rock revival

Our outdoor living space is ‘in transition’…to put it politely. But we recently completed what we’d like to call ‘phase one’ of our landscaping –far from the finished look, all about creating some structure, and making things neater. Here’s our side patio, way back.


We love the original concrete. We don’t like the not-so-Cali trees, and the patchy, weed-filled lawn –it’s the ‘rainy season’ and it hasn’t rained for weeks, so a lawn just isn’t sustainable. For starters, we’re reducing its size, by defining some planting areas, like this one.


And this section, alongside our master. Initially, most people assume this is where our yard ends, but there’s a whole other (larger) yard through that gap. We decided to remove the fence, to connect the two spaces. But first, we confronted our secret shame…


…this pile of junk, on the other side –carpet, tile, bits of wood etc. removed from the house during the last year. Lucky for us, the city allows two free junk collections per year, so just the small matter of hauling it to the curb.


Pre-pickup, a few passers-by took some bits to re-purpose, which is good. I hope the city recycles at least some of the rest. We did consider transporting it ourselves, but our MINI Cooper isn’t the ideal vehicle. And you can’t beat free. Here’s the money shot.


With the fence gone, the space opens up, allowing a view of the back yard. We also defined this border, removed the trees, and planted two windmill palms –on reflection, we should have bought them bigger. But they’ll get there…eventually.


Our landscaping plan (and there is a plan, honest) is more about structure than planting. We just buy plants we like the look of. We consider the amount of sun and water they’ll need, but our main priority is looks. On that, somewhat shallow, note, we couldn’t resist these two.


You don’t see agave where we’re from, or palm trees for that matter –probably why we gravitate to them. It’s always puzzled us that so many people here prefer the English country garden look –we just don’t think it fits Eichlers, or California.


In the right-hand border (above) we planted golden sword –they like water, and it gets ‘boggy’ in this spot…when we do get rain. We also added spiky grasses in-between the windmill palms. Oh, and a ton of ‘salt and pepper’ rock.


In the distance, our nomadic umbrella plants. Here’s a closer look. After a month or so (notice the leaf infiltration) they seem pretty happy here, and have room to spread –we’re hoping they go crazy come spring…though we may regret saying that.


We had some rock already, but needed more –enter Cascade Rock. This place has a cool mid-century vibe (check the decorative block), a huge rock selection (as you’d hope) and lots of other landscaping materials. We’ll definitely return for ‘phase two’.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch (always wanted to say that) things were looking pretty tidy. Here’s a view of our (now gray) house. These benches are actually loungers, donated by our über-generous ex-neighbors, Clyde and Michael –thanks guys!


A little later, we added this yucca, another donation from neighbors, Kelly & G –thanks guys! He’s just bedding-in and, despite looking a little shabby, seems to be doing just fine. We’ll remove the lower leaves shortly, and he should thrive here.


We also added rock to the front, and we plan on planting here too –maybe agave, with a flash of color, fronting the cinder-block. To the left, probably two/three queen palms. And we’ll slay that evil leaning tree.


Sick of rock yet? We were by now, but we added yet more beside this path to our entrance. We also transplanted (pun intended) this sun-scorched flax –formerly it lived in the pic above. Our planned fence/secondary front door will run just behind its new spot.


Here’s the view looking back towards the street. I realize all this rock looks plain but it’s much neater than before, and a nice blank canvas. That’s our neighbor’s royal blue roofline, by the way. We don’t dig looking at it, or the industrial-sized AC unit and ductwork on the roof.


We see it all from here, and from our kitchen window (below). Our bottlebrush/maple combo does little to conceal it. We need a more dense screen, so (long-term) we’d like to add tall planting, extending above the fence. Not sure what –clumping bamboo maybe?


Either way, we’ll definitely add a lot more green on both sides of the path. Some planters would fit here too –to the right of the door, for starters, and maybe beside the window. And (as I keep saying) we’ll get that fountain working come spring.


We also put rock in a couple of backyard spots. First, this long thin strip, running alongside the unpainted rear of our house. We’ll be adding a row of golden barrel cactus here –beats the ugly bush thing that was here.


Second, this spot, home to our sorry-looking bird of paradise. It’s been touch and go for these guys, but they’re finally showing signs of life. We also ‘rescued’ a neighbor’s flax  (thanks for the donation, Zann!) and planted it on the end. It’ll live too.


