Hey guys! I’ve got another long, long, long overdue post for you today. Summer has come and gone, but I’m happy to report it was chalk full of summery stuff (drive-in movies, a family wedding, camping, market shopping, and drinks in the yard) as well as plenty of productivity.

We took full advantage of the no-longer-February weather to tackle a bunch of outdoor projects, including an early-spring regrading project and an exterior power update.

So before we jump into it, and just in case you’ve forgotten what our neglected rear exterior looked like, here’s a refresher:


Ugh! So ugly. So leaky. So many layers of concrete and asphalt. Our May demo started the rehab, but definitely made the yard look even worse:


Thankfully, 5 yards of fresh soil (and several weekends of intensive labour) had things looking a little more cleaned-up. Plus, the regrading stopped water from leaking into our basement every time it rained. Win-win!


A few weeks later, with our grass starting to fill-out, I decided to tackle our ugly, flaking parging. Queue a month of work with the steel brush, cement caulk, and masonry paint. This project was simple enough, but it honestly took hours and hours over several weekends to get it finished.


But, it was worth it. The parging looks light and bright again, and our “door to no-where” finally got it’s phase 1 update. Phases 2-3 will involve replacing the door with a huge window and having a custom sill cap made. Obviously we also still have some masonry clean-up to do (scrub the bricks and patch that crazy, broken corner post) but, gee, isn’t paint is a wonderful thing?

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Up next, the summer spruce-up continued with a little recycled brick project. Last year (yes, 2014) we picked up a hundred or so used bricks for free from a near-neighbour via Kijiji. Originally I had planned to attempt a full-scale patio, but decided a smaller project (or two) would be a good way to see how the bricks wintered without over committing. Our remaining asphalt pad, from the old drive-way-to-nowhere, seemed like the perfect spot.

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Step 1: Dig a trench. Ohia, although a serious digging enthusiast, was less helpful than you’d think with this precision work.

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Step 2: pack in gravel. Step 3: pack in (and level) sand. Step 4: Add yo’ brick. Step 5: Add paving sand (the kind with a bit of glue). Step 6: mist with water (to set).

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The rustic pavers cap off the asphalt pretty well, I think. I love the mix of color and texture — hello patina! I also decided to paint the back door, at some point this summer. Taking it from that awful brick-red (see the second photo in this post) to a nice charcoal grey.


But… I still needed to do something with that awful metal awning. Ideally (eventually?) we’ll replace it all together with something more substantial and hearty. But, until we finalize our final backyard plans (should we add ANOTHER door to the back of the house? lol) I decided another quick sand-and-paint job was the best approach:


So, we now have this greatly improved side-by-side.

Flashback 2012:


Progress 2015:


Overall, I’m stocked about this year’s progress and I feel significantly less embarrassed when hosting people in the yard. Many details still need addressing (those left-over cement stones outside of the door, the crazy corner, the door-to-no-where, the awning, and a bunch of brick cleaning) BUT, hooraw! Things are looking so much better.

Up next? We’re back indoors with another long overdue update, this time in the master bedroom.

Take it easy, weirdos!


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