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November 17, 2013 / JustinKays Porter

One Year at Burrows (Part II)

As promised, here is part 2 of yesterday's before and after post. For those of you who were following the blog before it mysteriously disappeared, yesterday's post may not have been too surprising. But today's post may just knock your socks off. This is what we've really been doing all summer! I've divided our outdoor spaces into the former west wing, the yard, and the shop. Enjoy!

The Former West Wing

When we moved in, there was a large, walled- and windowed-in, “covered porch” off the south side of the house. This essentially blocked all natural light from coming in through the kitchen and bathroom windows, so I complained incessantly about it. Also, as we discovered last winter, it leaked like a sieve. Another great reason to get rid of it before the rainy season! After a massive demo project, we finally got some good old natural, southern light into the house. And (major bonus) a nice big, partially covered patio with a wood burning stove. Who can complain about that? No one!

As a quick side note, the west wing is an incredibly deceptive name for this former structure. It is not on the west side of the house, and it is not really a wing in any sense of the word. But for some reason, the name just stuck. So don't worry about it…

Here is our “missions accomplished” list:

  • Remove (and sell!) all the windows, doors, and skylight (gotta love Craigslist)
  • Remove the electrical work in the walls and ceiling to be demolished
  • Demo the walls and most of the ceiling. We left the space over the table and the wood burning stove covered
  • Re-roof the portion of the west wing ceiling we left intact
  • Paint all the newly exposed beams
  • Strategically place empty beer cans over the rebar protruding out of the stem wall leftover (hey, we're classy like that!)
  • Moved in our patio furniture and BBQ apparati to create a pretty sweet hang out spot

So open and light and bright back there now! In the short term, we are planning to add some plants and outdoor art to the patio, add a light fixture that isn't fluorescent over the table, and do some patio furniture makeovers. In the long term, we plan to do a legitimate addition to the house in this area, but that's a few years and a few pretty pennies down the road.

The Backyard

This is my favorite. Even more so than getting natural light in kitchen. When we moved in, the backyard looked more like a junkyard than any place where you would want to hang out. It took a lot of work and even more imagination to make this area what I would call a functioning backyard. But now it's beautiful! Here's what we have done so far:

  • Removed all the miscellaneous junk back here. This involved a few trips to the dump, a few craigslist sales, and perpetually full garbage and recycling cans.
  • Weeded. And weeded. And weeded some more. Actually, I'm still weeding… Not sure I will ever cross that off the to do list šŸ™‚
  • Demolished the extraneous structures. Throughout the last few months, we removed a shed, a structure off the back of the west wing, a structure off the front of the shop, and another large covered patio off the north side of the shop. LOTS of demo
  • Built a fence on the south side of the shop to wall off the storage area back there. It was a magic act: now you see all the construction/project materials we are storing, and now you don't! Plus, it's a pretty good looking gate.
  • Built redwood planters for our backyard garden and trimmed up the fruit trees (and added a few more) along the fence behind them.
  • Gave the big black walnut a haircut. He needed it, desperately.
  • Paid to have a silk oak tree removed from our neighbors yard. This was expensive, but so worth it. That tree dropped something year round and made our yard a constant mess. But no more!
  • Poured concrete to connect the existing patios on the north and east sides of the shop, and to create a mow strip for the future lawn.
  • Installed sprinklers and irrigation all over and leveled out the lawn area to prepare for the sod.
  • Put in sod! Talk about rewarding. Another magic trick: from dirt to lawn in just a few hours!
I hope you're as impressed as I am. I love it back here! It's still a work in progress, but it has come a long way. We are planning to stain all the concrete at some point down the road for a softer look. We will be replacing the window on the front of the shop with French doors, and plan to make the patio to the north of the shop an outdoor bar/kitchen area. You have to dream big, right? We also have lots of planting to do. And maybe a water feature? An outdoor fire pit? A side yard bocce court? So many options, so many projects!
The Shop
The shop is definitely still a work in progress. We have decided to split this building in half: the left half will remain a shop, but the right half will be turned into a lounge/hang out area. As it stands now, the left half is a shop and the right half is more of a storing and staging area. Some of the furniture you see will stay, and some has been spoken for but is temporarily living here. We are hoping to put up the wall, put in the French doors, paint, and do something with the floor on the right side this winter. Maybe find a second hand pool table, shuffle board table, a few dart boards, you get the idea. And once the wall is up, Justin can finalize his plan for the shop and finish getting organized over there. Here's our “so far” list:
  • Sold all the tools and machinery that belonged to the previous owner (Justin and I didn't have any part of this, and, no, we didn't see any of the money from that sale. That all happened before we owned the house).
  • Removed most of the shelves (big surprise!)
  • Got the shop side organized. Justin had a lot of tools to begin with, and got a lot more for Christmas last year, but a lot of the tools here are also hand-me-downs or on semi-permanent loan. You'd be surprised how many people you know that want their tools and equipment to go to a good home where they will be used and loved! Another part of the organization was refurbishing a kitchen island. My aunt and uncle were remodeling their kitchen, and passed their island (and dishwasher and refrigerator!) to us. We put the island on wheels, gave it a fresh coat of paint, and created a top out of recycled flooring (more on this later), and now we have a roving work station!
  • Cleaned out the lounge side. I would say organized, but that's a stretch. We got rid of everything we knew we wouldn't want, and tried to set up the rest of it in a respectable fashion. Oh, and we now have a beer fridge šŸ™‚

The shop may not look that different. But, as Justin says, at least everything in their is ours now. I haven't decided if this is a good thing or a bad thing… But there you have it!



Leave a Comment
  1. Cindy Perry / Nov 17 2013 12:18 pm

    Kaysea and Justin……I love these blogs, so excited for you!!!! Everything looks beautiful, awesome, fantastic!!!!! As a side note, dani and Stephen are moving to morgan hill as I’m sure you’ve heard…….the ping pong/ beer pong table is up for grabs… just have to pick it up, and Stephen has a truck to use :). Let me know if you are interested. XOXOX



  1. Welcome to the Lounge | The JustinKays Chronicles
  2. West Wing Demo | The JustinKays Chronicles

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