Current status

Note: It’s been awhile since I’ve come to this space… so long that it feels like a completely different world. Last time I was here, we weren’t living in a pandemic and George Floyd was still alive. Both things will come to define this year. For the most part, Aaron and I have been fortunate. I work from home now, opting for a uniform of tights and t-shirts. Like many others with remote-capable jobs, I feel tethered to my computer for long hours and some days are truly a struggle. Meanwhile, this country is simultaneously waking up and closing their eyes/ears to the systemic racism that people have faced for decades. We’re in the former group, a work in progress like most people, but unapologetically rooted in the belief that Black Lives Matter. We also believe in science and facts, which still feels like a weird thing to have to defend.

In the midst of all of this, blogging about my house felt trivial… and more often than not, I was left with very little energy or emotion at the end of the day. As recently as earlier this week I thought, “The blog is dead.” Putting words to that thought made me stop and really consider if I was done here, and I decided that I wasn’t. I want to be here in spite of everything going on – mostly as an outlet where I can put some positive energy to pull me out of much of the negativity waiting for me in the world.

While I sincerely hope that the November 3 results in a much needed change to the occupant of the White House, I know that the work doesn’t end there. We’re in a marathon to change America for the better – to create a more perfect country where our ideals are truly available for all. And because it’s a marathon, we all need time and space to step out for a minute, to recharge. So I’m here to do that for me and if my ramblings help you do that too, welcome friend.

This post was inspired by Redfin, who has suddenly broken through the Gmail barrier and lands their emails in my inbox (rather than the black hole that is promotions folder). I don’t mind. You probably already know I have a thing for real estate, and the emails make it easy to keep up with the houses selling in Camarillo. I feel like I’ve adjusted to the California real estate market, but every once in a while I see a listing and react with “they’re listing a 3/2 1,200-sq-ft house for WHAT?” It was one of those listings, that made me visit our home’s Redfin post to double check the size of our lot. And the listing pictures gave me such a kick that I decided to give you a current status look at where we are vs the listing photos. We had more than one COVID construction (COVID-struction?) project so there’s plenty of new content for any of you who have been stalking my Instagram or just generally wondering what we’ve been up to on the home renovation front. This will give you a taste and I’ll swing back with individual posts (and more photos) on some of the major areas that I haven’t posted about.

Let’s dive in, because the front of the house got a major facelift… and we didn’t do most of the work (gasp!)

The updated paint is a little hard to see in the after shot (more on that here) but the lack of grass is pretty apparent! We were so excited to pull the trigger on a xeriscaped front yard AND pay someone else to do the work. The front beds are still a work in progress. We also have plans for the entryway and a new garage door at some point.

Stepping into the main space of the house, it was fun to remember what was where and try and get the same angles. My lens wasn’t quite as wide, but I think you get the idea.

I really want to pull out the before photos of the living room and give it the post it deserves, because the transformation is CRAZY!

We haven’t talked much about the master bath… mostly because it’s kind of meh. We painted it white and it feels a little sterile and disjointed. I painted the cabinets and hated just about every minute of it. They turned out ok.

Yep! We did it! We finally got the wine room of our dreams. It’s not 100% done (still need to hang some art) but more details coming soon!

I loooooove the changes we’ve made in the backyard.

The only thing I’m not super jazzed about is losing the ivy covered fence. That’s a story for a different day.

So that’s where we are. There’s plenty of projects to dive into and I’m genuinely looking forward to pulling together some before/after shots of most the recent (within the last year-ish is recent, right?) transformations.

Backyard planters – The 2018 bonus project

We haven’t talked much about the backyard even though it was an important part of our consideration when buying a house. When logisitics and budget negated our ability to buy something with a mountain view, we settled on the need for privacy. This house delivered thanks to a neighborhood section full of single story homes and a back fence absolutely flooded with ivy, which adds so much life to the space.

 

We inherited three things

  1. Way more planters than we could ever hope to fill
  2. A smorgasbord of non-native plants that need continuous watering.
  3. Questionable irrigation for said water-loving plants

The irrigation worked somewhat well to keep the plants alive. It worked really well at encouraging weeds. While we focused on the interior reno, the planters were slowly overrun. Our solution: cut the water entirely, saving money and killing the weeds. It worked-ish. Mostly it was a hot mess of plants that we were thankful to have in the rear of our house where no one could see them.

