Tag Archives: renovation

Vacation 2018

As usual I spent my two week ‘vacation’ working on projects and as usual I didn’t manage to complete ALL the things I had hoped to.  However, this year I DID spend my entire vacation outdoors because I was working on the backyard play space. It was wonderful!

I’m back to work today and the children should be arriving soon so here’s a very quick post about the mostly completed yard.  First, the view to the SW corner as you leave the house;

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Down the stairs and looking to the SE corner;

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From the SE corner looking to the NW corner;

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From the SW corner looking to the NE corner;

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This is one of my favourite areas – my little hideaway under the cedars;

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Here is the old tipi with newly added storage areas and camouflage cover;

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I added ‘castle battlements’ to the wall between the gravel area and the garden and attached the drums here too. The table was made from a spool and some tile samples – supplies that were donated by parents;

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The stump circle containing the ‘digging area’ was moved to one edge of the gravel area to make room for a ‘construction zone’.  All the building supplies are now stored conveniently under the willow;

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The fence panel between the bark area and the car port is now the ‘art wall’ – although not quite complete yet – the planters will hold art supplies and paper etc can be clipped to the fence;

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I also have a large hammock that hangs in this area when we want to relax 🙂

The biggest part of this project is not visible –  the removal of the old deck and walkway – there were sections of it that were rotting and unsafe, it was 18 years old.  I couldn’t just trash the whole thing though, any sections of wood that were still good were of course salvaged and reused.

Total monetary cost of this entire project was $350 (mulch, stone, sunshade etc) and a few hundred hours of labour in 30 degree Celsius weather.  Perfect vacation.

Indoor Space

My list of summer renovation projects was two pages long – more than 3/4 of the items have already been completed 🙂 Revamping the outdoor space (see previous post) was the largest project.  Many of the indoor projects just involved sorting and reorganizing stuff but that takes time.

Of course there were some storage units that had to be re-built to fit in different locations but no ‘new’ pieces were necessary.  In fact, a horizontal storage unit became a vertical unit and the items in two other units were consolidated into one so we actually gained a fair amount of extra floor space – bonus!

Much of the work was done to areas that are off-limits to the children so they are completely unaware of the  changes but I am certainly pleased with the results.  When you’ve only got 1200 sq ft to work with and you want to make it usable for a dozen people every little bit helps.

I felt there were several issues with the arrangement of the playroom and I definitely wanted to address at least some of them.  First, this was the old storage space for the workshop tools and musical instruments;

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The problem I had here is that the floor space allocated for constructive play and music activities was just 6o square feet. When most of the toys are stored on one shelf unit on the longest wall the play space becomes a very narrow rectangle.  I wanted to make two smaller storage spaces – one at each end of the long, narrow space which would result in a more usable almost square play space. So, the above corner now looks like this;

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Just the tools, puzzles and stuffed animals are stored here now.  The musical instruments are stored separately on the other end of the play space;

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There used to be a basket of old phones, remotes, and walkie talkies in the space under the cash register.  The children often dumped everything out of the basket when looking for a specific item but no one liked to pick up all the leftovers.  Now the items are stored like this instead;

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This is my new view of the playroom from my desk if I was ever inclined to sit down to do any paperwork;

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And this is as close as I can get to showing the entire playroom in one photo;

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Housekeeping, dress-up, library and quiet corner on the left, entrance to nature area on far wall, blocks, tools and music on right side.

I’m not particularly fond of the way all the housekeeping toys are currently stored – some items are too high for the children to easily reach. I can’t complain if children climb when I’m the one who put things they are allowed to play with on a shelf that is too high.  Reorganizing that storage space is one of the not-yet-completed items on my list.  I am still not certain how to address all the issues there so until I’ve devised an acceptable plan it will have to stay as is.  Sigh.

Vacation 2015

Well, I’ve been back at work for almost two weeks now and I haven’t managed to write a single post about my vacation projects or anything else either – bad blogger – busy summer.

I planned six – yes SIX – projects to complete during my vacation.  We got three done and one of them actually isn’t fully complete yet.  Today I am going to write about the biggest of my vacation projects – the front entrance.

Back in 2005 I wrote about the front entrance for my CBA portfolio.  I explained how I wanted the entrance to be a welcoming, comfortable and functional space.  Here’s the pdf version of that portfolio entry if you want to read the whole thing.  CCC-entrance

Looking back at it now I have to laugh at the line about it being painted a ‘bright mauve colour’ – that certainly wasn’t welcoming.  I would never purchase paint that colour – it was some old paint that was left here by the previous homeowners.  Even as ‘free’ paint it was putrid and the entrance didn’t stay that colour for long.