That’s the gate leading to our courtyard entrance, and we’ll remove it when we add the front fence/door I’ve mentioned. Okay, nothing amazing but definitely progress. We’ll revisit the outdoor space in a month or so. Before that, I need to share some indoor projects…

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duck hunting

I’ve wanted these flying ducks for ages (pictured below in Mad Men). Kitsch, but iconic mid-century –made by Masketeers, from the 1960s onwards. Want became need when I saw them ‘in the flesh’ while visiting Eichler-owner friends in Concord [yeah, it’s your fault, Blaine].


Karen didn’t share my enthusiasm, saying: “I don’t hate them” –not quite a green light, but I figured they could live in the guest room. I sourced some on eBay –seemingly a good balance of price and condition. Talking of which, check out the battered box they arrived in.


And it was late, arriving on Boxing Day –shame, as they were a (non-surprise) Christmas gift from Karen. Ironic, as she’s not their biggest fan, but I hoped this would foster a connection. Oh, that’s a duck’s tail poking out the side. I opened it with dread. They were fine, if a little sad-looking.


This is the only ‘before’ pic I have of all three, and it’s a little blurred –sorry. Here’s a closeup of the worst-looking one. As per the listing, they had “a few nicks and scratches” and were pretty dirty. Overall, in decent shape though, and a snip at fifty bucks.


In the spirit of false economy, I Googled “cleaning brass” hoping for a kitchen cupboard recipe –baking soda and lemon juice sounded promising. Coincidentally, a neighbor had just dropped-off some lemons [thanks Randy!] so I gave that a go.


Notice the top two (post-clean) have cleaner wings, and definition in the black tips. I got all three to this stage, but it was tough-going, and the results were barely okay. “Brasso” sprang to mind, so I popped out to get some. Dirt cheap, and well worth the trip. Here’s the result.


I considered sanding/re-staining, but Restor-A-Finish did the trick. I also touched-up the wing tips with black paint. Within hours, these birds looked better than either of us could have hoped –so much so, Karen agreed to hang them in the lounge.


Each has a hole behind the rear wing, so hanging is easy. Placement was the head-scratcher –I tried dozens of combinations in Photoshop, before taking the plunge. I didn’t want them grouped too closely, but did want them to relate to each other. I settled on this.


Happy how they look. After literally getting my ducks in a row (sorry) I aim to metaphorically follow suit –that means posting more often, and finally catching you up on our progress. In the meantime, have a great New Year’s, and we’ll see you on the other side.

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eichler christmas 2

Today is Boxing Day, a holiday in England, so we’re taking it easy. Perfect opportunity to post this (imaginatively titled) sequel –you may remember last year’s post, illustrating our failure to match neighbors’ festive efforts. This year, we were determined to do better.


We hung our lights at Thanksgiving (with leaves still on the trees), stapling string on the fascia reverse, and hooking the bulbs in place. We’ll replace the string with something more sturdy (fishing wire perhaps?) and paint over it when we tackle the ceilings.


Changes inside too –a bigger tree than last year, thanks to Kelly & G, our kind (truck-owning) friends/neighbors. Last year’s was the biggest we could fit in our MINI. We love how Doug (our real tree) smells, but next year’s will likely be more MCM-appropriate.


We also added a wire wreath above our fireplace (bought from CB2, last January) and wrapped it with lights. We plan to hang this at the front of our house next year, once we install a fence and secondary front door. This Ethanol-fueled fire is also new.


The fire is low on heat, but looks good, fits perfectly, and needs no clean-up –works for us. A year of change in the neighborhood too, with four new Eichler owners, including Frank, who completely upstaged us with these alternate red/white lights, along his pitch/cinder-block wall.


We’ll probably definitely steal that idea next year, and switch half our bulbs for green. Seeing Kelly & G’s lights (below) last year made us feel very inadequate, and they’re equally stunning this time. I’m also jealous of how straight the bulbs are on both these houses.


Love how people emphasize the architectural form of each model. Others just use what they have –this bush, for example, was begging for some sparkle. Nancy’s home also has the most stunning landscaping addition, which you can see more of here.


Randy’s another new owner, who’s done plenty to his Eichler since arriving. These lights hug the pitch, like ours, but extend all the way around the side –visible from the street on this big corner lot. Kudos, as it took us long enough just to string-up the front lights.


I’ve been admiring Zann and Jeff’s lights (below) for a while, but they were off on Christmas Day –I took this pic on New Year’s Day (I’m all about holiday photography). Love the effect created by placing lights behind opaque glass –another element we may have to copy next year.


