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Two Long, Simultaneous Processes … Complete.

05/02/2013

It’s no coincidence that we started the process of building a new home and adopting Alianna at the same time. She arrived at our lovely little ranch home in September 2011 and we learned pretty quickly that she was going to need to be adopted. Although we anticipated we’d be fostering for a while before adopting any child, we were thrilled to move in that direction with the precious little girl we rapidly fell in love with.

But, we still hoped and planned to continue fostering kids who need a home and substitute parents for short or long term and we realized we were going to be limited on bedroom space and options for kids. We would have only been able to accept a placement of a girl who could share a small bedroom with Ali. So that’s why we began the process of moving to a bigger home. Originally we were going to buy an old fixer-upper so we could stay in our already established, historic neighborhood. When a rare piece of property came available (due to a house fire and then demolition of the previous home), my dad convinced us to consider building a custom house. The land was 7 houses down from my parents’.

We put an offer on the property before knowing for sure that we’d be adopting Ali. In November 2011, we got custody of Ali (through a dramatic turn of events that you’re well familiar with if you’ve been around here long), purchased the property for our future home, put our current hom on the market and started talking to architect Ryan Thewes to plan our new house. Eighteen months later both processes finally wrapped up. How about that?! If you’re a nerd for dates and timelines, here’s a breakdown of both of these processes that ended up running side by side.

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I feel an unexpected amount of closure. Two major, life-changing process have just completely wrapped up.

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Now what? Seems like time to start a new adventure…

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DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition)

04/16/2013

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Almost 2 years ago, Jason and I built a modern horizontal plank wood fence at our previous house to enclose our back garden. We used the same technique to build this fence and gate to make the fourth “wall” of our courtyard. There were two major differences. 1. We only had a 12′ spanse to build. 2. We had concrete walls on both sides.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

There was only 1 post hole to dig. Hooray! Jason used our trusty old post hole digger. (Jason and that post hole digger have made holes for 2 fences prior to this!) We were only making our fence 4-4.5′ tall so we used a 6′ 4×4 pressure-treated post. The post hole should be 2′ deep.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

After making sure it was level, we added a few braces to keep it in place before adding the dry concrete mix and water into the post hole. Jason also added a little concrete mix and water under the post.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Next we attached two 2x4s to the side of the house. The bottom piece was going into the concrete block foundation of the house.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Drilling screws into concrete is not easy! We used these pretty blue concrete screws.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Jason pre-drilled the holes for the screws. He opted to drill into the mortar to make it a little bit easier.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Once that was secure, Jason added a second, longer 2×4 along the house. This one should have been easier because it was only going through wood (the hardibacker siding, the corner beam in our garage and the shorter 2×4 below. We borrowed this powerful hammer drill from a friend (necessary for drilling into concrete) and it was so powerful it stripped our drill bits and one of the outdoor screw heads. It seems like there is always something that goes awry on a project like this. Thankfully, he was finally able to get it secured to the house with a combination of this drill, every star drill bit we own and our wimpy Ryobi drill. The screw that was stripped was cut off with a hack saw.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Another 2×4 was attached to the concrete block wall of the courtyard. Everything went smoothly with this one so I didn’t have time to take any photos.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

I don’t know if it’s the correct carpentry term but we call the horizontal boards planks (as opposed to pickets on a vertical fence) and to differentiate between posts and planks. Adding the planks went every quickly since we’ve done this part many times before. We started at the bottom, putting the plank as close to the ground as possible and leveling it.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

We used 8′ untreated 1x4s. (Our last fence we used 1×3 ferring strips.) They’re cheap…around $1.20 a piece at Lowes. (Side note: in our experience Lowes has much better quality wood than Home Depot.) Jason used a nail gun to put four nails into each plank at the 4×4 post end and 3 nails into each plank at the 2×4 end. We work together doing this part and it moves rhythmically:

I position the plank into place.
Jason places the spacer between the planks.
Jason fires the nails into place.
I position the spacer at the other end of the plank.
Jason fires the nails into place.
Jason removes the spacer.
(Repeat.)
15x in this instance.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Anything sturdy and square can be used as a spacer. Since it was a fairly common question about our last fence project, I made a point of taking a picture. We used a plastic grout sample that was left at our house after construction. We have a bunch of them and it was quite convenient to have two so we could leave one at each end of the fence. They provided a gap of about 1/4″. It’s hard to see in the picture below because it’s brown…

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

We added another vertical 2×4 on the back side of the fence to keep the planks straighter. This 2×4 post is pressure treated but we didn’t put it into the ground. It’s only helping to keep the planks straight, not supporting the weight of the fence.We used the spacer again to make sure the gap between the planks was consistant. They’re often slightly bowed so we pushed and pulled to get them as straight as possible before nailing. Where the gap was too small, we used a pry bar to move the planks apart enough to fit the spacer.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Let’s step back and admire our work for a second. Ahh…

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Because we used 8′ planks, we made sure the space between the posts was slightly less than 8′. (If you’re building a fence with more than two posts, check out what we did here…I even have diagrams.)

