Free your mind and the creativity will follow...

Free your mind and the creativity will follow...

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm SOOO There!

This is one of my absolute fave events in Los Angeles. Not only is it chock full of whimsy, it supports terrific locally made quality products. Hope to see you there if you're in the neighborhood :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

There's A Hurdle In My Hallway

I have a hurdle in my hallway
And my bathtub is too small.
Which one do I try to fix
The floorboards or the stall?

The ramp is not so rampy
And the door may hit a guest.
Can’t we mend the too-short window frame
Is that too much to request?

My vintage floor got ruined
By a quack who hacked the maple.
It all started sorta shaky
So let’s hope it turns out stable.

Framing The 2nd Floor

View from the roof garden across to the new 2nd floor of main house

Ahhhh, now we're getting somewhere. I never thought I would have a 'second floor' when I was little. I grew up in Los Angeles in a Spanish style home with a front and back yard. We're talkin IN THE MIDDLE of town, not in the burbs. One floor. That was back when, I guess, there was still space for single-story homes in the center of town. My Dad still lives there. 
Originally, we planned to do 3 floors and put the kids on the third level (trap em in, I always say). But our architect Andreas Gritschke talked us out of it noting that this home is our dream home; translation: "the place we will never be able to afford to leave", We figured three floors doesn't mix well with hip replacements. 

So two floors it is.   

Sunday, November 14, 2010

First Floor Framing

The house of cards begins on the first floor.

 I will try to take the photos from the same place every time so that you can see the progress. This is taken from the roof deck garden of my studio, which is above the garage. We rebuilt the garage-studio-rumpus room several years ago thinking we could live in it when we rebuilt the actual house. Well, two kids later that CLEARLY ISN'T GONNA HAPPEN. It's so weird to look down from this angle because the whole thing just looks 'detached'. Well, it IS detached, but I mean it in the way that one's whole life is scrambled and pulled apart and all the things you knew no longer appear to be what they were. And I try to constantly visualize the end result. Looking at the bones of a house in ex-ray is really pretty interesting. Here it looks like those card houses you make with deck cards when you're waiting for your food in a restaurant when you're little. What? You mean your Mom didn't have cards in her purse?

This is the first floor. Wow, that's a freakin whopper of a steal beam!  We did a reverse floor plan because I wanted to save our yard. We're one of the few homes in our neighborhood to actually have 5 blades of grass and unless it's hailing, we eat outside. But all the neighbors around us (we gracefully opted to let them go first in the renovation process) went up, thus sucking our sun with them. The German and I fought to the blood about a staircase versus a yard, and our brilliant architect came back with our plan. We put the bedrooms on the ground floor where light isn't an issue, and the living area is  a second floor loft style open floor plan. The ground level connects the old and new building; upstairs we have a courtyard in between. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Where the Walls Are

Wall Prep
The whole thing is now looking more like one of those maze games you get in a pinata with the little balls that never make it to the end. The lot size seems to change by the second, and we constantly question what size everything will be. I also wonder how mass amounts of anything stable will balance on these wavey metal prongs!
We still can't figure out how all the rooms and parts of them are fitting into these outlines. For example, we know that our master bedroom is now where the yard used to be. But it's SO SMALL. Where is the bathroom or closet? Oh-my-gawd they forgot to put in the closet! I know-I worry alot about the closet. It's an obsession. The only thing I really ever wanted was a closet. It's not as weird as The German's obsession with the bathroom though. I guess that's because he was just lucky to even have one when he grew up in East Germany!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Chicken And Egg Game

Well, I suppose there's nothing too exciting about this pic. There are folks working, and so there's proof that the little night gnomes aren't the ones fooling us into thinking something is actually happening. So that's exciting, true. It's hard to visualize how this will all get pulled off with these two guys pushing wood shards around.

