Decked out for Summer

June 21st – the official first day of SUMMER

Formal date aside, this year summer started more than a month earlier than expected. It’s been mostly warm and sunny since I got back to Vancouver in early May.  June is usually an iffy month for unreliable weather.  Now you never know what to expect as normal patterns everywhere are changing.  Some drastically. Most people are starting to get used to diverse changes in climate but I’m not here to talk about climate change.  It’s real and it’s happening and we all have to weather the storm (pun intended) and hope we’re not too late to save this stressed-out planet.  

Personally, if I could control the weather by a push of a button I’d have it on perpetual early Spring mode with a rain shower here and there just to break up the monotony and to make sure everything stays green.  Then I’d have it snow in the city for 3 days a year max – December 24th to the 26th.  Also, the setting for sun would never feel too hot with “0” humidity and not enough wind to throw too many dried leaves everywhere which is a pain to sweep up…again.  But sweep up I must.  And every time I do, I admire the brand new flooring on my two outdoor spaces.  I did some Spring cleaning to be Summer ready.  Starting with…

I had a vision. It came from a magazine entitled “Home and Garden.’  I prefer the clean, elegant yet simple and straight wider floor boards.

Upstairs:

Noticing that some of the wood boards were starting to rot on the upstairs deck,

My deck AFTER.  The large planter used to be right smack in the middle.  A large barbeque and outdoor fridge sit in two corners (not shown).
BEFORE the wood was narrower, lighter and on an angle.

I enlisted the services (after careful consideration) of  Khatsalano Builders who specialize in outdoor decks and patios. I like that they’re local. They were professional, managed everything on schedule as planned (contractors are notorious for not sticking to schedule) and cleaned everything up as promised.  They also helped with added extras like moving two very heavy large items for me.  Thank you Jason, Jeff, Antoine, Davin and Mike.  Great guys.

 They totally re-constructed a large 500 sq. ft. deck pulling up all the wood and replacing it with timber-tech composite flooring. It looks great now, very clean, modern and best of all…bye bye maintenance!  No staining needed from now on.  I’m super happy about that.

Why composite over wood? For sustainability purposes Timber Tech decking is made from a combination of 100% recyclable wood fibers and 73% polymers.  Even their packing materials meet the sustainable forestry Initiative requirements. They’re working to achieve the highest level of recycling in the decking industry with a goal to make 95% of all TimberTech decking from recycled materials by 2020.  Almost there.

Talk about saving trees? Over the past six years, more than one million trees have been saved because people have chosen this type of decking over natural wood. And they’ve specifically designed products to look just like exotic hardwoods like Ipe which is cut from rainforests.

Narrowing down choices to closely match wood grain of door.

Downstairs

Wood in the process of being oiled. You can really see the difference in color and grain once it’s sealed.

For the downstairs courtyard which has French doors opening up to the outside from the main living area, I considered a clean-up only.  A sanding and staining.  That was until one of the contractors stepped onto the middle of the courtyard and his shoe went right through the wood.  He didn’t intend to make a hole but let’s just say it didn’t look good after that.

 So… decided to replace the previous wood with new wood.  I really wanted wood for downstairs with the realization that every 3-5 years it will most likely have to be re-oiled.  So…sorry trees. At a little over 300 sq. ft. it’s not a large area but wow…does it ever look amazing. They did some leveling, sealed up some areas which were bare and added two lights to light the way towards  a step-up dining area.

Finished product

After narrowing down from a few samples I chose an exotic hardwood called Red Balau from tropical hardwood forests in Indonesia which are essentially public lands, managed and protected by the Government of Indonesia.

The rich reddish-brown hue is a durable hardwood that is often compared to teak but less expensive. My concern is that it be resistant to shrinkage, splintering, extreme weather conditions, decay, mold and insect attacks (you know; should that ever happen).  Better to be safe than sorry. It is. I’m very happy with the whole aesthetic of both the upper and lower spaces.

BEFORE with a wood sample from Brazil I ended up not choosing.
It is Jia Jia approved

Khatsalano Builders Website:  http://khatsahlanobuilders.com/ 

Other considerations:

I also highly recommend VanCity Washing for eco-friendly exterior power washing and cleaning.  They made my awnings look like new again.  Of course they couldn’t do anything about the fading but I had totally forgotten that my awnings had stripes until they were finished cleaning them.  Fast, friendly, efficient and cost-effective.  Justin also power washed my outdoor furniture. They use all bio-degradable supplies when pressure washing everything from walkways to windows and everything in between.

Van City Washing Website:   https://vancitywashing.ca/

Hedge Trimming and leaf blowing was from a company called Higher Ground Gardens. I had to book them a year in advance but now that I’m aware of how it works I’m booked for next year.

