Of House and Home: Our Outdoor Oasis

Once Old Man Winter decided to give up his throne, our lives became a never ending cycle of yard work every single weekend we’ve been in town.

In April we tore up the front yard and made a bed with ground covers, a potted hydrangea, lavender and rosemary. We also put in a trellis with a clematis vine to hide our trash cans. It was a lot of work, but we rewarded ourselves nicely afterward.

We did other work in the backyard while our moms were in town, but some of the hanging plants have since died (it wasn’t me, it was them) so this weekend we replaced them and I also planted a little garden. I am starting with red bell pepper, jalapeno, okra and eggplant. Wish the little guys better luck than most of my herbs, which have since been replaced by succulents. Most of them died while we were on our Europe trip. (Cause of death: flooding. And I thought they would die from too little water.)

pre-flood herbs

pre-flood herbs

Dave has been talking about a grill for months, and last weekend his dreams came true. We picked one out and he spent Sunday putting it together so we could enjoy the fruits of his labor that evening – and a few times since. This weekend we put the sprinkles on top of his “outdoor oasis” sundae and got new patio furniture too!

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Dave with his new grill! #mcm #latergram

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the new lounge furniture – you can see my little garden in the top left!

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looking toward the fire pit and old furniture out into the yard

After putting it together I made a run to Lowe’s for a leaf blower. It is my new favorite possession. My life is now complete. It saves so much time and energy when trying to clear off the patio, and does a better job than either of us with the push broom. It also is a vacuum, which means we can clear out the leaves and debris that fall down to the area outside the basement entrance. That stuff was building up, which resulted in a clogged drain anytime it rained – even a little bit – leading to a flooded basement on a couple of occasions! That’s another story for another day though. For now I am looking forward to morning coffee and evening wine in our new outdoor oasis!

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Rise and shine! #DoubleNoFilter

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Hope y’all had a great June – here comes July! (Woah.)

Of House and Home: The Man Cave

Every time we looked at a house that was seemingly “perfect,” Dave would hesitate if it did not have a basement. He’s dreamed of his “Dave Cave” for quite some time, and to be honest, I wanted him to have a space to watch Villanova basketball or jam on the drums so that I could watch Grey’s Anatomy or figure skating in the other living area.

After being in for a few months now, I am oh so happy that this house has just that.

It took a little work to make it the perfect cave it is today, but I think it’s the greatest transformation of the house, with the kitchen coming in close second.

When we first walked in, it was not very warm or welcoming, nor did it have the necessary cave-like feel. Bulkheads came down in a couple of areas, the floor was an ugly beige tile and walls were stark white.

Behind the living area of the basement was a laundry room and another full bath, which were two huge pluses for Capitol Hill homes, and totally checked additional boxes on the wish list.

It needed work, but we absolutely saw potential! So up came the tile and down came those bulkheads, which turned out to be unnecessary, over-sized ductwork.

Oh, and we also took everything out of the bathroom to start fresh.

As I mentioned before, we stopped by nearly every day before moving in to check on progress, meet with the contractor and make various decisions. It was unnerving to see it all so torn up, but also a bit thrilling. Dave made sure to lighten the mood … looking at me through the hole between the kitchen and our guest bedroom on the floor above.

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After picking out three different kinds of tile, two different paint shades, a vanity and a toilet, we were almost set. The bathroom came together nicely – and we even were able to hide the pipe that used to run across the wall! (I won’t get into details about the trouble getting the glass. It’s in now, and that’s all that matters. Right?)

For the living area we decided to go with a laminate wood flooring, but the one we really wanted was a special order item, so we had to go with our second favorite. In the end, we were so pleased with how well it turned out – much warmer than the other flooring would have been.

So that’s it! The “Dave Cave” is a reality and has even already had some big time excitement — our friends Matthew and Justin got engaged in the basement on New Year’s Eve!

And with this post, I am happy to say that the reno updates are finished for now! Of course there are other projects on the list, but they will be minor in comparison. The most pressing item is to get some landscaping done … any green thumbs out there want to give me ideas? Please!

Of House and Home: Kitchen Reno

Aside from sleeping (which puts me obviously in the bedroom), I probably spend most of my time in the kitchen. Growing up with a chef for a dad, everything revolved around a meal. (And wine. Always wine.) Needless to say the kitchen was a very important part of our search – at least in my opinion! Honestly, if a house had been perfect in every other way, I would have had a difficult time agreeing to make an offer if the kitchen wasn’t at least workable.

I couldn’t be too picky though! We had a budget to stay within and there are only so many options in the neighborhood we wanted. That being said, I really do love our kitchen. It’s small in terms of counter space and storage, but we saw much worse. Plus it opens to the dining area, which automatically makes it feel bigger. I knew that we could definitely get creative and make it work, especially since the house met almost every other item on our wish list.

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kitchen before

There were a few cosmetic things I wanted to take care of – I hated the color of the cabinets, the floor tile and light fixture had to go and I wanted to add a little pop by putting in a backsplash (subtle, nothing flashy). Dave also thought we needed a new faucet so he installed that after we moved in. The contractors got to work almost immediately after we closed on the house. Even though we wouldn’t move in for a couple of weeks, we stopped by practically every day to check in on things and make various decisions. (It was a bit exhausting, which is why I haven’t posted about the reno until now!) This is a glimpse of what the process looked like … look at that old-school black and white tile below our ugly 90s tile!

I had very mixed feelings whenever we would see the “progress.” It was a little lot scary to have everything so torn up, but at the same time it was a bit of a thrill. Everything happened so quickly because we didn’t have much time so all the tile had to be in stock nearby or at least something that could be shipped within a week. Originally I wanted this backsplash, but since it wasn’t available, I found something similar. We searched forEVER for the floor tile and finally found a slate-like tile that was the right shape/size and not tinted blue. In the end it looked like this!

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kitchen after

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kitchen after
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I love it!! And it’s so crazy to look at the before and after comparison side by side. I am so pleased with every aspect of the kitchen and the facelift makes cooking a much more pleasant experience since I actually enjoy being in the room.

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side by side before and after