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All The Ups And Downs Of Emily Bowser’s Front Yard Renovation (Part 2!)

I’m baaaaaaack. Here with part 2! I left you with a cliffhanger (aka a place to take a break) with my garage doors being installed and absolutely hating everything about them. Picking up where we left off, at this point, it’s May 8th 2021. We started this journey on April 19th 2021. Within those short few weeks, my contractor Ron and his guys got a lot finished. They ripped up the whole front yard (because every inch was covered in concrete), removed and replaced the sewage line and the water line (BORING), ripped up the fence along the left side of the driveway, ripped out the insides of the stairs and patio (all rotted), had the whole area graded away from the house, brought plumbing and electrical to the front yard (outlet and faucet to the right of the gate for eventual irrigation for the green space and an additional outlet on the patio), installed a french drain along the front of the garage, poured a new driveway and walkway to gate and stairs, built a new wall where the fence was along the left side of the driveway and a half wall in an L shape to separate the driveway from the (eventual) green space, pulled the garage out to the depth of the stairs and then (finally) the garage doors went in. Dun dun dun…

I mean, no comment necessary I guess. Maybe I should be happy that the workmanship up to this point seemed good? I shouldn’t have been too surprised though. Going even further back, in May of 2018 we had our front gate/fence ripped out and replaced: 

Before, 2016 
After, 2018

The gate they installed in 2018 was good for like, 6 months? And then every 2 months we would have to have them come out and shave it down or move the hinges. It would constantly get stuck (one time resulting in our tenants being unable to leave the yard) or be too loose and bounce open. I’m not a door scientist but I believe the issue was that the frame of the gate was made with wood. Probbbbbably because I couldn’t afford anything else at the time and my contractor knew it so he didn’t give me an option. In 2020 at some point, my husband had had enough and got a recommendation from a friend of ours and had this new and improved gate made:

Photo was taken literally as I’m writing this.

Let this be a lesson: better quality is always worth it. 

Unless you’re broke and you just need a gate for 2 years while you save up.

Alas, It’s been there for 2 years and we have not had one issue. So when Ron slipped his slippery self into my life again, I was clear: the garage doors need to be just like the side gate. And I meant *like them* in that they need to be in a steel frame and also in the same style. Simple vertical wood planks, no fancy business. So now let me show you a side-by-side of what I asked for vs. what I got:

Ugh. Although I will say, the framing of the garage doors is great, it was the execution of, well, everything else. What I asked for isn’t hard so they actually seemed to go out of their way to make this as bad as it was. To me, if they had never added the border – that I did not ask for – it would have been fine. I *think* they added it because there is a steel frame on the inside of the door that follows the same lines of the border, around the outsides and through the middle. I think they thought it would be easier to attach the wood to the frame if they could drill straight through the wood into the frame and then cover their screw holes with the wood. They didn’t think through how the handles would work and were just like “F it”. I complained right away but even though they were able to do that huge list of things above in 2.5 weeks, the handles wouldn’t be remedied for MONTHS. Oh, we’ll come back to this saga. Spoiler: it gets worse before it gets better.

Back to May 8 2021…

This is the patio and stairs in the process of the rotted wood being dealt with. I wish I had more pictures but I had a job and missed a bit of the demo. The garage doors used to be in line with the house, but as you can see above, they have been pulled out to the width of the stairs. Before, the patio acted as a natural cover for the right side of the garage which we found helped with the flooding in that garage and helped protect the wood on that garage door better (because the overhand was covering it). The patio, or really just a landing to put your stuff down and unlock the front door, was also very skinny, just the width of the stairs (40”). So we decided to extend the patio out 2 feet to match the line of the planter you can see here.

And unfortunately no, that jasmine plant didn’t make it through all the upheaval, although not for lack of trying. Worry not, I planted a new one.

The next phase was stucco-ing the concrete walls, seen here:

And framing out the stairs and patio:

Photo out our front door:

Where we were in mid May 2021:

This process was painstakingly slow. The framing happened in mid-May. The first week of June they stucco-d, put in the bases of the railing, and waterproofed. 

First week of June:

the red substance is the waterproofing

I was out of town for a huge chunk of June/July visiting both of our families that we hadn’t seen in literal years. Probably why they didn’t feel a rush to get things done. It’s now July 12th. While we were gone they came by to “fix” garage gate 2021…y’all. Y’ALLLL. You’re going to die:

I l.i.t.e.r.a.l.l.y. thought I was being punked. HARK! They even reinforced the border I said I hated and wanted removed. All I did was text Ron that exact photo with zero explanation. Apparently, he came by the next day to look at it. More on that later…

Once we were back in town they installed a simple railing which I chose using this super-secret insider design tip: Legal, Least Offensive, and Cheapest. 

