Terrific Broth

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

Category: Life Happening Page 3 of 11

Anticipation

IMG_2990

It’s been almost a year since we bought our first house, the ranch. If this ownership has taught me anything, is the importance of patience. Every project has a long period of gathering the inspiration, followed by weeks of researching, planning, and preparation. Naturally lack of an acceptance for delay, I am slowly learning to enjoy tolerate the process of creating without getting upset about the unwanted holdup. This is especially important now we got into multi-year gardening and outdoor projects.

Developing A Water-wise Garden

We are in the middle of a big planning phase for the new fence and the second wave of planting, which means there is less to show for on the blog. We are blessed with a big open yard, and intend to keep it that way for the grand appearance and the dogs’ pleasure. However, the summer drought and intense UV light at the mile high are hard to combat. The sunny portions of our lawn require lots of water and still look too thin to be pretty.

Left: shaded turf. Right: turf in sunny spots.

IMG_3133

Our solution to a naturally occurring problem is to go with what the nature wants – Xeriscape, aka water-wise gardens. We have imported native and drought-resistant perennials for the most sunny spot in the yard. With time we hope to replace all the unshaded turf with perennial beds and vegetable gardens.

IMG_3045

We are entering a year of significant drought here in Colorado. To reduce the need for irrigation, we imported yards of mulch. Four inches of wood chips really cut down the need for water. And thanks to our city, all the wood chips are free through our city’s tree recycle program.

IMG_3058

IMG_3027

In addition to the mulch we laid down drip lines for all the garden beds. We chose drip emitters for sparse planting such as perennial flower beds and potato patch, and soaking hoses for densely packed vegetable gardens.

The perennial bed I:

IMG_3054

IMG_3051

IMG_3050

IMG_3047

IMG_3053

The perennial bed II:

IMG_3069

IMG_3041

IMG_3039

Potato patch:

IMG_3035

IMG_3037

And veggie gardens:

IMG_3030

IMG_3026

IMG_3102

Most of the emitters are one gallon per hour type. With the help of mulch, we only need to water about a hour each time and twice a week to keep everything happy and growing.

IMG_3109

IMG_3034

IMG_3111

Adding More Shade with New Trees

IMG_3127

New fruit trees are expected to create more shaded area along the eastern fence in upcoming years, and they are surely getting bigger each day! I am searching for climbing roses as the perfect back drop. This is what I had in mind:

Image via David Austin Roses

In addition, we are cleaning the side fence to make room for future evergreen trees, which will provide much needed year-around privacy and color.

IMG_2976

What we have here now are elm trees, which are practically weeds in Colorado. The new evergreen hedge will not only block neighbor’s broken fence and occasional basketballs coming our way, but also provide an elegance backdrop for a future outdoor sitting area.

IMG_3009

Over the long weekend, we have already removed the middle tree, which significantly opened up the space.

Before tree removal

IMG_2966

After

IMG_3071

Cutting trees are very labor intensive due to how much post processing it involves. It only took half an hour of cutting down one tree, but we spent hours dissecting the branches from the main trunk and cutting the trunk into firewood.

IMG_3129

Another cool byproduct from the tree cutting is wood chips. I ran all the small branches and leafy portion through our wood-chipper, which generated enough mulch for covering the bare spot next to the shed. I am a big fan of the “Chop and Drop” and having this wood chipper allows me to speed up the process and completely eliminate yard waste.

Before shredding

IMG_2998

The same area after

IMG_3157

The Last Indoor Project (for a while)

At this point, all the upcoming garden projects are contingent on the completion of the fence. With graduation coming up and my recent travels, it will be another few weeks before we can tackle the fence together. You bet the anticipation is killing me. At the mean time, I keep my mind occupied with painting the entire main floor living space (living room + office + bedroom) including the ceilings, a step we’ve been waiting to take since wrapping up the office renovation.

IMG_3114

Our walls are textured which we do not love. Slav spent all his free time last week and this week to smooth the wall texture and patch all the nail holes, big and small.

IMG_3007

IMG_3123

The wall on the left is already smoothed and you can see a clear difference from the textured wall on the right. Once Slav finishes smoothing the texture, everything will get a light sanding and a fresh coat of paint. Paint preparation is always the slowest step of renovation, but so essential for the soft and cloud-white effect we are craving for. A Chinese proverb says it all, “sharpening the axes does not hinder chopping the wood.” True for both indoor and garden projects!

What’s in Store for the Ranch House in 2018

Hi, family and friends! I hope your holiday break is treating you well. We are soaking up the peaceful winter nights at home with music, hot pot dinner, and sparkling drinks. Last night, we baked dozens of cookies for our close neighbors, hoping to deliver some holiday joy and catch up with them.

Looking back, 2017 is undoubtedly our best year yet. Leaving our jobs and moving to Colorado was scary, but everything worked out better than we expected. Living in our mountain rental for a few months while searching for a nest made us realize how much we love mountain living. And after buying our first house together, we dived into non-stop renovations and learned a lot about construction and ourselves. We are grateful to celebrate the first holiday season in our ranch house – it feels so good to be exactly where you want to be.

