A Luxury Front Walkway

It’s been a long time in the making but The Downtown Luxury Slum now has a walkway leading from the sidewalk to the front porch so you don’t have to trample over the grass.

When we bought the Downtown Luxury Slum and until now, you’ve had to trample over the grass to get to the front porch.

New roof

This has generally not been horribly problematic aside from the one hidden hole that I could never successfully fill in and that always seemed to attract unsuspecting ankles.

It took me quite a while to figure out what kind of walkway might look good because the steps are 10 feet wide and the entire length of the walkway would also be about 10 feet and having a square walkway seemed weird. And having half of the steps not leading to a walkway also seemed weird. But I finally came up with a plan and submitted it to the Raleigh Historic Development Commission along with my request to build a backyard shed. The plans were approved way back in July but that happens to also be when we bought the Mulberry House so I didn’t get around to actually building the walkway or shed until now.

I actually started in January, and then it snowed, and it finally got warm today so I finished up!

Here are some progress shots:

Laying out the walkway

I used green spray paint to mark where I needed to dig. Thinking about colouring the entire lawn this way next winter.

Digging up the lawn

After I marked out my plan, I started digging. I had this idea that I would start participating this this cutesy Instagram thing called #RenovationFancyFriday, but it turns out that I am not cutesy.

After getting the appropriate amount of lawn dug up, I laid down some heavy-duty landscaping fabric.

Then I laid down these paver panels and this edging which is basically what allowed me to not have to dig another couple feet and buy a ton of gravel. I’m going to admit that maybe I still should have leveled the soil a bit better before laying bricks, but oh well.

Our very first pile of bricks actually came from the chimney of a house that had been moved from a block away from us. A few more bricks got collected randomly as we went on walks over the summer, and I grabbed a couple from the crawlspace of the Mulberry house. But that wasn’t enough so we went on a search for more.

Andrew helped me collect some bricks from various brick graveyards around the neighborhood. This one is just around the corner from us on our block. Another was a few doors down from his old house. Another yet was a neatly stacked pile that a Nextdoor neighbour tipped me off about.

I love the way the pattern turned out and also how incredibly obvious it is that we did not buy these bricks from a brickyard.

The last step for the actual walkway was filling in all the little gaps with sand, which is honestly still a bit of a work in progress. But this picture was taken the day before it snowed, I think, so the rest of the project got put on hold for a few weeks.

But today I was able to finish up digging the garden beds out a little better and filling them with as much soil as I could fit in my shopping cart.

Hopefully I’ll get to plant some pretty flowers in the next couple of weeks.

The mailman is enjoying the new walkway. I hope someday you will get to too.

Is the Downtown Luxury Slum Finished?

Are you among the 6 million people wondering if the Downtown Luxury Slum is finished? The short answer is no, but read on if you want more details.

People always ask me if the house is finished.

Yes, we’ve got a good roof, solid walls, functioning doors and windows, a floor that you can actually stand on, electricity, running water, flush toilets, heat, and air conditioning. We’ve also got perfectly painted walls, beautiful bathroom tile, matching appliances, the prettiest hardwood floors you ever did see, and a triple folding door that opens to the backyard. We’ve got functional furniture in every room. So the house could be finished.

But what’s the fun in that?

Here’s what I plan on working on in the next little while. Maybe this year?


  • Add a backsplash. I’m leaning towards copper of some sort, but we might still go with tile.

Dining Room:

Dining Room
  • Get a new dining room table. We’ve got a pretty good sized table, but I want a HUGE table. I’m undecided if I actually just want two large tables or one huge one. Ideally I want one made of reclaimed wood but I’m undecided if I want to try to build one (or two) myself or keep shopping for the perfect one.
  • Get chairs to go with the dining room table. It’s very unlike me, but I love the idea of mismatched (but all white) chairs to go with the table. Currently we have three mismatched chairs, a bench that matched the table, and then we use black folding chairs for extra seating. The biggest downside of mismatched chairs is that they won’t easily be stackable for storage.
  • Convert what is currently the bike storage closet into an “office”. Basically I’d put my desk and chair in there and add sliding doors so it would be hidden away when not in use.

Living Room:

Living Room
  • Get a coffee table. We currently have two mismatched IKEA Lack tables that aren’t big enough even together. I don’t really know what I want this table to look like, but I don’t want to to overly obscure Gary, our cowhide rug.

Master Bedroom:

  • Move my desk out. To the new “office” off the living room.
  • Get a headboard. This is so far down the priority list, but now that we have a bed with a frame rather than just a mattress on the floor, I think we need a headboard. I’m trying to sell Andrew on a pink velvet one.

Master Bathroom:

  • Build a piece of furniture to contain all of the cat stuff. I’m working on this now so hopefully I’ve have something to show you in the next week or two.


  • Build a walkway from the sidewalk to the front porch. Currently you just have to walk through the grass to get to our front door. I’m envisioning reclaimed brick in a herringbone pattern.
  • Get a porch swing. I don’t feel that I need to justify this.
  • Build a walkway around the side of the house to get to the backyard. I’m not sure if I want to do more brick for this or something more porous to encourage drainage through the ground when it rains.
  • Build a shed. Move the bikes out of the dining room. The shed would also store tools and projects that I’m working on so that I don’t have to wait days for everything to dry after it rains, only for it to rain again.
  • Build a firepit. I’m leaning towards wood burning, though I think it would be easy enough to do gas.
  • Plant climbing vines around the perimeter of the yard. Because as luxurious as it is, the chain link fence just isn’t pretty.
  • Add to the garden. Because I’m a crazy person, I’m trying to figure out a way to incorporate bench seating and a compost pile into raised beds.

So that should keep me busy for a while.