The ultimate plan was to rip out every last plant and replace it with drought tolerant varieties, which we both love. But with everything else on our plate and the sheer scale of the project, we figured this project wouldn’t happen until sometime well into 2019. That didn’t stop us from wishing for a solution (or more time) because we use our backyard a LOT. We moved into our home in July and literally didn’t eat dinner inside until early October. Add in plenty of time relaxing by the fire pit and we logged a lot of hours dreaming about what the backyard would look like… some day.

That day came much faster than expected. Aaron’s business started ramping up last fall. Having some extra cash from that coincided with our neighbor’s landscaping company making some finishing touches in their yard. Aaron asked what it would cost for them to clean out all of our planters, and a few hundred dollars later we had a clean slate.

We had already tested painting the brick a medium gray  in a few sections so we were ready to get rid of all that red.

The hardscape was also fairly easy. We absolutely love blue gray Mexican beach pebbles, but at nearly $10 per bag we knew we couldn’t fill the beds with these. Thankfully white marble chips are about half the price and well within our color story. We opted to do the higher (and smaller) levels of each planter in Mexican beach pebble and the bulk of the planters in white marble chips.

In terms of plants, we decided on a clean look for the planters. We weren’t looking to overfill or buy plants that would spread. We also wanted native or drought tolerant plants for eco and “know your weaknesses” reasons. When it came to the exact plants we were a big basket of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So we visited nurseries and took pictures and asked for prices and made sure that everything we liked would be good with little water and lots of neglect. Our biggest scores were finding 5′ jade plants for $55 and massive agave that had been neglected so long they literally grew through their pots into the earth and had to be dug up for $35. THESE are our types of plants!

In the far left side of the yard we planted a lemon tree. This was unrelated to this major project and obviously not drought tolerant. But we have always wanted a lemon tree and when in California, as they say. Next to that we kicked things off with a coat of paint…

In the taller section we planted a foxtail agave and a white bushy thing. Up front we opted for fescue (which you will see a lot) and tall squiggly plants.

If you haven’t realized by now, you should not be here for specific plant advice.

The plants for the center section of the yard needed special consideration because our dogs have decided they do not like the dogs that live behind us. One of the neighbor dogs has decided that the right answer to Great Dane aggression is literally pulling sections of the fence off with his teeth. So besides having some patches, we needed plants that the Danes wouldn’t entirely trample as we work on their manners.

Agave plants were the solution. We paired them with more white fluffy plants and fronted it all with fescue. The white plants and fescue on the right side are still kind of intact after several months of Dane re-education. It’s mostly a win.

Moving along the back fence we bought three aloe things and more fescue.

Because repetition in design is good and this agave was mysteriously only $50, we echoed the look from the other corner.

The key hole planter was our biggest challenge because of the sheer size of it. We wanted to make sure it felt appropriately full without spending an arm and a leg on plants.

Our solution was well spaced and various sized agave in the marble chips, backed by two massive jades and more white fluff plants in the Mexican pebbles.

It is one of my favorite sections of the planters… although looking at the photos it makes me want to redo our fence. Don’t look at the fence.

Rounding out the right side, we planted some variegated jade, more fescue and a tall something that I absolutely loved and negotiated hard for. Also of note, there’s a rusty piece of metal (because when one of your best friends hauls a piece of rusty metal out of the ocean and asks you to put it in your garden, you say yes). You may also have noticed that we didn’t paint the brick touching the patio. We have some other plans for the backyard patio, which are  definitely ON the list for 2019 (and kicking off in a few weeks!)

Beige to blue

A few weeks ago, Aaron took a trip down memory lane and reread all of the posts detailing the renovations of our current abode. He “helpfully” pointed out numerous mistakes, like when I told you I’d show you the updates to the master bathroom and didn’t. It’s true that I can sometimes over promise the exact content of the blog, but in this case I said we would paint the exterior of the house in 2018 and we finished with a just few days left in the year.

