We moved into the Curbly House when our son was two weeks old. Because we were insane people who purchased, gutted, moved into, and attempted to furnish and decorate a whole house with a brand new baby, his room was left looking fairly generic.
If you checked out the Curbly House tour we posted last month, you might have though our house projects were all completed (we did use the words "It's Finished!" in the title, after all). Alas; we must confess to some wishful thinking/titling. There's still lots to do, and our side entryway was the worst offender:
The space is a little odd; it's a landing between two flights of...
Was it really just weeks ago we were basking in the front yard, watching the kids scuttling beneath the sprinkler? Oh, faded ghosts of summer! But seriously, for most of us, those days are long gone, and now it's time to hunker down in a warm house with fuzzy socks, steaming soups, and a borderline-dangerous supply of piping hot coffee.
At our house we have a seasonal routine we follow to get ourselves prepped for the long winter, and...
This house tour is a long time coming. We've officially been in our "finished" house for one year, and we thought we'd celebrate with a big old fashioned house tour. So we're going to show you the super-clean, polished, sparkly version of The Curbly House...which looked like this exactly once, before we, you know, started living in it again!
Of course, no tour would be complete without a nod to one's roots, so we're posting the 'before' photos of every room, because it's important to acknowledge the past and - in our case - never repeat it. Here we go!
The Living Room
Before: Oh, sad, dark, dreary Edward Hopper-esque room, you were depressing and needed to lighten up a little.
After: Hello, gorgeous, feather-light room! You are so lovely and inviting; our very own watercolor.
We were fortunate to work with the super-fun, super-talented, queen of design, Ms. Emily Henderson, on this room and several others (namely: the master bedroom, sunroom, and dining room). Many hugs and high-fives go out to this gorgeous gal!
Before: I get a little teary thinking about this old, decrepit kitchen. And, not for sentimental reasons. I loathed this room for its lack of appliances (no oven, no stove, and one 10amp outlet that required a trip to the fuse box every time we ran the microwave). I don't miss its color and mysterious animal smells either.
After: This is the room in the house that makes me pinch myself every time I walk into it. It's a kitchen, a family room, the place homework is done after school, and the place our friends congregate during dinner parties. It's the most used and most loved room in our house.
After: These two things are true about these two rooms:
1. There is nothing overrated about a mudroom.
2. Here's a joke that's no joke: We were really urine-ing for a half-bathroom on the first floor; now that we have one we feel a great sense of relief.
Technically, there's no 'Before" here because the mudroom and half-bath were born out of our addition.
Apologies for the absence of 'After' photos of the half-bathroom; they are forthcoming once I decide which Rifle Paper Co. wallpaper to place on the walls.
Before: Prior to being our bedroom, our master bedroom was a storage room. And by storage room, I mean, junk room. And, by junk room, I mean the room that could have landed us on an episode of Hoarders. Here's the empty room the first time we walked through the house (please excuse the gritty phone picture):
After: In my dreamiest of dreams, I never believed I would sleep in a bedroom so beautiful. And, there's a chandelier! And, you know I sing Sia's "Chandelier" every time I enter the room.
Before: The day after we closed on the house two rows of acoustic ceiling tiles fell from the ceiling of this room. It was clearly begging for change.
After: We wanted to design a room that captured our son's sense of adventure, while feeling grounded in classic design. Hence, the mountains with a hint of mid-century modern.
Little Girl's room
Before: During our closing with the relator, the daughter of the woman who previously owned the house told us that she once sat in this room and cried because it was her birthday and none of the children she invited came to her party. She told us that, for her, the house was full of sad memories. I panicked and feared we were making a terrible mistake purchasing a house full of sorrow. I then bought sage smudge in bulk and paraded through the house like a boss. I also placed little bowls of sea salt in all the corners to absorb the sadness (this, admittedly was a little cray-cray). If you look closely, you can see one of my sadness-trapping bowls in the picture.
After No. 1: This sweet, little bedroom is just like our daughter: joyful and bright. And, so far we're batting 1000 for birthday parties.
Thanks for sticking with us this far. If you have questions about products, designs, or DIYs, please let me know in the comments! For more on the process of re-doing our house, check out the entire Curbly House Section!
A tremendous bouquet of thanks goes out to the wonderful, stunningly-talented photographer, Melissa Oholendt, who makes magic with her camera.
The inside of the Curbly House has received a whole lot of love over the last couple years, while the backyard has been ignored with a capital "I".
