Monthly Archives: June 2014

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Small Changes

Not every change has to be huge, time intensive, or expensive. I think that I struggle because I’m an “all or nothing” kind of person. I have had a list (read: full notebook sheet) full of what I wanted to change at the house since the week after we bought it. Rather than systematically go through and work on one thing at a time, I ignored the list for more than a year, then tried tackling more than a few things at once.

It’s definitely overwhelming, but it’s kind of just how I get things done. Once I have a plan of action, it’s hard for me to pace myself and wait. I have been uninspired and ignoring the laundry room for who knows how long now, and last week, was hit with inspiration. I got out my measuring tape, sketched out a plan, and went online to get everything together that I’d need to buy. I wanted to buy it RIGHT THEN, paint right then, start cleaning things out… Does anyone else operate this way? It makes me anxious to have the plan and not execute it right away. BUT I am learning. So far nothing has been done in the laundry room and the world didn’t end. My online cart at IKEA is still filled with the cabinetry and once we’re ready to start, I will have a well-drafted plan. It’s OK to wait, and it’s OK to do one step at a time.

The backyard has also been another thing I’ve ignored. We’ve planted three trees, and done our best to keep the grass green, but we haven’t put in a ton of time or effort to overhauling the whole thing. My first thought is to save up money and call someone to dig everything up, start totally over, and create a paradise. Instead, I’m trying to pace myself, be patient, and not spend a bunch of money at one time. We decided to start with two small projects.

The first was this small strip of dirt/weeds by the driveway gate. Nothing will grow there and it seems to accumulate leaves, dog toys, blowing garbage or anything else to make it look sad. I thought about planting there, but there isn’t a water source nearby and it’s in the sun basically all day long. I could plant cactus but I didn’t want the dogs getting into it and getting hurt.



Arizona backyard

It’s just sad over here. It looks… hot. Random, no intention, nothing goes. I needed something cheap and quick, that would bring some intention to the area, clean it up and look simple. I found bags of white marble rock for $5 each at Home Depot so we loaded up the car and started this easy afternoon project.


We raked all the debris out and pulled the weeds. We also used a shovel to level out the dirt a bit.


Then we laid down a weed barrier and used pins to keep it secure to the ground. A 30 foot roll was about $10 and we still have about half of it left. Then we just poured in the rock and spread it out! So easy and quick!

The whole process took less than an hour and gives the area a much needed update. I still need to find a barrier for the end of the rock where it meets the grass, and we are hoping to have a mural or something painted on the wall behind it. Then I may add some desert grass and/or solar spot lights in the white rock. While doing this small project didn’t change the whole backyard, it’s a small change, and that’s a step in the right direction! The other thing we’ve been wanting to change for quite awhile is our gates. They were sad, wooden, dilapidated gates. The back gate was held shut by a plastic garbage can filled with bricks, so there’s that. New gates aren’t cheap and I usually don’t really like the way the ones in the store look.

Old wooden gate

So when we moved in, I decided to paint the gates using a mixture of primer and paint. I primed every other piece, then painted every other piece. The primer looked almost like a whitewash, and for awhile, I really liked the look of it; striped and vintage, but the fact that the gates were falling apart just made everything look sad. And of course, as time went on and the sun did its thing, the paint wore away and didn’t do any favors for the two gates.

wooden gate

Here is the front gate. When we got our house painted, the painter painted over my white wash striped gate and made it match the house. Was he trying to tell me something? Anyway, this gate wasn’t quite as sad as the back gate, but still needed help. See the cute arbor my dad built for us out of old doors behind the gate? More on that later!

I had an idea for a gate that would look vintage but would be secure and durable. We were able to find a company to custom make the two gates how I envisioned. They would be made of composite wood which lasts forever in this climate, would be white like I wanted, and would have metal straps that reminded me of a vintage gate.

The process was actually pretty quick once we knew what we wanted. The gates were custom built in the shop and installed about a week later. I knew I wanted black hardware to match the black straps, and also wanted a deadbolt key lock on each side. Secure, and easy to go in and out without locking yourself out (like I regularly have done with the previous gates).Wood composite vintage gate arizona

New front gate! How cute is this? I am really excited about it. I think the black metal straps just absolutely make this gate. The black hardware and lever handle are classy and the slight curve at the top makes it look like it could be vintage. I love it.wood composite vintage gate arizona

This is the walkway area back to our front gate, which I envision being filled with plants and vines, and some sort of overhanging shade structure. We planted the pink bougainvillea that you see to the right, and separates our neighbor’s driveway from our yard. This side of the house faces south, so it gets crazy hot sun and I’d love for it to be shady and lush someday.

The back gate is the same as this one, just a bit bigger. It still needs some adjustments as it seems to have a big space at the bottom (can’t have that with small dogs!) and the gate dude is supposed to be coming back out to make those soon.

Overall, I’m super happy with how these turned out. Now the gates are secure, look great, and are not falling apart.

One step at a time. Not everything has to be done at once. We can keep chipping away the projects, doing one thing at a time as we can afford it. I am learning to be patient in these things! Besides, once the projects are all done, we’d have to move and find another house anyway! And who has the energy for that?


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