Tag Archives: Home

Someday My (Patio) Will Come

patio inspirationvia

Dinner al fresco. Ice cream among twinkling fireflies.  Morning coffee and a magazine.

All that comes to mind when I’m dreaming up our someday patio! (I do love to imagine the end result, don’t I?)

Today I’m talking patio inspiration.

The current area where we will be putting a patio tucks into a corner of the back of our house. When we bought this house, there was a considerable amount of water damage to the concrete foundation – which we have fixed. To help prevent any more water issues, we will be grading the yard away from the house, and also putting in a patio to help. (If the Moose says we “have” to install a patio, I don’t ask questions.)

There are three things I’m looking for in a patio:

1. Budget friendly
2. Organic feeling
3. Low maintenance

It’s been surprisingly difficult to find realistic patio inspiration ideas. There are a lot of “builder basic” patios out there online. And the photos I’ve found on Pinterest and Houzz are glamazon outdoor living rooms.

This is a collection of images I’ve saved all with features I’d like to consider when we’re ready to do our patio:

patio inspirationvia

We’ve discussed creating our patio using three different methods: 1. brick, 2. pavers, 3. stampcrete (or stamped concrete).

We have yet to price everything out, but generally brick and pavers are more expensive (and very DIY labor intensive), and concrete is less expensive. Concrete will also give us more protection from the water issues our home has experienced in the past.

I really like the pattern in the image above – hard to believe it’s concrete! You can also stain concrete. But, I think we’re leaning towards the natural gray you see above.

patio inspirationvia

I like how this patio has a decorative border around it. It’s a nice finishing detail that really makes the stonework sing.

A lot of patios have a small stone walls, or raised planters to add privacy and designate the patio space. But I tend to like the more organic feeling patios that feel like they grew there themselves! A border is a nice way of making that distinction while still staying ground level.

patio inspirationvia

Glory Cottage, that’s right! I would love to sit on this patio all day long!

I like the abundance of potted plants on this patio.

Maybe a potted herb garden will be in order?

patio inspirationvia

There is just something lovely and romantic about pergolas.

I like how this pergola makes the patio feel so connected to the house. Since our patio will be tucked into a corner (kind of like this patio), it’s creates a cozy little nook.

patio inspirationvia

Again, we’re thinking of lots of ways we can better connect the patio to the house.

We have a walk-out basement, which will lead to the patio. But that means we have exposed concrete bricks where our (supposed-to-be-nice-and-pretty) patio will go. We’ve talked about a number of ways to cheer it up, and one of them is ivy.

There’s something so New England about ivy. We would, however, install vertical trellises so the ivy grows on that instead of creating problems with the roots weakening the concrete foundation.

patio inspiration
There are two things I love about this patio.
One: if the pergola is too much of an investment, I like the mini-pergolas over the doors. That’s another way to add character without breaking the bank.
Two: I love the shutters! Too often shutters are only on the front of the house, but adding shutters to the back windows on the patio is another way to make the outdoor space feel united to the rest of your house.
Plus, I’ve never been one for outdoor artwork.
patio inspiration
Again with the pergolas. If we don’t want to do a full-fledged pergola, this modified pergola is a great way to get partial shade and still having a patio open to the skies.
Plus it’s an excellent place for hanging plants!
patio inspiration
As if I needed to add more fuel to my pergola fire.
This could be a great way to add a porch swing to your patio. (We currently have one sitting in the basement waiting for some TLC. It was going to go on the front porch… but maybe the patio would be a better place for it?
Such tough decisions. :p

It looks like I have a lot of research work cut out for me!

Do you have a patio or outdoor living space?

What’s your favorite part about it? Any recommendations?

House Tour & Second Floor Update (Both Long Overdue!)

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

I have finally posted an overall house “tour” of before and progress photos!

See our overall house progress here: Our DIY House Tour

This month is 2 years since we put an offer on the house. Yes, TWO – I can’t believe it’s been that long. I posted an update on the first floor in the fall.

In all honesty, we’ve pretty much just patched and painted here, and it still needs a LOT of surface work help. We also have some big plans in our head to help make our bathroom larger (as it’s currently the only one upstairs), which would mean knocking down walls in a number of rooms… so we aren’t exactly inclined to perfect what is going to be torn out.


Since this is an older home, there is no true “master”, so we chose this one. After a beastly battle with a few layers of wallpaper I spackled the walls and the ceilings and painted. Although you might not be able to tell from photos, we have quite a bit more spackle and caulking work ahead of us. We took down the mammothly heavy (70lb!) closet doors, which will sometime we replaced with new doors. We also took down the ceiling fan and installed new lighting. (You will see this is a theme in every room I’m about to mention).

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively


This bathroom is like a wounded man limping to cross the finish line… constantly moving, but painfully slow. As we have plans to completely gut this bathroom, we’ve made minimal updates. We replaced the vanity (the original was broken on the side), tore out the double glass shower doors, took down the medicine cabinet (the mirror finish was literally peeling off) and installed a new light. You would think that with all that replacing this bathroom would look pretty good – but with our gutting plans – we went for the cheapest temporary pieces we could find. When we bought the house, the entire ceiling in the bathroom and hallway was peel-city. This was because there was never any venting system installed!!! We installed a vent and heater, and worked on the ceiling. This room has been painted a few times, for now it’s gray.

