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.

New floors

Continuous flooring throughout the firehouse was never a real possibility, mostly because it was 5,000+ square feet and we are not made of money.  Taking on a much more modestly sized California ranch made a flooring upgrade realistic, and it didn’t take much online browsing to feel pretty certain that new floors would be a must in any home we bought.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Aaron “Master Sourcing Expert” Hawes jumped into the task with glee. Here were our parameters:

  • Click-together flooring  that we could float over a slab foundation
  • Solid wood (rather than engineered) so it could be refinished some day if needed
  • Hard wood – because Great Dane claws
  • Not hand-scraped or faux distressed – No offense if you have this style. We just don’t love it.
  • Mid-tone brown
  • Under $5 per square foot

Bamboo instantly jumped to the top of the list thanks to the hardness and price. The biggest struggle, and one of the most important considerations, was finding the right color. We love the warm mid tone brown that is common in much of the mid century furniture we gravitate towards. Real life: We ordered enough bamboo floor samples (usually free or really cheap) to floor a child’s play house.

Ultimately the winner was Warm Brown from Trinity Bamboo. (Top sample below.)

It’s a stunning tone that warms up our white-walled rooms. We also loved the matte finish and wide planks. It fit nicely in the budget at under $4 per square foot.

After chatting with the company, we opted to buy tongue and groove planks rather than click-together and glue them down. This provides a nice base for everything, like the cabinets in the kitchen. The glue works in place of the vapor barrier that would normally go under a floating floor installation.

Ordering was easy and delivery was prompt! That may be where the “easy” part of this story ends. Gluing down wood floors is HARD work. After pre-cutting the planks for a section, Aaron had to work quickly to trowel the glue and set and tape all the boards before the glue setup. Adding to the time sensitivity was the relatively short pot life (time before the glue dries too much) of the large buckets. The glue isn’t cheap so basically any time he opened a pail it was a race to use it all. The good news for you is that buckets have been discontinued. The glue is now distributed in much more manageable (and resealable) tubes.

It’s a ton of work but the end result is absolutely stunning! The boards have enough variation to give a nice natural feel and the color is exactly what we wanted.

So far he has finished all of the floors in the public spaces of the house, including new baseboard and trim throughout the kitchen, dining room and hallway. Our bedroom is up next and I cannot wait to tear the carpet out and extend these floors into that room!

Welcome to our SoCal mid century ranch

Even while living at the firehouse, we always lusted after mid century ranches. St. Louis has quite a few (not within our budget) and we’re obviously enamored with the simplicity of mid century modern design. I tell you this because I think it’s kind of cool that in giving up our “forever home” we landed in the only other style of home we’ve ever had heart eyes for.

So without further ado, I present our new home.

It’s a 3 bedroom, 2 bath 1,800 square foot ranch that has only been owned by one family before us. Let’s take a look inside and chat about our renovation plans. (Note: all of these photos are from the day of the inspection. None of the furniture is ours… although if you think we own a recliner you may be new here…)

Reno plans: We already want to paint the exterior, which sucks because the previous owners did a really nice job painting it before they put it on the market. But seriously that yellow beige has got to go! We’re envisioning a blue grey main color and black roof (more on that later). Ultimately, we’d like to change the front yard to water friendly, desert landscape. We’re already noodling it, but we may need help from a professional designer (suggestions please!) because landscaping isn’t our forte.

We also ran into a little bit of an issue trying to get our trailer parked on the pad to right of the driveway. So we’re nixing the light post and curved wall on the right and extending the concrete to the sidewalk. As we work on the exterior, we’ll eliminate the “country” leaning aspects (like the fixtures and the brick around the front door) to give it a sleeker vibe.

To the right of the entrance is a front living room. The photos don’t do the space justice, it’s rather large has gorgeous corner windows with extra deep sills.

Reno plans: The entire house is getting new flooring, so let’s get that out of the way up front. We’re just not carpet people and the Danes have only confirmed that by reveling in every square inch. They’re in heaven. I keep telling them to enjoy it while it lasts, but their very small grasp of the English language leaves me feeling like they’re not getting the message.

