Wednesday, August 23, 2017

It's Finally Finished! Our Backyard REVEAL!

I don't even know how to start. 

Since 2013 Eric and I have been planning, dreaming, hoping, and working our butts off to create the perfect backyard oasis. During the very first walk through of the house, we knew it had to be ours the moment we stepped outside. Since there wasn't a garage, the "man cave" and spacious fenced-in yard was definitely the selling point. There was SO MUCH potential we could practically touch it. 


Fortunate for us, the previous owners of the house ran a landscaping business. We already had a great foundation of trees, shrubbery, and perennials, as well as a little fire pit area set with pavers.


Let's recall the status of our backyard upon move-in-day. 

Overall, not too shabby, the grass though needed some serious TLC. Along with said landscaping gig, the owners also had a few dogs....who obviously enjoyed marking their territory ALL over the backyard. So what do we do? Scrap the whole thing and start again! One weekend + manpower + a LOT of tilling/reseeding/watering = a gorgeously luscious new lawn.
SO. MUCH. BETTER! For the record, we completely appreciate how blessed we are to have such a large backyard. Especially one that's fenced in, and also sporting a killer party-room. But like I mentioned before, we KNEW there could be more, we just had to make it happen.

To recap, let's start from the beginning. I briefly shared the original plan and an inspiration mood-board in this post, breaking down our 2015 Summer To-Do list. Fast forward to August of that same year, and we broke ground on the pergola! Pause for effect...because we didn't really do anything again until this July, when our concrete got poured and the flower beds built. And last but certainly not least, the most recent (and most fabulous) project is of course our DIY table


So now that you're all caught up, without further ado, I bring you THE BACKYARD REVEAL! 

The shelter off to the side was straight out of Eric's imagination. He wanted somewhere to store the grill and electric smoker, that would keep them sheltered, but also be easily accessible. A few sheets of graph paper later and the "Grill Hut" was born. 
The floor of the hut is made out of the same pavers that Eric tore up when he framed the patio out. He salvaged and organized them to easily recreate the circular pattern again. In the original backyard, that section would have been perfect for a fire pit, of course now our fire pit area looks WAY cooler.
Tiki torches, fluffy pillows, and that bench converts into a side table! Even though we've yet to light it, I already have s'more ingredients in the pantry for the first fire of the season. 

Hanging above are the cafe lights. We used extra pieces of lumber supported by flower pots to bring the light over the whole side. 
Shopping for accessories and decorations was one of my favorite parts. I couldn't get enough of the pillows, flower pots, plants, and funky things to scatter about. One night when Eric was gone, I drank wine, watched "Madam Secretary", and DIY'd that macrame plant hanger. Woop woop Pinterest! 
Speaking of accessories, Eric's favorite has got to be the sound system. He rigged it up so everything is controlled inside the Man Cave, and played outside via two hanging speakers, and one buried in the flower bed. 
Each of them was a Craigslist find, and (in my opinion) sound absolutely awesome.

Moving around the side, here is where we're hoping the clematis plants take off, and eventually cover the lattice with vines and flowers. Each time we sit outside to eat, you can tell they're slowly growing, making their way higher and higher. 
And that brings us to the end of the tour, the end of a crazy-long blog post, but definitely NOT the end of the party! We're just getting started and can't wait to chill in our little piece of paradise with anyone and everyone! 

This backyard has been a LONG work in progress, built on love, and meant to be shared with the people we love.  :)  So come on over! I've got s'mores and a bottle of wine all ready to go. 


Check out all of our home improvements, by visiting the OUR NEST page.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Prettiest Table That You Ever Did See

At this very moment, I am typing my little heart out, while sitting outside under our COMPLETED PERGOLA! I have been wanting to do this ALL SUMMER and it's actually happening! Who knows how long I'll last before the mosquitos go insane, and I retreat once again to the living room. But until then, I'm going to enjoy the hell out of it.

Every blogger's backyard oasis needs a sturdy foundation to prop their computer. Or more practically speaking, every normal person who wants to eat outside needs a place to set their plate! So of course while planning our paradise, we searched high and low for the perfect table. While nothing on sale struck our fancy, Eric did find this tutorial on how to build one himself. It seemed easy enough (according to him), and even had built-in drink coolers stored down the center you could fill with ice

Per his create-something-out-of-nothing M.O., I came home one day after work and THIS was sitting behind the house. 
Table? Check. Now how to finish it??? 
Call me crazy, but right from the moment I saw it I knew this table needed to be two-toned. Dark wood on top, crisp white contrast on bottom. To figure out the stain, I mocked up a few different versions with Photoshop. In the end, I decided going with something similar to the pergola stain would look the best with the teal and black furniture we had already picked out. 
Another idea that hit me was to paint a little something going right down the middle. A faux table-runner if you will. Since I already drew a pattern on our mini-awkward-bathroom wall (which I consider a fabulous success) the decision to take that same design to this project was a simple one.

