Finally the pictures I promised

I wanted to wait until the house was perfect but I realized, it never will be.  I suppose that’s part of home ownership – the ability (the obsession?) to constantly tinker but just this past weekend I realized that I feel at last that this is my home.  It’s not a construction site, a work in progress or a modification of my mothers home; it is mine.

We’ve been enduring a terrible heat wave in Los Angeles recently but thanks to as many ceiling fans as I have rooms and a fortunate cross breeze, unless the temperature goes above 100 degrees, I’ve been able to  be comfortable without turning on the AC!

As you’ll see below, I have landscaped the front yard with drought tolerant ground cover and just a few small bushes which I hope will grow to create a hedge of sorts.  To be drought responsible, there are no sprinklers.  Instead I have underground drip lines that (I’m told) are more water wise.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that the new plantings survive this heat!

Enough words, here are the images….  I start outside and move inside from room to room giving you a before and after as best as I can.


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In order you have the 1. front of the house –  I couldn’t find any pictures of what the exterior used to look like so I pulled an image from Google Maps – beyond the trees and the fence you can see the old black and white exterior.  I removed the old siding, stuccoed the house and painted it I’ve removed the old vinyl fence, widened the driveway, added a walkway through the yard and planted a new tree and ground cover 2. the original kitchen and the remodeled which is entirely new – it used to be three separate areas all divided by walls with doorways 3. the sitting area adjacent to the kitchen before I took out the wall which used to separate it from the kitchen  4. the formal living room – here I removed the old fireplace mantle and added a new craftsman style with seating/storage on either side and I added a ceiling fan and extended the wood floors from the dining/sitting/kitchen into the living room to make it cohesive  5. the guest bathroom which used to have a bath and shower along the side wall and a vanity where the tub now is – this is one room that is smaller than it had been so that I could expand the master bedroom and bath  6. the dining room looking out toward the backyard, there used to be a screened in porch type room off the dining room instead the french doors now open to a patio sitting area 6. the master bedroom which is nearly twice the size it had been and has an en suite bath and walk in master closet and I added a large deck off the master so I have a nice sitting area off the master.  Then there are two rooms which I don’t really have before images of  they are the guest bedroom/den and the guest bedroom/craft room.  The craft room is exactly the size it had been.  All I did was put in a new window and carpeting and paint.  It used to have wallpaper and wood paneling.  The other guest room is 1/3 smaller than it had been but there’s still a sleeper sofa so guests are welcome!

So that’s the house.  Outside I’m still working on fixing up the backyard.



Here comes the rain!

After weeks of sweltering heat in Los Angeles the weather has finally taken a turn for the cooler. Of course, it couldn’t just turn pleasantly chill, there had to be rain with the relief.  I will appreciate the water from the sky on behalf of all the thirsty plants and try not to think about the sheets of plywood through which sunlight easily peeks that is my roof for now.  The inspector found one thing to question and halted his activities rather than mark that one item and continue the rest of the inspection.  So the roof wasn’t bought off which means all the roofing material remains in the garage not on the top of the house.  Oh well.

Even as I stand in the bare bones of my home I find myself thinking about the exterior.  Where once there had been mature rose plants there are trampled stalks.  The tall hedges that flanked the front of the house creating a focal point of the front door are reduced to this…


In all the paperwork from the insurance settlement there was not one word about the landscape.  I called my personal adjuster and mentioned this to him.  He got back to me later that same day with the happy news that Liberty Mutual will cover the costs to replace any damaged plants. I just need to get bids.  I was pleased with the news but had to wonder, if I hadn’t asked would they have offered or would they have let me pay for it all myself?

The tricky thing is that I likely can’t replace what had been there – with the drought planting a new lawn would be unthinkable, if not illegal.  I doubt those bushes or the roses meet the new drought tolerant standards.

Looking for inspiration I found myself examining local front yards.  Some people had resorted to a very passable artificial turf while others had opted for the unattractive gravel alternative.  Neither of those options appealed to me.  I went to a succulent show at the Arboretum and tried to get inspired but honestly nothing wowed me.  That is until a visit to Disneyland where they’ve replaced many of the old plants and trees with new drought tolerant varieties – some that I would be happy to see in my front yard – see what you think…

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Then while walking around the block at work I saw this lovely plant  (my photo doesn’t do it justice) which I can easily see replacing the hedges at the front of the house…

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Now I’m excited to see what a professional might come up with!  A co-worker which exquisite taste recommended Environmental Design Studio Los Angeles.  Their website was resplendent with photos from jobs that could have been featured in Architectural Digest.  I doubt my little house project would interest them but it can’t hurt to call.

Bring on the rain and let’s green up Los Angeles!  My soon to be new plants need the nourishment.