Saturday, October 29, 2005

More Landscaping & Cleaning!

In the last blog, I talked about redwood compost and landscaping. Here are two pictures where the redwood has been dusted around the plants. On the back of the new addition, Steve planted, added a couple of big rocks, and then did a pathway of gravel that goes around the backside of the house and down the north side. This gravel is great for a pathway and there are water hookups around this area too for watering the plants on the side of the house.

Shot of gravel on path. I think it makes the area look completed.

At the very end of this pathway, in this picture of the side of the house, you can see the gate. This gate is eight feet high and has a bolt lock. I insisted on the lock because a neighbor down the street used a padlock on their gate and someone popped the lock and their dog got out. I don't want anyone letting Dylan Thomas out especially since he has a fascination with cars! In this side yard picture you can also sort of see the Queen Palms planted as camuflage.

While we're on the subject of landscaping. Here are a couple of shots of the front entrance. We have a fountain and a tiny pool. The discs of the fountain actually are from the 50's. The metal discs came from Steve's Dad's nursery. Back in the 50's his father and his uncles did a lot of landscaping in Los Angeles. They did the original landscaping for the famous "Witch Stand," Tiny Naylor Restaurants, Capitol Records, Tarzana Tennis Club, to mention a few. His father, Min Shinmoto and his two brothers had a retail nursery in Culver City called Southern California Nursery. They started the nursery in 1948 and did landscaping jobs on the side.

Most of yesterday and today, we've been cleaning and putting the finishing touches on the house for the "Open House" tomorrow. The new master bath was finished except for the hardware for the transom windows which hasn't arrived yet (odd, it is only coming from Oregon).

Dylan Thomas likes to inspect everything. Or perhaps, he is looking at himself in the mirror? He is such a strange dog. At night after eating his dinner and soaking his ears in his water bowl, he likes to run into the living room and look at himself in the mirror on top the coffee table. And every night, he drips water onto the coffee table mirror and every night I have to wipe it up.

Here are a few shots of the living room. Steve did the old fireplace in marble. I really would like to change it. We'd lived with the old brick and I'd tried painting the brick, but it never looked good. It was a rough, cheap brick that had gotten stained over the years with smoke and calcium. If we had the time, I think I'd have the fireplace just done in cement or a new brick surface. The marble doesn't work, but hey, everyone makes a few design mistakes.

I put this second shot to show where the bar protrudes out. In a later blog, I'll show this area and the kitchen, but right now it is a big mess!!!

I also wanted to give a shot of the carpet which is placed at angle. The angle is exactly like the one created by Ain when he did the house. Of course, the VCT wasn't pink, it was chocolate brown. You can see original colors used by Gregory Ain by going to the community website where there is a color chart - The long slim couch is a George Nelson as is the chair which you can't really see except for the back and arms. I got this great couch in Palm Springs where they have some incredible Mid-Century shops with prices comparable to Melrose. Not a great bargain, but sometimes, you just have to get it. Through the living room windows, you can see the addition's windows which mirror the original design.

Well, we still have to hang the picture over the fireplace and do a lot more work. It's almost 9 and I'm tired. So I'll sign off for now and do the rest of the house pictures next time.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Finishing Touches

We needed bathroom fixtures. I wanted simple chrome fixtures. You'd think they would be easy to find. Nope. We looked at Home Depot and other hardware stores. Nothing simple with clean lines, so we had to bite the bullet and go to Synder Diamond where we found just what we wanted. Not a cheap store, I might add, but they have every bathroom fixture and style you can imagine. While we were there, I saw a bathroom mirror I loved. It was a rectangle with chrome frame. We didn't buy it. It cost $464. Synder Diamond is one of those stores that can make you wish you were rich. So now the problem was where to find a great looking mirror in our price range? Again, off we went to the usual stores. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Finally we found what we wanted at Schwartz Glass in Santa Monica. We told them the dimensions and they created a mirror to size with chrome clips. Simple and elegant.

And here is Dylan Thomas watching me take a picture of the mirror. He is very curious poodle.

