It’s been nearly a year since our front yard project was completed. For the most part, it’s thrived (we did lose a few of the red flowering currants) but I had no idea just how much until I went back and looked at that reveal blog post.
For example, last year…
…and this year!
I’m still a little in awe that the plants are alive and doing so well (but that’s why we left the job to the pros, right?). We were elated with how it looked a year ago but it’s so much better now. I especially can’t get over the lavender in the planting strip. (The planting strip that was, y’know…paved in concrete when we bought the house.)
Ok, let’s do a few more…
It’s growing, it’s growing! (By the way, we purchased and planted the red Japanese Maple last month.)
Ok, one more set…
We watered throughout last summer (June-September) and then let Mother Nature do her thing. (One of the perks of living in the PNW, for sure.) Kyle’s done a little weeding, but nothing that required too much effort.
The ground cover is really starting to fill in between the pavers!
I was skeptical that we’d be able to do much with the narrow strip of dirt between the driveway and north side of the house. But, hello Lenten Rose and Sorrel. You look pretty amazing. Mark, our landscape architect, designed the plantings so that different things would be in bloom at different times. The roses bloomed a month or two ago and it was such a pleasant surprise since it was still rather wintry out.
The gas meter and bollard (so we don’t drive into it?) are slowly being shrouded in plant life. Yeeeessss.
Blue Star Creepin’.
One of my favorite areas is actually the south side yard. It’s turning into a lush little forest and I love it.
We’re really happy with the work that our friend Mark Garff (The Watershed Company) and JP Landscape Services did in the front yard and can’t wait for the big backyard transformation. I’ve been having visions of Adirondack chairs and a pitcher of Sangria. Come summer, come!
We’re crunching on a deadline here at Studio Zerbey, but I wanted to drop by to share some family photos that we had taken recently. Now, we have no shortage of photos of Avery (and Bailey, for that matter), but very few of us as a family. I wanted something more than the outstretched-arm iPhone photos, but different from a traditional portrait setting. We worked with Seattle photographer Dorothy Huynh and she was great! (We also took the opportunity to snap a few headshots to use for our Studio Zerbey website and various other things.)
For our outfits, I didn’t want to be all matchy-matchy but there needed to be some cohesiveness. I actually picked out Avery’s shirt first and then Kyle and I chose things that would compliment it.
Classic Bailey. This is what he does when he meets a new person.
We went through a lot of O’s trying to placate a wiggly little girl who was ready for a nap by the end of the session.
Kyle just started wearing glasses and I love them. (Back off ladies…)
In addition to our home, I also wanted an outdoor setting. These were taken at Discovery Park in Seattle. (We took a couple with Bailey, but could only coordinate a dog and baby for so long. No offense, Bails.)
Thank you Dorothy for taking these photos of our family. Now, time to actually print a few to hang in the house! Y’know, eventually.
We’ve been chipping away at our backyard since we bought the house nearly (gulp) 7 years ago! Although the space hasn’t seen a lot of love yet, it has been a very useful staging area for all of the other projects we’ve taken on. This year, we decided to bite the bullet and make the backyard our summer project. And yes, we’re going to hire the same company that did our front yard install last year. (Woohoo!)
But first, let’s rewind to 2006 and review what’s been tackled so far.
Mmmhmm, the infamous before photos. Although it needed a lot of help, we were actually thrilled to have such a big backyard in Seattle. The detached garage/carport was an added luxury.
In 2007, Kyle replaced the two gates that separate the front yard from the back. This was a project of necessity as the yard was not very dog-proof. Bailey’s not usually one to flee, but after a neighbor found him running (well, it’s more like a waddle run) down a somewhat busy street we knew we had to do something.
In 2008 we finished the job we started the previous year and replaced the fence on the east and south sides. (No more white pickets!) This involved completely ripping out the old fence and posts and starting from scratch, but oh what a difference it made!
In 2009 we focused on the exterior of the house, so once again the backyard was a staging area and spent most of the summer covered in painting tarps.
