Backyard Office Dreams

We are on the move again! This time we are headed to dreamy Bend, Oregon. We are hoping to find a home to stay put in for awhile.  Our wishlist is pretty long and our budget is modest…But something we will need for sure is an office for hubs, as he will go back to working from home. You may remember the adorable home office he built himself a few houses/years ago (if not, you can see it here). While he is handy enough to do it again, he is short on free time these days, so I have been hunting down some pretty pre-fab office options and architect designs. Take a look:

Studio Shed

{studio shed}

backyard office

{Thomas Lawton Architect}

backyard cottage

{Beaman Building}

pod space

{pod space – my personal favorite}

rustic backyard office

{Park City Architects}


{Bunkie Co.}



ecospace backyard office


shipping container cabin

{shipping container cabin}

Dreamy, right? I think he might have a hard time not doing this himself, since when I showed him the last one with the shipping container he said, “I should do that!” Yes, husband. I think you should. Hope I’ve inspired some backyard office dreams for you. If you find something great I missed, please post a comment with a link.


For more inspiration follow this pinterest board, or this post

easy DIY fire pit ideas

Disclaimer: I am using “easy” in a pretty liberal way in the title of this post as you will soon find out 🙂

A little over a year ago I posted about this easy in-ground DIY fire pit we made:

diy fire pit

{you can see the full post with pictures/instructions here}…On a trip to both Lowe’s & Home Depot last week with my father-in-law {they are visiting from Canada – Yay!} I was surprised to find out they no longer stock the tree ring pavers we used to build the fire pit. When I asked about it I was told the manufacturer quit making them. I can’t find any other local supplier, but here are a couple companies that are still making them if you want to go hunting:  Mission Concrete Products & Bayshore Concrete. Or, feel free to post in the comments where you have found them so others will know.


In the meantime, here are some alternative ideas:

If you or someone you know has welding skills you could make something simple and sleek like this gorgeous thing the clever people over at Brick House created {just don’t lean up against in on accident, youch!}:

modern diy fire pit——–

…or you could go nuts and build forms, pour concrete and create an outdoor gas fireplace like this one:

modern concrete fire pit

take a look at the plans over at the diy network for an idea of how to make something like what is above

diy concrete fire pit{in the end they take things a little too far and add some tacky river rock and flagstone embellishment on top, but if you stop at this phase you will have something just lovely}


I love the idea of this small, portable fire that you can take with you:

portable fire column{these can be purchased from the restoration hardware catalog for a pretty penny, but you can make something similar with these diy plans from The Art of Doing Stuff}


How’s this for a truly simple outdoor fire pit {Ruhl Walker Architects}:

simple outdoor fire pit

{1. dig out a large circular area, 2. put in some edging material, 3. throw down some gravel, 4. build a fire}


And, last but not least, for those of you who have the luxury of building from scratch consider this fire pit built into the patio {and also take a look at all the pictures of this beautiful home by Goforth Gill Architects}:

built-in outdoor fire pit


As an aside: I was at Edgefield with my family last weekend – the website  claims that it is “a truly remarkable destination” and it is – but this came to mind as I was admiring the trees and buildings & fire pits for that matter “No eye has seen, no ear has heard,and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” And it’s true.

DIY Raised Garden Beds

A few months ago I was feeling sorry for myself that another season was going to pass where I didn’t get to plant food (I missed last season because we had purchased our current house and spent April-July remodeling it to get it move-in ready). Our exterior has endless work to get done and building raised beds wasn’t very high up on Jeff’s to-do list. I mentioned it in a forlorn way about a goo-gillion times sort of like this: “I am so bummed that I am not planning my garden right now”, “do you really think it would be that big of a deal to put raised beds together”, “honey, what are you thinking about a garden this year?”, etc. you get the point. So, like any sensible man who wants to quit hearing about the same thing ad nauseum, he went and bought some lumber and started building. I think he was happy he did it though, because for the next few days I couldn’t quit smiling and I kept saying over and over, “I am pretty sure you making me raised beds is my love language” and it is. Some people want quality time, some people want words of affirmation, I want a garden.

as an aside, my husband is sitting on the couch while I type this and he just said: “Is there anywhere specific you’d want to go eat on Wednesday (my birthday) if I decided to let you not cook?” I laugh, and then he says “watch your attitude, because I haven’t decided yet”…laughing is also my love language.

