Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Why we do the things we do! "The Ponds" Tour

I just wanted to share this morning a little of our journey while renovating the place we call home "The Ponds".  You may wonder what motivates us to keep adding on to this property.  Since we began this journey, we've built a pier with a gazebo, developed an outdoor kitchen area, built a stage, built our home, and most recently added a pool.  Just our porch alone can accommodate 25 - 30 people.  So why have we done this?  Because there's nothing we love more than to be surrounded by our family and friends.  I have never understood people who have lovely homes and never share them with others.  We are so motivated to create a space where everyone that we cherish in our lives, can come and enjoy each other.  I'm taking you on a tour of our property and some of the things we've done to create a space that other's can enjoy.
This is a recent pic of the house & pool!

We began our journey 10 years ago and I've shared some of the before photo's and stories in previous posts.  One of the things we did right from the beginning was create an outdoor kitchen area.
My husband loves to grill and smoke outdoors.  One project on his bucket list is to build a pizza oven here as well.  
Here is a recent picture of the outdoor kitchen and it's ever evolving.
This was once a small boat dock.  We filled in the bottom and built a small bar.  We used old barn wood for the top of the bar. The base we built ourselves.  We gathered rock from the property & built the two columns.  Then we used cedar posts that we pulled from our pond.  They were driven into the pond around 1956-1957 to support a pier.  The pier had fallen in and the post were broken off.  However, the part that was under water was perfectly preserved.  My brother built our wrought iron foot rest.   We love to host ** "low country boils" and this is the perfect spot to dump the pot.
This area can seat up to 30 guests comfortably.
We added a fire pit that overlooks the water and it has become our favorite spot late at night with our friends.  There's something about the fire, the stars and of course those lovely nature sounds.  Frogs and crickets sometimes drown out the conversation.  You might also find some roasted marshmellows on a stick.  YUM!

Just across the drive we have another seating area that I fondly call "the stage".  We can also set this area up for dining as well.  The vintage glider and one of the vintage chairs have been in my husbands family for years.  We've had them for some time and they have been many colors.  I was lucky to find two more matching chairs a few years ago at a Salvation Army Thrift Store.

Here is a picture of the pier that replaced the one that had fell into the water.  We decided to add a gazebo to the end.  We love to sit in this spot and watch the sun go down.  Interesting fact:  It's usually 5-10 degrees cooler sitting on the pier, than at the house.  Must be the water and the breeze that flows across the ponds.
Here is another recent pic of the pier and as you can see, we've now added a pool.  I'll be honest with you, a pool was not on my list.  My husband had mentioned it several times and I had always resisted. The reason I decided that a pool might be a good idea is because we usually stop entertaining at the Ponds in July & August.  It's just to hot and the sun is relentless in the outdoor kitchen around 6:30 - 8:00 in the summer months.  So the idea that we could invite guests over to swim and cool off before enjoying one of my husbands meals, started to sound pretty good. So we have had the pool for about a month now and have had guests around almost every weekend.  We've already had our first "low country boil", something we normally do later in the fall, due to the heat. 
We love how the pool fits into the landscape without taking away from the natural beauty of the property.  

 My husband and I worked together to add this wall around the exposed side of our pool.  It's a combination of treated lumber and rock.  We actually filled in between the wall and the pool with the dirt that was dug out for the pool.  We then used a pallet of rock to stack on top of the dirt.  We also had some larger rocks from the property moved to create a natual rock landscape around the pool.

Here's a view of the pool and the natual area that surrounds it.  The natural area we had built in 2010 and were fortunate that we were able to leave it and just add the pool in front of it.
 This is the original natural area with just a metal bench and a couple of chairs.  Now it's our path to the pool.  We added the additional walk from the drive to the natual area by saving some of the larger stones in our pallet of rock and placing them as a walk way.

Here is a view of the house from the pool.  The house is just 1900 sq. ft. with 2 bedrooms but it's all we need.  Every rooms looks out across the three ponds and now the pool.  The porch area is almost as large as the house.  We wanted our home to embrace the outdoors and the beauty of the land.  It's by no means perfect.  This much property is impossible to keep perfect.  But if you don't mind driving a mile back in the woods on a dirt (gravel) road and wearing comfortable shoes because the grounds are not level, come on over.  We'll grill some steaks and have a glass of wine on the pier.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