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

We wanted the planks to be flush with the 4×4 post and we made a chalk line where they needed to be cut.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Jason used his circular saw for this. It’s a bit awkward, especially close to the ground. There may be a better way but this works for us.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

I always insist on the safety glasses. I like how Jason tucks his pencil into his hat.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

I didn’t do a very good job documenting the gate building process. (We started this project after Ali went down for her nap around 1pm on a Saturday and at this point 3 hours later, she was awake so she could “help” us.) We built a frame out of 2x4s just a bit (maybe 1″ both way) smaller than the opening for the gate. The extra 2x4s down the middle and diagonally (that I didn’t photograph here) help the gate stay square. We attached planks in the same way as the fence – starting first with the outside ends, using the spacer, and then the middle post, also using the spacer, using a pry bar as needed.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Once it was hung, I took a picture of the back side so you can see the two diagonal pieces of 2×4 we added. I’m sure there is a simple way to calculate those angles and cut them but we had a heck of a time and ended up just experimenting until we got some angles that worked. It was pretty amusing! Jason hung the gate with three hinges while I was inside with Ali so I didn’t get a picture of that process. How he did that himself, I have no idea!

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

He quickly stained the fence using deck stainer and sealer while Ali and I were having a snack. Just before dark, it was finished. Time to go out for dinner!

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

A couple days later, I took some finished pictures.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

A hook and eye (attached to the house) hold the gate open.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

A hinge door stopper (the same kind we used inside) keeps the gate from hitting the side of the house.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

I love how the fence and gate make our courtyard feel so cozy and private. We can sit out here with the toddler and the dog and not have to worry about either wandering out toward the street. This is quickly becoming one of our favorite spots for lunch alfresco, afternoon tea, blowing bubbles for Ali, and evening chats. It’s going to be even more wonderful once the landscaping matures.

All of my posts related to “modern wood fence”

Modern Wood Fence —Finished! (at our previous house)

Enclosed Courtyard (intro to this post, including some before pictures.)


God Bless This Home

04/04/2013

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I had a blog post written that I was going to post on Monday about how the processes of Ali’s adoption and building our new house had been occurring simultaneously since November 2011 and both got completely wrapped up last week when we received our daughter’s new birth certificate in the mail AND closed out our construction loan and began our conventional mortgage. BUT. The latter ended up not happening for a million frustrating reasons. It’s not going to happen this week or probably next week, either. It’s been a busy, stressful week around here and I’ve had moments of wanting to pull my hair out.

I needed to stop and remind myself of the truth. 

We live in this beautiful home—a blessing we never expected to experience at this point of our lives. God has given us favor over and over again in this process, just as He did with Ali’s adoption and back when she was in state care. He never leaves us or forsakes us. He never gives us more than we can handle. We have so much to be thankful for. In addition to our beautiful girl and our home, Jason and I have a great relationship, we have wonderful family and friends, we have jobs that we love, we have a kitchen full of food and closets full of clothes. We have more than enough; overflow to share. We are abundantly blessed.

We haven’t received any calls from DCS regarding foster placements yet. I’m surprised. Also, I’m relieved. Mainly because of the mortgage stuff. Also because of some upcoming travel. Even if we did get a placement, I’m sure we could overcome those challenges with a new temporary family member along for the adventure. It’s comforting to know that God’s timing is always perfect.


Enclosed Courtyard

03/19/2013

One of our loftier wish list items for our dream house was an outdoor “room,” like a courtyard or atrium. Our architect surprised us with a courtyard was the front entrance to our home. To save money toward the end of construction, we decided we would add the fence and gate to enclose the fourth wall on our own. We finally had a beautiful weekend and time to do a quick project together. Jason and I used the same technique as the modern wood fence we built at our last house. Without the fourth wall, it didn’t really feel like much of a courtyard at all.

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Now it feel more complete!

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Welcome…

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We’ve got our own private retreat. This is quickly becoming our favorite spot for lunch and afternoon popsicles. As it gets warmer, I’ll probably start spending my morning time with God out here, sipping a cup of tea.

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I’ll do a follow up to this post with pictures of our process, as soon as I get around to editing all the photos.


New Home Tour: Kitchen

01/25/2013

Well, I suppose it’s about time that I start giving a virtual tour of our new home. Y’all were so patient and encouraging during the building process and now that we’re getting more and more settled in, I’m feeling ready to start sharing some rooms. Let’s kick this thing off with the kitchen, which is quite possibly my favorite room of the house. I’ve been challenging myself to take over more of the family cooking and I’m starting to really enjoy it…due in part to how much I love the functionality and atmosphere of this room. Everything ended up just like my plan with a few additions thanks to our friend Andy at Markraft Kitchens.