Cat tax for reading thus far.

Next, I started thinking about tile. I had a good amount of leftover tile from our back patio and made my husband pull it all out with me so I could see how much more we would have to order to do this space as well. For all you wondering, yes, we tiled the back patio. Last I checked in with you we had painted it temporarily until we could save up for the tile I wanted. No, there’s no formal reveal yet but you peep it on this Halloween post from last year, OR I’ll save you the extra click and you can see it on this BTS from that shoot:

The chaos represents my life. The tile is pretty though 🙂

V professional tile math happening here.

The waterproofing burned off in the hot hot summer heat, which is why it is no longer red in these photos, and they had to reapply. But back to the tile for a second because I know people want the down and dirty on it. It is the Cross 2 and Circle by Tierra y Fuego. It’s gorgeous and handcrafted. It is not cheap and it was not free. The cost to do both spaces was a little over $5,000 and if you include custom sanded grout, probably around $5,500. I drove to San Diego to pick it up because it saved me a bit on shipping. It was an easy process and they are a lovely small company. The tiling cost was included in the $60,000 budget for this space and when we talk back yard I’ll pull up the info on the labor and we’ll visit all of this again.

Note the red hue coming up off of that waterproofing

*insert big sigh here* We’re at the place in the story when I realize both how arduous and long this was (and still is. Spoiler alert: it’s been a year and we aren’t done folks!) and also feeling pretty proud that we have really scraped this ish together. We are both freelancers, we never know where money is going to come from or if it will come and every time we do something like this it’s a huge leap of faith that jobs will come from somewhere to pay for it and for our very expensive Los Angeles life. However, it’s also why sometimes these things get stretched out. Ron “fixed” the garage doors (we’ll call it good enough), I’ll save the close-up for Instastories today because I only have video of it, but you can see a little in this pulled-back photo. All Ron needed to finish what we had paid for was the tile and we simply couldn’t afford to buy the materials. Delta hit and so did our work. My husband lost a job he was supposed to be on for a month a couple of days before it was supposed to start, and production for me came to a screeching halt as companies tried to adapt to what the new variant meant for business.

We had spent $60,000 and our house was still kind of, well, depressing. Don’t get me wrong, Andrew was enjoying a little extra breathing room in our garage and it was nice to know that scary things (like an exploding sewage line) were taken care of, but we didn’t really want to be out there. For some reason having a big dirt patch screams to people “DUMP YOUR SH*T HERE” and we were constantly dealing with other people’s trash in our yard. It was uninspired, to say the least.

Summer turned into fall and the house remained the same. I remember one day, after another person had dumped their trash in our yard, I had a surge of energy to try to make the space the best it could be and to stop wallowing that it wasn’t “done”.

We spent a weekend removing the huge chunks of concrete and some leftover construction junk from the eventual green space and it’s funny, as soon as we did that people stopped dumping. It’s the Disneyland idea I guess: if you keep it clean, people won’t throw their trash on the ground. Even though the patio was a weird pinkish hue from the waterproofing wearing off, I put two of our CleverMade Tamarak chairs onto the patio and started enjoying the space for what it was, not what it would be. Not unlike when our backyard was dirt for 6 months because we couldn’t afford landscaping yet.

During this time is when I started thinking about what I wanted from the 16’x16’ tiny plot of dirt down by the driveway. I had finally hopped to it and started harvesting from our orange tree out back and leaving a crate of oranges with Target bags (from our many Target shoots in 2021) for the neighbors to take when they walked by. Andrew and I both really enjoyed how excited people would get (especially kids) and how fast they would go. There are only so many oranges we can eat and we were happy to share.

*Target did not approve of nor are they responsible for these oranges

I decided that between the backyard and the front patio, we really didn’t need any more hanging-out spots. I *may* have briefly considered hedging the thing in and putting a hot tub out there but alas, that sounds expensive (and a little weird?). We could just landscape it and make it pretty, but why not make it pretty AND edible? Maybe I was still inspired by the Ron Finley Masterclass I devoured in the summer of 2020 about the importance and reality of urban gardening. I mentioned in my backyard post that I thought maybe we can fit a small raised garden on the side of the back patio, but now sitting on the front patio looking down, I realized it made way more sense to put it out here and go bigger. The back patio would be better suited for more hanging out space (or mayyyybe a wood fired hot tub HIIII Goodland, slide into my DMs please). 

