Top Outdoor Chair Picks

I’m sorry if you’re sick of seeing the exterior of our house, but when the weather is nice, I’m outside a lot.  If I’m not outside, I’m planning the finishing touches of the outdoor spaces.  Just off the family room, through the sliding door is our reclaimed beam deck.


Above, the angled wall covered in CorTen siding is the back door going into the kitchen area of the pool house.  Centered on the breakfast nook window, we currently have our seen-better-days patio set.

Back-Deck-Dining-TableIt’s nothing fancy, or permanent (fingers crossed we’ll get to that someday) but it works for now.  Directly out the door is an open area, with the exception of a wire coffee table. Back-Deck-Without-ChairsFor three years, I’ve halfheartedly searched for chairs that are a) affordable, b) comfortable, c) light weight but still durable, and d) stack or fold for easy storage.  Not hard, right?  Well, it’s not that difficult, but I’d also prefer something that isn’t wood, or at least all wood, to contrast against the deck.  Light weight is key because I’d love to be able to easily carry the chairs over to the nearby fire pit for s’mores sessions.  Back-Deck-Toward-Waterfall-and-Fire-PitTo further narrow down my options, I’d like to avoid cushions, as this area is full sun and fading will probably happen quickly.  Now that summer is in full swing, I’m amping up my search, hoping to use this area before winter hits.Outdoor Lounge Chair Round Up

  1.   Ikea Brommo     .     2.  Hampton Bay Arthur     .     3.  World Market Girona     .     4.  Article Sala     .     5.  Belham Living Adirondack     .     6.  Dwell Magazine Modern Lounge  (and white)

Those Ikea chairs were topped my list, but our lack of a local store makes it tricky to snag four before they’re sold out.  I missed out again this year.  Womp, womp.  Not all is lost, because I also really like the Dwell Magazine Modern chairs.  I’d prefer black, but worry they’re be too hot for summer use.

To make sure I’d be happy with my choice, I turned to my trusty friend, Photoshop to test drive.



Yep, I think they’ll work perfectly, so I ordered four for in store pick up next week.


Let the s’more roasting begin!  Happy Fourth of July to my fellow U.S. residents!

Finishing Touches

Though we remodeled our kitchen in 2015, the corner that is my office and the door to the pool wasn’t finished until last week.  Just off the kitchen was a little L shaped desk of oak cabinets with dark wallpaper all around.


It didn’t take long before I stripped the wallpaper and pulled off the decorative cabinet trim.


When we renovated the kitchen, we decided to widen the door to the pool house, making the office a desk below the window wall.

Kitchen-Remodel-Empty-Office-Plan-DrawingsTwo efficient drawer stacks store everything I need, and also art supplies of the boys.  But the walls looked sad and we needed to finish below the window.



Just this past April, that still hadn’t been done and you can see part of the old swinging door.


With the new door installed, things were finally to a point of finish.  Then I stalled on painting the trim for a month and a half.  Last week, I had time to quickly paint and finally wrap this project up.





It’s a far cry from the dark, bland beginnings.Breakfast-Nook-and-Kitchen-After-Move-In-April-30

Widening the door really makes the pool house feel less like the addition it was and more like an intentional part of the house.


Now to get it in tip-top shape to have a prettier view out that new door.  Happy weekend, everyone!

Heart Warming Housewarming Gifts

Wedding season is in full swing, but it also seems like the real estate market picks up this time of year.  Friends of ours bought their first house this week, so I’ve been thinking about housewarming gifts recently.  Pick one or a combo of the following favorites that are sure to please.

First off, a custom house portrait is a beautiful and thoughtful gift.  I’ve had one made for both of our houses, by two artists.  The top one is by Patricia from PVE Design and bottom painted by Jess at The Littlest House.


Though they’re both watercolor paintings, the styles are as different as the houses and show the unique style of the artists.  I’d highly recommend both.  Bonus, if you’re in need of a wedding gift, a wedding venue painting is perfect.

Wedding Venue Painting

I recently painted one for a friend and it was so well received, I think it’ll be my go to from now on.

When giving gifts, I find it helpful to buy cuter/fancier versions of everyday items.    If you want to focus on the front entry, give a personalized, and functional, welcome with a monogrammed door mat.  Or a potted olive tree, as they symbolize peace, friendship, and abundance.  Heck, maybe even a cute doorbell to replace the standard one that’s been there for 20 years.  A monogrammed leather key chain is a great celebration for those new keys.  Help the new owners stay organized with a multi-functional mail station.

Front-Entry-Housewarming-GiftsThese funny towels are good for a laugh, but also drying hands and dishes.  Toss in a yummy smelling dish or hand soap (Mrs. Meyer’s Radish is one of my favorites), a scrubbing-brush, maybe even a plant, and you’ve got a sweet gift.  Bonus points if you ‘wrap’ it all together in a cute basket or even a dish drying rack.

Towel-and-Soap-House-Warming-GiftGoing along with the kitchen items, a personalized cutting board is useful, but special enough to keep out.  How about this cute candle to fill the home with a beautiful scent?  As a plant lover, I think a shallow bowl (that has a matching salad serving set) turned into a herb planter would be a treat to give (or receive).


