DIY Two Level Deck Build - Part 1

When living in the country a large deck is always an added bonus. We plan on spending many summer days and evenings outside. In order to achieve max comfort for us and any guests we have over we wanted to ensure we had enough room with different lounging areas.  

I used the Lowe's deck design planner to provide a basic idea of what the deck will look like. 

Once you walk up the stairs you will face the main entrance to the house. This area is all covered by the roof that over hangs. If you go right and walk around the corner that is no longer covered until you reach the point where the deck extends out. Almost across from where the deck extends out is a door walking in to the kitchen and a large picture window looking onto the deck. We hope to have a TV on that back wall with outdoor furniture to catch baseball games during the summer outside. 

This is the view when you walk out the kitchen door and look right. 

Here you can see the kitchen door on the long wall. The short wall is where the TV will hang. The extended part of the deck will go from that first post all the way to the wall and out towards the forest.  New outdoor furniture is needed in this spot! 

The extended part will be a step down and reach over a hill this looks into our back yard. The sunset is really amazing back here during the summer. This area will have our BBQ, dining table, hammock, and some lounge chairs. The extended area is fairly large 23x19. From the extended area we will have steps to walk into the back yard and towards an outdoor fire pit area. 

The view from below. Our house is on a hill. We created that entire back yard in this picture by cutting all the trees back. They used to reach the very back of the house.

At this point we have all of the footings poured to hold the deck. Hopefully by the end of next week the deck boards will all be down. 

Below is a small video that I created to give you a better idea this all looks! 

Saturday Love

We are adding to our deck this weekend, safe to say my mind is all on outdoor living. This Ohio Lakehouse has the most beautiful porch. 

Leon's has a new line of patio furniture and this Jonathan Patio Daybed is amazing! I can picture Branko, Dominik, and myself all cuddled up watching sunsets all summer long on that piece. 

Since creating a YouTube channel for the blog I have been lusting over this Canon Point and Shoot Camera. 

Renovating a home with a baby can definitely be a challenge on some days. I have been keeping these baby food packs from PC Organics in the house. I am happy with the ingredients and he seems to love the long line of flavors available. 

I joined the wild world of snap chat. Many of my favorite bloggers have joined & I love the "real life" factor that it provides. Find me at "danicak1", once added I will appear as CountryChicReno. 

Next week I hope to have a YouTube video for you of our deck build and a blog update on the house! 

Hope you have a great weekend!

Saturday Love

I LOVE waking up Saturday mornings and reading blog posts, news, catching up basically. Saturday morning is my quiet time with my coffee.

Hopefully what I can bring is a look into a part of my little world other than building a home. It might be products I am loving or lusting, recipes that I have been testing out, inspiring home photos, new apps or social media platforms that I enjoy and maybe some baby tips(don't worry I won't bombard you with baby stuff!) 

I will always try to keep it short and sweet! 

I purchased this jacket from Lululemon almost 2 years ago and they still have it as part of their jacket line. It has been the most complimented jacket I have ever owned. It also washes really well so you don't have to worry about the light colour. 

This recipe for Easy Garlic & Herb Vegan Cheese is amazing!!!! Only 8 ingredients, delicious and easy to make! I found the Minimalist Baker through Erin Ireland who I discovered through Jillian Harris! You should check them all out!! 

Meagan from Row House Nest talked all about how to grow your pinterest account. 

A post that reflects on the positive side of Social Media. 

To leave you off for this morning, the below photo is from the home of Jeanne and Paul Moseley of Montana(that is all I could find out) It is what I hope and dream my DIY fireplace will look like one day. 


Hope you all have a great weekend!!! 

Our DIY Forever Home Laundry List of Projects for 2016

Building a house is hard people! I use the word DIY because if you are new here we have been building our home without any contractors. Almost all of the work is being done by Branko and myself. Whenever Branko needs an extra helping hand he has paid some friends to come and work on weekends. 

We are trying to not put any pressure on ourselves but when every where you walk you see a project that needs to be done you want to crawl in a hole and pretend it is not there. It is not too often you will hear me bitch and complain about our journey to building our forever home but it happens every year when the weather turns nice and all you want to be doing is getting outside. 

So here it is my once a year bitch fest at the long laundry list of things we need to do. Whenever we feel overwhelmed we remind ourselves it takes some people a year to renovate a bathroom. Last year we built a multi level deck, we cleared and cut at least 1 acre of trees, we moved 3 dump trucks of fire wood that needs to be chopped, we dry walled our entire 2600 sq ft home. Most importantly we are raising our little dude who is now 11 months old. 

