Exterior Paint Progress

Oh my goodness, this school year is doing me in. I’m only homeschooling one of my kids again this year and only part-time, but it’s such a hectic schedule and lots of driving. I feel like a stereotype and have resorted to highlighting my calendar so I don’t forget where I’m supposed to be during any given timeslot. (Literally just got up to consult said calendar to make sure I’m not supposed to be somewhere right now.) All I do is drive and listen to WTF episodes. Marc Maron is feeling more like family at this point than my actual family. (Podcast recommendations???) As always, I have so many house projects that I can’t wait to get to, but my current reality is that I can usually only find 1/2 day a week to squeeze in extracurriculars, and right now that means slowly trying to put the lid back on the can of worms that the exterior paint job opened up.

In an effort to save money, but mostly deterred by color decisions and the repairs we needed to make before painting, I volunteered to paint all the random fences around our property. The work is tedious but fine; the decisions paralyzing. I was hoping to have a “hooray the exterior is done!” post ready by now, but the best I can do is tell you all the things I’m confused about:I started with our “trash fence,” the one that hides trash cans, and the long curved fence that separates our driveway from our backyard (we have a weird corner lot). After loving the high contrast of our new exterior lights (more cute lights here), I toyed with idea of painting the fences black, ultimately deciding that I love a sun-drenched view of the backyard from inside the house. Went with white. Needed 3 freaking coats and I’m almost done but not quite. And of course I discovered a termite infestation and rotting boards and the whole fence should be replaced ASAP but who has the time or money? For some reason every fence post on our property, besides 3, was put into the ground with no concrete footing = a never-ending buffet for termites. WHY WHY WHYWe desperately need to build a new back gate after wind storms trashed this flimsy one. I wondered if yellow would be fun so I took the opportunity to try it out on the junk gate before we dismantle it, slapping on a coat of the same color I used on our kitchen pocket door. I didn’t love it at first and thought it was too much with our orange door, but now it has grown on me so much and I can’t imagine any other color. Put me down for multiple crazy colored doors please. I’ll probably go with a slightly less fluorescent acid yellow, like the one nearest turquoise below.And I’d like to return the gate to its original design, as seen on this google maps screenshot below from before we bought the house. I am that creep. The diamond!Aaaand then we have this weirdo back fence situation. The entire stretch of our driveway and backyard has this 4′ cinderblock retaining wall at the property line. The trellised fence above belongs to our neighbors and is set back a foot. Behind that fence is our neighbors’ driveway and garage at eye level and I hear that, long before we moved in, there used to be nothing between the houses! I’d love to have a monolithic 10′ tall fence across the entire back stretch of our property to hide this current mish mash, but I have no idea how to approach it. It’s no simple thing to add height to an existing cinderblock wall, and we can’t put posts directly in the retaining wall or in the ground directly in front of it because there is footing below. Our only option for in-ground posts would be about a foot into our yard. Privacy plants might be the easiest and cheapest solution, but those require maintenance and water and take up space – not ideal. I’m thinking about a wall topper/extention, where you screw “posts” directly into the side of the cinderblock and build up from there but I’m not sure if 6′ of height is feasible. I decided to go ahead and begin painting the mosaic wall white where the tan is while we think more about this one. Ideas welcome because we are stumped!!! Now on to this other fence between our backyard and side yard. Of course, it also needs repairs. This time, a water damaged gate. (But look how fresh and crisp!)Again, the mess of back fences where properties converge. How do I make that pretty??? Should I paint the chimney??? We weren’t 100% sure so we didn’t have our painters touch it. And now that I see it with the new paint job, I’m even more conflicted.  Around the side yard is where things really got thrilling! We know this fence was rotted and we keep doing quick fixes on it hoping to squeeze another year out of it. But this time the quick fix revealed the obvious, but one we oddly never considered, reason for the rot: major termite damage. OH MY GOODNESS CALIFORNIA I LOVE YOU EXCEPT YOUR TERMITES. If this sounds really irresponsible, it kinda is, but I just painted over the whole thing like nothing is happening because I need a few months before I can deal with this. Went with a dark charcoal black and I love it. It makes the fence (and my termite problems) disappear instead of looking like a continuation of the longest rambling ranch ever built.  Lastly, I’ve been so stalled on these screens. I was set on painting them black but then decided to go with textural white, and primed them accordingly. But they are so lost from the street in the sea of white when I need them to break up the long stretch of house, that I’m thinking of going back to the original plan of black. Pardon the weeds and random chair collection.  A very lo-fi mockup has me excited. Now trying to decide if I should use the same dark charcoal on that side fence or go true black. And what sheen? I drove to the paint store the other day and then drove away because I couldn’t make decisions.Oh and I forgot the other thing I need to deal with. The painting inadvertently killed some of our plants. Agaves are generally ok with abuse. Don’t water them. Dig them up and leave bare roots out in the sun for a month. NO PROBLEM. But dare cover them up with something like a drop cloth for even one day, and they will revenge rot/die on you. Our beautiful agaves by the front door took the brunt of it. And the sansevieria experiments in the rock bed above that were barely hanging on before the dropcloths are pathetic now.
So there you have it. My can of worms. The good news is that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the white house. It made our black roof look beautiful (who says stuff like that?) and offers a minimal and graphic backdrop to all the plants and furniture and colorful doors/gates. Best of all, it’s such a better match to what is going on inside the house. I still have a moment of doubt every time I see a dramatic black house or a pastel aqua beach bungalow, but I think I made a good choice this round for this particular house. Now to nail the other 50 decisions and ignore my termite problems…And I’m sure there’s typos in here but carpool duty is calling so sorry goodbye!!!!


