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.

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

The short option felt way too small. 006garage_door_handle

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!