Steve moved onto the garage. First, we used up the box of VCT in the color we'd ordered wrong - put it under the washer and dryer. Then he painted the garage floor with gray primer. Next came gray epoxy. Epoxy flooring is really nice for old garage floors because it is self levelling and will cover up flaws.

Sorry, I couldn't get a better picture of the completed floor color. It is gray with specks of blue, black, white (these speckled things come in the package and you sprinkle them on the epoxy.) Epoxy is very easy to use - just roll it on. Costs about $56 a box and you need two boxes for a two car garage. Waiting for the expoxy to dry, I marvelled at how big our garage is as I haven't seen it empty for years. Now it is so empty - well, a few boxes have crept back in. I think there is a law of physics that empty spaces attract stuff? After the garage was finished (earlier, we had put up sheetrock and installed new lights etc.), the original back patio needed to be replaced. It was cracked and it also didn't line up with the new addition. The old patio was blown out in a day and dumped in a roll-off dumpster. The next day, Steve poured cement. Voila, a new patio.

Today, we are, well Steve is updating the landscape in the back, side and front yard. We're adding some color to the flower beds and also redwood compost. Redwood compost really can make your garden come together and look like a million dollars. Great for the plants too. A good fix for your yard if you are having a party.

This shot of plants is the side or back of the addition. We had to leave, by code, 15 feet from house to fence line so it will now be filled with plants and be a greenspace that you can see when standing by the gazebo looking north. This area isn't finished yet - it will get some rocks and also some redwood compost. On the north side of the house there will be a gravel walkway.

Looking out the side door from the kitchen, I can see my neighbor's house with their facia that needs painting. So to avoid this view, we've decided to plant Queen palms and other plants. Steve is by trade a landscape contractor and with his contacts in the business, he can find wonderful plants by going into the growing yards and picking by size and height.
This area will also have a gravel pathway and a concrete pad to step out on.

This Sunday, October 30, we are having an open house from 1 to 4pm. If you're in the area, please stop by. We have a lot of little things to fix, a lot to clean (do you think people look in the closets?). I'm going to sign off for now and think about cleaning the closets. More pictures to come!


Sunday, October 23, 2005

On the Home Stretch

Everything has been coming together in the last few weeks. The big hurdles are over and the details pile up like a stack of pancakes. For example, the closet in the master bedroom finally got its doors and the last coat of paint.

And the carpet went in - from the family room to the master bedroom.

The kitchen door which was originally an outside door was taken out and reframed.

The bathroom sink was dropped into the new cabinet Steve made. The cabinet is still missing the doors, but that is just one of the things still on the "to do list."

Steve tiled and grouted the bathroom wall around the tub. I have to say here that the "white" tile which looked so very white when we bought it now looks a lighter shade of gray. It looks nice, but what a surprise when I thought we were getting a white on white look. I've come to learn that there are over twenty-five shades of white, if not more, that can be mixed into a glaze. Just as there are over a 137 shades of white paint at Dunn Edwards. Stark white, snow white, blush white, Arctic white, antique white, wedding dress white and so on. The color white is defined as having all the colors of the spectrum in it which probably explains why there are so many variations of the the color white. One could do a whole essay on the color white, but I shall stop and just show you the picture of the "white" glossy tile in the bathroom. It looks a tiny bit gray - I think I'll call it "Morning Dove" white. I took a bath in there the other night and it was very soothing.

Moving on from the tile, another "to do" that was completed was installing the gutters on the north side of the addition. Luckily, we got them up before the rains. Our next door neighbor was quite impressed with the gutters. He wondered if they came in the dark gray color we'd used. We informed him that we had painted the metal so that it blended in with the facia making them less intrusive. The down spouts we left in their natural shiny metal.

Throughout all this finishing up of details, Dylan has been supervising, a job he does well. He's been a very good dog and kept out of the way of all the building, but I did notice this morning that there are paw prints on the primer of the garage floor and gray paint on his paws. What we can't figure out is when he strolled through the garage? The garage floor is getting an epoxy finish as I write this blog today. Pictures to come next time.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the county's tax assessor has already dropped by to reassess the value of the house. Why is it that when you want the bureaucracy to do something for you it takes a long time, but when they want money they are quick to come calling?


