obviously my musical talents don't translate to the visual arts.

Armed with the sketches, I went back to Bates, where a second (and very helpful) employee helped me choose plants, figure out how many I needed, and helped me figure out a layout for both front beds. I only left with shrubs for the left bed that day...partially for budgetary reasons (three shrubs were $100) and partially to break up the work for myself.

Since there is a gardenia to the right of the front stairs, I decided to mirror that on the left. Bates didn't have exactly the same kind of gardenia, but they helped me pick out one that has similar foliage (Kleim's Hardy). The only noticeable difference is that the flowers on the new one are single, instead of double flowers.

To contrast the gardenia in the left bed, I also picked out a Georgia Petite Indian Hawthorn. It has lovely blue green leaves that look a little bit waxy, and it blooms small white flowers in the spring.

Has anyone else been rearranging their garden? Planting shrubs? Digging holes is hard work! Oh well, hopefully I'll get lovely toned arms out of it.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

My Weekend Excursion

I went home to SC this past weekend to see my baby brother graduate high school. He's the last of the three of us, and is nine years younger than me. He was pretty excited (as he should be), and is looking forward to college in the fall.

Because my parents are getting ready to move (hopefully for the last time) to the farm that belonged to my grandparents, they have been faced with the task of combining two (large) houses worth of stuff into one. Thus, one of my tasks while I was at home was to go through my room, figure out what I really wanted to keep, and separate the rest to be given away to friends, donated, trashed, etc.

Truth be told, I really didn't have all that much left at my parents house. I haven't really lived in their house since high school (two moves ago for them), and I moved almost all of my books, clothes, personal items, furniture to Nashville when I graduated college. That being said, I was surprised at how much stuff I still had there.

Among the odds and ends, a few things I found:
  • my notes from AP calculus....taken my senior year in high school
  • lots of dolls (maybe that makes me weird, but I have an aunt who used to send me dolls, and I loved playing with them when I was a kid)
  • love letters from my high school boyfriend
  • all the cards I got for my high school graduation
  • every solo/ensemble adjudication sheet, music award, recital program and school award I ever got
  • a few evening gowns, a foxtail cape (that was my grandmothers), various other formalwear
Now, remember how I said I hadn't really lived in my parents house since high school? We moved two weeks after I graduated, and I guess I never had a chance to go through my stuff. Then, it all got moved again when my parents moved after my freshman year in college.

In the end, I brought home a desk (for the music room, particularly needed since I will be full time in grad school in the fall), all the dresses and formal coats, a few books, sewing patterns, some art that I had stashed away there and a few other odds and ends. I left three small boxes of stuff that I can get next time I go to visit.

Maybe I'm weird, but this task didn't draw up strong emotions for me. I guess I've moved so many times that I don't have any strong attachment to the house itself, and since I have my own home now, it seems right to me that my stuff should be in it.

Have you completely cleaned out your room at your parents house? Was it really emotional, or did it just feel like a task that needed to be done?