Category Archives: House Remodel

Lifted Up – Conquering A Design Dilemma

Single Story House. All one level. This was a non-negotiable when we were looking for a house. And 6 years ago, we found just what we were looking for. Almost…

Yes, the house is one level. But it sits about 4-1/2 feet higher than the street and driveway. This was fine when we first moved in, but as we thought about the future, we knew we’d need to address the accessibility issues.

So when the time came to begin planning out our remodel dreams, we made a list of our goals:
1. Maximize our view
2. Expand our outdoor living space
3. Add a garage at the front of the property – closer to the street
4. Make it wheelchair accessible

My brother-in-law Eric cruises in a wheelchair, and it was very important that we incorporate an accessible entry into the overall design. We worked very hard with our architect and contractor to find the right solution. Our first thought was to have a ramp going from the back of the new garage up to the new patio. But, to make it truly accessible, the ramp needed to follow a 1:12 slope. In other words, the ramp would need to be somewhere around 48′ long to rise 4 feet. I think it goes without saying…that’s a really long ramp. And it would dominate the patio – impacting our other design goals.

So we kept thinking. And researching. And then, I found it. The solution? …An elevator porch lift – a very simple motorized lift that is durable enough to be installed outside. All we needed was a concrete pad (about 4′ wide), right outside the back of the garage, that would lead to a landing up on the patio. We discussed this with the team, and they incorporated the elevator lift landing perfectly into the design of our new outdoor space.

The thing is, this type of equipment is not aesthetically pleasing. At all. In fact, I think they make accessibility equipment anti-aesthetically pleasing. It’s weird. And if you do find something that looks somewhat decent, well, that will be a markup of about 200%. The accessibility market has a long way to go!

Anyway, once the architectural design was done, the new patio poured, and the garage built, we went to work on the lift. Here’s a little insight into the whole process…

THE TWO ENTRANCES TO THE HOUSE…NOT EXACTLY ACCESSIBLE FOR SOMEONE IN A WHEELCHAIR:

        

BRAND NEW LIFTS RUN ABOUT $4000-$5000. I FOUND THIS ONE ON CRAIG’S LIST FOR $1200. WE CONFIRMED THAT IT WAS WORKING, BORROWED A PANEL VAN AND WENT TO SAN DIEGO TO PICK IT UP.

I DON’T KNOW WHY, BUT THEY ALL COME IN THIS UGLY STOCK OFF-WHITE COLOR. WE DECIDED TO HAVE OURS POWDER-COATED BLACK. WE FOUND AN AWESOME PLACE TO HANDLE THIS FOR US – CRISOL METAL FINISHING.
OF COURSE, BEING US, WE DIDN’T REALIZED THAT ALL OF THE MECHANICS OF THE LIFT WOULD HAVE TO BE REMOVED BEFORE IT WAS COATED. THE GUY’S AT CRISOL WERE AMAZING. THEY TOOK THE WHOLE THING APART AND PUT IT BACK TOGETHER FOR US!

HERE WE ARE…LITERALLY JUST WATCHING THEM TAKE THE MOTOR APART. ‘HOPE WE CAN GET THIS THING BACK TOGETHER…’

A FEW DAY’S LATER, WE PICKED UP THE NEW MATTE BLACK LIFT…FULLY OPERATIONAL…PUT IT BACK IN THE PANEL VAN AND OFF TO OUR HOUSE WE WENT. IT WAS ACTUALLY FAIRLY LIGHT (ABOUT 300 LBS), BUT STILL IT TOOK THE HELP OF A COUPLE OF FRIENDS TO GET IT INTO THE RIGHT PLACE. WITH THE FINAL PIECES ALL IN PLACE AND PUT TOGETHER, IT WAS TIME TO GIVE IT A TEST RUN! THE DOGS DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO THINK ABOUT IT….

AFTER THE DOG’S INSPECTED THE LIFT, IT WAS TIME FOR THE GUEST OF HONOR. WE INVITED ERIC OVER TO GET HIS SEAL OF APPROVAL.