Most of the Eichlers in our street have holiday lights, but not many on the parallel roads behind, which is a shame. This Eichler is an exception, albeit a subtle one. I love this flat-roofed model, and always admire it when we walk the neighborhood.


I planned to feature more homes, but either they weren’t lit up during my Christmas Day walk, or the pics turned out too bad. So that’s your lot. Just time to share one of my favorite gifts from yesterday –these Christmassy slippers –as cozy and comfy as they look.


Hope you had a warm and magical Christmas Day. Unsurprisingly, we’re planning a few projects over the festive period, putting me even further behind on posting. I’ll aim to squeeze one in before the new year –just in case, have a good one!

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side steps

Still here. Still trying (and failing) to balance doing and posting. But I’ll press on. Having painted the patio and front, we moved around the side. This path leads around that corner to our front door.


And also back out to the street. We plan to add a fence and secondary front door here (as per this house, up the road) closing this area off from the street, and adding outdoor living space.


This wall faces south, but gets plenty of shade, thanks to fencing and trees. Still, some prep needed, so we followed our trusted routine –fill, bondo, sand, repeat.


Then we painted the siding. One pic does little to convey how long this took, but I’m sure you can imagine. You can see the beams and fascia are still brown, as is the wall in the distance.


Around the corner, our entrance courtyard. Last time I shared this, we replaced those green panels. Before that, we removed a bush, re-homed some plants, and shifted lots of earth.


And that’s how it stayed, save for some paint-testing on the window trim and adjacent siding. We rejected the blueish gray shown here. Anyhow, Karen got on with painting this siding.


And I attacked this ugly front door trim –you probably can’t tell, but there’s a built up layer, on top of the original trim. We figure they must have installed an external screen at some point.


Here’s a closer look. You can see how far it protruded –compare the horizontal portion, where I’ve removed the extra trim, to the vertical. We got rid, then sanded the crap out of it.


We also added some insulation and worked for hours to get the door fitting better, Down below, Karen (AKA Bondo Queen) reconstructed the corner of this sill/step…or whatever you call it. Then we painted all the trim.


We planned to repaint the front door too, but our remaining Sherwin Williams’ “High Strung” paint (pardon the blurred pic) just wouldn’t go on well. Truthfully, we haven’t had much luck with Sherwin Williams paint.


So, we took a trip to Home Depot (saving 10 minutes each way in the car) and color matched it, in Behr paint. It covered beautifully, with an unexpected bonus –the color was way better. Ironically, closer to the original Sherwin Williams swatch.


It had looked more ‘apple’ than we wanted (check the pics further up for a comparison). This was yellower…if that’s a word. Small downside –now we had to repaint the panels to match.


That done, we changed the door knob. As you’ve probably realized, we can’t help but ‘tweak’. We had installed a Schlage Orbit, but switched to this Bell shape. We’re matching all the internal doors, and prefer the keyless version of the Bell.


Neither shape is an exact match for the original Eichler hardware, but both are era-appropriate, so it comes down to preference. Another non-original addition, our doorbell. With the siding painted, it looks better than ever, don’t you think?


Now for some harder work –beam repair. Finishing this was on our ‘must do before winter’ list. The eleven beams on this side of the house (I counted) are all that stood in our way.


First, we sanded them back, to expose any problem areas –a few large cracks, but mostly minor stuff, on the beam ends. We applied plenty of bondo, re-sanded, then painted.


Next we sanded, filled, then painted this run of fascia board and flashing. That’s our white foam roof poking over the top –we didn’t inherit many prior improvements, but this is a big (and welcome) one.


Here’s this walkway with everything painted. Getting there, but still some brown in the picture.


We repeated our beam/fascia routine round by our entrance. You can see the ceilings are distinctly cream-colored, and still need painting –a separate project (as I’ve mentioned) for next year.


Back to the remaining brown on this side –just this wall, plus the one alongside the path to our back yard. Oh, after we add the front fence we’ll remove this gate, which will open this area to the rear. Hopefully you follow me.


This siding faces west, and takes a real sun battering. We were convinced it needed replacing, but took a stab at repairing it. At the top, industrial strength caulk, which we chipped away –no small task, and it left a mess.


We figured adding some trim would conceal the damage. We bought something to fit, and cut the end at an angle, to meet the existing trim (to the left) on the pitched section.


With a little caulk and some paint, it looks like it’s always been there. We also re-sanded/painted the fascia here, and gave the siding a couple more coats. It all came out beautifully, and should be good for plenty more years.