My newly renovated entrance is much more inviting.  We even added a ‘Welcome’ sign up on the cats’ loft because even Mali and Malta love to greet the children in the morning;

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You’ll often find Mali waiting in the entrance for visitors to arrive.  Here she’s trying out one of the new chairs;

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Only by going part way up the stairs can I get most of the entrance in a single photo;

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I put the toddlers’ name tags on their bench so they can sit on their ‘spot’ without having to turn around and see which hook is theirs.

The East side of the entrance has some information for parents, storage for extra clothes, the digital picture frame with photos of the children ‘in action’, and the new addition – a relaxing fountain which the children love but I tend to turn off once everyone has arrived because the sound of constant running water becomes very irritating distracting.

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The old magnetic bulletin board on the West wall was also annoying because gusts of wind from the door would blow the magnets and papers off the board.  I now use wires and these handy hooks from Ikea;

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The parents are thrilled by the new entrance – the children prefer some of the other new spaces but that’s another post.

The Summer Yard

So, I was looking through my ‘Blog pics’ directory – the place where I store the pictures I plan to use in blog posts – and realized I had taken a lot of pictures of the yard space but had never written a post about last summer’s yard renovation.  A mid-winter post about the summer yard might be just what we need 🙂

It was back in 2013 that I first wrote about the plans  to move the fence that separates the gravel area and the parking area.  You can read more about those plans here.  We didn’t have enough time that summer to complete that renovation so it was slated for summer 2014 instead.  This is a ‘before’ photo taken from above;

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And this is an overhead view of the yard after the fence was moved;

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It is a little difficult to see but we lost a small triangle section of the gravel area on the left side of the picture but gained the same amount of space near the lane past the neighbour’s garage – where the tipi is now.  This extra space allows us to see what is going on outside the yard which was nearly impossible when the fence ended at the corner of the garage and our van parked perpendicular to the lane.

Here’s the view as you come down the steps from the house to the deck;

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As I walk across the grass area and look left toward the garden;

 

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and right toward the covered seating area;

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Walk through the covered seating area and enter the gravel area looking towards the right side of the hill;

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Then look through the gravel area to the left of the hill towards the corner of that used to be playspace alongside the carport;

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Now in the gravel area looking back toward the house and deck – here you can see the old water barrels which have been re-purposed to store the loose parts;

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Turn around and look toward the ‘new’ playspace past the hill where the tipi is now;

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This is the most popular space.  Even in winter the tipi is the favourite sit spot – as snow is cleared from the parking area it is piled behind the tipi making it a cozy little spot;

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We love our outdoor play space in every season.

Nature Area Mini Scenes

The major portion of our most recent playroom renovation took place back in April – read about it here.

There were some smaller projects – both indoors and out – that I planned to work on as time permitted throughout the spring and summer. One of these was the mini-scenes in the nature area. They were originally built back in November of 2011 (wow, doesn’t seem like it was that long ago).

Last year I wrote a post about how the children were using – or rather NOT using – the mini scenes. That post is here.

The original mini scenes were created using scrap lumber and was attached directly to the wall. The decorations also were attached to or painted on the wall and shelves. This made it difficult for me to modify or repair them when necessary.

Last winter we decided we needed to put a heater in the nature area because it does get cold in there. In order to put the heater under the window we would have to move the shelves – perfect time to rebuild them.

This time I planned to build free standing shelf units that, although they are attached to the wall for stability, can be moved. The decorations are now attached to panels that fit in the shelves. This way we can change the mini scenes panels later without taking the whole unit apart.

The new scenes are slightly larger than the old ones and the heater separates the ‘indoor’ house section from the ‘outdoor’ scenes. It is impossible to get all of the nature area in one photo but this is an overhead view of the new nature area – it shows the shelves and the floor space but not any of the trees;

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The ‘bridge over the river’ is also the stool the toddlers use to look out the window. My daughter sewed the felt logs and fire for me – I don’t like sewing but that is another post.

These are closer shots of the shelves – ‘The Forest’, ‘The Meadow/Garden’, and ‘The Beach’;

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‘The 2nd Forest’ (would be the jungle if I had other decorations), the ‘Winter’ scene, and the ‘Underwater’ scene;

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The house scenes are still a work in progress. I started decorating but there is some more furniture I want to make and I want to add a bathroom too – bathrooms are the children’s favorite rooms;

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I will be adding some windows and other decorations – winter projects. I considered cutting a whole in the back of the kitchen shelf because the ‘real’ window is directly behind this shelf so there could be a ‘real’ view from the dollhouse kitchen window. My husband muttered some comment about a ‘sickness’ that he thinks I have…I’ll just paint the kitchen window like I was planning to do in the other rooms.