We partnered with Lowe's to make some small improvements to the backyard and ended up with a mini makeover that improved the area tenfold. Read on for all the details.
When we moved into the Curbly house, the yard was overgrown, neglected, and not a space anyone wanted to spend any time. These traits coupled with months of major construction (that involved lots of heavy machinery), left our yard a hot, jungle-y mess.
In the jungle, the mighty jungle.
Our house borders our alleyway, and we are fenceless, which means our entire backyard is on display as our neighbors exit and enter their homes each day. While many of them have been kind and patient as we've worked to improve our house, the eyesore that is our backyard is hard to overlook.
As much as I wish I was a person who didn't care about the look of the yard, I am, and coming up with a solution to its many problems has been quite the conundrum. I knew we needed to make some improvements to the yard for the sake of aesthetics, function, and my piece of mind.
In addition to being unsightly, a major thing we were lacking in our backyard is a proper garage. While a place to store our vehicles would be nice, we desperately needed a place to store all of our outdoor tools, bikes, strollers, and equipment. Since our future round of home improvements includes a new garage, we decided a garden shed was the ticket, because it would dramatically improve our storage situation.
We selected a modest sized (6x9 foot) cedar garden shed that we ordered directly from Lowes.com (it's the Cedarshed Rancher 6x9 model). We chose a panelized shed, which means it comes flat-packed on a pallet and you just screw it together. Delivery was $80 and they left it right in the back yard:
Next, we set to work planning out the best way to use it in our yard. We decided to place it in the southwest corner of our yard, where an old garage once sat (we discovered the old foundation as we prepared the space). We decided on this corner because it helped balance out the yard and was an easy area for us to access.
Prior to building the shed, Bruno poured a concrete slab with help from a friend and a modest cement delivery. While you can place sheds like this on a variety of foundations (wood, poured cement footings, etc.) we decided to go with a solid concrete slab, for the sake of longevity.
Brush cleared, we prepared the concrete molds and got ready to pour!
The shed arrived prefabricated, and our charge was to puzzle the pieces together with the help of a lengthy instruction manual. Assembling the shed was a great adventure, but the quality of the pieces was outstanding, making it easy to work with. All told, the shed was put together in a day. We had two people working on it at all times, which made the process of piecing it together more efficient.
Once the shed was together, we added a few plants around it (we purchased a few and transplanted several from the overgrown garden area of the yard). We then created a walkway from our house to the shed using mulch flanked with limestone leftover from a foundation wall that we removed during our addition.
The result is a back yard we're no longer afraid to look at. Have a look!
Our plantings were mostly moved from other spots in the back yard. They should fill in a little more next spring.
And here's a shot with the doors open to give you a sense for what we're able to fit inside (remember this is a 6'x9' shed):
That's three adult bikes, one child tag-along bike, two kids' bikes, a snow blower, a bike trailer, a weed whacker, and some other assorted stuff. Plus room to spare!
Since we didn't use the cedar floor system that comes with the shed, Bruno decided to re-purpose the lumber. He built this handy little tool storage locker on the alley side of the shed:
Not entirely beautiful, but it gets all those tall yard tools out of the way nicely.
We're choosing not to stain or seal our shed. The cedar will weather over time and take on a grayish/silver appearance, which we like 'cause it'll match the color of our house!
So if you're short on storage space and have room in your yard, I'd strongly recommend you look at adding a shed. It's pretty easy to do, and has a huge impact on the yard. Now I'm off to do some gardening!
Thanks to Lowe's for sponsoring this post. All opinions are mine alone.
This spring, we committed ourselves to begin the process of prettying up the outside of our house and creating some much needed curb appeal. While we have a long road ahead that includes having the house painted, a new sidewalk, and new lighting - we wanted to start with the yard, because it's been neglected for decades.
Here's a look at the front yard months after we closed on the house:
Aside from a major shrub trim, nothing has changed. In fact, things may have even gotten worse. The patchy lawn seems to be balding at a rapid pace, the weeds are having a heyday, and there is nary a flower in sight.
After much thought and planning, we decided to do a DIY mini-yard makeover with these goals in mind:
Repair the lawn, making it more lush.
Extend the garden on the left side of the house to create more visual interest and bring in some much needed texture and color.
Replant the garden on the right side of the house.
Add a planted border to the walkway.
Plant the window box (which up until last week was covered in shingles).
Replace the concrete planters (they don't drain) with something more colorful.
