Guest Bath

My next project is to re-do our tiny guest bathroom that is just 5’x8′. The only thing I want to replace is the sink with a polished stainless undermount. We had already replaced the toilet when we moved in a year ago. We also replaced the faucet when there was a leak several months ago. Shortly thereafter I replaced the broken vanity light fixture when I cashed in my ebay bucks… cost me absolutely “0” dollars! Everything in this update is just new finishes like resurfacing the fake marble top with pebble tile and repainting the surface of the shower. (You can get kits to do this at Home Depot.) The one feature in the renderings that will be a ‘someday’ addition is the skylight because there aren’t any windows in this bathroom.

This is what the guest bath looks like now:

 

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Here are some renderings of what I hope it will look like when I’m done:

view 1

view 2

 

The towel shelf unit in the wall is actually a homemade shoe holder that was built by the former homeowner. We will paint and trim it out and insert it into the wall between the studs. The wall is double thick because it’s a wall where two sections of the mobile home are joined.

I’ve had the French script fabric for a long time that I bought for the old house. Been dying to use it and couldn’t find a place for it anywhere else in the new house that is a quite a bit smaller. This is perfect I think! The frame around the mirror will be styrofoam wrapped with batting and then covered with the fabric. The resulting frame will be attached by glueing wide velcro to the mirror and frame in the event it would need to be removed for cleaning or replacement.

I also have just one roll of wallpaper that looks like beadboard that I’ve been packing around for years that will be just right for this space. I don’t usually recommend wallpaper in a bathroom, but this is going just on the bottom on a couple of small spaces.  So with some care to glue it in place well and with the baseboard and chair rail moulding anchoring it in place, it should hold up well.

And lastly, I’ve been wanting to try pebble tile. I know it will be bumpy (even if I get the sliced kind –haven’t decided yet). This will be a fun project (except for the painting part which I am sick of).

 

 

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Master Suite

I wish I could say our master bedroom and on-suite bath were finished. I feel it’s going to be awhile yet. Still have to do the crown molding and a few other trim pieces before we will call it done. We moved into the master bedroom a couple of days before Christmas and were able to start using the bath a week or so before that. My husband put the tile up without issue in the shower. I’m so proud of him as it was his first tile job. It’s marble subway tiles and we had to purchase a wet saw suitable for cutting stone. I found a brand new one on Craigslist for half the retail price. The box hadn’t even been opened. My husband also installed the wood butcherblock counter (that I stained and finished). He also installed the flooring, beadboard, sinks, faucets, glass shower enclosure and shower hardware. He replumbed the vanity sinks and installed the light fixtures. I did the hardware and cabinet knobs. We replaced the GFCI outlet together. (My one wish is that I could have added another outlet near the vanity table but that was not in the budget.) Thank goodness for YouTube with videos that showed how to do everything we couldn’t figure out on our own!

We both contributed to all the painting as well as my youngest son who did the green paint in the bedroom and all of the inside of our walk-in closet. I really don’t want to look at a paint roller for awhile. I’m so thankful for Mico’s help!

While the almost-finished project is a far stretch from what my expectations would be of a professional craftsman, I am happy with our results. I am very proud and appreciative of my husband’s hard work –especially since he usually only gets one day a week off from his regular labor-intensive job! Gracias me amor! (Now if I could just get him up on the ladder to install the crown molding!)

Here are some “before” pics of the bathroom as a reminder of what the bath looked like before:

Before 1

 

Before 3

Before 4

Before 5

 

Here are some renderings I did of the remodel design:

Opt 6 View 3

 

Opt 6 View 2

Opt 6 View 1

Opt 6 View 4

Here are the “after” pics of the bath:

Master 1

 

After 1

After 2

After 3

After 4

After 5

These are renderings I did of the master bedroom:

Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 1

Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 1

 

Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 2

Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 2

This is what it looks like now:

Master 3

 

Master 5

 

Master 2

 

Master 4

The over-all cost of this remodel was about $6,000. This included all the materials and the little bit of labor we hired which included moving the plumbing for the shower, installing the shower pan and installing the plush carpet in the bedroom. The brass bed (straight out of the ’80s and same genre as the the mobile home), came with the house. I want to try to refinish the cheap shiny brass finish to look like the antique brass of the beside wall lamps. Eventually, I’ll replace the door knobs to something that a little less ‘bright’ as well. I hear brass is back so I might be able to find something a little more updated.