The new scenes have been very popular. When we are inside there are always children playing here. There are many different toys the children can use here but they particularly like the dolls I recently purchased from Quality Classrooms;

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It has been difficult to take pictures of the children playing here because it is a small space for the six or seven children that like to congregate here. I’ll keep trying. I’ll also post some more pictures when I have added more decorations and furniture. As usual it will never be ‘finished’ but it will continue to evolve like all our other spaces.

Looking Back

It is Monday morning and as I await the arrival of the first child I am reviewing on the things we were able to accomplish over the past two weeks.  First, I must admit that my ‘vacation’ actually felt very long. I think that is due in part to the fact that we didn’t just have one major project that took up a huge chunk of time.

This year we had several small/medium sized projects to tackle over the summer and chose to start with the biggest ones during my two week vacation.  The remaining items can be done on evenings and weekends.

We started by moving the fence to rearrange the parking and play areas.  This was the biggest job but it took only three days.  Really, it could have been done on a single long weekend.  I will write a separate post about the new outdoor space so for now there are no pictures.

The second largest job was the outdoor art area.  It is not entirely complete yet but the major work is done.  There will be no pictures until the finishes are complete.

We also planned to re-insulate the drafty basement wall.  This is a project we have wanted to tackle since we moved in here more than 17 years ago.  It meant moving all my toy storage so it was also the perfect time to re-organize the bins.  For all of the past two weeks the playroom and basement have looked like this;

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This is the task that I disliked but it had to be done.  I didn’t get everything back in place until 9:30 pm last evening.  Now I’m eager for winter to arrive but only so I can feel how much warmer it will be down there.  I am happy that all the toys are organized now – just have to make new bin labels;

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All the 25 of the quiet time and table toys mini bins are organized now too.  It was an ongoing project throughout the past two weeks.  I had planned to work on it only on rainy/cold days when we couldn’t work outside.  However, the weather was fabulous for almost all of my vacation so I had to ‘waste’ some time indoors.

Some of the smaller projects included rebuilding the library book shelves and the music/workshop area shelves.  There are still a few playroom modifications that I hope to complete in the next few weeks yet.  The biggest one will be the nature area mini scenes.

My vacation wasn’t all work though – in fact, I did absolutely no paperwork at all.  I still have plenty of paperwork to do.  My desk is covered in it but I didn’t do any of it.  Malta claimed my empty chair as her favorite kitty napping spot but I couldn’t persuade her to finish my work for me.

We replaced the two old cracked rain barrels with new ones from Fort Whyte Alive – which of course meant we had to go on a nature hike while we were out there.  I also got to spend some time working in the garden but I must admit that my native prairie plants really don’t need much work.

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There are a few bare spots because the Fringed Brome and the Gaillardia didn’t come up this spring and the sawflies destroyed the Wild Columbine.  I missed the plant sales at Living Prairie Museum earlier this year and had hoped to make the trek out to Prairie Flora during my vacation but that was one of the things I didn’t manage to do.

Sadly I didn’t get out to Quality Classrooms either – they are not open Saturdays so I can only go there during my vacation.  I did make a trip out to Carman for a day.  It was for my Aunt’s funeral but it was nice to see all my cousins and reminisce about spending my childhood summers on their farm.

Also managed to get my hair cut – twice – so it is now shorter than it has been for the last 40+ years.  I had lunch with my mom and she loves my new hairstyle – it is similar to the pixie cuts she used to make me get when I was little.

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That’s enough looking back for now.  It is time to go watch the children explore the new spaces and make discoveries.

Summer Holidays

So, today is the last day before my ‘holiday’ begins.  As usual I have a HUGE list of projects to complete this summer.  Some of them are smaller projects that will be done on weekends.

The ‘big’ project will involve rearranging the parking area, moving the fence,  and an overhaul of the gravel area and loose parts storage.  I wrote about the plans last Spring – read about it here.  We already built/moved the sheds but ran out of time last summer to complete the project.

I’ve had nearly a full week with my new summer group and it was wonderful.  Everyone is settling in to our routine and the lack of a school-defined schedule has greatly improved the ‘flow’ of the day.

Outside I have all the new stumps stored in the corner of the yard waiting until the yard project begins.  Interestingly, the older children have deemed this to be the ‘perfect cooking spot’.  Hmmm, I’ll have to modify my plans a little so we can continue to accommodate this;

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The old stumps are still as popular as ever.  The lone boy in the group seems somewhat concerned about all the climbing and jumping about.

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Later he put on the construction helmet and did this;

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‘No climbing here’ 🙂

I found a dead moth and gave it to the insect lovers.

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Turns out it wasn’t dead – just injured – so it was rushed to the emergency room. For nearly an hour a team of dedicated medical personnel worked to save the moth – or at least make it a little more comfortable.  Here is his x-ray/chart;

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As excited a I am about all the renovations I have planned for the next two weeks I am also going to miss these kinds of activities too.  However, I’m certain we’ll have many more adventures when we return.