AND HERE’S OUR LITTLE INSTA-STORY VID OF ERIC’S INAUGURAL RUN: 

THE FINAL STEPS WERE TO ADD SOME GREENERY TO THE PLANTERS:

THE ONLY THING MISSING TO MAKE THIS A SAFE SITUATION IS A GATE AND A FENCE ON THE TOPSIDE OF THE PATIO…COMING SOON!

And there you have it! We are officially wheelchair accessible. And it looks good too! Makes my heart very happy.
Thanks for stopping by… if you would like to know more about our remodel – you can Read more about it here!



We Built A New Garage

We built a new garage. Sounds simple enough. Pour a slab. Build the frame. Electrical. Drywall. Roof. Door. Done….NOPE.

This was no easy task. Thank you city codes. Footers down into the bedrock – which happened to be about 7 feet below the ground. Retaining walls on two sides.

Also…the structure couldn’t be within 10′ of our existing house – or it would have to be attached. The two possible places to attach the new garage would either block our view (not gonna happen), or in the place that our septic tank currently occupies…meaning, we would have to move our septic tank (again, not gonna happen). So…unattached garage it is.

And then, it had to be no closer than 5 feet to the side property line, and 20 feet from the street property line. Lastly, it could not be over 12 feet high – we are all very serious about our views in this town!

With all of these measurements in mind, there was only one place the garage could go – with literally 1″ wiggle room and it was destined to be a 20×21 two-car space.  Thank you to CK Architecture and Made By Render for figuring this business out!

Here’s a little reference on the plans for the new garage:

And this was from demo day 1. The new garage sits right in this space:

And here is a little reminder of what came next…digging for the footers:

Concrete Poured footers here along with the frame for the concrete retaining walls: 

Walls poured:

And finally…a slab!

Next, it was time to frame and pour the new entry steps: 

It was about this time that we high-tailed it out of town. And we missed getting pictures of the framing. SO, smash cut to:

And…!

Electrical – done.  Now for drywall: And then…the standing seam roof. Yes please!

Fine-tuning the electrical and paint. Reference: we used Cabot stain and matched Clark + Kensington’s Black Chiffon  :

Final touch…the garage door. We went with a panel glass door, opaque so you can’t see it at night but not green during the day. And it is the quietest door ever. SO happy with it: 

And this was the finished product. New garage for us! 

Here’s and this is how it looks now. Curb appeal here we come!

 

Thanks for following along. More details to come next week.
Follow along on our entire house remodel here. 



We Poured A Lot Of Concrete

This was our view last August. A patio form…waiting for its substance to fill it all in.

Our crew from D&S Construction were awesome. Seriously – a great crew of people makes the disruption of a remodel so. much. better!!!

And finally…the first concrete pour began!
All hands were on deck to control the amount of concrete in each area and to smooth it down with an even finish. I’m not sure exactly how much concrete was poured, but in the end, there were 5 different pours to make this project happen. And suffice to say, it was a lot of concrete. This was pour #1:

We wanted the appearance of a light acid wash on our patio – and to do that we had to slightly expose the aggregate by spraying a chemical surface retarder (the blue stuff) onto the slab surface immediately after placing and finishing the concrete. This delays the set and gives the crew the flexibility to remove the cement paste up to a day or so later, by pressure washing.

And here is our first look at our new patio – which now sits level with the house floor and is about 4 feet higher than our old patio. View maximizer!

This was the point when we felt the genius behind the design of this patio. Thanks CK Architecture and Made By Render! The dogs were a little tentative at first, but they’re definitely getting used to all of the steps.
Sweet Lyle is checking it all out.

So stay tuned…there’s more to come…next week I’ll post some info about the new garage.
Follow along on our entire house remodel here. 



Getting Unstuck.

In general, I’m pretty good at initiating projects, planning and projecting schedules, and following them through to their glorious completion. Project management brings me great joy. Or maybe I should say, finishing projects brings me great joy. And satisfaction. And self-worth. And peace.

