Thursday, May 30, 2013

Floral Park, CA Inspiration

This week, we're busily awaiting our final big shipment of wood and insulation to finish the interior of our house. We've been finishing the concrete floors and some small details inside. We've also started to think about landscaping and how we'll hardscape the front of the house. Thankfully, the back of the house is done. That brings me to this post. I saw this email on a real estate listing from Sandy DeAngelis at Seven Gables Real Estate. She lists a lot of historic homes and many that have a French vibe that I've come to love. So, I always click on her emails to see what she's selling. This one is a beautiful Tudor revival with some European features that really caught my eye. 

Since we have a lot of flagstone in our backyard, we'll be using the same for the front yard. And this house has such a wonderful flagstone driveway and walk up design. I'd love to have a similar driveway look with our "Wolf's Creek" flagstone.

The flagstone continues right up to the front steps. This is so inviting! I also love the gradual, extra-deep steps. Doing a lot of traveling with a baby stroller these days has made me sensitive to this particular design element. And one more note: such pretty landscaping.

Similar shot as the one previously, but now you're starting to notice that wonderful old world garage door in the back. As well as what looks like gravel at the end of the long flagstone driveway. Flagstone is much more expensive, of course, than gravel. So maybe the home owners were saving money by not running the flagstone all the way back. But then, again, the gravel looks pretty and French. Hmmm. 

This is a cool feature. A nice trellised archway over the driveway. I  wouldn't try to do this with our property, especially because we're trying to get more sun, not less. But it seems to work for this house. You're completely drawn into the backyard through this archway.

And some nice seating areas.

And here's that gravel. It adds an undeniably French vacation home getaway vibe (if you ignore the satellite dish and power lines). Can't you just imagine an old cruiser bike with a wicker basket on the front holding a baguette and a bottle of wine? 

This property also boasts an adorable guesthouse with its own outdoor kitchen and seating area. And it should be noted how nice and private the trees make this space. You do not see your neighbors although from the original photo, they are fairly close by.

Another view of the outdoor kitchen and guest house. 

And here's a shot that shows how great a little bit of outdoor lighting can make your house look at night. So warm and inviting.

I can see why they included this shot in the round up of real estate listing photos. You can really imagine yourself coming home at night and walking in "your front door." If you want to see more of this fabulous 4 bedroom, 4.5 bath home, including plenty of pics of the inside, check out At the time of this posting, it's still for sale and is listed for 1,195,000.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

French Oak Floors, Polished Concrete (and More Decisions)

Decisions. Decisions. One thing you can be sure you'll be doing a lot of during a home remodel: making decisions. And, alas, sometimes they are incredibly tough! And sometimes they are super easy. Happily, when it came to selecting our wood floor, the decision was pretty much made for me. We found an awesome deal on Craig's list, so there was no deliberating. We scooped it up. Our new floors are Du Chateau engineered oak. I only later discovered that the Du Chateau flooring happened to be the same floor I had been finding in all of my inspiration images. 

This beautiful floor is called Lugano and it's from the Chateau Collection. While I didn't find this exact floor, I was able to find a surplus of the unfinished European oak from the same collection. And, with some wire brushing and a special oil application, we can make it look just like the Lugano for a lot less!

Ah, but here is our actual floor in Natural. Now, this is a hard decision. I love the warm tones of the Natural. But, then, the breezy coastal vibe of the Lugano is pretty awesome, too. Which do you prefer?

Notice the white washed look with some gray tones in there. It's still a little warm, too. So pretty.

Here are our floors as they were drying this morning. Very warm toned. We decided to go with this oil treatment for the loft room upstairs. See how we like it. But, we have the special Lugano finish arriving tomorrow. So, we'll do some samples of that as well. And it may become the flooring for the great room of our house. We were going to go with polished concrete for the great room, but once we saw how beautiful this wide-plank oak floor looked, we abandoned the concrete. Fingers crossed it is the way to go.

Another angle on the Du Chateau unfinished oak with the natural oil. My dilemma is this: Our diningroom table and hutch are made from old wood that is very similar in tone to this floor.  I don't want the furniture to disappear. So, I'm thinking the Lugano is the way to go. I'll post Lugano pics as soon as we try it out.

Last week, we also started casting our concrete floor. We did just a little strip in our hallway to see if we would like it, but our plan is to run it into the bathroom and both downstairs bedrooms. Our color is similar to this tone above, but a shade or two lighter. We mixed half white cement with half regular gray to come up with a pretty "greige" color. It is getting finished this week.

Oh, now this is pretty, too. It's dark, but notice how the polish really bounces the light around.

