Sunday, January 4, 2015

Garden Design Ramblings

Our house was built in 1926, and the garden has 'evolved' over the past 89 years.  A lot of the features  (the pavers, the planting beds, the walls, outbuildings, the overall layout) have seen wear and could use a facelift.  Since moving in, we've been trying to work with what we have for a temporary solution.  Over the next few years, we're planning to make a bigger change, and are working with a landscape designer to help with the process.

We have a few things to consider:
Steep driveway
Concrete bomb shelter (air raids shelter) we'd like to keep

We've been gathering ideas since we bought the house.  On New Year's Day, I walked around the neighbourhood with Niall's mom to discuss options and take pictures.

1.  Summerhouse:  Niall wants one, by the bomb shelter.  He likes this one (sans garbage can) around the corner from us.  I'm hoping for some direction on how to incorporate Niall's summerhouse vision with the bomb shelter and a place to store things if we rip down the garage.  (For a side extension.)

2.  Usable, flat(ish) garden with paving and an out building.  Our garden has a slight change in elevation, but not enough to cause a problem.   We'd like the back yard to be somewhere the we can spend time as a family, but keep it fairly low maintenance and keep things cohesive. I like the clean lines of this garden.  When I walk by, I notice it and things it looks nice.

3.  Steps up to the house:  We're looking for a new set-up for the entrance to our house.  Right now it's steps along the driveway which isn't very welcoming and makes the driveway a tight squeeze.

We're looking to introduce steps in line with our front door.  Something kind of like this:

One neighbour has done this:

Another has built a retaining wall to level their steep driveway.

Another has steps leading from the driveway to the front door (instead of along the driveway)

And another has their steps along the drive but almost in line with the front door.  (Making the driveway wider and the front garden a little smaller.)

This house doesn't have the pitch in the front garden that we do, but they have a walkway straight from the pavement to their front door.

Walkway from pavement to front door.  (But with entrance on the side of the house.)

I like the low profile front wall, where the top of the wall is almost level with the ground behind it.  (Our current front retaining wall is about a foot higher the the ground.)

Niall likes a low profile, but wants to add a metal railing on top.

In time, we're planning to add a side extension.  But our driveway is steeper.  (I do like how this extension looks.)

Another pitched drive, with a retaining wall for the garden.

One other thing we both like is the idea of adding a pergola (possibly with glass inserts to help with the rain) possibly in the back garden.  Down the road someone has a metal and glass carport, a design along these lines may work.  

We'll see.  For now I'm remind myself how far we've come from when we saw the house two years ago.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Mini-Bedroom Makeover

Niall's dad passed away this year.  Niall's parents raised four kids in a two bedroom house.  The bedroom they had shared for almost 40 years was full of memories, and hadn't been done up in a really long time.  Niall's mom had purchased paint and wallpaper a while ago, saving it for when the time would come to redo the room.

Niall's mom had been putting pennies away for a long time to go visit family in Australia, so some time after the funeral she went on the trip for about a month.  Niall and his siblings decided to surprise his mom by making a few changes while she was gone.  (We hinted at it and got her go ahead and feedback on what she'd like.)

I took 'before' pictures when we were clearing out the house after Niall's dad had passed away.
Niall's mom had already bought new wallpaper for above the bed (it was the only wall she wanted papered.)  She wanted to keep their headboard, but thought painting it white would be nice.  So we did.

And now?  A new look!  

Some of the walls needed the old wallpaper removed, so we went up (we live about 60 miles away) on weekends and would work on the room while our kids slept next door.  One of the best parts of the surprise was working with the family.  Niall's brother removed the carpets, arranged for new ones and helped paint.  Niall's sister and her partner wallpapered and painted.  It was like a baton relay over several weeks, where everyone would help when possible. We separated Niall's dad's belongings and boxed up things we weren't sure about, for Niall's mom to go through later.

The walls, ceiling and skirting got new paint.  We also got new carpet for the room.  The floor mirror opens and has jewelry storage inside.  

The closet/wardrobes doors weren't working.  We repainted them and fixed the hardware so they now slide past each other.

We got rid of things that we had permission to dispose of.  After Niall's mom got home to her surprise, she has continued to 'freshen up' her room, getting curtains, accessories, linens and hanging pictures to her taste.  Her sister has even come up from London a few times to help with the makeover!

It was a fun, messy, hard, feel-good project and we hope Niall's mom enjoys her bedroom!