Anyway, these pictures aren’t going to grace the cover of Living anytime soon, since I already mentioned that our exterior is our current “project” but if you want to make truly simple raised beds (Jeff says they take around 45 minutes to make and cost around $25 each for materials), so that you too can be smiling all summer here is what you will need for 1 3×6 box that is 12 inches deep:

1. a chop-saw

2. a box of coated framing nails

3. a drill

4. a hammer

5. a box of 2.5 inch deck screws

6. 3 12 ft. 2×6 untreated lumber (for sides)

7. 1/2 of an 8 ft. 4×4 (for corners)

8. scrap 2×4 for optional cleats

DIY raised garden beds

{the last 2 pictures are progress pictures, still have a long way to go…but see all that glorious food growing? Doesn’t get more fresh and local then your front yard}

 Here’s what you do:

1. Cut 2×6 into 4 6 ft. lengths and 4 3 ft. lengths

2. Cut 4 10.5 inch lengths from the 4×4

3. Cut  2 8 inch lengths of 2×4  for cleats

4. Nail 2 boxes together separately

5. Stack on top of each other

6. Screw corner posts in (& optional cleats in the center of the long lengths)

7. Fill with good soil

8. Plant seeds and starts


If you are a beginner to gardening here are some tips that I wish we had when we first began:

1. No matter how cheap DO NOT be tempted to buy these tomato cages:

crappy tomato cage

they are awful. They WILL tip over. Your tomato plants (if you live in the Northwest) will get larger than you can possibly imagine and by the time you realize your mistake your toppled over scrawny tomato cages will be completely intertwined with your plants and you will end up doing some weird homemade reinforcement structure…Save yourself the trouble, spend a little more money and buy these:

folding tomato cageor, make these DIY tomato cages:

diy sturdy tomato cage

{click here for the tutorial to make these super-sturdy tomato cages}

you will laugh when you see your tiny tomato starts surrounded by the fort knox of tomato cages, but you will be patting yourself on the back in August when you are harvesting tomatoes.

2. Thin your seedlings early and often. It feels a little sad after you have planted and watered your little seeds to pull more than half of them out when they arrive, but you need to give them enough room to grow, so don’t be shy, pull them out.

3. Give your plants some breathing room. Everything will get bigger than you think so give it the room to grow.

4. Trellis as much as you can. Unless you have tons of space, going up is the best way to maximize what you can plant. Here is some more info about how to grow vegetables on a trellis.

5. Buy good soil. Organic is best.


Need some more inspiration? Here is an old garden post with lots of pictures of our garden at our last house. Or here is my pinterest garden board

Happy gardening.

Get set for summer!

A few summers ago my dad got an idea in his mind and went immediately down to his local farm/ranch supply store and came home with a large round galvanized stock tank as a pool for all the granddaughters. I thought it was a super idea! It will last summer after summer (unlike the mildew prone, blow-up variety that last 1 summer at best) and it’s adorable. Here’s the idea:

{this one is from Sioux Steel, but you could find one at any local farm/ranch store in a variety of sizes}

The one my dad got is on the smallish size (although still way bigger/deeper than a blow-up pool), but it can be emptied and refilled fairly easily. This family took it a step further and turned a large one into a permanent back-yard pool. Brilliant!

{see how they did it in the original post at apartment therapy}

And, while we are on the subject of stock tanks, how about this clever idea of using the long, narrow variety for raised beds:

{originally found on thinkingoutsidetheboxwood}

Now that you have your pool all set, how about some outdoor seating options to compliment your adorable galvanized pool:

{zigzag outdoor beanbag from OneKingsLane}

{vintage-inspired set by crate and barrel}

{love this simple porch swing – directions for building found at the Ana White blog – If you don’t have a porch, I think it would be nice hanging from a simple pergola in your yard}

{modern take on a picnic table by Scout Regaliait comes in 210 color options!}


Now that you have a pool, garden and a nice place to sit. Here are a few outdoor extras to add to your summer fun:

{you can find this lovely at zgallerie & if you need some inspiration on how to fill it look here}

{multistripe hammock by crate and barrel}

{oversized, waterproof picnic blanket by PoBa}

{Turkish Bath Towel by TheAnatolianwhich is claimed to dry 5x faster than a traditional towel}

{disc string lights by pigeon toe ceramics these come in 15 color options; all her work is simple/beautiful, take a look}

{kerosene lantern by Red Hill General Storefor late night games, while sitting at your picnic table}

{charcoal table grill by Eva Soloour housemates have convinced us anew of the superiority of charcoal grilling – worth the effort!}

{this cutey by Lodge -the cast iron pros- is a little more budget friendly. You could get 2 or 3 and let people grill their own portions at the table tapas style}

{this vintage ice chest is a charming alternative to an open bucket full of beverages swimming in melting ice – to find something similar check ebay, etsy or google “vintage ice chest” or “vintage cooler”}