The dressing table was a Craigslist find –it has a really heavy marble top that inspired the use of the marble subway tile for the shower. I think it must have come out of an old hotel. I am happy with most everything but the shower enclosure that we ordered online. It was manufactured in Canada and came via a New York distributor and was shipped to our home near the California Central Coast. Even though we saved a ton of money (I’m guessing about two-thirds the price of a custom glass shower), it was fraught with problems. The initial order included only the doors and was missing the side panel It was out of stock at the time this mistake was discovered. The base came in broken and they had to send another (also out of stock at the time)…  Over all, it took about four months to get this issue rectified. Even so there are small scratches on the stationary glass door and the frame was bent in one corner and a tiny divot in the replacement shower pan. These were discovered when we went to install them. Fortunately the divot is on the outside and can be repaired. No way were we going to wait another four months for replacements that may or may not come in perfect. I’d have to say the shower issues were the worst I’ve had to deal with regarding on-line product purchasing I’ve had to date. Everything else –counter tops, sinks, mirrors, hardware, flooring, tile (even the beadboard and trim) had no issues at all! Everything else was purchased from our local Home Depot.

Side Yard Design

This is my design for our side yard of the home we purchased a year ago August. I can hardly believe we’ve been here for over a year already! Perhaps it’s because we’ve been working away at remodeling it bit by bit (on the inside) since we moved here. We’re about 3/4 done with the master bath and the Home Depot crew is coming to measure the floor for carpet for the master bedroom on Halloween. (I picked that day because I wouldn’t forget and the measure was free and would be good for up to a year.) I promise when we get the master bath done, I’ll post the before and after pics!

Meantime, I have been dreaming of what to do about our tiny outdoor space. I want it to be as low maintenance as possible. I’ve posted my ideas for the front and have “tried on” many paint colors. We’ve finally decided on a warm medium brown color. I think we could live with it for a long time and we really don’t like it’s current sad gray color.

Now to give you an idea of what the side yard is now:  There is a long metal awning that spans the whole side of the house. An item of contention between my husband and I. He wants to keep it but I think it’s a worthless eye sore. It’s a typical “mobile home” type. (You know the type– with the scrolling cheap metal support posts.) It is also on the northeast side of the house so really does nothing to protect the house from summer heat. It keeps the sun out on the side that could really use it. In the past year we’ve had rain approximately four days, so that’s not a great reason to keep it either. Most of all, it blocks the views of the great old pepper tree that is always home to a variety of birds and provides lovely filtered light. It also blocks the view of the gorgeous liquid amber that is turning multiple shades of gold and red this time of year.

In addition there is a very large shabby looking sad storage shed that takes up much of the space. It’s so bad that the last owners left lots of stuff in there because they simply didn’t want to go in there after it. I don’t want to either. So (one thing hubby and I agree on) it needs to go.

My plan? Replace them both with a great big deck that we would actually use. So here you go.

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Side Yard 2

Side Yard 3

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Side Yard 5

Side Yard 6

Side Yard 7

Here are my most recent proposed ideas for the front view that faces south:

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Notice there is no grass. We do not want to water or cut grass. (Overwatering is now considered a criminal offense here in CA so I’m sure this ‘zero scape’ would go over very well with the city if not our park managers.)

YouTube How To Everything

At one time when you wanted to know about something… you looked it up in a collection of books we once called encyclopedias. Parents of the 50’s and 60’s got a set of them when their children were little from a guy who went door to door convincing parents that their toddlers would never make it to college if they didn’t invest in a set. Never mind that by the time said toddler got to kindergarten they would be outdated. By middle school they used them to source their written reports anyway and the teachers were none the wiser (except when you copied directly out of one –dumb idea– they could tell). Then by the time the middle schoolers were in high school, they used the set that was a little newer in the school library and the home versions found their way into garage sales or became handy door stops or a mechanism for pressing flowers. All features that never got anybody into college.

Millennials have never known a world without computers. So if they tell their parents they have gone to “study at the library,” I would be suspicious. Though libraries usually have computers nowadays too. But kids likely have them at home as well. Early in the decade when you wanted to look something up. you could go to Wikipedia (the digital encyclopedia). Now you just Google  a topic and you’ll get lots of data. Tons of it! Probably way way more than you need and you have to shuffle through the ads of those who want to sell it to you, posted a picture of it on Pinterest, or links to numerous blogs that are totally unrelated.

