the paper boy is one step ahead of us

I got home today and was poking around the outside of our little house, and noticed this:

Huh… I guess we’re getting papers (and junk mail) now. Well, there is an address on the house and I suppose that shows how finished the place is looking! Imagine getting papers before moving into your house. I’m sure we’re not the first ones to encounter this, but I was mildly amused by it today.

There was heaps of work done today as well. Our current entrance into the basement suite is no longer a trench! It felt strange to unlock the door and not be waist-level with the door-knob anymore. I almost struggled with it, it was so foreign. Even before the trench was there, it was a bizarre steep drop from the pathway that we had to have make-shift stairs on, so it’s a massive improvement now. The old pavers from the former garden patio were also used here, as with the backside of the laneway house.

Perhaps I should remind you what it looked like before:

Yep. Amazing.

In the front of my parents house, there has been some new additions. Trees have been moved (again) and one provides much needed privacy and a buffer against the dining room windows.

This is going to be so pretty with more garden around it!

I peeked in the window of our laneway house today and saw that the floor is now shiny. I’m not sure if I just didn’t notice it before, or if it was recently made that way – but it looks awesome! Again.. no pictures until I can go inside again on Monday.

Happy weekend everyone!

keep out!

 As you can see, our floor has been done! We’re going with a mid-grey matte finish polish on our concrete floor. No photos for now..We’ve got to wait a few days before we can go inside again. After that, appliances can come in, which is going to make things look pretty finished downstairs.

We’re at an estimated 3 weeks until completion now. It’s crazy to think we only started in December. It’s felt both long and short at the same time. These last 3 weeks will probably feel like the longest! So close now…

Since Monday, we’ve had a lot of ruckus around the place with sewer and water lines being connected by the city. The machinery they bring in makes you realize why it costs so much. Three days later, we’re all connected. We’re very happy that the city added more crews to take on the huge list of connections. Our timing couldn’t have been better, as they added crews soon after we were put on the waiting list. It was the difference between waiting for 3 weeks, or waiting for as long as 18, which would have been pretty depressing. It just reveals how much construction is going on in this city. Dunbar street alone is incredibly chopped up right now, with entire sewer lines being replaced, and curbs, sidewalks and road paving being redone. It’s a little crazy around here, and here we are adding to it with our own construction.

Moving on, my Mom has already been doing a lovely job prettying up the place. Plants are moving out of ‘temporary storage’ (a.k.a. pile of dirt on the boulevard/pots on my parents’ deck) and into the new garden beds set up by the landscapers.

These guys have done a quality job and we’ve been anxious to see their work on the front yard now that the sewer line is done! Yesterday we were at this daunting stage:

And today I came home from work to this:

And this!

My mom has always wanted a more winding path leading up to the house in the front, so this was the opportunity to do it. I think it’s going to look quite lovely when everything is planted and the fence is in.

Here are a few more shots of things recently finished or in progress around here:

The recently finished garden bed in front of our laneway house, ready for new plants under the little birch tree. Our address numbers are on now too!

Pavers just went in for our entrance to the front door. Looking pretty!

Why the colour difference in pavers? We wanted to reuse the old pavers from the former garden patio, both to save money, and not have to use more new materials. This side of the house will not really be seen much so it worked out well.

This maple was bought by my parents in memory of my late grandmother. It’s had a tough time during construction, and these trees don’t like to be moved. Unfortunately it was unavoidable. Hopefully it proves to be resilient and continues to grow.

That about sums things up for now. We’re so close I can taste it!

All is not lost

Despite most of the back yard being a mud pit as we wait for the moment of breaking ground, there are still some amazing fall colours and beautiful plants to enjoy when I come home from work and enter the garden with my bike. I took some photos today because this is the last time we’ll see this kind of pretty stuff for a while… Well, hopefully this winter will be kind to us!

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a house isn’t a home without a balcony

We’re pretty darn lucky to be able to have a nice sized (approx. 14.5 x 6.5 feet) balcony on the top floor of our laneway house. If we were buying an apartment elsewhere in the city, chances are we’d have a tiny, fake or non-existent outdoor space. It costs a little more to do something this large but since the garden between our house and my parent’s is going to be that much smaller, it feels important to have a bit more outdoor space of our own. We’d like to have part of the deck covered with a non permanent pergola style structure but we’ll have to see how much room we have… perhaps a nice tent will have to do. From what I understand of the building restrictions, we can’t have any permanent cover (ie: roof extention) over the balcony because that would make it possible to close it in and add square footage to the building. Still, with the amount of rain we get in Vancouver it seems wise to have a covered section so we can still enjoy sitting outdoors when it’s warm but rainy.. hopefully we can figure out something non-permanent that still looks nice.

We’re lucky to be surrounded by a few trees already, so that will make us feel like we’re more in nature. The image above is definitely inspiration for what we’d like to achieve, and is probably quite possible thanks to the existing tree and park directly across from us. The main difference is we can’t have a see-through railing due to privacy restrictions..(exposure to neighbours.. because we’re going to be sitting around nekkid out there?) but that’s alright – it gives us more privacy too (so we can sit around in the buff..yeah).Also, we won’t be able to have quite as a majestic door opening as in the image above. We do plan on having bi-fold doors though, since they can be pushed to one side and out of the way. It’ll be a standard double door sized opening.

Vertical gardens are a great way of adding greenery to a small space and have (rightfully) been gaining popularity over the last couple of years. We’ve got potential space on the walls of the house by the balcony door, but since we will have a fair bit of shade from the large (and still growing) maple tree outside we’ll really have to be careful with plant choices. I will write a post on good balcony plants for a partial sun balcony when we get to the spring time (with the help of my mom.) I also hope to grow some edibles – I love having fresh home grown food, even if it’s as simple as some lettuce and herbs. Here’s a pretty photo of some vertical gardening:

I also really love this idea found on Apartment Therapy. I’m a sucker for succulents.

Ok, what about seating? The best thing we’ve come up with for maximum space efficiency is a bench along the longest part of the balcony, perhaps wrapping around in the corner and along one short side to form an L shape, with a short table and a couple of extra chairs for snacking and drinking.  The balcony might be large enough to have two separate areas on either end, with a taller dinner-height table on the opposite end from the low table area. I can picture it being pretty cozy with a couple of little zones like that.

Keeping with my hunting/scavenging habits I’ve had as of late for all things industrial, worn and/or vintage, I spotted this discarded construction spool and instantly pictured it as a patio table. Yes, I picked it up (uh huh, it was bloody heavy) and crammed it in our sedan’s trunk and brought it home. As I rolled the 3.5 foot wide spool through the back gate, my mom naturally asked where the heck I would store it in our small abode, but I managed to fit it under the deck’s stairs. There’s always somewhere! I intend to dry it out and stain it so as to spruce up but also preserve it’s current worn look as much as possible. I can’t tell you how excited I was to score this “reclaimed” find. Maybe I’m weird. Ok, I know I am.

Finally, where will more plants go? Our designer at Smallworks has figured out a couple options for having planters on the other side of the glass railing, so that will really allow us to green up the edges of the balcony and surround ourselves with nature. I also really like these cuties, as an alternative to box planters or perhaps mixed in with them..

It’s still hard to imagine all this sometimes, but it helps to write things out like this. I hope it’s also helpful to those pondering their own designs or laneway houses. Happy to read any ideas or feedback any time!