Friday, August 31, 2012

Rustic Closetry

This is a view of our old his-and-her closets (way in the back with the "her" door already ripped out). That green thing hanging in the foreground is actually the bird of paradise plant outside—as the entire wall of our bedroom was removed for a new bump out alcove where the bed will be placed. For a day, this was the view from the street. Yikes!

It has to get worse before it gets better, right? This is a view of our remodeling-in-process master closet area. We removed the his-and-her doors and wall. Plus, added that little casement window below which I think will nicely fit a full-length mirror. Notice that the ceiling has been removed. That green stuff is Foam It Green insulation. It will soon be covered with T&G cedar planks and 4x4 beams for a fully vaulted space. There is also a partial wall shown in this pic, which separates the closet/dressing area from the sleeping area. It is just tall enough to allow a flat-screen TV to be mounted on the sleeping side wall below which will go either a petite fireplace (just for looks) or a dresser if we need the storage. We'll probably need the storage, but the romantic in me wants a fireplace real bad.

This is the inspiration for our master closet.  Simple, but rustic design. This pic even has a half-wall somewhat similar to our placement. Some linen fabric on a rod keeps our stuff hidden away, but accessible without needing a door, which would make this area far-too cramped. I love the white plaster walls. We'll be doing all of our interior walls in plaster or American Clay. Haven't decided yet. Although this pic has a shelf just above the closet, we'll be adding storage all the way to the ceiling. We'll need it to hold our luggage. Can't find another place in the house for those big bags!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sneak Peek Inside the Old Pool House Turned Guest House

This is just a little snippet of our guest house, formerly the pool house. Here is the bathroom. Only the toilet is original. Funny, we didn't change that out. It got the job done I guess. We did install this arched casement window with hand-forged handles. My stepdaughter's mom gave us the chandelier. The vanity sink is a salad bowl from World Market. The shower curtain is a copper pipe bent between the two walls. The flagstone shower has three shower heads, including a rain shower above. And we opted for a Rinnai continuous flow water heater, which allows you to adjust the temperature of your shower with a button on the wall before you get in. A nice perk: You never run out of hot water. Something about taking a shower in a stone-covered space. It feels incredible.

Progress on the Pool

This is the view of the pool, barbecue and concrete pool slide, which is close to 20 feet long! We never planned it would be that big! And that little twist at the end will give you the ride of your life. It took a lot of stone to build up  that little corner. Thankfully, we found a Craig's Lister in Malibu looking to get rid of river rocks on his property. We took two truck loads for free! The Gilligan's Island/Swiss Family Robinson-style railing was made quite frugally by using thick rope for the rails and a Cypress tree that had to be cut down on our property. When the waterfall pump is turned on, there's a stream that tumbles down over a stacked stone wall under the slide and into the pool.  Water also flows down the slide for a double-cascade-effect. The water sounds lend an enchanted quality to the backyard, making us feel as if we've escaped into a secret hideaway far far away from Los Angeles.  It's amazing to me that my office is only a mile away from here!

This is the after-shot of our backyard pool. From this view, we're looking at the back of the garage. To the left you can just make out the stone jacuzzi. The guesthouse and outdoor kitchen are out of view, but situated to the left. And the pool slide and waterfall are situated just out of view in the foreground. We're happy to report that this pool uses no chlorine. My engineer husband proudly consulted NASA scientists to perfect his "system," which employs mineral ions and ozone. It's got to be the healthiest, most eco-friendly freshwater pool in California. Yeah--no green hair!

I'd show the real before shot if it wasn't packed away in the garage (sorry, that shot wasn't digital). Imagine cracked concrete,  a ripped 1970s faded blue liner and a rickety fiberglass slide. We also added those cut little casement windows and window boxes on the back of the garage. This shot shows some of our challenges: Wolf's Creek flagstone tends to chelate iron, which stained the pool floor. Notice the many rust spots running into the pool. Ugh. Through trial and error (we had to paint the pool multiple times), we finally found a sealer that prevented any more ferrous streaks.

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.

From Purdue to Provence...This is Just the Beginning

"If you ain't eatin' Wham, you ain't eatin' Ham." —Gussie, "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House."

Drop by and Check in on Our Progress as we...

renovate our traditional 1939 two-bedroom California Bungalow style home and (hopefully) transform it into our South of France farmhouse-inspired getaway. Can it be done on a seriously small budget without an architect and designer? Thanks to my mad-scientist/engineer husband and Craig's List it just might be possible! But you'll have to stay tuned to find out.