Three major upgrades

I always struggle with writing about major projects that we contract out. While 100% necessary, they always feel a bit bland to talk about. There’s not much story to “We picked out shingles. The end.” But in the interest of thoroughly documenting the updates to our new space, these changes seemed worthy of a post.

Let’s start at the top (literally). Despite the thousands of words I used to tell you about our location and specific house hunt in SoCal, I’m pretty sure I didn’t explicitly mention that Aaron saw our future home for the first time on inspection day. When we pulled up, the first thing he said was “It probably needs a new roof.” This was quickly confirmed by the inspector and later by multiple roofing companies. However, the sellers will go to their grave claiming the roof was fine. Negotiations post inspection may have been (they were) a little frustrating.

Thankfully, we had enough money in reserve from the firehouse sale to cover the new roof, and Aaron worked his usual sourcing magic to find a great, affordable small business to take on the job.  We opted for their suggested brand (CertainTeed Landmark series) and requested all of the gray/black samples, which gave us these options: Georgetown Gray, Thunderstorm Gray, and Moire Black.

While none of these compliment the current beige on beige on brown color scheme, a new exterior paint job is on the list for 2018. We’re leaning toward a mid century blue gray exterior, but didn’t even have paint swatches at this point. We opted for Moire Black on the roof to ensure the finished look isn’t too monochromatic  in case we go a little more gray than blue when we choose the shade for the house.

From there we just had to watch them work and pay the bill.

 

We are both very excited to dive into painting this summer. Famous last words, right?

The second upgrade also became apparent on inspection day. We always recommend booking additional inspections for any major systems that may be of concern. Normally these are inexpensive and totally worth the peace of mind. Along with a traditional inspector, we asked an HVAC expert to give the furnace a once over. Besides being old AF (it’s original to the 1960s house), the inspection revealed a cracked heat exchange, which meant it needed to go. After a few bids, we hired Castle Air to replace the system. We were really impressed with their thoroughness, including adding additional vents to achieve better airflow.

The third major change was an upgraded electrical panel and adding a sub-panel to the garage. This gave us enough power to build out the workshop. We even found a local stucco pro to patch the exterior around the new, enlarged panel. The workshop has been Aaron’s main focus in the weeks he’s been in California. It’s crucial to the kitchen/dining room reno we’re planning to dive into in a few short weeks!

Painting is easy when your furniture is delayed

Moving is never easy, but if I have to move I’d like someone to pack my stuff, load it and unload it. In this cross country venture, I got my wish, but we also became acquainted with the many pitfalls of hired help and long distance moves. Some issues were minor, like unpacking the sink stoppers that belong to the master bathroom at the firehouse (sorry new firehouse owners!), and some were major and majorly stressful. Topping that list was this series of events:

Wednesday whilst in an RV park in Arizona during out trek from MO to CA: A friend from work who was also relocating texts to say that I should check on my household goods because she just found out that hers were going to be delayed. I emailed our moving coordinator and she wrote back almost immediately saying our goods would be delivered on Friday as planned. Me: WHEW!

Thursday whilst driving West through Arizona, less than 24 hours after after confirming our delivery for Friday: Our moving coordinator calls to say that our truck hasn’t departed from St. Louis, despite the fact that they have had all of our stuff for 2 weeks at this point. Me: WTF?!

We were without nearly everything we own for a week. In the interim, we pillaged the trailer for cookware, camp chairs, a thin mattress, bedding and eventually pulled all of the cushions out to make a faux couch. And as the saying goes, we made lemonade out of lemons and decided the best use of our first weekend in California was to paint our master bedroom, master bathroom and guest bedroom… because when you move from 5,500 square feet to 1,800 tackling three rooms in 2 days is actually feasible.

Master bedroom

We’ve long been fans of dark walls in our master bedroom, usually some form or gray,  but we’ve even talked about going black. Cut to us at Home Depot pulling all of the gray and black swatches available, when we stumbled on Opera Glasses, in Behr’s Marquee line. This deep blue resonated with both of us immediately, so we decided to break away from our traditional monochromatic leanings and give it a go.