This is a lesson that sometimes taking your time on a renovation can help you make more thought-out decisions. That’s my reframe of this YEAR PLUS journey anyway. I’ll come back to the urban gardening thought. Let’s get back on chronological track…

My cleaned up but unfinished front yard, complete with Tamarack Chairs, a dirt patch, and my brand new (used) minivan! Look at the jasmine plant that just wants to live!

Around October 2021 I started to get concerned about our rainy season. The patio was meant to have tile on it so it wasn’t weather-appropriate as is. Yes, I know, it’s absolutely nuts that we started this journey in April 2021 and at this point we are in October 2021 and it. Had. Not. Rained. Isn’t that wild? 13 years in Los Angeles and it still surprises me. October 25th 2021 came the first real rain. Why do I know the exact date, well, wouldn’t you know, MY GARAGE FLOODED.

Are

You

F*cking

Kidding 

Me.

I think I went catatonic and didn’t speak or feel things for days. The drain that ran from the left side of my house to the street failed. Greatly. The water built up on the back side of the wall because the drain was not big enough to handle the water that we have learned, funnels from both of our neighbors directly into our yard. It was over 3 feet deep and needed to go somewhere. Water finds a way. It finds a way. I went into my side of the garage (left) and it sounded like a faucet was running. It found a crack and pushed its way through the side of the house, something that had not happened before. It’s hard to see water in photos, but we’ll post some videos on Insta-stories.

*insert even deeper sigh here* We dried out the garage, luckily it didn’t last longer than a day, and patched the side of the house:

After it flooded AGAIN AND WORSE a couple of months later, we drilled a couple of ugly holes in the wall itself so the water could go down the drain and through the holes. It’s not pretty but it gets the job done. Yep, not sure how to reframe that one. Luckily my side of the garage has seen a lot of flooding so everything is in bins but Andrew’s side is NOT so, yeah, that was super fun.

In January of 2022 (yes we are finally in 2022 at this point in the story) we made the decision to buy the tiles and I had done a bit of research and decided we should invest in painting our home with Tex-Cote paint. We had painted when we moved in in January of 2017 and we had major issues with cracking on both houses. Apparently, most houses need to be painted every 5-7 years anyway (I had no idea) but we had patched and painted the house a number of times and the cracks just kept coming. I started looking into it because the paint job from just a few months prior was already having issues of chipping and cracking. Tex-Cote is supposed to help with that, along with the apparently proven claim that it saves energy and reduces cooling costs. If that’s true, it would be great since our back house is black and pretty much a sun magnet. I was most taken with the idea that I would never need to paint my house again and the lifetime guarantee that if we did have a problem they would come out and fix it free of charge. We used CAT Exteriors and had a good experience. It was $22,000 (both houses plus all exterior stucco walls) and they have financing options, which we are doing, obvs. We actually don’t even start paying on it until November 2022. The original plan was to pay it off when we refinance. With interest rates going up, it may not be worth it since the interest rate on it is 5.99%. We’ll see where mortgage rates land when we are ready. Side note: our mortgage rate is ok, but we pay mortgage insurance because of how little we put down, which is the main reason we would refinance. You can read about all our boring mortgage stuff here if buying a house for only $22,000 down interests you (get it?).

So next I picked up the aforementioned tile and the custom grout was delivered in early February, nearly 10 months after we started this journey. Tiling started right away…

View out the living room window

Yes, the railing does come into our window view, unfortunately. “Safety” and “codes” ya know?? My hope and prayer is that the new jasmine plant wants to live as much as the last one and climbs all over the railing eventually. This is the main reason why I didn’t care too much about the style of the railing, I’m hoping it gets more or less completely covered in the next couple of years. You will notice this is where we said goodbye to our old jasmine plant. It had some damage from all the construction, my landscape guy said it was probably because some of the branches were bent when at different times it had to be pulled away from the house. Also, I wanted the painters to be able to get this spot easily. 

For context, how much of the railing we see from our couch. Also, DAFFY.

Unfortunately, I had a death in the family and flew to Maryland last minute to be with loved ones, so I completely missed the paint transformation. Andrew had to stay behind to oversee all of that because it was quite a production. The prep to the finished product can take about a month (hence the price tag). I’m not educated on it enough to give you a full lesson on how Tex-Cote works but I do know it requires an intense blasting of your house to expose (and worsen) any cracks, so they can get in there and deeply repair the weaknesses. Then there are multiple layers of product to paint on, and the end result (if you could look at it apart from the house) is a thick, malleable substance. It’s as if you took 10 layers of gaff tape and stuck them to each other. The bendable quality is what allows the house to move a little without causing cracks. Only the last layer is the color of your house. 