But we think it is safe to say that the best is yet to come. We have so much planned for the ranch house in 2018, and these projects are incredibly fun! What we did in 2017 focused mostly on essential fixes – roof, patio, foundation, drainageelectrical, HVAC, water heater, washer and dryer. We also got our garden shed and garage in working order. In 2018, we plan to shift gear to make the living space truly ours. That means changing floor plans, assigning function to each room, furniture DIY, new paint and adding lighting and new accessories. We hope to optimize our ranch for the exact needs of our two people + two dogs family, and bring our style into it.

Below is a list for our 2018 renovation goals. We will be picking projects from the list to do, depending on weather, material availability, and our mood and priority. It will be fun to see how much we complete off this list 365 days from now!

1. The Insulation

Colorado winter is cold. We only have R-19 insulation in our attic, which is far from the suggested R49 value. We’ve been working on preparing our attic for blow-in insulation, which will happen during the first week of 2018.

While we are beefing up the attic insulation, we will be insulating the shared wall between our unheated garage and the house as well. Our garage has only R13 insulation on the two exterior walls, but nothing on the ceiling or the door. It results in a great deal of heat loss from the house. Because the roof trusses are framed with 2″ x 4″ lumber, there is really no good way of insulating the garage ceiling. So we decided to insulate the shared wall instead. We will be tackling this huge insulation effort in a few days, DIY-style!

2. Slav’s Office

This house offers a big upgrade from our past rentals – Slav has his own office now! However, except removing the carpet and moving in his desk, we have not done anything more to this room. Even worse, this office has been used as a dump ground for books, small electronics, and off-season clothes. As our first interior project of 2018, we will freshen up the office with wall-to-wall library shelves and a new corner desk for Slav. This guy deserves a room to call his own!

3. The Basement Guest Suite

Many of you may know that we are using only half of our house’s square footage right now. It is our intention to live small and simple. However, we do have plan to use the hidden half of our house – as a guest suite! Our basement is exactly the same size as the main floor and almost the same floor plan. We plan to remove the stingy carpet, add a kitchenette, and completely finish it as a two-bedroom apartment with its own entrance. We will use it as a guest suite for our friends and family, maybe short-term rental in between. It gives us a great opportunity to create as well as to experiment with new styles which we hesitate to try in our own living space. It will expose us to new tasks such as plumbing, windows and doors, and kitchen building. We will be applying these skills to main floor remodeling down the road.

4. The Fence

The last thing we’d like to complete in 2018 is to replace the chain link fencing with wood fences. This task has been on our mind since we moved in. However, with many more urgent and essential fixes in the way, replacing fully functional fencing does not rise to the top of our priority list. We’d like to tackle the fence project when next spring comes around, which will dramatically improve our curb appeal and add privacy.

Here you have it, our renovation wishlist for 2018. Every subject on this list will take considerable amount of effort, money and time. We hope to cross three, if not all four of them off our list – starting from insulation! We retrofitted rafter vents into our attic today, which rocks a 4:12 pitch roof and is filled with loose fiberglass insulation. Let me tell you, not my favorite renovation task. But it means that we can finally blow all these cellulose into the attic that has been sitting in our garage!

First Christmas at Ranch and the Six-Month Tour!

Hi friends! In a couple days, we would have moved into our ranch for six months! I would not say “time flies” because we really packed these six months with renovations and DIYs. But I am so glad we did what we have done for the house. I recently talked to a neighbor who has been watching our renovation from her windows. When our roofer put down the first row of roof shingles, she was so happy with the color we picked out and let out a big sigh of relief! Haha, I did not know that we are running a real-time renovation show here! Although we were not renovating for anyone else but ourselves, getting thumbs-up from our neighbors is surely a nice thing and very encouraging.

I made a really quick tour to show you what the ranch looks like at its six-month mark, including our humble Christmas decor. I am beyond excited about the first holiday season in our ranch, and it is just as exciting to look back at how much we have accomplished since June. So if you are free the next 8 minutes, click on the tour and let me walk (and talk) you through our little ranch!

For those of you who could not watch the videos, you can get a pretty good idea of our journey from the before-and-after photos below.

The curb appeal and front entry

IMG_0407

Lots has happened since the first week after we moved in. We have since –

Replaced our leaky, 20 year-old roof (here, here, here, and here)
Installed new gutter
Painted the trims, soffit and fascia
Demo-ed the front porch and patio
Replaced the front storm door, painted the front door, and dressed up the front entries with decorative quarter round
Corrected the drainage issues by demoing the flower bed and laying down drainage rocks
Replaced rusty window wells
Cleaned up exterior wires and patched all the cracks and nail holes

IMG_0433

This is our front door today, a far cry from the front entry we inherited.

IMG_0431

The living room did not change much after we ripped off the wall-to-wall carpet and set up a dining table under the big picture window. We have been slowly adding plants to our home, and hung a cow art collection which really brings color into the living space.