For the final section, we just repaired/painted the beams and fascia, though I just realized I don’t have an ‘after’ pic to-hand. You’ll have to trust me. We will tackle the siding here next year, when we also plan to reinstate panels under that window.


Revisiting our plan, that’s the patio (1), front (2) and entrance (3) done. Just the back (4) remaining, which extends to the right of the above pic.


But that will wait until the spring. A relief to me, and probably to you, as my posts should be a little more varied from now on.


Soon I need to show you our ‘landscaping’ progress, with a clue in this recent pic. Yeah, there’s some rock involved. Oh, we need to run electric to that fountain. I’ll add it to the list…

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up front

This blog is hopelessly out of sync. Maybe we should stop doing, so I can start posting. Either way, I need to catch you up, starting with (you guessed it) more painting. Let me show you where we’re at, via this floorplan (ours, minus one bedroom) from House & Home, July 1955.


So far, we’ve painted all the walls around our patio area (1) shown below. That leaves the front (2), the courtyard entrance (3), and the rear (4). And that’s the order we’ve decided to follow, starting with what’s on show from the street.


Just over a year ago, we installed this light fixture and Eichler number. Back in April we gave the cinder-block wall and cross beam a fresh coat of white. We also removed some wayward Loquat trees, and added some rock. And here’s where we’re at.


Tidy enough but very brown. And tired-looking, up-close. There isn’t much siding on the front, so the task didn’t seem too daunting. And it wouldn’t have been, but for the heat. This was Labor Day weekend (see, I told you I was out of sync) and temps were 100+ degrees.


And the house faces west, so gets the blazing afternoon sun. At times, the heat was ridiculous. We were hot. And so was the house. After nearly 60 such summers, no surprise this front-facing siding looks a little rough. Surprising it’s still here at all.


We punched-out a couple of old locks on the garage doors, and plugged them with dowels. We removed multiple hooks, nails, screws, staples, and two flag pole brackets –we’re not about to hang a US flag (or an English one, for that matter) so they had to go.


Once we were done taking stuff off, we needed to put something on –wood filler. And lots of it. Karen has developed a technique of tackling these fine surface cracks, by diluting the filler and painting it on. We used plenty of bondo too, mainly at the base of the garage doors.


Come about 3pm, working out-front was almost unbearable. But we carried on, aided by this handy heavy parasol –great until you’re too high-up. At times, we honestly shouldn’t have been out there. But we were determined to finish that weekend. Including the beams.


While sanding this beam (above our cinder-block wall) I used the patio view as motivation –hoping it’d soon look that good. We also re-sanded the beam above the garage doors, plus all the siding. Once prep was done (the whole of day one) we began painting.


As usual, it’s all about the grooves. This wideline siding is a pain, and the best way to cover the deep grooves is with a brush. Cut a long story short, we painted all the siding, plus the window trim (in Pier, by Behr). I also sanded this aluminum bug screen. Yes, sanded. Now it sparkles.


We also removed and re-sprayed our silver/gray light fixture. See pic 3 for the ‘before’. Honestly, we were never happy with the color –we wanted stainless steel and got dull gray. Black is obviously a better accent for our scheme. Hopefully it’ll hold up in the sun.


We spent hours on this white cross beam. Sand, fill, paint, repeat –eventually, the finish was pretty good. We used our custom-matched dark gray. We had considered painting it lime green (to mirror our front door) but decided against it.


That just left the brown fascia. Ours is thicker than many neighbors. We guess it was built-up when our foam roof was installed, a couple years back. The top half is covered in unpainted flashing, and really stands out. We’d be painting it all dark gray.


But first it needed some work. Initially we feared it needed replacing/refacing. There was a large gap between two boards in the center of the pitch, and some other sections had shifted a little over the years. Still, we took a stab at repairing it.


We bashed and nailed some pieces back into place. Then we restored the fascia’s form, using bondo, wood filler, and plenty of sanding. We tackled the peak with this crazy-tall ladder, kindly loaned by our next-door neighbor –thanks Maria!


Once we were happy, we finally painted the fascia…a couple times. This made a big difference. We do still need to paint all the external ceilings (and internal, actually) but that’s a project all of its own. One we’ll tackle next year.


During this project, we got many compliments from passers-by. I get the sense it’s not typical for people to paint their own house…especially in 100 degree heat. We’re just pleased people can see we’re making an effort. Hopefully it will divert attention from our front lawn.


