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Designing a Back Deck

Here is the view from the garden, looking back at our house. I hate, hate it. But we’ve left it to be one of the last renovations as it’s the least necessary in order for us to live comfortably. Over the last 8 years of living here though, the deck has worn away and is evidently becoming a priority for a few reasons (safety is number one – but the second reason may be because of my sheer hate of this part of our house)

Processed with VSCO with 5 preset

Eventual Plan
The eventual plan would be to take down the deck and make it span the full width of our house.  It currently doesn’t span the width of the house presumably to allow for the entrance to the basement (you can see it in the bottom left of the house). We don’t use this entrance as it goes into a short awkward storage room and as it is – the door is blocked on the inside with shelving. So it’s a unusable door and, we get more use out of that room being storage (accessed from inside) than we would get via having a basement entrance.  The plan that I have would be to just build the deck straight across so it closes off that door. The dinner table conversations about it, Aubrey thinks it’s a selling feature to have access to the basement but from my perspective – we aren’t likely going to be in a position to lower the back room (financial) and I’d rather have a bigger back deck for our family than a possible selling feature for when we plan to sell. (Which isn’t even on our radar. We’re not moving. I love our house)

So here is what I don’t like about this current deck
– Too small of a landing to really properly use it as we would like to (eating at a table in the summer)
– It’s rotting. And gives you splinters if you even look at it.
– It’s super high. Which we can’t fix, but we could potentially do a few “levels” so it’s not such a straight up and down staircase.

Rotting Back Deck

Rotting Back Deck

What we need to figure out 
– Design (I think I need to get someone to help me out with this design as it likely would be multilayer)
– Materials (Lumber or Composite?)
– Cost (The material and complexity would change this)

Some Design Ideas
Here are some images that I’ve saved that are inspirational but none are really 100% what I’d like to do. Or I should say, not one is 100% of what we could do.  It’s weird space and I really don’t want a straight down staircase into the garden, instead I’d like wide open stairs that could be used as seating in our outdoor parties, and be more welcoming.

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via Decks.com

Or how about these by Platform Studios. Look at the multi levels and how they incorporate concrete (love!) and greenery on the deck.

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Platform Design Studio

Platform Design Studio

While we’re on the topic of the back of our house, the “jackpot” wish would be to either paint out the siding on the back of the house or, do a new siding in a stone veneer or, B board for more of a beachy look.  But the deck itself is the main priority and I think we could do the revamp in stages (as in, we don’t have to do both at the same time, in order to do either properly)

Pinterest boards you may like that I’ve been compiling ideas in / Composite Decks , Deck Design 

In My Home Tour

Basement makeover

Before having Oscar, I intended the basement to have one purpose – to be my office / studio. However over the years, many things changed – I had a child, my business grew, my business changed, and slowly we realized we needed two defined areas of the basement. A family area, and, a well designed office for me.

Working with one major open space is pretty tricky, so over the last few years we’ve contemplated how to make it work. We lived with a transition of styles – I think it’s a fairly common problem in households. You decorate as you have the budget and needs and uses of rooms change. The end result, at least in this situation, is that a room starts to feel like a hodge-podge of styles. Fast forward to today, and even though our lives are still changing – I felt comfortable enough in how we as a family use the space, to invest some time and money in making the basement done. Here is the progression of our basement from one open area to two defined spaces – without adding any walls up. Ps., You can see all blog posts about the basement and changes here. 

– THE BEFORE PHOTOS –


THE AFTER OF SPACE NO. 1

FAMILY AREA

We bought the largest couch we could fit downstairs – and it also happens to be a pullout couch! A QUEEN! Small spaces don’t mean you need small furniture. Having a pullout couch means that this space doubles as a guest room now – without having to sacrifice a bedroom (which we don’t have). [The couch is the WILLOW couch from Crate and Barrel)

The white couch gets rotating pops of colour as my mood strikes. I found this Trina Turk pillow at HomeSense. I did a flip when I found it. (I love Trina Turk) but then I did another flip when I realized what I paid for it (I didn’t look at the price tag, and was talking with my Mom during the checkout) but by the time I got it home and put it on the couch, I had bonded with it. So it has stayed. (Moral of the story – just because it’s at HomeSense doesn’t mean it’s $29.95)

Aubrey and I have been searching for the perfect couch for our basement for a few years now. I did a ton of research and fell madly in love with the Crate & Barrel Willow Couch with the pullout bed function. The pullout bed feature makes this small space usable as a spare bedroom, if someone wants to crash. Since my office is now separate using a room divider (more on that below) I don’t feel as though I need to clean / organize or put major things away if someone comes unexpectedly.

The cabinet that I scored out in cottage country got a coat of white paint and new hardware from The Home Depot to bring it to life. We store our toys in here and are accesible to Oscar at any time.


THE AFTER OF SPACE NO. 2 

MY STUDIO / OFFICE UPDATES

My new desk (see this post) brightens up the office. I hung a gallery wall of my Penny Paper Co. prints and left the wall above my computer blank – as I found too much hanging in front of me while I worked tended to be distracting.

Instead I hung inspirational images by my computer using the glorious washi tape. It doesn’t leave residue on my walls and yet allows me to hold up pages that inspire. I prefer this look to a structured bulletin board, which I moved into the “family” area of the basement.

On this side of the office, I have my “work” desk where I work on products, paint, package orders, or sketch up new lines.

A vintage chair I found at Value Village is softened up with this geometric pillow I found at HomeSense. Beside the chair you can see that I have my much used graphic tablet tucked into a lucite box, for easy grabbing when I need to draw, but it doesn’t clutter my desk.

My favourite candle, vintage stamp dispenser via ETSY, and samples of the Fall 2015 Penny Paper Co. stationery line My favourite candle, vintage stamp dispenser via ETSY, and samples of the Fall 2015 Penny Paper Co. stationery line Prints are organized, ready at hand to ship. Samples of my Fall 2015 wrapping paper line is being tested. (Eeeeee!) Prints are organized, ready at hand to ship. Samples of my Fall 2015 wrapping paper line is being tested. (Eeeeee!) From where I sit at my desk I can watch Oscar play in the From where I sit at my desk I can watch Oscar play in the “family” area of the basement. Toys naturally stay in that area, and Oscar will wander between the areas, to come visit me while I’m responding to e-mails. He’ll sometimes hop up ONTO my desk and sit with me while I work.

It’s important for me to address this storage / bookshelf that I’ve shown above. It’s actually NOT permanet. It’s a bookshelf from Ikea, put ontop of a base cabinet (again, Ikea) and we’ve built a false wall around it that is temporary. From the other side it looks like a wall (we’ve painted plyboard the same wall colour) and attached it all together to make it look like it is a wall. But infact, it’s not. Instead of building the “wall” to the ceiling, I’ve instead left some relief so that light comes in and doesn’t make either room feel small. It is exactly the same height as the cottage cabinet we purchased, so it looks like it was all planned as such. Little details do make the difference!

My paint brushes are held in a vintage crown jar.  My paint brushes are held in a vintage crown jar.

That’s it! The basement isn’t styled, so you may see toys, or a random piece of paper floating about. Cords are everywhere, but I have tried to tidy up for the photos as much as possible. But when you’re running a busy household nothing stays like anything for long. Now we have two distinct areas of the basement – one for work, one for play, and yet I don’t feel closed off from either area. Oscar is free to walk into my office whenever he so chooses (no door!) and magically respects that the two areas are indeed two different spaces. He comes in sometimes to get printer paper to draw with, or to hop up on my desk while I’m working. It’s really a lovely space that I feel so fortunate have. I hope you maybe find some inspiration from this long winded post, for something for your home. Whether you have a bachelor apartment and now have a vision to how to divide a space without needing walls – or perhaps you were looking for a sleeper couch (GET THE WILLOW COUCH!) I leave you with the shopping list below. Enjoy!

 


FAMILY SPACE SHOPPING GUIDE
Sleeper Couch ……………….. Crate & Barrel, Willow Couch 
Rug ………………….. Remnant left over from our living room custom rug
White Cabinet ………………. Cottage Country Find
Yellow Pillow ………………. Trina Turk Pillow, HomeSense

OFFICE SPACE SHOPPING GUIDE
Candle ……………….. Anthropologie (Although I purchased mine at Indigo, but they haven’t had stock forever. So sad)
Desktop …………….. The Home Depot, Silestone Yukon (See Blog Post) See this blog post
DIY Base …………. See blog post
Wall Art .……………. The Penny Paper Co.
Brass Postage Dispenser ………….. Etsy 
Chair …………….. Value Village
Pillow in the Chair ………………… HomeSense
Light on the two desks …………………….. Target
Acrylic Office Organization ………………… Russel and Hazel

In Renovations

Garage Build, Painting our exterior doors

I’m back from lovely Mexico! More on that later. For now here’s an update on our garage…

We got our doors and I proceeded to paint with my paint sprayer, in this paint that Aubrey picked up – recommended to him for exterior doors. 

