Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Search results: "basement" (Page 1 of 12)

The Hidden Half – Ranch House Basement Tour

Hello family and friends! I hope you enjoy the house tours we shared with you so far. We spent 95% of our time in the ranch on the main floor and in the backyard. Sometimes we forget that we still have entire half of of house beneath our feet! Yes. The hidden half of our house – a full basement!

As I told you yesterday, the ranch is about 1700 sqft (not counting the garage), and it is divided into 850sqft on the main floor and 850 sqft in the basement. The basement floor plan look like this:

Ranch basement_current

Which is really similar to the main floor plan:

Ranch main floor_no garage

The biggest difference is that the main floor has a kitchen, and the basement has a third bedroom and utility room. The front bedroom is also slightly smaller than the main floor office.

In this first video, we will walk down the stairs, and take a look at the basement living room, and two of the bedrooms:

As you can see, most of the basement floor is covered by carpet, and there is no hardwood floor underneath. We poked around a little and think that under the carpet, there is concrete floor in one bedroom, and old linoleum flooring in another bedroom and in the living room. It will take us some time to clean everything off the floor, and we need to decide what type of flooring we want to use here.

The wood paneling wall is also up for debate. It is in a pretty decent shape, and it is costly to dry wall. but Slav haaaates it. So at least we will paint it a lighter color?

This second video showed you the utility room and the third bedroom I talked about.

The plan is to take down the drywall here and join the third bedroom to the utility room. So at least we can walk around our washer and dryer with their doors open! The studs in this drywall are not even supporting to the roof joints, so it will be pretty easy to just cut every off and open it up.

After we open it up, the basement will change from this:

Ranch basement_current

to something like this:

Ranch basement_proposal 1

So how are we gonna use this 850 sqft space? Tentatively, we would like to convert the basement into a guest suite. Something like this:

Ranch basement_proposal

That includes:

1. We would like to add a private entrance to the basement from the outside, and close the stairs inside.

2. We will keep both bedrooms downstairs, so we can host more family/friends at the same time. The private entrance will take away some of the space from one bedroom, but it is a pretty good size now and it will still fit a single bed/bunk bed without problem.

3. We will make the living room a movie theater/entertainment center by mounting the projector/screen down here.

4. The large room we gained from the third bedroom will be converted into a simple kitchen.

5. We will make a closet to conceal the furnace, water heater, and potential the washer and dryer.

6. We will put egress window in both bedrooms and living room. It is more than what the code asks for, but we care about fire safety and bigger window also let in more light.

What do you think? Any suggestions? Have you remodeled basement in your house, Or installed egress windows yourself?



Let’s Talk About Fence


Our house came with a fully fenced backyard, which we are grateful for. We have two strong and easily excitable dogs, and all they want is to lick the faces of people and dogs passing by our house. They especially love small children, who are low to the ground that they can easily knock down and love unconditionally. Needless to say, a fence is a must.

Although functional, none of the four sides of our fence is aesthetically pleasing:

The front fences:



Side fence on the southern side:


Side fence on the northern side:


And this was how the backyard looked when we moved in:


We’ve been planning to address the fence situation since day one. One of the challenges is how to handle the different types of fencing we have. We could never find a perfect solution without burning a big hole in our pocket, and there was more urgent and structure fixes in line (roof! I am looking at you). Therefore, the fence project waited.


This summer, we pledged to get the fence upgraded. It is hard to spend money on replacing things that are still functional – we cannot help but feeling a little guilty whining about our first world problems. But we both want the fence to be upgraded. The dislike to the chain link kept bothering us, especially after we have put all the effort into landscaping the front yard. We knew in our heart that the key upgrade to our curb appeal is still going to be a brand new wooden fence.