Brown is certainly the new green around here (and gray is the new brown, clearly). But we do have the drought excuse. Talking of green, I need to share our ‘tweaked’ front door color, and show you how our courtyard entrance is shaping up. Back with another update soon, promise.

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the wall

This is the exterior of our master bedroom wall, around the corner from our side patio. It faces north, and gets plenty of shade, so should have been easy to prep. Not so. This became a big project, hence the dedicated post.


This wall is protected from the sun but not the rain, thanks to a lack of overhang. Also, the siding has low path clearance –when water is allowed to build-up here, it gets soaked. Over time, this has caused significant wood rot.


At first look, the siding didn’t appear that damaged. But we started poking around, and quickly realized we had problems. As we worked our way across the bottom edge, several sections crumbled away. Not good.


We pulled off most of it. On reflection, we should have punched out the siding from the inside. Instead, we pried, levered and cajoled…and it took ages. One board remained, having been replaced following our (pre-purchase) pest report.


Two small sections at either end were good too. The wall is insulated, so we left that alone, but we did re-cover with builder’s paper. While we had access, we also ran electric for two light fixtures, at either end, and an exterior outlet, bottom-left –very handy


Our super-generous (now ex) neighbors, Clyde and Michael, donated some spare sheets of siding. We added this to a few offcuts we had, giving us enough to piece the wall back together. We had the luxury of painting it before install.


We had to get creative with some of our offcuts. The siding overlaps, but we were short of an underneath piece –we manufactured this one, by cutting to size, then chiseling a strip off the entire length. Fiddly, but it worked. This was one of many improvised fixes.


Fast-forward (a lot) and the siding was all in place. But we still had work to do. If you look closely, you’ll notice some taped-up cord, running across the fascia. This had been visible (loosely fixed and untidy) since we arrived. And we had a plan to sort it.


We bought a few flat cord covers (from Home Depot) to install just beneath the fascia. We nailed these in place, across the width of the wall, ensuring they lined-up precisely. We then concealed the cord inside, and snapped-on the covers.


The dimensions are close to our exterior trim, which runs atop most of the siding. Once painted, we figured it would resemble this trim, and blend in nicely. We painted that, then the fascia itself, and gave the siding a final coat.


Next, we prepared our lighting fixtures. These two down-lights were kindly donated by another ex-neighbor, Jon. We figured they’d be perfect to light the path at either end. We loved the form, but weren’t keen on the greenish gray color.


So, we sprayed them black (what else?) and now they fit our scheme perfectly. We added some Testors Dullcote (which is great stuff, by the way) to protect them. You can see how the cord tidy/trim came out here too.


Inside our master, we fitted light switches at either side of the bed. We only inherited one original Bakelite switch plate (as I showed you here) but I found three more on eBay, for a few dollars. They aren’t in perfect condition, but look like they belong.


These fixtures don’t give off masses of light, but they do their job –lighting the path (this one running from patio to back yard) and taking care of this previous dark spot. We think they look pretty slick too.


Oh, we’re re-using the damaged siding we removed. We’re building a siding-clad fence in the next few months, to the side of the garage. As it’s only seven feet tall, we can re-use everything we removed, minus the rotten bits.


This wall was a major pain in the hassle, but worth it. Not only did we gain valuable siding replacement experience, we also gained an outlet and two down-lights. We love how it turned out. And that’s this side of the house done. Check.

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patio paint

We’ve been doing LOTS of painting recently, as you may have seen on Instagram. Time to share some progress here, starting with the walls around our side patio. I didn’t stop to take a ‘before’ pic, so this is way before –about six months back.


First, we needed to solve our paint-picking conundrum. Thought we’d done that? So did we –not once, not twice, but three times. We still weren’t happy. So, we painted yet more samples on some exterior walls, like this one.


We observed these colors at various times of day, trying to find one that stayed ‘gray’ throughout. We settled on Pier by Behr. We felt sure about this one…but we’d had that feeling before. We bought a gallon and painted this whole wall.


This was indeed ‘the one’ –a gray with subtle green/brown hints. Preferable (in our eyes) to the blue that had plagued our previous picks. We didn’t plan to paint much more. For a while, at least. But we just couldn’t resist.


For 60-year-old siding, it’s in great shape, but still needed some prep. We sanded, filled, sanded again, painted, filled again, sanded yet again, and painted–pretty much our regime for subsequent weekends. Tedious, but rewarding.


