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!