Real Life Home

Posts about our 40 acres of land in Alberta, Canada and the home we hope to build there one day.


How to Tape Out Your New Home's Floor Plan

Laying Out a Floor Plan by Of Houses and Trees | Designing a house? What you see on paper and what you see in real life can be very different, which is why laying out a floor plan with tape is important.Something I have been looking forward to doing since I started designing our Real Life Home was the day when we could tape out a simple floor plan and explore how it felt in full scale. After having spent hours upon hours adjusting, aligning, deleting, nudging, massaging and just plain old staring blankly at our plans, you better believe I know every nook and cranny intimately. But I also know from my time spent working at an architect's office that what you see on paper and what you see in real life can be very different, which is why laying out a floor plan - in full size - is so important.

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Land Tour 2017

Land Tour by Of Houses and Trees | Welcome to my land tour! We're building a house here, but for now it's just 40 acres of rolling hills, trees and undergrowth in central Alberta, Canada.

I’ve been wanting to take you all on a tour of our land for quite awhile now. You can read all about how it came to be ours in my post The Story of Our Land. I think the pictures in that post give a good idea of what the land is all about. And I hope my writing paints a vivid word picture. I do tend to get kind of poetic when waxing on things I’m passionate about.

But if a picture is worth a thousand words (and as a writer, I’m not sure I always buy that line), then how many pictures is a video worth? I suppose it depends on the content and the quality of the video, but I think this one captures the true – and largely untamed – beauty of our land.

I hope you enjoy watching my land tour video as much as I enjoyed making it!

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How to Plant a Tree Sapling

Planting a Sapling by Of Houses and Trees | There's nothing like planting a sapling. They're so tiny, it's almost unimaginable one day they'll be towering trees. But with proper care - they will!

There's nothing like planting a sapling. They're so tiny, it's almost unimaginable one day they'll be towering trees. Trees with the ability to provide shade, a home to insects and animals and in some cases fruit to eat. From something so small to an integral part of our ecosystem, communicating with its kin through underground networks and providing oxygen for us to breath. Which, you know, is kind of important.

Devin and I try to plant a few trees every year out on the land. It's our way of saying thank you to a place that gives us so much joy and doing our part in the battle against deforestation and other unsustainable practices. So, if you've never planted a tree - you really should!

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The Story of Our Land

April 8, 2016

The Story of Our LandI recently realized that although I talk about our land on Of Houses and Trees quite regularly, I've never actually told the story of how it came to be "ours." But first, let me clarify something. I don't believe that the land and all the creatures and plants and organisms that live on it can actually belong to a person. I think of it more like a mutually beneficial guardianship – our land is something we take care of and in return it brings us joy in the form of fresh air, space and the sound of wind in the trees. And the idea of looking after something is a good place to start this tale, because – in part – we were motivated to buy the land in order to protect it from those who may not have had its best interests in mind.

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You Shall Not Pass: A Tale of Two Gates

September 7, 2015

You Shall Not Pass: A Tale of Two Gates

I'll use anything as an excuse to throw down a Lord of the Rings quote (and apparently a bastardized title of a Dickens novel, because I'm all about literary reference mashups), even when it comes to something as innocuous as a handmade wooden gate. But it's a pretty awesome gate! Designed by Devin and I, built by Devin and his dad, our new gate took the place of our previous method of securing the land – a very long, very heavy metal chain that was the bane of my existence on several separate occasions. The bane!

Let me break it down for you.

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Real Life Home Design Board #1: Living Room

Real Life Home Design Board #1: Living Room

I've decided there needs to be a word/phrase for when you're inspired by other people's inspirations (like what happens on Pinterest all day every day and into the wee hours of the night too). How about inspiration squared? Ininspiration? Reinspiration? Well, whatever you want to call it, I got it big time while recently reading the blog The DIY Mommy, specifically the Our DIY House series, which features the building and interior design process of a new foursquare-style home.

