DIY Mid Century Screen / Divider

Things are moving along in the front yard slow and steady. Our most recent project is an exterior decorative wood screen inspired by the pages of a 1961 Sunset book, Entryways and Front Gardens, a photo that has haunted me for years! Obviously adding non structural architectural details can completely change the feel of a facade, but the ease and impact surpassed all my expectations. The front of our house has a long, boring expanse that needed to be visually broken up. Plants are usually an easy answer, but a narrow plant bed sits below, preventing any substantial plant from successfully or safely growing here. While discussing ways to hide our poorly located breaker box, I suddenly remembered the Sunset book project – the perfect match to our issues.We followed the basics of the original frame design, but used 2×6 instead of 2×4 for the inside square blocks to expand the size and open it up a bit. I liked the original mix of squares and bars, but wanted more overall pattern consistency, so the whole family played around with the design for a while until we got something we liked. We used redwood for outdoor durability, but since we will be painting it, pine probably would have been fine and cheaper (we spent around $150 for everything). I’m tempted to paint it a crazy accent color, orange or turquoise being the obvious contenders, but I think a slightly darker shade of the house color will do the trick for now.The completed screen is really top-heavy so we made sure to dig deep. Digging was by far the worst part of the project, but this set-up really helped break up our clay: a 1.5″ drill bit with a 12″ extender. Our 9′ posts were sunk about 2′ deep. Forty minutes of leveling, three braces, and two bags of Quikrete later, our screen stands tall, straight and strong.The original plan was to use the screen to hide a poorly located breaker box. However, once we put it together it became clear that everything looked so much more balanced and better if we placed it one space over. This project doesn’t exactly lend itself to experimentation (once it’s in the ground), so I was a little nervous to switch up our plans on the fly, but I’m so glad I went with it. I’m (mostly) confident that everything will pull together once I paint the screen and get the landscaping done up here. I’m left looking for other solutions to hide that box, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something. My best idea so far has been build a second screen – duh. Husband is not really feeling that one, so time will tell where this story goes. Here’s the two locations we considered: Lessons learned: Never underestimate the power of a (comparatively) tiny screen, or it’s bonus shadows! Next time I go down this road, I’m taking this idea and going HUGE, like cover my whole house huge because it is that good and that transformative:(A fun bonus to this project is that we are planning to build a wood divider in-between our family room and dining room so I took the opportunity to get a spacial feel of size and dimension with this screen inside before we fully assembled it. IN LOVE. All my fears about a divider being too busy, blocking too much light, making the dining room feel too cramped were shot down completely. Can’t even wait for this!)We took a break from the front yard this weekend to clean up our garage, repair a busted backyard fence, and to also address the MOUSE THAT I FOUND IN OUR HOUSE!!! Talk about feeling violated and consumed and conflicted because you love animals but also hate the plague, etc. Let’s just say we drove in our car with a trapped mouse in my lap to an open field and let it go because I’m that person. Until next time friends unless I’ve contracted a rodent borne disease or stress shingles from worrying about rodent borne diseases! xoxo

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Dressing Room Freshness

Oh man, I love this tiny little nook in our house so much. Fun abounds at every turn. If you are unfamiliar with residential dressing rooms, I can offer no help. It’s just what the previous owners of our home called this small room between our master bedroom and master bathroom that houses a closet and a large linen closet-like cabinet. I like the needlessly elaborate name so I’m keeping it alive. A more rational person would A. just call it something normal and B. use this square footage to build a bigger bathroom and a more efficient walk in closet. I, however, am not ready to give up any quirks so I continue to give it all my love and redecoration…

You may remember that this room used to have hand drawn bamboo all over, which was awesome, but I was ready for a change and things never quite came together in here anyways. Enter the most perfect wallpaper in the world (that was such a nightmare to hang). This space is now making sense and I am over the moon in love with the walls. They radiate happiness, bringing a smile every time I walk through.Also helping this space along is the new (to me) dresser of my dreams. I’ve only been waiting like 20 years for it. No exaggeration. I’m not currently actively looking for furniture, but I’m not not looking either wink wink. My wandering eyes happened to see a crap load of good stuff on Craigslist recently, this elusive Heywood Wakefield Kohinoor dresser included. “Happened” may not be the right word for when you get a Craigslist alert, but whatever. I went with the intention of buying just the dresser and I ended up with the whole matching bedroom set, that has now moved into my daughter’s room, replacing the previous set in there. Also purchased was an AMAZING Paul McCobb coffee table that I’ve decided to sell because it is way too special and pretty to take the beating that our family dishes out to coffee tables. The Kohinoor set isn’t in the best of condition, but it’s comparable to the old Niagara Heywood Wakefield set we had that I was perfectly happy with (and is now for sale too!) so it’s an upgrade for me. Eventually we’ll get around to refinishing it all. All the furniture swapping and subsequent storage-unit-as-my-home situation has been a little much, but sometimes you gotta take opportunities when they present themselves. I’m just hoping someone buys all my furnitures soon…The oversized rattan mirror is from CB2 (called Mick, looks like it’s sold out?). I bought it for our guest bathroom, where it was PERFECT. But it’s PERFECT here too and since I’m working on this room right now, it gets it. I love that it doesn’t detract from all the other statementy pieces in here, but is a little wacky itself too.