This had to be the first wall we painted, as the inside-gray-outside-brown thing had been bugging us. At least now it was gray right through. Unfortunately, the inside is still the previous gray we’d picked, so needs re-painting (again). But hey, it’s progress.


Next, we tackled a side-project –the screen door for our master sliders. The bug screen is likely original, and it shows. It needed replacing. We bought a roll of gray screen from Home Depot, along with a tool we apparently needed, and set to work.


It was a bit fiddly to re-screen but I won’t bore you with the details. This was the end result. We also decided to re-spray all the Arcadia handles black. I’m sure purists would prefer we left everything original, but brass jars with our scheme. So there.


Next, we moved onto this wall; the exterior of our office/all-purpose room –another we’d covered in siding test patches, along with darker gray beam samples. I’ll get to that later. Anyhow, this wall faces north. And minimal sun punishment = minimal prep. Yay!


That said, I did have to remove a mass of stubborn old caulk. We’d re-caulk where the beams meet the siding, but not under the trim, where it isn’t needed. This job took a long time. Luckily, this over-caulking hasn’t been repeated on much of the exterior trim.

ugly-trim-and beam-caulk

We also used wood filler here and there. A little sanding, and we were ready to roll…well, spray –but that didn’t go well. It covered the surface okay, but getting paint into the grooves was tough, without significant wastage.


Ours is wideline siding, with very deep, visible grooves. Later Eichlers have thinline siding, with smaller grooves –I’m guessing this is a little easier to paint. We got there, eventually, but re-painted most of the grooves by hand.


This sprayer had disappointed us several times before, so we returned it. From now, we’d roller the surface, and brush the grooves. Next, we tackled the trim surrounding our living/office sliders and windows. Not much surface area, but bags of time-consuming detail.


Once the trim was done, we replaced the bug screens for these two sliders. Our resident praying mantis then appeared, for a quality check. Check. I love these little guys, and have taken dozens of closeups since we’ve been here. So cool.


Next, the ladders came out (not sure why we need this many?) for our first stab at beam repair. We sanded back the beam ends, and they seemed to be in great shape. We applied bondo to a few problem areas, and wood filler to minor surface cracks.


We did the same for the fascia. Now everything was smooth and paint-ready. Talking of paint, we had tested our original beam color on the fascia and it just didn’t look right. We needed something darker –a stronger contrast to the mid-gray siding.


We tried a few standard Behr colors but couldn’t find anything. By now, we had masses of gray samples, so mixed a few up, eventually creating one we liked. We painted a strip of wood, then color-matched it at Home Depot.


It looked almost black going on, but dried a little lighter –again, just what we wanted. As with the siding, we used Behr Premium Plus Ultra. After some disappointing results from other paint brands, we’re sticking with this. It goes on smoothly, and covers well.


Once we’d painted all the beams and fascia here, it was really starting to come together. We love the strong contrast between these dark beams/fascia and the bright white cinder-block fireplace. The blue sky helps too.


As with all these projects, each time you finish something, it highlights something unfinished. In this case, it was the thin portion of visible concrete foundation. Most people paint this to match the siding, but we’re using the darker beam color.


We’d seen other Eichlers painted this way, and loved the look. It mirrors the fascia, to punctuate the siding, top and bottom. We had to fill some concrete, in heavily trafficked areas. Someone (likely smarter than me) decided pink was a good color for this filler.


Anyhow, we finished painting the slab. You can see the definition it gives in the pic below. As it’s so dark, it works well with the black elements in our design –globe base, outlet cover, slider handles, and this DIY bench I adapted from an old desk.


Here’s a good view of the siding/beam contrast, and also how the palette works with the white ceilings –these (mostly) look okay, and it’s a huge job, so we won’t be re-painting them for a while. We’ll do this as a separate project, sometime next year.


I love the light in this area, as the sun sets. The wall on the left faces west, and the sun casts some cool shadows…which I can’t stop taking photos of –if you follow us on Instagram, you’ve probably picked up on my obsession.


We plan on buying more patio furniture at some point. For now, this ensemble does just fine –we bought these cheap loungers from IKEA, the poufs were our temporary seating when we arrived, and the glass coffee table was relegated from our living room.


In the corner, our outdoor dining area. We’ve had this table for years (a gift from Karen’s parents) but it’s a little large for our indoor dining space. It was also pretty scratched and scuffed, so we painted it to match the beams, and gave it a new home.