IMG_0426

We still do not have a sofa (oops), but we are content with just two armchairs and do not feel the need for anything bigger yet. You can usually find Roxie on one of the arm chairs and Charlie on the dog bed in front of Slav’s vinyl collection.

IMG_0395

Christmas Decor and new LED lights

IMG_0428

We got our Christmas decor up this past week. Like the past years, we celebrate Christmas with a humble pre-lit tree in our living room, an artificial wreath on the front door, and minimal decor dotted in each room.

IMG_0515

IMG_0506

The cute salt and pepper shaker:

IMG_0503

For the exterior, we ordered all brand-new LED string lights and wrapped them around the two trees in the front yard (this one) and our holiday wreath (this one). They do cost more, but I expect them to last longer. Since this LED string light can switch from the christmassy tri-colors to warm white color, we also plan to use them between the holiday seasons.

IMG_0512

The pine tree in the front yard

IMG_0508

The tree outside of Slav’s office

IMG_0509

From 5pm to midnight, our house looks like this from the street:

IMG_0510

Our view from the dinner table:

IMG_0501

The bed, bath, and beyond

IMG_6674

Our bedroom has not changed since we ripped off the carpet and first set it up. The main floor bath got a good scrub with all new caulking, but the total overhaul is still yet to happen. We are over-analyzers and it usually takes us a long time to commit to a final design. So the master suite plan will be simmering for months to come. However, we did develop a solid plan for Slav’s office, the second (and bigger) bedroom on the main floor. We plan to tackle the office as soon as the new year ball drops – so stay toned, friends!

The kitchen

The room in which we did start making changes is the kitchen. We removed the cabinets over the fridge soon after we moved in, replaced all the old caulking, and recently relocated and modified the sideboard.

IMG_0421

The old cabinets are still rocking on the other side of the kitchen, and believe or not, we are currently using half of these cabinet (some of them are just too gross to us). Since these cabinets will not be reused in the new kitchen, we will be play with them to get some ideas for the best layout for the future kitchen. It will be a fun project to fiddle with with some eggnog latte this Christmas.

IMG_0422

The garage

IMG_9865

Our garage is easily my favorite place in the house – the other close contender is the garden shed we completed overhauled (links below). I found myself visiting the garage for no obvious reason, but to admire how organized and clean it is. Can you blame me when this is the before? Does anyone else do it? Please let me know that I am not the only one crazy about a garage.

IMG_0049

IMG_0417

In the garage, we have –

Added more outlets to the workbench wall
Resurfaced the end wall
Created a paint storage
DIY-ed a ski rack and adding a mud-area
Replaced the weather stripping on garage door and dressed it up with decorative quarter rounds
Put up pegboards and tool organization 
Decided to demo the old garage ceiling

IMG_0419

IMG_0415

IMG_0418

The yard

Here are two short videos showing you the side and back yard. They are a couple minutes each.

This yard is certainly a big factor that sold us on the house. And we are glad that we made the right decision. Roxie and Charlie spent most of their awaking hours in the yard, running, playing, chasing squirrels, and sunbathing. Slav replaced the old storm door with a new one and added a doggy door, and I set up an automatic water station for the pups at the back. Keeping our pups content is an important priority for us. Do you know that up to 30% of millennials purchase proprieties for their pets? I can totally relate.

When it is too hot outside, you can find Roxie and Charlie lounging behind the shed. Oh the shed, it is probably the most finished in the house, because it is rebuilt with 99% new material. We demo-ed it to the studs, rebuilt the walls back up, painted it, trimmed around, organized garden tools inside, and added finishing touches to it after the roof replacement and extension. We also added compost bins to the back of the shed (here and here).

IMG_9810_cr

The biggest project we have done to the backyard is replacing the old back patio (here, here, here, and here). Along with the back patio build, we replaced the old window wells and laid down drainage rocks. We also updated backyard lighting here and there.

IMG_9776

The utility

Before we bought the ranch, I did not know how much the hidden cost of a property can be – utility upgrades, insulation, landscaping, all costs lots of $$ that we were not really prepared for. The reason that you have not seem many new furniture and finished on the main floor, is that we have spent every single penny on the new electrical panel, more outlets, a brand new furnace and central cooling system, the tankless water heater, a set of washer and dryer, which led to the expansion of our utility room in the basement. Along with the back patio and a new roof, we have pumped over $20000 into the ranch house in cash. But we knew it is well worth the warmth, comfort, and security we are enjoying in our little ranch. And the effort we put in to this house will be rewarded. When money is tight, we balance these big expenses with small upgrades here and there. But our love and attention for the ranch has never worn off a bit.

Here you have it, our six-month house tour and our first Christmas season in the ranch. We’ve been sipping eggnog under the tree and talk about our plans for the ranch house in 2018, which we will share with you on the blog soon. I hope you enjoy a peaceful and happy holiday at the comfort of your own home.  And thank you so much for supporting us during 2017!

Page 3 of 11

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén