Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I'm Not Retaining This Wall!

There is a Jeff Foxworthy joke that goes, 

"If strangers regularly knock on the door to ask if you're having a garage sale, 
you might be a redneck." Or, you might be my Grandpa.

His backyard was chock full. He had THREE storage sheds and a whole side yard full of STUFF. I kept a lot of the really cool stuff - old metal carts that will definitely be fun projects to rehab, some useful file cabinets I'll put in the garage, and even some plastic lawn chairs that I plan on spray painting fun colors. But so much of it was junk!

So, after we got rid of the old lumber, the coils of wire, the metal scrap, and those sheds, we were left with a really good size backyard. It's about 20 feet deep and 53 feet wide. Unfortunately, there was a 5 foot wide retaining wall running along the entire back wall. There was also a huge ugly plant in the middle of it and some crazy ivy in the corner. 

{you can see the edge of the ugly tree on the left}

{attack of the killer ivy!}

At first I thought, "oh, it's a raised planter!" Then, I thought, "It's a jumping off point for a mischievous dog!" And it had to go. 

First, we had the huge tree removed (and no, there's NOTHING I can do about that ugly telephone pole). Then, we had them take down the wall!

And afterward, we were left with a big dirty stain on the wall and a 5 foot wide strip of dirt. 

{please disregard the toilet ;)}

What do you think I should do with this space? I'd like some sort of privacy hedge, but I don't want to deal with a lot of pruning or maintenance. Maybe bamboo? Also, it would be fantastic to cover that telephone pole in some way. Maybe a star jasmine vine? Give me your ideas!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ancestry Wall Inspiration and Ideas

I'm a genealogy buff. My great-great-aunt Melva (nicknamed "Tootsie") was the pioneer of our family's story. She was born in Panama, the daughter of a businessman from South Carolina and the granddaughter of a doctor from Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. In the (much more labor-intensive) days before the internet, Tootsie traveled to Cuba, Spain, South Carolina, and Canada to look up church records, see marriage sites, and visit gravestones. When she passed away, I received all of her folders and so much of her curiosity about our interesting family history. I have an membership, and my personal tree has over 7000 people in it and goes back over 700 years. It's seriously a labor of love and if I don't keep myself in check, I can get lost in it for hours. 

But what I've found! Pictures of my ancestors and their homes. Handwritten accounts of life on the finca (farm/plantation) in Panama. I even found the man who currently lives in the house my great-great-great-great-grandfather built 200 years ago and over 2,000 miles away from where I live. And I went to visit that man (and his family) and that house. Twice. 

The McNair-Tillman House in Cheraw, SC

Here are more family pictures I can't wait to put up on my ancestry wall:

{The Coroalles family}

{Panama 1947 - 
my great-great-aunt Melva is the third from the left in the back row, my grandfather is the man in the center}

{Arthur, second from left, is my great grandfather}

So, it's safe to say I feel a connection with my roots. And I want to display these connections, because they're interesting, because I like to look for family resemblances, and so that my future children grow up with that history and feeling of where they came from.

These are some of the inspiration photos I've been obsessing over. 




Fresh Words Market is having a BOGO sale on their personalized vintage map art (they even come with heart stickers to highlight a specific region). I'd choose these four:

{BOGO sale ends 5/3 - just leave a note in the comments section at checkout telling them which one you'd like for free!}

Or maybe I could frame some vintage maps of important places: 




And since I don't have an amazing staircase like the picture above, I'm thinking the hallway might be the best location. But there's not a lot of light there, so maybe in the little alcove behind my front door. I'll have to play around with it and figure it out. 

Here is the dark, dark hallway leading to my bedroom:

There is recessed lighting, but in the daytime, it will likely look like this.

And here is the small alcove behind the front door:

The front door is on the left, a closet is on the right, and behind the door, there is about 9 inches of space.

Where do you think I should put this feature? Or maybe you think I should make it an accent - like in the dining room or the office? Give me your ideas!

Friday, April 25, 2014

I Just Bought - An Engraved Cutting Board

Like so many of my kindred souls out there, I use shopping as a tool to make myself feel better. So when I was recently feeling low, I took a look through my Etsy favorites and my Pinterest boards and decided to treat myself to this beauty. 

The Pi engraved cutting board from Elysium Woodworks has been on my radar for a long time. It comes in four different woods (bamboo, cherry, maple, and walnut) and two sizes (8x12 and 10x15). There are lots of other designs available, even some other fun math & science ones (like the Periodic Table and the Fibonacci Spiral). But Pi has a special meaning to me. Grandpa taught my sister and I to recite Pi to ten digits when we were very young. We were asked to perform whenever we were introduced to someone new and we were the first to raise our hands in geometry. I love the poetry of using something so functional, so useful, so grandpa, as a thing of beauty and decoration. 

