Friday, January 28, 2011

Xeriscape Idea Gathering

This year is going to be a year filled with landscaping projects. Our entire landscape needs to be started over from scratch. Pretty much everything was dead when we moved into the house and what was still living was poorly placed or too large for the space it had been planted.

When you think of San Diego, California you may think of it as a tropical place with sandy beaches and palm trees but in reality San Diego is a desert. California has been facing serious water shortages for many years now. Our water rates keep rising and there are water cutbacks in effect. Every resident of San Diego is only allowed to water their landscaping on certain days at a restricted amount of time to help conserve water. The result is often sad, brown looking lawns in the summertime. Before we even became homeowners I knew I did not want to have a front lawn. The thought of being out there every weekend mowing, edging, fighting the weeds that always overtake laws, fertilizing, etc... just doesn't appeal to me. Some people may like the look of a front lawn and that's fine, it's a personal choice. For me though a nice mixture of shrubs, trees, rocks and flowering/non-flowering plants is far more interesting than a green (or brown) lawn, and if done properly, less work! I've told several people I plan to do a xeriscape front yard and immediately they think this means I'm going to plant some cactus with some rocks sprinkled around(there's nothing wrong with this either, I love cactus) but there is such a huge variety of plants that needs very little water, you can have a really lush garden and save yourself a lot of money in water costs not to mention your helping the environment and you can spend your weekends doing far more enjoyable activities other than mowing the lawn.

A few weeks ago I walked around one of my favorite neighborhoods in San Diego, North Park. This area has a lot of cute historical craftsman houses. I love walking though this area and looking at all the great detail of these wonderful houses! A lot have started ripping out their front yards and replacing them with drought tolerant plants. I took a lot of photos for my idea book and I thought I would share some of my favorites!

 This is one of the few modern houses in this area. I love how they designed the concrete walkway and all the plants are drought tolerant plants. I think the soft plants are a nice contrast to the hard edges of the modern house and pathway. It makes this house not stick out so much next to all the old Craftsman houses and adds a lot of interest to the yard.

I just love this cute little bungalow! I want their screen door for our house! So many interesting things going on in this yard! I like that none of the plants are so overgrown or tall that it covers up the house or windows. Houses from the 1920's have such cute windows I never understand why people want to cover them up with huge plants. There is a lot of rosemary used, succulents, trees, grasses, rocks, it all gives the yard a lot of color and texture.

I find this mixture of succulents, rosemary and rocks to be so much more interesting than most of the dead grass curbsides normally seen in front of houses. And as an added bonus I'm sure these people don't have all the neighborhood dogs doing their business in their yard.

We plan on doing something similar to this in our front yard so when I saw this I had to shoot a photo for my idea book! I love the dry stacked stone wall with a assortment of low lying agave and other plantings in front. I do wonder though if those agave are going to get a lot bigger, I certainly hope not because it looks good the way it is now.

Not only does rosemary smell and taste good it has this beautiful purple flower! Flowers in January, what's not to love about that? Also, it's extremely drought tolerant! Just please don't cut into a square hedge, it looks so much better when you just let it be!

Look at this beautiful red and green sticks of fire! There is so much color in this landscape although I do wish it were a little fuller. If planting sticks of fire be careful because handling this plant can cause skin irritation.

I really like this soft, almost feathery looking tree, anyone know the name of it? Two different varieties of agave flank the sidewalk and more sticks of fire in the background.

The walkway to this house is similar to the modern house above. I think off setting the stones from each other adds a little more interest than a straight walkway. The low lying plants next to the sidewalk soften the edges and in my opinion look great! This along with the cute patio and door make this house so inviting!

Another really nicely done xeriscape! More flowers in January! 

Stone is a really great mulch! Although it doesn't add organic matter to your soil like wood mulch does it doesn't need to be replaced like wood mulch and it helps retain moisture in soil and helps block out weeds. It also comes in a variety of colors and sizes!

This looks so natural, like something you would come across while hiking. It reminds me of Japanese gardens but with drought tolerant plants.

 I need to find out the name of this plant! The little white flowers are so pretty, I bet this plant flowers all the rest of the winter and into spring.

I use to live right up the street from this house when I was still living in a apartment. I use to walk by all the time and admire the landscaping. This is a perfect example of how you can still have grass in your front yard but minimize it and offset water usage by mixing in drought tolerant plants. There are tropical plants mixed in as well so this landscape most likely uses more water than the previous houses but I'm sure it's a lot less than having it all be lawn. Look at the curbside landscaping, wonderful!

This mixture of succulents in front of that bright adobe color is just wonderful! And more flowers!

I've always thought that large agave plant in the front corner was so perfectly placed!

I can't wait to get started on our landscaping but first I have to dig out our yard full of bermuda grass ugh.

For those living in San Diego, the city is currently offering rebates to those that replace their living lawns with drought tolerant plants. There are also other landscape related rebates. Go here for more information

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Featured on Etsy Front Page!

Yesterday my grey Stag Deer pillow cover was featured on the Etsy front page! To many this may not seem like much but in the Etsy world it's really exciting! Here is a screen shot!

Here is a close up of the item which can be purchased in my Etsy shop

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Our home featured on Apartment Therapy!

Great news! Last Friday our living room was featured on Apartment Therapy! See it here

FindersKeepers Designs at California Center for the Arts, Escondido!

A few of my pillows will be for sale in the museum shop at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido during their newest exhibit starting February 11, 2011 - April. For more information about the upcoming exhibit check the museums website here

Here are a few of the pillows that will be available for purchase:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Year 1, A Look Back - House Exterior

The past couple of weeks I've been writing about all the house renovation projects we have completed in 2010 as a way to look back and see how much we have progressed. It seems we are always looking ahead at what still needs to be done so it's great to take a few moments and remember just how much we have truly accomplished in such a short time. In November we celebrated one year of owning our first home! There have been many, many weekends of hard work. I believe though that where we have spent at least 75% of our time so far has been painting and repairing the exterior of the house.

