A Backyard Plan

This morning we met with our landscaper to finalize some pretty big yard changes.

A)  Patio Project

This is our parterre disaster.  At first I was intent upon keeping the configuration of the brick but as we have started to use the property, I realize it is best suited as a patio.   I have always wanted a parterre garden – always – and now that I have one (well, sort of) I am ripping it out.  I guess it was a fleeting desire.  This space will better function as a patio as right now there is no place to sit, grill or do anything besides teeter on uneven brick.


2) Grading

The first picture shows the lower level of our yard. And the bottom illustrates the grade change.  The plan is to put in an 80-foot retaining wall that will separate the yard into a more definitive lower and upper yard situation, instead of the existing gradual drop.The plan is to curve the wall around the back of the fence that separates us from the new build so that we can plant trees starting at a higher point on that side.

update 12:8 fenceIMG_0641


3) Trees

And, the most exciting part – to me.  Trees.  15 footers.  We need privacy and shade and life back there.  I cannot wait.  There will be a good mix of evergreen and deciduous with some hornbeams mixed in.  I am still looking for my pleaching expert . . .

A House To Do List

We’ve been in the new house since December 23rd nearly five months and I thought maybe it would take a year or so before I really got a feel for what we needed to change or add space-wise.  As it turns out that in five short months, I have learned the house has spoken, more like shouted what it needs from the top of its lungs.

Here is a list of our more pressing issues:

1.  A new refrigerator.  We inherited a built-in Sub Zero circa 1968.  It is paneled and tucked very nicely into the space.  Problem is that it really does not work.  It’s been coaxed to cool by a reliable service tech 3x now and nearly every part has been replaced at this point but still it has its own agenda and that agenda is to get up to 85 degrees one day and down to -3 the next.

And, here’s the fridge back when it wasn’t running at all.  We were so relieved when it did start up that the wild temperature changes did not seem so bad – well until you think about food safety.


Still, I guess our old fridge is probably still a better bet than this fridge I found in a real estate listing.  Yes, for real. l3a270f45-m4r

Wonder if that ice maker works?

So, the million dollar question – why don’t we just buy a new fridge?  Well, soonish we are planning on adding a new kitchen and the refrigerator we want and the refrigerator we would have to buy to fit into the existing space are not the same.  Trying to avoid buying a garage fridge because quite honestly we are not going to need one.  We did the next best thing and bought a college fridge to store our meats and medications.  We live in a university town afterall! It is on proud display in our dining room because that is the only outlet near the kitchen that doesn’t spark and get bossy.  It is starting to look normal . . . to us.

2.  A yard.  The kids play in our side yard which is fine but a backyard would be nice.  Right now it is a tangle of all sorts of perennial weeds that are about to flower and spew their seeds such that I will need to carry Round Up with me forever more.  I have learned that landscapers do not like to work in the winter and then are too busy in the spring, so this project has been postponed far longer than I would have liked.  Tomorrow I get the last quote and then hopefully the machines will move in to till and shred and maybe even sod.

3.  A Kitchen.  Sometimes water leaks out from under the sink and other days it is dry as a bone.  No rhyme.  No reason.  Our fake wood floor has puckered from the mysterious water.  I try not to think too hard about this.  The kitchen brings me back to my apartment days.  It is a kitchen best suited for one person who has an unusually large number of desk items to be stored. The ample pencil storage makes up somewhat for the lack of natural light and jalousie windows.  I am not a fan of this kitchen and it recently dawned on me that when construction begins this kitchen will be our temporary kitchen -not getting rid of this baby for awhile!

4.  First-floor Powder Room.  It is miniscule, yellow and a radiator takes up 3/4 of the room.  The location is odd especially when there are contractors in and out of your back door.  The bathroom door opens right into the back door so it is very possible to have a door collision, never mind there is zero privacy.  None.

5.  Stairway to Hell.  Really I should say the Stairway from Hell.  We went through our first winter in the house and the front steps are north facing and collect ice like its life depended on it.  Our mailman did not deliver our mail for the greater part of the winter. No matter how well I de-iced, chipped, scraped, chiseled that ice those stairs were still too intimidating apparently.  The lack of a railing certainly doesn’t help as truly you risk your well-being trying to ascend and descend these in the winter months.  The crumbling brick and mortar are the icing on the cake.

Perennials and patios have been on my mind so stay tuned for some of my favorites.


Covering the Windows . . .Slowly

Most of the windows in the house are still bare.  But there is hope and a plan.

Country Curtains has a new custom line that could not have been rolled out at a more perfect time in my house life.  My mom has worked at the store in Ridgewood, NJ for many years and gave me the heads up that this may be an option soon. Within a week I was looking at fabric samples at their Greenville, DE store.

There really is a great selection of style and fabric options which I will share when I find the brochure and take more pictures. This is the style I chose for our bedroom.


I have two dormers and a radiator with which to contend, so an inside flat roman shade is a perfect option for me.  Notice no headboard quite yet.  Good thing I waited as Country Curtains is just about to roll out their new custom headboard options as well!



Here is a linen sample in a greenish-blue that may work for my living room.


The library windows will receive a soft linen treatment in ivory. By the way, those electrical cords and I are having it out this week!!!


And, here are some linen shades I picked up at the store one weekend.  These are in stock and a great price point, especially for the kids’ rooms. IMG_3570

And a banded roman shade for my older son’s room.  A nice tailored look and both sets of shades are lined so the rooms are dark for sleeping.  Nearly as dark as these pictures!IMG_3571

The treatments should take about 3 weeks from when I place the order tomorrow.  I will share the after pictures which will look vastly different as I will be sure to bust out the nice camera.  It will be like those skin care before and after shots.  Even if I hang garbage bags on the windows, things would still look better than they do in today’s pictures!