Make sure to check out Elysium Woodworks on Etsy for your own engraved cutting board.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Linda

In Grandpa's papers, we found the original brochure for the neighborhood. It was so fun to see the original cost ($13,900), and the terms ("Veterans need only to earn $2.17/hour to qualify"). But the best part was finding out that all the styles in the tract are named after the cutest 50's girls' names. The Judy, Donna, Lorraine, and my house, the Linda. This is what I'm calling her now, by the way. She's the Linda.

We did make some changes to the layout: we removed the dividing wall between the living room and the kitchen, and we pulled the half bath wall out into the laundry area, making room for a shower. The laundry has now been relocated to the garage. We removed the side door that was in the laundry room and took out the wall that used to be next to where the fridge used to be. We also extended the porch along the front of the house, because I'm secretly Southern and I dream of a big porch. We removed the middle window in the kitchen, because that was the only place I could put the fridge. Sounds complicated, but all other walls stayed the same. Oh, and the garage is actually attached because long ago, my grandpa put a door in bedroom no. 2.

Next up, I want to make a yard plan so you can see what we're working with landscape-wise.

I'm thinking of framing this floorplan and putting it up in the house somewhere, maybe the entryway? It would be a cute conversation starter, yes?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

From Trash To Treasure

My grandpa lived in this house for 56 years, the last 7 without my grandma to keep him in check. It's safe to say grandpa was a hoarder. He saved EVERYTHING. Not like food wrappers or cat poop, but every slip of paper he ever received, every piece of software he ever bought, and everything that could possibly maybe be useful in the future.

What this means is that we had A LOT of stuff to go through. In fact, we had his house and garage (both packed), plus 2 Public Storage units, and 3 other garages at his rental properties. It took us over 3 months to go through everything, and resulted in 3 huge garage sales and tons of trips to the Haz Mat collection center.

The good part of all of this is that I was able to snag tons of fun things. The same sort of stuff I look for at garage sales, thrift shops, and swap meets - I was able to keep for free! A few of these items are larger pieces of furniture that I am so excited to refinish.

Dining Table

This table was in one of Grandpa's many storage units and we were originally going to sell it at a garage sale. But I saw potential! It's the perfect size (4 feet long) to fit in my dining nook and even though it needs a good cleaning (and a little wood putty to fill a crack), it's in pretty good condition. I originally planned on painting it gray, but then I decided to stain it a pecan color instead, since the wood grain is actually kind of pretty.

Midcentury Side Table

This table was next to my grandparents' couch for my entire life. With a pink lamp on it. I am SO excited about this find. This style is definitely my jam and it will look beautiful next to my couch. I plan on keeping it pretty close to its current color, but definitely cleaning it up.

Midcentury Dresser

I never even noticed this beauty tucked away in a bedroom because there was so much stuff around it! But as soon as I saw it, I knew we were soulmates. Look at those lines, those legs! My sister is going to help me decide whether it's lovely the way it is or if it needs to be stained. The finish is in good shape, except on top. I'm also not a huge fan of the frameless mirror, but maybe it will look okay once it's all styled.  


Can't you just see the potential in all these wooden lovelies? What's the best trash to treasure find you've made?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


this was taken in Italy - that's why I look so happy.

Hi there! I'm Katie and I live in Southern California, 3 miles from the beach and 5 miles from LAX. My grandparents bought a house in this neighborhood in 1959 and lived here for over 50 years. My parents bought a house down the street from them and raised my sister and I here. 

When my grandfather passed away in early 2014, my family and I decided that I should move in to his house. So, here I am - renovating and decorating a house that hasn't been touched since 1955. 

I have a great team helping me out with the big stuff - electricians, roofers, plumbers, and contractors. But I also dream of putting my own DIY stamp on this place. I'm kind of a newbie at DIY, but I'm confident I'll get better the more I practice! With the help of my trusty sister, Larissa (the handy one), we can figure anything out. 

Larissa and I in Las Vegas

In this 1100 square foot house, I am joined by my two trusty mews, Oliver and Crash. My best friend Jon will be staying with me for a few months, so he's my sort-of roommate - which is poetic, since I lived with him after he bought his first house. Now he's my tenant!

Oliver and Crash

This blog is where I will document my 1955 ranch's transformation, plus ongoing projects, fun decor finds, garden ideas, and anything else I think you might find interesting. Like how I plan on adding a dog to my current household. And how I'm also thinking of adding a chicken coop to my new backyard - what an adventure that will be! I hope you will stick around and enjoy this adventure with me. 

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