Category Archives: Exterior

Our Pretty Stone Pathway

Since I last blogged about the Dutch colonial,

there’s been unbelievable progress, out front!

Let’s remember the sad before, a few weeks after we bought the house:

dutch colonial -- front 'before

Here’s a look at the midway:

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And as it looks today, the ‘almost’ after:

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WOW.

I think I’ll just share bits of it at a time, in small doses.

Let’s start with our new stone pathway

which transitions between the new brick sidewalk + our side yard.

Here’s a glimpse of it, as one approaches the house:

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We went shopping at a nearby landscaping place + looked at stone,

+ we bought 3 large slabs of limestone.

G.O. brought out his trusty 4″ angle grinder with a masonry blade, as one does,

+ cut the slabs into smaller, stepping stone friendly pieces:

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We had scooped out a shallow trough for the stones.

Once we decided we liked their arrangement,

we put a layer of ordinary play sand underneath each stone:

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Funny story.

He grabbed some bags of said play sand at the garden center,

not realizing until he got home that one of the bags contained purple sand!

Who knew?  Crayola makes colored play sand!

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In his defense, he said he thought the bag was purple!  HA!

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Look!  It’s Chloe the Dachshund!

 

I’m love the gentle curve of the stones,

because I think curves in the landscaping are beautiful + visually pleasing.

Now it’s time to discuss all those beautiful plants!

After weeks + weeks of indecision,

I knew this side of the porch needed a topiary

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I remembered seeing some blue spruce topiaries at Home Depot,

+ since I am a huge fan of the blue spruce any-thing, off we went.

Over G.O.’s very strong objections.  Of course.

cats fighting

But people.  COME ON.

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Nailed it!!!

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Those spiky, grassy plants underneath are ‘Lucerne’ Blue-Eyed Grass,

which have small, bright purple-blue flowers in Spring through early Summer.

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Nearby, we planted some silvery-white Artemisia,

as I wanted to repeat the silvery blue needles of our topiary.

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Those are going to look great, once they fill in.

Since white flowers also complement silvery foliage,

we planted these cuties along the curve of the stone pathway.

Rapido White Bellflowers:

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We repeated these sweet small rose plants on both sides of the pathway,

as I wanted to visually tie that area together.

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The green + burgundy Purple Palace Coral Bells

are repeated from the opposite side of the porch,

to once again, tie the whole front foundation plantings together,

from 1 side of the house to the other.

The Coral Bells were planted to accent the 2 curves in this bed —

both the stone pathway . . .

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. . . + the curve where this bed meets the lawn (+ the new grass!), out front:

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Disclaimer:  everything is going to look so much better with dark brown mulch!

I ordered nearly $80 worth of Spring-flowering bulbs

a couple weeks ago, + I want to plant them before the mulch goes in.

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Stay tuned!

 

 

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Finally! Porch Steps!

It’s August already!

What am I doing, still thinking of new plants + containers to buy?

I’m obsessing about these topiaries!

Blue+Spruce+Globe+on+Std

 

How sweet would they look inside a pair of these urns?

urn and pedestal charcoal

So what’s with all this landscaping dreaming,

so close to the end of summer?

Here’s what:

We’re finally getting stairs for our front porch!

This means we can now safely plant things next to them,

+ let’s be real.

Is that not the most up front + important spot in our entire yard?

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OMIGOSH!  LET’S DO THIS!

Calm down — back to those porch steps.

Here they are, in progress, just a few days ago:

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A few days later, they’re still unfinished

but are sporting their new lattice “skirts” on each side.

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So cute! — + matching the skirts underneath the rest of our porch:

G.O. started painting the new stair treads yesterday.

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It was a challenge, as it always is, coming up with the perfect color.

Yes, I chose gray, but not just any gray.

It has to “play nicely with” (a.k.a. complement) all the other grays of our house,

most especially those near the new steps,

on the foundation’s stones + the lattice.

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By no means do I mean that I want all the grays to match.

No way!

In my world, contrast is often more important than matching.

Since I really want the stair treads + porch floor to “pop” (a.k.a. contrast),

 I decided they needed to be fairly dark.

Here’s the paint color I chose:

Knight’s Armor from Pittsburgh Paints.

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Whoa.  That’s DARK! — isn’t it?

Disclaimer:  I really feared that it was too dark.  Yikes.

My instinct was to forge ahead, though.

In the past, I’ve had remorse when I settled on a safer, lighter color

because I’d been too timid to go really dark.

Not this time!

Let’s see how those treads look, in place:

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People.  I have only envisioned this bit of happiness for years!

It’s like I’m dreaming!

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Notice the porch ceiling.

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G.O. has started stripping the old paint off the existing bead board,

+ we’ll repaint it a pale blue.

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I like that light fixture (something discontinued from Pottery Barn),

but we’re thinking of replacing it with an outdoor ceiling fan.

Dunno yet.

