Monday, August 25, 2014

We're safe and sound

In the early hours (REALLY early) of Sunday morning we were violently shaken awake by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake here in Napa. I can't begin to describe how utterly terrifying it was - made only worse by being half asleep! In between us both screaming, I remember looking down in the valley and seeing bright flashes of blue light as transformers blew everywhere. And then the valley went dark. It seemed that the shaking would never end and when it did, we stumbled around in the dark for flashlights, peeled the cats off the ceiling, tried to gather our senses, and check to see if there was any damage.
Luckily, despite some fallen things, nothing major was broken and structurally, this old house was a sturdy trooper! Not even any broken windows. It also helps that our home sits on a hill composed of granite.
Downtown Napa did not fare so well. A lot of beautiful historic buildings have been severely damaged. 33 buildings have been red tagged so far. Driving around, we were horrified by what we saw.

It has yet to be determined how much this is going to hurt the wine industry, but this year was an early harvest and some wineries have lost a lot.
The community is coming together. A lot of restaurants have cleaned up and are open for business. We will be going downtown tonight to support our local businesses. I just pray not all of the beautiful old buildings are lost.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Spring Updates Part 2

I'm finally getting around to posting some more updates.  You have to forgive me, I got a new computer and I have switched to a iMac from Windows and trying to learn a whole new system as well as the programs in Mac has been frustrating/enlightening/time consuming!

I've also been busy gardening:)

Since we are now deer free, we could remove the fortress around the rose garden. It looks so much nicer and I am not getting torn up by thorns in that cramped space!
Not too shabby considering my only knowledge is from reading Roses For Dummies!

There is still ONE more update for the exterior:
The new wood fence.
Yep, that is a wood fence over the deer fence on the north side of our property. What is that saying - good fences make...something or other.
We used the same wood as we did for the cribbing under the decks (2x6 clear red cedar). It gives a nice backdrop to all of our growing plants:
Napa county only allows 6ft of solid fence and 2ft of lattice. I believe this is true in a lot of places. So that is what we did, but rather than a traditional lattice we used horizontal boards to give it a more modern look. It is the same clear red cedar, but our contractor milled it on site for us into 1x6 board. Again, thanks to the Houzz.com site for inspiration (below)
Modern Landscape by Encinitas Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Argia Designs Landscape Design & Consultation

The fence ends at the BBQ area at the side of the house. Our pagoda/trelis makes a nice enough fence there.We lined the fence with English Laurels, which will get nice and big.

Our contractor had to get a wee bit creative with the tree, but I love what he did!

It's that time of year when quail are everywhere. I just think they are the cutest, funniest birds. If you look closer, they photobombed a lot of my shots!
Gratuitous photo of cute quail

A flashback to the stone wall on the left. I dug through my photo archives so you can see what it used to look like.

We had this done a couple of years ago, but our stonemason put up a stones over the original wall so that it matched our driveway wall and walkways etc. Not to mention the beautiful plants we have growing now. That is a Japanese Maple, along with Camelias and oat grasses. Agapanthus line the walkway at the side of the house.

Interior wood paneling
This is coming along, so I will give you a sneak peak. So far all of the paneling has been replaced but there is still sanding, staining and trim to do. Except the old paneling was not really replaced. The easiest method was to put the new paneling over the old! The wood is white birch single sheet roll. The 'single sheet roll' is nicer (and more expensive) because it is one peel of the same tree so you get more uniformity.
The original paneling was discolored and full of nail holes.

Here is how it looked with the new and old beside each other.

 And hallway completed.

I can't tell you how much happier and brighter this hallway is! Not to mention the master bedroom but I will show that when it is more completed. We also painted the skylights white to match the ceiling paint. Shout out to Stacy at A Goode House as I noticed they did the same thing! It really makes a difference!
Ah yes, we also have been replacing all of the doors! To match the paneling, we used solid core white birch. I took the shot below, before the paneling was put in.

Come to think of it, Sunshine is totally photobombing me too!

