Course Correction

As we’ve worked our way around the house, replacing windows, adding insulation, new siding, and painting, we’ve been thrilled with the results.


The dark gray lap siding is exactly as we had imagined.  More of the back and garage end are lap siding than corrugated rust steel.  Or what will be steel, because we still haven’t gotten to that point.


Actually, we have a tiny strip of rust.  The channel the steel will fit in has started to change.


Now, we’ve come to the point we need to figure out the front.  Honestly, Ben and I have gone back and forth over this many times.  Waffling, as it were.  Rust steel isn’t a super common siding, but it feels very western.  Because it’s not typical, it has been hard to decide exactly how much we want.

For us, the steel has three big advantages.  One, it’s very durable.  Rated for 50 years as a roof, 70 on siding and can take a beating.  After this past year of crazy weather, that is important to us.  Two, almost no maintenance.  Once installed, let it rust (you can quicken the process by watering) and that’s it.  Three, we can install it straight down to the rock.  With lap siding, we’d have to follow the grade, leaving several inches of foundation exposed.


Throughout this process, we’ve asked each other, “Will that be too much rust on the front?”  After making the above Photoshopped version (and sharing it Monday), we’re back to thinking it is too much.  A few readers said so, too, only adding to our feelings – thank you so much for your honest opinions!  More than anything, we’ve realized this: if we’re so unsure, that’s a risk we’re not willing to take.  Unlike a paint color, this wouldn’t be quick, easy, or cheap to redo.

So I did what any normal crazy person would do.  Turned to Photoshop again, to side our house, quickly and commitment free.  Here’s the same siding with privacy rails, remaining white trim, and plants.


Sure, the plants help break up the lower portions, but it still feels busy and top-heavy.  We are 100% committed to keeping the lower rust to wrap around from the garage section, so that stays.

Now we’re going with all gray lap siding for the top.


Wood deck railings add a lot of character.


Plants give life and interest to the lower sections.


White trim and in my dreams, a dark door.  Doesn’t it make a huge difference?!  Convincing Ben to paint the door is a different battle, one I’m not expecting to win.


I tested out several other options, just to be sure something else didn’t win us over.  A few shades lighter on the bump outs, to add a little interest, without being completely different.


Or carrying the rust up around the front door.


Nope, still like the simple, uncluttered look of the all gray upper.  I threw the dark door in there for good measure.  Ben admits it looks good, but doesn’t think it’ll hold up to use and harsh sun.  Looks like I need to talk to a paint specialist.

Update:  Here are a few other options involving more rust steel.  Making just the peak of the bump out rust:


Or the entire bathroom bump out steel:


Lots of fun options!

Door Another Day

Another day gone by, another door installed.  Shaking up the dining room.


Before, we had a sagging, unable to open, bay window.  It was big at 8 feet wide and 5 1/5 feet tall, but the grids broke up the view.


Almost immediately after moving in, we knew we wanted to swap the window for a sliding door.  Once we rebuild the rotting deck, we’ll extend a walkway to the edge.


Nearly the same size (only 15 inches closer to the floor), it feels so open now.


Having two four-foot wide sections of glass versus 45 small panes makes a world of difference.


As with our new bedroom door, we’ve hung curtains on either side of the door; essentially treating it like a window.


I think my plants will love this brighter, sunny spot.


Seeing as we just installed the door this weekend, we have finishing work left to do.  Like a stained wood threshold, door casings, trim, and paint.


To install the remaining lap siding on the front of the house, we moved the window installing operation to the dining room.


Now the house is ‘bookended’ by doors.  Our bedroom on the right and dining on the left end.  Lovely little pattern of doors and windows.


Unlike the back and garage ends of the house, the front will have more steel than lap siding.  To add more interest and break up the length of the house, we have decided to wrap the bumped out areas in steel.  We’ll also carry the steel around the bottom, matching the garage end.


Basically, it’ll look something like this obviously rough Photoshopped version:


And with decks with privacy style railings, maybe something like this:

Also, how hot are dark bands around the decks?  Might have to steal that idea, too.

Green Goodness

Finally I feel like I’m making progress with our plantings.  With the exception of the areas closest to the house, I’m almost done adding plants to the front.  At least the half that borders the house and deck.  I still have to deal with the expanse between the driveway and road.


I’ve been good about following my plan.  Want to see what I’ve finished so far?  Here’s the front edge of the bocce court, looking toward the driveway:


And looking back the other direction:


I find I’m most attracted to structured gardens with a variety of plants.  In this area alone, there are 8 different plants.


As with most purchased plants, they’re on the smaller side right now.  Hopefully they’ll mature and fill in the areas between.


Just off the front steps, I’ve added three Russian Sage plants.  The colors are great and smell fantastic.


Along the walkway, I chose a row of 11 boxwoods for year round greenery.  A few drought tolerant yarrow are there and have already started to spread a little.


In the back, I still have a lot of work to do.  But, I did start a row of 13 Foerster’s reed grass I found for 3 bucks each at Lowe’s.


Maybe next year they’ll look more like a native grass, sprouting the tops.


Come fall and cooler temps, I’d love to make more progress out here.  At any rate, it’s a step toward the results I’m aiming for.

Big Ass Benches

We’ve got scrap piles for days.  Seemingly of anything and everything.  Including a few beams we didn’t use for our deck, walkways, or stairs.  To use a few up, Ben built what we’ve dubbed ‘Big Ass Benches.’


They’re huge at 8 feet long and weigh at least 150 pounds each.  Two fill in the space by the waterfall, around the fire pit.


To build these behemoths, Ben cut an 8 foot piece for the seat and two 3 foot tall sections for arms.  Scraps of 2 by 4 work as cleats and 2 by 6 boards for the backs.


Long screws go through the sides and into the seat.


Back boards connect to a small chunk of wood.


Along with the two in the back, we’ve got another on the front landing.


It functions as a bench (duh!) and a railing, keeping people away from the far edge and steep drop to the driveway.

Light Load

I mean that title both in a literal way and a pun.  After busting our butts to get the lap siding wrapped up on the back and side, we’ve taken it easy.  Partially because the heat limits what we can get done.  Also to spend time with visiting family.  But that hasn’t completely stopped us from checking a few things off our list.

Early on Sunday morning, to beat the afternoon heat, I climbed up on the scaffolding to edge around the two windows.


With the third coat done, the scaffolding finally came down!  And Ben hung the exterior lights, hence the punny title.


Looks so much better and updated than the blue before.  Now to measure and order the lower steel.


Two lights also flank the back door.


Our preference is down directional lighting, to decrease light pollution.  These Hampton Bay Essen outdoor sconces are super simple and exactly what we had in mind.

A tiny touch of dark jewelry for the house.


In other exciting news, the last five windows and doors for the front of the house came in last week.  Weather, please cool off just a little so we can get started with those big changes.  From a mother to a mother (nature), please.


With hot temps outside, I focused some of my energy inside.  Particularly, the four-month neglected replaced wall in the dining room.  I’m finishing up wet sanding the joints to get ready to texture.


Unfortunately, to match the rest of the walls in the room, we have to spray on and knock down texture on this wall.


Then we can add trim and paint the town.  And add a set of curtains to that bare window, to match the other two in the room.