My Big Fat Remodel: Outdoor Edition 2

A big fat TREASURE HUNT. That's how I like to think of our house. It started off that way. We were dreaming of the house we wanted. It would have a front porch that would stretch across the whole front of the house. It would have symmetry on the front facade. It would have mature trees and be on a shady street. It would be in our same neighborhood. It would be old.

We couldn't find what we were looking for anywhere. We considered remodeling our tiny first home with a second story. We looked at an empty lot in our old beautiful neighborhood.

And then.....I took a different route to get some forgotten homework to my daughter's school by the dreaded due date ( I will they learn...but sometimes you just do this kind of thing). And there she was. "FOR SALE BY OWNER" It was a sign. (Really... a sign). With my brakes screeching, I stopped and took down the number, raced to the school to drop off the homework, and got to work where I immediately called the number. Yes, it was for sale. Yes, it was well within our budget. Yes, I could see it on my lunch break. I arrived promptly at noon. I saw the inside. It was love. The possibilities crystallized in my mind, I phoned Mr. K and he saw it that evening. The rest is history.

We have been hard at work ever since creating the treasure we knew was here. You have seen the progress on the inside: the new kitchen, powder bath, family room and basement. We are still doing alot of fine tuning inside. But we have turned our sights to the outside. We want to get the plants in for the rainy season.

So this is our front yard. We have been digging....well by "we" I mean Mr. K......trenches for the new irrigation system. Have I told you all how very handy Mr. K is? Well, he used to be a landscaper during college. So we will soon be the proud owners of a new lawn after amending our hard-pan clay soil.

We took out three trees: one a diseased pear tree that blocked our path to the house, another, a type of oak that holds its dead leaves for a good 3-4 months out of the year after Fall, and the third was a large Persimmon tree. We did love the Persimmon tree, but it's roots were tearing up the porch, and the fruit would ripen to jam and plummet down onto our unsuspecting cars where in the Indian Summer heat would harden onto the paint jobs like glue. The neighbors were rejoicing, I kid you not. So.... this is the first time I could actually photograph the front of the house so you all could see it! We are replacing the Oak with an Elm like the rest on the street, and the Pear with a Dogwood a little closer to the house.

This is the right part of the front yard showing our planting beds and our front gate, which I love. There is a Gardenia on the right, and Flowering Quince to the left of the gate behind the Japanese maple. We put in Boxwoods at the back of the beds with ferns and hostas in front (very shady). In spring we add Coleus and Impatiens. Does it look like we are digging for gold?

This is a view of the new stair well leading to the basement. Having these French Doors at basement level completely changed the space from a "basement" to very nice living space. We now have a "view" of sorts. I am going to cover the wall with weeping fig and add some potted plants at the bottom of the well. The steps and pathways will be blue stone in an irregular rectangle pattern. We will have vertical plantings along the fence...something flowering I hope!

Just another view of the side showing how high the house is here. A garden along a skinny shady path like this will take some thought. Suggestions are always welcome!!!!!!!!!!

When we started to do the grading for the back yard drainage, we thought we really had struck gold! An undiscovered emperor's tomb perhaps, or ancient Indian burial site? And even though most people would find it very mundane, perhaps even a tiny bit "icky"....Mr. K and I were fascinated and were showing it off to all of the neighbors:

Can you guess what it is? Here....take a closer look:

There was alot of careful craftsmanship put into this. Still stumped?.........It was the old septic tank. Our house was built in 1911, and all of the houses had septic tanks when they were first built. They have all long since been on the main sewer line. We are lucky that no one fell into this cavern during the remodel. It was filled in last week with gravel and dirt. We gave up on the idea of making it into a wine cave for obvious reasons.

On the side of the house, we have a bit of yard where Mr. K built the cutest potting shed and raised planter for vegetables. We were late for planting this year, but put in some herbs and peppers. Next year it's going to be full of tomatoes, zucchini and carrots. We put pea gravel in the paths last week. The lawn is new too. We will be planting the beds on either side in the coming months in time for the rain.

So, as much as I would love to find buried treasure....I think the treasure we make ourselves is perhaps the most satisfying. Thank you to my wonderful Mr. K who works so hard for us. I'll take your beautiful shed and garden over gold and diamonds any day!