DIY Outdoor Shower

 As we were planning our farmhouse, one item on our wish list was an outdoor shower.  When we are in the middle of projects here at the Ponds, we can get pretty dirty.  We have previously been known to use a hose to shower off before going inside.  So an outdoor shower sounded like heaven to us.  We decided to have the plumbing ran for the shower while the plumbers were here during the construction phase of our home.  However, we decided that we wanted to build the shower ourselves.  So we moved in with just a shower head outside of the house.  Needless to say we didn't use it at all last fall.
This past spring we started the planning of our shower.  Note:  We have an outdoor shower at the beach which we also love.  The shower at the beach is small and has a door.  Since we are not real professional builder's we decided to design a shower without a door.  However, we wanted privacy while showering.  The solution was a privacy wall within the shower.  It has been so convenient to just walk right in.
We used treated lumber and started with a deck style platform built low to the ground.  We had custom metal sheeting cut to size for the walls.  The whole process only took my husband and I two days to complete.
I naturally had to style the shower before I'd put any photo's out there.  I just love old galvanized buckets and enamel ware so those were my go to items.  Plus, a few other metal items that would hold up the outdoor elements.  Once the shower was completed, we have rarely used our indoor baths.  We love using the outdoor shower so much, I don't know what we'll do when fall rolls around again.
We have also just added a pool!  The outdoor shower is getting even more use now.  Our guest get to enjoy using it to shower off after enjoying the pool.  We are loving the country life.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How to use faux flowers successfully.

I like nothing better than real flowers.  This is my time of year with all the fresh blooms and buds.  With that being said, it can be really hard and expensive to have fresh flowers around your home year round.  What I like to do is use as many fresh and real stems as possible but incorporate faux stems into the mix. I don't mix together in the same arrangement, but in separate containers.   I feel that when you mix it up, it's hard to tell which are the real deal and which are fake.

Here are a few area's that I've mixed.  See if you can tell the real from the faux. 

Here I have a mix of lavender, magnolia, tulips and button bush.  Unless you are making an up close inspection, you really can't tell the tulips are faux. 

Here is another shot of my front porch.  In this shot, only the stems in the large galvanized bucket are faux.  I feel these stems look as though they could have been cut from a blooming fruit tree. 
When making my faux purchases, I look for as many authentic flowers as possible.  I also try to stay true to the color of real flowers.  You rarely see a deep purple rose for example.   

Here is another example of real and faux.  The stems on the washer are real and I've placed some faux stems on top of the cabinet.  If you can't reach an area that you want to brighten with some flowers, it's best to us faux.  Also, this pic was taken early in the spring when the daffodils were in full bloom here in the south.  These are real, but I could have used faux at that time of year.  I would hesitate to use faux daffodils after the season is past.  Most people in your area will immediately realize they are faux because it's the wrong time of year to have fresh cut daffodils or whichever flower you are displaying in your home. 

Another area that I've found I prefer faux in around my bed. 
These roses are above my bed.  I really don't want water above the bed so I opted for faux stems. 

This is one of my favorite arrangements of spring stems from earlier this spring.  I just loved how fresh and clean this arrangement looked.  Once the flowers were beyond saving, I didn't want to give up this fun look so I went to Hobby Lobby.  With this arrangement in mind, I looked for spring type stems to fill my enamelware pot.  The picture below is the result of that trip. 
They will look this good all summer long. 

Simple rules for faux stems:
Choose authentic looking stems
Mix with real flowers when possible but in separate arrangements
Display what is currently blooming even if they are faux

Have fun displaying your real and faux stems!!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

How exciting for everyone to get what they want.

As we were drawing the plans for our forever home, we made a list of priorities that each of felt we couldn't live without.  (I'll go into more of the list at another time.)  However, high on my husbands list was a TV, entertainment room.  Since we were not planning a basement, his solution was a loft.  I was resistant to this idea because of the wasted space.  Finally he convinced me that a barn like feel would be just what we needed.  So we settled on the idea of a loft area.  We made sure the area was large enough for our leather sectional sofa  and we also decided to add a 1/2 bath for convenience.  My priority quickly moved to making sure the railings had an industrial feel.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So we opted for custom steel railings, painted black.  
In our previous home, we had a wet/bar in our bonus/TV room.  This was not a priority for either of us in this house.  However, once we had moved in, we decided a small bar area in the loft would be great for storing some of our bar collectibles.  As with most of our ideas, we wanted something unique, to fill this job.  We found two vintage metal hospital carts that had been painted white.  We didn't have a real plan for them, but felt they would be perfect.

We wanted a more industrial look for the cabinets so we painted them a gunmetal gray and the hardware black.   We also wanted a longer bar area, so we removed the tops from the cabinets and attached brackets to the sides allowing us to used the tops as shelves.  We then joined some barn wood planks together for the top of the bar.  A couple of metal pipes and another piece of barn wood, gave us a small raised shelve on top of the bar.  
We love the finished bar.

