Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Before And After - Living Room Renovation

The room that first won me over to this house, the one that really took my breath away (despite how nasty the house was as a whole) was this room--the formal living room.  The pillars give it a regal look.  The height of the room was amazing.  The wood floors, though in need of repair and new stain, made it feel vast and expensive. Huge windows flooded the massive room with warm light and turned the oak floors into a puddle of gold.  And the fireplace....well, I'm not really into mauve faux marble, but the mantle was lovely.  I could see its potential as a real showpiece.


The only problem with this room, as it stood, was that it was a big formal living space attached to a less-formal living space (our future family room).  Who needs two living areas joined together?  How would we define them and make each it's own purposeful space?  We decided to wall in the family room and make the formal living room (a space I find ridiculous in this day and age) into a music room/library.

The construction began almost immediately...


And soon there was a wall.  Then it was painted. We chose "Siberia" by Kwal, a warm grayish-beige color. Then the pillars were redone in a more simple craftsman style (the updated style was actually wrapped around the old one), and voila!  The new music room/library!

Well, sort of.  We haven't bought a piano yet.  And we haven't put up the wall-to-wall bookshelves yet.  Right now it's a holding tank for all the furniture that doesn't have a home.  But at least the space is defined. And the fireplace looks amazing now!  And someday soon we will have that library and (hopefully a baby grand) piano.

The Fireplace

Herringbone marble was used for the new tile surround.  Carerra was a little too grey and cold for me, so I picked this warmer tan and beige and cream colored herringbone tile called "crema marfil."   It came in pre-made sheets and was a little less expensive than the Carerra.

 The new hearth was made of slabs of the same gorgeous Silestone ("Tigris Sand") that we used on the kitchen counters, so it tied in beautifully with the other fireplace just off the kitchen.  

We kept the mantle as it was and will have gas installed in the fireplace at some point.  I think it turned out lovely!

I'm not sure when we'll finish decorating this space as the music room/library, but I'll post some more pictures when we do.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The House Is Done!!!

So...ahem...I'm embarrassed to realize that it hasn't been the 3 or 4 weeks I thought it had been since I last posted. Nope, it's been 3 MONTHS. Uh, sorry about that. So here's your update: 

We moved in June 1.

 The house isn't done.

 The house probably won't be done for a long time.

 The important things in the house are all done. The things which did not get done are just "frosting" not "toilets." In other words, the house is very functional and we can live without the things that didn't get done until such time as more money materializes out of thin air.

 The things that did not get done are: the garage doors (still bent up, 2 of 3 won't open), the bog (someday it will be a beautiful waterfall and pond), the landscaping (we did a little bit, but there's still 80% to be done), the loft (it's there and carpeted but no railing and no stairs/ladder), the spiral staircase (hindsight tells me we should have left it in and remodeled it, but instead it's just gone and will someday be replaced), the back deck (outside the master there used to be a patio but now it's a pile of rubble. Very attractive), the garage (the shiz-covered walls bear the last remaining signs of how nasty this house was before, floor still unstained), and the entire exterior (more on that in a minute). And there are a dozen or so loose ends such as missing closet doors, a range hood that's not vented, etc. I know it may seem like a lot didn't get done, but the list of what DID get done is even more impressive. So overall we feel like the house is in a good place and we are loving it.

We are not loving the new over-sized a/c bill to go with our new over-sized house.

We also didn't love the various plumbing issues that cropped up when the city's irrigation water main sprung a leak under our park strip or when my yard maintenance guy accidentally hooked the irrigation water pipe and culinary water pipe together causing, oh, about a million gallons of culinary water to dump down the irrigation pipe for a month. And no, that's not an exaggeration. When they guy came to my door to tell me our water usage was high, he didn't mention that it was literally ONE MILLION GALLONS high. I won't show you the bill that just came for that. I will give you 3,358.20 hints.  But let's keep this post positive.

Moving on to the awesome parts, I'm about to start doing a room by room before-and-after series. It won't be daily, but hopefully at least several times a week. Here's the first one....

House Exterior Before and After!

If you check it out, please leave a comment and tell me what you think!

Before-and-After -- Exterior

Ok, so it's finally time for a few before-and-after shots!  You've all waited so patiently.  And here's the first one: the exterior.

So this was our house when we bought it:

Hard to even see the house, huh?  It's nearly covered by the big plum trees, and bushes, and Chinese elms.  I can't remember just what exactly made me decide I wanted to see the inside! But for some reason, we called the realtor.  And the rest is history!

Overgrown is a good way to describe it.   Weeds, weeds everywhere!  Those dang Chinese elms start up and grow to 10 ft tall in a few weeks, so imagine 7 years of being left to grow.  But the lawn, of course, did not flourish.  Big Daddy does not look happy about the amount of yard work he is in for.


And the backyard looked like this...

 More overgrown shrubs and bushes...

More weathered paint and weedy cracks in the cement.

And, of course, The Bog.  What was probably once a lovely water feature had grown so thick with algae that Daphne actually thought it was grass and tried to walk across it! And...fell in. Up to her thighs in nasty, brackish water.  

And off the master bedroom, the one-time....?  Patio?  Who knows.  Now just a pile of rubble and a crooked, rotted column.

So that's what we fell in love with.  Somehow we looked at that house and thought, "Yep, that's the house for us!"  But we were both somehow overcome by the same vision while looking at this house, the same dream of what could be.  So we took the plunge.

Not long after having our offer accepted, you may remember that we had our architect friend Aaron Inowye of Inowye Design draw up a plan for us to turn our 90's monstrosity into a pseudo-craftsman-Cape Cod-ish thing.  The design looked like this:
It included covering all the stucco with hardie-plank, adding wood shakes to a few sections, lowering the peak on the turret, expanding the porch, adding a few decorative gables, and putting on thick white trim wherever possible.   So the house would go from this:

 to this.

Unfortunately, none of this exterior stuff happened.  We spent so much money and time on the inside that the exterior had to get put on the back burner.  Someday we'll have money again, like maybe just before our children graduate high school, and we can use their college funds to fix up the outside.  But for now the exterior looks about the same.

We did manage to cut down the huge plumb tree blocking the front, killed off some of the weeds, and we added in sod (hooray!).  But the rest of that will have to wait too.  Anyway, here's what we're living in today...


The front porch doesn't have the nice pillars and such from the drawing yet, but there's a new door, new porch lights, some batten board to cover up where the old window used to be, and a fresh coat of paint.


We built on a covered porch on the back, so there's a nice shady spot to sit in the afternoon and evening.  And the 1 ratty old door + 2 windows to the back yard became 2 new French doors and 1 window. Here's the new patio space:

The backyard and The Bog have been slightly thinned out.  You can see some of the water now if you look really closely. Well, not the water water, but the algae on top of the water.


I don't know...that probably doesn't look any different to you!  I swear, it's way more dramatic in real life.

The exterior in the back looks the most different.  There is an addition sticking out where it used to be flat.  The second 3-panel window/door/window combo is gone in place of just a large picture window (the one from the front of the house as a matter of fact).  And you can see where we brought the roof line across to create the covered patio here.   (Well, you can kind of see it behind all those Chinese elms shoots!)


So that's the exterior.  Right now it looks a lot like the house did in the beginning.  (Original pic from late 90's below.  Minus the peach stucco, Thank Goodness.)



Someday we'll do the whole Cape Cod/craftsman thing.  Probably right about the time that stucco becomes super popular again with our luck.  But for now the house is going to stay pretty much like this.