So last year, when we stalled out on like 15 different projects, I was upended into foreign and treacherous territory. Burnout territory.

We all know the perils of burnout. We hear about how bad it can be. We listen to podcasts and read blogs about warning signs of it and how-to avoid it – complete with methods to overcoming it. But still, so many of us fall victim to it.

For me, there is something about finishing projects, completing tasks, overcoming milestones, that maintains my self-esteem and sense of self-worth. When I boil it down to basics, I simply feel at ease once I’ve accomplished something. I can rest at the end of each day, knowing that my checklists are complete. But left to my own devices, I tend to take on too much. “Think of how awesome it will feel to get every thing done!” So I add more and more…and more to the plan – until finally, boom, insert some unforeseen circumstance, and all of a sudden, everything comes to a full stop.

And that is when I want to lose my mind. I cannot handle being stuck. I need progress.

This is the point in the post that I want to pause and fully explain all of the projects, their status, and why we stalled out.  Suffice to say, we had just completed a major section of our  patio – yard – house remodel, and our contractor went m.i.a.  Literally he just vanished. I tried to re-inspire him to finish our project, but he didn’t respond. No replies. No explanations. I was stuck. And so it stopped.

For about 4 months. The projects. They all stopped.

To clarify…they all stopped, but I didn’t stop. I wish I could say that I took the time to rest. Relax. Enjoy the progress we’d made thus far.  Nope. I spent hours, and days and weeks looking for a new contractor, I researched how to finish certain things on my own, I googled metal fabricators, fence builders, elevator lift vendors, I called friends for recommendations on landscapers, powder coating shops, vent covers. e.t.c.!

I was determined. I had vision. I had a new day planner.

And sure enough. The wheels started slowly turning…like when a train begins to move from a dead stop. Very slow at first, one project started getting some traction. A landscape contractor, who went to my alma mater Cal Poly, signed on to the project (Go Mustangs!), and I started getting clarity on the finishing touches that would bring our projects to life.

I’m happy to say, that some how, it was probably the day planner, I stayed focused and got unstuck. And one by one, our projects are getting finished. And I’m ready to bring you along and show you what we’ve done!  One day, I’ll follow up with some learnings on burnout and rest. But for now…get a good planner, stay focused. That’s my learning!

Next week. The Garage. Stay tuned.

 



How To Build A Patio In California

How to build a patio in California…?

I’ll cut to the chase, after getting past the city requirements, I thought we were talking about a cement truck backing into our yard and dumping out the concrete ready to be shaped into place. I mean how hard can it be? Everyone has a patio.

But it turns out, at our house, it first involves about 6 weeks of digging.  Digging with tractors, digging with jack hammers, and lot’s of digging with pick axes. Digging to that point where you can’t see the top of the digger’s head because he’s digging so deep.

We expressed to a few people, one of which was our handy contractor, that, had we known about all of the digging, and the city requirements for a patio build, we would’ve probably put in a pool. Mr. Contractor explained that yes, a pool would’ve actually been easier and cheaper…that here on the coastal side of California, they like to dig those patio footers down to about middle-earth, ensuring that even an act of God couldn’t move that concrete.

Well despite that bit of not-so-helpful-after-the-fact information, we’re keeping our eye on the prize. At the end of this, we will have a beautiful indoor-outdoor living space. And in the meantime, we live in the sheer exhilaration and terror of the crew coming each day to demo and dig…all getting us one step closer to the build.

Here’s a little review of the last six weeks…

WEEK ONE:  Well, to start, I missed the very first strike of demo day: 

And then, they were off and sprinting…
BTW-Week One consisted of only two days, because they started on a Thursday. If only I could accomplish this much in two days: 

END OF WEEK TWO: So, we high-tailed it out of town for a week. When we returned and pulled in to our “driveway”, this is what we saw:

WEEK THREE: The crew came back after the 4th of July holiday, and actually started framing out the planters that will be in the patio. Yay for building stuff! 

