Our house continues to become a home, one project at a time. Since buying the Apple House in October 2018, we have demolished walls, refloored the entire upstairs, gutted the bathroom, changed windows, and painted every wall and ceiling. With warmer weather and COVID keeping us home, Spring 2020 was the perfect excuse to complete another project as well: designing and constructing our own backyard paver patio.
I am amazed that it is already mid-June. Michigan has been a dealt a very wet and cool summer thus far, but G and I continue to design our house into a home. One very big project that will be stretching across the summer and into the fall is regaining control of our unbelievably jungle-like yard. There was a weekend in April where my husband said, “I’m going to go mow the grass.” and next I knew there was a waving tree outside our bedroom window — he was wrestling one of the many spindles down in the backyard. Since that weekend, many a hosta has been removed from our yard, grass has been seeded, and trunks ground down.
The following are images of parts of the yard in their “Before” state followed by images of their “Current” state. Within the next few months, I’ll share how progress is going and debut the completed lawn look.
The first area of hard work outside was the Northside of our home. When we initially looked at our home prior to putting an offer down, we knew this side of the house would require extensive work. You’ll notice a hole or two in the “Before” shot, but the photo does not do the yard justice. In fact, where the dirt is shown was like walking through landmines — you never knew when your foot was going to fall through the ground and into the cavern beneath. When G and his dad dug a large trench here, they found numerous twisting root systems from hundreds of plants that came and went over the years. The result was a thin layer of dirt over the roots and a trampoline-feeling ground which was perilous to walk. Fearing for anyone’s safety and for the drainage on this side of the house, G tackled this area before even considering any other part of the yard.
As I said, he and his dad initially had to dig a trench the length of the house and width of that dirty area below. It was not an easy job! Then he painted the base of the house, and lay drainage piping into the backyard from the front downspout. This piping was to decrease any erosion in the future and hopefully dissuade any future caverns being created like there was previously. Next G refilled the trench with stone and dirt, and laid grass-seed and hay on top. This was all done mid-April, and we now have a thick patch of grass taking root.
The backyard will be a continuous work-in-progress over the next year or two. However, G and I have been working tirelessly to remove and/or move plants around to make the yard more usable. We have removed all the trees except our magnolia, and most of the random hostas and grasses growing in the middle of the yard. It is beginning to look more like a yard than a jungle!
Mostly, the backyard needed a lot of cleanup on top of removal of random pieces. The green single-pane windows that were not beneficial to our energy bill have been removed and rehung with double-pane Pellas. Unfortunately this little project came a bit quicker than anticipated after I caught my hand through the middle window during a clumsy accident. (No trip to the ER was necessary, but I do have a cool scar now – whoops!) The back screen door was thrown away and the back door was replaced with a steel door for security purposes also. G has patched up a few of the cracks in the foundation that are due to settling over the years, and we plan to paint the base soon.
We also have a pile of 300 foot-by-foot blocks to build a 12 foot x 24 foot patio outside the backdoor, and a fire ring with bricks to design a hang-out area. We already use our backyard weekly, but we’re looking forward to creating this outdoor space to enjoy the sunsets that can be seen over the field behind our home.
The latest area of work has been the South side of our home. Originally, there was a small landing that boasted several overgrown bushes behind a small fence and a busted rocking bench. We have removed the landing completely with only the rocky underlay still there. G dug out a trench (in-progress shot below), painted the house-base, and placed drainage from our front downspout to go down to the backyard. He also removed all the bushes and overgrowth pictured below and we have since planted grass along the entire decline.
I have been loving seeing what plants pop up around the yard and deciding whether to keep them and/or move them. As someone who was not gifted with a green thumb, I am always looking for suggestions and advice on how to better our yard, specifically with plant recommendations, so please share!
In October I shared with you that the first big project G and I were undertaking with our home would be remodeling our bathroom. (You can see our plans for this remodel here.) As our one and only bathroom in the house, this remodel had to be done quickly, yet accurately. Luckily I know two of the most hardworking, dedicated, and talented men available to do the job: my husband and my dad.