They still have to be sanded and stained and then the fixtures can be installed. We are thinking of staining the doors slightly darker than the paneling and keeping the trim dark for some nice contrasts.
The master bathroom
When we went with a tankless water heater we had a new space behind the bathroom where the water heater used to be. We blew out that space to make a vanity area for me in the master bathroom. That bathroom wall was all cupboards, which I am going to dearly miss. My husband doesn't seem to be as concerned about lack of storage space as I do, but he has assured me I will have PLENTY. (I really think he just wanted to move me and my hair dryer, curling irons, and makeup out of the way. Hmph)
Thank goodness we did get a tankless, because we discovered when we blew out the wall that the old metal water pipes were totally corroded and ready to burst!
The closet door also had to be taken out in the hallway

It has been drywalled and the floor has been put in since this picture was taken but it pretty much looks the same until the cabinets arrive.

So the inside of the house is a wee bit of an unfinished mess right now, but it is coming along!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Spring! Time for some updates Part 1

Spring has arrived in the Napa Valley. I know some readers are still slugging it out with -yuck- snow and to those who are, I used to feel your pain! You can feel little pity for me as it has been raining the past two days - much needed!
The past few months have entailed making a list of the last projects we wanted to complete on the house as well as adding a couple of new ones that we really didn't anticipate (does anyone?!?) but will be great in the long run.
Front Gate
Our property is now fully enclosed. You hear that deer? Oh wait, you CAN'T because you can't come in!
A lot of behind the scenes work went into installing the gate. A line had to be dug from the house down to the front of the driveway for electricity for the gate.

Some of the driveway had to be cut up in order for the sensors to be installed on either side of the gate.

Also, the keypad entry had to be installed. Everything had to be inspected by the city and fire dept. Gate has to be 20 ft from the road, apparently. Then we had to wait for the gate to be built. 
I researched a lot of gates in the area to see what other people had done, and I fell in love with one outside a private home upvalley. It looked like it was Cor-Ten steel and was in between 2 stone pillars - like ours would be, except that rather than a center opening, it would be one single gate. We took pictures of it and showed it to our welding person (On Spot Welding in Novato) and they said they could do it.
Here is the gate that we saw:
Cor-ten steel gate in between stone pillars, nicely rusted up
Close-up detail

And here is how ours turned out. It's still got a lot of rusting up to do, but they did a damn fine job! 
It's going to look a lot more filled in once the vines grow on the deer fencing!

Closeup of the design
It's going to be an exciting year of planting and not having to worry about anything being munched by deer. I may even take down my rose enclosure.

New Planter Box
Our original landscape plans had a built in planter in the front and we finally had it installed. It is Cor-Ten Steel to match our other planters, and is rusting up nicely. Shawn filled all the dirt in himself and planted all the laurels. He is becoming quite the landscaper! 
Right after the asphalt was dug up in October
Taken 2 weeks ago
Deck Flashing
The exterior lattice around the decks didn't really last a summer. I never really liked it but it was a temporary solution as we put money into more important things.

Finally, we could afford to put in what I really wanted - 1x6 boards. The wood is clear red cedar

Much nicer, don't you think?

In Progress
We are putting up a solid fence on one side of our property. This will allow us the privacy and sanctuary type feel that we have always craved without having to wait for all the plants to grow.

But I will save that for another post as well as interior updates!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Greetings!

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year from
Us to You!

Did I mention my husband is a bit of a ham? He has only been on Jasper twice before, but he just hopped on bareback in the pasture, no problem. My two hunks!
A little background on Jasper - he is a draft cross from Canada that I have owned since he was a yearling. He is 8 now and 16.3 hands tall. He was born from a pmu mare owned by ranchers in Manitoba (if you don't know what the pmu industry is, you can google it, but some pictures are not pretty). They lost their contract and all of their mares, over 100, were going to auction and most likely slaughter. Luckily, they were rescued before this happened and they all moved to a ranch in Alberta. Turns out 50 of the mares were pregnant. Jasper was the first born, at midnight in a snowstorm. Thus his full name, Midnight Jasper (named after Jasper, Alberta).
He was practically wild when he first arrived.  Since then, this horse has taught me patience, humility and completely made me rethink my previous understanding of how to train a horse. I've been told over the years that he was 'lazy', 'dull', and had a bad attitude. Who would have thought that with a lot of time and love, these so called experts would be proven wrong time and time again. I've been lucky to have a supportive husband, whom at times was my only cheering section. Nowadays Jasper is learning tricks and is so good at them,  I can't come up with new ones fast enough! Under saddle, my so called lazy and dull horse is not only peppy, he's soft as butter!