I spent a TON of time prepping and then got to work spraying. 

Looking good right? 

No. Not looking good. When I went to peel off the painters tape, the paint started pulling off in sheets!

This is when started cursing. And texting angry things to Aubrey about how I hated the door. 

I sanded and peeled the door and right before leaving for Mexico I primed it prepping for a second paint attempt. But this time NOT black. When I stared at the doors, in all their peeling glory – black was too harsh of a colour to go with. So it’s back to the drawing board. 

Im not sure why the doors peeled. The paint was paint + primer in one – which is never my favourite but I thought I’d give it a go. Fingers crossed the next attempt works out better.

In My Home Tour/ My House

Eat In Kitchen – What we decided for lighting

Remember I was debating lights? I really was leaning heavily to this light but ended up choosing…..

Potlights. Crazy. I know. After some back and forth – I decided on the least expected lighting option and that was to go with pot lights.

Here is why. This area is a deceptively small space. The ceiling is low, and any light that would hang over the table would obstruct the view of someone at the table, and the view outside. Having already had a chandelier hanging here before, I was sensitive to the light being right at my eyes while eating and that the light would be really focused on the table. This room gets awfully dark in the Wintertime – so I really wanted LIGHT. Not just a decorative feature. But light.  I ran it by my Mom and she was the final vote (like they do on Survivor) and voted without hesitation for pot lights.

And you want to know something? I LOVE IT!!! It’s totally the right choice for our style and our house. It makes the room feel bigger and now Oscar can be found drawing and painting at this table at night because he can actually see. Ha.

HOW WE DID IT:
We didn’t want to tackle this ourselves so we called Mr. Potlight. Yes. Mr. Potlight. I checked with HomeStars and was really impressed with their reviews. Needless to say, they were AMAZING and the project was done within a few hours. I’d hire them again in a second. (They charge per potlight they install, so it’s super easy to determine a budget. Plus, they were amazing at helping suggest bulb placements)

THE TYPE OF POTLIGHTS
Here is one snag that I ran into. We had to go with LED pot-lights because this part of the house is an extension and the ceiling has insulation as it’s an exterior area above. (There is no second floor above this area) LED pot-lights don’t need big boxes around the bulb as they don’t heat up like Halogens do. I’m pretty picky when it comes to light so I was petrified that the light in this room  would differ from the rest of our house but Aubrey and I pre-purchased some LED bulbs from the Home Depot and compared them and they were close enough to make me feel comfortable with going ahead.

So although I do lust after some gorgeous chandeliers that I wrote about in this post – for our house, the choice for simplicity and function won over grandeur.

Plus, I seriously LOVE how it looks at night when the rest of the home is dark. Success!

In My Home Tour

The fancy DIY desk – using quartz counters for your desk


When we renovated our basement waaaaay back when, we had little money, and yet the need to create a functional work space for as I ran my shop. I came up with a DIY desk that cost me under three hundred dollars – and the desk served me well over the years. Using base cabinets from a big box store as the base, I purchased pine boards from The Home Depot and created a desktop that was really, one of the most economical DIY I’ve ever done. If you’re looking for a really great way to have a custom desk with little investment, or commitment – I still recommend this route and lots of you have followed suit like John & Sherry over at Young House Love. My brother has done it in his apartment, and my best friends husband did something similar although he went the route of a live edge piece of wood. Making your own desk is really an economical way to fit a workspace into your home with little investement.

Stage 1 - Basic desk using big box store base and Home Depot wood planks for the top.  Stage 1 – Basic desk using big box store base and Home Depot wood planks for the top.

Over the years my office changed (which I’ll get into another post and reveal.) But some things have stayed the same. My need for an office space, and, a comfortable work area. My work area hasn`t changed dramatically since I moved into the home however I was finding it rather DARK in my office.  Although my wood desktop was economical, it was sucking light from my small office.

I debated painting the top in white, but I use my desk a lot, and I knew that this would have been a temporary fix and it would eventually chip. I could get glass cut to go over the top of it, but the wood is uneven, and the glass (which is completely flat) would have wobbled on an uneven surface. I had been using the office for so many years that I was completely comfortable with the layout and, where I worked, so I started researching investment updates. Like quartz. Having installed quartz in our kitchen, I immediately thought – why not use a kitchen countertop product in an office. Its bright. It’s a hard surface, great for working on. It reflects light, which is perfect in a small space.. It is a perfect update.

Stage 2 / Increasing the storage space - adding more wood for the top from home depot.  Stage 2 / Increasing the storage space – adding more wood for the top from home depot.