The blogger, a trained graphic designer, went through each room of the home and made up what she calls a "Mood Board," which essentially is the Photoshop equivalent of cutting images from a magazine and gluing them to some white paper.

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Deciding on Siding

June 30, 2015

Deciding on Siding
Image Credit: Pixabay

"Oh my god, [I'm] back again…" and I obviously have Backstreet Boys on the mind since watching their riveting documentary "Show 'Em What You're Made Of" on Netflix the other weekend. (I'm not even being facetious, it was surprisingly moving.) And just like BSB when they came out with their second album, I'm back without having actually gone anywhere. But now that Devin's laptop has an external keyboard hooked up to it, the AutoCAD muses are sending me productive vibes once more.

That's right! The design of our new house is back on track and the time has come for me to start thinking about exterior siding. Our current home has one type – horizontal vinyl boards in beigey-grey. Yuck. (My apologies to anyone who loves vinyl siding or the colour beigey-grey.)

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A Horse (Fence), Of Course

June 4, 2015

A Horse (Fence), Of Course
Possible boo-boo inducing situation.

Land news! No, I haven't finished (nor started, really) another house design. Devin's computer has gone on the fritz and it's the one that has AutoCAD on it so everything happening on that front is happening in my head. And while we won't be living out there anytime soon I am pleased to announce that the land has new residents of the four-legged variety. Horses!

Seven little beauties that are going to be munching the summer away on our pasture and drinking in the pond that Devin dug last year. Prepping the land for (other people's) animals has been a process several years in the making and, while I haven't had a direct hand in things, I can confidently say I was indirectly involved in the following ways:

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So Close and Yet... (House Design Woes)

May 8, 2015

So Close and Yet... (House Design Woes)
Oh erstwhile future home, we hardly knew ye. (At least I didn't have to draw it all by hand.)

We had never been so close to actually doing it. Selling our comfy, cozy, happy home and moving out to the wilderness… of rural Parkland County. We talked to a realtor. We started madly doing all the projects that needed to be done before we listed. We even met with the bank and were relieved to find out that financially – this could actually happen. But then we told them we're planning on building a garage apartment, not an actual house, and that was kind of that, my friends.

We knew that the county would potentially balk at the garage apartment as we'd heard rumblings they were finicky about these things. But, honestly, I didn't think the bank would care much. I mean – a house is a house is a house… right?

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Apartment Living in the Country

February 26, 2015

Garage Apartment by Of Houses and Trees | A garage apartment, aka carriage house, can be used as a primary residence, guest suite or rental property. Versatile! Which is why we're building one.
(Image Credit: All images found via Pinterest.)

I realized I haven't posted an update on one of the main focuses of this blog, which is my own adventures in designing a brand new home, in a very long time… I actually don't think I've ever posted an update on the subject, if I'm being honest. And, if you know me, you know I'm always honest. So update on!

When it comes to the type of house we'd like to build on what we've affectionately dubbed "The Land" (40 acres of rolling hills and trees just north of Stony Plain, Alberta), my husband and I have gone back and forth, up and down and in all other possible directions.

What started out as a Victorian-inspired, turreted two-storey morphed into a one-and-a-half storey cape cod/craftsman complete with matching garage apartment.

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Of House and Trees Blogger Archive

Of Houses and Trees Blogger Archive
(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

If you're looking for my older posts (or just trying to navigate away from this site and over to Pinterest... you know, where the real magic happens) they are currently still hanging out on my old Blogger site. After much trial and error, it turns out the best way to import my previous posts to my new site is to do so manually. As in reconstructing them one at a time. Good thing I wasn't a very prolific poster in those days as it is time consuming work! So the old posts will be gradually moseying their way over to their new home on the new and improved Of Houses and Trees site, but in the meantime try and drop by to say hello – even blog posts get lonely in their old age.

And while you're there don't forget to comment as your lovely and thoughtful words will be imported with each post...

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