Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yard Work Day!

It's been absolutely beautiful this week, so we took advantage of that and worked on getting some yard work done.  Dale woke up this morning and said, "I'm cutting that tree down on the corner of the house." So that was the project for the day.  Here's a video of the tree coming down:

The neighbors have been anxious to get us to get this tree down, too - it leaves a lot of crap on their car and it's just unsightly.  This afternoon as we got ready to cut it down, she came by and said, "Oh, I remember when that tree was just a seedling - and I've wished I had just pulled it up years ago when the house was vacant!"  We do, too - but now it down and cut up.

So here's a shot of the house when we were doing the inspection, and how it looks today with the tree down:

Our neighbors are also doing some landscaping - they've removed most of their front plantings and are in the process of painting their house.  Also this week, we (rather, Dale) removed more of the ivy from the tree in the front yard.  If we hadn't filled the trash cans, he probably would have taken it all down.  Now that it's dead and dry, it's shrunk and it's a little - just a little! - easier to get down.  Here's a progress photo:

Look! You can see a limb!

After we took down the tree and cut it up and hauled it into the back where we're storing firewood, we saw an ad on Craigslist for some more free plants that were already dug up, so we hopped in the car and filled the trunk with these nifty succulents:

There's a place by the back door that the water drains into - we planted a big patch of them there, leaving space for a bougainvillea - we plan to go pick one up tomorrow to plant there.  We'd like to train it up the posts. 

These are great little plants - aloe noblis.  We have a pile of them, the rest of them are planted behind the garage in a holding zone until we decide what to do with them down the line.

I also planted a few in the strip beside the driveway - I'd weeded this area yesterday and saw some little gaps here and there.  Here are a couple of the new succulents next to my favorite striped agave.

So - even though our backyard is far from beautiful, it's come a long way!  I took some shots to compare with the photos I had taken on the day we did our inspection:

This is our lemon tree, and the one below is a view of the bottlebrush tree, which is still a hot mess, but we'll get to it eventually.  The grass is still really patchy, but wow - compared to the total lack of anything but dirt back in September, well, it feels like a lush garden of eden!  All I know is, it's a great place to sit and relax while enjoying the great California weather!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Slow and steady updates

Lots of things I like about older houses - character, charm - and some things that aren't so great.  One of the things we've been doing along the way is switching out the outlets, switches and light fixtures.  The light fixtures had to come first - they were both unattractive and one of them actually would make crackling sounds (!) when turned on - so those had to go right away.  We haven't changed them into anything interesting for the most part - just your generic light fixtures (aka "boob lights"), since we had some of those from an earlier place we rented.  But today we changed out about 5 outlets (we've been doing this periodically).  Here's an illustration of why this is pretty important:

This one basically disintegrated in his hands when Dale went to change this one out.  It's from our bedroom.  Lots of them have cracks and other obvious faults, so we'll feel better when we get them all changed.  We've got about 5 or 6 more to go.

We also spent the day putting together IKEA furniture parts - the wardrobe, the inner dressers, the doors.  Dale also got most of the wall demolished, so tomorrow he's hoping to frame out the space.  While he's doing that, I am going to be working on the crown molding and baseboard trim.  More pictures to come when we make some progress!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ahhhh....done (ish)

Ok - I have another round of paint on the upper half of the walls and a towel rack to hang, but really, what I was waiting for was the shower glass to be installed.  And it has been.  And it's lovely.  The cats approve. And it was expensive...

I had no idea how much this would cost, but it was something we really wanted, so we didn't bother to get any kind of estimates until we were ready.  Talking in the car one afternoon, I told him I was going to get estimates the next week for glass, how much did he think it might be?  I was hoping it wouldn't be over 2K, and his guess was 800 dollars.  So I guess it was right in the middle of our two guesses.  We called several places and the dollar amount was similar.  It's something we WOULD have done if we had the skills, but this is not the time to experiment.  I went through reviews of various glass places through yelp! and I was very happy with the company we went with.  Well, I might have been even happier if it was cheaper, but what can you say?

Here's a picture that I photoshopped rather shabbily, so you can get a look at the whole shower.  We can't take better pics with my iphone camera due to the smallness of the room, but I wanted to get an idea of how it looks --

So it's basically a glass wall.  It goes up 80" from the threshold - due to the fact that Dale's tall and we didn't want to either bang his head on the top rail (which was necessary because the door could not be hinged on a wall, and we also didn't want water to bounce over the top.  So it's extra tall, and extra expensive as well.  We did ask that they add a short towel rack on the right - we have a real struggle where to hang towels in here, so that gives us one more small place for a guest towel.