I approached The Home Depot about the project and they shared my enthusiasm for updating this pretty popular DIY project that many of you have pinned, saved, and recreated yourselves. The countertop was provided to me from the team over at the Home Depot because they shared my love of the idea of showing you, how you can use materials, like a kitchen countertop material – quartz – in unique ways. Like your own desk.

Stepping back a bit, I didn’t want to get all crazy, and start over with my office. From a economical standpoint, the base cabinets were still working. Aubrey thought perhaps I could go with custom cabinetry for the base, but as much as I love new projects, why fix something that isn’t broken? The top was irritating me, but the base cabinets were still quite fine.  So off to Home Depot I went to look at their quartz samples. Here are the stages to the project…

STEP 1: YOU MEASURE
We knew that we wanted to do the desk + extenstion that I had added on since the original project. We measured, and brought those measurements to Home Depot Kitchen department for them to quote. They will need to know things like if you need a joint (which we did, because a full piece with the L shape wouldn’t fit down into our basement) With the measurements, you can start pricing out different quartz samples. There are different levels of pricing, classified into groups A, B, C, D and things like the edge / profile of your counter all play into the cost.

STEP 2: CONFIRM THE COUNTERTOP MATERIAL
I ended up picking Silestone Yukon – which funnily enough, was one of my countertop options for our kitchen, back in 2012. for the top that was definitely white, but has some variation in the slabs. I was terrified about my choice. The Silestone didn’t work in my kitchen, but it was the best option for my basement. So knowing that, here’s how we proceeded:

STEP 3: PROFESSIONAL MEASURE 
The next step was that someone from a third party installation service, arranged by The Home Depot kitchen department, contacted us to set up a time for someone to do a proper measurement. When the “measure guy“ came, they ask things so be prepared to know what you want. Here are some tips.

  • Know where you need holes drilled. I needed one right behind my monitor for where the cords go.
  • Know where you want the countertop edge to go to. I didn`t want an overhang by my chair. I wanted the edge of the counter to go flush with the cabinets.
  • On the wall to the right of where I sit (the extention that we added) weve added doors to the cabinetry since I last wrote. They recommended I make the counter go right over the doors. Typically people have handles on doors (like, duh) but I knew I wasn`t adding handles ever, so asked that the countertop go just to the cabinet, not over the door, so I could open the door by pulling on the top of the door. This is a scenario where I knew how I worked, and I was really comfortable going against their recommendation.

Once you`ve gone through all this they show you a revised quote of the project. It will likely vary ever so slightly from the first quote, as you may add more holes that you hadn`t expected, or, changed something. But the quotes were very close and we signed off on it.

STEP 4: PREP FOR THE INSTALLATION
This process takes a few tweaks from when we originally created and hacked my desk. We now needed to be able to support the weight of the quatz countertop prior to the installation. (wood is WAY lighter) Aubrey started installing braces along the wall. In a kitchen, your cabinetry would go to wall. But since we’re using big box store bases that aren’t designed for this, we have to “hack” it a little. Here are some things you should know if you’re going to go this route.

You need to have the cabinetry attached to the wall so it doesn’t move. The installer said they wouldn’t install unless this was done, and I get it – you don’t want to mess with a big piece of quartz. So for any cabinetry against a wall (like the ones in the background) we actually drilled the cabinets to The wall. For the free floating cabinets where there was space between the back of the cabinet and the wall, we installed a wall brace (which was needed for the weight anyways) but we attached the cabinet to the braces – which meant the cabinets, were attached. Problem solved!

INSTALLATION DAY
The third party installer calls back with an installation day which is a few weeks after you sign off on the measurement and project. You confirm a date, and a window of time and they arrived on the dot. Really, you sit back, and come down for the reveal. It`s delightful.


THE AFTER
No words the excitement when I came downstairsd and saw this. This is where I`m sitting now as I write this post. And, write other posts you read. I`ve been using my office since February like this, tweaking elements. It`s always a work in progress, but I wanted to finally show you the “AFTER`in all her glory.

You can see that the edge goes straight to the edge of the cabinetry.  You can see that the edge goes straight to the edge of the cabinetry.

I LOVE THE QUARTZ. It`s amazing. It`s solid, bright, relects light, and my coffee doesn`t leave any stains! WHEEEE!!!

Ps., Stay tuned for a full basement reveal. We have done a few changes!

Products Used: Silestone Yukon Quartz Counter from The Home Depot 


This post was made possible thanks to The Home Depot Canada. They provided the Silestone Countertop to me for this project. All other elements of the office are my own. 🙂