Poolside Gossip

Every summer I spend way too much time scheming ways to get a backyard pool. Like a real one. I’m not one to splurge on big ticket items and prefer travel to most “stuff”, but one day I see myself blowing all our money on a professional huge personal body of water. (And, no, I haven’t found a DIY option that I feel comfortable with. I’ll keep you posted if that changes because you know I will keep looking but I can’t get this out of my brain.)

This year, I tried to take it down a notch and spent my research time on more attainable things: first, above ground pools, and then, hot tubs. Neither have panned out yet, because I am too cautious and indecisive to pull the trigger on ugly things, though I think we would get a lot of use out of both.

I was looking at smaller above ground pools, actually as an easier and cheaper option to a stock tank (but this recent stock tank pool DIY has me rethinking everything!!!!). Something in the $100 and 10 foot range. I narrowed it down to this poolthis pool or this pool. I think we would use it often but do I really want to stare at those semi-permanently? Still thinking on that one…

Then the hot tub bug hit. I’ve never been into the general yuck/cheesy vibe of above ground hot tubs. But we’ve been going to these hot tubs lately like the hippies we actually are AND LOVING HOT TUB LIFE. Considering a small spa could provide backyard hot tubbing and could just as well serve as a play area for our kids, I was into the idea. I learned that there’s a whole range of spas appropriately called plug and play, where you plug into a standard outlet and get to it. Granted, many are hideous and I’ve learned that the smaller, $2000ish jacuzzis that aren’t totally gross looking sell out by early summer. This one and this one are contenders and no longer available. I’m intrigued by this plastic molded hot tub but can’t decide if I love the design or hate it. I’m totally into the contentious design of this wood-fired and portable model (don’t miss the reviews/questions of the folks who are not). For now, we’ve decided to defer the decision until next Spring.

So for now, we’ve got this situation going on… Our classy family is actually spending our summer in this huge and hideous blow up pool. And it’s great. Like seriously best money spent in a long while. (I also liked this lots-of-chairs one and this colorful one.) We lived in its blue waters during that heat wave a few weeks ago. It’s convenient in that it doesn’t have to be seen all the time, but a hassle in that we have to drain it at the end of each day of use. No worries cuz my husband has turned off our sprinklers and developed an elaborate hose drainage system to transfer the pool water all over the lawn. It’s intense. You also have to be careful or it will burn a lovely circle into your grass, but otherwise, a great cheap solution to our backyard water woes. For this year at least…

Tell me how to get a real pool for cheap please?????? Make my dreams come true. Hope you are staying cool this summer friends! xoxo

Patio Shenanigans

Totally unintentionally, the patio has been all switched up! It all started with a hosing off and snowballed into a full rearrange where furniture was pulled from inside, impulse rugs were purchased, and plants planted. I have so many other things I should be working on, but once I got started I couldn’t stop. I caught a glimpse of a more functional space and it ran away with my brain.

I can be kind of intense when I’m in the middle of it all, so interruptions like making dinner have been a real challenge this week. And last week, let’s be honest. Trader Joe’s frozen pesto pizza and take-out burritos have been in heavy rotation. And maybe even cereal one night, I don’t even know. I’m dropping balls left and right. EXCEPT MY PATIO. HOLDING THAT BALL REAL TIGHT.

You can see the before version in this post from last May, and the before before from the May before that (routine much?). For this round, I switched the dining table to the other side of our den slider, our main backyard door, and created a cozy seating area near our family room slider.

I also switched up the color scheme. Or emboldened it, if you will. It really all started when my darling daughter broke one of our front yard white acapulco chairs during a clumsy fall. Straight up amazing physical comedy…but why child?? So, I sacrificed one of our backyard white chairs to the front yard. A black acapulco chair was left without a spot after my daughter’s room’s recent rearrange, so I brought it out there. I’m not one for mismatched chair pairs and actually spent some time looking for a matched replacement, but when I fell in love with this black and white target rug while searching for a plain jute one, it seemed so right. I got the rug on sale for $40, and ran with a black/white/orange color scheme – that I thought might totally clash with the fun time wall, but it’s FINE! And the rug was the only thing I bought for this switch up. I actually cleared out a lot of stuff in the process…bonus! Part of settling into middle-age is continually messing with your plants. I replanted this small bed with sansevieria once I got rolling on this patio thing. We used to have a prolific umbrella plant that needed major trimming every few months and dropped crap all over. In support of my low maintenance plant mantra, I finally removed it (and relocated a neighboring dracaena that was beginning to block the gate). The sansevieria are a little dinky now, but will really pop once they grow.



B&W rug – Target | acapulco chairs – similar | spun fiberglass chair – vintage

coffee table – vintage | orange and iron table – Target (painted)

wall hanging – DIY | planters – vintage/Homegoods/Ikea

patio set – vintage | chair cushions – Amazon | bird house – similar

doormat – Target | orange screen door – info here


If you have backyard fever, there’s more here.

I have backyard water fever. Instead of bingeing Housewives last week, I spent hours researching backyard hot tubs, and then even more researching pools. Stock tanks, above grounds, spools, plunge pools, you name it. No resolution has yet been reached. Say a prayer for my husband… he has to live with this crazy brain.