Thursday, May 16, 2019

Our big plans in the new backyard!

Whoooooo...we are SO excited about the possibilities for our backyard. Giddy! We've lived here about 19 months now and we've always had big plans for the back of our house, we just know it will take a while to get to where we were at the old house. 

If you are new to my site since we moved into our current home, you may not have seen much of our old backyard. If you are a long-time reader, excuse me while I reminisce a bit. ;) Then I'll get to the plans for the new house! 

We lived in our old home for more than 14 years. We had a deck built soon after moving in, but after that didn't touch the backyard for years. Eventually we paid off a significant amount of debt by following the Dave Ramsey plan. (You can read all about our journey at that link!) 

Soon after paying that off, we saved up to add a large patio with a fireplace: 
Outdoor fireplace on paver patio

It was absolutely DREAMY:
Paver patio with stone fireplace

We just adored this space and used it as often as we could.

Later on we added a pergola to the deck as well:
Wood pergola on deck with lights

You can read about the BEST string lights for outside here. They are still holding up years later!: 
Pergola on deck with table and chairs

And of course...the part I miss the most. My babies, the plants. I worked SO hard on making the whole backyard a beautiful oasis: 
Outdoor fireplace, brick wall with stones and landscape

Pergola, deck and paver patio with landscaping

Landscaping around patio with rocks and plants

Gardening is one of my greatest joys in life -- the initial work is tough, but so worth it. I would walk through the yard almost daily in the summer to cut the flowers for inside and to see how things were growing. 

I have missed that SO much, I can't even tell you. Since we moved into this house I've replaced a few plants with knock out roses (a favorite of mine) and I planted three peony plants. Another favorite -- see my tips for growing peonies here

I asked our builder to include as many hydrangeas as possible and they obliged. I can already tell they are going to take off this year big time. But for me the joy is in taking an empty spot and filling it up with green and color. So far we haven't had many places to do that.

I didn't want to add much to the backyard knowing that someday I'd have to dig them up when we added a patio. So I've held off for the most part and I am itching to get started again! Thankfully, I think it will happen sooner than we thought! We got some quotes for a patio and they didn't come back nearly as high as we thought they'd be. 

Currently we have a covered porch that is the BOMB:
Benefits of covered patio

We LOVE having this covered porch right off the house. I know it sounds crazy when you see how pretty our old backyard was, but we've already used this patio more in two years than we did the old one in double that amount of time. 

I'm not sure what it is? It's definitely cooler under here on a warm, sunny day, so that has a lot to do with it I'm sure. The fan helps a ton too. And now that I think of it, the fact that (for the most part) the cushions stay dry when it rains helps too. So often we'd want to go out at the old house but the cushions were wet or needed to be cleaned. 

All that to say...we do miss having some room to spread out a bit! And this spring especially there are days when I just want to go out with a book and sit in the warm sun. This is the thing though -- I told my husband from day one that I did NOT want a deck. No wood. Or very little of it at least (I could see adding a pergola again). Not only that, but I didn't want a paver patio again. 

The upkeep of the wood wasn't TOO bad, but I still don't want to deal with it. The paver patio was gorgeous, but with the trees around, a ton of little sprouts would start in between the pavers. It was a lot of work to keep those at bay throughout the summer. 

So I want to go as simple as you can get...concrete. Boring, basic concrete baby! I cannot wait. ;) My husband loves the look of aggregate (as do I), but one of the contractors we talked to said it should be sealed at least once a year, if not twice. So we're still discussing that. 

Because I like to see things on paper first, I came up with a design for the patio (please know this is super rough and was not drawn for all of you to see it 😂), but it gives you an idea!: 
patio plans with round firepit area

It will be quite large in total -- about 700 square feet. Our backyard is HUGE and we have a ridiculous amount of room, so this will barely take up much even at this size. 

We have one of those huge umbrellas that covers a lot of space, so I plan to use that over a table and chairs right off the current porch. I'd like to have a spot to lay and read or lay out occasionally, so that's off to the left.

Our favorite part is the large round firepit area in the corner. I've dreamed of something like that since we moved in and I can't wait! I've always loved the idea of a large spot big enough to have a bunch of chairs. 

And of course, I can barely even wait to start landscaping around all of it. I'm considering rocks instead of mulch this time though -- do any of you use rocks in your landscape? It will help keep the upkeep costs down significantly I think. We'll be adding trees and eventually I hope it will be just as pretty as the old house!

So that's the plan for now...we're hoping they can get us in in July, so we have to wait awhile. We're good at that, considering it took 14 years to get from this: 

To this at our old house: 

That's the plan so far! I'll be sure to update you on any changes or progress along the way! Do you have a patio? A deck? Pavers? What do you love or dislike about them?

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Easy DIY no sew bench cushion

Hey there! I've been plugging away at the updates in our laundry/mud room and I'm SO so happy with them! It's so lovely and I'm excited to get the first phase done and share it with you. 

First up, an oldie but goodie. It's been awhile since I've made a cushion for a bench, but it came right back to me. Years ago I shared how to make a no sew bench cushion here -- be sure to check that post out for ALL of the steps. 

I went fabric shopping the other day and forgot how much I enjoy it! I haven't needed to look for fabrics for some time -- I always get so inspired. I found a couple I absolutely LOVED at Joann's: 
Gray white and cream fabrics

The one on top was pricey but they were both half off and I had another 15 percent off of that. So not too bad! (And I didn't need much for my projects.)

Today I'm working with the lower fabric (the stripes look black in the photo above, but they are a lighter blue/gray). For this project you'll need a base of some kind to staple the fabric into. I found what I needed in my trusty scrap pile and cut it down to size:
DIY no sew cushion for mud room bench

Notice the slightly rounded corners -- I like to do that so the fabric isn't stretched across anything pointy. Over time it wears at the fabric. 

You'll want to check out this tutorial to see the next couple of steps in detail, but here's a big tip -- I use egg crate foam instead of thicker foam from the store. It's cheaper (especially in the fall during back to school sales) and does the job just as well. (Plus you'll have much more to work with!)

After securing the foam to the board, you'll want to wrap it with a light fabric like muslin to hold everything together well. If you want it extra cushy, you can use batting too. 

I use a regular staple gun to secure the fabric to the back as I go. If the staples don't go in all the way I just pound them in with a hammer:  
How to make a DIY bench cushion no sewing

Take your time when using a stripe -- you'll notice if it doesn't line up well! My biggest tip for this part of the process is not to pull the fabric too taut around the wood. If you do it will pucker up along the sides and you'll see where you added each staple. 

I usually leave the corners for the end and make them as clean as possible: 
Wrapping corners on bench cushion

This is the hardest part of the whole project. 

The underside will look horrible -- but who cares?:
How to DIY no sew cushion

Not me! ;)

I'm so pleased with it -- the fabric is PERFECT in here with the new wall color (see all my plans for this room here!):
Cream blue and white stripe bench seat

I almost went with something more modern for the fabric, but I'm glad I found this instead. It's more "me" for sure: 
How to make a bench cushion

It's so fresh and pretty. And yes, I will be spraying it with Scotchguard! 

I did a little something with the other fabric I showed you up above as well. I'll share that soon! I can't WAIT to replace those shoe baskets with something sturdier. Once I finish up the wall next to this bench that will be my next project: 
DIY no sew bench seat

Have you ever tried this DIY project? On the easy to hard scale it falls more towards the easy -- it's a great one to tackle if you are new to the do-it-yourself game!

I hope to be back with more updates in here this week!

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