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively


As I mentioned, the ceiling in the hallway was peeling like crazy. We’ve had to go back a few times and re-touch (and you can see we are currently in progress of that in the photo below). The vent has certainly helped a lot with this. The peeling problem could also be because this house was winterized and de-winterized a lot in a short period of time since it was a foreclosed property. More paint and spackle in here. We’ve also added runners – the original hardwood up here is a rough in certain spots.

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Guest Room:

Aye. There’s not much to tell about this room – it’s been minimally updated. We painted the walls, tore down the ceiling fan and closet doors and installed new lighting. That’s about it! This room needs love!

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Guest Room:

Same story here! We did a bit of painting and took down the ceiling fan. We’ve also rewired all the bedrooms upstairs. Also, this closet is insanely wide, so the doors are still here. I have no idea what we’re going to do with them!

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively


This is a weird room. It has so much potential and so many limitations due to it’s really awkward shape. The peaked portion of the room was added at a later date and was refinished poorly – drywall seams show everywhere.  We’ve painted in here, and that’s about it. We have some big dreams up our sleeves for turning this room into a master bedroom, but we have enough projects on our hands! Maybe someday….!

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Tips on a DIY Whitewashed Brick Wall

I’m no sure if it’s more appropriate to call this project “whitewashing” or “faux painting”, because it certainly involved a bit of each.

In my research, all the “whitewashing brick” tutorials featured porous, red brick – not my flat-slabbed industrial, gray brick we found on the backside of our fireplace.

Tips on a DIY Whitewashed Brick Wall

So I turned to my long-standing sound credo, let’s just wing it.

Tips on a DIY Whitewashed Brick Wall

1. White Base

I started with a VERY watered-down paint – about 5-8 parts water to one part white latex paint. Stir thoroughly.

I used a fat brush to apply, and old rags to wipe around the excess – I found wiping was better than dabbing, which left a weird texture.

Tips on a DIY Whitewashed Brick Wall

Most tutorials I read used a 2:1 water to paint ratio. But, since our brick was not very porous I was worried about it just looked straight-up painted. (Not the look we were going for.) You can always add more paint people!

Tips on a DIY Whitewashed Brick Wall

2. Depth and Variation

Because our brick wall was straight gray, I wanted to add some variation. I made a few different colors of gray paint, using a bit of black paint. I painted specific bricks a different color gray – emphasizing darkness in certain corners of the brick to create shading.

I also used some bright white paint to highlight corners of some bricks to help with this.

Tips on a DIY Whitewashed Brick Wall

3. The Grout

You will need to decide what color you would like your grout to end up being. We liked the look of a whiter-grout, so I took a small paintbrush and used the same step 1 treatment on all of the grout.

Tips on a DIY Whitewashed Brick Wall

4. Final Layer

To bring together all of the different gray and white bricks, I added a little bit more white paint to my original watered down mixture. I went over the entire wall three times, wiping down each layer.


1. This was SUPER drippy. I had no interest in protecting our floor, since we are building right over it – but you should probably protect yours.

2. You can’t go wrong. When in doubt, dab, wipe, repeat.

3. Your arm should be moving CONSTANTLY. Otherwise your wall will just look drippy when the paint collects.

4. Layers. Layers. Layers. I probably did each step 3-4 times before moving on to the next step.

5. Back AWAY from the wall. Every few minutes, walk 10-15 feet away from the wall and see how it looks to ensure consistency.

6. Daylight. I paint at night all the time, but this project is definitely one you need daylight for. Harsh work lights will cast an uneven glare.

Now that we’ve started painting the room, I might do another layer to tint it. If I do I will sure let you know. : )

The Kitchen Call of Paul Revere

“The cabinets are coming! The cabinets are coming!”

– The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Errrr, it went something like that, right?

Shortly after I shared that we were ditching our cabinet refinishing project, we opted to order new cabinet doors instead. They will be here soon and I couldn’t be more excited! Having lived with zero cabinets doors for six months, I can’t wait!

A brief note on open shelving:

Kitchens with open shelving are extremely popular right now. Having lived with 100% open shelving since May, I debated the concept for the first month or so and determined it just wasn’t for me. While it makes putting away dishes very easy, I just couldn’t handle seeing EVERYTHING all the time. Photos of kitchens with open shelving look very cute, but usually the shelves are staged to look nice. They don’t show the reality of the amount of dishes that we have (granted, we’re entertainers at heart, so we have quite a bit). And, I never had any problem with dust or residue.

We will be installing white Shaker doors with stainless steel knobs. The two doors flanking the sink will have a glass inset panel.

Similar to this:


WOOOO HOOOO!!! The end is in sight!

We’re also about to order our countertop and sink. We’re going with a white/gray/blue granite with flecks of black.

This is our color palette:

For the sink we are going with a large rectangular stainless steel undermount.

We purchased our faucet a few weeks ago off the (*drumroll*) Lowe’s clearance rack!! I believe we got about 75% off the original price!

The sink and faucet will look similar to this:


I’ve started looking at backsplash options, but I don’t want to get too ahead of myself (per usual).

We’ve also started looking at kitchen islands. We’re looking for a butcherblock top and something I can slide 2 stools under. When we get it we will also stain the top of our existing sideboard to they match.

I’d love to find something like this one:


We have found one option that might work, but I’m not sold. We’re obviously looking to find something for as cost-effective as possible.

We still need to find light fixtures too, but I am hoping everything will be wrapped up by Christmas!

The cabinets are coming! The cabinets are coming! The cabinets are…


Have you lived through a kitchen reno? Did it make you crazy too?