I digress. This space will likely become our dining room and contain a desk/working area. I think this will make more sense as we go so bear with me.

It opens into an existing dining area and the kitchen. So looking right you see this:

Looking left you see this:

The kitchen is rather compact… even more so when you realize the large open space in the photo below is the laundry area.

Both the kitchen and existing dining room look into the rear family room, which offers a TON of natural light from a huge slider, two doors and another set of corner windows.

Reno plans: Per usual, I’ll dedicate an individual post to major renovations before we dive in. I mention that because it’s a little hard to describe exactly what we’re going to do to the kitchen/dining areas without sticking you in the center of the space and gesturing… maybe a video is in order? Suffice it to say that we’re merging the spaces together to form a large kitchen, carving out a dedicated laundry room and adding a walk-in pantry. We’re planning to lose even more walls between the front room, kitchen and family room so the space feels super open.

Speaking of the family room, there were no photos of this space in the listing and it’s one of the reasons we fell for this place. Hello high ceilings. Hello fireplace.

The kitchen is to the right in the photo above. If you turn to the right, this is what you see… minus Aaron and the inspector. We’re amazed at the custom woodwork and the former owner’s ability to get a TON of storage in this home. But this bar has got to go. It’s totally impinging the flow in this space.

Here’s a shot looking to the other side of the room (with your back to the fireplace).

This corner includes a custom sewing area and you probably already guessed that it’s on the chopping block.

Reno plans: This space has some major issues with flow, mostly because every wall has a window, door or built-in. By the fireplace, we’ll install a different set of built-in cabinets to house our bar and hide a projector screen when it’s not in use. We’re also seriously considering moving the large sliders to the sewing area (in favor of a large window). More to come there. Oh and this space needs white paint like WOAH.

Back through the kitchen and down the hall you come to the smaller of the guest rooms, which we’re planning to turn into dedicated wine storage. Exact renovation plans are TBD, but paint and wine racking are obvious.

The guest bathroom was recently renovated, which is great. It would be more great if it wasn’t a melange of beige on beige on brown, but it works for now. This space also has a huge skylight, which I love.

Reno plans: This is lower on the list, but when we get it to it we’ll de-beige and make it match the rest of the house.

The actual guestroom is at the end of the hall on the left.

Reno plans: It’s mostly basic decorating in here: paint, new light/ceiling fan, then figuring out what furnishings and decor we keep from the captain’s bedroom.

At the end of the hallway to the right is the master suite.   

Reno plans: The bedroom is HUGE and the bathroom is tiny… and has a lot of awkward angles… and there’s no mirror over the sink. So it’s kind of a hot mess. When we get to it (this is probably at the very bottom of our list), we’ll do a total overhaul and give more space to bathroom. For now, paint will tide us over.

I did not take nearly enough photos of the backyard. Another post with some better shots is definitely in order. So let’s hold on that for now.

Three large sheds line the walkway to the garage and were another huge selling point for us. This eliminated the need for Aaron to build a sh-workshop because the storage space freed up all of the garage space for the larger tools.

And here’s the garage/future workshop. It’s #1 on the list (and already in progress) because we need those tools for the other renovations and there’s a BUNCH of boxes that I’d like to get out of my front living room.

Reno plans: Remove all the cabinets, patch the walls, paint, epoxy the floor, new electrical and lighting, then re-install everything that we JUST installed in the workshop at the firehouse. Moving is fun, guys! (Sarcasm)

I mentioned that Aaron got to see the house for the first time during inspections. His eye, along with a lot of input from various professionals, added several major projects to our list:

  • New roof (it was way past due and will require a full removal/replacement)
  • New furnace (it was original) and possibly adding air conditioning (because global warming)
  • New electrical panel and additional sub-panel in the garage
  • Stucco repair around the new electrical panel
  • Tenting for termites (a common need, that is normally covered by the sellers, but wasn’t in our case… and to get into that story I would really need to have you here in person… and a bottle of wine)
  • Minor fireplace repair

So, here we go again… albeit in a much more manageable space. Questions? Encouragement for a video? Or maybe just an extended story on Instagram?