Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Back Nook

It's been challenging to show ya'll what we've been doing because we are in the midst of "many" projects and none are really the "after" picture I was hoping for.  Nonetheless, I always feel encouraged when a friend walks through who hasn't seen the place in a while and they can't believe the progress.  I hope you can appreciate it too.

Over the past few months, we've been working tirelessly on making the rooms "livable".  By livable I mean, better insulated, supported and safe.  We started with the back nook, moved to the office area and have been focused on the finishing touches in the bathroom and kitchen - - namely the tile work and hood.

Unfortunately, we (i.e. "Ang") miscalculated the amount of tile we were going to need for a kitchen and the new eating nook and we were on a four month hold to wait for the tile to be shipped from China!  In my defense, we did have enough tile but I thought the grey would go great in our entryway too and that is where I messed up.  How was I supposed to know the tile store would sell out!

In any event, our house is odd and the property records are sparse.  We've hunted through property records and the city has different records from the county and then the tax assessor has even different records. What we do know is that the house is permitted for four bathrooms and anywhere between 2-3 units, depending on your resource.  At one point in time, we imagine that the house was much like a box with a covered porch off to the side (the side closest to the driveway).  Sometime in the 50's or 60's the owners added the big white box of stucco onto the front of the house, which looks less than stellar in our opinion.  We actually just found out on July 4th that this area was indeed permitted so this is great news!

The back of the house has a little pop-out addition as well but we have no idea when it was built?  The previous owners actually used this space as their cooking kitchen complete with a stove.  It seemed odd to us because it's not in the actual kitchen, it was porrly insulated and suffered some serious wear and tear over the years.  After some discussion with friends and family as to how to best utilize this space, we decided to create a casual dining room out of the area.  It makes sense because it's closest to the back yard, which is great for evenings we want to use the back patio and it has incredible views of the Los Angeles skyline.  We will now use the old "dining room" complete with box beams for a more casual family room and this will flow nicely into the more formal living room space which is adjacent and runs along the front of the house.

Here are some pics of our progress:

The back nook before -!

We actually installed just one 4 x 4 window but it didn't maximize the view so we reinstalled two

We had to reinforce this whole back nook with timbers and strengthen the floor joists -the white paper around the windows is actually flashing to keep out moisture.  Generally, the walls are composed of  2x4's, insulation, plywood, tyvek paper (the black stuff hanging) then siding - she's solid now.

Checking out the floor joists

We picked a very similar color to the existing house with just a touch more grey in it. Obviously, the upstairs windows are a work in progress.  The upper right side will eventually be the rooftop deck and below it is the office - our bedroom(s) are on the left side of the house.  Right now, we're living upstairs. Oh, and there is still a little trim for the windows to finish yet so don't hold this against us ;) 

Pretty snazzy right?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Much to update

Lots to update so here we go!  As you've probably noticed, the windows in our house are ugly, old and completely energy inefficient. This "inefficiency" is actually pretty good for us because we managed to purchase a bunch of our windows before the end of 2010 so we could reap the rewards of the federal tax credit. Bummer that we had to spend so much money on windows but glad that we'll be able to see some  green when we get our tax returns back!   A couple of you have asked for pictures of our backyard (and by a couple, I mean Piper).  So, it's not perfect or finished but here are some photos for ya'll.  Beba LOVES the yard but so does our coyote (yes, we have one living in our backyard)

Unfortunately, we didn't get a great picture of the backyard when we moved in so I pulled this from zillow and it's actually a really terrible picture (outdated) of the house.  Please note that the house was painted white before we moved and the garage was re-roofed so it didn't look quite so terrible but pretty bad nonetheless

This was after we started doing some work.  We really wanted a patio area to eat and hang out in so we came up with this plan.  You can see that we started by leveling off a section up top and using railroad ties to lock it in place.

This picture was taken last summer and you can see how we put a layer of decomposed granite over the top for a nice hard surface that is also a "natural" look.  The granite has already compacted so much more since this photo, which is a lot nicer to walk on.

Also taken last summer.  This picture was taken shortly after we spread the granite over top.  I think this picture also does a fairly decent job of showing the background beyond this patio area...full of weeds, dirt and just

This is a photo taken this week.  You can see the yard in the back and most of all, the pavers that we painstakingly poured ourselves.  I think about 8 bags of concrete went into each of these 3'x3' pavers and man, is it difficult to stir!  It's like stirring chocolate chip cookie dough x 20...with a shovel. 

Taken on 3/9/11.  You can see the fire pit we put in last summer but Russ wants to add some steps down into it hence the mess.