Confessional update: this mirror showed up a few days after I shot these, destined for the entryway, but I’m obsessed with it and it looks INSANE in this room so it might be strong-arming its way into my heart and dressing room. What do you think??? Some hastily shot and un-styled peeks (it looks even better vertical, but I didn’t get a pic yet):After living in this house for a few years I’ve found that I always pull some random stool in here, despite the lack of space, because it’s very convenient to have a seat/place to throw clothes. I finally made the decision to buy a small stool specifically for this space. It was between white rattan and tulip and, as of lately, I can’t say no to tulip. I waited months to find a reasonably priced vintage one on ebay but caved and purchased a total crappy ripoff while I wait it out longer. The “upholstery” job is as horrible as I expected, but I still love the pop of white and orange so much! I’ll recover it myself one of these days (though MY OH MY does it look cute at our kitchen desk and husband said two in one house is absolutely two too many).I still haven’t figured out the wall hook situation in here. I’m leaning again towards the lucite CB2 pulls I had up before, but I bought this Hang It All ripoff on Prime Day to try in here too. It’s cute, but I think too bulky and busy for such a small area that already has a lot going on? Or possibly I’m paralyzed on this decision because I’m terrified to nail into the wallpaper…

TO-DOs:

  • Remove old wallpaper
  • Paint walls and ceiling
  • Paint cabinets/closet/trim
  • Replace light
  • Paint bamboo walls
  • Wallpaper
  • Install wood floors (or tile to match bathroom?)
  • Wall hooks
  • Paint interiors of cabinets/closet lazy bum!

 

SOURCES

wallpaper – Norwall | dresser – vintage Heywood Wakefield | tulip stool – Amazon

mirror – CB2 | other mirror – Amazon | table lamp – Target | sputnik light – vintage

Thanks for reading everybody! xoxo

Border Wall

Hi everybody! It’s been insane here lately so sorry for my absence on my own blog! School started back up abruptly and I’ve been scrambling to switch gears, gather supplies, and make sure everyone is emotionally stable through all the newness. All of that means that summer is officially over for us and our front yard, our ONE summer goal, didn’t quite get done. But we have come a long way and are close! I’d say it’s about 95% cleared of weeds, 75% landscaped, 40% graded/leveled and truck loads of mulch and rock are on the way tomorrow! But it took a lot of boring/ugly/not exciting tasks to get here, the most important one being what we have affectionately named our BORDER WALL!I’ll explain. We live on a corner and a hill, and our front yard is big L-shaped plot that consists of two parts: a flat upper area at house level and a massive slope that goes from upper level to sidewalk level. The slope has a very old/crumbling/needs-to-be-replaced railroad tie retaining wall at its base (that we are ignoring for now). Up around the corner, the slope eventually meets house level and the yard forms a fun curve around our driveway in back (fun fact: we’ve never owned or even lived in a house with a normal garage in front. What is it like?!). Allow these google maps screen shots from when we bought our house to further illustrate:I’ll talk more about plants next time, but we have basically ripped out all existing plants, including the large lawn on the top level. We are going for the same desert modern vibe of our backyard, but maybe not as colorful, so the grass will be replaced with rocks. In order to do that however, it was necessary to build some sort of low-grade retaining wall at the top of the slope to reclaim feet of previously uneven grass area that dangerously dropped off around the edges and to keep the rocks from spilling over. It’s not so much structural as it is a literal border line (previous owner had a rickety piece of wood, as seen above). And that’s how the border wall was born and an endless stream of jokes and joy have followed…the most obvious one being that we are going to get Mexico to pay for it.

My husband used pressure treated 4×4’s for the wall, 4×6’s for the posts, and 6″ specialty screws to hold it all together. After much debate, we cut across the corner of our lot at 45 degrees, angle the wall at one end of our yard, and literally run it into the ground on the driveway side. It has really classed up the joint and given our yard some much needed structure. We now have two defined areas, top and bottom.
We’re beginning to lay down rock up top this weekend on the areas that we have leveled, the same rock we used in our backyard and sideyard, 1/2″ float rock. We have been super happy with it. We’d like to pour a concrete patio outside our front door, where we have the best views. Only a giant circle seems right to me, but we lack experience to give us the guts to try to DIY it, so that may need to happen at a later date. We also hope to build a decorative wood screen to hide our very poorly placed breaker box:As for the slope, I’ve mostly finished landscaping (after taking these photos), so I’ll save the plant talk for next time. It feels so good not be the dump of all dumps in the neighborhood! I’ll leave you with some before/after action of our progress. I think we may still be in the “it looks worse before it looks better” stage, but I can see where we are going and I can’t wait to get there.Thanks for stopping by!