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Driveway Surprise

6 Oct

The outdoor transformations keep on coming this year; we now have a new driveway!


I say it was a surprise because we weren’t planning on getting this done until next year, knowing we would want a nice surface for Kate to play on/ride bikes/use chalk, etc. Ben already had a quote priced out with his normal guy, but then we noticed our neighbor was getting their driveway done. Out of curiosity he walked over there to ask if they would cut us a deal on ours since they already had all the guys and machinery there. When they said yes, and they could do it for less than $2/square foot, we had to pull the trigger. Since they were already there, they started that same afternoon and were 100% finished the next day!



We love how much tidier the place is without the gravel. And Kate has already gotten to enjoy it, taking rides in her wagon.


Here are a few before and afters:



There is a ton of parking space. Here is the before/after view from the garage.



We love being able to run out to the car or onto the driveway without shoes on now.



Here is the before/after view toward the street.


IMG_4933It feels a like a park!

And lastly here is the before/after view toward the house from the street.



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Our Backyard Chicken Coop

10 Jul

Time to show you our backyard chicken coop and the six hens who live there! That’s right, we are officially chicken farmers (words I never thought I would say).


We love it! And the chickens have been a lot of fun so far.

Ben and his business partner, John, built the coop from scratch over the course of a few weekends.


We painted it Benjamin Moore’s Amherst Gray and the trim is Behr Premium in Ultra White.


It was a test run to see if we liked the color (we did), so now our house is in the process of getting painted that color too!

IMG_4758We planted that Arborvitae bush on the left and some climbing clematis on the right to provide some shade for them.

There are three total windows that open and close so they can get a nice breeze in there.


Here are the nesting boxes, so you just lift up the lid to collect your eggs.


We even hung a little welcome sign outside of the door.

Here’s Ben inside the coop giving them food and water.


And then there are the chickens!

IMG_4763We have three Rhode Island Reds and three Barred Rocks. The big black and white one in the middle is Edna and she is the only one laying right now. She is a few weeks older than the others.

The chickens have a door so they can go between the coop and the run whenever they want. Every so often we let them out of the run and into the open yard. They LOVE grass.. and dandelion leaves!

IMG_4764Did I mention how amazing the eggs taste? SO much better than the store bought ones. We only get about 1 egg a day right now, but are looking forward to when all 6 hens start laying and we have a ton of fresh eggs each day!


Railroad Tie Retaining Wall

17 Jun

Our backyard is really starting to take shape thanks to our new retaining wall. It is over 5 feet high at the tallest point and is made entirely out of old railroad ties.


You get a sneak peek of our chicken coop there in the back.

We decided to hire this job out and are so happy with our decision. A crew of 3-4 landscapers spent three 12 hour days out there working on it.

IMG_4692We purchased the railroad ties for just $2/piece last winter when they were on sale at Home Depot, so it was a really cost effective way to do a retaining wall.

IMG_4690It’s quite a change from where we used to be.


And before that.

IMG_3128And all the way back when we bought the place and it was all weeds.


Ben also spread two truckloads of pulverized top soil and the landscapers laid grass seed and straw blankets to keep the moisture in. So hopefully we will have some grass soon!


Then we will do some plantings and eventually a fire pit in the corner part.

Here is a close-up view. I love the look of it!


More outdoor updates to come soon… it’s coming along!

Home Goals: How We Did & 2014 Goals

8 Jan

2013 was a year of pretty big changes at 12 Oaks. I posted our goals for the year here and I’m happy to report we got most of what we set out to do done! Here’s the checklist on how much we accomplished.

1) Put in Upstairs Hall Bathroom. Check! We completely gutted and re-did the bathroom. It is one of my favorite spaces in the house and has turned out to be quite the Pinterest sensation, lol. Full tour here.


2) Re-locate laundry and renovate first floor powder room. Check! Sort of. What was once the laundry and powder room is now our pantry and part of our kitchen. The new first floor powder room isn’t done, but it is functional (sink and toilet working), and we have a new laundry room.



3) Take down a wall to create open floor plan. Oh yeah! It feels like a whole new house since we did this.

Here was the before:

living room wall removed

And here is a similar view now.


4) Renovating the kitchen. Check! Just a few minor tweaks left, but this was the biggest transformation yet.



And now:


5) New windows. We’re on a roll, another check.


6) Renovate Master Bathroom. Ok, this didn’t happen. BUT, our master is now moving and the addition is built so a new master bathroom is started.


7)  Get the pool up and running. It took until the end of summer but we got another check!


8) Build a deck and/or patio around pool along with landscaping around it and the rest of the property. No check. We designed the deck, poured the footings and bought the materials but it got too cold to build. We did landscape the front of the house though.


9) Add french doors off of the dining room. Check! Love these.


12 Oaks Before 137



10) Paint the house and install new front door. No paint, but we did get a new front door.

Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 11.32.36 AM

11) Update fireplace in the den. No progress. This is going on the list for 2014.

12) Add shadowbox molding in dining room and stairs. Not yet. Though our stairs did get a nice makeover.


13) Put in can lights in living room. Check! We put in dimmable can lights in the barn wood beams we installed.


14) Add hardwood floors in the entry way. Check! Our floors are all one material and color- love them so much.


12 Oaks Before 156



Phew! We were busy. It was a lot of work, but the house totally feels like ours now. I doubt we can keep up this pace in 2014, especially with our little one arriving in a few weeks, but there is still lots to accomplish.

Our 2014 home goals are to:

1) Build deck out back

2) Install retaining wall and landscape back yard

3) Replace rotten trim and paint the house

4) Finish addition upstairs (master bathroom and closet)

5) Finish addition downstairs (powder room and laundry room)

6) Makeover the office/playroom, including a fireplace re-do

7) Blacktop driveway

8) Relocate master bedroom

9) Update living room built-ins

10) Build a dining room table from native New Zealand wood

11) Build out basement storage

All with an infant. Think it can be done?

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