When I walk through the front door, this is my view of the kitchen.

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Having an open shelf for cookbooks was on my dream kitchen wish list. We also have a medicine lockbox (DCS requirement) for our daily vitamins and tissues. Ali won’t leave anything on this shelf alone.

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I was originally going to get silver stools but I decided we needed some color up in here. Our countertops extend out about 12″ there for casual conversation with friends while we’re cooking.

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Another dream kitchen wish list item: a corner cabinet facing out under the bar toward the dining room. It ended up being the perfect spot for Lucy’s food and accessories, and her water bowl is very close to the sink. Perfect.

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This section of cabinets is the pantry, coffee/tea bar and home of the small appliances.

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Another dream kitchen wish list item. This coffee/tea bar turned out even better than I had envisioned. We use this everyday, many times a day.

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I prefer to keep my microwave and toaster oven hidden so he’s where they live. I’m so glad that Andy, our cabinet guru, found a way to make this work for us.

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That door there is our coat closet.

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We’re planning to add a tile backspace eventually. I really love the light we get in this space.

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Our architect, Ryan Thewes, was so thoughtful and thorough with his planning of window placement. The clerestory windows let in a ton of light, mostly indirect. We never need to turn lights on during the day.

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Besides the cookbook shelf, one open shelf for our everyday dishes and glasses was at the top of my dream kitchen wish list. BAM. Exactly how I wanted it!

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This was a last minute addition to our kitchen plan: a pull out drawer for the trash and recycling. I’m so glad we did this. It’s really practical and I like that it’s close to the front door (the one on the left) where we walk in with the junk mail and go out with the trash.

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I’m getting used to cooking with gas. My favorite part of the Whirlpool White Ice gas range is the knobs.

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So that’s it, my dream kitchen!

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Sources:

Floors: natural, unstained, utility grade hickory
Cabinets: walnut-stained cherry and white thermofoil sold through Markraft
Countertops: Kashmir granite
Appliances: Whirlpool White Ice
Pendant lights: IKEA
Big A: ReAbide
Stools: Tabouret on Overstock.com
Love Bacon print: Matt Butler on Etsy
Wall color: Greek Villa by Sherwin Williams

If I skipped anything you’re curious about, just ask!


Courtyard: Before, Concept & After

12/31/2012

The week before last, we had a load of 5 tons of gravel delivered to our courtyard. Jason graciously spent most of a Friday spreading about 3.5 tons. (The rest will be used somewhere else.) I was so tired so walking through the mud to get to the lovely paver stone path Jason made up to our front door steps…and mainly tired of Lucy getting her paws muddy. We’re taking our landscaping one step at a time but there are a few big things we wanted to tackle ASAP. The courtyard is a high priority to me because it’s the front entrance, the first impression of our house, and we’re expecting a lot of guests in the first weeks and months in our new house. When I looked at the pictures I took of the courtyard, I realized it came out really, really close to my Photoshop rendering!

Before:

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Rendering:

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After:

myMCMlife.com - courtyard at Christmas 2012

I love how the windows reflect the sky.

We’re going to add a short fence and gate between the corner of the garage and the concrete wall to enclose all 4 sides and make it a true courtyard. Here’s the mock up I sent to our contractor, based on the fence we designed and built for our last house.We ultimately decided to keep this element out of the construction budget. Jason and I will build this, hopefully in January.  The opening is only 12′ across so it’ll be so easy compared to a whole fence. And maybe will inspire us to add some privacy fencing around the backyard later in 2013.

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Instagram House Tour

12/26/2012

I love the Instagram community. It’s got to be my favorite iPhone app. A couple of my MCM followers requested an IG house tour so I’m obliging little by little, as rooms are decent enough to share. Since it might be awhile before I’m ready for any kind of more substantial (finished/decorated) house tour with real camera photos, I figured I’d share them here, too.

Kitchen

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Dining Room

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Master Bathroom

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Living Room

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What I’m now calling my work room (tri-purpose: office, craft, laundry)

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This room is also tri-purpose: Den/Playroom/Guestroom … sort of. It pretty much just looks like a playroom for now. One day it might become a bedroom. I’m trying to confuse you… is it working? Let’s just call this the den:

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Hall bathroom

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Master bedroom (we’re shopping for furniture)

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Jason’s studio

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The future kids room has become kind of a catch-all. It’s the only room we have left to unpack and clean up. Besides hanging art everywhere else and coming up with some storage solutions in my office and the garage, we’re settled!

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Are you all sick of seeing photos of our house yet?