Don’t be confused though, they’re still digging over on this side…

END OF WEEK FOUR: just some refinement digging…

Now to be honest, I’m not sure what happened in Week’s Five and Six. There were little structures built to hold dirt in and mark where the garage will be. The trenches were dug deeper. And there was lot’s of rebar being bent into shapes.  Oh…and there was this thing that happened with our septic tank – but that’s another story for another day (and not in a blog post).

Anyway, all of this was getting us ready to have our first inspection – which is happening today!
So, enjoy our current view as we wait: 

If our inspector is happy, there will be a cement truck here by the end of this week, pouring the footings for the planters. As explained by Mr. Contractor, this will be the first of probably 4 different concrete pours in the process.

Really…you can’t just back the truck in and dump a whole bunch of concrete down??? *sigh*

So stay tuned…more to come. And hopefully we’ll find out what is going to happen with all of that dirt!?!
Follow along on our entire house remodel here. 

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Bureaucracy And The Hedge

For those of you following along, you’ll remember The Hedge, and if you are just joining in on our story, let me synopsize…We had a 6 foot oleander hedge. It blocked our view. And it was dying. And it was ugly. So we removed it. We thought we’d replace it with a short fence.

3 years later, and we’re demoing the existing asphalt driveway, patio and front porch and we’re starting over with a new house-level patio, a new garage and driveway. The hope is to create a beautiful indoor-outdoor living space, with relaxing and inspiring areas that can be used to write, record and play music.

After numerous revisions with the architect and the city, here is our plan:

We happily broke ground a couple of weeks ago, but I have to admit, there were many times over the past 3 years that I wanted to ditch this whole project.

Oh boy. We were so naive. We thought – all we need to do is hire a landscaper. They’ll draw up some plans. We’ll give some revisions. Then demo. Then construction. And then we’ll have our beautiful outdoor space. It should take a few months, we’ll be done by summer! Of 2015.

Well, two ‘landscapers’ (btw-what exactly is a landscaper??), two contractors, two engineers, one surveyor, one architect, many many many meetings with the city, and a neighborhood review later, and here we are – with plans, ready to be executed and implemented!

Like I said, there were many times I wanted to bail out, but there was one person whose words and encouragement got me through to this point: My mom.

Throughout my life, I watched my mom ease through interior design, landscape and construction projects with decisiveness, firmness and perseverance. She just doesn’t let frustration overwhelm her and she keeps things moving forward despite obstacles.

Many times in the past few years I’ve recalled some of my mom’s parting words as I left for college: she explained that perhaps the biggest lesson I was about to learn was how to successfully navigate through a bureaucracy. She said, if I did in fact graduate (which I did…yaya Cal Poly SLO!), that I would take with me crucial life skills, necessary to flourish in today’s economic, political and social environment. Attention to the details, following the rules, tenacity, diplomacy…all of these things would matter in every day life.

Then she explained that the next 4 years would be unlike any other time in my life, so I’d better enjoy it!

As her words would cross my mind, (usually while standing in front of a clerk at the city planning counter), it only seemed right that I resist the urge to yell obscenities back to the person asking for some random detail and another check to get me to the next step in the process…that I bite my tongue, take a deep breath, smile, and follow the rules.  Yes Mom, that college education was totally worth it!

After 18 months of city planning and neighborhood approval reviews, there was a sublime sense of victory as I crossed the last threshold of city planning before beginning our project…it was bureaucracy at it’s fullest and finest…

Since we are in a fire hazard area (aka, the entire state of California), we had to submit a “Fuel Modification Plan” to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The plan included full size architectural drawings, with every existing and projected plant identified, listed according to regional zones, along with a detail on the irrigation locations, AND a signed document stating that the plan is true, and our “covenant agreement” to water the plants.

So, I took a day out to make a fuel modification plan. And then I took another day to deliver the plans. And then they were approved…ish.

