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).



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.)

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, 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.


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.

The “Final” Final Design

I would have to say this is the design that I’ve ‘redone’ more than any –ever. This is the sixth (and final) rendition of my master bath design renderings. I think I just needed to convince myself it was the best solution for the space, our needs and our budget. In the end we incorporated products and aspects of the project that we could mostly install ourselves (my husband, youngest son and I). Leaving only the plumbing and electrical to the pros. I should also add that I’ve done way more kitchens than bath remodels and found this to be much more intense in terms of design and technical know how.

Opt 6 View 1


Opt 6 View 2

Opt 6 View 3

Opt 6 View 4

Much was driven by budget and making choices to get the most bang for the buck in the right places –like finding a prefab glass shower enclosure that was big enough. I think the Fleurco semi-frameless enclosure was the largest I could get for the space and is of excellent quality. We found the marble topped (and very heavy!)  dressing table on Craigslist. This inspired doing the shower walls in a coordinating marble subway tile. The other splurge was choosing the nickel finishes on the hardware throughout. This choice was made based on the shower head which was a gift from my friends at Brizo that I received when I visited their headquarters last July for the Blogger 19 Reunion. Who knew that polished nickel would be way less common than brushed or satin nickel? Not to mention pricey! I didn’t when I was so attracted to the ‘bling’ of the polished nickel so many months ago when I got to select the finish for my gift. So there is a mixture of finish types –most will be brushed nickel.

Brizo shower head

Brizo shower head

Where we saved money:

  • Light fixtures, square vessel sinks and faucets purchased on ebay.
  • Saving the existing cabinets, painting them inside and out, adding new crystal glass knobs (found on ebay and hoping the screws fit), adding toe valances we’ll make ourselves, and adding crown molding.
  • The mirrors over the sinks are basic wood framed plain mirrors that we will paint and add moldings to.
  • The countertop is a wood work bench top from Home Depot that we will finish with marine varnish.
  • We already have the round mirror that is over the vanity (used to be over the fireplace in our old house).
  • The fabric for the curtain and vanity stool cover I will sew from fabric I already have.
  • The flooring is vinyl ‘grip strip’ with the look of wood planks. This is the same stuff that we used in our kitchen but in a different style. It’s great for manufactured homes because it is fairly water proof and easy for homeowners to install. We are purchasing it from Home Depot. (They are getting to know me and Louie -my dog- on a first name basis.)
  • The white beadboard wainscot and moldings are also inexpensive and to be purchased from our friends at Home Depot.
  • The Brizo hand-held shower head was a gift and the toilet is a Delta that was purchased months ago from (you guessed it) The Home Depot.

collection I should add that vessel sinks in the master bath would not normally be my first choice, but we are keeping the existing vanity that is only 31″ tall including the counter top. So adding the vessel sink (shown above) should put the top right at 36″.

The overall cost of the remodel is expected to be about $6,000 plus any labor that we hire out (like the electrical and plumbing). When I first started this design process, my budget was looking closer to $14,000 plus labor –so I am pretty pleased with the savings and I don’t feel that I’ve sacrificed anything in terms of design. Perhaps one could argue the loss of a tub would ding the resale value.  However, there is plenty of room to add up to a six-foot freestanding tub in place of the dressing table if the need arose. Considering our community is restricted to 55+ residents, I’m banking most would appreciate an accessible large shower more than a flimsy mobile home “garden” tub and closet of a shower. Since I’m now retired, I expect this is a decision my heirs will have to make! =) How long this project will take is anyone’s guess since my husband will only be available to do this on weekends. I’m expecting months. Glad we have another bathroom!