But the stress is looming for me and I am trying to keep my wits about. I actually work in television on a major episodic show. This means I work in excess of 12-14 hour days. And what THAT means is The German & I have to also begin picking all the fixtures needed for plumbing because even though the faucets go in way later, everything that make them work have to be purchased and put in right away.

The chicken & egg game is an evil construction monster. So figuring out how to cram in the time to do all this is scaring me.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ancient Lessons

I remember taking a trip to Israel with my Dad many years ago. One of the most impressive things for me was when we viewed the excavation sites of the archiological dig sites. I was amazed at how buildings were, and still are, built. Our basic needs of living in a house have always stayed the same.
When I look at how my own house is being raised, it reminds me of the channels and walls of those ancient sites. I have a little more reassurance thinking about this because if those civilizations could be traced by their walls, I guess mine will too.
Here are the foundation areas being defined. I am told that this is not where the actual rooms are, but areas of definition. We are so happy that it is starting to take shape. I just have to trust that everyone is reading the plans, and I will in fact have a closet. And Nils will have his bathroom.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Where Am I? Where is my closet?

Let's play "find the bathroom"!

This is such a strange place to be in. The property is no longer recognizable as it was, and the shock that there's 'no going back' teeters on my mind.
We will try to photograph most of the documentation of our journey from the same place (which is from the rooftop garden of the back building) so you can see the growth.
As I look down, I try to imagine where the new rooms are. I am holding in the mass panic I feel looking at those channels outlying what I think are rooms and wondering if something is left out-where is the bathroom? Where is the hallway? Where is my closet??? Oh-my-gawd-they-didn't-look-at-the-plansssss!!!!!!!!!!!!
The comparison of the size of the rooms to the size of the kids running through them is so small. Sophia and her friend are having so much fun playing in the dirt. But I want to cry…

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pay To Play.

I should probably fill you in on some of the things that have gotten us here up til now. And by "here", I mean to our lovely foundation hole as pictured. I especially like the little tractor thingy-it's so official!

  I gaze lovingly at this photo just like it's one of my kid's baby pictures. One that seems oh-so-long ago, yet 'remember when'.  

One of the most mind-boggling things about building is the incredible myriad of waiting periods, permits, and reports that have to be made. No one tells you about all that. They REALLY don't mention how much of your budget goes to stuff that doesn't require nails or appliances! 

After you get in a whole marriage with your architect, comes a structural engineer. This dude has to be The Bomb, cuz well, he/she has to make sure the puzzle works plus withstands all conditions set by the 3-ring circus at the city (and in our case as well, the coastal) commissions. These permit folks are no joke. And some are, but that's another blog.

We also get a soil report  where they drill six feet down to kick yer wheels, a geological survey, methane tests (way fun), and compaction reports. Those are linked to the soil folks whom you'd better like cuz they own your butt now and have to repeat visits to do 5 minutes worth of work while charging you $340 just to drive out. Four times. I'm in the WRONG business cuz no one pays me to get to work. Nor do I get to withhold any one's reports if I complain about being overcharged. I can't even count how much money this paragraph cost us. I'm thinking my kitchen island is getting smaller by the report. 

So almost a year into this thing, is our nice foundation dig hole. Pretty huh? But now it's official. WOW... and narrow! 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Frog [Prince]

Once upon a time in an artsy land not too far away; well okay maybe/probably far from some of you, there was a yucky little 950 sq foot 1946 beach bungalow in Venice Beach California. We first rented it until we found our dream house on a hillside nearby. In this pic, you can't even see it through the overgrown jungle!

That was in 1994.

Back then you could still hear gun-shots in deep Venice until Julia Roberts moved in and ‘there went the neighborhood’, & with that to-do came the police to clean it up.

Flash forward a wedding, two kids, several career changes, a green card preceding a citizenship, about three cars, a partial reconstruction of the garage into a rumpus room/guest house/T.V. room/roof terrace, many cramped visits from wonderful forgiving friends and family members, and finally a HUGE dream.

