Thursday, September 30, 2010

Landscape done!

It was a multi-month project, but relatively painless compared to indoor remodeling. Far fewer details, more margin for error. Still, overseeing any project is a big time sink. And like most homeowners, we were really burnt on the bleed. It just keeps costing and costing.

Still, the satisfaction level is very high. Even with the inevitable "gee I wish we'd done this a little differently," or finding out what spaces you're attracted to or not, I just love looking at it. I like coming home and seeing the pretty arrangements. I like walking around on the weekends and looking for weeds or trimming back flowers. I like the idea of replacing some of the plants I don't like or that have died with something else. If we made any mistakes at all, it was by not insisting on a lot more privacy, but I think we hesitated at that because it'd completely change the feel of the place. The openness and park-like-ness of it are what's so appealing. Then again, I don't actually spend much time out there, but then again, that could because whatever little time I spend relaxing is done in bed watching TV, if at all.

But I sure do like looking at it, and that's what counts!

More photos later, I just had to get that punchlist off the top :).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Landscape Punchlist

Punchlist Items:
++ = "extra", please propose cost

* West yard: Rehinge gate so it opens to walkway, not lawn. Add brace. Cut arch.
* West yard: Move phontina from right side of steps to outside West fence
* West yard: Move escallonia next to West gate (right side)
* West yard: Plant hibiscus (behind the garage) next to West gate (left side)
* West yard: Fill in dirt around square flagstone steppers
* West yard: Plant lemon thyme around square flagstone steppers

* Front yard: Arch arbor needs anchoring and protection from soil; wobbly.
* Front yard: New hopseat to screen shade arbor in place of escallonia
* Front yard: Move escallonia to right side of West gate
* Front yard: Bush to block PG&E Smartmeter
* Front yard: Fountain: Cut post by hose bib
* Front yard: Fountain: Rotate hose bib to point into basin
* Front yard: Fountain: Add drip line to fountain basin
* Front yard: Remove almond tree
* Front yard: 2 more uplights on birch trees
* Front yard: Additional boulders in birch area, cedars, perhaps others
* Front yard: Adjust lawn sprinklers in a few weeks when lawn edges established

* Front porch area: Move coral bells to East yard south raised planter
* Front porch area: Colorful cranesbill geraniums in brick planting area
* Front porch area: Plant rosemary on left side of brick steps

* North garden: Change irrigation to drip
* North garden: Add boulders
* North garden: Move lemon tree to East yard, in corner near storage gate area
* North garden: Add flagstone steppers ++

* East yard: 2 more podocarpus along south fence
* East yard: 2 podocarpus in raised planting area to block fence bump-out
* East yard: Hydrangea in far SE corner in raised planting area
* East yard: Two 3' bushes, shade-tolerant in raised planting area (behind coral bells)
* East yard: Lattice on side of deck
* East yard: Plant dwarf lemon tree near storage area gate (relocate from behind garage)

* South strip: Drip irrigation to vine in front of kitchen window

* General additional plants (park strip, West fence)

Additional items (please propose cost):
* Install post by garage corner ++
* North garage garden: flagstone steppers ++
* Move bricks/pavers back into storage area, onto 2 pallets ++
* New: Re-hinge existing gate to north garden from right to left ++
* Pre-emergent all dirt areas, including park strip ++
* Mini-bark on all dirt areas ++
* Fix sinking pavers at the end of the driveway (~50 sq.ft.) ++
* (Remove erroneous 4th "T-ARBOR", no location indicated, $1250)
* (Remove "Lattice install square style," (80 LF), $1760)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Before and After Photos

This only represents a small fraction of the remodel, because it's a universal truth that you never, ever take enough 'before' photos.

Family room before:


(beautiful but an acoustic nightmare.)

View from original dining room, into the dank dark tiny kitchen that had to be walked, run, skipped, dashed, dragged, crawled, toddled or stumbled through, depending on your stage of life, to get upstairs:

Now it's a hall straight to the sunny West side.

View toward the old staircase, the lower section of which got moved.

Now it's the kitchen.

Old kitchen.

New kitchen.

(Not really a fair before-and-after because the kitchen moved, but hey, it's by far the most dramatic comparison.)

Previous living room fireplace. Originally it was probably just brick, but previous owners put in this heavy Renaissance-style rock surround (hey, it was the 1980s).

A fireplace has to have a mantel.

We didn't dare disturb the original 1913 wood-burning firebox, since wood-burning fireplaces can no longer be installed in our city, so we "only" made external cosmetic changes.


Its bones didn't change except for the addition of a closet, but it sure looks different with new flooring, windows, trim, paint, and lighting.