All I had to do then, was:

  1. Get our Covenant Agreement notarized:
    (Notary Public Fee: $15) 
    2. Get a cashier’s check, payable to the Los Angeles County Fire Department
    (LACFD Fee: more than $400 and less than $600) !!
    (Bank Fee for cashier’s check: $5)

    3. Go to the County Registrar’s Office to certify and file the plan
    (Certification Fee: $35)
    (Filing Fee: $17)
    (Parking: $6)

    4. Mail the cashier’s check and the Covenant Agreement to Los Angeles County…2 different offices.
    (Stamps: $.98)

I included the fees for this last step, not to be snarky (well maybe to be a little snarky), but  really, to illustrate bureaucracy at it’s fullest. These were not permit fees. These were not plan check fees. These were random, not to be expected, not outlined in the process, over and above fees…fees that went to FIVE different government entities, and a bank, and a notary.

As I sit watching the demo crew rip apart our driveway with tractors, pitchforks and jack hammers, I can’t help but feel a sense of victory. Not victory-victory. I mean, I didn’t destroy the bureaucracy. I didn’t even fight the bureaucracy. In fact, the bureaucracy is alive and well. But I navigated the bureaucracy. I worked through it.  And here I am. Smug and victorious. Watching my driveway get demoed.

Pictures coming next time!!!

And in the meantime, for more about this project, start here:  The Hedge

Thanks for following along!

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The Emmy’s, A Shipping Container, and One Heavy Jacuzzi

Do you ever have those seasons where it feels like the whole world opens up and gives you green lights…all at the same time?

We are in a ‘go-time’ right now, and honestly, we’re just trying our best to keep up, while we meet all of our commitments and have some fun along the way!

Last weekend was no joke, but we made it out alive.  The most glamorous and enjoyable moment was when we walked the red carpet at the 2017 Emmy Awards! Bobby and his co-writer, Daena Jay, were nominated for an Emmy – Best Original Song – Daytime. This was the second nom in a row for this songwriting team. They didn’t take home the award this year, but we certainly had fun celebrating all things music and television.

But, before we threw on our fancies, Bobby and I went over to IPME, and bought ourselves a brand new shipping container. Yes, a shipping container. You know, the big steel boxes that travel around the world on freight liners. A container that will be delivered into our yard in three weeks. The yard that is right next to our house. Where the shipping container will stay forever and ever.

I’m a little timid about the idea. Does it show?

Ok, actually, in spite of my reservations, I’m pretty excited about this project. We’re modifying the heck out of the container, with custom steel windows and doors, and added soundproofing and lighting. And then we’re going to tether it to our garage – which, all together will make up a nice studio space at our house. Here is a first draft Sketchup of what we’re planning: 

More sketches and pictures of the container mod to come. But in the meantime, we needed to make room in our aforementioned yard for the container. It’s landing place was occupied by an above ground jacuzzi…so we had to find a new home for the spa asap. Thankfully, our friends Tom and Christy were looking to add a jacuzzi to their backyard. And within a matter of days, Tom brought his friend Tulio over to tackle the transport.

They had it on it’s side before I could even grab the camera…but here are some snaps of the process: 

Upon close inspection, there was some termite damage to the bottom frame. 

Tom will have to build a new frame before installing it over at their house. 

The guys stopped to have a brain storming session about how to get the jacuzzi from here, into the truck. Seems it was just a smidge too heavy to carry. 

‘Let’s back up the trailer and flip it side over side onto the flatbed:’

I’m pretty sure I was sipping on a nice glass of rose at this moment. 

As the guy’s were finishing up, I looked at the space that the 8 foot-wide truck was sitting in, contemplating the 8 foot-wide (and 9’6″ tall) shipping container that would soon fill the space. And I noticed something….

As you can see from this angle below, there isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room when it comes to getting the container past the roof…and not tipping down the slope. (And no, it can’t be crained in…we’ve got above ground telephone wires…thanks a lot Palos Verdes). 

Rest assured, pictures have been sent to people far smarter than I. I’m confident there is some three-armed container lift or some other monster that will handily solve this delivery problem. Right!?

The only issue after that will be for anyone who wants to remove the container…because this driveway will be long gone, and replaced with a cement patio that sits about 3 feet higher than the ground.

