Thursday, May 24, 2012

Project: Backyard Beautification, Part 1

We got a new fence! Whoot! No more staring at our neighbors junk pile. No more worrying that the dog is going to jump the extremely low chain-link fence. No more accidentally busting through the rotted privacy fence.

Here are a couple before shots for your viewing pleasure:
Our teeny tiny chain-link fence. The top of Stella's head was even with the top of the fence. 
The chain link was short enough that I could step over it (I'm 5'5) - so that should tell you something. And it was short enough that Stella made a run for it once a few months after we moved in (though she hadn't made another escape attempt since - maybe the first one was traumatizing?).  And because it was so short, and she had made one escape back in October, we were both pretty paranoid about leaving her out there by herself for too long without checking to make sure she was still back there every 10 minutes. So not relaxing for us, and probably annoying to her since if she had it her way she'd chill there all day without our anxious faces pressing up against the windows every 10 minutes - or, sometimes,  if she happened to wedge herself along the house, running out into the back yard frantically to make sure the big gold mutt is still contained. Again - I think we found this more stress-inducing than she did.

Also - it doesn't show in this picture, but we didn't have a driveway gate.  That meant when we let Stella out the side door, she was temporarily free to take off on us when we walked her around to the back gate to let her into the backyard. She was actually pretty good about sticking right with us whenever we let her in or our - except the couple of times she wasn't... all of which involved J. Poor guy. Once as he was bringing her around from the back to bring her inside, a guy wheeled by on his bicycle with his German Shepard trotting beside him. Stella, of course, was gone like a lightning bolt and that poor guy almost face planted off his bike. Another time when J was bringing Stella around to the side door there was a woman walking her dog down the sidewalk - and Stella took off to smell her dog. That woman screamed bloody murder when she saw Stella coming at her. I can't blame her though - Stella's pretty big!

Anyway - that explains our need to replace the chain-link portion of the fence. Now - on to the privacy fence.
Note the junk pile to the left and the strange lanterns and sword attached to the privacy fence. 
I should have taken a closer picture of this white picket disaster before it got torn down.  What you can't really see in this picture is that 5 or 6 of the tops of the pickets are completely broken off. They were so rotted through that when we were trying to fix the fence after it fell down in Hurricane Irene (that's a whole other story!) we kept busting them off.  Then there is the separate matter of the 18" gap that ran along the bottom. And the fact that the previous owners thought they would add some random old lanterns (yes - electric, but they're not wired now) - AND those lanterns aren't even even. Seriously. Then - lastly, there is the neighbor's junk pile. We like our neighbors - just not their junk. It was a bit of an eyesore and we were excited to potentially hide it!

We thought about DIYing this project too... but after weighing the pros and cons (pros being price, cons being time, inexperience, and the fact I just didn't want to), we decided to hire this one out. The biggest plus to having someone else do it was it would be done in one day and they would haul the old fence away! BIG plus since we just have a little Saturn Ion for hauling stuff. AND if we had done this ourselves it probably would have taken us 4 weekends or something ridiculous like that - during which Stella couldn't chill outside like she loves, and we really couldn't sit out there and enjoy ourselves either with a partially done project.

So we called around for a couple of estimates, picked one, and scheduled the project date. On Monday, our scheduled project day, it was pouring when I left for work. We weren't sure whether they would able to work in the rain, but later on I got a text from J saying the workers were there and demoing the old fence! I asked him to take pictures of the progress... this is what I got:

I think he was impressed with Hercules over there who is lifting a huge hunk of concrete over his head. Seriously, I'm impressed too because I could only pry them up with a shovel.
We were quoted for a full one-day project, but that one day project ended up turning into 1.5 for two reasons.
1) The guys told us they had never seen anything like our chain link fence.  It was buried deeper than usual - including the chain link part itself. Then the posts were so deep that they decided to cut them off below ground level - but they kept eating the sawzall blades! One post took three blades to cut through!
2) We had baby robins in the rose bush and the rose bush had branches growing through the old fence. J asked them to be careful - and boy were they! It was so cute to see these two huge burly guys trying to gently push the new post into place without disrupting this nest with four baby robins in it.
It ended up that they stayed at the house working until 8:30 p.m. on Monday night and then showing up again at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning. But ultimately, they declared it finished!

And... TA DA!

A more Stella-proof chain-link fence height that should give us more piece of mind.

The new cedar privacy fence. And, yes. It does smell like cedar... fantastic!
Oh - and here is a shot of the new driveway gate! I don't have a before shot. Just picture this same scene without the gate...  ;)
And - as always, the before-and-afters!

I should have had J stand next to the fence for the before shot too. But if you look at where the top of the fence hits the neighbors red fence or hits the siding on our house, you get a sense of how much higher it is.

Goodbye junk pile and rotten white picket fence! Hellllllllooooo red cedar and a little actual privacy!
Next up? We seriously need to demo that concrete thing in the middle of the yard. Oh - and build a patio. And a pergola. And. And. And. :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Project: Buffet Breakthrough

I've been really picky about choosing a buffet for our entryway. Like, really picky... as in - we've lived here for a year and I'm still searching Craigslist every day for a buffet - picky.  But, I am happy and relieved to announce - we finally have a winner!

First the backstory... There isn't really an entryway in our house. Instead, when you open the front door, you walk straight into the great, wide space that houses our living room and dining room. There isn't a closet (that is back in the hallway), and there isn't really a spot for shoes... so defining this space has been extremely challenging.

Once both rooms were painted and the archway was built last summer, I began struggling with what to do with the great expanse of wall that we stare at when we walk in.  At some point last summer, I decided I wanted to put a big buffet there - one with the long legs (I think the style is 'federal'?) so that we could still show off the hardwood floors.  So pretty much every day since then, I hunted Craigslist.  And hunted. And hunted. And hunted. I found a few that fit my vision - but then they didn't fit the measurement requirements, or, more commonly my budgetary restrictions!  So I kept hunting.