Friday, August 24, 2012

Under The Tuscan Sun

Before we begin a chronicle of our current renovation, the revamp of our main house, a very traditional 1939 two-bedroom, one-bathroom house, we must first start at the real beginning: our back yard. Without question, the backyard is the inspiration for our main house. And well, our backyard renovation, which thankfully is now complete, was inspired by the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun."
   I saw this movie (way back in 2003), loved it and even contemplated for a short while how I could move my family there. Not possible. So, the only logical solution was to move a bit of Tuscany into our backyard. Possible? Yes. Easy? No.
   What we did have in our favor, however, was traditional California landscaping that just happens to bear a striking resemblance to Tuscan vegetation. We already had mature orange and lemon trees and as luck would have it—plenty of Italian Cypress trees—nearly twenty of them planted by the original owner. So tall, these trees tower over every other tree on our block (and thankfully block out most of the freeway, which doesn't add to a Tuscan feel at all!)
   What we didn't have in our favor was pretty much everything else: A broken down blue plastic liner pool from the 1970s with a dilapidated fiberglass slide. (I admit this is why I fell in love with this house in the first place. As a kid, I always wanted a pool with a slide--and well, this one had it!) The other trouble with the pool: obsolete equipment, including a rusted out heater than didn't work, ripped liner and cracked concrete patio. A big eye-sore and potential death-trap was a mass of power lines that ran from a back telephone pole directly over the pool and up to the main house. Talk about bad feng shui. We also had an old pool house with dark, cigarette-smoke tinged paneling and carpet.
   Clearly, we had our work cut out for us. But our vision was this: Turn the pool house into a charming Tuscan-inspired guest house with hardwood floors, french doors and a stone shower. The guest house would be our little getaway from the main house, where we could look out the french doors to the new stone pool. Installing cute windows with flower boxes of climbing geranium on the back wall of the garage would make the garage look like another little Tuscan villa. We'd scrap the fiberglass slide, and replace with a new curvy one made from concrete and landscaped into the corner with waterfall and lavender.

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