Monday, June 24, 2019

Landscaping, mulch, mailboxes and ice cream – it must be summer

As our faithful readers know, river rock and gravel are a plague on the landscaping of the Retro Ranch. Over the last two years we have dug, sorted and hauled off countless buckets of rock from under the pine trees in the front yard and on the south side of the driveway. Beth did some planting last fall, but with spring in all of its shapes and forms, the front gardens are really taking shape.

Over the course of three weeks, we extended the beds (and reduced the amount of grass to cut) in front of the garage and under the pines. Beth added numerous perennials and while everything looks great now, in a year or three, it will look fantastic. We cleaned up other garden borders and spread over 70 bags of mulch to “finish” the gardens. We even built a small retaining wall near the patio to ease the grade transition.

Beth found annuals for the back garden that hopefully the long-legged rats (the deer) won’t nosh as their midnight snacks. The transformation of the yard from 2017 to now is really a site to behold. Having working hose bibs and spigots to water things is a wonderful convenience too.

The icing on the cake for the landscaping project was the new mailbox. When we first bought the Ranch, our mailbox was engulfed in ivy and was, like many things at the Ranch, not the most functional of boxes. 

After freeing the old mailbox (and our neighbor Martina’s) from the overgrowth of ivy, I painted the post and replaced the mailbox with a “temporary“ box that served us well for two years. 

Beth had found period appropriate “vintage” mailboxes in the perfect color palates to properly accent the Ranch. One of the reasons we painted the front door orange last summer was that we had a matching mailbox picked out. 

After expanding the front garden (and with approval of the United States Postal Service) we installed our new “Modbox” mailbox in the garden (in line with the front door). It’s the cherry on top of the milkshake!

Just wondering, does anyone else have a craving for a Dreamsicle ice cream bar right now?

Coming soon to the Retro Ranch blog – the kitchen/dining room and hall facelifts. 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Garage, or The Never-ending Story

We are back! Our friends at Google having taken the Retro Ranch website hostage for a couple of months, we have been busy working but not posting updates. Time flies and amazing it’s been over 2 ½ years in the Ranch. A source of aggravation for Beth the entire time has been the garage. At the center of her angst are several pallets of “stuff” (mostly mine) that haven’t found a home beyond the boxes on the pallets. (Spoiler alert – it still hasn’t – yet.) “Stuff” aside, the garage has undergone a slow (tediously slow) renovation in the past 12 months.


Garages are a place for bikes, cars, furnaces, storage (AKA stuff), and waste and recycling receptacles in most homes. Since starting the restoration of the Retro Ranch, our garage has also been a staging area/workshop for the Northwest Home Concierge Team (NWHC) and their sub-contractors on many occasions. During these times the Mini gets exiled to the driveway or street and his been known to mutter about getting no respect ala Rodney Dangerfield. Despite all of the projects going on, faithful readers know the garage hasn’t been ignored prior to it getting its face lift.


Early on the garage received a new window treatment, revealing the most amazing and creative collection of curtain rods, hangers and brackets this writer has ever seen. In 2017, the new garage door became a defining element of the exterior. Pull down steps for easier access to attic storage preceeded the insulation work in early 2018. With these things done and with the interior and exterior of the house painted it was time to brighten up the garage starting in late spring of 2018.


It was likely that the garage walls had not seen a fresh coat of paint since 1964. I have never had interior walls suck down paint like these garage walls did. College frat boys can’t down beers any faster than these walls downed paint. It ultimately took 3 coats everywhere to get the necessary level of coverage

For a number of reasons the garage painting was broken into multiple segments, not the least of which was the plumbing (laundry room/half bath) project which, as you recall included relocating doors, water heaters and water service lines. All of which meant Ted the Drywall Guy was creating and recreating surfaces that would need paint. Painting the ceiling meant plugging ~30 holes where large storage hooks were previously screwed into the ceiling, suspending lord only knows what. New LED lights further brighten what had been a dingy space. Once the laundry room/half bath drywall work was completed I was able to finish painting the walls and all of the garage trim.


The built-in storage cabinets were next and were painted a darker gray to match the exterior trim. Before the upper cabinets would get painted they needed to be reinforced as years of too much weight in them caused a sag which wouldn’t let the sliding doors move freely. Daniel, our master finish-carpenter, added “knees” which provided the required support. Cabinets were emptied (causing even more heartburn for Beth), the interiors and exteriors painted.


New wire shelving was mounted for bike gear and other storage. While we remain big fans of The Home Depot, I will say that our experiences getting shelving pieces cut to size probably resulted in the manufacturer having to “eat” some shelving due to the ineptitude of various store associates. How difficult can a pair of oversize bolt cutters be to operate anyway?


With the garage and cabinets painted and storage improvements in place, why isn’t the stuff all in it’s home yet? As mentioned earlier in this post, the garage is a staging area for NWHC while projects are ongoing. Shortly we will be writing about the new kitchen/dining room floor project which will explain why, in addition to two pallets of stuff, the garage is also home to the old range, dishwasher (no Beth didn’t exile me to the garage) and, for a time, the refrigerator, dining room furniture, light fixtures and more. 

While there is possibly light at the end of the garage project tunnel, it’s summer. Time for digging more rocks, landscape projects, enjoying the patio, cycling and, at every opportunity, letting everyone with earshot know the St. Louis Blues are the 2019 Stanley Cup Champions. Let’s Go Blues!