The former guest/west/what-is-it room, with a mysterious pocket door to the sunroom.

We kept the pocket door idea, but added closets, moved the patio door, changed windows, oh yeah and a new bathroom, and renamed the two rooms a "suite."

"Sunroom" facing outside. We were never sure what this room was -- it was sort of a large closet, but it had its own closet.

Now, instead of the patio door being at the farthest point possible, there's a new window, and it's really a room.

Sunroom closet, before:

After. Same place, but with extra storage under the stairs. Comes with a cute 5-year-old boy.

Now, upstairs.

Starting with the stairs. The 'before' view at the stop of the staircase from upstairs. Note which way the lower part of the staircase goes, to the left, like an upside-down L.

After. The lower stair section got moved to the right, and rotated another 90 degrees, so the stair is now like an upside-down J. We lost the built-in bookshelves in the stairwell, but added some other built-ins downstairs to make up for it.

I love how these metal ballusters look, but that's not why we did them. This whole section was designed to be unbolted and removed so that it's easy to move furniture up and down the stairs.

The 2006 remodel was motivated to incorporate this outdoor closet (that has a dormer window!) and this balcony into the master bedroom.

We got some extra closets in the knee wall to boot.

When we moved in in 1999, the master bedroom was two bedrooms crudely merged into one with this 5-foot opening in the separating wall, with a door leading out to the balcony on the left. In 2008, our architect easily convinced us that the rest of the balcony should also be living space.

So the MBR got moved out about 4 feet, with the rightmost window and the light fixture staying in the same place. The tacky gold ceiling fan was replaced with a schoolhouse-style light fixture, same location, though like with the rest of the house, the real lighting is all recessed.


View from the West side (facing east). Before:

Boy was I happy to see that vast expanse of nasty T-111 siding on the 2nd floor go. After:

Even more interesting, the view from Kinglet Court. This photo of the original house before its second-story addition was taken around 1971 by a neighbor.

View from the East side (facing west)(taken during 2006 remodel):


Note how the upstairs balcony turned into a dormer.

View from the north (street)view. Before:


Boy, we've come a long way.

And now....landscaping.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Moving Day!

We moved back home today!

In theory, moving on a Wednesday is easier: we have childcare, and there are extra weekdays before and after to deal with things.

In practice, having kids in school makes moving day a real pain. Grownups can just order a pizza and blow off unpacking -- moving is exhausting -- but with kids in the picture, you still have to dig around piles of boxes to find lunch-making accoutrements. Or plan ahead to put lunch-making stuff in a separate box in your own car (marking it clearly won't help, it'll still get piled under other boxes by the movers).

It took hours to find everything just for breakfast cereal in the morning too. I don't think I've ever been so tired as after an intense day of moving, going out to dinner, and then having to come home and go through the motions of a regular weeknight.

We're exhausted, we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we're thrilled to be back home.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


We had our housewarming party today -- before moving in! It's much easier to showcase the house without our icky old furniture, and people can open doors and poke around closets as much as they want. The house will never be in this perfect condition again, so this is the time to do it.

Inexplicably, I got no photos at the party at all. I was too busy showing off my new house!

But before the party, I did get a photo of our 5-person-seating island being used by 3 of the people who will be sitting here on a regular basis.

Or so I'd thought. Once again, kitchen design clashes with social engineering: this was the only time the two boys sitting next to each other didn't wreak total havoc, and they pretty much haven't sat next to each other since!

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Our architect and contractor (well, his wife) both requested some photography at our new house, and what better time to do it than right after cleaning and before we move in?

So, the day before the housewarming open-house party, they both came and staged the house for photos. This included all sorts of funny accoutrements I'd normally never use for decoration -- like roosters or pigs holding chalkboards -- but everything looked great.

Besides, it's time I post a photo of the finished kitchen.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Final inspection passed!

Construction cleaning complete today, the house is now a house, not a jobsite.

That said, the kitchen guys need to finish up tomorrow, something neither I nor our foreman trust they'll do well or with enthusiasm, so one or both of us will be there tomorrow to watch over them.

And for some reason, none of our heat works. Forced-air furnace upstairs doesn't work, and the underfloor hydronic radiant downstairs -- no workie. All four bathrooms have underfloor electric radiant heat, and those all work.

One basic thing that plagues our house is its location on the lot. The rest of the neighborhood got built up around it, including our neighbor's 2-story house to the south, blocking most of our southern exposure. One goal was to extend the family room beyond the neighbor's house and get more natural light into the main living area. While there will always be some obstruction, and that's expected in the suburbs, the family room area's natural light is vastly improved now.

Those dormer windows are for me to gaze out of from my command post in the kitchen.