This looks so easy to clean. And indestructible.

Another pretty one. Wood, brick and white walls with concrete. You can't go wrong with this combination.

We also have started installing all of the door hardware. It's not as easy as I thought it would be. Our sizing has been a bit off and that has created some real problems. We liked the French look of the Bouvet hardware line, but didn't like the prices. So, we opted to go with the Rustic San Carlos series from Van Dykes Restorers. Everything is in a black finish.

This is the Rustic San Carlos passage lever set.

And I couldn't resist throwing in this image from the finished part of the back of the house. This little casement window was just $20 and I think it looks adorable here. The Kona color is growing on me. If you would look into this window, you would see the kid's new shower and concrete soaking tub down below. They'll have a pretty view of our lemon and orange trees when they are cleaning up. Not that they will care or likely even notice!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Just a Quick Update: The Loft Ladder Takes Shape

We've been busily completing the loft ladder today. And I think it turned out beautifully, so I wanted to report in with a quick update.  It was crafted entirely from an old beam that used to be in the attic. It was a nice piece of old wood, so we put it aside, thinking we could find a use for it--and we did!

You'll notice that the railing is made from inexpensive galvanized electrical conduit from our local hardware store. Each rail had to be fastened in three places to be super-sturdy. But I think it works, especially with the barn door hardware. That box behind it is holding the air return for our new central air system. There was no where else to put it--so, alas, it had to go here. We were hoping that by cladding it in some old wood (also reclaimed from our old ceiling), and tucking it behind the ladder, it wouldn't look too conspicuous. See what you think.

I'm going back in time with the next series of photos. Here is the ladder without the railing and the finished return. We already know we'll have to install some sort of safety system so our one year old doesn't get up these stairs when we're not looking! He's a big fan of stairs, ladders and hammers.

Now, we're going back a little further in time. This used to be our loft ladder for quite a few months. The view of the junk in the lower back room is just not that pretty. Yikes.

Wow. Now, this is a little further back. No stone clad walls. No upper partial walls. Not even the sky light was installed yet. It didn't stop Zjena from regularly going to "her loft room" to hang out. Glad she's an agile kid. I'm much happier now, though, with the walls and railings.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Post Ranch: Some Vacation Inspiration

At its most basic level, I can say—without a doubt—that our home remodel was inspired by a desire to create a simple feeling: that we are on vacation. What could be better than a vacation vibe 365 days a year? Our family LOVES to go on vacation, mostly to upstate New York to visit my family where we spend time together at my parent's summer cottage located on Lake Ontario. But, I've been lucky to vacation in some other wonderful places, too, over the years.
   Being a magazine editor (and sometimes travel writer) has afforded me with the incredible opportunity to discover some pretty cool hotels, places I may not have otherwise even known about let alone experience.
   This brings me to the whole reason for this particular post. Though I can't say any one hotel is my ultimate favorite, Post Ranch comes pretty close. My two days at a Post Ranch treehouse in Big Sur made a lasting impression.
   I thought we could take a break this week from all of renovation updates and meander leisurely through these dreamy pics of Post Ranch Inn. Let me know what you think?

The deck of one of the treehouses. My personal favorite.

Morning fog makes the connecting stairs look even more interesting. There are often deer below the trees.

Yeah. I could live here. Give me even 250 square feet in a tree house and I could make it work as my main residence.

Great panoramic views. Love the sky lights.

The architecture is nicely integrated into the natural surroundings of all of these trees.

I loved this bath tub. You can't go wrong with wood and slate and a picturesque wooded view.

From every angle, the treehouse looks interesting.

Look at that view.

Another beautiful view from your own personal hot tub.

Such an interesting curved shape.

I'm digging this grape stake fence with boulders. So simple.

Now this is a getaway. I love the detail of the round window, too.

This is one of the butterfly rooms. Notice the interesting sky light.

A walking path that will take you up to the restaurant, which serves food that is truly otherworldly.

This is the restaurant Sierra Mar. I happen to have a copy of the Sierra Mar Cookbook sitting on my desk right now. It has so many incredible recipes in it, like Roast Beet Salad With Horseradish Creme Fraiche, Walnut Pesto and Bitter Greens. This restaurant was ranked as the #1 Hotel Restaurant in California by Zagat surveys, which is pretty amazing.

Are you feeling relaxed yet?

Definitely recommend the star gazing.

Now that's a window seat with a view.

Another shot of Sierra Mar at night. I'll end it here--I'm getting hungry just looking at this pic. For more breathtaking views, of course, visit