Wednesday, September 26, 2012

20 Years Ago Today (Before & After)

It seems incredible but 20 years ago today (Sept. 26, 1992), we moved into our house.

This is what the front looked like then - as you can see, not much landscaping.


At the time, we were living in a tiny apartment located two houses behind this one. This house had been on the market for quite a long time and I never dreamed that it would one day belong to us. Michael and his business partner, Cindy, were looking for a place for their own salon at the time, and they made an appointment to see this house. After looking at it, Michael came home and told me that he would rather live in it. It didn't take much to persuade me but at the time, but I figured it would never happen.



See the police car in the distance? It is sitting at the apartment right next to ours. Before our offer was accepted, we would walk up to the house and explore. We found a way to get inside! I would sit on the back steps that looked out over enclosed hedge inside the circular driveway and dream about the future garden. At the time, we only had a tiny garden behind our apartment. This photo was taken shortly after we moved in, after I had trimmed the hedges and removed all the weeds and debris that was choking the circle.
The side yard or as we like to call it, "the lower 40". The 3/4 acre property covers 2 city lots so there was plenty of room to garden (well, at least I thought so at the time!). The yard was huge and was all grass. It took hours to mow.
Another view of the lower 40. The trees that were there were all fruit trees and they were in poor condition.
The beginnings of the garden. The stones in the half-moon circle wall were found on the property. They had been used as pavers in the driveway circle and had become buried. We first used them to make a stone wall along the back of the property but later decided to make this wall. The pergola was our first major outdoor project. The whole garden plan was designed around this structure.
A first priority for the front was to create some privacy. This area was totally open to the neighbors and the street. We started the fence at the end of January in 1995. It was actually snowing the day we began and so cold. We obviously had more energy and determination than we do today!
The fence completed!
And here is the front of the house today. We finally got our privacy!
I could not find a good shot of the circular garden in the driveway circle but it is filled with hydrangeas and four sawtooth oak trees. I initially did not want to add trees to the circle garden because I wanted to keep the formality. However, the hot Western sun blasting the back of the house changed my mind. This photo was taken from the roof and overlooks an arbor over the back door that is covered with the climbing rose "Cecille Brunner".
And the lower 40 looks quite different today.
There is lots of shade now but a few years after we started gardening, we had lots of flowers and perennials. I believe this photo was taken somewhere around 1997.


We also went all out at Christmas and had a big party every year. We stopped doing that a few years ago and sold our decorations. Too much work!
Before serious work on the garden began, we worked on the inside of the house. It was in good condition but everything had to be scraped and repainted. The wallpapers were deteriorating and needed to be replaced. Michael confessed that he broke down in tears one night when I was away at library school wondering what on earth he had gotten us into. We both hope we never have to scrape woodwork again!


The living room before - Michael wanted it to be purple and I didn't ask any questions.

The first dab goes on!

Razz supervises us. The color was nice (I think it was called "eggplant") but after a few years we started to think that it was too dark so we put a lighter shade on. It was too light and we settled on the color that it is now (slightly lighter than the original).

The worst room in the house was the kitchen which had those old metal cabinets from the 1950s. We knew this was beyond our capabilities and hired a professional to come in, gut the kitchen and start over. An old-fashioned pantry was to the right as well as a butler's pantry. This was taken out and the room was enlarged. I do miss the pantry!

The new cabinets and island installed

Finally, it was finished! The room in the background was originally a back porch. We had it enclosed and turned it into a breakfast nook.


This was the small back porch that we enclosed.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

41 comments:

  1. Incredible transformation! Congratulations on your stellar make-overs. Inside and out= beautiful.

    Cameron

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  2. Great to see the changes over the years. I especially like the hedges along the fence, great color.
    I like the softer purple, very pretty.

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  3. Having seen the transformation, I want to come live with you two! Just beautiful...

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  4. You both have worked your magic on your home - beautiful!

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  5. A lot of hard work. Before and after are great. I still have a long, long way to go on mine. Hopefully no more knee surgeries or broke arms. Mary

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  6. Phillip, amazing transformation... and I love that kitchen!

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  7. Marvelous transformation of the house and yard. Your garden and kitchen are beautiful.