Next, we’ll need some stair railings + posts + stuff.

Here’s what we have, at left, + here’s what I want, at right.

Stay tuned for a cool transformation (I hope!)

This concludes my porch musings, but wait.

Remember the pair of urns + topiaries that I want to get?

 

My plans are to place one on either side of our bottom step.

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Perfect!

Maybe we’ll go shopping tomorrow — stay tuned!

 


Porch Post Progress

Finally.

It’s now time to complete our front porch.

It’s only one of the biggest impact design elements on our house,

+ I’ve had to wait so long!

(Our neighbors must worry that we’ll never finish this thing!)

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Here’s my inspiration, found on (where else, duh) Pinterest:

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That’s a Dutch colonial with an asymmetrical front, same as we have.

Here’s what our porch looked like when we bought our house:

dutch colonial before with shrubs

Overgrown shrubbery, bad aluminum siding, ill-conceived enclosed porch.

Here ’tis, after the bushes were yanked out, with the stone foundation exposed:

dutch colonial -- front 'before

dutch colonial front porch midway gone

HA!  Look at the craftsman-style dining light fixture!

dutch colonial front porch almost gone

Soon there were 2 (out of what would be 4) new posts at the front corners.

We had a bit of confusion over the size of the 2 in the middle.

G.O. thought we’d go with shorties, like the one seen here:

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Something about that seemed off to me, though.

I wasn’t sure what would be suitable for our old house,

so we drove around our town’s historical neighborhoods

+ I went back to (duh) Pinterest.

Turns out that historical houses had long posts all along their porches.

Like this.  Yes, that’s another Dutch colonial.

porch -- southern living

Here’s one of our columns.  They’re fiberglass, very heavy.

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G.O. has been prepping for tomorrow’s post installation,

which involves this big, red jack:

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Once the posts go up, it will finally be time for the railings + spindles.

We have one very narrow section installed already:

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You can also see my design for under the porch,

using gray lattice panels, in stock at Menards, + white 1 x 4’s.

G.O. painted the blocks black to make them disappear + add depth.

Here’s our inaugural effort, on the east side:

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Seems we’ve come such a long way!

There’s still a lot more to be done, so stay tuned!


Plain Jane House Gets Its Makeover

We spent the weekend in my hometown in southern Illinois,

+ while there — as is my way — I perused the listings on realtor.com.

Do you do that, too?

Anyway, I was surprised that there were so many houses under $100 grand!

For example, this plain Jane (with lots of potential!) is only $49,900!

You can see more in the Realtor.com listing, here.

cape cod of greenville front exterior

Just yesterday on Facebook,

my cousin from my hometown posted the photo of a house

she was interested in buying, + guess which one it was!

Hard to believe, but yes — the plain Jane house!

cape cod of greenville front exterior

Say no more!

I was soon dashing over to Pinterest for some design inspiration to share,

+ here’s what I found, from the blog, Nesting With Grace.

It’s another plain Jane house, this one with a small porch.

(Some of my cousin’s Facebook friends suggested that ‘her house’ needed one!)

But something’s not quite right.

The wrought iron porch column + the stair railings

were all the rage, back in the 50’s + 60’s — but today, it looks dated + too thin.

It needs to be replaced with something more substantial,

  + on that note, here’s the stunning AFTER:

I know!  It’s like night + day, isn’t it?

It looks like they’ve replaced the wrought iron with white vinyl,

which is probably in stock at your local build-o-rama.

The light fixture’s been updated to something larger,

+ there’s a new mailbox + new house numbers.

Even though the porch is quite small,

there’s room for a sweet + welcoming French cafe chair.

The new front door has been painted a pretty shade of blue:

Now, pay close attention to this:

all the accessories — the chair + the flower pots —

echo the blue of the door + the white of the posts + railings.

For yet more color coordination, the shutters are painted the door blue,

+ the pair of white Adirondack chairs even have blue pillows.

There’s a lot going on,

but keeping everything in just one color family

makes the design cohesive + not too crazy or too busy.

 

The landscaping’s been updated with some classic boxwood shrubs

+ some pretty pink + red Knock-Out Roses, which bloom all season.

(Notice how the red is repeated in the red stripes of the U.S. flag.)

The new white window boxes add architectural detail,

+ their small evergreens (dwarf Alberta spruces?)

will provide winter interest when the roses go dormant.

Let’s have one more look at the $49 grand house in my home town:

cape cod of greenville front exterior

It’s easy to envision some of the blog house’s AFTER features here, isn’t it?

Remember — it, too, was once a plain Jane!

Now it’s time to share on Facebook!

Stay tuned for my cousin’s + friends’ reactions!

 

 


Happily Fertilizing In The Garden

My friend in Florida suggested I use SUPERthrive vitamin plant brew,

. . . so I just fed it to everything in our garden . . .

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. . . one watering can at a time!

