We’ve been thinking a lot lately about our attack plan with the new house. Where do we start? How do we know what needs to be fixed first (the list is looooong)? What do we want to work on vs what we should work on? Etcetera etcetera etcetera. Real riveting stuff, yo. It brings us back to when we bought our first home and the one thing we constantly regret was the first summer in our old house five-ish years ago. It was our first home and we were dying to rip apart the interior spaces…and we did. We spent the most gorgeous summer ever in the history of Maine…inside. Renovating a bathroom. We don’t want to have the same regrets here and ironically we’re having another gorgeous summer. So as much as I am jonesing for interior painting and a full-on kitchen remodel, we’ve vowed that if it’s nice outside, we work outside. If it’s raining, the interior is fair game.
That said, we have two goals for our exterior this summer. One, painting the exterior. It needs it. BAD! And two, a slightly more fun exterior project, bringing the front patio back to life. We’ve made some serious progress this past couple of weeks. Enter the front patio progress picture:
I know it doesn’t look like much, but believe me, we have done some WORK! As a reminder, here is what we started with:
Technically, the above photo is a progress picture. I forgot to take a true before picture including the part where the grapevine growing along the side of the house was actually growing inside the house. As in between the window and the storm.
A few weekends ago, my parents came for a weekend visit. I get my go-to DIY spirit from my parents. They gutted and renovated the house I grew up and then built their dream home in the country themselves. Needless to say, they didn’t want to go do tourist-ie Vermont things or explore Burlington, they wanted to tackle our overgrown patios and gardens. And they came prepared! Armed with loppers, garden gloves, snips, and even their own weed wacker. The first order of business was trimming back the giant lilac bush that was also growing into the house and taking over the patio. The beauty of trimming a lilac, if you trim it too far, it grows back. We’ve had friends pretty much cut down the entire lilac and it eventually grew back.
We chipped away a branch at a time until the patio started to get some sun. I should mention that there is an old patio under all that mess. There’s some old slate along with pavers. It was almost entirely overgrown with underbrush which we later learned was poison ivy…the hard way…which I may have had a crazy reaction to requiring a few doctor’s appointments, an infection, and rounds of meds. I’ve since learned my lesson and there will be no more garden clearing without proper layers of clothing and boots.
We kept chipping away at the lilac bush and the grapevine, allowing more and more sun to sneak onto the patio. As the sun dried out the patio, we were able to shovel and sweep the layers of dirt and various underbrush from the surface.
Before we knew it we were hauling out the patio furniture and sipping iced tea in the sun while basking in the glory of the results of our manual labor.
Not only did my folks travel the 9-ish hours from Maine to Vermont to spend the weekend with us, they also gifted us a few pieces of clearance Target patio furniture as a Colby birthday/Angie birthday/anniversary/housewarming gift (random side note…Colby’s birthday, my birthday, and our wedding anniversary all fall within a few weeks of each other…we tend to celebrate them all en masse). The patio still needs tons of work, paint, and some style/10 pieces of flair but it’s already starting to look soooooo much better. And usable.
My parents also helped us attack the overgrown garden space that sits across the driveway from the patio.
If you look closely down the garden path (which we also discovered is brick underneath all the brush) you’ll notice a Goose butt blazing the trail.
Goose was the only family member able to walk down the poor, overgrown garden path. It was nice having my mom in town while we cleared this space. She’s an uber-gardener. I’m always in awe of her massive, gorgeous, perfectly coiffed gardens and someday I’d like to pull off the same gardens. She knows her stuff and has been around the garden block a few times so she was so helpful in identifying what was and wasn’t a weed in this old garden space. As we went digging and clearing, we found peonies, irises, wild roses, climbing roses, and more.
But more on this space later once we attack it a bit further. It’s still a hot mess, unlike the patio space that is starting to come together.
I’m thinking about my to-do list and I have a few projects that I’m thinking of for the patio:
- Scrape and paint the siding around the patio space
- Remove the storm door and paint the snot out of the solid wood front door (I find storm doors ugly, Colby finds them useful as a former door/window salesman, we compromise and as long as I paint/maintain the exterior doors every summer, he lets me remove the storm doors)
- Create a garden border around the edge of the patio to define the driveway from the patio
- Add a rain barrel so we can collect water for the gardens and get rid of the awkward PVC drain pipe running along the side of the house
- Replace the floodlights with a cuter, farmhouse-style exterior light fixture
- Fluff the space with potted plants, a bird feeder, twinkle lights, etc.
We’ve already started painting so we can’t wait to share more details of how the space is coming along. Stay tuned.
Pssst….What projects are you guys working on this summer? Is anyone else painting their house? Any tips?