Then God invented YouTube. (Actually it was invented by its founders Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim in 2005, but I like to think God made the world ready for it.) Nowadays if you want to be a music star, you record YouTube videos to get discovered. You want to see the newest viral pet videos (dogs saying “I love you” or cats doing un cat-like things) you’ll find them on YouTube. Even the very word “viral” has gone from indicating a nasty bodily infection to be used more comonly as an indication of a social media comment or video’s popularity. My husband and I have discovered YouTube as handy (desperate) DIYers. You want to know how to do, make or fix anything, you can find a YouTube video for it. Usually there are LOTS of them.

My husband is a welder. It’s a job that he thoroughly enjoys. So much so that when he comes home from working all day, he’ll spend hours watching YouTube videos of welding techniques. So when we decided to remodel the master bathroom it had to be a mostly DIY endeavor. Since we had just finished the kitchen remodel that we paid others to do (except the floor that my husband did), we had run out of funds and couldn’t afford to have the bathroom done which we needed to do because everything leaked and smelled bad. Everything that we’ve done that we didn’t already know how to do (which was pretty much everything except the painting and installing the vinyl plank flooring) we learned watching YouTube –including hanging blinds, installing the toilet, hanging beadboard panels, plumbing the sinks, installing the GFCI outlet and light fixtures, and tiling the shower. We paid a contractor to crawl under the house to plumb the shower because we wouldn’t. There are spiders down there.

A few years ago when we bought and remodeled our last house, we bought several high-end appliances. When we moved to our present “project,” we took the refrigerator and laundry set with us. Recently had issues with both and, of course, the one-year warranty that came with them has expired. The refrigerator’s ice maker was still making ice but refused to dispense it through the door. I googled the brand (Samsung) and found lots and lots of complaints about some defect inherent in the model. Complaints seemed to fall on deaf ears from the manufacturer. One post I read lead me to research the problem on YouTube. Voile! Though I am unable to fix the problem as there are no broken parts, I learned how to “reset” the icemaker and “unstick” the mechanism to be able to get it to function. usappliance_2268_238924793

About the same time as the refrigerator problem, my washing machine decided to quit working too! It’s a Whirlpool Duet that (at the time I bought it) was the top of the line only three years ago. After filling and doing a wash cycle, it would read an error message: E01 and F01, and refuse to drain. So I got out the manual that it came with that basically said to call Whirlpool customer service. Upon doing so, the service agent suggested I see a YouTube video that showed how to determine if the drain hose was clogged which would cause the waste water pump not to function. She sent me the link which I shared with my husband. He took it a step further and did some additional YouTube investigating. He learned how to access a clean out near the pump. You wouldn’t believe what we found in there! Enough change to buy a Big Mac and assorted other stuff. Even a disposable lighter and we don’t even smoke! After chipping away at the sediment that was packed in as hard as cement, my handy hubby reinstalled the filter and put everything back together.  The solution to fixing my “digital” machine was purely mechanical! Now it works better than ever!

Whirlpool Duet

You can complain all you want to about our over-dependence on computers and the difficulty of sorting the true from the untrue. (Our parents used to say: “Don’t believe everything you read!” ) But I can report very good success from learning stuff via YouTube. Really, just common sense.

When One Door Closes…

suesMany of you have been hearing me say for quite awhile now that I am retiring. In fact I retired a few years back from kitchen and bath design, only to re-emerge a year or two later with a new business emphasis in 3D illustration of interiors. While I enjoyed the notion and activity of creating beautiful renderings, it never developed into anything more than a hobby. I came to the conclusion that I was tired of clients (and potential clients) who wanted me to work on their projects on contingency (I don’t get paid unless they sell the job to their clients), or for less than minimum wage. One guy even wanted me to do a project (or two) for free just to prove to him I could do it even though I sent him ‘sample projects’ that he raved about. I politely declined. Others couldn’t be bothered with signing an agreement ~ Yet these same people wouldn’t lift a finger for their own clients without one. While I know that times have been tough on everybody in the design and construction business, I think it is only fair to ask for reasonable compensation for my work. Work that I did because they couldn’t.  Adios Bitchachos!