Although this was a "mini" makeover to us, the goals felt pretty lofty for our inexperienced gardener genes (we have a hard time keeping succulents alive). We knew we'd need the help of some heavy-duty equipment to get this job done and settled on renting a slit seeder to reseed the lawn. We also rented a sod kicker and rototiller to dig up our new garden area, and a power edger to clean up the lawn's craggy edges. Renting equipment is a great way to save money, and the amazing thing is, you can rent just about everything under the sun. For a list of rental companies in your area, visit RentalHQ.
Operating machinery like this takes some practice, and we got some great tips from our local Reddy Rents. Watching this slit seeder tutorial and this rototiller how-to helped us learn what to expect from the equipment.
The slit seeder was a bit of a beast to operate, simply because it's heavy and it's not self propelled. So, pushing it and turning it between passes is a bear. You want to be sure you make two complete passes over your lawn when you slit seed to ensure full coverage. Although the machine took a little muscle to operate, a week after using it, our lawn is looking better than ever.
Sod Kicking and Rototilling
When it came time to build out the garden to the left of our entrance, we used a sod kicker to define the perimeter of the garden bed, and then ran it in strips until all the grass was removed. Then we tilled the soil to help prepare it for new plants.
After rototilling the area, we edged it with composite plastic edging and covered the garden area with landscape fabric. We then planted the area using a variety of perennials. Because we live in a USDA Hardiness Zone 4 area, we spent a lot of time looking into the best plants to place in our part-sun, part-shade front lawn. We found a great resource on Zone 4 friendly perennials through the University of MN's Extension program.
We also visited the University's test garden and snapped a few photos for our idea book. Visiting an arboretum or garden site like this is helpful when planning your garden because all of the plants are labeled, and you get inspired to combine plants in beautiful ways.
We focused on planting perennials that would be visually interesting through all seasons, and carefully chose the following plants:
Flanking the walk:
Japanese Painted Ferns
Flower Box and Planters:
As we mentioned above, our concrete planters had drainage problems, and although they were lovely, their grey coloring wasn't doing our entrance any favors. We added drainage to one of them and placed it in our garden, and replaced the set with deep blue ceramic planters.
In addition to planting, we recycled limestone slabs leftover from our house remodel and used them as stepping stones in the garden. We also replaced the willy-nilly, damaged concrete slabs that flanked our boulevard steps with smaller limestone slabs and sedum.
Though it's still early in the season and the yard needs some time to come into it's own, this project made a dramatic impact on our house's curb appeal.
We'll continue adding new plants, but want to live with the new landscaping for a little while before we add to our work. We'll update this post with photographs later in the season as we watch our garden grow.
What's the best tool you've rented in your DIY landscaping adventures? What are your favorite landscaping plants? Tell me all about it in the comments below!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of American Rental Association. The opinions and text are all mine.
Last month we told you all about our raised bed garden plans, and today we're back with all the juicy details. In a nutshell, this was a huge project in terms of the research and planning, and the easiest when it came time to actually do it. It was a great lesson in "preparation is everything". We're so grateful to Duluth Trading Co. for giving us a motivational kick in the pants to get this project done.
Before we get down to it, let's revisit our plans, shall we?
We set out to create a set of raised garden beds to create a small-scale vegetable garden. Originally, we planned to place it in our sloped backyard. But, after monitoring the sunlight for a few days (this part of the yard gets about 4 hours of direct sunlight) and talking to neighbors who had experimented with growing veggies under part shade, we decided to relocate the garden to our sun-filled front boulevard, where we believe it'll have the best chance at success.
We intended to follow these plans from Sunset to DIY our garden beds, but then experienced a spring with monsoon-like weather, followed by some travel that derailed our DIY dreams. In the end, we bought this kit of cedar garden beds and the entire construction process took less than 30 minutes. If you're pinched for time or not very handy, this kit is a great option. We ended up purchasing 4 sets to create three beds (2 - 24" tall beds and 1 - 10" tall bed for the strawberry patch). However, if you have time and a small number of tools, DIYing your garden beds is a simple project that will save you money.
Square Foot Gardening Method
When it came time to look into the best method for growing our veggies, I spent hours reading, pinning, and visiting a local nursery to get tips. The square foot gardening method came up over and over again.
I have a friend who did square foot gardening last year in her raised garden beds, and she reported that it was an extremely successful method; she felt there was flexibility with the soil mixture, which was like music to my inexperienced gardener's ears.