We got the chairs from Crate & Barrel, when we lived in Boston. We’ll add a grill at some point, so this area will get plenty of use. We’ve done minimal landscaping here (as you can see) but we did plant some Golden Sword, which we love.


We have big (though fluid) plans for this area, and we’ll get cracking soon. Just out of shot (left) is the next wall we tackled. That was rather involved, so gets its own post. Since this, we’ve painted lots more of the exterior. I’ll catch up soon, promise.

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photo finish

I’ve been a bad blogger lately, but I have an excuse –we’ve been focusing on launching a new site for our business, OLLI+LIME. Ironically, this post shows how business and pleasure overlap in our lives. That’s by design, as we’ve aligned our products with our personal aesthetic.


Remember our guest/media room? The truth is, we were never quite happy with it. The feature wall color came from a mix of paint we had left over –it looked green at night (when we painted) but had a gold hue in the day. We tried to pretend it didn’t, but it did.


The catalyst for change was our business. We needed somewhere to take new product shots, and this space was perfect –it hadn’t been functional as a guest/media room anyhow. We replaced the gold with gray, and painted other walls and ceiling white.


Next, We ripped out the carpet (we’re slowly eliminating the beige, room by room) meaning lots of annoying carpet gripper to deal with. The floor underneath was in good shape, needing minimal patching, so we quickly reached the adhesive stage.


We laid the same ‘warm gray’ Armstrong VCT we used in the master. Eventually, this will run throughout, but not for ages. It’s okay finishing contained areas, like this, but adding VCT in the main living space will likely be the last thing we do.


With the flooring and feature wall done, the room now looks completely grayscale –a little stark for some people, but that’s how we roll. Oh, I re-sprayed that (formerly gray) wall-mounted globe light black, to provide a better contrast.


This is still our guest room, but we won’t have a bed setup 24/7. We found a great spot to stow our queen-sized mattress in the meantime –this closet is made-to-measure, and the rail stops it falling forward. You can’t fit much else in there, but we don’t lack closet space.


And this is where we’ll keep our day bed, which makes a queen when needed. A quick aside –that blank wall space under the window should be two glass panels in this model, mirroring the window form, above. We’ve been itching to look underneath.


Now seemed like a good time, so we attacked it from outside. You can tell it’s been covered-up, as the (wider T1-11 type) siding doesn’t match. Sadly, no glass underneath. We still plan to reinstate this, or perhaps just match the lime green panels, by our entrance.


But the big job was done here –turning this room into a functional space…albeit a dysfunctional space for a couple without kids. I’m sure visitors find it rather odd (understandably) that we have a nursery, but it’s simple enough to explain.


We’ve spent the last month taking hundreds of photos in here, so it’s been worth the effort. Now that’s done, we’d like to find another function for this space –maybe a reading/sitting room. We’ve even considered shifting our office into here. We’ll see.

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risky move

Just over a year ago (August 30, 2013) we arrived at our newly-purchased Eichler in Sacramento, car-less, key-less, and furniture-less. I didn’t take any pics when we arrived –it was dark and late, and we were tired. Instead, let’s get nostalgic with these original MLS pics.


After flying 3,000(ish) miles from Boston, we spent a relaxing day in San Francisco, before traveling to Sacto by Megabus –glamorous, I know, but it’s super-cheap and relatively quick. Or it would have been, had the Bay Bridge been open.


Instead, the journey took over four hours (more than double what it should have) and it was dark by the time we arrived. We called our agent to help us locate the lockbox (with the door key inside) then stepped into our home for the first time.


And when I say “the first time” I mean it. We haven’t told many people this, but we’d never set foot in our house before. In fact, we’d never been to Sacramento before. We bought our home remotely, from Boston. Are we crazy? Probably. Did we get lucky? You bet.


Once inside, everything looked strangely familiar. Not surprising, as we’d spent weeks obsessing over photos of the house (including these pics) plus video footage, shot by our superstar agent, who was calmly reassuring throughout the process.


We’d also ‘Streetviewed’ the whole neighborhood, and beyond. Still, everything felt very strange –maybe thanks to our LONG journey to get here, or perhaps just the straight-up magnitude of what we’d done. Or both. We needed to sleep on it.


And all we had to sleep on was the blow-up bed and pillow we’d packed. We had to make do with this until our furniture arrived, in around five days. We were tired enough to sleep a little, but our east-coast body clocks + nervous excitement = an early start.


This was when things started to get very real. We spent hours walking round the house and yard, familiarizing ourselves with the space, much like a new pet –we stopped short of marking our territory, but you get what I’m saying.