NOW the list of things that we want to be done by the end of this year....


- dig and trench piping for Geo thermal

- dig 10 holes for new trees around front yard

- chop and stack 1 dump truck load of fire wood

- cut and clear 10 trees (too close to falling on house) 

- install siding on house and garage 

- add railing to entire deck space 

- install entrance gate 


- finish small touches on entrance of the house(this still closed off to our living area with a door)

- mud & sand almost entire home

- prime all the walls

- complete the 2 bathrooms 

Back on Jan 2, I wrote this post with some goals for 2016. I'm proud to say that we have really stuck to them. I have been regularly tracking my food by using my fitness pal and exercising by going on our Elliptical for at least 30-45 min/3-5 times a week. We have been spending so much quality time with Dominik and of course putting in a ton of work on the Forever Home. 

There you have it! I'm done bitching and on to happy thoughts now!

Before I leave you today a reminder that I have joined YouTube! We made a channel mostly for ourselves so we can share with family and friends but with you guys as well! I have been practicing using Movie Maker and shooting video with a small point and shoot Sony camera. 

Country Chic Renovator is now on YouTube!

I finally decided to create a YouTube channel  for the blog! In all honesty I created a channel to share private videos of Dominik to friends and family since sending videos via email is a pain!

Once I did that I thought well why not share some videos of Branko working. Building this house is a part of our daily living lifestyle. There is nothing fabricated or staged about how we are going about this process so I figured sharing this in the raw would really let people see that you can build your forever home and not become house poor. Our main goal in building this home was to ensure we can do as much as possible ourselves and not hire anybody to do work for us.

Dominik clearly does not mind the current living situation.

Truthfully I wish I had been taking videos sooner. I am sad about so many important moments that I did not catch that we could go back and watch. My goal in the beginning is to take small videos of our home after weekly changes and add music and maybe us talking here and there. Once I am more comfortable I will add more DIY talks about how we completed certain projects.

I thought creating a YouTube channel and making some videos would be really easy, turns out it is actually a lot of work. Thankfully I have come across some great tutorials like this one from Christina from DIY Mommy. It really helped me understand how to make my channel more presentable and similar style to my blog.

My second challenge will be figuring out Movie Maker, this might be the death of me. It looks as though it should be so simple to use but the smallest thing like why I cannot get the music to start at the very beginning of the movie is driving me crazy.

Lastly, I am hoping to invest in a small point and shoot camera with a better video. The camera I am currently using tends to blur very quickly when moving. I have always been a big fan of Canon camera's and I am hoping to invest in this one.

Here is my current you tube trailer. In no way is it finished and I fully understand it needs a lot of work. Hopefully you check it out and feel free to subscribe!



How we survived the ice storm of 2016

You read that title right, if you live in the city you probably were not aware that a bad ice storm rolled in Thursday, March 24th. We lost power that night around 7pm. In all honesty, living in the country, I am usually very prepared for a storm. I keep my eye on the weather often and when I see bad weather will be rolling in, I try to stock up on our food and water in case we can't get out on the roads for a day or two. We have a wood fireplace that keeps the house warm, but when the power goes out, the fan which circulates the heat doesn't work since it is hard-wired to our panel box. Our heat is cut by 80% once that goes out.

WELL - I underestimated this storm. I did do some grocery shopping on Tuesday, but I forgot to stock up on water. Not only that, but we are under renovation and currently in the drywall stage. Lots of mud is going up on the walls and this is a messy job. Your tools get very dirty and it is important to keep them clean.

Branko stepped outside to start the BBQ for dinner and all he could hear was BAM BAM BAM. Trees crashing down one after another. Each time we heard the noise we would run to a window to see where the tree fell. We knew we were in for a long night but we didn't realize that we were in for 3 days of no power.

On Friday morning we connected the generator. got our fridge up and running, and charged our phones. We checked the Hydro One map for outages and it stated estimated power to be back on for Saturday, March 26th at 6pm.

Branko wanted to continue working. No way was he going to waste his day sitting around. So, we continued putting mud up on the drywall.

All day Thursday, Friday & Saturday we worked on the house. Most of that time was without power. Imagine that! I didn't have much faith in the idea at first but because our house has so many windows we had tons of daylight that we could utilize.

