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Backyard Part Four: Laying Pavers July 14, 2010

Filed under: diy,house before and afters — ravennagirls @ 8:47 pm
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Finally for the installment to show it all come together! We left off here  with our filled, compacted, and prepped patio base. The purpose of the compacted gravel is to give a nice, solid base so that (hopefully) we won’t see any settling or sinking in the near future. The layer of sand on top is thinner and its real purpose is to give a softer surface for each individual paver to “set”, and to level out on a more local level. So, we spread the sand evenly with the knowledge that we might be moving it around a little as we went.

We chose simple 8″x16″x2″ rectangular poured concrete pavers from Home Depot. Mainly, and I’ll be honest, because this was outright the cheapest option we could find. We’re coming to the end of our “Year 1” budget and looking to do this simply. If you can’t afford to do something REALLY nicely (stamped concrete, flagstone, etc), you might as well go the opposite end of the spectrum and save up for when you can do it. Back in our backyard design post we showed that we were imagining a basketweave pattern, and thats what we ended up sticking with. It gives a nice pattern, but not too crazy. Plus, the best bonus is no cutting of pavers!

Throughout the weekend we  stocked up on pavers a few car-loads at a time (80-90 is about how many fit in the back of either of our cars); we needed 272 total. Then, the best most grueling part of the whole weekend was carrying these from the driveway, up a level of uneven concrete stairs, to the backyard.

And then: began laying. We did the first long row, and the first short row, in order to make sure we had a nice square edge, and worked inward from there.

The three most crucial tools for us during this project were a short level (this we could level each individual paver but also across seams), leather gloves for handling pavers, and a rubber mallet to gently tap each piece to level. Installing the pavers actually went relatively quickly, it took about 6 hours total, but on a sunny summer day it was nice to be out in the back yard about that long.

One suggestion that came from D’s dad was to avoid the plastic and aluminum edgers that hardware stores sell to DIY Patio Installers such as ourselves. These cost about $8 for each 6′ length, which would have ending up costing us about $75. Plus, these have to go in first which is restricting and they don’t last forever. Instead, he suggested we buy a cheap back of quikrete and pour into a trench on all sides. This creates a concrete curb of sorts, but you can leave it low enough so that you can put soil and grass over top. Its a little hard to see in the photo below (the dark gray is concrete and light gray beyond is excess sand), but it was super easy and quick (we left it a little dry and just placed in with our hands instead of truly doing a concrete “pour”. And I have to say, so far its pretty terrific. The edges of the patio are locked in place, nothing is moving, and it cost. . . $3. SWEET DEAL.


Here are all the pavers in place for the first time! While the level of soil is at or actually above the level of pavers on two sides, you can see here that the grade drops away from the pavers on the west side of the patio. We left the board in as a sort of form work while the concrete cured, and then swept soil overtop and planted grass seed so now it looks like its inset all around.

The last step is to sweep playground sand in the cracks to keep everything more or less locked in place. We are thinking that eventually we will install some polymer modified sand, which creates a rubbery sandy seal that won’t wash out, but its a meticulous process and we just haven’t had time. So, for now, just plain sand which does have a tendency to wash out in the drizzle so thats a little bit of a drag.

Woohoo! A completed patio. Its obviously not 100% perfect, but for the price and level of effort we are pretty – darn – thrilled with the result. There is some level difference between individual pavers, but it is overall level and sturdy and thats what we want!

Before we show you the dramatic before and after, this is the point where we need to pause a moment to give a HUGE cyber THANK YOU to everyone who has helped us out with ALL of our house projects in the form of labor, Home Depot/Lowe’s/Ace gift cards, and moral support.


– we really can’t thank you enough. All of your gifts have been so thoughtful and generous, its beyond words.

But now, we can just grill and drink and relax. Come on over any time!

So now for a fun game we like to call Before and After (ha! creative name, right?) From Jungle to Oasis. . .

. . . and hopefully NEVER back again! Now we can concentrate on the final bits of landscaping and finishing some projects on the house itself.


after day one…. March 5, 2010

Filed under: house before and afters — ravennagirls @ 12:02 pm
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look at it! 

between that and the ivy removal, we have come a long way from our first post about the yard!! Click here to see!



also look at how light out it is in these pictures taken at 5.30 pm!  Oh, spring , I love thee!

OOOO wood to chop!

(I think we might need a wood sculpture in our backyard like this one:

cool, huh?  via)

In other news, B and i got one step closer to raised beds last night at about 9pm.  It’s a pretty ridiculous story.  We might even tell you sometime.  I’m giving ourselves a pat on the back for being super sustainable, keeping our project on budget, and quite a bit of manual labor on our part.  We rewarded all of the above with a Dairy Queen Blizzard.  : )

Ah, Friday, I love thee.


there once was a front door December 11, 2009

Filed under: christmas,house before and afters — ravennagirls @ 12:05 pm
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that was oh-so-neglected.

are you ready for a little before and after?

I know it has been a while, but, well, its rough to finish projects outside and photo them in daylight in a Seattle November.