Obviously, most of these items would translate well as a wedding gift, so I hope this round-up is useful for someone this summer season.

The Slow Slog

These last few weeks have been hectic, with the school year wrapping up, complete with several fun field trips-yay!  We’ve also spent plenty of time helping friends of ours with projects for their upcoming wedding-double yay!  The combo of the events means very little has happened on the home front in the last few weeks-boo!  The little bit that has happened is boring, but necessary for the future wall finish.


I think I confused at least a few people when I mentioned building new walls, as it implied we’re building interior dividing walls.  Instead, we’re building new walls following the exterior walls, simply to add insulation and electric.


This pool space is large, around 1600 square feet.  Adequately heating this large area is crucial, especially if we want to be able to use it through the winter months.  To keep as much heat in without a furnace constantly running, we’re building another wall, just inside the perimeter.




Another wall gives us plenty of space to tuck insulation in front of the previously minimally covered concrete wall.  It also eliminates the half ledge where the concrete and stud walls meet.  Before, only 4 outlets were in the entire 1600 square feet: the pump room, one in the bathroom, and two in the wet bar.  We’ll add outlets around the room, all GFCI connected for safety.

Before we can add walls around the hot tub area, we have to fill the hole with concrete.  In place of the previously broken and recessed hot tub, we’ll have an above ground, stand alone tub.  These self-contained models are much easier to work on, or replace if it becomes broken beyond repair.


The front wall that connects to the deck is a slightly different situation, as it doesn’t need insulation because it is a full stud wall.  So it was already done, right?


Nope, because the 24 inch stud layout doesn’t match up with our wall treatment.  Knowing we’re going with a board and batten finish, we need a 16 inch on center stud placement to be able to hide the nails behind the batten strips.


To avoid building a full wall, we opted to attach 2 by 2 strips horizontally along the wall.  This will allow us to nail into the strips at 16 inch intervals, but doesn’t add a thicker wall.


Tucking insulation between the strips is just a quick way to make use of the space between the boards.  A solid wall is the turning point when a project starts to look and feel finished.  It’s the culmination of all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, er, walls.

On Unconventional Choices

Moving into this house five years ago has brought about many changes.  We’re living in a different house, duh, but that’s not exactly what I mean.  The house is different in style, boxy and modern versus our more traditional ranch from before.


Though I appreciate many styles, clean, modern houses top my list.  Probably the biggest difference is the landscape.  In just a few miles, the terrain shifts from typical, mostly level city lots with lush grass to steep, rugged/rocky, and natural hillsides.  Dated blue siding, with patched in areas of still natural cedar siding weren’t doing the house any favors.  Nor were the unkempt, overgrown weed hillsides and we set out to update both.


Our choices for the exterior siding and landscape are a bit atypical, but do make the most sense for our house/lot, climate, and lifestyles.  Working with the modern design of the house was far easier than taming the wild slopes around the house, so let’s start there.

Along with typical lap siding, we decided to add accents of CorTen steel.  Why is it so different?  It’s a specific kind of steel that creates a protective layer of surface rust.   Yes, we want our house to rust.  Back in the planning stage, many people, family, friends, and readers, had strong opinions against our choice.  Some going so far to say it looked like a mobile home with steel skirting.


We went ahead with our plan, but slightly deviated by choosing standing seam over corrugated steel.  Just after installing the final piece in November 2014, the house looked very, well…gray.  And shiny.  And boring.


Within eight months, the process had already begun.  It’s a living finish, aging with rain and humidity, slowly deepening.  We also started building our balcony, hence the partially finished railing.


Near the end of that summer, with encouragement in the form of regular spraying from a garden hose, the color continued to deepen.  Finishing the balcony, staining it dark to blend also helped.


Today, we have a deep reddish-brown rust with texture and spotting that, from a distance, looks much like a stained wood board and batten.



This siding is durable, low maintenance, and the long vertical strips make it easy to install along a steep grade, hiding the ugly foundation line.  Since install, we’ve had a large hail storm, with zero damage to the siding.


As I mentioned at the beginning, the landscape drastically changes in just a few miles.  Our rocky landscape is somewhat abnormal, but many homes in our neighborhood have a lot or most rock.


Unlike our home, many others have large areas of level landscape.  Due to our driveway, both the front and back have steep slopes.  Starting at the road, the lot rises 12 to 15 feet before arriving at our front door.


That’s far too steep to mow normal grass.




Furthermore, we live in an area that gets 14 inches of annual precipitation, which is just 4 inches more than the definition of a desert.  Of course, very little comes in the heat of the summer, when grass really needs a thorough soaking.  The combination of the steep hillside and lack of rainfall, we didn’t feel it was responsible to try to grow grass.  Instead, we’ve covered the slopes in limestone, which prevents erosion and quicker water evaporation.  Over the years, I’ve slowly added water wise plants to soften/cover the rock and brighten the landscape.  Unlike the siding, the landscape continues to require maintenance, so we’re happy to save time and work where we can.  Have you chosen any unusual finishes for your home?