There have been tell-tell signs that I’ve been moving in this direction. I haven’t updated my website for some time and my software is now two versions behind. I didn’t renew my business license or inform the powers that be of my new address when I moved. My computer is becoming something of a dinosaur and I’m not going to replace it until it absolutely will not surf the net anymore. (I had to restart it once while in the process of writing this post because it gets stuck.)

So I did all of the things today that one does to “close shop”. I closed my business bank account, ditched the business phone and virtual fax machine. In the near future, my website, pamdesigns.net wil be coming down. I sent letters to recent clients informing them and thanking them for their business. Feels rather strange as there are no lights to turn off nor a door to lock for the last time. Sadly, it just is. Because my business has been online for the past several years, it is going away with a silent breath that probably only I will hear.

acid

I like being retired. Not a financially savvy move, but one that I am content with. I am not destitute nor am I wealthy (or ever will be) in either case. I am enjoying doing the things I would never be able to do if I were tied to a job and hope to be able to get back into creating art as I did many years ago. One thing you can count on, I and this blog are not going away. I may not be making a living at it, but I am and will always identify myself as a designer and an artist. Just passing a milestone in my life like many others that are life changing (like graduating from school, taking a first job, getting married or kicking the last birdy out of the nest).

Really Bad Days 2

Master Suite Progress

The progress is s..l…o….w… For a number of reasons. In particular, my husband is doing most of the work. Much of it is learning as he goes and dealing with a less than plumb and level structure. He is doing this on weekends which means dragging out the tools and making multiple trips to Home Depot. He’s putting up the beadboard in the bath room –a two weekend process so it seems. Just the same, I am SO grateful that he is doing it and he is enjoying making stuff. I think especially because it’s different than what he does the rest of the time as a welder and fabricator for a custom door and window company.

 

In any case, we are still waiting on the parts of the shower that arrived damaged and missing from our order (clear back in April). We’re dealing with an East Coast vendor and the product is coming from Canada. Wondering if it’s worth the savings gained over having one made custom locally at this point. I’ve given them a deadline of this coming week. Then we will be negotiating a refund and starting over.

 

In the meantime, I’ve created some renderings for the master bedroom that adjoins the master bath. We decided to paint the walls instead of doing the beadboard in the bedroom and did something of a reverse color scheme. This will be the only room in our house with wall-to-wall carpet. The bedding I actually have. It’s Pottery Barn’s “Secret Garden” collection. It’s been discontinued, so I’ve been trying to search down some pillow shams on line to make the window valances out of.  So far, I could only find one available on ebay (I need two) and it’s pricey. The side chairs are currently used in the dining room and I am looking for some fabric similar to that used in the rendering to make slip covers out of. I really don’t need these chairs in the dining room, so it is perfect to use them in the bedroom and have them available when we have need for extra seating in the dining room. The rest of the furniture is similar to that which I already have. The highboy may get painted a white wash (as shown) though I haven’t decided yet.  And of course I’m going to be hanging some of the quilts on the wall that my mom made.

Pottery Barn "Secret Garden" bedding.

Pottery Barn “Secret Garden” bedding.

 

Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 1

Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 1

 

Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 2

Master Bedroom Suite ~ view 2

I’ve decided to change the color scheme a bit and cover the chairs in a solid linen fabric in a teal color that coordinates with the Pottery Barn print and I think will go well with the green carpet and wall color.  (I think there’s enough green). I actually found some decorator fabric on line for only $6/yard and no shipping or tax. It’s called Sea Foam Blue and has several shades of the color in it giving it a lovely texture. I’m getting enough to add a bed skirt as well. Still looking for some pieces online of the Pottery Barn Secret Garden collection to make the valances and accent pillows out of . I have faith they will show up eventually. If not, I had the idea that I could take apart the duvet cover and make a coverlet out of one side and use the rest of the fabric for the valances and accent pillows. Bedroom View 1B   Bedroom View 2B

3D rendering is a great way to make color choices. Though the furniture is not identical (but very similar in size, finish and scale), the fabrics and finishes are ‘real world’ . They are actually screen shots taken of online samples or photographs and applied to the models.