So now, we bring you a post with two purposes…

1.  To show you how awesome the front door looks painted, as well s the trim AND the front porch!


2.  To show you how cute this all looks when additionally decorated for the holidays!


{this post would not be made possible without help from my dad, made famous by our blog, and his electrical skills.  See here if you have forgotten!}

{also, see here for a little fornt yard history…}


The beginning of the {big house push}… October 5, 2009

Filed under: house before and afters — ravennagirls @ 7:19 pm
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It’s no secret that we have been spending most of our free night and weekend time working on house projects.  We had this constant, neverending to-do list going on.   It had varied activities; anything from paint the bathroom to hang that new print in the dining room.  

It also had “put down the cork in the kitchen.”  You will remember our last cork experience shown here.  The dining room was quick. One evening after work type.

before kitchen copy

The kitchen?


Forget one night, this was one weekend.  One weekend of waking up at 8 and going til midnight.   Yes, we did get a few other things done during this time while one person was cutting a piece or something.  Plus, I most certainly cease work for important things, like lunch.


oh, peel and stick yuck, how i won't miss you.

oh, peel and stick yuck, how i won't miss you.

A few things were different about this ROUND TWO of the project though.   For starters, the kitchen area is a longer space and includes a hallway off of it leading to the craft room.  There were a lot more cuts with this space, including some funky ones to deal with moulding. 

Then there were the appliances in the way.  The fridge and the stove needed the flooring underneath.  So there was some moving, then flooring, then moving back.  {pick up, swivel, no swivel the other way!}

And last, but certainly not least, was that hallway off the kitchen.  Pre flooring, it had a charming slope to it.   While it would have been fun to host a sledding competition in our hallway come winter, that slope was toast.  Armed with a level, some foarm underlayment, and various thickness of wood boards… plus the drill … the slope was deleted from our lil house.


Thank goodness. 

The project did have some positives though.  It allowed up to get more use out of the famous tapping block, for starters.  Plus, upon completion we walked around on our great sense of accomplishment until we got too tired.   Then we moved to the couch for wine and tv.

ready for some after pictures?

I am.

[the first one is looking into the dining room and off to the right between the two spaces in that hallway….]


sept 228

sept 227


Bye Bye Carpet.. August 6, 2009

Filed under: house before and afters — ravennagirls @ 10:39 pm
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Boy, it has been a long  July.  We have been hard at work on the house.  To date, we have fully moved in and are officially lemon house residents.  yeehoo!

Besides the amazing yard transformation, a few other things have happened.  I mean, really, do you think we have been sitting around drinking cocktails in that yard while the rest of the house lies in shambles?   (although, frankly, that would have been much much better then flooring part one.) 

First we painted all the walls.  The Living Room got a drop cloth over its oak hardwood.  The bedrooms and hallway all had the gross berber carpet for painting protection. 



Then, on one house changing day, we ripped it up.  I wish we had pictures but the dust plus carpet padding was keeping us busy as well hauled it outside.   Under the carpet revealed very pretty softwood fir.

Really, what we didn’t realize is that was the easy part.   After removing the padding, we were expecting some staples in the floor.  What we didn’t expect were staples also in the floor from previous carpet installation.  The two of us, for several hours popped staples out with a flat head screwdriver and pliers.  Yes, it was just that thrilling.

That was a rough day. 

The next day we woke up early to head to Home Depot.  We rented a large floor sander for the day.   The one you are thinking of (and the one on the home depot tool rental website) is a large sander with one large 14″ spinning disc on the bottom.  They are evidently hard to control.  Instead, we got the easy to use floor sander that had four discs each at 7″ in diameter on the bottom.  Very Very easy to control.  I loved it.  We sanded the floors with the large sander and the edges with my small random orbital hand sander with three different grits of paper.   In between each different grit we shop vaced up all the dust.  That really helped keep things under control.  There was dust everywhere though, not going to lie.  (like if you do this, take several claritins before you start, because it was crazy.)

After the floors were swept a few times, vaccumed and wiped with a tack cloth, we were ready to finish.  That first night we put on a sandable sealer which was a great first coat.  We could sand imperfections while the softer wood soaked up most of this sealer.

We then applied four plus coats of a water based polyurethane in a satin finish.  Yep, four.  That was in addition to the first coat, which was applied when it was too hot and we onlyused a foam pad to apply.  This combo created some very small fish eye bubbles.  We sanded those out by hand.  Then we applied all subsequent coats with one person using the foam pad and the other following behind with a synthetic brush to remove any bubbles.   This plus the lower temperature seemed to work well.  It however was a long week.  :0)

It was all worth it though.  Furniture is here now, but these shots are taken right after we finished.

Wanna see?

Living Room

Living Room


D's room

D's room


B's Room

B's Room


Who knows? you might just get to see it with furniture….

happy Friday!


before and after for today June 24, 2009

Filed under: diy — ravennagirls @ 10:42 am

before table


after table

Isn’t this lil table super?

It’s a before and after by B and I am quite proud of her terrific grouting job!

The table was found at an estate sale, actually originally with this gross piece of velvet on the top.  I think that got removed in the car and dropped in the garbage can before the table ever even made it down to our workshop….

way to go B!   I cannot wait for the house to be populated with all our other things so this cute table doesn’t get lonely!  (excuse the dropcloth and blue tape you see… paint colors will be revealed at a later date…)


before and after: salt and pepper May 27, 2009

Filed under: design,Uncategorized — ravennagirls @ 4:53 pm

before (found at a thrift store for $7):

etsy 010

after (painted benjamin moore’s dill pickle):

green s n p