Let’s Gussy Up the Gazebo

$100 Room Challenge: The “Before”

Life Lately

Can I brain-dump for a minute? (Scroll to pics if you don’t need a life update.) Some fun things have happened this summer that have only slightly de-railed our yard plans, but in the best way possible. After a particularly challenging “woe is me”  and “what am I doing with my life” week back in early July (please tell me I’m not the only person that has these moments), I got a phone call from a local community college. It seems that my resume that I had submitted to an accounting adjunct position the previous year was unearthed, and they needed to cover a class in the Fall, and could I come in the next day to interview? Why yes, yes I can come in tomorrow to interview!

If you follow me on Instagram you already know – I got the job! If you are wondering, this is in addition to my regular day job with a CPA firm. They are being extremely supportive to me and we have rearranged my flex-time schedule to allow time for me to teach the class. Getting into academia has been a life-long goal of mine – I was always on the fence about accounting being my major back in college. So this is a very welcomed and exciting adventure for me that feels like years in the making. I’ve been applying for adjunct positions for about 6 years now, and about 10 years ago I had seriously considered leaving my career to go back to school to become a high school business teacher.  I quickly realized at the time that high schools were getting rid of this program and jobs were scarce so I stuck it out in accounting. When this post goes live – I will have already taught my first class! Anyone with teaching experience – please leave me tips in the comments!!

Also in the middle of the summer something else pretty amazing happened – I was asked to participate in wedding giveaway package and created some macrame hoops that were used as replacements to traditional bouquets. The whole wedding story was picked up by GreenWeddingShoes! It was some pretty insane social media coverage for a few days – especially for someone as ‘small potatoes’ as me. It created a little bit of a frenzy with custom orders that I’m trying to finish up before the school year starts. Friends, these are all great problems to have, and trust me when I say I’ve been pinching myself lately.

So, when my fellow blogger friend Elizabeth casually asked if anyone wanted to participate in a $100 room makeover challenge – why wouldn’t I jump at the chance to participate? I’ve got a few ideas why I shouldn’t (see above – and I’ve got a kindergartener this year!) but even more ideas of why I SHOULD. #1 – I thrive on this type of stress. I actually think I’m a little bit better at everything when my plate is full (except cleaning the house – priorities). #2 – Because nothing feels finished as our focus this summer was on yard maintenance. We waged WAR on the yard this year. It was more about pulling out the old dead stuff. Cutting down vines and dead trees to try to figure out what is left. Next year will be more about planting and putting stuff in and creating entertaining areas. So I’ve decided I’m going to pick one small area of the yard, call it a room, and feel like I’ve got something Instagrammable (I hate admitting that out loud, but it’s kinda the truth!) for all of our hard work over the past three months. I JUST NEED SOMETHING FINISHED AND PRETTY OK? This is as much for my mental stability as it is for actual usage for the family.

Phew – still with me?  Without further ado, I present to you:


Pros of our yard – there was once a TON of money and energy put into various entertaining areas in the 80s and 90s. Cons of our yard – a lot of it was let go several years ago and needs lots of TLC. But this is why we loved this house. We are fixer-upper people.

To give you a frame of reference, we’ve got a decently long driveway that ends in a circle at the top of the yard. As you pull up, our house is on your right, and there is a defunct waterfall, two little man-made ponds, a rotting-but-cute bridge, and this gazebo to your left, encircled by the driveway. We’ve got yard space on both sides, so this really sits in the middle of our acreage and everyone sees this area when they pull up.

I took some photos last August when we moved in. This is the view we see from our front door.

And if I’m standing by the pond/bridge/waterfall this is the side of the gazebo. It’s a very cool shape.

And this is the view from a side yard, where our vegetable garden is, looking at the front of the house.

So while this isn’t exactly a curb appeal update, because none of this space is visible from the road, it is definitely a first impression update as you get to the top of our driveway. And trust me when I say, first impressions are probably not great for our visitors.

The Plan

I am a fan of flowering plants. Not a huge shrub/bush person. I certainly appreciate the year-round green color, but I generally plan my gardens to have something that is blooming during the spring, summer, and fall. Here’s the game plan for the space for the next few weeks:

  • Tear out some of the shrubs
  • Clear away some of the “rock mulch” (This isn’t really great for plants as the rocks essentially cook the roots in the summer months)
  • Find some perennials that will flower during each season  (I’ve gotta get these in ASAP so they properly root before the first frost here in upstate NY!)
  • Powerwash and stain the gazebo (This should add years on the life of this thing!) (Accepting ideas on how best to stain the lattice roof in the comments!!)
  • Cozy and Pretty-ify the inside: String lights, pillows, maybe a little table inside to put down a drink? What else would you add, with a $100 budget in mind?So we

The Challenge

So we’ve got $100, one “room”, and one month (update posts on Wednesdays) to transform this little gazebo. I think we can do it!

Check Out My Progress!

Week 1   *   Week 2   *   Week 3   *   Week 4 Reveal

Check out the other bloggers participating this month! A huge thank you to Erin for creating such a fun event.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

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