Deuce Cities Henhouse

Fence in Progress : Part 2

Horizontal Fence
Guys! The fence is like, technically done, but (and that’s a big but) I didn’t want to call it the official ‘after’ just yet – there is still work to be done, people!

In case you didn’t notice, Minnesota is probably the last state out of all 50 of them to experience spring. We barely have buds on the trees, nothing is green and beautiful, and it’s still cold most days. It’s all brown and yellow and slightly greenish, but not green in a way that reads lush and full of life. Definitely not ideal for an official fence after shot, we need the green stuff!

Brown aside, I am really loving the way the new fence turned out. We decided to leave a bit of space between the horizontal slats so that our backyard didn’t feel closed in. We weren’t interested in cutting ourselves off entirely from our neighbors or the neighborhood – so to us, it seemed like a good way to go about it.

Our plans included extending the fence to incorporate the parking pad located next to the garage. We weren’t using it, and thought it could make a great space for the kids to play. Eventually someday, it could be a great future outdoor hangout space (aka patio).

Our neighbor was on board with the new fence, and thought it would be good to add a six foot privacy fence along the alley side of our lot. In essence we transformed the back of the yard into a high security fortress, all we need is a moat and some battle axes and this would be a fully functioning castle. Fer real though, there has been quite a few garage break-ins lately, and we wanted to keep our shit secure – a six foot fence on the alley seemed like a good idea.

Horizontal Fence
We added a six foot “privacy” fence on the north side of our lot too. Our neighbor on that side happens to be a duplex, and its tenants are changing regularly – a taller fence just made sense.

Horizontal Fence
Remember in Home Alone where the Wet Bandits have their signature move of clogging drains and running water before they leave each home they’ve burglarized? Our fence builders do this too, although their calling card won’t make you really mad. The guys at Fencein Deck (our fence company) add an arbor over the gateway of every yard they fence, kind of super adorable and funny, huh?

Horizontal Fence
Here in Minneapolis, there is a city rule that says homeowners need to have the pretty side of the fence face outwards, leaving the not so pretty fence posts showing on the interior. This isn’t ideal, but our builders were able to come up with a solution to incorporate the posts in a tasteful way. The guys made the interior of the fence mirror the exterior by sandwiching the slats in between two pieces of wood around the perimeter of the fence (shown above here). They basically frame out the posts with 2×2 giving the fence a really nice finished look. I way prefer this look over seamless horizontal fencing.

Horizontal Fence

Horizontal Fence
On the south side of the yard (the side that wasn’t shared with a duplex), we had a four foot fence installed all the way back to our alley. I was able to design my own pattern for our builders, because those guys are all about custom jobs – the four foot fence is identical to the 6 foot fence from the bottom up.

Before I can take the official ‘after’ photo I need to remove some of the over hanging cables, seen above. These cables extend from the corner of our house out to the alley. As far as I can tell we have three separate coaxial attached to our house, and it just doesn’t look good! Last fall we got rid of our cable and cable internet! We were so sick of the monopoly Comcast had in our area, plus the price is outrageous, it’s so not cool. The city just started providing folks on our block with fiberoptic super-high-speed internet that can be run underground from the street, and it’s affordable, isn’t that awesome? We get all of our television-media-consumption via Netflix, Amazon Prime and our digital antenna. I don’t miss cable one bit!

Anyway, we don’t need all those cables hanging over our backyard! Has anyone had experience removing cables like this? How’d you remove ‘em?

Horizontal Fence
Onward with the tour. Here is the parking pad turned play space located next to the garage. It’s not glamorous or beautiful, but it is highly functional. Obviously, I’d like to make it much prettier. I’m probably going to figure out a way to stain the concrete a dark grey, and ideally we’d like to add some all weather patio gear in the future, Ikea has some really great affordable options. There needs to be a low lying garden planted in that dirt patch next to the fence, and I envision some container trellises lining the garage. There is most def room for major improvement here.

Horizontal Fence
We now have this very funny little garden where the fence used to end. It butts up against the concrete pad. As you can see it looks very sad and homely right now and it needs some TLC. I foresee two possible options. We can either remove the garden all together and replace it with sod, OR figure out a way to make plants, trees and bushes act as a natural wall between the two spaces. We’re still trying to figure out what option would function best for this space – but you have to know that I am totally leaning towards the option that involves planting stuff.