One of the cracks on the back patio after being exposed even deeper
The back house mid-process before becoming black again

The “after” of the paint probably isn’t going to look as amazing as it feels because we didn’t do anything drastic but believe me, it’s so much better. Cracks are gone and everything looks so smooth. Another great thing about the paint that I’ve learned is that it is WAY easier to clean. For example, if a bird poops down the side of your white house, you just have to spray it with a hose. Ready for the “afters”?

Peep Daffy 🙂

Tile! At last! Just a little sneaky peek before the furniture and plants are added. I hope to add a tall planter on the far end with plants that create a privacy wall so it doesn’t feel like we’re trying to look over our neighbor’s fence and into their yard. It’s a slim space, from the house to the inside of the railing is only 5 feet wide but the whole space is 17 feet long. It’s been a challenge to figure out furniture for sure, but we’ll come back to that at a later date. 

She’s still a sillylooking girl, but she’s mine. The crack that just would not give up, where the new wall on the right (gate side) connects with the house, is gone and has not come back. All of my doors open and close and lock with ease. I don’t worry every time I flush my toilet. The garage is yet to flood again (still suspicious) and we have a lovely patio on which to watch the sunset. It’s hard to tell from this angle but there is a gate that closes at the top of the steps that we just need to add something to so Daffy can’t walk right through. When we do, we can sit out here with her and not worry about her wandering off. Puck does whatever he wants and would jump right over it but Daffy, not so much. She’s can’t do such dextrous things.

This is a good place to pause. I thought I would get to the garden but that actually doesn’t happen for a couple of months (and is still in process). So up next: we will talk about my 16’x16’ box, what I plan to do to cover the backside of my neighbor’s fence, how my newly planted jasmine is doing, a cheaper way to do irrigation, what it’s like to shovel literal TONS of gravel in 100-degree heat, and lots and lots of garden goodness with Eden of Down to Farm.

I’ll leave you with this photo of the box right after we had soil added and did some boring drainage stuff that we’ll talk about next time. 

To be continued…

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JenMS
2 months ago

It… flooded… again!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That is SO shitty.
Thanks for keeping us updated!

JenMS
2 months ago

Also (in Oregon at least) it’s definitely illegal for your neighbors to have their water divert to your property. They need to take care of their own stormwater drainage. I’m not sure what the stormwater laws in California are, but it might be worth looking into… I don’t know… Judge Judy or something??? (not sure how one deals with laws like that)

Jessica
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

This is a tricky one, and cheaper to resolve now on their end than if you would need to take them to court in the future due to the damage. Is there some mechanism where you let your municipality know and then they can deal with your neighbors?

Tarynkay
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

I highly recommend just talking to them about it in a kind way, especially if you have a good relationship with them. They really might not even know that this is happening. I would at least give them a chance to respond. Maybe you can all work together to fix the problem. Of course if they are elderly or due to other circumstances really just unable to do anything about it, I agree, I wouldn’t burden them either.

We have been recently dealing with drainage issues on both sides. Our uphill neighbor was causing problems on one side and we were in turn unknowingly causing problems for our downhill neighbors. I’m so glad that our downhill neighbors were comfortable coming to us about this so that we could fix it. I would feel awful if they didn’t think they could tell us. Getting an official notice would be so much more awkward than then coming to us directly and giving us a chance to fix it.

janelle
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

I agree and going to court is the last thing you should do if you can avoid feel, bringing someone to court isn’t the best way to foster community. I’ve never had issues just talking to neighbors and trying to figure out what can be done, I also want to point out to other people that we don’t know other peoples financial situations and being kind is free.

christina
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

But, what happens if it happens again?

SARAH
2 months ago
Reply to  JenMS

It’s definitely not allowed.

JenMS
2 months ago

ALSO I came back to say that this will be my last comment for a while. I just read yesterday’s blog post where Emily H. used the phrase “pull the trigger” YET AGAIN and I’m literally shaking. I’m so bummed that I can’t keep reading EHD because I am *actually triggered* right now. We just had a lockdown at the school where I teach a few days ago. I come here to enjoy all of y’all’s fantastic writing, creativity, and personalities, and I’m going to miss EHD a lot, but it’s not a safe space for me right now. 🙁

Susan
2 months ago
Reply to  JenMS

I don’t mean to be insensitive but I highly recommend therapy to work through the triggering you are experiencing. Your world that is “safe” on line or in person is going to become tiny, as mine did, if you have to leave every time someone uses a catch phrase that has been in use our whole lives.