And not just any wooden fence. It needs to be a statement fence. A fence calls attention to itself. Our house is rather unimpressive (aka ugly), so we really need a fab fence with modern  feels to make the whole property look up-to-date.


interior design ideas brooklyn fending horizontal bluestar gardens

To make this fab fence, we decided to take the following steps:

1. Replacing the front chain link with 6′ cedar fence


As you can see from the pictures, our current front fences are aligned with the back of the house. It resulted in two side yards that are largely useless. All we ever do with them is mowing.


To increase the usage of the side yards, we plan to build the new fence more forward to the street, indicated by the spray paint line in the picture below:


The exact location of the new front fence was an easy decision. Our neighbor on the North already has a wooden fence, so we will line up our front fences with theirs to make the street view look more uniform.


The new fence line sits about 2/3 towards the front of the house, approximately 18′ forward from the original chain link. It will not only provide us over 600 sqft of new “backyard” space, but also includes our HVAC unit and one basement bedroom window into the “backyard”.


The new fence line will meet the house just behind the other bedroom window. We could not move the fence to the front of the window due to the location of our gas meter. Luckily this window is tucked behind an evergreen and hard to see from the street, we feel pretty good about taking the views of easy targets off the street.



One the other side of the house, a more forwarded front fence will provide a landing pad for unsightly trash cans and clothing line. It can also be used as a parking spot for Slav’s trailer. We will be building a 10′ wide driving gate here.



2. Replacing the southern side fence – Another chain link


On the lot line between us and our neighbor to the South, we have another section of chain link. It joins with a panel of wooden fence at the very back, which connects to the back fence.


The back of our property significantly slopes down at the last 20 feet. The back fence is actually built on top of a 5′ tall retaining wall, but the chain link on the side follows the slope and runs downward. It ends in the yard of another neighbor, who shares this corner with us. This property just changed hands and the new owner has three really reactive and barky dogs. As a precaution, we blocked this corner with a sheet of plywood, because we are fancy like that.

This is the view from the back of the plywood. You can see neighbor’s house in distance.


To replace the chain link here, we will remove its entire length as well as the wooden panel above, and build a new 6′ privacy fence on this side. It is difficult to decide on the height because we are pretty close to our neighbor on this side, and their dog plays with our dogs along the fence. We need to find a way for the dogs to continue playing. Design challenge accepted.

3. De-chain link-ing the un-neighborly double fence

This next situation made us scratching our heads a bit: the front yard chain link wraps around the northern side of the yard and directly against another wooden fence, which I assume belongs to our neighbor to the North:


This chain link fence does not provide much function except being a very effective trash trap. See the elm trees coming in between the two fences? They were not planted intentionally. They came up like weeds and because of the chain link, there is no way of removing them.


The chain link also runs down into the yard of north side neighbor’s towards the back. And the way it joins neighbor’s fence? I have no words…


Why is the chain link even there? We dug into the permit history for both our property and neighbor’s. Apparently our chain link was built first. Then when comes to the time our neighbor to the North constructed their fence, it was put up against the chain link. It is not uncommon, but to me and Slav, who grew up in villages where neighbor’s were close, this type of situation is just so bizarre.


But hot mess no more. We will remove the chain link on this side and repair our neighbor’s fence at our expense. As soon as the chain link is gone, trash (Elm) trees, your days are numbered.

4. The back fence stays put



We are lucky to have at least some wooden fence in the back. It was built in the 80’s and still have some life in them. They are not pretty by any means, but there is a retaining wall right behind it and it is just better to let the sleeping dogs lie.

This is the back fence when we bought the house:



We trimmed the dead trees around it, power washed it, and refinished it. We also planted fruit trees and climbing roses in front of it. So it stays.


The overall scale…

Based on our current plan, we have 130 feet of 6′ cedar fence to construct and 200 feet of chain link to take down. This is gonna be our last outdoor project for 2018. And we are rushing to finish it before the ground freezes. This post has gone longer than I planned, so I will leave the actual design of our fence to the next post. There is no shortage of challenges with building a fence for the first time. And we are welcome any advice/suggestions you might have. Also, if you are in the Greater Denver Area and know anyone who could use 200 feet of chain link, let us know!