 

Shortly after we moved in, we selected the new, black roof to go with the as yet undecided shade of blue gray we intended to use. The winner was Glidden’s Approaching Storm, which we color matched to one of Behr’s exterior paint lines. We loved the subtle gray undertones and thought this blue would go well with the dark brown accents, thereby saving us the work of repainting those sections.

The blue looks fantastic with the crisp white trim and black roof! It also makes the brick on the entryway pop a bit.

Ultimately, we didn’t love the blue/brown combo and opted to paint most of those sections blue (to add extra cohesion). The only section we wanted to accent was the front corner windows. We grabbed a medium gray that inadvertently is the exact same color we used to paint the front pots. So clearly we like that color 😉

Over the summer, we also ripped out this bush, which was constantly overgrown looking. Not a great story… which is why it didn’t get it’s own blog post. There was a bush, now there’s not. It looks better. The end.

Ok, fine. It’s not really the end.  We opted to mulch the planter this bush lived in rather than replace it with other plants. We’re firmly set on the idea of doing a drought tolerant front lawn. We have NO idea what that will look like and mulching seemed like the easiest and nicest interim solution. The end (for real this time).

Painting the exterior was actually fairly easy. We opted to roll the three sides with low peaks. Originally, we intended to knock this project out over the week of the Fourth of July, but the weather turned very hot just a few days in. At that point, we decided that no one would notice if the sides of the house changed colors at different times and ultimately stretched this project over the course of 4 painting sessions, the last one culminating on December 28th. #CaliforniaWeatherRocks

We actually did the back of the house first. This area was in serious need of paint thanks installing fresh stucco and wood from moving doors and windows around.

Here you can see where we originally kept the top of the wall brown. After painting the peak on the front of the house blue, we circled back to change this section.

Opting to change the brown peak to blue really extends the height of the house.

This set is a good series showing all of the changes on the back wall of the house, starting with the original configuration.

 

The last side of the house was the most difficult thanks to a high peak and large shed with grooved siding. We opted to spray this section for speed.

We also decided to simplify the look of the sheds by painting the door and corner trim blue. It’s a technique that helped unify the multiple doors in the master bedroom at the firehouse and worked well here too.

So the house is now blue and we love it!

We actually knocked out a bonus exterior project that we didn’t expect to tackle in 2018. More on that next time (for real).

1 year renovation anniversary (video)

We thought it would be fun to do a walk through of the living space 1 year post-renovation so you could compare. So here you go! About a year ago the space looked like this Jan 15, 2018:

(Full breakdown of the plans, befores and video commentary here)

As of Jan 13, 2019, it’s looking a lot more fresh

A few notes:

  • Did any eagle eyes notice that the exterior color of our house changed dramatically? Yeah, on top of everything else we tackled this year, we also painted the entire outside of the house. More photos and details soon!
  • Laundry room sneak peek!
  • Hallway sneak peek!
  • Dining room chandelier sneak peek!
  • This may be more information than you need about the inside of the cabinets. I couldn’t photograph them properly for the original post and may have overcompensated with this video.
  • Lots of living room sneak peeks! Basically you can see the whole space, but I’ll still take some proper after shots soon.
  • Points to me for not sounding like I was going to pass out during this video. Ha!

Welcome to the pantry (aka Narnia)

Welcome to the pantry… or as our friend, Tim, calls it “Narnia.” I can see where he’s going with that nickname. This super functional, neatly hidden closet is definitely a dream space, but it was borne out of sheer necessity.

  1. We needed to pack as much storage into the kitchen as possible… and we didn’t want upper cabinets.
  2. We were looking for a permanent home for our upright deep freezer.
  3. We needed to push the sides of the kitchen and former dining space together to give the finished room a cohesive feel.

A hidden pantry met all of these requirements. We planned to remove the built-ins on the outer wall and box in the space.

Post demo, wall building and drywall hanging,  we were left with a blank slate.

You probably noticed that we went a little wild with the color in this space. While we joke about painting everything white and often stick to black and gray as the other primary elements of our palette, we have a huge love for jewel tones. Evidence includes our blue couch, the emerald green captain’s suite at the firehouse, our blue master bedroom and the emerald green accent around the windows in our dining room. Keeping most things white/black/gray makes those shots of color even more impactful.

