Category: Exterior

Lighting up the courtyard

When we first stepped back and said “Hey this looks like a courtyard,” we knew there was one thing that would really give it that courtyard feel

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Based on the fact that you can read the title of the post, I’m sure you know that we opted to string some lights!

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Eighty eight lightbulbs to be exact, procured from PartyLights.com (specifically this type with 11 watt bulbs.) We strung them between the firehouse and garage, creating a ceiling effect in the space. They are hard wired to a dimmer to provide maximum ambiance control.

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When you’re standing under the lights, they really distract from the power lines coming into the building, which is a nice bonus.

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This area is really turning into a gorgeous spot.

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Please note, this is the only time our dog looks small…

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BUT the best part is how they look at night…

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Can it get more magical than this??

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Here’s the part of the post where I get all sappy and can’t believe that we LIVE here. For two people who never thought they’d find a “forever” home, I’m continually amazed how the firehouse allows us to craft exactly the space we’ve always dreamed of. (There will be much more of this as we work on the kitchen and create the wine cellar.) (WINE CELLAR! Eek!)

I digress… here’s more eye candy.

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That wraps up the courtyard updates and all of the projects we jumped on for the House Hunters: Where Are They Now episode. (Sometime in March 2015.) Our wedding season is also winding down, so we’re looking forward to some extra free time (watch out antique malls, here we come) and prioritizing our list for 2015. One particular project is looming large (literally)… more on that later.

The new fire pit

This is a story about how we got a new fire pit, but just buying a fire pit isn’t very interesting. So because I’m feeling chatty (which may or may not be influenced by the steaming mug of spiked cider on my desk) I’m going to tell you why our old fire pit was so important.

When we packed up the rest of our belongings in Kansas City, we got a truck that was too small. This forced us to weed out some non-essential items a la the Bachelor/Bachelorette… or Survivor… or whatever reality TV show reference makes the most sense here. Among the items that didn’t get a rose make the cut: the gas grill that we bought for $100 when we moved in together (6 years prior.) That thing was WELL past it’s prime. So in the first days of living at the condo we hit up Lowe’s to buy a replacement and also came home with this guy:

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Aaron contends that it is his favorite thing we purchased because of the move. (I’m still pretty happy with the choice of an upgraded grill which led to him getting into smoking meat. But the fire pit is a close second.) We spent many, many nights on the small patio at our condo in front of this thing.

This fire pit helped us realize a lot of things. We missed the opportunity to hang out in nature, which ultimately inspired the vintage camper purchase. (No, it’s still not done…. because, firehouse.) It also got us really excited about having an outdoor space at whatever property we purchased.

After a few years of hard use and cold winters, this little guy was starting to show his age. Particularly in the form of a crack that we worried would split it wide open.

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Aaron (aka the master material sourcer) started looking for a replacement. When he showed me a cool steel fire pit on Etsy, I agreed that it was awesome, but didn’t give it much thought. I assumed he would save it to Pinterest and when we were ready we would see if it was still available.

Then one day, I walked into the studio and saw this. (Actually, we had it in our possession for a good 24 hours before I noticed and Aaron thought it was hilarious that I walked by it at least once. To be fair, I was looking in the opposite direction and didn’t expect a MASSIVE fire pit to be hanging out in our studio.)

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I wish I could tell you that we fired it up the very next weekend. But in reality it sat in the studio for a few months. (Just trying to keep it real, people.) We knew the pit would rust (part of it’s charm and a great reference to the cor-ten fence) and we really wanted to seal the concrete (#unglamorousDIY) before putting the new fire pit into service.

BUT! FINALLY! Here it is in action!

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It’s been exposed to the elements for a few months and it’s already starting to get a nice patina.

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We absolutely love this bigger, better fire pit. We’re hoping the new placement (in the courtyard instead of on the side of the firehouse) will allow us to avoid some of the winter wind that howls down the building and use this throughout the coming season.

Don’t forget that you have until midnight tomorrow to pick out your favorite print in our Etsy shop and leave a comment on this post for your chance to win one.

New electric + ipe planter

This post didn’t come together well. First, we lost all of the pictures showing the building process, and now, I’ve rewritten the intro to this post so many times that I’ve finally given up.

Here’s what you need to know. We didn’t run electric from the firehouse to the carport (i.e. future garage) before we laid the concrete for the patio/parking pad. Doh! That left us looking for an aesthetically pleasing way to run the necessary conduit across the patio. Our solution: Hide the conduit under a gorgeous, custom ipe planter.

Viola! I love it! (SQUEE!)

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First we had to remove an unnecessary fence post. (You can see it below in the middle of the fence.)

I should back up and explain that we hired a contractor to install the requisite posts for the fence. Given the sheer size of the yard and the brick laden soil, we felt it was well worth the money to farm out that piece of labor. Something got lost in translation and we ended up with this totally unnecessary and barely-bolted-to-the-ground post between our back door and the carport. We knew we would take it out eventually, and we didn’t even bother drilling into it when we installed the cor-ten. Instead, this piece of fence is attached to a post that is secured to the firehouse on one end and directly to the carport on the other.

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Anyways, back to the post. A little brute force left us with a clear stretch of fence. The ghost mark from the post will eventually rust and be less noticeable.