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  8. amazing what happens in the garden with time. Good planning by the way.

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  9. It looks fantastic ...what a great job you both did.

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  10. It's fun to look back and see the progress you have made. It's beautiful!

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  11. Holy Cow Phillip, when I saw that first picture, I had to ask myself if you had actually put the wrong house up there! It is amazing what you've accomplished.

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  12. Hello Phillip,
    I have visited and admired your garden but thanks for now allowing me to see the inside of your lovely home. An amazing transition you guys have made, both inside and out!

    Sanda

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  13. This is a fascinating look back through time. You two have transformed a rather drab-looking property into a beautiful oasis... it must give you great satisfaction.

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  14. What a marvelous transformation! Very interesting to see the changes that you've made so tastefully! Larry

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  15. Incredible transformation! Love the house & envy the great kitchen.

    You have really created a very special paradise. Hope you enjoy it for many many years to come.

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  16. Phillip, what an amazing transformation of the house and even more so of the garden! You two have created a paradise to live in, inside and out. By the way, I like your blog so much that I put it on my blog list to make sure I don't miss a new post :-).
    Christina

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  17. Dear Phillip,

    These photos of 'befores and afters' are a delight to see!

    You and Michael have made such a Beautiful Home!!

    Congratulations on 20 years!!

    Much Happiness, Good Health, and Love Always to you both!

    gerri XXX OOO

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  18. What an amazing transformation!
    The before and 20 year after of the yard shows what you can do, given enough time... and effort! :-)
    Oh, and love the kitchen!

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  19. You took a grand house and made it into a beautiful home and garden. Isn't it amazing what we would do when younger. 20 years doesn't sound like a lot but it is. It is great fun to see it. I could never understand the lower 40 but now it all makes wonderful sense.

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  21. I was just thinking last week you needed to do a post like this and here it is! And you even included my favorite little room. I miss seeing you guys!

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  22. Phillip,

    What a transformation! You turned a plain house into an extraordinary one!

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  23. I have never seen the before pictures of the kitchen... I do remember Michael insisting the cabinets be hand painted, rather than sprayed. OH! BTW: Michael with all of that brown hair! 20 years goes by fast!!!!

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  24. I bet your neighbors love you! What a huge project that couldn't have turned out better. I wish I had the ability to see the whole picture the way you guys did. Incredible planning!

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  25. A lovely transformation... what sweet memories you have. Love the lilac walls!

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  26. Wow! What a difference a couple decades make! Looks great. So fun to see the befores AND afters.

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  27. So beautiful Phillip and Michael. Love your roses and Razz! And with such a lovely kitchen it's no wonder you can whip up so many yummy things.

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  28. I think it's best not to know how much work a project will be when you get started, or you'd never start. Your home is wonderful. You have really made great choices. Love the inside and the gardens.

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  29. I loved seeing the transformation. Time is such a good friend to the gardener. And the inside of your home is beautiful, too. All the hard work you put into it really shows.

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  30. How beautiful your home and yard is. It is worth all the time and effort you have done to improve both. I always stop by our blog and have gotten lots of information about gardening.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  31. Philip, what a beautiful home and garden you and Michael have created together!

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  32. All I can say is WOW. And it gives me hope. I so want my garden vision to be here, now. But posts like this help me to realize just takes time. Same with the inside of the house. And the older I get, the longer it takes. Thanks For sharing! Carol

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  33. y'all have done such a wonderful job on your home...... Kudos!!!

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  34. What a, what a, what a project! And what success!

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  35. Wow! That is cool. I love the new looks. Nice post.

    Shyra @ e Garages

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  36. It's so much fun to look at garden and home transformations through a series of before and after pictures. Congratulations on 20 years in your beautiful home!

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  37. A lovely visual tribute to determination, design, hard work and devotion to a muse. Thank you very much for sharing! Who wouldn't love living in such a beautiful, peaceful home surrounded by seldom found gardens of such caliber?

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  38. Wow! You are a talented designer! Both the garden and the home are stunning transformations! I really enjoyed the tour.

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  39. Wow the original picture of the house looks so barren I would not have recognized it as your house.

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