It is the same thing with this house. For the longest time, it was misunderstood.

This modern gem had some bad renovations over the years. A solarium and atrium added to keep the outside out. It was neglected, called a dump, a teardown, and that someone would just buy it for the view and build a 'mcmansion' on it.

All it took was someone to see the potential, of what was...and what could be, with a little TLC.

Here's to putting our best 'hoof' forward for 2014!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Ceiling Aftermath

I’m still here! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. Here at the Napa Project, we were in a deep freeze for a week, I was even calling it Canadian cold! Hopefully none of our fruit trees were damaged by frost. I did cover up my veggie garden. Today it is a balmy 60 degrees. Go figure

I was hoping that I would be showing you our sandblasted redwood ceiling much sooner. But we were waiting for our painters to come out  and retouch the beams. They were roughed up from the sandblasting, as were some of the walls. The thing with finding a good contractor, painter, landscaper etc is– the good ones are always busy! So we were on hold until last week when they touched up the beams, ceilings and walls.
I'm still on the fence with the sandblasting. The mess was - a nightmare. And the wood looks much rougher than I thought it would. However, the water stains are gone!

Here is a close-up of the wood, you can see the pitting from the sandblasting, giving a rough appearance.

But those grains!!

Our painters sampled a shiny water based varnish and a matte finish. I wasn't too thrilled with either. In the end, we decided to keep the wood unfinished for now and decide whether to do some sanding down the road. The thought of another mess right now - well, I'd rather stick pins in my eyes!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's not what it looks like - honest!

This is NOT Heisenberg

This was yesterday. We got a lot of sand cleaned up last night but there is a layer of film everywhere. This has turned me off EVER living in a home on the beach!
So I am exhausted, annoyed and really don't relish cleaning the rest of this because my b-day is Friday! Who cleans on their b-day?!?! Ok, I'm whinging a bit here, but cmon.
So my question to you renovation people is, how do you handle conflict/differences of opinion with your significant other when remodeling?
I always think of a house we looked at when we were still in house hunting mode. It was a half done remodel with incredible views. It was being sold because the couple was getting divorced. It was completely empty save for the one self help book on the bookshelf on how to deal with problems in a marriage. The half done hot tub still had the hammers and nails sitting there. Like they had a huge argument and just said f*** it and walked out, never to return! It was bizarre and sad at the same time.
I think it's good that Shawn relishes landscaping while I took up vegetable gardening because we can both stomp off, do some manual labor and regroup.

I wished we had put this sandblasting off until the spring. But we have to get this done before we get the wood paneling replaced. I just wish it wasn't 80 degrees in beautiful Napa while we are stuck in here in sawdust hell!

Considering this remodel has been going on over TWO YEARS now, I would say we're doing pretty good but oh boy, there have been days!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sandblasting The Ceiling

This week is not going to be fun. For me, anyway. I feel all discombobulated right now because we are in full on disarray.  We are having the ceiling of the kitchen, great room and master bedroom, and the floor of the garage sandblasted over the course of 2 days. We were told it makes a mess. We wish we had gotten this done before we moved in but our original contractor didn't even suggest it (or I suspect he didn't know this could be done).
Anyway, the end result is that hopefully we will have a beautiful natural, redwood ceiling, minus the whitewash and water stains.

So this is what the great room looks like right now:

I jokingly said on fb that our home now  looks like a meth lab. But it was pointed out to me that it looks more like a scene from Dexter, minus the blood.

I am NOT looking forward to the cleanup.

On a good note, we bought a sectional set for our side barbecue area from Overstock.com. I love that company. Fast delivery and these are nice quality and comfortable!

Which is good, because that's where I may be sleeping for the next two days!