I’m SO happy! I absolutely love this shade of blue. It made the entire room feel more refined. And thanks to the fact that it’s a huge space, the dark color doesn’t make it feel small.

Those dark corners make my heart happy. It feels very cozy.

The photos above are all shot in natural light, but  it’s worth a look at the electrical upgrades we made to the space.

We swapped the ceiling fan for a much sleeker version without a light kit. The lack of proper lighting in this house (and really all California homes) is mind boggling. We will be adding ALL of the can lights (I vow to the renovation gods as I sit here in our very dark living room).  Here we opted for 6 square LED cans, which put out a ton of much needed light.

Aaron also swapped all of the outlets to white, rectangular versions, and he installed our favorite dimmer: the Lutron Maestro IR. Our love for this dimmer is a hold over from my days working in the electrical distribution business where I got to know about all the latest and greatest electrical products. Calm down guys, it is not as glamorous as it sounds, but I did get a pretty sweet employee discount. Even when that discount went away our love for the Lutron Maestro IR kept going strong thanks to the easy light control and remote for adjusting lights from the bed.

Other notes about this room: I wouldn’t consider it to be done. We’re still using Ikea shelves as bedside tables, which I called “temporary” in this post from Sept 2013. We also really need some seating, like a bench at the end of the bed, and I have some art that needs to be hung. I doubt this space will get much more than that before we overhaul it down the road by stealing some of the space for an expanded master bathroom.

Guest bedroom
In the guest bedroom, we stayed a bit more true to form, opting for Behr’s Shark Fin, a medium gray.

Chair rails are not our jam, but removing these seemed like a hassle. Besides the normal drywall work that would be needed, in this room the top half of the wall is textured and the bottom is smooth. It’s really odd and not worth the time or effort to even things out. So, just like in the master bedroom at the firehouse, we painted it in order to get it to blend in with the walls.

This room also got new receptacles, a window shade and a more modern fan and light kit (not pictured). It also houses a bunch of things that are basically homeless, like extra fans and a bunch of weights from our workout room that I can’t decide whether to keep or get rid of. The good news is that the only real plans we have for in here are decorating – art, probably a new duvet, a chair and maybe different side tables. After nearly 4 years of constant, real renovation, it’s nice to have a list for a room that’s mostly “buy things we like.”

So one room is blue, one is gray (and bonus points if you noticed the master bathroom is white with black cabinets… more on that later) and obviously all of our stuff made it to the house eventually.

In which we plant succulents outside and all my dreams come true

This wasn’t the first project we did at the new house. The first project we tackled was painting our master bedroom… and our master bathroom… and, for good measure, the guest bedroom. We tackled those first because we spent nearly a week in our house without ANY OF OUR STUFF. But that’s a story for another day… a day when I have edited “after” photos when my husband lives full time in California with me.

It’s important to share these updates because you may have noticed in the introductory post for the new house that I failed to take good “before” photos of the backyard. Now I can’t do that without bringing you up to speed on these quick updates we made soon after moving in.

Up first: Swapping this table for our fire pit.

While it was great to have this outdoor eating area when we were waiting for our things to arrive, it didn’t fit in our overall vision for the backyard for a lot of reasons. 1. We have a massive slab (aka future table) and designs for a larger outdoor dining room. 2. This seemed like the perfect spot for our fire pit.

The post of the table is cemented in place, so removing it just required a quick tour with the sawzall.

We kept the chairs – 2 for the fire pit and 2 for the interim outdoor dining area.

Project #2: A planter makeover.

There are approximately 1,000 planters/planting beds at this house. While most of them need to be converted in groups, this standalone guy (no pun intended) was an easy target for ALL OF THE SUCCULENTS! I love succulents and have a Pinterest board to prove it. (Ok, that sounds weird, but it is true.) They grow outside here and this may officially be heaven. So you shouldn’t be surprised when you see a lot of these make their way into our landscaping.

Boom!

Succulents + gray rocks. Be still my heart.

I intended to list the names for all these plants, but those photos are with Aaron in St. Louis. If you’re dying to know, leave me a comment and I’ll swing back with the info. In the meantime, I’ll just be sipping my wine gazing lovingly at these beauties.