Sunday, July 28, 2013

I Made a Gate!

The side of the house has kind of been in limbo.  We want to build an extension there in time, so we're loathe to invest too much in improvements.  However, the gate was an eyesore.  Some friends stopped by our house (they had been here when the renovation started) and told me they only way they could recognize the house was by the gate!  I know it was meant as a compliment, but I took it as a challenge.  The only picture I can find of the gate before is this one.

The old gate and one of the posts were rotten.  We started looking around for new gates and the narrow size meant we had to get one custom made.  The best quote we got was £140.  I thought that was a bit steep and on a Sunday evening I told Niall I thought I could build one.

On Monday morning, I was at Jewsons and there just happened to be some offcuts of wood that were the exact height we needed for the gate.  I took it as a sign and bought the wood.  Our joiner was on site (making George in the kitchen island) and gave me some guidance (and helped wench the pieces together.)  It was a niggly operation.  At one point I had my mom and our three year old holding pieces together.  It was a three-generation job!

Pretty soon we had this.  (If you looks to the left, you can see another shot of the old gate.)

The title of the post is a bit misleading.  I didn't make the gate all by myself.  Our joiner ripped both sides of the gate with a saw so it was just the right size.

Then I started sanding.  And then priming.  Only to find that I hadn't rinsed our roller very well. 

Then I did the rest.  Primed again.  Sanded.  Painted with gloss paint.  I then ripped, pulled, used a crow bar,  kicked and a few other tricks to get the old gate and post removed.   Replaced a gate post, and hung the gate.  Apparently I didn't take very good after pictures either.  But, anyway, we have a new gate!  Here's the view from the back door (along the side of the garage, heading out towards the front of the house and the street.)

The gate matches the front door.  (We have a lot of that gloss paint left.  I think I'll use it to paint a few more outside doors.  Like on the coal shed and possibly the bomb shelter.)

We sanded, primed and painted the wooden surround on the garage as well.

The original lock I put on the gate wasn't strong enough.  It has taken a few weeks, but I finally got around to beefing it up and moving the placement to make it stronger.  Gate is 'secure', and maybe some day I'll get around to painting the new pieces.  Or maybe not.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Painting the Fence

Even though the house was in pretty awful shape when we bought it, I feel like we inherited some nice things.  Especially in the garden.  Despite needing to have the entire plot cleared and lawn laid, we did inherit some mature trees, a bomb shelter and a very sturdy fence.

We share a fence with neighbors on three sides.  One neighbor had painted theirs red, one has theirs painted green and one has their fence in the same state as ours.  (They have a lot of bushes in front of the fence, so no real need to paint it.)  To match with at least one of the neighbors, we had a choice between green and red cedar.  We had some cedar red fence paint that the previous owner left behind.  But neither of us were that keen on it.  I sold the red fence paint and picked up a 20-litre bucket of Ronseal One Coat Fencelife in Forest Green.  Looking back at photos, it's fairly apparent that the fence needs some TLC.  

The paint has been sitting in the garage for about a month, but I finally decided we just needed to get started.  One night I wire brushed the fence that holds the garbage cans (bins).  Then I painted it (with a large brush).  Two coats and it looked like this.

Wire brushing the fence worked well, but took a lot of effort. The next morning we used the pressure washer to clean off a large portion of the fence, and let it dry all day.   The pressure washer did the trick to clear off the moss and grime. That evening (once the kids were in bed) Niall and I headed out and painted a long stretch.

A few more sessions of pressure washing and painting and two sides of the fence were done.

The side where the neighbors have a green fence as well looks really good.  The side with the cedar red looks a little odd when you look closely.  Because of the slats, we couldn't really paint everything green because it would make the neighbors side look ridiculous.  So we tried our best to paint 'our' side of the fence without causing problems for the neighbors.  And the end result is a hodgepodge.  (We kept trying to look over the fence to make sure we weren't dripping paint on the wrong side.)

The back fence took a lot longer.  The large amount of vegetation, wood, rubble and weeds made it difficult to clean or paint.  It took several rounds of clearing and runs to the dump before we could work on the back fence.

 The baby didn't mind if I power washed as long as I held her while I did it.

Finally!  We had clear access to the fence, it was clean and dry.

I cleared most of the rubble, but kept behind these stones.  I think we may be able to find a place to put the stones rather than take them to the dump. 

The fence is almost finished.  We ran out of paint today, and there's still one more panel that needs to be painted.  But you can't really tell from this photo.

Still lots to do in the garden (and it's not like I know how to garden, but we're learning).  Tonight I'm pretty happy the garden looks like this.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Better Than She Found It

My mom has been visiting from the US for six glorious weeks and went home yesterday.  I asked her what she wanted to do for her last day and she said she wanted to clean our bathrooms!  (They're not disgusting or anything, just need the weekly clean.)

She told me it was important to her to leave our house better than she found it.

I started to think about how much things have changed at our house in the past six weeks, and had to laugh at my mom wanting to clean the bathrooms.  She has already done so much!

Sanded and vanished all of nine of the window surrounds.

She helped us get all of the pictures framed/hung.

She did all sorts of sewing...

Including these giant floor cushions for the kids.

Helped me build a gate.  (More on that later.)

Helped with the garden (including gently encouraging us to get a trimmer for the edges.)

Spent ages helping me find a new living room set that was in our budget:

Cooked, cleaned, watched the kids and all sorts of other things so we could get the house unpacked and organized.

And probably many more things I forgot.  Like cleaning the bathrooms would make a difference after everything else.  But she cleaned them anyway.  Thanks, Mom!

Don't worry, we gave her a little bit of time off for good behavior.  (She finally made it to Wimbledon!)