We had never liked that old iron gate.

Sarah Styf | Accepting the Unexpected Journey The gate leaning up against the garage after it had been removed.

The latch was broken, the whole gate kept coming loose from the house, and some of the spires had been broken off before we even bought the house. While we had spent the last three and a half years occasionally discussing what we would like to do with the gate, we kept putting it off. Our first phase of backyard renovations appeared to be a good time to fix the eyesore leading to the back of our house, but like most things related to our backyard, we decided to put it off until we had redone all of the decking.

When we finally bit the bullet and had the pea gravel torn up and carried into our front yard, the gate came out with it. We had to make a decision. Were we going to put the old gate back? Or were we going to buy the materials, put the wooden posts into the new concrete, and make a new gate altogether?

We went with the latter.

Jeff purchased three 4X4 posts, dug holes in the uncovered dirt, and we waited for dry enough weather that would allow for the concrete to be poured. When the construction crew was finally able to pour the concrete, we had three posts stuck in place waiting for another home improvement store trip and the stubborn determination to complete a home improvement job.

Sarah Styf | Accepting the Unexpected Journey Posts in freshly poured concrete

The weekend after the concrete was poured we had a three-day weekend, which meant that I could do some home improvement work on a Sunday afternoon without feeling like I had lost an entire weekend before going back to school. After our post-church lunch, we headed to Lowes and Home Depot, got the rest of the supplies that we needed, and Jeff and I got into the home improvement zone, a zone during which all other activity stops and our kids have to ask us multiple times if they need something because one or both of us has tools and materials in our hands that can’t be put down at a moment’s notice.

Jeff excitedly broke out the framing nailer so that he could attach the cross beams to the posts, putting three beams across to guarantee secured fence boards.

Sarah Styf | Accepting the Unexpected Journey

Then Jeff cut the fence boards to the appropriate length and I used the finishing nailer to attach each leveled board to the fence, working our way to the opening for the gate.

Once the fence work was complete, we used a framing kit to construct a gate that would eventually be attached to the fence. We attached the latch on the inside of the gate and attached the provided hinges so that we could easily nail the boards to the already installed gate.

By the time all of the fence boards were attached and we had installed additional hinges that would automatically close the gate, we were exhausted. We felt accomplished and the gate looked pretty. The problem? It didn’t quite open right. I said something about it at least looking pretty and my frustrated husband took it the wrong way and snapped at me, accusing me of being unhappy with the finished product. Lest our fightless home improvement project turn into test of our marital bliss, I left to get the groceries that we needed for dinner.

By the time I returned, my dear husband had fixed the gate problem. You see, he had this idea. He was going to attach a wheel to the left side of the gate to stabilize it and to allow it to roll along the ground as the gate opened and closed. It certainly sounded like a good idea, but in practice it just didn’t work. The uneven pavement in our driveway prevented the wheel from moving freely and instead put additional stress onto our newly built fence. While I was gone, Jeff had hammered out the wheel, destroying both the wheel and his frustration at his failed idea. With the gate working properly, he apologized for snapping at me and we stepped back to look at our finished project.

Sarah Styf | Accepting the Unexpected Journey The finished product

While we wait for the final stages of our pool decking to be completed, we just keep looking at our finished gate/fence and wondering what took us so long. And yes, we probably could have taken care of the gate situation a long time ago, but I have no regrets. With the new concrete we know that the gate is secure and we are proud of our completed project.

Now I just have to convince Jeff that the rest of the fence around our house doesn’t look that bad in comparison. Sigh! It never ends.

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