I still have to hang up decorations (and the pale green needs one more coat of paint), but it's such a relief to be able to shower without a janky makeshift shower curtain, and to have a functioning sink, and, well....all of it. 

So - on to the bedroom closet.   We took a trip to IKEA this morning, and we've got the piles of boxes and instructions and little IKEA tools to wrestle with this afternoon.  And we picked out a paint color for the room.  But now I gotta go, because I'm the one who has to do a lot of the instruction deciphering!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Waiting for the glass guy to show up

Today the glass company is scheduled to install our shower glass.  They're running a little late, so while I wait, I am going to give some preview shots of the bathroom.

We used marble tiles on the bathroom floor to match the floor of the shower.  But I wanted to add a subtle pattern, so instead of laying them in a running bond, I put them in a herringbone pattern, but not at a diagonal.  We have running bond on the shower walls and floor, and the basketweave insets are nice.  Just this one little change keeps things lively.

The thing that I really think added a lot to the look of the room is the picture frame molding - it gives a feeling of texture and contrast to what is essentially a whole lotta white. 

It also gives some style to what is essentially a plain little house - our house is a mid-century California bungalow - not quite stylish enough to be mid-century modern, but certainly toned down.  Adding these little touches gives it some character that it lacks.

I added a magazine rack on the lower part of the wall below the light switch.  We have precious little wall space here, so the toilet paper is on a standup holder.  And we have to add our towel racks and accents where we can.

Considering that one of our walls contains a pocket door, we can't just hang things willy-nilly without thinking about the placement pretty carefully.

We got the metal accent pieces a variety of places - the shower shelf we got at IKEA, the towel hooks by the vanity at Target, the magazine rack we found on  We were looking for a soft nickel finish - not exactly brushed, but more of a soft luster.

So, the other day I sat down and did all the math, adding up the receipts that I have carefully saved, so that we'd know how much our bathroom remodel cost.  And darned if I can't find the piece of paper I put my totals on!  So although I don't have exact figures, I can give you some roundabout numbers.  I divided the receipts into 3 categories - building (lumber, drywall, plywood, cement, lights, etc), plumbing (pipe, shower liner, fixtures, etc) and tile (grout, thinset, tile, tool rental), and basically it comes to this.

Building materials - 1300.00
Plumbing - 1100.00
Tile - 900.00
Shower glass - 1723.00

For a total of around 5100.00.  For a complete remodel, we feel pretty good about it.  The shower glass was a lot more than we expected, however!  Just the same, it's the way we wanted it, so we're happy.

Ah, they're here and installing as I type this.  So after that's done, I can touch up the paint and add the last remaining details!

And - already, we've started on our next project.  We decided to do our guest bedroom, because we have some visitors coming in June.  We are going to paint, add crown molding and new baseboard, and most importantly, redo the closet.  So when I came home from work yesterday, I was glad to see that Dale's already started the demo (his favorite part!):

We got rid of the closet doors on craigslist, and he took out the rest of the interior yesterday.  This afternoon, we're off to IKEA to pick up the new workings, as well as nice blinds for the room.  We're looking forward to making a comfortable place for our guests to relax!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Vanity installed

I posted earlier about scouring Craigslist to find a dresser to convert to a sink/vanity, but we finally got it installed last week and it's SO NICE to have it working!  The picture of the completed vanity was before we adapted it for the sink, which took some interior workings.

 I'd already shortened the two top drawers to give me space for the sink plumbing, but when we got the sink set on top, we realized we'd need a little more space, so we had to open it back up and take a little more out.

 And then I had to watch as Dale cut a hole through my newly refinished top, for the sink and drain:

 In the meantime, I used a book of sheet music to line the interior of all the drawers - the wood was old and from my previous experience with old drawers, sometimes there are smells and stains that eke out over time.  Also, several layers of paper glued in gave stability to the drawers (I had added new nails and tightened them up already)
 I'd gotten a couple of old sheet music books at a garage sale for a buck or so, so I've got plenty of paper.  This will make the drawers feel clean for me.

 After I tiled the floor in the bathroom (pictures to come later this week!), Dale got to installing the sink, along with his two helpers:

The big drawers are going to be great for holding toilet paper, towels and the tons of "stuff" that end up in the bathroom.  And we each have a top drawer for our own personal things. 

You can see a peek of the floor there, covered up with an old bath mat, and some of the baseboard trim that needs to be installed.  We had the glass guys out this week to measure for our shower glass, and when that's installed next week, I'll have pictures of the (finally) finished bathroom!

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