This post is part of an ongoing series presented by Lowe's. Never Stop Improving

We're making some progress on the back yard!

But first, I still get a lot of questions about our renting/renovating situation here at the brownstone, so I thought I'd clarify again.

I'm sure you can imagine how expensive it is to own a home here in New York City. The prices are crazy, as well as the maintenance fees and taxes. We would love to own a home some day soon and are saving to make that a possibility, but for the next few years or so, we're feeling really lucky that we found a comfortable house in a great neighborhood, with a landlord that lets us do whatever we want.

He's giving us a break on rent in exchange for fixing and updating the home and he's paying for a lot of the renovation work we're doing. There was a long list of projects made before we moved in that the landlord agreed to fully pay for, and the things above and beyond that, we can approach him with separately. So far he's been willing to cover most of the things we felt like were his responsibility. Then there have been other random things that he doesn't care about that we've had to pay for ourselves (like refinishing the floors - which we ended up not doing. Sad, I know). We knew that would be the case though, so we don't mind still taking on many of these projects. We'll just do them for the least amount of money as possible!

The landlord is not too anxious to put money into the yard (understandably), so we're paying for everything there. I mentioned earlier this week that we don't have any lighting in the backyard. I've ordered some globe string lights for the upper and bottom decks (hopefully they'll come next week), but I also wanted something a little brighter for the upper deck.

I found these outdoor grade (which is important to have for this project) clamp lights and extension cord at the hardware store. The largest size clamp light was only $7, so I bought three.

I took off the bowl shades and spray painted them with this really pretty Rustoleum enamel called Glacier Ice. It's a soft bluey green-gray. (how's that for a description?)

I just did the outside of the bowls because I wanted to leave the inside the reflective chrome. I love how the color is so vintage looking!

At the same time I spray painted a couple of pieces of scrap wood I had left over from the bookshelf project we did this week (pictures coming soon!!), that I cut to be about 2x3. The total length with the two pieces was about 125". I sprayed the wood and some metal L-brackets with a flat black enamel.

When those were dry, we evenly spaced and screwed the L-brackets to the wood.

We drilled some pilot holes into the brick using a masonry bit and then hung the wood on the brackets using anchors and masonry screws.

Once the ledge was installed, we just clamped on the three lights. Part of the reasoning behind using a deeper piece of wood as the ledge to clamp the lights to, was so we could hide the cords easily.

I did end up putting a handful of staples down to keep some of the cords in place, but for the most part, the system is completely moveable, so if we ever want to take down the lights it would be super simple.

Here's the view from the ground. Pretty clean!

The back doors are not centered on the building, so the lights don't line up with the door, but it doesn't really bother me. I'd rather have the lights more closely centered on the house.

We ended up sort of splitting the difference.

We used the lights for the first time last night and they worked great! We even pushed the lamp heads up to have more light out in the back of the yard.

I'm so excited to get the string lights too. I think the two will look so pretty together!

We might be ready to do something different by next spring, but for about $30 in supplies, I think this was a great solution for us right now.