Nothing to worry about here. Just breathe. It will be fine. 

And with that…off goes the jacuzzi to Tom and Christy’s for a new life! 

Well, obviously, going to the Emmy’s was the best part of the weekend, but still, there was something thrilling about pulling the trigger on the container, and beginning to get the space ready for it.

I have a feeling the next few months are going to be a site to see….stay tuned!



And Over Here In Project Planning Land …

The first quarter of 2017 is such a blur.
But I gotta say, it was (and continues to be) a productive and rather focused season in the studio. We’re gearing up to release loads of new music with a bunch of fantastically talented artists – and we’re excited to share!!

Meanwhile, as Bobby’s been holed up at CatBeach – doing his thing, I’ve been in project planning mode (one of my favorite places to be). I’m still working on initial details on a bunch of plans, but I just can’t wait to get started…so, I thought I’d give a few sneaks…1) First up is this super fun shipping container retrofit that we’re installing on the side of our house, overlooking a huge canyon and the LA city lights. The container will be a multi-use space primarily focused as a writing room, complete with a set up to record vocals. Bobby and our friend Craig, of Rook and Render, dreamt up this whole thing last year. And I laughed. These two have LOT’S of ideas and this was just one that I figured would come and go. And then, I received this little mock-up. And I knew…this thing is happening. And now, here we are…fine-tuning some details and hopefully placing an order for a new shipping container this week!

 

2) Behind the scenes, I am working on a little re-branding of Catbeach Music. We love our hand drawings of Bobby and some of his gear, which is the mark in our logo, but we’re looking to freshen it up a bit with new lettering and color palette. And I’ve got a new website and catalog database in the works as well. I just love the way these little details can come together to launch our business to the next level.

 

3) If you’ve been following along here on Records, Rockets and Rosemary, you know that we’ve been working on a house remodel for a few years, which started with a dream to create an indoor-outdoor living space. This project got stuck in the city planning department, so we put it on hold for about a year. But our plans are back at the city, complete with a new drainage plan for the entire property. We’re hoping to break ground with a two-week demo schedule starting in May.

 

4) And lastly, I’m learning all about designing rooms for accessibility – making spaces comfortable and useable for everyone. “The Accessible Home” by Deborah Pierce is a great resource.  We’re looking at ways to make my brother-in-law’s home a better fit for his lifestyle. We just installed this elevator lift and we have plans to modernize his bathrooms and kitchen. So fun!!

I’m just getting started on all of these projects. I’ll post details along the way, so follow here and let me know if you have any questions about the planning, process, or vendors!



How Many People Does It Take To Hang A Light?

How many people does it take to hang a light?   Well, in our case 6. It took SIX people and four months to hang our new pendant lights.

So, I do realize that hanging pendant lights in a kitchen is a very normal and very easy project. Normal and easy that is, when the lights are normal…and easy. But not normal and easy when you are me, and this me picks out not normal and not easy pendant lights.

I, instead, picked out beautifully cast brass lights, which were handcrafted at Futagami, a brass foundry in Japan. When my lights arrived last summer, I could hardly hold back my glee. We hadn’t even started demo on our kitchen, but I would regularly take them out of their little resting box and picture them hanging over the island, offering a very kind and welcoming light.

What I did not know in all of my glee, was how difficult installing these lights would prove to be. There were a series of problems that we had to work through.  And it took a small army of people to find solutions. While I loved the idea that these gorgeous art pieces came all the way across the world from a distant land via an ancient practice…that, in fact, was also the source of most of our install issues.

1. To start, the lights were delivered without any electrical housing or wiring – as you can see from the pic above of the lights straight out of their delivery box. So I valiantly sat myself down in front of the computer and searched until I found the pieces that we needed from Vintage Wire and Supply. *Note: Person Number 1 (Me!). I chose a twisted wire with bronze antique housing and cord grips. Here’s a pic of the new wiring:

And, then we discovered a series of problems, all of which were beyond my excellent internet searching skills: 

To resolve the next few issues, Bobby and our contractor Craig, both searched high and low for non-standard mounting pipe sizes, metric threaded pipes, and just in case that didn’t work, alternate cross bar and junction box sizes. I’m pretty sure they went to every electrical store in Los Angeles. And they returned with lot’s of options. None of which worked. *sigh*
*For the record, that is Persons 2 and 3. And Person 4 was an electrician, who, in the meantime, cut the drywall holes for the junction boxes and pulled the wiring to the holes. 

