December Progress on the Backyard

THE RAVENNA HOUSE

I sure hope you are all have a great start to 2015!  But before we delve into the new year, I want to get you caught up on all the work we did last month on the backyard of the Ravenna House.

The Grit and Polish - Backyard Work Wilder 1

Despite the rainy weather, we made some good progress on the backyard.  And yes, by we I mean Wilder and his “hammer”.  Plus a little help from Dada 😉

In December we poured a concrete curb at the patio, laid the foundation for a shed, and installed pipping for a future hose-bib.

The Grit and Polish - Backyard Patio Edge 1

That’s a picture of the concrete curb on the edge of the patio.  We put this in to keep the pavers from settling over time.  Unfortunately we poured the concrete just before a massive downpour and we didn’t get a chance to finish the top of the concrete.  So yes, it will always be this rough. But since it’s outside I really don’t care.  Besides with a little landscaping and the right outdoor furniture on the patio, I’m hoping you’ll never even notice the concrete!

The Grit and Polish - Backyard Work Wilder and DadaThe Grit and Polish - Backyard Shed Form

Someday there will be a shed in this corner of the backyard, which will provide some much needed storage.  The picture above was taken while Garrett was forming the concrete pad that will sit beneath the shed.  He used 3/8″ rebar (on the edges) and mats (in the interior) for strength.  We poured the concrete the next day, just as the elusive winter sun was passing overhead.

The Grit and Polish - Backyard Shed Garrett pouring concreteThe Grit and Polish - Backyard Shed PourThe Grit and Polish - Backyard Shed Handprints in Concrete

We all managed to get our handprints in the wet concrete as it was drying…a first for Wilder!

The pictures above also give you a good shot of the fencing at the Ravenna House.  We plan to replace the green falling-down fence at the back of the shots with a new cedar fence and continue it in front of the chain link fence at right. And with Wilder’s skills with a “hammer”, that fence will be up in no time!

The Grit and Polish - Backyard Work Wilder 2

Oh and one more photo, because I just don’t know when to quit.  These are Garrett’s shoes after pouring the shed’s concrete pad.

The Grit and Polish - Backyard Concrete on Shoes

Up next, a shed!  And a potty-trained toddler.  Okay, I’ll settle for either one of those…

More on the patio here and backyard inspiration here.

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. I’ve been trying to feed my Serial addiction with other podcasts and this Ira Glass piece is the trick!

p.p.s. Who knew Richard Gere had such good taste in real estate?!

p.p.p.s. This Cape Dutch renovation does not disappoint.  I am loving all that white…of course I am!

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Our Previous Patio (Introducing the Wallingford House)

THE WALLINGFORD HOUSE

Last week I showed you guys our patio project at the Ravenna House.  It doesn’t look like much yet – the backyard still needs plants, fencing, grass, a little pizzaz – but we’re making progress.  This week I thought it would be fun to look back and show you the last patio we built, which was at our Wallingford House.

The Grit and Polish - Wallingford Patio at night 2

I haven’t told you guys much about our Wallingford home other than it was our first, so a quick introduction…

The Wallingford House

Wallingford House Historic Photo

Garrett and I bought the Wallingford House in 2008 with every last penny we could scrape together.  The house, built in 1916, was a small craftsman with 2 beds/1bath, 9.5′ ceilings, an unfinished basement, lots of natural light, and a unique detached cottage/workspace in the backyard.  And I was in love.  Like head-over-heels in love.

We moved-in in September with full hearts and an eight-week-old-puppy named Bubba.  The puppy was cute and energetic but the house was in various states of disrepair.  Originally we planned to live in the house forever and fix it up as we went but I got laid off and our plans changed.  With Garrett in graduate school and me without a job, we were no longer able to afford the mortgage, so I suggested we finish-out the basement, rent the house, and move into the backyard cottage.  And that’s just what we did (more on all of that here).  But let’s get back to the patio.  Here’s what it looks like now:

The Grit and Polish - Wallingford Patio All 2The Grit and Polish - Wallingford Patio lavendar 2The Grit and Polish - Wallingford Patio benchThe Grit and Polish - Wallingford Patio blueberriesThe Grit and Polish - Wallingford Patio table

The backyard at the Wallingford House is dominated by a detached, 2-story cottage with a 200sf footprint (I’ll show you that structure another day).  There’s also a cute, small shed for storage, which Garrett built me.  The rest of the yard is really private, due in large part to the green-wall of laurel hedges on our south property line.

