Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Courtyard Foundation Complete

oh hai

As you can tell by my elation in this pic, the concrete work in the back is done. I think the walls help to cozy up the space, and I'm glad to have some decent looking planting beds and a concrete pad that isn't buckling up. It looks 342% better.





The yard feels much larger, and despite it being gray block I like the feel of it. Some folks have suggested painting the block, but I like it the way it is. Frank Lloyd Wright was able to use concrete as a main material, and by mixing in other materials and textures was able to bring warmth to the space. This is what I'm hoping to do. I like the industrial/modern look of the material so I'm hoping to embrace it rather than attempt to hide it.


The raised beds in the back and on the side help to break up the space, and once I get some plants in it will help to add texture to the space. Wally has even gotten used to hopping in the bed to do his business, so once we fill it with dirt he is going to be one happy pup. Seeing as I used to own a landscape design company through college I'm excited to be able to have plants again. The current plan for plants is to use a Bloodgood Japanese Maple, some boxwoods, and black mondo grass. I'm not showing you the details on this yet. You'll have to be patient. :-)


The area around the A/C unit has 4 pressure treated posts set into the concrete. I'll pick up some lumber within the next couple of weeks and create a fence around this area to hide the unit, garbage cans, and any other crap that would otherwise clutter up the space. I'm still pondering over the fence and back gate design. I want it to have a modern look, but I want it to be easy to build. I'm also still debating what material to make the gate corral area out of. While I love the look of cedar and redwood, costs can be high and they require maintenance. The other end of the spectrum is pressure treated lumber, but I'd still have to stain it and deal with maintenance. I'm leaning toward material like trex, as it will have better strength properties that will resist warping and there is zero maintenance on the product.

I'm sure most folks would look at the back yard and would want more greenery and the open space that a place like the suburbs would provide, but for a yard in the city I am very pleased. I feel as if we've created an extra 450 sq ft of living space out of nothing. When you've only got 1300 sq ft to start with this feels like a big deal.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

If I Could Think Of a Clever Title It Would Go Here

It was nice to hear from other local bloggers that Apartment Therapy featured the blog. This was a pleasant surprise, seeing as AT randomly stumbled across the blog via their flickr pool and we had no idea they were writing about us.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Manager want to write god damn login page himself

When you can't sleep why not cruise youtube for Code Monkey.

Or Blondie cover tunes.

This message brought to you by insomnia.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Queen is Amazing

After getting a few bids on the backyard, we finally signed a contract. The work starts Wednesday. The design is approaching something that resembles Design B.

backyard with garbage with AC

Design B

There were pros and cons for either keeping the trash near the alley or near the house, but with bids coming in higher than we decided to go with the cheaper option and put it closer to the house. It's easier to get to in the winter and allowed us to delete the 4' block wall near the alley. Summer said Bmore may be switching one 64 gallon trash can pick up per week, so the enclosure is sized for 2 of my garbage cans, or 1 new larger can, and my recycle bin. Other cost cuts included removing the few steps up into the planting bed, and the counter top area. It pained me to remove the counter area from the design, but in a tough economy it's tough to add design details that may not return your investment. This renovation hasn't been about making money, but we don't want to throw it away.

I'm exicted for the work to begin on Wednesday. The contractor said he thinks he can be done by the weekend. I seriously doubt he'll complete the job of laying all the masonry walls, hammering half of the back pad out and re-pouring this section of the pad. That's ok though. He may not be done by this weekend, but I'm pretty confident by next weekend the backyard will be looking much better.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Impromptu Happy Hour

I'm thinking there needs to be a happy hour tonight. Come out and meet up. Watch my twitterings for where we're headed - probably somewhere around Canton or Fells. Local housebloggers (or other intarweb locals) unite!

Friday, April 3, 2009

I'm a Twit

I started twittering. About halfway down the page you can follow my tweets, and if you've been watching that you would have known some I was up to some reno stuff. If you are a fellow renovator looking to see what I'm up to, or a local and are wondering where I am at the moment, then follow along - my name on twitter is 'bmorerowhouse'.

Courtyard Musings

Remember last year when I posted about the backyard? I decided getting the interior of the house done was a better use of time and funds. Now that Spring is here and interior is looking good we're thinking about the yard again. The design has changed a bit in a year, as we now have a dog so I modified the design to be able to accomodate him. We've even had a few contractors come by to give us bids.

Here is what the yard looks like today, as seen through my back window (I was lazy and didn't want to open the window or screen).


It is 34' deep, by 13' wide. It is mostly a concrete slab with a small dirt area. The dirt area is currently used as Wally's potty, and houses a few city kitties. I tried putting veggies and herbs back there one year but the city kitties ate most of the fruits of my labor. Not good. There is a alley behind the house, and you can see across the alley the houses I mentioned in my last post. In the front right corner of the pic is my AC unit, and beyond this are some concrete blocks the neighbors gave me. The concrete pad for the back half of the lot is pretty much shot, so it needs to be redone. So that is the tour of the place. It's not pretty. Now here is what I'm looking to do....

I'd like to enclose the space with a 6' tall cement block wall. Not the most glamarous of surfaces, but it's relatively inexpensive and it will keep the vermin out. It also provides a good mounting surface to mount lights on. I considered a wood fence, but the vermin could still get in. I'd also like to use some raised beds in the area for some plantings, create an area for a grill and a prep/serving area, and enclose the AC unit and garbage. So here is what I've come up with.

backyard with garbage at back

It has a 6' perimeter wall, a 2' planting bed, the garbage would be hidden behing a 4' concrete wall at the back of the property and the AC unit is enclosed with a wooden slate structure that I would build. The brown slats in the middle are a table and benches that I would also build. The donut looking thing near the middle is a fire pit that we'd put there when we aren't eating (the table would move up to the benches for chow time).

I also did a minor modification where I deleted the 4' concrete wall, and enclosed the garbage cans in with the AC unit. I think I like the first design a bit better, but this would be a bit cheaper.

backyard with garbage with AC

We are really trying to keep costs down, and that for now we are focusing on getting the foundation work done with the finishing details coming later. Which option do you like better? What other suggestions do you have?