The pattern is broken down into 4 basic stages; big flowers, vines, small leaves, and dots. 
Eric wanted the paint to have plenty of time to dry overnight, so he could start applying the protective varnish right away in the morning. This meant I had ONE EVENING to start and finish the entire table. Good thing he brought me a Diet Coke and bug spray.

This is probably one of the best examples of how Eric and I's DIY relationship works. We plan it, he builds it, and I swoop in to make it pretty.
The two teal chairs are originally from Target, but we snagged them for a fraction of the price on an auction site called Fast Track It. The four matching black chairs were a lucky find on Craigslist, and the candles came from Mendards
I'm not sure how many layers of varnish Eric ended up using, but luckily it didn't discolor the white paint at all. We plan to cover it, along with the rest of our furniture, as much as possible to protect from the elements, but the varnish will keep unwanted water rings and scratches at bay. 

The final product is literally EXACTLY how I envisioned, and hands down one of the COOLEST before and afters our little nest has ever seen. Well...until I get to talking about our backyard as a whole. Now THAT is a pretty epic transformation, STAY TUNNED! 


Check out all of our home improvements, by visiting the OUR NEST page.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Project Pergola: Backyard Update

WE ARE BAAAAACK!!!! 
These first two months of Summer have been jammed PACKED with good stuff. I placed 3rd in my first pole competition, we survived our big-ass trip to Europe, the fam let us tag along to Florida for "Disney as Adults", and this weekend we're off to Michigan for some cabin-on-the-lake chill time!

Between each of our adventures were a few brief weeks at home. Eric took this as a prime opportunity to absolutely ATTACK the backyard. Giving ME the opportunity to snap pics and provide an enormous photo dump for your enjoyment. 

The last time I shared anything about our pergola, it was the Summer of 2016 and looked like this.

Eric removed all the paver stones and grass, and with the help of his dad, they leveled everything out and created a frame for the future concrete. 

The two rectangular sections closest to the house are walkways, with flower beds in between. That big round stone covers the opening of an old cistern, so by placing a bed over it, we'll still have access to it if needed.
This all went down July 4th weekend 2016, so for about a year, we were at a stand still. There was a bit of drama with a concrete guy who ghosted us (lame), but I won't get into that. The only good thing about waiting so long for progress is we had plenty of time to decide what we wanted; like a beautiful brass fire ring!
After watching the seasons change yet again, we FINALLY caught a break, and a husband of a friend had another friend who hooked us up with a team to pour and stamp our concrete. HAZZAH!!!

I have never been so happy to see a bunch of sweaty dudes in my backyard. 
We decided to go with stamped concrete for a few reasons. One being covering that amount of square space with pavers would be too expensive, and we also didn't want to worry about weeds growing through the cracks and the upkeep. They literally used a giant rubber stamp to give the wet concrete that natural stone texture, and we couldn't be more pleased with the results!
With the concrete complete, the next phase was all about flower beds. Right from the start, Eric had a vision of multiple beds surrounding the space, particularly a long one filled with vining plants to work their way up one side of the pergola. 
Total there are seven beds; three in front, three in back, and one along the North side. We're still on the fence about what to plant, but my hope is a mix of flowering perennials and big leafy greens.
As you can see in the photo above, to create a wall for the vining plants to grow Eric attached lattice from top to bottom on the one side. It will be stained the same color as the pergola, and those support beams are just begging to be filled with cute potted plants. I really like how it closes up the space, creating a more defined "room". 
You may also notice the electrical work going up the back post. That's going to be used for our sound system, as well as powering up the cafe lights! 
For as long as I can remember I've dreamed of sitting outside, sipping cocktails, and relaxing underneath the warm glow of lights. We'd like to get an additional strand to hang over the "fire pit" area and bring light to the whole backyard. It's going to be magical.

Speaking of magical, the amount of work Eric has put into Project Pergola is supernatural. I swear he just wakes up in the morning with shiny new skills he didn't have the night before. There's a whole grilling station and dining table he whipped up out of nowhere I didn't even get to in this post! Stay tuned for those updates, till then, here's a little before/after combo to really hammer in how far we've come. 
And there you have it. Everything we've been up to this Summer, besides packing our bags every weekend and jet-setting off to who knows where. Hopefully, you enjoyed scrolling through our pics, we're SO CLOSE to being done we can smell it! Or we're smelling the barbecue ribs...either way, it's going to be a glorious Summer. 


Check out all of our home improvements, by visiting the OUR NEST page.