Jade grows outside here. We bought all of the jade.

We wouldn’t be us if we didn’t start another project in the midst of a huge renovation.

There were a few motivations for this mini redo. 1. The planting beds in the front of our house had gotten a tinsy bit out of control. 2. While visiting Santa Barbara with friends, we discovered that jade grows in the ground here. Like this is a natural habitat for jade, which is one of our all time favorite succulents.

Let’s take a look at what we were working with…

The left side is dominated by a bougainvillea and a… let’s be honest plants are not our forte. Regardless those plants were growing really well, but they don’t fit in our vision of low water/low maintenance landscaping. The right side is just good old fashioned weeds. Those also grow really well here.

It’s a little hard to see, but there is a bit of concrete on each side of the landing. To add some height, we decided we would use the concrete pots that held our herb garden at the firehouse to hold some additional plants. We planned to paint them gray, which will flow better with the exterior paint change we have planned.

We decided to scour the internet for some full grown plants, which can be quite expensive in the Midwest, and snapped up two good sized jade plants from Craigslist for $30 each. (You can see one in the photo above next to the garage.) We figured adding some larger plants would make the installation feel more full. Then we hit up a local nursery and realized that plants grow so well here that you can buy huge plants SUPER cheap!

Here’s the finished installation:    

On the left we opted for a pair of gollum jade plants in the ground and “things we liked from the succulent section of the nursery” in the pots. (As per above, we are not great at plants.) On the right, one of the Craigslist jade plants joined a fire stick plant that got a bit too big for the planter in the backyard in painted pots. A pair of jade plants, two black rose succulents and five other succulent things that we picked up from Home Depot went in the ground. The front section of the planter got sections of pink iceplant that should fill the space completely once it has a chance to grow. Hardscapes are simple – white chip marble in the back, black mulch in the front and blue gray Mexican river rock on the top of the pots.

Ready for some before and after shots? Let’s go!

We are super happy with how this turned out and the plants are thriving! The look is much cleaner, which you know we love.

This space isn’t done. Besides changing the beige color across the entire home, we plan to bring some ipe wood to the entry and Aaron has plans for a new door. Those projects are further down the list, but it’s always possible we’ll get a wild hair and knock something out sooner rather than later.

Three major upgrades

I always struggle with writing about major projects that we contract out. While 100% necessary, they always feel a bit bland to talk about. There’s not much story to “We picked out shingles. The end.” But in the interest of thoroughly documenting the updates to our new space, these changes seemed worthy of a post.

Let’s start at the top (literally). Despite the thousands of words I used to tell you about our location and specific house hunt in SoCal, I’m pretty sure I didn’t explicitly mention that Aaron saw our future home for the first time on inspection day. When we pulled up, the first thing he said was “It probably needs a new roof.” This was quickly confirmed by the inspector and later by multiple roofing companies. However, the sellers will go to their grave claiming the roof was fine. Negotiations post inspection may have been (they were) a little frustrating.

Thankfully, we had enough money in reserve from the firehouse sale to cover the new roof, and Aaron worked his usual sourcing magic to find a great, affordable small business to take on the job.  We opted for their suggested brand (CertainTeed Landmark series) and requested all of the gray/black samples, which gave us these options: Georgetown Gray, Thunderstorm Gray, and Moire Black.

While none of these compliment the current beige on beige on brown color scheme, a new exterior paint job is on the list for 2018. We’re leaning toward a mid century blue gray exterior, but didn’t even have paint swatches at this point. We opted for Moire Black on the roof to ensure the finished look isn’t too monochromatic  in case we go a little more gray than blue when we choose the shade for the house.

From there we just had to watch them work and pay the bill.

 

We are both very excited to dive into painting this summer. Famous last words, right?

The second upgrade also became apparent on inspection day. We always recommend booking additional inspections for any major systems that may be of concern. Normally these are inexpensive and totally worth the peace of mind. Along with a traditional inspector, we asked an HVAC expert to give the furnace a once over. Besides being old AF (it’s original to the 1960s house), the inspection revealed a cracked heat exchange, which meant it needed to go. After a few bids, we hired Castle Air to replace the system. We were really impressed with their thoroughness, including adding additional vents to achieve better airflow.

The third major change was an upgraded electrical panel and adding a sub-panel to the garage. This gave us enough power to build out the workshop. We even found a local stucco pro to patch the exterior around the new, enlarged panel. The workshop has been Aaron’s main focus in the weeks he’s been in California. It’s crucial to the kitchen/dining room reno we’re planning to dive into in a few short weeks!

In which we plant succulents outside and all my dreams come true

This wasn’t the first project we did at the new house. The first project we tackled was painting our master bedroom… and our master bathroom… and, for good measure, the guest bedroom. We tackled those first because we spent nearly a week in our house without ANY OF OUR STUFF. But that’s a story for another day… a day when I have edited “after” photos when my husband lives full time in California with me.

It’s important to share these updates because you may have noticed in the introductory post for the new house that I failed to take good “before” photos of the backyard. Now I can’t do that without bringing you up to speed on these quick updates we made soon after moving in.

Up first: Swapping this table for our fire pit.

While it was great to have this outdoor eating area when we were waiting for our things to arrive, it didn’t fit in our overall vision for the backyard for a lot of reasons. 1. We have a massive slab (aka future table) and designs for a larger outdoor dining room. 2. This seemed like the perfect spot for our fire pit.

The post of the table is cemented in place, so removing it just required a quick tour with the sawzall.

We kept the chairs – 2 for the fire pit and 2 for the interim outdoor dining area.

Project #2: A planter makeover.

There are approximately 1,000 planters/planting beds at this house. While most of them need to be converted in groups, this standalone guy (no pun intended) was an easy target for ALL OF THE SUCCULENTS! I love succulents and have a Pinterest board to prove it. (Ok, that sounds weird, but it is true.) They grow outside here and this may officially be heaven. So you shouldn’t be surprised when you see a lot of these make their way into our landscaping.

Boom!

Succulents + gray rocks. Be still my heart.

I intended to list the names for all these plants, but those photos are with Aaron in St. Louis. If you’re dying to know, leave me a comment and I’ll swing back with the info. In the meantime, I’ll just be sipping my wine gazing lovingly at these beauties.