2010 was the biggest year for our house (it’s when we remodeled most of the main floor) so the backyard was woefully neglected.
In 2011 we started to get excited about the potential of the backyard. We jackhammered out most of the concrete, built a deck and Kyle welded up a steel planter box.
2012 brought our focus back to the front yard, but we did manage to build the side yard roof (which mostly keeps rain from coming under the basement door).
And this is what we’re looking at for May of 2013. Weed fest.
Kyle rolled out his welder a couple of weekends ago and got to work on the second steel planter box on the south side of the deck. The steel panels had been spread out on the driveway, developing a 2-year patina. Like a nice wine y’know.
We ended up using a lot of the “temporary” pea gravel that we put down around the driveway for the foundation drain project. So, that area is looking extra fantastic now. (And yeah, weed barrier is a joke.)
Ugh, that carport. That whole structure befuddles us. We can’t come up with a good temporary fix (that doesn’t involve a gigantic tarp) and are unsure what the long-term plan will be (we have about 4 different scenarios that we rotate between).
All that to say…well, we’ve made some good progress but the backyard still needs a lot of work. Here’s a glimpse at the current plan (we made some revisions and substitutions since our first go around last year).
The goal is to have everything complete before Avery’s first birthday. Can you say backyard party? BACKYARD PARTY!
Remember this post from a month ago where I showed you my clever solution for the fauxedenza “satellite” office? Well, I decided to change things up again.
Before Avery was mobile, it was easier to work at the dining room table while she was awake. Now, not so much and I decided that I needed my own space. Originally, we thought the basement room would be a guest/media space, but then we realized we actually liked having the TV on the main floor and built that fancy media bench. Although I plan on working from the basement for the foreseeable future, I don’t think it will be an office long-term. (We’d love to have our own commercial office space at some point.) Because of this, I didn’t want to do anything too permanent or spend too much money. So, a few hours and about $250 later…
The desk is from IKEA (Alex drawer unit, Linnmon top and two Borgfinn legs). I went in thinking I would get a longer Numerar kitchen counter (in a similar gray laminate finish) but they were out of stock of the size I needed and was concerned that I’d need an intermediate support to keep the counter from sagging. So, instead of claiming the entire wall I decided to focus on the corner of the room instead.
We also moved the sofa to the opposite wall. Even when it’s in the bed position, there’s still plenty of space to walk between. (I had a cute little assistant helping me out today.)
All of the pillows, linens and duvet fit inside the chaise lounge. We rolled up the foam topper and are storing it in the closet at the bottom of the stairs.
I also picked up the Kvissle paper tray. I’ve been impressed with this line’s design and quality (steel and cork) but this is the only piece I thought I’d actually use. (The “X” bookend is also IKEA; I realize it’s not doing anything functional right now but I still like it.)
Oh, the Raskog cart. I’ve been crushing on this cart since it came out but never had a good enough reason to get it. Ok, I still don’t have a great reason but it’s so lovely and I’m sure I’ll figure out something. (Maybe a mini bar cart? I mean, I do have a sofa in my office…) For now it’s holding a few random supplies and baby toys. (This room is also home to our surplus albums.)
The cork squares are from a local office supply store and I used those 3M Command strips to adhere them to the wall for easy removal. The photos are from Prinstagram and from a larger stack that I ordered before Christmas. (I love how they turned out and am thinking about making more for months 5-12 and using them as part of her first birthday party.)
We’re still planning on keeping all of our shared resources (like printers, office supplies, reference books, etc.) in the office loft which is nice because it will keep this “sometimes guest room” from getting too cluttered.
This room has never really had any “decor” to speak of (if you remember, this is the space that Kyle frantically finished the first week we were home from the hospital with Avery!). Not wanting to spend a lot of money or make difficult decisions about accessories I just relocated a few things from around the house. It works for now and I’m sure things will be added over time.
I’m still fussing with two separate laptops (I shamefully took the Dell out for these photos because it’s just so clunky and blah) but will likely transition to a docking station with a larger monitor and dedicated keyboard. I think the cork feels a little high now, but it should look more balanced once there’s a monitor on the desk. Also, I should mention that the Alex drawer unit is deep enough that it holds 11×17 paper – a major perk for storing half-size drawing sets!