The yard

A better picture of the pavers

Despite living 1.1 miles from downtown L.A., we are constantly in awe of how quiet and serene our neighborhood is. Lately, I feel like we live in an exotic jungle because there are so many birds chirping their little songs every morning.

We have a lot more plans for the backyard that we hope to execute this summer.  Namely, we want to take our garden to the next level, build a trellis and create a horseshoe pit.  For our garden, we're thinking raspberries, corn, artichokes, lots more lettuce, peppers and fruit trees!  All is going great and I'll update you on those new windows as soon as I can.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A quick update

I have been so busy and while that's not an excuse, it's gonna have to do.  As most of you know, I am also an aspiring host/actor and am also pursuing my real estate license (which, by the way is a lot of reading - - way more than I thought!).  In any event, I wanted to at least post some pics of some of the major work we've been up to.

exterior back (i know we haven't made it to the pretty siding stage)
new windows!  behind these windows is going to be the office, to the left of the windows is the kitchen, above these windows is where we plan to make a rooftop deck (you can see the original house siding on the left.

We live in the upstairs. The dining room will be on the left where those new windows are also going in (they are level, the siding is not - - we need to put all new siding on but are going to do our best to keep the historical siding that is currently on the main home (center). You should really see the view from these windows ;)

The "office" before
The "office" after - such a difference!

More to come but thought I'd give you the quick and dirty version.  There is so much more that has happened but gotta run! 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tackling the backyard - fire pit, and lovely plantings

Summer has been very busy.  Between various trips to escape the renovation...I mean enjoy each others company ;)  we've actually managed to make some progress.  Namely, we decided to really focus on the backyard and we broke it in at my big birthday on the 5th of September.

Think of the below photos as "in progress".  The entire lot is about 10,000 square feet and the backyard is pretty large and used to slope down.  We dug out the dirt, used railroad ties to create a separate patio area and used decomposed granite as a "topping".  And last but not least, we finally got to a point where we could call the fire pit "finished".  We are super excited also because our buddy, Jose, offered us a bunch of free dirt to help us level out the rest of the yard and then we're installing a sprinkler system and laying grass (Holla!!!). 

You'll also see my poor little vegetable garden that has struggled mightily this summer.  It's tough to keep produce alive when you're not home regularly to water and the bugs get into the leaves.  We do have some good tomatoes though and a sweet baby cantaloupe forming so fingers crossed :) 
I stripped the paint off this old door and painted it a snazzy green and accented with some potted plants (to the right).  Russ has been laboring on the cement slabs (we have 6 more to lay)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Maybe too much time has passed....nahhhh

Despite the millions (o.k., dozen or so) folks who kept asking us (i.e. "Ang") to update our blog, I feel that we reached a point somewhere in early July where updating the blog became a bit ridiculous.  With so much time passing from our last update in March, I felt overwhelmed and even began convincing myself that we hadn't really accomplished all that much.  In the era of HGTV, where immediate results seem to be the norm, I began thinking thoughts like, "the 'after' photos won't look nice enough".

Master Bath Before - well you can check out a previous post to see the bathroom down to the studs!
Finally a toilet installed - we chose a dual flush because it saves water.  Check out the fancy window too!

I wouldn't say "after" but getting closer - the paint color is on the wall "cobblestone" and you can see the fantastic tile work by Rusty!

Testing out the body close!

But, I began looking through our blog photos and many of our house photos since the spring and I'm convinced that we have indeed made respectable progress.  We don't have a 20 man team and expert designers working around the clock, but we are capable and able...when we find the time.  We are on a budget and everything takes a lot more time (and money) especially when it's just the two of us (or three, with our buddy Mark helping us out).  Not to mention, the "Mr." works at his real job for a minimum of 60+ hours/week!  No more excuses though, we are doing great and the house is coming along.

Making the opening from "nook" to kitchen larger to allow more light and easier flow.
Project complete!
We were fortunate to have Russ' sister, MacKenzie, and bro-in-law, come for a weekend and help prime and tile. 

Look at Justin with that tile saw!
After he installed backerboard, Russ used a lot of quick set/mortar to ensure the tiles were perfectly level - such an engineer.

I've become the designated "go to" girl which means I do a lot of the advance work, selecting paint colors, driving to remote locations to scout the best deal on counter tops, heck - I even got us into the finals for a new show on HGTV!  It would have been perfect to have  team of experts helping us out, but apparently, they "are no longer considering using us for their show".  BOOOOOO!
Maybe a little excessive on the grout but it turned out beautiful!

One wall of the kitchen.  We added the little desk area to the right and will put granite on it.  The big hole is for the double-oven.