Now that I told you my big long story, here are some important tips that I can share on how to survive an ice storm in a house under renovation with a 10-month-old baby.

1. If you can purchase a generator, do it. We found ours on Kijiji for a great price, so search around for some deals.

2. Keep water stocked in your house at all times. We mainly use well water for everything. Normally I keep about a case or half a case of water in the house. If you see bad weather coming, go out and purchase a 5 gallon water container. I am not a fan of using bottled water, but in these circumstances, it is necessary.

3. Keep clean buckets in the house. We used 3 clean Home Depot buckets to catch run off water from the house for the toilet.

4. Keep a small portable butane stove in your house. My mom gave one to us a long time ago and this really helped us out. We were able to boil water, make eggs for dinner, and boil potatoes. You can really do a lot with one little burner.


5. If you have a baby, I advise keeping ready-to-go packages of food in your house. I had a few extra squeeze packs of Love Child foods for Dominik.

6. Keep your eye on the news and if you are in a Hydro One area you can actually refer to their website for outages and time frames. They have a very interactive outage map that gives you an idea of when your Hydro may be coming back on. Information is updated every 15 minutes on the map.

7. Keep battery powered lights in your house! I really dislike candles so we have a few battery powered flash lights. We really love our Milwaukee flash light and use it for everything. Also, if you have a generator you can keep one lamp plugged in since they use very little power.

8. Consider moving yourself to your heat source. We moved our mattress in front of our fireplace. No point of sleeping in a cold room! It was super cozy and almost felt like we were camping. 

There you have it! I have added links on some of the products I listed above. Our power ended up coming back on Sunday night at around 7pm even though the expected time frame was Monday night at 11pm. 

Feel free to share any tips you have below in the comments!

Talking all about Drywall Today

I'm here to talk to you today about DRYWALL! Yippee right!

First off I was having a chat with some blogging friends and they said to me "Danica(that rhymes with pizza by the way) you need to blog like how you chat with us. My response "guys that would mean my blog would have a few choice swear words(who am I kidding many choice swear words) and lots of sarcasm. Well for one I am working on the swearing thing because we have baby now and that is kind of inappropriate plus I would rather my child not start off school with a trucker mouth and second is it OK to swear in blogs. Who knows what is OK anymore, the world is going to shit anyways.

Ok the real deal now that my bantering is done......

If you have been following along here for a while you will know that last year we actually tried to contract out the drywall job for the Forever Home. A company was recommended to us and after a few phone calls and many pictures sent to the company(they did not want to drive here) they provided us a price and start date. Unfortunately after the third day they advised us they wanted $3500 more to complete the job. That would mean we were at $11,000 to finish the drywall. Branko and I both knew that at that point it was not worth it for us.

Real talk - we survived this winter with only our wood fireplace heating our house.

After some research Branko discovered drywall tools that can make your job much easier and quicker. To purchase the tools brand new were incredibly expensive but also slightly difficult to learn to use in the beginning. We were lucky enough to find an old set from Kijiji that somebody was selling. Worst case scenario if Branko could not figure them out we would re-sell them. Branko watched a ton of you tube videos and the gentlemen who sold them to him was kind enough to spend a good hour giving him a ton of tips.

Excuse the floor! We are renovating remember! This is part of the set. They are boxes. You pump them with mud and press the box along your tape line.

A small video below of Branko using the boxes!

Our next step was to research the type of mud we used. In our last house we used a mud that was difficult to mix and sand. We purchased CGC All Purpose Lite from Home Depot. The great thing about this mud is that if you prepare a certain amount and do not finish using it you can simply cover your container and use it the next day! Also, the texture it leaves on the wall is much less thick so the sanding part of the job is so much easier. Home Depot seems to have this on hand at all times and with their great service they have always loaded it into my car for me since the boxes are fairly heavy.

Now for some fun pictures of building a home with a baby! This certainly has not been easy but Dominik sleeps well at night time. He's usually asleep by 7 or 7:30 so we are able to put in some extra work. Because we have such high ceilings most of the work is done on a scaffold. I will simply roll Branko from each spot so he doesn't have to come up and down. Our only difficult part has been moving the furniture around!

He will forever be a home renovation baby and a Home Depot customer.

Dark picture but he fell asleep in his high chair and we dare not move a sleeping baby. So we worked around him.

We will be a little bit off from our time line but we are moving along nicely! Hopefully after Easter I will have a "we are priming" post ready for you!