Monday, October 10, 2005

Details - Big and Small

All the windows in our addition are made of wood. In an ealier blog, I showed some windows that were already finished. Those got glass and then the windows that open needed to be made. Steve made the windows using a pattern from the original house windows. I actually helped with the sawing of the wood. I stood at one end of the table saw and held the wood as it came across the saw. Not terribly creative or rewarding work, but not easy either. If I lifted up on my end of the wood or moved it to one side when my attention wandered, the blade made a horrible, grinding, screeching sound. This sound in turn caused Steve to yell, "Don't move or lift up your end," or, well you get the picture. Guiding the wood, made me tense - very, very tense. A much easier task was cleaning up all the sawdust. The window that opens in the master bedroom was made twice. The first window was too small - which reminds me of the old axiom - measure twice and cut once. Steve thought I should just leave this part about the window out, but hey, remember when I got very tense. Actually, Steve hadn't taken into account the small rail inside the window which had to be routed out later. So it was back to the lumber yard for more redwood. Ouch! Have you priced top grade redwood lately? The wood for the frame cost about $68. Luckily for us, we were able to salvage the long hinges that go on the sides of the window to make it open. The hinges came from another Ain house original window. They had put in a stationary window and didn't want the hardware.

In the picture of the smaller transom windows, Steve is painting trim. These windows in the master bedroom and family room will get glass this week. The latches, we had to order. We wanted to stick with hardware that was the same or matched closely the hardware used in the original house. I found on-line a hardware company that makes transom latches that match ours. The company is called "House of Antique Hardware." Their prices were a lot cheaper than Restoration Hardware and some of the other companies. So if you need special hardware, look around for the best price as a lot of hardware is being reproduced for restoration projects.

We looked all over for a closet that we could just drop into the master bedroom. They were all awful - plastic, pressed board and so on. We decided to make the closet. And luckily, we found original doors from a neighbor down the street who'd remodeled. What is really nice about this neighborhood is that everyone is interested in preserving the Gregory Ain tract. So when someone is redoing the interior of their house and they don't want a cabinet or doors or windows, someone on our HPOZ board hauls the original pieces to their yard for storage for anyone who might want to use the orignal pieces. (Unfortunately, no one has ever given up the window latches - we checked.)

Here are some of the original closet doors that we will use in the closet. The closets in the old house have two sliding doors, but we are using three so the new closet will be bigger.

When Steve was building the closet, we had to find tracks for the closet doors. Checked all the usual places like Home Depot, lumber yards and hardware stores. Finally, we found this great place downtown L.A. called E. B. Bradley Co. which is a specialty hardware and surfacing products company. This is a great place for finding things you might need in redoing a mid-century modern house or any house for that matter. We found the closet tracks and went away with a huge catalogue and color laminate chips laced together on a chain. (If you're doing a kitchen - this place has so many pulls and cabinet surfaces etc., it's unbelievable.) Okay, I guess I've done a commerical for E. B. Bradley, but it is so exciting to find a new place that doesn't carry the same old boring stuff.

The bathroom is partially tiled in 2" glossy white tiles. At first, I wanted color, but decided on a clean white look. As you can see there are areas missing tile. After we build the vanity and the cover the top counter with the same tiles, Steve will rent a tile cutter to finish all the places that need cut tile. Then we will use white grout.

The fixtures will go in last. As you can see we used a sort of pink VCT on the bathroom floor which is the same color VCT used in the older house. We used the color scheme from the original house of pinks, plum and white so the house has a continuity. I realize there are some who won't like these colors, but I figure whoever buys this house can repaint, retile the floors and lay down different carpets. Everything on the inside of the house can be changed as the HPOZ (Historic Preservation Designation) doesn't control interior spaces only the outside. The carpet will go in this Thursday which will really pull everything together.

Another detail that was finished this week was the fitting for the gas meter - an earthquake shut off valve. Isn't that exciting? Well, we are doing everything up to code and passing our inspections with flying colors. More to come, so stay tuned.