Horizontal Fence
Lastly, we need to stain or oil this guy. Much more research needs to be done as to what the best approach is. I don’t want to have the fence grey naturally, I’d like to preserve or enhance the natural color if I can. Please, if you’ve had experience with fence staining or oiling, let me know what approach you used and how you feel about the results. Our fence is all cedar, if that helps with your diagnosis. Thanks!


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in Outdoor

Fence in Progress : Part 1

Cedar Horizontal Fence in Progress
Guys! I’m am so stoked! The old plastic slatted green chain link fence is gone, and the new horizontal slatted cedar fence is being installed. You all know how much I love my flower beds – I hated seeing them against that green plastic fence backdrop, they deserved better – I’m so amped up!

I wish I could take the credit for all this awesomeness but I have not done anything except watch a couple of guys rip out the old fence, dig deep holes in the frozen earth, mix concrete and set up nice square posts. Today I will get to watch them install the horizontal slats.

All-in-all things have gone pretty well. I was quite worried and sad to see my gardens trampled. All of the little signs of life poking through the earth have been stomped into non-existence. I am hopeful in the coming weeks they will recover, but it’s hard to watch these little guys take a beating. The dirt dug for the posts holes wasn’t cleaned up very well, and by that I mean not at all. I spent a good part of the weekend unearthing my gardens which were buried under 3″ of soil.

Post Holes in Concrete
We had a small miscommunication with the builders, we were under the impression that there would be two gates spanning the width of the parking pad, but in reality they can only build gates that span a width of 8′, the parking pad is nearly 12′. The two gates will still be large enough to park a car if needed, but it’s a real squeeze. .

Fence Posts space 6'
I can’t wait to share the new fence with you guys – I think it is going to be so awesome! In the meantime, please keep your fingers crossed for my tiny plants.


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in Outdoor

The Sunroom – It’s Done.

Minneapolis Sunporch in Navy and Coral
Guys! I did it! I finally pulled the sunroom together, and I think it looks pretty awesome! After living in our house for four years it finally feels like we are starting to put our stamp on the spaces in our home. The sunroom was the latest such adventure.

Decorating a home is a very slow process, though super rewarding and satisfying. Much of the first four years have been spent putting things together and giving the home a vibe that read ‘us’. We’ve spent a little money, but overall have been pretty frugal when it comes to decorating. The bulk of our money has been spent on projects that had a big pay off, like painting the house.

Now it feels like we are entering the next stage of living in a home (the second layer, if you will) where we can start to dig into the details of each space to make sure it truly represents us aesthetically, consistently and cohesively. We’ve been able to really get used to our spaces over the years. We know how they currently function and how we would like them to actually function. Some spaces still need improving and tweaking. Our bedroom for example, still consists of college furniture and a mattress on a bed frame – it looks ‘pretty’ but still needs a lot of work. We are now ready to dive in a little deeper and begin to make rooms functional and decorate them with purpose. I’m excited to be able to start focusing our decor dollars, and I think the sunroom makeover are the beginnings steps of addressing that second layer – four years deep.

Sunroom Before
Our porch wasn’t bad before, it really wasn’t. I thought it was cute and cozy, but it still didn’t function very well and because of that we barely used it. It’s a really good example of that first layer of decorating — pulling random furniture together with a few repeating design elements to try and make a cohesive look. Although it photographs nicely, it didn’t feel as comfortable in real life and because of that we rarely used this potentially super cool room. These are the limitations a lot of people encounter when trying to furnish and pull together a home; most of us are not made of money and these compromises have to be made.

The sofa was re-covered in an old curtain that I attached using pins. I know, that is a dumb idea, but I was grasping for a solution that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. As a result of this pinned approach, the kids wouldn’t go anywhere near the sofa for fear of getting poked. The cushions were constantly slipping off it as well. The rug had been floating around with us for the last eight years or so and was a green dusty mess on the verge of falling apart. The vintage end table/turntable was cool, but was constantly shorting out and shocking us. We tied the room together with vintage crocheted items which, although cute,  didn’t really reflect us or our style.

That’s another thing. I think my tastes are changing a bit. I used to be so dedicated to mid-century furniture pieces, kitschy vintage stuff, and bright pops of saturated color. After experimenting with my interior style for years I think I can finally begin to define it with a few simple elements. Neutral backgrounds, black and white graphic accents, a combination of mid-century and modern furniture pieces accented by a few well-curated vintage favorites. Also, I love almost any shade of blue (even though green is my favorite color), brass is always good, and coral and yellow accents get me every time. Oh, and please don’t forget the plants.