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It was quite a job, since we have lots of new plants in our yard,

but I love gardening so much, it’s not work for me!

Anything for my plants!

The instructions say that SUPERthrive can be used

in addition to other types of fertilizer.

That’s a good thing, considering all the “brews” that I add to my plants!

When anything new gets planted, we always add root stimulator,

a.k.a. Quick Start, by Miracle Grow.

root stimulator

As the season progresses, about once a week, I add fertilizer,

each one formulated for different sorts of plants.

My ferns + hydrangeas apparently grow best in acid soil,

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so they are fed with this:

hydrangea food

 Fun fact:

Endless Summer hydrangea flowers turn blue if their soil is acidic,

which means they’ll coordinate nicely with all my blue garden accesories.

Here’s one of three** we just planted, with my beloved bird bath,

made with a blue + white transfer ware plate:

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The birdbath is resting on an old hollow tree stump,

+ the silvery green plants in the background are pulmonaria,

more commonly known as lungwort.

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My pretty blue gazing ball usually rests nearby on a white iron stand.

This morning I was moving stuff around, so I just snapped its photo on the lawn:

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Here is one of my most favorite garden accessories —

my cobalt blue glass star!

We have three** of them hanging from a branch of a tree,

where they manage to catch the sun in both morning + late afternoon.

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** Why groups of three, you ask?

Design professionals insist that odd numbers

are more pleasing to the eye than even.

I do this in my interiors, too.

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Finally, in my quest for beautiful flowers + lots of ’em,

I add Bloom Booster to my flowering plants:

bloom boost

We planted an informal hedge of oak leaf hydrangeas last fall,

+ most of them are flowering already:

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You may notice that the oak leaf hydrangea’s flowers are elongated

+ consist of hundreds of tiny, white petals . . .

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. . . whereas the Endless Summers’ flowers are round-ish,

with larger petals.

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What the hey — I have never met a hydrangea that I didn’t love!

We’ll probably add more to our garden as the summer progresses.

Stay tuned!

(If you’re interested in my post

about the front foundation bed of our Dutch colonial, go here.)

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Finally! Our Informal Hedge!

From the minute we closed on our Dutch colonial,

I have been trying (but failing) to design our lot line landscaping.

Then this happened.

Just last weekend, I found (my favorites!) Oak Leaf hydrangeas

at Menards, a Midwestern home improvement store:

oak leaf alabama

$11 each for one gallon size plants!

Can you believe it?

Yesterday we drove to a Menards about an hour away,

to find enough plants (7 total) to  make our informal hedge.

Like this, hopefully:

oak leaf hydrangea big hedge

Back to NOW — here we have our new plants,

marching along our lot line, at left (below).

Imagine, if you will, what our hedge will look like, in a few years:

Good things come to those who wait!

Oak Leaf hydrangeas grow to 6′-8′ tall by 6′ x 8′ wide.

This means our backyard will be less of a fish bowl.

Our hedge will begin + end  between 2 large existing trees —

a huge walnut (L) + a gorgeous maple (R):

Oak Leaf hydrangeas have cone-shaped white flowers

which turn a pretty, faded pink as the blooming season progresses.

Yes, those flowers are gorgeous,

but in my opinion, their leaves are the all stars.

Look at what happens in the Fall:

Is it any wonder that Fall is our favorite season?

Anyway, I am so relieved + happy,

after suffering through all those months of indecision.

oak leaf hydrangea 2

It’s hard to believe I found one of my favorites,

+ at such an affordable price!

Fingers crossed we’ll find the time to plant them THIS week.

Stay tuned!



Beautiful Stone

Another morning, another walk with Chloe the Dachshund:

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Here she is, admiring the tile sidewalk

at the entrance of a former movie theater-turned-church in our downtown.

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What a neat feature, don’t you think?

I wish I knew more about it, like what material it is

+ how it stays so good-looking through our area’s long, cold winters!

Next, here’s a church message board that caught my attention.

JAZZ?  Yes, please!

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Actually, I’ve seen this post before — several times, in fact.

Each time, I make a mental note to attend said jazz service,

but I’ve not yet made it.  Stay tuned.

But back to the church.  Here is a photo of its front facade:

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Here’s a close up of one of its windows.

Notice the wedge-shaped stone in the middle, on top:

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Architectural fun factoid:

that feature is called a keystone.

Geography fun factoid:

Pennsylvania is known as “The Keystone State”,

+ the distinctive shape is often seen in various logos, like these:

keystone penn

keystone penn 2

Now we’re all set, just in case the Final Jeopardy category is State Mottoes.

You’re welcome.

Perhaps, if you’re really paying close attention,

you recall that our house’s beautiful stone foundation

is nearly identical to that of the church.

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Interesting, no?

Once again, my curiosity is piqued.

What kind of stone is that, + was it locally sourced?

Is one person or company responsible for its installation?

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I also need to find out the year in which our house was built.

Stay tuned!


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