Hedges + Gardening:   https://highergroundgardens.com/

Lazy Layla…just because I wanted to share a recent photo.

Well that’s my Spring cleaning story.  I’m ready for Summer.  How about you?

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Lifestyle: Living Little

minimalism.  What is it you really need in life to feel comfortable?

I’ve come to appreciate that what you really need to enjoy a comfy home environment is something very simple. Other than a solid roof over your head it comes down to a few basics…a comfortable bed, hot running water and elements that work. You can fill up your living space with all the extras you like, but if you don’t have the necessary comforts (if you’re not camping in a tent, that is) you won’t feel protected and secure. After that you can add in life’s little luxuries…smart TV, laptop, blow dryer, throw pillows, designer bags, etc.

I know this because it has become my living situation in Palm Springs for the past three months. I’ve downgraded but am happier for it.  And it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders – only a small weight mind you.  And a weight I put there myself.  Because I wasn’t completely happy with staying in hotels (subject always to availability not to mention prices that go waaay up depending on what’s going on around town & on  weekends) and renting places (which by the way have become harder and harder to find not to mention the astronomical damage deposit fee you must leave although if you don’t wreck the place you’ll get back).  At first my husband and I ended up renting a townhouse with a lot more space but a lot less soul than what we now call part/time home.

view from the front at dusk

at sunrise

Last year when visiting Palm Springs and by an extremely pleasant turn of events (bumping into someone I know from Vancouver at a music venue who told me about this place) I discovered a small RV park very centrally located within a short walking distance to town center. With a clubhouse/pool/sauna/games room, etc. and a hiking mountain right behind the park and shops/restaurants closeby.  Bonus: tons of hummingbirds. Out of curiosity I phoned to see if any spots were available for a short stay to camp in the Eurovan this time around (in between vacating the condo rental & hotel).  They did not have anything available, however a park model RV came up for sale in a location I liked within the park so let’s just jump ahead here…I bought it.  It’s super comfy, everything works and the dogs especially love it.  You make the space your own. Each is different, some are very nice, others not.  I found that people customize to their personal liking .

patio

My husband had to fly back to Vancouver for appointments.  On a Westjet flight back to PS he sat next to an interesting woman with a female dog sitting on her lap.  It was the woman’s first visit to Palm Springs staying at her cousin’s gorgeous condo.  We ended up going for a dog walk and she came back to our pad.  She loved it and said if another came up for sale she wanted to buy it as a more affordable and perfect alternative to renting or buying a condo.  (Bonus: no property tax issues and withholding tax at time of sale.)

instead of a white picket fence, a white lattice fence which I put together myself

Apparently nothing had come up for sale in a long time and the park is usually booked up a year in advance. But to her good luck karma, a couple only two spots away from us decided they wanted to sell their lovely upgraded park model and travel elsewhere for a change.  All to say…we have a new neighbour! And Jack has a nice new little girlfriend.  Funny how things work out.

The outer surroundings where we’re located are something else – anything but minimal to counterbalance the lack of….more space.  The space is situated with a pleasant mountain view and privacy hedges (in between neighbours) and palm trees.  It has all the comforts of home.  I call it my pad-à-terre. I’ve found a very good nail place, hairdresser, tailor, dog groomer, fix-it phone guy, coffee shop and convenience store within short walking distance. You know, the other necessities of life!

outer surroundings

our daily River Walk – only a few short blocks away

The trailer itself is 350 sq. ft. of uncluttered liveable indoor space perfect for two (and a guest on occasion – there’s a pull-out sofabed) and another 400 sq. ft. of outdoor living space which is what I love the most. There are people who live here year round and others (travelers/snowbirds) who keep an RV here full time (because they like their assigned spot and want to secure the space) but only come a few months a year and the others rent space when available for days/weeks/months at a time. Park fees include garbage pick-up, electricity, cable, internet but not gas so we pay for propane. Otherwise, it is fully serviced.

another little outdoor lounge area

This one is going to be kept here year round, whether we come for one month or six.  It’s pretty simple living at it’s best. I have a bike to get around and the river walk a few blocks away to run & walk the dogs.  But I must say that if the weather wasn’t cooperative I’m not sure I could do this full-time.  Let’s just say that sunshine is a requirement for happiness!  All that Vitamin D is healthy for a person!

As it turns out I’ve discovered more about myself.  I like the simplicity of living light and having less stuff.  So maybe as the saying goes “less is more” hence the tiny houses movement right now. This is living large by comparison. Call it country chic, shabby chic or whatever…I find it to be  an excellent alternative to buying an expensive condo in the sun. It’s hassle free and in the worst case scenario if something happens I can…walk away.

It’s a bonus when the dogs match the outdoor carpet

Photos: d. king