It’s weird how these transitions happen. I feel like all of the apartments and rental houses that I have lived in and decorated have just been practice for this house, and somehow even this house is still practice for this house. I guess I am realizing that my design sensibilities are always changing, as they should, I suppose – I guess that means endless makeovers, right?

I think between the kitchen makeover earlier this fall and the new sunroom look, I have finally found a style that really just feels like us, and I am excited to see where this new awareness takes me throughout the rest of the house.

Enough with me blabbing, let me show you guys the rest of this room.

Modern Sunroom with Black and White Accents
I’ve mentioned to you before that the room is pretty small, approximately 7 x 11 feet. The floor slopes down, as sometime over the last 100 years this space was an open air porch. Trying to lay out furniture in a room with a sloping floor is really tough, especially when the windows are all square. I mean, I’m glad the windows are square and level but it just gives the eye something to compare the sloping floor to constantly. It could drive an obsessive person like myself almost crazy. My solution was to position the sofa on the level side of the porch, and then add shallow shelves and a “fauxdenza” on the perpendicular sloping walls under the windows to create a level space for my eye  (and my cocktails) to rest. Functionality is key in a small space, and the shelves and fauxdenza allow us space to set our plants, a television and a couple of lamps. Plus it lets us store stuff in the cabinets. Adding these shelves was the solution. There was no other way to do this and I’m glad after four years I finally figured it out.

Low Shelf Doubles as Workspace
The shallow shelving is just deep enough to use as a workspace. I have fallen so in love with this room, I plan on working and blogging from here in the future. It’s peaceful, bright and inspiring and my new favorite place in the house. I would be crazy not to hang out in this porch all of the time, see ya later kids.

Ledge above Window
My friend Nicole had the fantastic idea of adding pre-fab ledges above the windows on these sloping walls as well. This was such a great solution because it covered up some damage that had happened to the embossed tiles due to some bad curtain rod installation (not my fault). I caulked the ledges and painting them and they look almost built-in to the space now.

Caulk, you guys (that’s what she said). I got comfortable with using it when I was fixing up the kitchen, and now I want to caulk everything. This room was riddled with gaps between the windows and trim, the clap boards, and the panelling. What would this room be without caulk?  Caulk is just another dimension of the second layer of homeownership. I must caulk all things, trim, windows, bathrooms, everything!  It will be caulked, oh yes, it will be caulked. Ha.

On both the ends of the porch I installed simple Enje roller shades from Ikea. I love the way they diffuse the light and block out the neighbors. You might have noticed my new bit of motivational artwork with the eff bomb in it too. After all the stress and anxiety over the last weeks, this highly inspirational phrase has become my new motto. Very crucial to the vibe of sunroom.

Sunporch Plant Shelf

Fauxdenza with Brass Pulls in the Sunroom
Awh, there it is! That pretty little fauxdenza that I love so much. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of the fauxdenza, it’s basically taking a set of Ikea kitchen cabinets, floating them 6 – 12 inches off the ground and adding some sort of top to make it feel like a floating credenza. Genius. What bettter solution for furniture in a sloping room then a fauxdenza? I love it so GD much. I didn’t get fancy with a top, just a simple piece of pine board. The pulls are standard Ikea pulls spray painted gold to compliment the other brass bits spread throughout the room. The pulls weren’t a big investment, so if I fall out of love with brass or faux brass (as it were) down the road it will be easy to swap out.

In planning the space I did something that I don’t normally do. I began brainstorming what I wanted this room to be and even created a word cloud. Yes that’s right, a mother effing word cloud. Wow, me, you are so old and boring! It had been on my to-do list forever to be brave and reupholster the sofa by myself. I knew I had to do that. I couldn’t let myself down. It was a goal, dammit. What I didn’t know was how the rest of the room would fall into place, thus the need for the word cloud to bring some clarity to the planning process.  No matter how totally nerdy it is,  I do think the motivational brainstorming helped me focus on a vision. After paging through my notebooks the other day I came across said list, which is below. At least it doesn’t include lame emotional words like “luxuriating” or something. It’s more practical than that, which is cool and not lame…right?