According to the square foot method, your soil mixture should contain 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 blended compost. To figure out how much soil mixture we needed we calculated the total cubic footage of our beds (60 cubic feet in all, not counting the strawberry patch), and then divided by three.
The only tricky part we ran into here was that the compost we ordered came in 40 lb. bags, which we figured to be about one square foot. We also learned that vermiculite is expensive and decided to go a little light on it, and a little heavier on the compost blend. This is something the square foot gardening people caution you against, but something that my friend did and she ended up with a bumper crop. So, we're crossing our fingers. Here's what we ended up ordering:
6 - 2-cu. ft. bags of vermiculite - 12 cubic feet total
6 - 3-cu. ft. bags of peat moss - 18 cubic feet total
20 - 40 lb. bags of compost - about 20 cubic feet
Our method for mixing this soil was to mix a bag of vermiculite, a bag of peat moss, and 2 -3 bags of compost at a time. This takes time and grit, but seemed to be the best way to ensure the soil was well mixed.
Once the soil was mixed, we bracketed 1-inch PVC piping to the four corners of each bed, and made a tent with 1/2-inch PVC pipes. We attached bird netting to the pipes to deter squirrels and other foraging animals.
When it came time to plant, the square foot gardening philosophy was extremely helpful. We gridded our beds by sight (16 squares per bed) and followed their planting rules based on the produce we were growing. For example, for tomato plants we planted one plant per square foot. For carrots, we planted 16 per square.
The vegetables we planted included: tomatoes, carrots, arugula, sugar snap peas, asparagus, a variety of peppers, lettuce, and herbs. We also created a small strawberry patch in the lowest bed and wrapped it in wire garden fencing. We began most of our produce from plants, and grew only the carrots and lettuce from seed.
Gardening is certainly an exercise in patience. Not only does it take time to plan and plant a vegetable garden, it takes some sweat and if you're me, tears. Having good gear helps (e.g. gloves, boots, tools), but wearing comfortable, weather-friendly clothes helps a lot too.
For this project, we were lucky enough to work with Duluth Trading Co., a company that makes outdoor-friendly attire of the highest quality. Little features like shirts with built-in air vents and pants with a rise that keeps your bum to yourself made us comfortable, protected from the sun, and feeling a little bit fancy in the garden. Here are our "his-and-her" uniforms:
Obviously, garden uniforms aren't required to make your garden grow, but we both really liked feeling comfortable and protected in our garb.
We're clearly in the very beginning phase of what we hope is a vegetable garden-palooza. Once everything is established, we'll update this post to let you know how our garden grew.
Tell us all about your summer vegetable and fruit garden plans! What's your favorite thing to grow? Do you have any tips when in comes to planning or planting? Please share your tips in the comments below.
This post was sponsored by Duluth Trading Company (and they gave us some cool gear to try out while we gardened). However, all opinions are ours alone.
We've spent the last two years working on the inside of the Curbly House, and it's high time we started focusing some of our energy on the outside. Specifically, the yard - a space that's in shabby shape after months of construction and damage from heavy machinery. We needed a kick in the pants to get going on the landscaping, and are starting small with a vegetable garden project with the help of Duluth Trading Co.
Not long ago, when we shared our kitchen renovation with you, we left a little something out. When we began planning our new addition, we decided to add a laundry and mud room off the kitchen to create an entry point with storage and give ourselves the luxury of first-floor laundry. This room has absolutely been the best decision we made during our entire house project. It's simple and straight-forward, but it has brought a tremendous amount of organization and simplicity to our daily home routines.
In the whole history of the Curbly House, I don't think I have ever been more excited or proud to share a room with you. Because friends, our kitchen journey has been long and ugly. When we first set eyes on the house, the kitchen looked like this:
And, it remained like this for far too long, fifteen long months, to be exact (though, to be fair, we actually only lived with it this way for nine months). The picture hardly does the space...
A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to have Emily Henderson and Orlando Soria come out to Minneapolis to help makeover four rooms in our house. It was, as my daughter might say, the most amazingest thing and even better than bread with honey! Which is the kind of thing she says.
For the last few weeks, we've been sharing all the amazingness Emily Henderson is going to bring to the Curbly House. We hooked up with Emily, her assistant Orlando Soria, and Sherwin-Williams to bring a calm, airy, elegant do-over to our master bedroom, dining room, and living room. This week we're back to introduce our final room makeover, and it's our most loved (and most perplexing) space: the sunroom.