Amy
2 months ago
Reply to  Susan

I disagree. Words matter. At some point a few years ago, I started paying attention to the number of violent catch-phrases we all use all the time. It’s shocking and disturbing. “Pulling the trigger” on a new project is one of them. “Shoot me an email” is another. Or how about, “Hit me with your new idea”? These are a few if the ways that we normalize violence in our daily lives. And we don’t have to do it anymore. We can stop. I’m begging you: Please. Stop. Of course this is not the only thing needed to reduce violence. But it is one thing we can all do, starting now.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Amy

Yes.
Change takes effort, but it’s worth the effort.

janelle
2 months ago
Reply to  Amy

Words matter but but therapy will undoubtedly tell you that your triggers are not other people’s responsibility. Empathy in forum spaces is important but so is not expecting others to cater to you.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  janelle

Would you say the same thing if this wording discussion was about the colour of someone’s skin, sexuality, gender, or other area where words matter?

janelle
2 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

I would look at context??? iIke context matters hugely in discussion and obviously if its a hateful discussion that uses racial terminology vs something innocuous I think I could use critical thinking to make a decision.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Susan

Therapy can help, yes.
However, I stand to be cpunted tgat cganging from ysing “pull the trigger” is as easy as changing from saying “master suite” to primary suite.
I don’t hink it’s a lot to ask.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Susan

But, there are sooo many words that are no longer appropriate that have literally ‘suddenly’ been changed over the last few years.
Examples include references to domestic abuse, POC, “master” anything, “me too” movement, LGBTQI+….the list goes on.
It begs the question WHY some people are so vehemntly defensive of the term being okay regardless of the rampant, constant, killing of innocent people and children in the US.
As US politicians have stated ‘it ONLY happens in the US’.
Maybe it’s time to change the language as a starting point? 🧐 Go figure.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

Many readers gave commrnted and asked for this term to not be used over the last couple of months, but it keeps being published here.
Yesterday in Emily’s post and today in yours.
I hugely respect your response. Kudos.

AzureSongLA
2 months ago
Reply to  JenMS

A trigger that can be pulled has a number of useful applications outside of a gun. (Ask an engineer.) Similarly, things that shoot out include things that aren’t bullets (e.g., water shooting from a fountain). Hitting doesn’t always mean harm to a person (hit the buzzer if you know the right answer). Are we going to get rid of kick, slam, punch, and crush because they all could be used to describe violence against a person? I’m all for updating problematic language, but these terms have so many non-harmful contexts. There are many good ways to come together to reduce gun violence. IMO, rallying people against an interior designer’s blog post is not one of them.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  AzureSongLA

“Water shooting” is analgpus to guns.
“slam, punch…” are onomatopoeic, meaningthey have to do with a sound. Shoot is notthe sound of something.
It. Is. Not. That. Simple.

AzureSongLA
2 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

shoot (n.1)
“young branch of a tree or plant,” mid-15c., from shoot (v.). Also “heavy, sudden rush of water” (1610s); “artificial channel for water running down” (1707); “conduit for coal, etc.” (1844). https://www.etymonline.com/word/shoot. There are lots of non-violent uses of these terms.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  AzureSongLA

MODERN USE OF THE TERM “SHOOT”:
shoot verb

Synonyms & Antonyms of shoot 

1. to cause (a projectile) to be driven forward with forceBB guns shoot small round metal pellets

Synonyms for shoot

blast, discharge, fire, loose, squeeze off

Words Related to shoot

launch, projectblaze (at), snipe (at)cast, catapult, fling, heave, hurl, hurtle, lob, pelt, pitch, sling, throw, toss

2. to cause a weapon to release a missile with great forcesoldiers train extensively to learn to shoot accurately and quickly

Synonyms for shoot

blast, discharge, fire

Words Related to shoot

blaze, pepperplink, potshot, snipe

3to strike with a missile from a gunhunters can shoot deer only during the legally specified open season

Synonyms for shoot

drill, gun, plug, pop

Words Related to shoot

blow away, bring down, drop, pick off, shoot downblaze, pepper, potshot, snipe (at)blast (at), fire (at)pistol, shotgunmachine-gun, tommy-guncroak [slang], destroy, dispatch, do in, fell, ice [slang], kill, slayannihilate, blot out, butcher, decimate, massacre, slaughter, wipe out

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  AzureSongLA

Not comparable in the MODERN usage context of the word.
Google a little further.