Then Aaron installed plastic conduit from the junction box on the firehouse (where he ran electrical outside last year), over the back door, and then across the gap from the house to the garage. Here’s where I would love to insert all of the process pictures that were accidentally deleted.  Sad face.

What’s hiding under the ipe is a box made from treated lumber that sits on legs to raise it off the ground and level. Running beneath that is the conduit, which is attached to the bottom to offer some extra support.

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The planter also has a small bump by the garage door to allow the door to open entirely.

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A middle support beam offers extra stability.

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I am totally smitten with this piece. It’s a gorgeous, custom piece that demonstrates my husband’s craftsmanship. He made this from scratch, drafting the plans, working with the slope of the patio, carefully layering on the ipe (the lines of the ipe match up to the ipe on the garage for goodness sake!) It’s not the first thing he’s constructed (or even the largest, see the viewing room) but it’s so beautiful. Honestly, I feel so lucky to have a man who can create a custom piece that would have cost thousands of dollars to have someone else conceive, design and build it. Geez! Sorry for the love fest… Long story short, I’m in love (with the planter and my husband.)

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Obviously it will make a bigger impact when everything is in place, but I didn’t want to wait to tell you about it, especially because it will be apparent in some of the wider shots of the patio. Plus, we really needed to get this project done so  we could get rid of the extension cord that’s been powering our garage doors for… um… months. #renovationrealities

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In the spring, we’ll line the inside with landscaping fabric and fill it with dirt to create a home for herbs and vegetable plants. This will give me lots of space to expand my existing, potted herb garden. Since this planter sits against the cor-ten, which gets quite warm in the summer, we’ll have to see which plants thrive in which area. We’re also considering trellising a column of ivy up the side of the firehouse. All of which will bring some life to this space and break up the brown tones.

I can’t be the only one with an inordinate amount of love for a seemingly random home project. What are you crushing on in your abode?

Getting a handle on the garage door

It’s interesting to discover what we can live with through the course of this renovation. Future living room in constant state of chaos? Check. Stairs that are prepped for paint for months on end? No big deal.

We can add “missing handle on the door to the detached garage” to the list. After we finished the ipe wrap on the garage, we added hardware to the door and then promptly got busy with life (and vacation.)

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It only presented a problem when it rained and the wood swelled ever so slightly. But with the impeding return of the House Hunters crew, the courtyard area got a lot of attention, including this minor update.

Perusing the interwebs offered a host of fairly ugly and fairly expensive door handles. So we turned to steel pipe, which is a go to material for us. The industrial aspect fits well with our style, and we’ve crafted everything from a floor-to-ceiling wall shelf (in our previous condo) to curtain rods out of metal pipe.

For each end of the handle, we screwed together a base, a nipple (this always makes me laugh, because apparently I’m 5), and a 90 degree angle.

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One of the great things about metal conduit is that you can get it cut it to any length. Home Depot will do this for free and even add in the requisite threads for screwing pieces together. For this application, we wanted to keep it cheap and easy so we opted for a standard size pipe in the middle.

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We auditioned two sizes to see what would work best. 004garage_door_handle

We liked the weight of the longer option, but we worried that it was so big that it would distract from the ipe, which we all know is the star of the show back here.005garage_door_handle

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So we tried positioning the long option over the hardware and it felt just right. The depth of the handle allows ample room to work the hardware. The straddle maneuver also ties the pieces together visually.

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After a quick cleaning with an orange degreaser, Aaron gave the winning handle a coat of black spray paint. 008garage_door_handle 009garage_door_handle

Now getting in and out of the garage through the human sized door is much easier. If only cleaning our downstairs living room (and keeping it that way) was as easy!

How we get into the garage and staining the backside

Apparently we caused a little confusion with our ipe garage post. I didn’t actually show you how we get our cars into the garage. My bad. The post was picture heavy and I really wanted something to chat with you about this week. Projects are slow because w-editing. That’s short for “editing wedding images” for those non-wedding photographers out there… of which there may be many more thanks to our recent feature on Apartment Therapy. Hi, new readers!

I digress. We can, in fact, get our cars into the garage thanks to the alley access on the backside of the building.

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Part way through the ipe wrap we got garage doors, which was a happier day than I ever imagined.

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Then we grappled with how to finish the alley side of the garage. We L O V E the look of the ipe and we usually choose aesthetics over… well, over everything else (specifically time and money.) But the ipe wrap had turned into a very tedious project, and we questioned whether the alley side really needed that treatment. We were also really happy with how the stain on the fence posts turned them into a deep brown the mimicked the tone of the ipe.

Stain (and common sense?) won. While Aaron worked (tirelessly) on the ipe, I spent a few hours on a few weekend days to coat the exposed wood with Behr Semi-Transparent Weather Proofing All-in-one Wood Stain and Sealer tinted to chocolate.

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We are really happy with the results. It gave the wood a rich feel that ties in nicely with the ipe AND it was a project I could tackle. It’s always nice when I can get in on the renovation and take something off of Aaron’s plate.

Here are a few angles: pre-doors, pre-stain and finished.

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These two pictures (above and below) are a good example of how the light (cloudy above, sunny below) affect the appearance of the cor-ten fence.

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A few people asked for pictures of the interior of the garage. I’m giving you an IOU for that, but I promise it’s not very exciting or photogenic. More to come!