Chief Architect Premier X4: master bath.layout

Renderings ~ Manufactured Home Reno

We’ve been toying with the idea of selling off my dream home. (You know the one that I said they’d have to drag me out feet first ’cause I proclaimed I would never leave.) Well, as the kids are leaving -we have one left and it’s time for him to leave the nest too. So, we’ve got a big house on a largish lot that is a bit larger than we want to contend with into our twilight years. Not to mention the cost… So we’ve been looking into ‘age restricted communities’ locally… That’s right -for the “55 and over set”.  I have to admit the ‘community’ aspect of a park with like minded and similar aged people is appealing. (Oh for heaven’s sake! I know I don’t look a day over 40! LOL!).

Age restricted communities here means manufactured home parks where the homes are set on concrete foundations and can come with garages and small yards. There are even options to own the land.  Even though the parks are tidy with lots of amenities like swimming pools and club houses, it is obvious that the homes have become dated.  Clearly they are dated to the time frame when the parks were started which is in the early 80’s here, so they are mostly in need of renovating.

I’ve been collecting some ideas on Pinterest:   Based on a local real estate listing with lots of interior pictures, I have come up with a few  renovation ideas of my own:

Painted, gable shakes added, pergola over wrap-around porch and arbor over garage; stonework added; windows replaced and shutters added.

Painted, gable shakes added, pergola over wrap-around porch and arbor over garage; stonework added; windows replaced and shutters added.

Replaced windows; tongue and groove ceiling, laminate floors, painted over paneling. Structure to enclose dining room adjacent to living room.

Replaced windows; tongue and groove ceiling, laminate floors, painted over paneling. Structure to enclose dining room adjacent to living room.

Living View 2

This dining room is in the center of the house and has no outside windows. It's the transitional space that has doorways to all of the other major parts of the home.

This dining room is in the center of the house and has no outside windows. It’s the transitional space that has doorways to all of the other major parts of the home.

Dining Room ~ Walls were added to define and enlarge the dining room space. Ceiling was dropped and a tray detail created that includes a tin ceiling in an antiqued painted finish. Rendering by Pamela Rodriguez

Dining Room ~ Walls were added to define and enlarge the dining room space. Ceiling was dropped and a tray detail created that includes a tin ceiling in an antiqued painted finish.

Dining View 3 Dining View 1

New finishes, appliances, cabinets & sink. Plan not changed.

Kitchen ~ New finishes, appliances, cabinets & sink. Plan not changed.

New Renderings

Wow –it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything to this blog.  Sorry for being ‘off the radar’ for a bit. I’ve been ill for a few weeks and my ‘social media presence’ has suffered while I’ve been off feeling sorry for myself.  Well –f*** that! Time to get back in the game! While I’ve been away, I’ve actually been diligently working on some renderings. These are part of a project called Spanish Colonial ~ Dreaming of Todos Santos.

Dining Room ViewFoyer ViewKitchen View 1Kitchen View 2Livingroom View 1Livingroom View 2

….And an homage to the arrival of spring.Alternate ColorFront View

Hand Drawn vs. Computer Generated Rendering

One of the members of a group that I am a member on LinkedIn called Architectural Illustration posed the following question:

“What do you think about the future of hand drawn renderings? With technology advancing so fast, it is becoming easier to emulate reality when producing renderings. Also it is becoming easier to emulate hand drawn renderings as well! Is there any life left for the original one?”

This was my comment:

“I have been selling my artwork in one form or another for 45 years. My preferred mediums are acrylic and watercolor, though I have also enjoyed soft pastels, pen and ink, and charcoal sketching. While working on my design degree in the ’90s, I freelanced doing architectural renderings by hand. In the meantime, I developed my skills doing 3D computer generated renderings that I do exclusively today. ( 

Even though I use the computer now, I would recommend that anybody who wants to do architectural rendering should have a solid foundation in hand rendering simply to understand the fundamental requirements for spacial expression and developing compositions for scenes. Without this basic understanding, one may know how to work a computer program, but the results will not be as successful as they could be. 