It’s now year 2010…The Frog, (thank gawd for our sanity) got kissed.

And so, our journey into construction hell (did I say that?) I mean bliss begins.

The Hack That Jacked My Maple

Does this look like 900 square feet of wood to you?

So, we decide to pull out the floor a few days before demolition of the building. Erik, the owner of E & K Vintage Wood tells me it will take two days to remove it, take out the nails,prepare it for reinstalling, and store all the pieces in the room where it is to be reinstalled later.

I arrived at 8am to meet the folks who were to do the work armed with the deposit check to get started. Then I waited. And waited. The story just gets worse from there. My own contractor nearly split a gasket with aggravation trying to reason with E & K who not only never completed the work, but turned what's left of my floor into worthless toothpicks without apology. Visions of the 'expert' floor removal guy's inexperienced nephew hacking away at it while the walls around him were being dissolved torture me. He alone braved the task abandoned, as was I, by the company's owner who vacationed conveniently somewhere out of phone range.

Hardly enough vintage wood is left to tease me in my studio space where there was to be just enough to fill the room with pride in having recycled memories as well as an era.

So for all of you reading and wanting some advice, Definitely research all your work prospects! I knew better and just because 'I liked them', I didn't do what I knew I should have. So now my broken heart is lying in my garage with my broken vintage floor.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Heartbreak And The Vintage Maple Floor

Yucky, small, and just plain gross as our little beach bungalow is, it's still our first house. It's sentimental. It holds the memories of our lives together before we were married (yes folks we lived in sin), it is where our future was planned, it's where we raised our babies, fought, made up, laughted, and cried.
There's nothing redeming about it, but I do want to save and recycle as much as I can. On principal if nothing else. My solid wood floor, it turns out, is an amazing vintage maple with fabulous holographic details and the perfect patina. Hey-I wanna save that! And my round window.
No one, not any of the contractors we interviewed were interested in my nostalgia except for Hank (our chosen contractor). He's willing, and I decided to find someone who specializes in vintage floors to take it out and re-install it in my studio where I alone can sniff old moldy wood and re-live my memories.
So, I found E & K Vintage Wood in Venice to do the job. The floor comes out just before the house is demolished.
It all seemed like a good idea at the time...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Let The Games Begin

People keep asking if we'll be there when they tear the house down. I guess for many, that sounds like such a thrill. But I wasn't sure I could watch 15 years of memories go down in a matter of hours. It was extremely emotional.

I ended up having to be there because of the whole floor ordeal, and after the actual walls were down to studs, & it didn't look like my house anymore, I felt detached. THEN I could't believe we lived in a space so tiny for so long! Without the actual walls the space just became one room! This photo is from the back door looking toward the front of the house. This was once 2 bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and dinette!!!

I took this photo from inside the existing addition across the yard from the second floor. We toiled over the new layout because I wanted to keep the yard (heck - 5 blades of grass is still grass), but Sweetie-The-German wants more interior space. We had the biggest fight of our marriage over where the staircase would go. The brilliant solution from our architect is to do a reverse floor plan and raise the yard and put the bedrooms downstairs.
When it's done, this view will become 2nd floor french doors sharing the courtyard with the living quarters of the house.

I remember standing on a chair while pregnant with Sophia painting those blue faux "sky" walls! I must have been crazy, but I was so determined to have the babies room finished by the time she arrived.
Now the real sky shines through the ceiling! Ahhhhh...I can hardly see the light as the whole process seems so far away. I wonder if she'll want those walls in her new room. I wonder if I can still get up on a chair to do them!

This is the inside of the living room. I wonder if I shoulda saved that shell lamp?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What to do on a dreary summer day.

Having grown up in Los Angeles, I can't remember having had "no summer" before!
But, this year the summer beach days seem to be somewhere else!
So, what do you do on a dreary summer day at the beach??
Sand castles, of course!