And then, we were stuck.

And, as has happened many times in my life, it was Dad to the rescue. I was complaining about all of the barriers I was facing, and he asked me to bring all of the pieces up to his shop in Ventura. We did so. And then ran the other way…

A few week’s later, Bobby and I went to visit him and get an update. To our surprise, we didn’t just get an update, we got solutions!

To start, he fabricated these circular white plates from a metal sign he found by the side of the road. The plates would go in between the canopy and the drywall and would cover the junction box hole. Problem #2 solved!

Then, he showed us how he cut down a special crossbar that he found, which matched the thread on these special brass pipes that he also found. All that was left to do, was to re-thread the canopy so it would fit the pipe and the crossbar. Problems 3 and 4 – check! 

It was at this point that my Dad passed the baton to my oldest brother Dave, another problem solver and ultimate optimist. He tackled the last problem regarding the junction box hole and finished out the install.

Dave has this handy tool…a saw that shaves out a specific depth of wood. So he set the saw to a depth that would be sufficient to house the box and began shaving.  And me. I helped. I can hold a flashlight like nobody’s business.  Problem 5 – solved, check, done!

All that was left to do was to wire the lights, set the junction boxes and plates over the holes and set the lights to the right matching height. 

Here you can see how the plates blend right in to the ceiling. A little caulking will easily hide the shadow at the edge of the plate:

Moment of truth…go to closet, get some light bulbs…and yes…we have light!

I woke up the next morning, and found a return to the glee I had when I first set my eyes on these beauts.
4 months and 6 people later. It took a team of creative thinkers. People who didn’t require me to take the easy way out (as in – return these crazy lights and buy standard lights from Lamps Plus). That is how many people it takes. 6 creative and handy people. And I love them all so much (well, maybe not the electrician…).

Thanks for stopping by. Read more about this remodel here!



Soapstone Love

The best part of a remodel is, of course, picking out the finishes. We knew we wanted to focus on white oak for the cabinets, which would blend in beautifully with the lightened pine floors. But it took us a few go arounds to finally land on the material for the counters. We wanted to keep the kitchen rustic, with a modern touch. We liked the look of concrete, but felt like it was maybe a bit too hard. We wanted a natural stone rather than synthetic. We wanted something with a bit of movement in it’s finish, nothing too sleek. And we wanted the color palette to remain neutral.

We were introduced to the idea of soapstone, a natural metamorphic rock, that contains talc and magnesium. There are harvests of gray, gray-green and black colored stone, with beautiful lines of talc running through the slabs. We discovered that soapstone is an ancient stone that has been used in science labs for centuries due to it’s durability and it’s ability to withstand bacteria from raw foods and can handle great variances in temperature. AND the best part, it’s virtually maintenance free. Soap and water…that’s it!

I researched the few local distributors of soapstone, and found one in Ventura that grabbed my attention. Stone West has loads of different slabs and lot’s of the stone. And they also explained that you can either finish the stone with an oil, which makes it darker and sleeker, and hides grease stains, OR you can leave the stone at it’s natural finish.  I decided to take a drive up the coast and check out their stock. Here are some samples…you’ll notice that they range in color from lighter gray, to green-y gray and even black:
We ended up choosing a slab of Barroca soapstone, which comes from Brazil. Here’s our slab in the raw: 

And just a few weeks later, it was delivered to us, cut and honed, with a flat corner edge. Here are some pics of the install:  

And here is the final product. We love them so so much! If you are looking for a rustic alternative to concrete, granite or marble – check out some soapstone! 

Check out more info on our remodel…!