Front Yard Video Tour – A Year Long Transformation of Our Curb Appeal


Thank you for all your kind support through our front yard overhaul. We could not be happier with the newly mulched flower bed in front of our house. It is such an improvement of our curb appeal, and many neighbors stopped by to tell us how much they love and appreciate what we did. 🙂


Adding curb appeal has been a goal of ours from day one. It is not just about changing the appearance, but also to improve the function. The unsightly are often not maintained, which means they do not perform well or even cause issues to the house.

When we moved into our ranch last summer, the front of our house looked like this:

Ranch house - 1

Immediately we could see three water issues: the flower bed right against the foundation, the sinking patio that directs rain water towards the house, and several rusty window wells failing to protect basement windows.

So, soon after we moved in, the foundation planting bed was removed. Last fall, we replaced old window wells, and graded around the foundation with drainage rocks.



To address the sinking patio issue, we had to remove the front patio completely. The rusty awning went with it, which might be our biggest curb appeal improvement yet!



Before winter hits, we also replaced the leaky roof and gutter, painted the soffit and fascia, and restored the front doors (1, 2, 3)



All these actions not only made the house water-tight, but also improved its appearance from the street. We went into out first winter with the front of the house looking like this:


And this is what the front entry looks like today. The glass storm door has been the pups’ favorite spot to look out:


Not too shabby, especially when compared to the Before:

Ranch house - 1

This summer, we decided to give our front yard a large overhaul, consisting of the removal of >600 sqft turf, planting a privacy hedge, and adding a retaining wall and a dry creek.





And today, our front yard look like this:


Instead of this:


We packed 64 perennials in this 600 sqft space during the last 6 weeks. It is nice to see all of them started taking roots and showing growth. Here is a short video walk-through of the garden area:

The mulched flower beds and evergreens not only improve the curb appeal, but also save irrigation water and are more inviting to native wild life. We want our house to be a safe haven not only for us and our two dogs, but also for native insects, birds, and small mammals that need a home they deserve.


These arborvitaes were planted at the peak of the summer in 95 degree heat. They definitely struggled a bit during the first a few weeks. But most of them bounced back nicely and have put on an inch or more new growth.

The mock orange we planted last weekend:


The winter berries were planted a month ago. They did not grow taller, but are definitely getting denser around the base.


This dwarf pine was also planted in the middle of summer, but has been growing fiercely.


This sandcherry was the last one planted, just five days ago. It is still recovering but I have high hopes for some delicious berries next Summer.


Of course we had to have Colorado’s state grass – the Blue Grama grass – in our yard:


And the Shenandoah switch grasses have already started coloring up for Fall. So pretty.


These larkspur and bubblemint hyssop were planted last weekend. And guess what – they bloomed!



More hyssop – they bloom red and have a more low-mount form.


Isn’t this silver brocade sage gorgeous?


Penstemon, butterfly weed, and sedums. Love the colors!






We also planted lots ground covers, including prairie winecups, creeping phlox, and veronica:


To make the garden more inviting to wild life, we put in a bird feeders and bird bath. We also installed drip irrigation and a new hose reel to make watering easier.


This area under the mailbox did not get as much attention this year, but the plants we put in have done very well.


Here we have two rosemary plants, one lavender, a red hot poker, and a rose bush:


Here is another short video in which I talk you though the additional upgrades in the front yard, including the under-the-mailbox planting:

I hope you enjoy to see our “new” front yard in these videos. They are filmed just yesterday so this is truly what our yard looks like now. We are proud of this little corner garden in the making, and hope you like it too. Please consider to start a pollinator garden, put out a bird feeder, or add a bee house too! I just learned that native pollinators feed up to three-story high, so even you are living in an apartment, they can benefit from your flowers too!

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