Even though I’m in the basement, I can’t complain about the view. The landscaping that was installed last spring is filling in beautifully and Kyle just picked out and planted the Japanese Maple in the background. (We need to do a landscaping update, I know.)
So, a quick and relatively simple project but I’m really happy with how it turned out. Although Kyle and I probably have a more similar aesthetic than most couples, it was fun to put together a space that was just for me, without having to talk through every design decision.
Another impetus for getting this space together is that we decided to hire a part-time nanny. We love working from home and establishing our own work-life balance, but sometimes that means knowing when to bring in a little reinforcement. As Avery’s gotten older I’ve been feeling more pressure to juggle it all. I think extra help is going to make a big difference and will be a benefit to not only Kyle and me but to Avery as well.
Having someone here part-time will afford me a dedicated chunk of the day to focus on my projects without feeling like I’m missing out on time with Avery. Every parent is different and how you feel about your situation can change pre and post-baby. Nine months in, I know that I’m happiest when I’m a mom and an architect. Achieving that balance isn’t always easy and (as I’ve learned) it’s something that is constantly evolving. So, we’re trying to stay flexible while also doing what’s best for our family and our clients. Although we spend a lot of time and energy focusing on our daughter and our business, we are grateful to be where we’re at (something we remind ourselves of when we take a break at 4:00 to sit on the stoop and soak in the late afternoon sun). Maybe a perfect work-life balance is an elusive idea, but I feel like we’re getting closer.
Team Sayer has made it to the final challenge, the kitchen!
The two remaining families had double the money ($1000) for this challenge and also received a complete kitchen suite of energy-efficient appliances from Frigidaire.
At the Sayer’s home, the kitchen is the hub of the main living area, which presented some challenges with storage and how the space should “flow” into the surrounding areas. (Actually, this is something we had to think about early on during the office, dining and laundry challenges, all of which connect directly to the kitchen.) A few other issues and ideas:
+ Take advantage of the under stair space for storage and small appliances.
+ Provide upper storage without large, bulky cabinets.
+ Install a mirror to reflect light and make the space feel bigger.
+ Add better task lighting over the island and swap out the existing bulbs in the recessed can lights for more efficient options.
+ Figure out a way to visually tie the fridge to the rest of the space (there’s a small wing wall in between).
+ Install new base cabinets (especially essential since they repurposed them for the laundry room challenge!).
+ Install new counters at the main wall and add a functional backsplash.
+ Install a new sink and faucet.
+ Create a mobile storage unit between the range and wall.
Now, keep in mind that the two remaining families still only had 10 days to overhaul the most used room in the house. The results:
Scott and Nia brought in new base cabinets and countertop from IKEA and ditched the open shelves to visually de-clutter the space.
Upper storage was added back in the way of recessed shelves that Scott made and the back wall was painted a soft gray.
The never-really-finished stair landing was reworked to provide space for the microwave with storage below. They painted the island to give it a fresh look and DIYed the lighting above with a combination of salvaged theater lights and handmade fixtures.
The wing wall separating the fridge from the rest of the kitchen was trimmed out in steel to match the semi-steampunk aesthetic that Scott introduced in the adjacent rooms. The surface also provides a great spot for a chalkboard wall.
Even without appliances, $1000 is not a lot to work with in a kitchen but I think Scott and Nia did a great job! But what really matters of course is what the judges thought. The final challenge was divided into two webisodes; the first one focused on the design and process of the two kitchens:
And the final webisode reveals WHO WON!
Spoiler alert…keep scrolling…
Congratulations Sayer family!! Not only did you work really hard and come up with so many great ideas, but you proved that good design can be energy-efficient, affordable and attainable! Now, time to sit back and enjoy your home, your energy savings and that $5,000 prize money!
To learn more about the Re-Energized by Design challenge sponsored by Puget Sound Energy, check out the official website!