Now, on to something I wanted.  As we had been looking around for fun, authentic items to complete our farmhouse look, I had seen a few chicken nesting boxes for sale.  I just loved how they looked!  I knew I could do something really cool, if I just had one.  I commented to my husband that I'd love to have one and he was not excited about the idea.  His response was "what in the world would you do with something like that".   So I didn't get a nesting box, but still thought they were really cool.  Then one day I was scrolling through Instagram and fell in love with an account because everything in her house was so authentic and perfect.  She had a nesting box displayed beautifully in her dining area.  Once I showed my husband the photo's, he was on board too.   
So, I began searching once again for a nesting box.  Naturally, now I couldn't seem to find one anywhere.  But finally, I saw an add on Craig's list and was able to secure my nesting box.  I was so excited that I purchased two!  I knew I'd find a use for them.  One I used in my shop right away.  See previous post.  I brought the other one home and it sat in my carport for about a month.  I thought I knew exactly where I was going to use it, but for some reason just hadn't gotten around to hanging it.   Then inspiration hit and I told my husband we needed to use it over our bar.  We immediately started cleaning all the crusty junk off and hung it on the wall.  We are so happy with the results.  It's a perfect fit and now we are both doing a happy dance, because we both got what we wanted.  
I hand stenciled the sign on an old pallet board.  It says "Welcome to the Coop" .
The Vintage Stereoscope Viewer cards, we inherited from my father-in-law.  We do have the viewer that goes with the cards.  We feel it all came together beautifully and we are both happy to have such a fun, interesting place to hang out.  Hope this inspires you to do something interesting in your home. 

If you have questions or comments, you can contact me through Instagram or Facebook.  See link at top of page.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

How we saved money by pouring our own concrete countertops

As we were planning our new farmhouse, we knew we wanted concrete countertops in our kitchen.  I love a very eclectic look and we wanted an industrial farmhouse feel.  I just couldn't see granite tops working in the space.  So as the construction process was in full swing, we started experimenting by pouring sample slabs.  I do want to say, if you are looking for a perfectly flawless piece of countertop, then concrete isn't for you.  

The material we used for the frame was white laminated melamine boards.  These boards provide a smooth non-porous surface to pour the concrete into.  So we cut a board larger than we wanted the finish slab to be.  Then stripped out side pieces, with a table saw for the frame of the slab.  We decided on 1 1/2 inch thick countertops.  So the stripes we cut 1 1/2 inch wide.  We marked off the dimensions on the flat melamine board and screwed the strips to the board using wood screws.  This formed a tray on the surface of the larger board.  (sorry, I don't a photo of this) 

Once the frame is built, you want to run a bead of chalking along all the corners inside the frame.  Then remove any excess chalking so the corners are still square.  I just used my finger to run along the chalking line and wiped off the excess chalking.  This allowed me to feel that there was no large buildup of chalking  in the corners.  We also experimented with using 1/2 round shoe molding to form a beveled edge to the overhang.  We decided it was worth adding the molding.   We cut the molding to fit snuggly into the frame along the front and used the chalking to hold it in place.  (note: if using the molding, do all the chalking after the molding is in place.) You also want to keep in mind that you are pouring the countertops upside down.  Be sure the beveled edge is where it needs to be once the tops are flipped over.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

I love how amazing this faux shiplap looks.

When I ran across this nesting box, I decided I wanted to use it in my little mini-shop to display the farmhouse wares that I had been working on.  I knew it would require some rearranging and I felt that shiplap walls would be just the ticket.  The thought of cutting the wood and installing was daunting in itself.  Not to mention to cost.  So I did a little more research and found that some very creative ladies had just taped off the lines and painted with black paint.  A much more cost effective choice.   As I was getting all my trusty tools together, I realized that I would need a pretty massive amount of painter's tape.  This stuff isn't cheap either.  Keep in mind that this space is a rental and I would be covering over a lot of the walls with this nesting box and other items for sale.  Then I thought, why not just draw the lines on with a sharpie marker.  I decided I'd just give it a try in a non conspicuous space.  I was amazed at how great it looks.  As you've noticed, if you've read any of my blog, I have the real deal in my home.  There are no perfect lines in real shiplap.  Some spaces between the boards are wider and some more narrow.  There is a lot of imperfection and a lot of character.  So it was easy to create faux lines with a marker and if I made a mistake, that is just the charm of shiplap.  To see all the instructions on how easy and cheap this technique is, go to my page DIY projects.

Friday, March 10, 2017

We love the outdoor life, especially eating outdoors!

We love the view from the original cabin on the property, but the cabin was in such bad shape when we got the property, we considered tearing it down.   The roof had fallen down and the windows were broken out.  The cost to replace these items was more than the structure was worth.  As we began to clean up, we came up with an idea to save the old cinder block cabin.  We chose to remove the majority of the front and add a pergola cover for the top.  This was going to become our outdoor kitchen.  My husband loves to grill and experiment with all types of outdoor cooking!  Which I love, because I don't want to cook.  We love to entertain and decided this would make a great area for our friends to gather.  Here are a couple shots of the area before any cleanup. 
Destroyed Cabin - This photo from previous blog post