Obviously, we need to replace the ugly window.  You like the subtle paint color above the stove?
Here you can see the beautiful window Russ and Mark installed and I think this image shows the widened opening from the kitchen to the back nook really well

Guest bedroom downstairs before paint


Russ leveling out the upstairs back unit (where we are currently living) in preparation for hardwood floors.
The hardwoods almost installed - full disclaimer - we ended up getting some guys from craigslist and they did an awesome job!

This was taken sometime in June - always a work in progress but we enjoy our weekends and seeing the fruits of our labor.

We used railroad ties to create a separate patio space and layered gravel with decomposed granite to give it a more finished look.  The table and chairs - another Craigslist find.  All I had to do was sand and clean and they're as good as new!

MAIN HOUSE (approx 2000 square feet - the downstairs - where we will eventually live)

Paint colors - We've selected various shades of grey throughout the entire house with the exception of the guest bedroom - that is a grey/green.  We hope to accent with turquoise, orange and possibly fuschia

Kitchen - Installed lower cabinets, cook-top stove (A Viking that we found on Criagslist of course), built small desk, installed 9 new can lights, installed new window, completed tile floor, painted ceiling
(Need to: finalize counter tops, install backsplash, get someone to build corner upper cabinet, find a new window for above sink, paint walls)

Master Bathroom - Finally figured out how to install the body sprays, hired someone to come and hot mop the basin to prep for tile (a water proofing for the basin of shower), completed built in above claw-foot bathtub, finalized plumbing, installed window above toilet, selected chandelier and other light fixtures, installed can lights,
(Need to: finalize counter tops, tile shower, install glass doors on shower, finish painting)

We are working hard on the downstairs and trying to focus on one room at a time.  Once the kitchen and bathroom are complete, we'll look at installing all new wood flooring and then we'll tackle the "nook", which will be our dining room, the office, laundry room, and the second bathroom.  There's more but that'll take a while.

As for the upstairs (two units), we moved to the back unit, which now has beautiful hard wood floors and finalized the front unit (see above flyer) so that we can hopefully rent it out.  You can see that we finished the bathroom with new tile surround, new vanity, light fixture, toilet and I refinished the tub and painted.  You might be able to get a glimpse of the new carpet too in the upper picture of the flyer, it's a pretty looped carpet that has a high end look but keeps it quiet for us downstairs :)

I best be getting back to my painting and Russ is working on the master bath shower.  To be continued (always).  xo

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Off the radar

Lo Siento mis amigos, it's been a LONG time and I apologize.  Lots has been happening in our neck of the woods namely foundation work, tiling and "life".  Also few weeks ago, Russ and I bit the bullet and purchased our cabinets for the kitchen and got a great deal.  We not only received cabinets for the house, we have cabinets for many other random locations throughout the house because we found them on Craigslist and the seller had a heap of them! 

Good for us because he also threw in 2200 square feet of trimboard, a jettted bathtub, a Kohler 5-shower spray shower set, 5 sets of gorgeous closet doors, glass for a custom shower, about 300 square feet of tile along with two single sink vanities and a double sink for our master bath!  I'd be lying though if I didn't say that it is wearing on my patience at the amount of time everything takes!  Russ and I both are working (yes, I am now doing random HR and accounting work for a bar!) and Russ works close to 60+ hours/week so it's slow but it's all about patience.

We don't have amoney truck rolling up any time soon so we are relegated to doing most everything by ourselves and ya know what, that's o.k.  We are maintaining a decent balance and are actually headed to Mexico in a couple of weeks to escape the house, jobs and just enjoy a margarita (or three). 

That's right, I sit in the cab waiting for Russell the Muscle to load the junk up...I'm not stupid...buff, but not stupid :)

Mr. Hot Stuff and his buddies loading the master bath vanity (without the countertop)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Demolition and the bathtub "before" my fantastic refninishing work!

Hooray, we have internet!  That means ya'll are gonna get a lot more updates from us!  I'm in a bit of a hurry but wanted to post some of the "before" photos as well as my bathtub "before" I refinish it.. 

The bathtub is already looking gorgeous but I need to wait until the temperature is at least 72 degrees (per the directions) because my first coat of paint went on a big goopy because it was closer to 55 degrees (ladies, sort of like an old nail polish and how it looks streaky and doesn't dry because it's too thick....that's what it looks like right now).  have no fear though, I'm gonna use some steel wool, sand it out a bit and then recoat it.  I can't stress enough though, the need for a mask and healthy ventilation...this stuf is TOXIC!

The "before" icky bathtub

The love of my life and super sexy construction worker/husband

Me looking not so sexy but this is what you get during a renovation!

Ah ha, the gorgeous claw-foot bathtub we hauled all the way from Santa Monica, with it hanging out of our trunk (on a Saturday night!)- - can't wait to soak my bones in this!