Kimberly
2 months ago
Reply to  JenMS

Couldn’t agree more with JenMS. Many commenters multiple times on many posts have asked Emily H. to please please please stop using this phrase. Those comments went ignored. I used to read here every day; now I check in about twice a month because it’s hurtful and our polite requests went ignored so many times.

Melissa
2 months ago
Reply to  JenMS

I understand where you are coming from; however, having been a long time reader it is clear to me that Emily H. has gone out of her way to not bring “gun culture” into her life. I remember a post she did when her children were much younger explaining she did not allow them to use water guns.

I think like a previous commenter said “trigger” is a word that while is associated with a gun is not synonymous. ✌🏻

Jill J
2 months ago

Door scientist… oh man, that made me chuckle! Thank you for that.

Mara
2 months ago

Just dropping by to thank you for this. I’m also working through the process of renovating a fixer upper on a tight budget, and have been really struggling with the chunks of time where things look worse before they get better. Reading about someone else struggling with that is so helpful!

Mary
2 months ago
Reply to  Mara

Mara, I’m in the same boat. Currently my house looks like the worst one on the block.

Alice
2 months ago

Really great to read about the experiences of someone paying for their own renovation on a real world budget. Your house is looking great and I’m looking forward to reading more about it in the future.

Kate
2 months ago
Reply to  Alice

Hands down the best writer on this blog.
So relatable, so realistic; real problems, a real budget, no freebies and sponsors and promoting products to get freebies…how completely readable and relatable. Can’t wait for your next installment!

Marcella
2 months ago

I’m sorry this has taken so long… but the saga definitely keeps us entertained 😂 thank you for the literal laugh out loud when seeing the picture of the “fixed” garage door. I can’t. my dad used to be a contractor and as much as I hated doing things growing up (like a family event of installing a fence over 4th of July weekend…. Or a Christmas break when we replaced our entire roof…) I’m glad he at least does things right! Excited to see the garden updates!!! May it soon become a butterfly habitat 😂

Amanda
2 months ago

I am *living* for your home saga Emily. And it’s so satisfying to watch the (albeit, quite slow) transformation, knowing that you’re doing things RIGHT to avoid bigger issues later on. SO SATISFYING. And it looks incredible.

mouseface
2 months ago

Love this! Such a cute kitty and so relatable as I fix my busted home…FYI A non invasive honeysuckle in a container on the end of the terrace will grow over the fence FAST, smell heavenly, support pollinators and and meet the jasmine FYI. it will attract hummingbirds who are kinda jerky but cute…what do you think about a rainwater barrel catchment system? Does at least 4 things: grabs all that crazy water , saves it from running down the drain , irrigates the garden, makes blog DIY content, and depending on your state could get you a tax break or a rebate !
https://www.gardengatemagazine.com/articles/web-extras/all/52droughttolerant/
https://www.lacitysan.org/san/faces/home look up rainwater,
https://www.harvesth2o.com/incentives.shtml
I was JUST looking at building one for myself…

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  mouseface

Mouseface, I love your suggestions!

Michelle
2 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Ditto. Also “mouse face” is most adorable name I’ve ever seen.

Suzanne
2 months ago
Reply to  mouseface

The rainwater barrel is a great idea. My friend put one in last winter and loves having the extra water to keep potted plants alive here in drought stricken California. I’m planning to get it done before the rains that (hopefully) start in late fall.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

It’ll grow!
I’m in Western Australia and our climate is virtually the same.
It goes nuts! Loves the heat.

k
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

yes! it grows at our house in Costa Mesa and several playgrounds I regularly visit in orange county.

2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

It will grow. There’s tons of honeysuckle in Temecula which is a pretty hot and inhospitable climate for plants. It will smell amazing!

Paula
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

I grew up in Culver City and honeysuckle was the plant that grew over our chainlink fence and provided privacy. It grew like a weed with little maintenance.