- Light – Bright – Black – White – Vintage – Brass – Plants – Soft Texture – Graphic Pattern – Modern – Navy Sofa -


Light Fixture and Ceiling Tile
I replaced the flush-mounted ceiling fixture with this beauty from Ikea. I wasn’t convinced at first, but the price was right and it grew on me over time. Sometimes it seems like compromises have to be made when spiffing up old homes. No one makes beautiful low profile, inexpensive, flush mounted ceiling fixtures for not-so-tall spaces. Ikea had something that seemed like it would work, but I wasn’t sure of the look. I took a chance, installed it, and now I kinda love it a little bit.

Navy Crosley Turntable and Guava Torres Rug
The rug is, by far, the thing that I didn’t expect from this room. It is definitely not mentioned in the cool word cloud. As I began my decor journey (yes, it was a journey) I spent a lot of time in the space, listening to the room, and getting a vibe for what it wanted to be, man. It was coming together but it needed something. I had been crushing on navy and coral for awhile and thought that might just be the thing, but I didn’t know how to incorporate it. Adding a coral pillow to the navy sofa seemed obvious, but felt like it would be too much of one color in one specific place. A pretty coral pillow on the side chair may have worked, but I couldn’t find anything that I loved. Then by chance I saw this rug. Maybe it is a little crazy to put an intensely patterned coral pink rug on the floor in my porch, but I really like it. And that’s just the way it is, guys.

Also, we got a new portable turntable! Okay, so maybe my audiophile dad might not approve of this overly expensive, cheaply-made little guy, but it suits us just fine and we can move it easily between the front porch and the sunroom. The turntable comes in navy, duh, you guys, just duh.

Cozy Four Season Sunroom with Fauxdenza and Navy Sofa
This whole room started with a sofa that needed badly to be reupholstered. I don’t know why I was so timid about rising to the reupholstery challenge, but I was. Sewing machines irrationally scare me, but I got a bit of courage, had a few of you friends give me some sage advice and I went ahead and took on sewing two long box cushions in thick navy upholstery fabric. Now look at where this little adventure has taken me – I have a whole new room that I love so much because I took a risk. When did I get so sappy, you guys? Anyway, it’s just another thing that will make me love this house more and more. I can’t mention it enough, (because then I would sound so uncool) but this has been such a rewarding trip for me.

Sunroom Before
In preparing for this post I became curious about the brass and copper parrot I’ve been toting around for the last eight years or so. It was given as a somewhat ironic birthday gift (hey it was the early oughts, irony was abound) from a friend. I always liked it, so I kept it around. I started googling brass parrots and quickly learned that this little guy is not an ironic thrift store find given to girls on their 24th birthday, but instead a piece by Mexican artist Sergio Bustamante, and it’s valued at a G or two. It’s like Antiques Road Show all up in here.  Thanks for the cool gift, old friends, you know who you are.

Black and White Accents and Lots of Greenery
All photos by Alison Allen, all styling by Nicole Ripplinger of Middle North Creative

The Budget & Source List

▽ 1 Gallon Behr Paint mixed to Farrow & Ball, All White – $31.99
▽ 1 Gallon Behr Paint mixed to Farrow & Ball, Wimborne White – $31.99
▽ Fauxdenza Materials and Supplies from Ikea – $157.96
Arod Ikea Work Lamp – $39.99
Desk Lamp from Target – $15.99
▽ Sofa Reupholstery Supplies – $282.05
Torres Kilim Rug in Guava from West Elm – $244.00
▽ Black and White Throw (vilmie rund throw) from Ikea – Free
Color Blocked Basket from Target – $24.99
Nate Berkus Vase from Target – $10.00
Basket Planter from Ikea – $29.99
Small White Planter with pattern from Ikea – $1.99
Bookhou Planter Sleeve – $25.00
Crosley Turntable Navy – $160
Flush Mounted Ceiling Fixture from Ikea – $39.99
Enje Roller Shades from Ikea – 4 @ $17.99

Total = $1,095.93



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My Tyte Jeff

Tyte Jeff
I’m sharing a post today that has nothing to do with my home, decor or design. It has nothing to do with why you guys typically visit me – and I hope that’s cool. Today I just had to take a sec to say how proud I am of my guy, Jeff (aka Tyte Jeff, aka Tyte Waff, aka Nedrick Lamar, Top Rapper). Today he is releasing his new EP TYTE JEFF.

Making music has always been apart of Jeff’s life. We met at the battle of the bands way back in 1998, my band Hardnox was battling his band The Killer Bees, it was true love, you guys. Ever since then I have always known Jeff to have a guitar in his hands (sometimes that gets annoying) and a fire in his heart.

