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!

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Lazy Days of Summer

Ahhh, the long summer days are almost over! What, have I been doing? Mostly enjoying our house, the weather, tending to the gardens, socializing, and working.
We've been getting some beautiful sunsets lately:
I don't have much interior-wise to report about but we will be doing a lot in the coming months.  This includes replacing all the wall paneling with a lighter wood. The original panels are damaged, both by sun and holes and the replacement panels do not match. A lighter wood will open up the space, like our narrow hallway:
We are going to have the ceiling in the great room and kitchen sandblasted to get back to the natural wood. As you can see, there are water stains galore on the whitewash.

I painted one wall of my sewing room tiffany blue. I love it! I've been too lazy busy to finish decorating the room. I plan to paint the rest of the walls the same color. I have bought fabric for curtains and found some 50's pattern pictures from Etsy, that I plan to frame.

Oh boy. At the beginning of the summer, I painted the middle partition in the great room chartreuse. I thought it would look cool.

It was fabulously bright.
In the morning it was headache-y bright. So I went back to the paint store and tried a darker chartreuse.
It was still too bright.
I couldn't take it.
It's now back to eggshell white (boring, I know) and I stuck some framed photos I have taken over the years on it.
This is what the other side looks like so far. .As you can tell, I love Cathrineholm.

All of the landscaping work over the past 2 years paid off this summer as everything looks lush and tall. We planted gladiolas last fall at the front of the house. They came up beautifully, this summer don't you think?

Here's another angle of the front with our grasses

I never thought I would get so into vegetable gardening, but I love it. The garden is flourishing. We've been enjoying lettuces, carrots, peppers, kale, herbs, strawberries, broccoli, basil for pesto, and now eggplant, cucumber and zucchini. We are planning to add some more beds around the border. (I TOLD Shawn that 3 beds were not enough!)
Some new pictures of the back. Shawn planted and dripped all of the blue succulents to the left, all the way down the hillside.

Another angle. We painted the Eichlerondack chairs 'Calypso Blue'.
Perfect for a cat to snooze under:
 We decided to fence the property. We got tired of spraying liquid fence for deer.
I researched what to cover deer fence with and we have planted bougainvillea, jasmine, potato vine, clematis, and laurel bushes.
I must say we have, for the most part, fabulous neighbors. Every Sunday, we play Petanque (like bocce, but French) at our lovely neighbors  and there is always a great bunch of folks. Everyone brings wine and an appetizer and has a wonderful time, although sometimes the competition gets pretty heated :)
However, this was the reaction from one neighbor over the deer fence. Conspicuously placed facing our property:
I guess they don't like it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The BIG GIANT fireplace

It's finally April! About my previous post; Thanks for all your comments! I am a pretty personal person and am horrified when people air their dirty laundry on FB and the like. But that note just chapped my hide. And since this blog is about remodeling our mcm home - both the good and bad  - I felt the need to post about it.
Enough brooding about slopegate - Mad Men is back!
I have yet to do a post on our fireplace and how we turned it back into the GIANT fireplace.
This was taken right after we took ownership.

We hemmed and hawed about the red brick, but I actually love it. The fireplace had a woodstove insert. (full of ashes, of course). We both hated it. It just didn't look right in this mid century home. And we both love a roaring fire.
These suckers weigh A LOT so we had to get some help having it removed.  It took 3 guys and a trolley.
It then sat by our front door while the home was being remodeled, until I cleaned it up and offered it for sale on Craigslist (you have to haul it yourself!). It sold pretty quickly.
This is what our fireplace looked like after the woodstove was removed.

The next step was getting it checked out. We weren't holding out much hope that the chimney would be in good shape, but amazingly, it was! I could picture the roaring fires already.
I wasn't even going to attempt to clean the black soot on the red brick, so we needed a door to hide it. Because of the large size of the fireplace, we had to get a door and screens custom made. We chose a glass with steel finish from Thermo-Rite. In spite of it taking forever to receive, it turned out quite nice.

We have had some wonderful fires over the winter, and now that warmer weather is upon us, we had probably our last roaring fire last night, while watching Mad Men.

Now THAT'S a fire!

We bought a stainless steel tool set to match from All Modern in a 20% off sale, pictured to the left.
So what did you think of Mad Men? I find the season openers to be a bit slow. I actually fell asleep towards the end so no spoilers!