In deciding whether to do renderings by hand or by computer, one has to ask why we render in the first place. Is it to create beautiful art pieces or sell a project? Realistically, it’s the latter. Renderings are tools like 2D drawings and are created for a purpose. They are not art for art’s sake. Photo-realistic renderings can be created with a level of speed and accuracy that I could never produce by hand. Though when it comes to concept and design development, nothing beats hand sketching in front of a client to win them over. If I were still designing in front of clients I would definitely be sketching my ideas by hand —then creating beautifully crafted 3D renderings on my computer that would seal the deal!”

So as you can see, I do not see a bright future for hand-drawn renderings as a profession, though it is still indicative to have a foundation in it to become a professional rendering artist –regardless of your medium– whether it be using computer software or a pencil. The key in determining which medium to use is one’s marketability and cost effectiveness. I do not believe that high-end computer renderings are easier to create than well executed handmade renderings. To become proficient using the software takes years of learning and practice. It also takes artistic talent (which is a whole other blog post) not just knowing the mechanics of operating a computer program. Even though one may produce renderings by computer exclusively, maintaining ones ability to sketch by hand and ‘see’ the potential of a rendered scene is fundamental to creating successful renderings.

That being said, the future of rendering is going to be driven by it’s market. As computer generated renderings become more able to produce photo-realistic images that imply one can actually view into the future, the value of artistic artwork pieces as architectural rendering have become less in demand. Is the artistry lost in producing computer generated photo-realistic renderings? To a degree, I believe this is so. Computer renderings can be made to look like hand-drawn or hand-painted works, but they can’t recreate the individualistic style of painting that is unique to the artist such as the loose impressionistic style of Jeremiah Goodman.

Jeremiah Goodman in his studio

The following is the artwork of  Jeremiah Goodman who is probably the most successful and well-known rendering artist of the last century. He’s in his 90’s now and still painting beautiful renderings from his studio in Manhatten:

Jeremiah Goodman_0001Jeremiah Goodman_0003Jeremiah Goodman Sir John Gielgud lr DRMJeremiah Goodman 3 Greta Garbo Dean Rhys Morgan793666_530625703635384_785817043_o337266_472250296139592_967256124_o23387_525120140852607_774613230_n

Alameda Project

I’ve currently posted some views to my Facebook Page of some renderings that I created using Chief Architect software that will ultimately be added to my website portfolio. These were from a plan that I designed using Chief specifically for a portfolio piece.  All of the rendering (ray tracing) was done with Chief as well. Some minor touch ups were done with Photoshop Elements. For my fellow Chief users:  each ray trace took about 10 to 15 hours to run using the ‘high quality’ setting with variations of photon mapping and final gathering settings depending on the surfaces. I’ve learned that shiny metals can create all kinds of havoc and getting stainless steel to ‘represent’ is probably the hardest thing to render. Each view has a corresponding file where I deleted everything that wasn’t in the view to shorten the rendering time as much as possible.  All in all, I started this design about three weeks ago and the rendering process for about two of those weeks.

The current seven renderings are of the “public” indoor spaces that includes the kitchen, dining and livingroom spaces with views to the entry foyer and the outdoor deck that overlooks the hills in a rural setting that you would typically find in the area known as Alameda just outside of Oakland in the Bay Area of Northern California.. The views take place in the winter (date/time set for current) and vary from afternoon to night lighting.

My style choice for this design was decidedly modern. Primarily because my portfolio to date has represented traditional styling. I wanted to show that I am equally adept at modern and contemporary design. I also pointedly chose cool colors, sleek linear lines, hard edges and lots of stainless steel to show that these materials and shapes can exist in a space without making it seem too cold and uncomfortable. The success of this space has much to do with lighting and complementary textured pieces as well as lots of greenery and organic elements that soften the space. The effect I think is very livable.

Next, I will be working on the master suite. And in the future, designing the outdoor spaces and landscaping. There is a media room I may throw in eventually.Dining Room 1 Dining Room 2 Kitchen 1 Kitchen 2 Living Room 1 Living Room 2 Living Room 3