Sunday, September 8, 2013

Little projects - lots of time

Why no posts? I got a new computer and it has taken me 3 months to get it up and running. Windows 8 - I'm not a fan of you!

But I've also been super busy doing house projects this spring and summer and not riding or racing very much.

 Here are a four little projects I have worked on.

Mini-alley between the house and the fence

Whoa! This one was a back breaker!  When we put the new addition on 3 years ago, we pulled the big rocks that were acting as a retaining wall to the uphill neighbor's yard out from underneath the vinyl fence.   

Note red rocks on the right side of photo that used to be under the fence.  The space I will show in the next two photos is between the fence and the deck.

So the very narrow space between our deck and the new addition was just dirt and weeds and the slope was beginning to slough underneath the fence since there had not been a retaining wall there for 3 years. This area is not very visible, but something had to be done.  

First we had to do something about drainage.  A couple of times before the addition and a couple of times after, we have had flooding or water in the east side of the basement after huge rain storms.  We took down the gutters on that side of the house during the addition, and there was no way to properly compact the backfill after the basement was poured for the new addition due to space constraints against the property line. Consequently, water was finding its way in.  We waterproofed the basement inside and out, but we still though we needed a French drain. So earlier this year, we had a laborer dig a 8 to 12 inch deep trench along 30 feet of the east side of the house.  Then we laid perforated rigid pipe in a fabric sock, surrounded by gravel and wrapped in landscape fabric.

Installing the French drain. Flooding had occurred through the basement window to my right.

The end of the French drain is a 2x3 foot well of gravel, but the perf pipe daylights with a pop-up drain.We backfilled over this. That was April-ish. 

Next, we had to dig out under the fence and build up the concrete retaining wall blocks.  I would not advise to do this after the fence is already there. Backwards - Drew and Lucy style! It was really hard work in a very awkward space, working around the two condenser units for our air conditioning. I finished up the job in July, in the heat, in a mostly confined space.  Choice working conditions.
This is what it looked like after the wall rebuild.

Once we got the retaining wall blocks put in, adding multi-colored stone was just icing on the rock-layer cake.
I used up the little bit of river pebbles we had left from the deck skirting project and some larger rock we had left from the front yard project way back.  We bought new crushed flagstone for the majority of the space.  The small green spot in the rocks in the foreground is where the perforated pipe daylights.  We have had two big storms and I have not seen this pop up yet, so it seems the French drain is handling all the water.
So nice to check this one off our list.  

Repurposed tile on a plant stand

Another "quick" project was to re-make two plant stands.  The table surface was nasty and warped, so I tossed them and asked Drew to custom cut thin pieces of plywood to fit into the metal parts of the stands. That was 5 years ago after I salvaged some of the original 1910 tile from our living room fireplace restoration project I wrote about here.  I thought it would be cool to reuse those tiles in the plant stands.  

Well, fast forward to July 2013 and I finally found the inspiration to lay the tile in there: we hired a tile setter to lay the tile around our new addition fireplace (post to follow) and he had extra thin set.  This was my first experience with tile.  I would like to do more!

The tile in these plant stands was original to the house. I found it under some nasty 1980s tile when I re-did the living room fireplace.  I think it is cool to have those tiles on display in the house again.
Plastic baggy drying rack 

I rinse and reuse plastic baggies, as long as they don't have wet gross stuff in them, but placing them all over the counter to dry is messy and ineffective.  I wanted a drying rack.  I have seen contraptions you can buy for this purpose, but a little web search and I saw this idea instead.

Put some succulents in a tray, take wire clothes hangers, cut them up, bend the ends around a piece of pipe by holding the end of one and wrapping the long end around the pipe. That makes a spiral.  Then, I used some leftover spray paint to paint them oil-rubbed bronze.  I usually store the wires under the sink when not in use, although it looks kind of cool with them in the plant too.

This only took a couple of hours, but it was another one of those "I'll get to it someday" projects that feels really good to be done with. And it works like a charm!

Laundy room doors

And finally, one of those projects that took a lot longer than I hoped.  I did this late last winter.

The main floor laundry (LOVE IT!) in our new addition has French pocket doors. A matching door contains the coats in their closet.

Coat closet and laundry.  A bit too visible! Need fabric!
 So Drew and I picked out some fabric and I set up my sewing station in the dining room.

Sewing command central.  One can do this when one's husband is away on a 4-day trip.  The cats don't mind.

All I had to do was cut the panels to fit the back of the doors and hem the edges. Then I attached with Velcro so I can change them "easily" when we get tired of the fabric.  It took a long time though.  AT least 6 episodes of Room Crashers on HGTV.

No more dirty laundry out for guests to see. Literally!
You can't tell, but when the lights are on in the closet a nice warm glow emanates from the closet. 
So those are the little projects I've been working on.  I have some big ones to share too but that will have to wait. 

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