American Dream Disaster

Just watched the final episode of American Dream Builders and I am now very satisfied that I have retired. If design trends are to be lead by the likes of Nate Berkus’ posturing and ego maniacal ramblings, I’m glad to be out of it! He clearly ran the show and made me wonder why they even had the other judges who seemed there just to back up his opinions. I was disappointed in Monica Pederson and  frankly confounded by the very presence of Eddie George as a design judge at all. I’m not a football fan, so up until this show never heard of him before.  His lack of design knowledge and expertise was obvious as he acquiesced time and time again to Nate’s and Monica’s comments and opinions.American Dream Builders - Season 1 Design competition shows (like any other reality TV competition shows) are fraught with tension and drama. If they were just about design, the only people who would likely watch them would be other designers which is certainly not the direction a major network wants to go and it would probably only air at 6 a.m. on PBS. So, following the pattern as expected, this show was definitely high drama.. but not original by any means. The only thing different besides this show and HGTV’s Design Star was the lack of the “White Room Competition” and the network. I guess I should not overlook the infusion of  character borrowed from the Extreme Makeover Home Edition Show with the “Neighborhood Counsels” Blah, blah, blah… (Kept wondering when they were gonna yell at somebody to move a bus!)

 

Like many design shows that are on HGTV that I watch, I find myself watching the opening set up for the episode (first five or so minutes) and then fast forwarding to the end to see the results. However, the final episode for this show was the exception. I did skip through a lot of the process stuff in the middle which I found just obnoxious. I felt the approaches to the projects of the two very different finalists, Jay and Lukas, were worth taking in because they were so different. Jay is a builder and his approach was clearly ‘team’ based as would be expected by a home builder working with a team of talented people on a large, high-end project. It made sense to me that he would take advantage of the individual talents of his team and direct them.  I imagined it must have been a bit like herding cats at worst and conducting a orchestra at best. These are the attributes that one would expect of a design-build contractor. In the end, I felt the project reflected a culmination of many talented creative minds orchestrated in a single direction, but you could see the individual efforts on the team shine through. I felt this was intended, not by accident. This is what I would expect of a Dream Builder. American Dream Builders Based on the comments of Nate and Monica, Lukas should be considered a phenom in the world of design. His approach was to maintain total control of the project in a dictatorial fashion so that he could maintain a strict sense of continuity and project a single design aesthetic throughout the entirety of his project from the smallest detail to the ‘big picture’ idea. His design aesthetic appealed most to Nate and that is what won the competition for him… (Never mind that Eddie just kept his trap shut and Monica nearly collapsed when she saw the black painted box.) Not that it reflected anything to do with the family that owned the place or what they would want nor even the building vernacular of the location. This building would fit right in Chicago, Copenhagen or Milan. Not Ventura, CA, or in any other tropical or subtropical beach location in the US. A beach house it was not. Forward thinking? Not so much.  Wow factor? Certainly.  There were elements of the project I liked, but overall, I’m glad I didn’t own it, have to pay taxes on it and perhaps have to try to sell it in today’s marketplace in that location. American Dream Builders Ultimately, Nate Berkus lead the show in a direction that betrayed it’s title: American Dream Builder. It had little to do with building and everything to do with decorating and design. They are not one in the same. Just because you work on a whole bunch of building projects as a designer, that does not make you a builder. The three judges were not builders and one of them was a football player (HUH?????).   Nate commented that he didn’t think Jay should win because he didn’t think he was capable of doing the entire design of his project as it was on his own. To me that was the beauty of his project, that as a builder he was able to orchestrate the talents of a group of highly diverse designers which resulted in a project that superseded the abilities of any single team member.

 

As a trained and experienced designer myself, I have to look seriously at Lukas as a professional designer because he was (as he stated) self-taught. It shows that he does not understand nor respect the processes that professional designers go through to solve design problems.  He is clearly an artist, and when it comes to residential design I would call him a stylist or a decorator –a professional designer is a stretch. One of the key things a designer does is develop a program that includes the desires of the client. The format of the show did not allow for much of this. I would have loved to have been a mouse in the corner when the ‘black box’ beach house was revealed to the family. I’ll bet their jaws hit the ground in unison! Not in awe but in “Oh Hell, what have we got ourselves into!” I wonder how long after the taping of that episode will it be before they have a really big repainting party (if they haven’t already)?   While I can respect that a great deal of design has to do with art and creativity. there is much more involved. Marrying artistic expression and design problem solving is not an easy thing to do. But that is what is at the essence of good design. If the problems don’t get solved then the design is lacking.

 

Next I want to see a show called American Dream Decorator and the judges should be two builders and a tennis player.