In the planning stages

Reno Me! with FortisBC contest winner Melissa continues her renovation.

By Melissa Tolsma

I soon faced the next big challenge in my backyard reno: communication.  The rendering that Sarah Gallop Design provided is the big vision, but I need to be able to articulate the details of what I want to happen.  Although the design is stunning, it’s a little flashy for my humble little house.  I like aspects of it, but I think a more rustic, West Coast style might suit my space better.  Brad Fraser, from Jonker Custom Building, encouraged me to look for more pictures that I like.  Google image searches soon led me to Houzz, which has been a great source for ideas.  I’ll admit, I’ve developed a little bit of an addiction to Houzz.  Its vast repository of home-improvement eye candy is habit-forming.  If you haven’t yet discovered it, be forewarned!  Houzz even enables my habit by emailing me now and then just to keep me hooked.

One idea for the reno that Brad suggested is a more inviting entrance to the backyard.  I had admired some of the great gates on their website and wanted to find something new.

My sad, saggy plywood gate and unfinished arbour don’t exactly make the best first impression.  I gave him the go-ahead on the gate and arbour, and while I waited for the prize money to arrive, I kept looking for inspiration online.

Over the next couple of weeks, I forwarded some Houzz pics to Brad: a pair of rustic benches by a seaside firepit, a pretty raised garden box, a gate that I liked.  We’ve had a couple of phone and email conversations to debrief about these images, and I feel pretty confident that we were on the same page.  I became even more confident when Brad brought over the gate he’s been working on.  The handsome gate, with its lovely lines and mortise and tenon joints is truly a work of art.  Brad even custom stained it to match my fence.  I searched the local home improvement stores for some hardware to complement the gate, but nothing seemed worthy.  Again, I turned to an online search, and found a nice drop latch from 360 Yardware. Their motto,“Life’s too short for crummy hardware” helped me make the decision to invest in a simple, sturdy bronze drop latch.  The manufacturer, Coastal Bronze, says it will darken to an old-penny brown with a greenish-blue patina.

I’m feeling positive that the planning I’m doing now will pay off very soon.  The reno is off to a great start!

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