Impatience Is A Virtue

impatience1I am not a patient person. It is perhaps the worst of my fatal flaws. Often times I make decisions simply because I want a decision to be made, not because I have taken time to think through the possible options.
I think my impatience stems from a serious hate of waiting. Waiting is the worst. The worst.  I remember having the biggest baddest tantrum of all time out in front of the public library when I was about 6 years old….because the library was not open…yet. I think my mom wanted to leave to take me to the movie theatre and was offering to bring me back to the library after the movie…but I was inconsolable. I had my heart set on going to the library and nothing else would do. My poor mom.

Somehow, I married the most patient man I’ve ever met. Bobby sails through life, without placing any pressure on people or situations. Through our various renovations, he is always a picture of calm…so whenever we get the inevitable, “it won’t be here for another week” notice, I look to him to set the tone in response and I try my best to copy his demeanor.

Now…without going so far as to brag about my ultimate character downfall, I have to say, there are times when my severe impatience works for me. It’s true, impatience can actually be a virtue – at least according to Jim Stone, PhD and Psychology Today. The good doctor says that impatience is “triggered under certain circumstances, which motivates specific kinds of decisive action.” That’s a good thing-right!? He also finds that impatience can motivate us to switch our goals, and can benefit us if we see that a project is going nowhere or is stuck, and we accept it, move on and start working on something else.

I found myself in this very circumstance earlier this year, when our outdoor landscape project was at an indefinite standstill.  Once we had decided to remove the infamous hedge, we hired an architect and ended up broadening the scope of the project to an entirely new patio, a garage-to-studio conversion, a new garage, new driveway and the landscape. The project was now stuck in the city’s plan check and neighborhood review, and I was beginning to lose my mind in all of the minutia and snail’s pace.  Bobby would hear me mumbling to myself on more than one or nine occasions: “All I freaking wanted was to get rid of that stupid hedge.”

I was at the end of my patience rope, and I marched out to the living room to declare to Bobby that we had to move on. I assured him that I would continue pushing our outside project down the line with the city, but that I was going to start a full kitchen remodel immediately. Within the week, we had a bid from our contractor and thus began our new project.

And 5 months later, here we are…DEMO days! impatience2 impatience3impatience5impatience6impatience7impatience8impatience9impatience10impatience11impatience12More to come on the planning and design. Stay tuned!
For more on this house remodel, check out:
Why Demo A Perfectly Good Kitchen
The Hedge



Stop and Smell the Rosemary

Rosemary5

Bobby and I have been through a couple of remodels together. And with each one, we’ve hit that proverbial wall. The disruption of our routine and upheaval of our space slowly weighs down on our psyche until one day, we just can’t take it anymore.
We’ve had to learn the art of staying present in the process and taking note of the simple joys of each day. For us, it’s become an extension of the practice of gratitude…being cognitively thankful for the things that otherwise would pass us right by in the course of the day. This helps us to stay calm, centered and focused in the midst of our little chaotic world.

These moments usually involve our two dogs, partly because we are those people who have our dogs with us at all times (if possible), and partly because they are hysterical and make us laugh every day. Since they were puppies, these two have launched themselves into plants, flowers and hedges…with their favorite being rosemary bushes. They’ve spent countless mornings teasing and taunting each other in the middle of patches of the fragrant herb, only to then carry the rejuvenating aroma straight into the house.
This happens to be one of my most favorite moments in a day. A great and simple joy.
Rosemary1 Rosemary2 Rosemary3 Rosemary4 Lyle-RosemaryHere’s to us all finding our own rosemary moments!!



Why Demo A Perfectly Good Kitchen?

Kitchen-before-3For those of you following along, you’ll remember that whole story about the hedge. I’m going to come back to that in future posts, but today, I’m jumping ahead about 9 months and bringing us into the present.
We are in the middle of a kitchen – living room remodel. When we began the project, we interviewed a number of contractors and their various trades, and we would consistently get confused stares when they walked into our house.

‘You’re planning to demo this kitchen???  Why would you do that??’

Check out our kitchen and living room before pics and you may be asking yourself the same questions…Island-Before

Kitchen-Before-2Living-BeforeLiving-Room-BeforeI have to admit, this caused us to stop in our tracks and question our plans and motives. What exactly were we chasing? Was this a ridiculous waste of money? Were we trying to keep up with some imaginary family out there who seemingly had everything we always wanted?

We took time to sort through these questions which helped us to narrow down our goals and set a design direction that would prove to be key to the whole process.

First, we realized that our desire was to create a space that reflected ‘us’. While researching styles and finishes, we found that we could easily end up with the same exact kitchen…just a slightly updated version of it. Don’t get me wrong, along with you, I love a beautiful set of shaker cabinets, coupled with a marble countertop…but I’ve always had the desire to be slightly different than prevailing trends. So we got really excited when we freed ourselves up to fight for whimsical and unique finishes, complemented with modern, clean lines and honest textures and surfaces.