For the pantry, we wanted a big pop, which meant we needed something that would contrast the black cabinets. Yellow felt a bit too bee-like and you can guess why we scratched orange of any sort. Moving along the color wheel something in the red category was the next most obvious option. Black, white and hot pink are a classic combo in my opinion. (long standing IRL friends and family members may remember that those were the colors from our wedding.)Just to make sure we weren’t overlooking an option, we pinned some palettes and grabbed all the jewel tone swatches from Home Depot. Glidden’s Bright Black Raspberry won us over.

Enough suspense, let’s dive into the space.

We packed a lot of utility to the right side of the pantry. A countertop of Absolute Black honed granite is the perfect home for the small appliances that get used frequently but that we don’t want to stare at (or put away) every day. Both coffee makers, the toaster and the Soda Stream live here permanently. Below we nestled the microwave and a drawer that’s perfect for storage bags, foil and plastic wrap. Hiding the microwave in here kept the kitchen U looking seamless. Aaron built a shelf to complete the space next to the cabinet, making it perfect for all of our extra large items, like a massive cutting board and marshmallow toasting forks. You know, the essentials in life.

Up top, the cabinet hides all of the coffee paraphenalia – cups, coffee and filters. Custom shelves to the right of the cabinet house cookbooks. And you might notice that we opted for a motion sensing switch in here. It has made me feel like the lights should just turn on anytime I enter a room in this house. So basically I’m spoiled by it. I also love that it snaps the lights off after a few minutes.

You might also noticed that the entry to the space was not exactly “done” when I took these photos. It has since been trimmed and painted a matte black. We also corralled the undercabinet lighting wires under some trim that was painted hot pink. Basically I took these photos before everything was done…

Flipping around you get a view of ALL THE SHELVES. The long wall holds 6 shelves that are 7″ deep and 5′ long. They are perfect for things like spices and canned goods. The back wall shelves are 16″ deep and 39 1/2″ wide. This area holds larger items like baking essentials and snacks.

Did you notice that our deep freeze didn’t make it in here? While working on the configuration, we realized that we were building a pantry that would house the freezer and then some thin shelves (just the ones on the long wall). Aaron decided to take one for the team and keep the freezer in the workshop space. I was convinced that we could make it work either way… but I’m very happy that he convinced me take advantage of the extra shelves at the back of the space.

Ikea’s Algot system was the perfect option for a customizable and economical storage system. At a few bucks per upright and bracket, the components are wildly affordable. They got a coat of Bright Black Raspberry to make them fade into the background.

For the shelves, Aaron insisted on hardwood. He opted for hard maple due to the relatively economical cost and the beautiful grain. Each shelf required this rigorous process

  1. Cut to size
  2. Plane for smoothness
  3. A pass through the drum sander
  4. Hand sanding (heavy and medium grit)
  5. Wet the boards to raise the grain, then wet sand with medium grit sandpaper
  6. Dry
  7. Sand again (medium and fine grit)
  8. Two floods of dark walnut Danish Oil
  9. Wax all edges

 

In may have been a bit of overkill for pantry shelves, but they definitely look and feel very luxe. This pantry is fancy AF.

In related news, Aaron is not using hard maple anywhere else in this house.

A few other Ikea items make this space super functional. A step stool is a must because short girl problems. The Bekvam step stool was sold out in black, so we grabbed the birch option and discovered it was unfinished. Aaron stained it with Old Masters Dark Walnut Gel stain. It matches the shelves and looks like it belongs to this space. We strategically place the lower shelf high enough to allow the stool to slide underneath.

We snagged a few Algot mesh baskets that clip right to the upright, making them perfect for onions and potatoes.

While I love the look of pantries that have all their items sorted into matching containers, I knew that  was too much effort for me. (Legitimate question – how do you know how to cook things if you chuck the packaging?)  Ikea’s Variera boxes are much more my speed. They come in a few sizes and make everything from pasta to Aaron’s sour candy collection feel organized in a flash. I used these boxes throughout the kitchen and they may be the best $2.79 you can spend at Ikea.

That rounds out the kitchen renovation. I’m still spending an embarrassing amount of time looking at the before/after shots. So don’t feel bad if you’re doing the same 😉