Shannon L
2 months ago
Reply to  mouseface

Maybe with the drier climate in California it is different, but I can only imagine how much of a breeding ground barrels of standing water would be in Houston…

Shannon L
2 months ago
Reply to  Shannon L

for mosquitoes, i mean. Oops!

nomadicliz
2 months ago
Reply to  Shannon L

rainbarrels can be breeding grounds for larva, but it’s very easy to treat regularly with mosquito “dunks” that contain a type of bacterium which kill the larva (specific to mosquitos) and prevent mosquitos from completing their life cycle in the barrel- the floats are non toxic for humans, approved for organic gardening, and considered safe for use in animal troughs and fish habitats. Rain barrels are such a good idea – both for reducing the use of potable water in irrigation and also for slowing down water entry into the stormwater system, hopefully reducing flooding- important in Houston as well as L.A.!
Emily- it sounds as though you have big enough dumps that you could think about doing a linked system if you have room for it, to store more than one barrel’s worth at a time and make room for additional downpours.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago

“Dun dun dun…”!!! That, is an understatement! 💥
Oh, Bowser, I really feel for ya!
This is hard.
I’m doing battle with a tuck pointer who did shoddy work and I’ve just batt,ed my roofer for a leak in my NEW roof. This is harrrd sh*t!!!

Please remember to pivot and use something more appropriate than “pull the trigger.”
So many of us have pointed out how it can cause upset given the gun violence in the US and it’s a simple fix.

You have such a great vision for tge “box” and thd space.
Trust ypur instincts and know that it will (eventually) be gorgeous and flood-free, just like the rest of ypur amazing property.
Thanks for the cute kitty pics.😻😻

Karen
2 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Isn’t “battle” a pretty violent word? Given your agreement with the above comment about violent language in general, I would think you would prefer to use a different word.

Angela
2 months ago
Reply to  Karen

Good point! Why is “doing battle” okay when there are so many people affected by war right now? Because…we know Rusty’s intention is a good one and she is not, in fact, sending tactical drones over her roofer’s house. Same here with “pulling the trigger.”

I’m as pro-gun control as anyone, but hate to see any energy lost on words that have no mal intent when the real battle (yup, battle!) is in our courts and our Congress. (Also…how many of us use words like “hysterical”, “bugger”, “paddy wagon” or “long time no see” ? All problematic origins.)

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Angela

We don’t have a gun problem in Australia, with kids beingkilled just coz they’re at school.
I’m supporting the need for awareness snd encouragement for us to evolve our wordingbas times change.

janelle
2 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Your’e being very glib about what are national tragedies. Believe me when I say that the vast majority of americans are in favor of long lasting gun control and assault rifle bans. We have a government in place that is in the interest of serving corporations and PACS instead of the people and a senator or representative that represents a fraction of the US population is enough to derail any meaningful legislation.
Throwing the deaths of children in our faces is the worst kind of behavior.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Karen

The particular phrase in question is “pull the trigger.”
The point is needless deaths caused by pulling triggers.
Just as “master” as in bedroom, is pertaiing to slavery.
It’s more nuanced.
I have not commented on any other word.

kiki
2 months ago

Thank you for taking us on the roller coaster of a journey!! It’s looking SO GOOD, can’t wait to see how you’ll landscape it! Have you thought about putting an awning back over the door? Maybe a fabric one?

kiki
2 months ago
Reply to  kiki

also. YOUR CAT IS THE BEST, so so cute!!

Nicolettte
2 months ago

I love this so much! I too bought a total fixer upper and it was the ugliest on the block for so long. The house is done, a new driveway poured but the yard is still just all dirt. It is so funny to me because so many people who walk by tell me how cute the house is and what a great job we have done. In my mind there is still so much to do, I mean the entire lot is nothing but dirt! But I guess I need to remember how far we have come. I 1000% support a garden and/or fruit trees in the front yard.

Nora
2 months ago

Ughhh I love this renovation saga! You really get into the nitty-gritty small decisions you made and how they turned out, and that is just as fun to read as the aspirational design stuff. Can’t wait to read about the front garden!

priscilla
2 months ago

I am weeping for you. I just can’t with this. I’m WEEPING.

Dana
2 months ago

Your posts are my FAVORITE. We bought a house in Feb that isn’t a fixer upper per se, but needs a lot of updates and character added (the large backyard is literally just dirt and some overgrown trees with falling-down fences). Right now almost everything outside our house is ugly – parking one of the cars on the front lawn, rotting fences, half-built fences, and, after this past weekend, a huge dirt hole because my husband suddenly decided that we needed to build a patio. We live in a beautiful town and a beautiful neighborhood and sometimes I feel like we’re the eyesore. Oh, and did I mention that we are on a close to zero budget?? I like knowing that I’m not alone!!