We purchased our house through a short sale. If you don't know what a short sale is it's anything but a SHORT sale. 9 months it took, of waiting, placing offers on other houses but always loosing out to someone with a bigger offer, more waiting until finally the word came that the short sale had gone through! Well 9 months of nobody living in the house had taken it's toll on the landscaping. When we moved in most of the landscaping was dead. What was left was planted in bad locations and with no thought or design at all. In order to paint the house and eventually create a more cohesive and drought tolerant landscape we have pretty much ripped everything out. In the after photos you are going to see a pretty sad landscape but that will hopefully be changing soon! 2011 is going to be filled with many many weekends of landscaping projects, this is when we will really see the house come together, I can't wait!

So now for the before photos:

 So this is what the house looked like when it was put on the market. The landscape was living because there were renters living there taking care of it. The house was white with a light blue trim that was cracking and falling off of all the windows.

This is what the landscaping looked like when we moved in after 9 months of nobody living in the house and watering the landscaping.

All the windows were in really bad condition. There were layers and layers of cracked and peeling paint. Also, somebody had used caulk or something to fill holes in the windows and it had seeped through the paint leaving dark blue spots.

We had to strip ALL the windows and get them down to bare wood. This took several months and was not a fun job at all! We also repaired several of the broken sash cords which is the rope that makes these old windows go up and down.

All the hard work really paid off though! We went with a sage green color for the house exterior, a burgundy and cream for the trim.

The stairs use to be painted blue as well as the railings. The room to the right of the stairs is the kitchen. The hope is that we will eventually move this room out a little to make our tiny kitchen larger. Then we will add a large wood porch to the front. So for now I just painted over the blue stairs but this will hopefully just be a temporary fix.

Painting the exterior of your house is hard, hard work. If you have the money to pay a professional I highly recommend it! Also, don't skimp on the paint. Pay the extra money for good quality paint. You don't want to be out there doing it all over again in a few years. It's VERY time consuming and not cheap.

-Removed overgrown and dead plants.
- Stripped and painted all windows
- Repaired glazing on windows (the stuff that holds the glass in the window frame).
- Painted entire house exterior
- Stripped blue sidewalk going to front door
- Painted front porch and stairs (was blue)
- Painted blue railing black
- Repaired door bell

- Landscaping, lots of it.
- New wood porch on front of house (probably won't happen in 2011 but it's a possibility) 
- Get rid of ugly security gate on the front door and replace with a nice period style front door.
- New backdoor light fixture
- Widen driveway with bricks (in the works now, photos will be coming in a few weeks!)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Year 1, A Look Back - Bathroom

The past few postings I've been writing about the projects we have completed during our first year in our first home and the projects we hope to complete in 2011. The next room is the bathroom. We still have a lot of work to do in this room but a complete restroom renovation isn't in the budget right now so we just did a few small cosmetic changes to add a little charm for now.

Here are a few BEFORE photos:

And now for some AFTER photos:

We liked the spa blue color that the walls were already painted but the restroom needed all new paint so we went with a slightly darker blue.

New molding was installed around the window and I made this little cafe curtain. I sewed a small bird in the lower left corner to go with the bird theme we have in this room.

 I love our bird cage shower curtain!

Another view of the birdcage shower curtain as well as some Charley Harper bird prints hanging over the toilet.

Nothing has really changed here yet, just added a few accessories and a towel rack.

I made this shelf out of some wood that was left over from another project. Then added a few accessories.
 Added a new towel rack

New molding was installed around our door. We still have to refinish and paint the door (A 2011 project).

Before the door frame was all torn up. My dad came down to install the molding and he did a great job repairing this!

2010 Completed Bathroom projects:
- All new paint
- New molding around the door and window
- Made new window curtain
- New shower curtain
- Made a shelf

Projects we would like to complete in 2011:
- Strip and paint door
- Add a vent to the ceiling so we get proper ventilation in the restroom (currently the window is the only ventilation)
- Install Crown Molding
- All new period style flooring (most likely won't happen in 2011)
- New period style vanity (most likely won't happen in 2011)
- New tile in shower (most likely won't happen in 2011)
- New bathroom hardware in shower and sink (most likely won't happen in 2011)
- Install baseboards or bead board (can't be done until new flooring is installed so this probably won't get done this year either).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Year 1, A Look Back - Living Room

To celebrate a new year and just a little over one year of home ownership, I'm writing a series of blogs that look back on all the progress we have made on the house in the past year room by room. I'm also posting projects we are hoping to accomplish in 2011. In this next blog I'm going to focus on the living room.

First, a few before photos.

Now the after photos!

I still need to refinish and reupholster this wood lounge chair.

We still need blinds for all the windows, I'm really not too fond of this fabric pinned up look! I think we are going to get either simple white roman or roller shades that fit inside the window so we don't hide the beautiful molding my dad installed.

2010 Completed Projects:
- Refinished hardwood floors
- All new paint
- New molding around the windows, doors and baseboards

A before and after shot of the door molding. I love how it turned out! Now one of these days we hope to get a nicer door but that will have to wait for now.

A before and after shot of the molding around the windows.

It's amazing what some nice baseboard molding can do, really.

Living Room Projects for 2011:
- Window shades
– Refinish and reupholster wood lounge chair
- The rest are decorating projects like a tall plant for one of the corners and probably a lamp in the other. The room isn't quite right yet but I think these little things will complete the room.