The Grit and Polish - Wallinford Patio Collage 1    The Grit and Polish - Wallingford Patio Table 2The Grit and Polish - Wallingford Patio fence arbor

We spent a lot of time building this backyard.  We did all the work ourselves and on a tight budget.  When we first bought the property, there was a giant kiln and overgrown-everything in the backyard.  Over a few summers (both while we lived in the house and then the cottage) we removed the kiln with a jackhammer and some family muscle, tidied up the landscaping, fenced the lot with wood from Papa’s scrap pile, planted wisteria and lavender and blueberries, and then laid the patio.  I loved this project.  I loved dreaming up the space.  I loved construction.

Here’s an iPhone picture of Garrett and I rebuilding the back deck, which connects the house’s back door to the patio.  Like all things, the deck ended up being a lot more work than we expected after finding mold in much of the structure.

The Grit and Polish - Wallingford Patio Deck construction

The deck was the last major project in the backyard and we were thrilled when it was finished.

The Grit and Polish - Wallingford Patio back deck

We had a lot of fun in this backyard – during construction and especially after.  We hosted large parities and intimate dinners around the farm table Garrett and I built.  We enjoyed sunny afternoons and snowy mornings (well at least one) with friends and family and people from the neighborhood.  But mostly it was just Garrett and I, before kids, spending quiet evenings under twinkling lights, with a cribbage board and some beers.  Ahhhhh I really miss this backyard!

BUT, if we get busy, the Ravenna House will have a backyard to play cribbage in too…

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. Are you ready for Thanksgiving?!  Here are some really spectacular recipes from around the country.  I’m excited about trying Nevada’s turkey French Dips with leftovers.  And are you kidding me with Persimmon pudding, Indiana?!  Sounds delicious!

p.p.s. You and I are going to spend a lot of time cooking this week, right?  Well here are a few modern-meets-vintage kitchens I wouldn’t mind baking some sweet potatoes in!

p.p.p.s. Wilder is really getting this renovation thing down.  Now if we could just get him to wear pants…

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It’s a Patio…in my backyard!

THE RAVENNA HOUSE

Well guys it’s officially rainy season here in Seattle.  You know what that means.  We expect a lot of wet weather, day in and day out, for about six months.  But  this year has been different.  We’ve gotten a spell of cold that’s had the sun shining bright and the falling-leaves dry.  So far, it’s actually been a beautiful fall, and we’ve taken full advantage of it to make progress on the patio.

After we got back from New Orleans, we rented a plate compactor and leveled out the gravel base we had laid in the backyard.

The Grit and Polish - backyard patio prep

Disregard the mess along the sagging fences.  Some day Garrett is going to build me a storage shed.  And than a fence.  🙂

We wanted the patio to be long – about the length of the parking pad – and 12′ in width.  That way we can use it for overflow parking if need be.  We prepped the patio area with gravel and after we graded and compacted it, we started laying pavers.

The Grit and Polish - Patio Construction 3

I scored some free granite paver left-overs from a commercial plaza downtown through a connection at work.  The pavers are generally 1’x2′ in size but we also got a lot of miscellaneous-sized cut pieces.  So we fit them together like a puzzle.  I think it looks pretty cool plus they were free.  And free is my favorite price 🙂

To lay the pavers, we set down a couple inches of sand in a small area – about 10sf- and leveled it using a 2×4 and some old yard-tool handles.  Here’s Wilder stepping in the leveled-sand on the first day of laying pavers:

The Grit and Polish - Patio Construction 1

Wilder didn’t actually get to lay any pavers due to the fact that they weigh upwards of 50lbs.  Per piece!  But Wilder did get to throw the small cast-offs around.  Plus he helped by “digging” and picking up leaves.  This kiddo loves to help. When he sees dada put on his work boots, he starts jumping up and down and squealing, knowing he gets to go outside and help dada work.  And when I come out to inspect the work (someone’s got to do quality control after all), he loves to tell me about it in giant hand-gestures and babbled-sentences.  It’s really the sweetest!

Here we are about half way done laying the patio:

The Grit and Polish - Patio Construction 2

And here’s the finished product, Wilder-tested and approved:

The Grit and Polish - Patio Construction 4

I’m noticing our concrete driveway is looking a little lackluster these days.  While I doubt we’ll get around to repairing the concrete, hopefully it gets a good power wash.  Or maybe just a good rain.

We swept sand in-between the pavers.  After a rain storm or two we’ll probably have to lay some more, but for now it’s done.  We still plan to lay some kind of border around the patio – not sure if it will be concrete or just a flower bed.

Well it’s nice to be able to say (finally) that the patio is done.  Done, done, done!  Next up: a shed for mama and a fence for Bubba!

More on the backyard renovation here, here, and here.

xoxo

-Cathy

p.s. This New Orleans house is amazing.

p.p.s. Have you guys been listening to Serial?  Get on board…it’s awesome!!!

p.p.p.s. I would live in this NYC apartment.  Oh yes, yes I would.

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