When we had those (GD (J/K)) kids a lot of our personal ambitions were put on hold to make sure that those people got fed, were put to bed at a decent hour, and were well loved. Jeff has spent years working on this EP, putting bits and pieces of it together when time allowed (aka when those kids didn’t need something). Feeling an urgency to finally get this thing wrapped up, he has spent the last 18 months recording the jamz, fine tuning the mix, making a band and playing shows. Today is the day that he is finally releasing this most amazing six song EP.

I think the music is rocking, man, and the lyrics are just so good. As his wife, I am so proud of what he has made, and beyond happy that my partner has such great ambition in life. You should take a sec to listen to these tytest of jamz. You can stream TYTE JEFF below via sound cloud, listen to it on spotify or download it at the itunes store.

If you are local, perhaps the TYTEST way to hear the jams is to come out to the Turf Club, this Saturday April 19th in St. Paul, MN for the release show! Tyte Jeff will also be playing with the incredible Valet and The Ronnie Buxtons (ex Lifter Puller). Doors at 8PM. Hope to see some of you there!


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in Cool Things, Mix Tape, My Life

Signs of Spring

Impatiens and Petunias from Seed
Yes! You, guys! It finally feels like spring around here! I know some of you guys in other parts of the country and world have been experiencing spring for weeks already. Not us, but in Minnesota it could always be worse. We still have a few colder days ahead of us, but it’s warmed up enough to melt all the snow and even a few buds are starting to appear on the trees and bushes. I have been scouring my gardens daily for signs of life and am finally starting to see little glimpse. It’s all so exciting, I can’t even stand it!

Finn and I planted a few seeds in early March, I was going to write a post about it, but you know, my computer died and all that stuff. Now that it’s early April we have some tiny little plants in our seed pots. We tried something totally new this year. Instead of sowing veggies or zinnias from seed, which were never able to pull off the transition from seed pot to garden, we are trying to grow impatiens and petunias! This is something that I would typically buy a flat of from the garden center. I figured it was at least worth a try to grow them on my own, especially since impatiens grow quickly and are pretty hardy. I have to say, I’m super impressed with the impatiens. We used a tray system from park seed and the seeds are doing really well. I’ve had difficulty with other seed domes in the past, but this one is really heavy duty and self-watering (yeah-yer). In another month I would imagine that they will be similar in size of nursery plants and probably ready to go straight into the gardens and containers. The benefit was that I was able to purchase impatiens that were more sun tolerant – this is not always an option you can get at the nursery. The petunias on the other hand are still a little scrawny, but I’m not giving up on them yet. “Hang in there little guys!”

Restoring Weather Worn Wood Patio Furniture
I spent almost the entire day yesterday out in my garden. I’m on a mission to clean up all my gardens, edge borders and get the patio furniture cleaned up for this years backyard season.

Last year I discovered a way to really give life back to my wood patio furniture. I repeated the whole process this year too, with great results. I recommend trying this method if you have patio furniture that has seen better days. I am determined to keep this furniture looking good until some future date when maybe we build a deck.

Fiddle Leaf Fig
Look! Both of my fiddle leaf figs are starting to get new growth! I am so excited to see how they evolve over the next few months. Last year my first fig grew at least 18″ if not two feet over the course of one summer. This is what it looked like at then end of last February.

How to Hang Party Lights
It’s party light season! I totally love our party lights in a major way. Last year I strung the lights up using wire for a semi-permanent solution. I say semi permanent because they aren’t hard wired, but they are nicely secured over our backyard. Over the winter we had an ice/sleet storm and the weight of the ice took the lights down. Thankfully they landed in a soft bed of snow, it appears that the hook had popped out of the house. This year we will use a bigger hook and will be making sure it’s very well anchored.

Party lights transform our backyard during the evening into a really cool space. I’d like to use words like magical and whimsical to describe it, but I that just sounds a little dumb, mostly it is just awesome. I am really looking forward to spending many nights in the backyard – at least until the mosquitos begin to breed.

How to Make Macrame Lawn Chairs
I’m upping the macrame lawn chair game this year. I’ve got a few new ones in the works. I am documenting the whole process and will be putting together a new and improved tutorial with photos and videos. I should have that ready to share with you guys later this spring. Until then, you can give this vid a try if you really need to get your macrame on.

I am so excited, I hope you are too. I can’t wait to share spring and summer posts with you guys! Everyone, have a great weekend!


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