During the next few days, we acclimatized and absorbed our new surroundings. We explored the neighborhood and a little of the city. We quickly realized we weren’t in Massachusetts any more. Much as we adore Boston, that was a good thing.


We didn’t see many people early on. Our house is very private from the street, and we had no car, so most people had no idea we’d moved in. Our next door neighbor knew though. She introduced herself, and made us feel very welcome –thanks Maria!


It’s a cliché but the last year has flown by. We took a big risk moving into a house we’d never seen in-person, in a city we’d never been to. But it was an educated risk, and we’re happy we took it. To revisit those first days, weeks and months, read our blog from the start.

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6473 S Land Park Dr

The latest Sacramento Eichler for sale is an interesting one. It’s a 4 bed/2 bath, 1795 square foot, flat-roofed model, with 2-car garage. It was designed by A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons (like all our Eichlers) and built in 1955.


Compared with most models here, this home isn’t such a mystery from the street –you can see the front door, along with two eye-level windows. This partially covered entryway is a nice feature, and is as close as our neighborhood gets to an atrium.


And the fiberglass panels to the right are cool, gone from some others I’ve seen. The home’s ‘wow’ is in the main living space, where the ceilings are high throughout (10+ feet) rather than pitched, like other models here. This creates a feeling of volume.


Another cool design element is the narrow cinder-block fireplace wall. This divides living and dining spaces, and is gorgeous to look at. Not so cool is the flooring –this laminate, plus some tile, with a few ugly transitions. It’s functional, but (aesthetically) needs replacing.


Here’s the other side of the cinder-block wall. This is logically a dining room, and takes the place of the ‘all-purpose room’ in our model. I like that it’s separate from the main living space, while still feeling connected. It’s also easily accessible from the kitchen.


All the windows appear to be original in this home, including these Arcadia sliders, leading to the back yard. Not original are these two globe lights (added at some point) which have shorter stems and wider bases. They work just fine though.


Here’s a nice view of the back. This is classic Eichler, with a large overhang, and beams jutting out. From the left, the dining room, living room, and master bedroom on the right. All have sliders with access to the back patio.


This model isn’t in our South Land Park Hills Eichler brochure, but it is in the Highlands brochure, appearing on the cover, below. The plans inside aren’t exactly like this one, but the SM-134 is very close –it’s just a little bigger, and the fireplace is positioned differently.


Back inside, a quick look at the kitchen. Appliances and countertops have been replaced, but all the cabinets are original (despite some inappropriate hardware) making it fairly straightforward to return this kitchen to something more authentic.


On the other side, more potential. This wall was originally wood paneling, and could easily be stripped and restored, like ours. It’s work, but worth it. In fact, none of the walls here have been sheet-rocked, so (technically) all could be reinstated.


In the corridor, ceilings drop to the usual 8(ish) feet. And you feel it, thanks to the big differential, and a lack of paint –ceilings on these older Eichlers are dark in their natural state, so feel heavy. Those ‘half-globes’ are original too (apparently) though I’ve only seen them in this model.


And I’m not sure what that cable routing is all about. The master bath has the original medicine cabinet and lower cabinets, so that’s a good start. The blue and white paint job throws your eye a little, but that’s easily remedied, as is the era-inappropriate chair rail.


The shower room has some updates, including a new enclosure, and tile that is pretty faithful to the original. It’s a nice gray color, and can also be found in the guest bath, along with the original bath tub.


Something you don’t see often is this built-in, in the front bedroom. We still have this, but it’s one of only two others I’ve seen. The closets are original throughout, but the grasscloth has been replaced with beadboard panels. This looks a bit odd. As do the fussy baseboards.


You get a good sense of the house scale from this view. It’s far from pristine, with some deferred maintenance, siding needing replacement etc. But most of the work here is cosmetic. And the payback is huge. Did someone say pool?


Here’s a better view. It dominates the backyard a little, but it’s prettier than plenty I’ve seen –angular and fairly modern looking. The backyard is a little overgrown in areas, but it’s very private and relatively low-maintenance.


This home is offered at $520K, through Ronald Nakano of Coldwell Banker. Of the five Sacto Eichlers listed this year, this is the highest priced. It’s not the most finished, but has the potential to be spectacular. Check out the listing for more details and pics.

Disclaimer: I am a neighborhood Eichler owner, with no realty affiliation. Observations are my own. Prospective buyers should conduct a thorough home inspection, through a licensed professional.

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