Second, we identified some major design and functionality issues that needed correction, the biggest of which was in the open floor plan. The kitchen overall and the spaces between counters were actually too wide, leaving a lot of open, unusable floor space, and creating a very inefficient work triangle. And the living room, though nice-sized was slightly too small…it was a little bit too big for what it was and a little bit too small for something more. We decided to rearrange the kitchen layout while also taking some space from it and adding it to the living room.
The next major issue was that cabinets lined every single wall in the kitchen and living room.  We didn’t have any wall space. Not a single wall. That may not seem like a big deal, but that means we would have to subscribe to the cabinets being our only sense of creativity or personality f.o.r.e.v.e.r. …No chance of changing things up with a new piece of art or interesting found objects.  The minute we began talking about removing the cabinets, I felt like I could breathe easier…it was like I could see the whole space becoming lighter. The cabinets, along with the hedge…goners!
And the last thing to be addressed were our double doors leading down and out to the patio. Patio-Steps-beforeI’m not sure how to describe the doors and the steps they led out to, other than to say that they were ill-conceived. One designer looked us right in the eye and declared that the whole step-door situation was ‘disturbing‘.  At first I was sort of offended, but then I understood…there was something about the layout that made the whole patio uninviting. We’ve had many dinner parties with the double doors wide open, but our guests remained inside each and every time. It was as if the steps held some sort of imaginary barrier keeping people locked away from the scary outdoors.  So, we decided to make a wider opening to the patio…and to raise the entire patio about 2-1/2 feet to meet the raised foundation level of the house – so eventually, it will be a true indoor-outdoor space…and now we’re talking a whole second stage to our project…and that’s a whole other story….I hope you join me for all of the fun and somewhat daunting tidbits!



The Power Of Fresh Paint

Studio-BeforeWe set plans in motion at the beginning of this year to upgrade Bobby’s recording space, CatBeach Studio.

After months of research, we purchased the new rig, new components, new wiring, and a few specialty items (details to come in a later post!). We spent weeks rendering the specifics of the workflow and how it would best be accomplished through the wall rack spaces and through potential new desk rack spaces.

After looking at a multitude of new studio desks, we decided to commission a local millworker to build a custom desk for the new rig.  And with the commission, came a wait time of a few months…to be expected for the custom order. So, there we were with all of the new gear and it’s wiring, sitting in the garage, just…waiting.

Anyone who knows me, knows that once I’ve instigated a project, I have a hard time waiting. I like to see progress. I like the movement and experience of the gradual change that comes with each step.  So, I decided to switch around the project schedule a bit, to grant me some much needed project satisfaction. I attacked the final interior design decisions, which definitely gave us the feeling of being in an entirely new space.

Check out the Before + During + Afters here:
Here is the CatBeach Studio control room before pic. As our loving studio-rat/bass-monkey/taste-maker, Jonathan Ahrens said, ‘something about the studio brought us all right back to the set of ‘Friends’, circa 1996.’ CatBeach-Studio-Before

Can’t you just picture Ross and Rachel now…?

Ok, so I addressed the couch first. The little 80’s heart-shaped love seat was actually ridiculously comfortable…so it was hard to say goodbye, but well, it was time…oh, and those arms – they took up half of the room! We replaced it with a 6′ leather sofa from RH…perfect for the space…this picture is a luxurious 8′, but you get the idea:
Sorensen Couch

The next major thing to address was the wall color in the control room and hallways. The walls were various shades of happy yellows and greens.  It was time to change the mood. I wanted to go with something more dramatic, that would bring out the beautiful wood grain in the wall racks and in the new desk. We deliberated over 3 potential shades:Studio paint Color

In the end, we went with the one in the middle – Benjamin Moore’s Baby Seal Black.
And then, the final detail for this step in the project, was to update the white registers on the wall. We decided on some hefty mission-style chrome registers from Signature Hardware. I forgot to order them in brushed stainless, which led to this little Saturday morning project:Studio-Register

We installed the registers in their newly painted walls…and that was all I needed to feel the rush of satisfaction and a sense that this Studio Remod was moving forward. Here’s a sneak peak of the studio to this point:
Studio-Couch

Studio-Paint

Our friend, Daena Jay, loves it and is soaking it all in while writing the next big hit. Yeow! DaenaJay StudioStay tuned for more updates on the CatBeach Studio Remod.



The Hedge.

Hedge64 years ago, Bobby and I bought a ranch style home on the west side of Los Angeles. The lot has a sweeping view looking over the Port of Los Angeles, down the coast to Orange County, and all the way across to Downtown LA, Griffith Park and the Hollywood sign – with the San Gabriel mountains making their appearance on clear days.

This view is so stunning, it almost didn’t matter what the inside of the house looked like, but thankfully, it was basically a stunner as well. Though not necessarily our style, the house had an open floor plan with traditional built-in cabinets throughout, accompanied by red brick ‘backsplashes’ and wood beams on the ceilings to contribute to a ranchy-cabin feel.
We decided that we would move in without making any changes, and let the house ‘speak to us’ over time. And wow, it’s had a lot to say! But the very first thing it said to me was ‘Get rid of the hedge…like, immediately!’
Now, our hedge was of the perfectly normal oleander variety…and by normal,  I mean a very pedestrian, sort of 1970’s hedge…one that you would find lining the side of every single freeway in Southern California. Well, that hedge, occupied the bottom portion of our 180° view. So every time I looked out any window of our house, I peered over the top of it…like in the picture above…

Or this:Hedge2

Ok. I get it.
Who cares about the hedge when you have such a killer view, right!? And it provides a perfectly sweet backdrop for visiting peacocks.
But, once you stepped down to ground level, the 5-foot hedge completely consumed the view. And if you looked closely, you’d notice that half of the hedge was in fact, a big bush of tall dead branches…an apparent victim of a bacterium carried by an insect that is assaulting oleander plants across the southland. Really, the hedge was just a big ugly dead wall:Hedge3

Hedge4

And if those weren’t reasons enough to cause my griping, oleander happens to be poisonous to both humans and dogs…the same two species occupying this property.
So, though I did not have a plan in place, one thing was clear to me…the hedge had to go! And go it did…eventually.

And there begins the tale of the Hartry Shack Reno…I hope you’ll follow along as I share project details and updates, pitfalls and insights.