These two worked their butts off. G and my dad started the project on Friday, December 21st and completed everything except the closet shelves and decor details by Wednesday, January 2nd. The only piece of the original bathroom which remained was the toilet. The guys gutted the walls, rewired the electric, created a fan vent through the roof, replumbed, and brought in a new tub/shower and vanity. Plus, they hung dry wall, painted, and laid tiling on the floor. It was a rough way to spend the holiday break, but the final result was well-worth it — G and I could not be more happy with our new bathroom.
Since moving into our new home at the end of September 2018, G and I dealt with our bathroom in the state below:
The flooring did not match. The wallpaper was peeling from the walls. Our mirror was hanging from the wall light with a bread-bag tie due to exposed (hot) wires behind it. And our shower was a walk-in that took up space where we were already lacking. We bought the house knowing the bathroom would be our first remodel.
The remodel began with gutting the walls to the studs. We removed the walk-in shower/tub and replaced it with a light-weight Vikrell bathtub and a shower wall. We had considered tiling the shower area but decided that, with our time crunch issue, the one-piece surround would be as nice. We’re happy with this decision as the surround we chose has six shelves, plenty to hold the majority of our shower necessities.
Then came some of the more technical steps of the remodel: rewiring the electricity, replumbing with PVC piping, venting the fan through the roof, and setting the subfloor. I won’t pretend to know more about these steps than their general idea. All I know is the bathroom increased in outlets so I could use a hair dryer and straightener at the same time, and that our fan is now functional. Thank goodness for handy men!
Being such a small bathroom, I chose a very light color for our walls: Valspar’s White Sage. I matched our shower curtain — which is a treescape of dark grey fading to soft green — to the wall color in-store and am happy for the slight touch of color the walls now offer. Set against our white-and-gray tiling, the bathroom looks bright and calming.
The vanity has a similar veining as our tiles as well. We were able to find a vanity short enough to allow smooth passage into the bathroom, but also full of storage space underneath. Our mirror and wilderness painting were both gifted to us, and fit perfectly into the aesthetic of the space. All our finishings (the faucets, hooks, and rods) are the brushed nickle Lilyfield style found at Lowes. And our wall light, which has the appearance of dew-drops over candlelight, are the Alexa model made by Progress Lighting.
Following the main haul of the remodel, G and I had been patiently using the bathroom to see what changes needed to be made before finishing its completion. We realized right away that our daily necessities, such as toothbrushes and hair tools, needed to be easily accessible. I found these great racks on Amazon which now house these things for us right next to the sink — and I would highly recommend them to anyone! We also decided to utilize an additional shower caddy because even six shelves weren’t sufficient for all our shower needs.
And, after nearly three months, G and I finished our bathroom closet as well! My vision of open shelves came to pass with the help of my very talented husband:
Now I am no longer storing all our cleaning, medical, and bath supplies in the office. I never realized just how often I used ibuprofen and body lotion until when it wasn’t within direct proximity of the shower/sink! Our shelves, which G sawed, fastened, and stained, are 27 inches deep and over 36 inches wide. Plenty of space to store even the most unused oddity for our personal care needs.
I could not be happier with how our bathroom turned out or prouder of what G and my dad accomplished. Plus, watching this cute guy working to create a piece of our home was a great way to spend my holiday break…
Next on our list is the exterior of the house. Not only do we plan to remove most of the foliage from the back and front yards, we also have to redo drainage along the sides of our basement (we have a walkout), build a deck on the front and a patio in the backyard, and redo landscaping. It is going to take a lot of elbow grease and dirty clothes, but we’re excited to get our little home sparkling from the outside as well as the in!
Have you done any DIY projects on your house? Please share your stories and/or pictures in the comment below!
*Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any businesses mentioned in this post. I did not receive any free merchandise and/or advertisement perks for mentioning their products.