2 months ago

GOODLAND here (wave) sliding into your dms. We’re so flattered you thought of our wood burning hot tub for this project. Drop us a line – craig@hellogoodland.com

Sarah
2 months ago
Reply to  Craig

OMG goodland showed up!!! With a great connect. Now I’m off to google them and wood burning hot tubs as I think my SO would go gaga. People need to upvote goodland’s comment so Emily B. sees it.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Craig

Whoo hoo! Yaaay! 😀

Paula
2 months ago

I love this whole story. It has ALL the emotions. I really like how the house looks, and I love love LOVE the tile you chose. My only tiny quibble is I don’t like the white railings, but that’s just my personal problem — feel free to ignore me.

Paula
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

I’m sure they’ll be spectacular when the jasmine matures!

SARAH
2 months ago

Jasmine is my fave but if you want something that grows like wild and is edible, passion fruit! The vines and flowers are beautiful! And you get loads of passion fruit in March and October

Kj
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily Bowser

I had a passiflora incarnata vine on a trellis that was part of the the “wall” on a patio. It is the host plant for gulf fritillary (good news: tons of orange butterflies/bad news: the orange caterpillars with black spikes will eat the plant to a nub). I double-planted the trellis with an evergreen carolina jessamine to provide coverage on the trellis.

Kj
2 months ago
Reply to  Kj
SarahT
2 months ago

Your posts are always RIVETING! What a rollercoaster of a home journey. Good luck with the green space!

Mindy
2 months ago

Yes! Love these updates. I love to hear about the farm on a fantasy living level where I can pretend for awhile that I can relate to all the money being thrown around, but your updates are relatable to my actual life. I appreciate your voice and appreciate your struggles because they are so typical of average homeowners renovating. I mean I dont love that youve struggled, but I feel it so hard!

Amy Elizabeth Jones
2 months ago

Looks so good now! I want to buy that tile for our back deck now.

Barbra
2 months ago

Hi Emily. You mentioned your garage flooded – we had a similar issue but not as bad as yours. We too had a French drain installed but noticed our garage door had a bad seal at the bottom of it allowing some water to get in the garage. My husband swapped out the seal with a new one and made sure the seal had good contact with the ground/cement when closed. You’re garage doors are quite charming but I don’t see a seal under those doors. This still leaves opportunity for water to get in your garage even with the French drain. You may want to think about investing in new garage doors with a proper seal. Also adding gutters might help. Thank you for sharing your wild stories, I feel I’m not alone. I hope the best for you and your husband.

Cris S.
2 months ago
Reply to  Barbra

Yes to both of these. We had a ‘seal’ on the bottom of the garage doors, but what really helped was adding a pad/line of sealant (I don’t remember – something we bought from Home Depot or Amazon that is made to fit under garage doors and meet up with the seal that is on the bottom of the door) to the ground under the door helped a lot in keeping out mice, water, etc. And the lack of gutters looks weird to a Chicagoan’s eye. They protect your home and foundation and direct the water away or into rain barrels or storm drains (depending on your municipality). Honestly, you may have to go with another company like the one that did your exterior paint – a specialist that really knows how to do the work, will return to make adjustments as needed, and that provides a lifetime warranty. For context, random basement water fixers made proposals anywhere from $6000 – $10000 to fix specific/individual basement water issues. The “we’ll keep coming back to fix stuff and give you a life time guarantee” companies were $22000 – $30000.

Amy E Hagan
2 months ago

So refreshing to hear about projects without million dollar budgets at a time when most of us are dealing with real budgets and inflation. The house looks amazing!

Maria
2 months ago

Absolutely loved this post! I am so sorry it flooded and for the long arduous timeline, but it is looking amazing, love the arched gate, the tile, the cool texcote paint, I’ve just learned so much in one post! Can’t wait to see what you do with the 16×16 foot raised bed planter. Also how wonderful that you put out the oranges!

Ev
2 months ago

PS you can have property mortgage removed if your house appraises high enough for your loan to value to reduce down to 75-78% (depending on the improvements). Definitely worth asking your lender for the details!

Ev
2 months ago
Reply to  Ev

*mortgage insurance!

Jen A.
2 months ago

You are a great writer and stylist and I really enjoy reading these updates and following your beautiful renovations. It is all looking gorgeous. Also enjoy seeing the kitties!

Emily N
2 months ago

Thank you for sharing a new update! I love reading your posts. So sorry to hear that it flooded again – hopefully your fix will last! I’m excited to hear about your plans for edible landscaping and a rain barrel system, that’s exactly what I want to do too!!

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