Time for another round of my house is cool but…..
Michelle and I are trying to implement Phase II of our home improvement (to call it a name seems to make it more real and possibly more likely to happen to my way of thinking). As per usual, we only sorta agree on what to do and how to set the priority scale of the different items we are considering. One of the things that drives my wife crazy, and I think this is a trait shared by all architects who design as a part of their daily job scope, is that I want to solve all the problems on paper before actually doing any real work. I have this primal need to think about the end game instead of what we are financially able to actually do right now. As a result, everything comes across as a part of the whole and not the whole so it’s harder to sell. I’m not trying to make things more difficult, I just don’t want to box in my options and get stuck with a new problem or consideration.
The plan above is my existing lot plus some updates we did last summer – maybe I should call it the current hardscape plan. When we bought the house, there wasn’t a lick of grass in the backyard and there was a fence that ran crossways that cut the backyard into two pieces. There was also about 3 tons of random brick and flagstone scattered about like a crate full of the stuff was air-dropped from 5,000 feet. There was also about 8 traquillion wild garlic plants – anyone who has tried getting rid of that stuff knows it’s going to take several growing seasons before you can get it all.
I originally did the drawing above to work through “the big picture” with my wife Michelle – sort of a Phase I plan. The thing I had to sell was the rectangular walkway around the yard – something to help pull the geometry together. I had 3,000 pounds of decomposed granite hauled in and I had two really terrible weekends preparing the walkway sub-base and then spreading and compacting the granite – that is some seriously back-breaking work. Once that was complete, we laid down about 3 pallets of St. Augustine sod to fill in the center area we just created with the pathway.
Are you loving the conduit that spans from the carport to the main house? Fixing that isn’t high enough on my money priority list. I am wondering if I should paint it brown to match the house or simply ignore it? Guess which option is winning?
If anyone wants to post a comment on how my metal edging isn’t perfectly straight, please make sure to leave your contact address so I can send Mr. Pooky down to thank you for reading www.lifeofanarchitect.com
If I didn’t think my daughter was so cute in her robe, I would go move it but for some inexplicable reason this gets a pass.
I have a design in place to add a fence across the back of my yard and put a tall growing bush in front of it (you can see it in the design drawings). I think this might get done this summer – there’s too much focus back towards the rear to have it all end in a air condenser and an old fence. We also have plans to install a cantilevered deck where the chairs are in this photo but I have to convince myself that I have the time and fortitude of back to take on this project.
This is the next round of design studies I am working on to review with my wife – she hasn’t even seen this one yet (Hi honey!).
For all the folks reading this who are neither an architect or married to one, you are probably thinking it would be awesome to have design drawings of your own house for whatever things you want to evaluate – and you would be right! It seems that all architects have drawings on their own houses – like creating them is a hobby and we have nothing better to do. Well it is a hobby and I don’t have anything better to do – but I think it helps me work through conversations with my wife. The way this relationship works in my house is I am the architect and she is the client. I’m happy to give her whatever she wants as long as it fits in the overall picture, I need to protect her from herself. (She might say “whatever” but I know she is glad to have this information so handy.)
The drawing titled Hardscape Plan up above is our site – it’s not a construction drawing but one in a series of design drawings. My wife wants to get rid of the circular driveway we have and I am coming around to her way of thinking. I don’t love the circular driveway but if we get rid of it, all the parking has to happen in the back off of a fairly busy street and I don’t relish the idea of all of us having to back out into traffic. Also, since we are on a corner, the first half of the front yard prohibits on-street parking. This means that any guests we may have might have to park down the street a bit. So I point this out to my wife:Me: When Kate’s friends come over where they going to park? Michelle: She’s FIVE years old, her friends don’t drive.
See what I mean about planning ahead – I can’t help myself.
We also have some other issues I would like to deal with by removing the circular driveway. People use it to turn around, joggers cut through, dog walkers cut through and pee on the grass (the dog’s, not the dog walker’s). This also drives me crazy – PERSONAL SPACE PEOPLE!! We also have to contend with the fact that as is, we don’t even consider using our front yard for anything – it isn’t very pleasant to be out there. I keep it groomed, it looks nice, but other than than – nothing. I thought that if we get rid of the driveway, people will stop cutting through – I can define the personal space a little more clearly. I can also build in a landscape wall and back it up with some Nellie Stevens hollies which will grow pretty tall and thick. This will provide a visual and sound buffer as well as give us a place to stop any errant balls that might be kicked or tossed in the front yard.
This is the stucco concrete block wall that creates the interior patio at our front door. I am standing in the driveway to take this shot. Just to the left of this photo you can see some large-ish rocks in the yard. This is where the people who are waiting for the bus come and sit – and leave their trash behind. I always think of the comedian Jeff Foxworthy who makes the joke about drinking beer while fishing :
keep the lakes clean folks, don’t just throw your empty beer can in the water, fill it up first so it sinks to the bottom
Yes, sometimes the bus riders will throw their trash into the bushes….as a result, I am about 95% sure that those rocks are going to be repurposed somewhere else. I hate to admit this (bad karma probably) but I was home one day and I saw a guy throw his trash into that big bush so I turned the sprinklers on.
I didn’t go take a special picture to include here so this one was taken right after the pots were watered. There’s nothing weird going on with the concrete – it’s just wet.
So there will definitely be some changes coming, we’ve been heading towards phase II for a year now. I’ll post an update towards the end of summer to show what changes we’ve decided on. Doubtful that the driveway will happen now, that more of a phase IV issue but the deck in the back and the fence and tall shrubs at the alley fence are high priorities. You can see from the photos above that we have some planting to do….all in good time my friends.