Archive for ‘Exteriors’

Monday, December 24, 2012


We decided a messy tree hovering close to the house had to leave so we called in the pros, of course the morning of, it rains.


Our earth mover dude was back to dig some drains,



relocate the bamboo


and sculpt the yard too.


Some concrete waterproofing gets done as well.


Then our friendly landscaper neighbor dotted the yard with rescued plants, hint, hint, get planting folks! She’s just as sick as we are of staring at a dirt yard. Three olive trees, blueberries, grasses, yuccas, thanks Paige!


Of course digging holes to plant is not so easy when the dirt thinks its concrete.


Sometime during all this we found ourselves in L.A. having dinner at Mozza which always inspires me to whip up my own pies, so much so I know I went through one too many burrata pints that week.


We also tackled the mandatory ground cover the city insists we must have for drainage issues, grass seed was a temporary no-brainer to pass inspection.



Concrete dudes are back, pouring the concrete patio off of the guest house




and pathways to the front door


and the side door too.


and remarkably this neglected orchid I leave outside all year round comes back every year..who knew?


Friday, December 21, 2012

odds and ends

So many finishings, catching up and the doorbells finally get people-friendly.


Stucco dudes squeezed us in between jobs and finally got the last part of the stucco done as well, the house is one color now.


The neglected cacti that were given to me over a year ago reminded me with pretty white fragrant blooms which the bees went nuts over that they’re still alive and well.



We moved appliances into the guest house and I got stuck peeling off the sticky protective film off of a fridge we bought over a year ago, of course not coming off easy. Bored of plain walls too and I told dude to rig up some large picture frames from scratch; once again cutting, sanding, staining to size.


Obviously we learned it wasn’t the best idea to put the first frame together on a wool carpet, took the sticky film off of acrylic and what a static mess.


Guest bathrooms get done too. Shower doors TAKE 2, this time without shattering the glass and then we cut, sanded and stained wood bases for towel hooks.


Wall sconces in the guest bathroom finally up..I thought they’d be a bit too high but the scale of the aged steel glass cloche filament sconce works.


and with a counter full of pineapples that meant the dehydrator was being put to work too, work never ends here.


Saturday, June 9, 2012


Still nudging away at this house thing, it never ends.

Last window getting installed, the rest getting tar papered and now we’re ready for the last bit of stucco to go up.

Kitchen counters and cabinets get done and the last bedroom’s hardwood floors finally get installed too.

Building and installing the last of the mahogany doors, hallway closets and the last bedroom.

The Cali sun also had me re-oiling the hardwood facia. And the storage containers that we’ve had parked in our yard for 2 years finally bid farewell with no animal casualties to report of, just a startled rabbit that shared its home with one rudely awakened skunk, both angrily bolted out from under, evicted!

The last of the mangaris (Indonesian mahogany) soffit gets installed as well, as does a patch of sod our landscaper neighbor had left over from a job, just hoping now it survives the summer heat.

And there’s no shortage of decapitated beasties around here. We figure the hawk that lives in our neighbor’s eucalyptus must be on bath salts or something ’cause it attacks and only eats the heads of its victims. Wha..what?? not looking good for non-zombies.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

after the storm

Recovering here from a week afflicted with that mean coughing bug that’s been making the rounds and monday night’s hail storm, my poor house and some damage control is in the works, yard drainage issues setting us back a good month now. I’m beginning to think this reno process enjoys our company a little too much, right when you think you’re nearly done, the rug of course gets pulled right from under you. What’s a little more work thrown into the lot? they won’t mind kinda deal. Mind we do of course but there’s not much you can do but bite your tongue and keep on.

And as quickly as the gopher assisted bamboo came crashing down the cable railing installation on the decks and stairways went up as well, much thanks to the guys at Pacific Rigging Loft, Inc. in San Diego. Honest dudes that did not take us for a ride and the kind of quality and good workmanship you dream of. Very nice solid stainless steel poles and cables and we finished the top rail ourselves, custom cutting, sanding and oiling mangaris handrails to blend in with the rest of the house, soften the look of the steel frame. Success.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


So Ritchie came back to demo the old front part of the house, the last of it to go, just over an hour and poof! gone! If you need bobcat/backhoe work done, this guy is your go-to guy, Faulkner & Sons out of San Marcos, reasonably priced and always a clean job.

filled up our 4th dumpster to date in no time

and the 5th dumpster arrived the following week. It was a concrete dumpster that was easily filled past the 18″ that was allowed,

and there goes the old tub,

startled by the noise and nowhere to hide now and it seems the hawks will feast

and while you’re at it can you scrape down the yard, taking care of most of the weeds, much appreciated as I had a lawn of nettles pretty much, no joke.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

reno pains

Very hectic around here and getting caught up these days seems pretty impossible, hence the lack of posts. You do know we jumped the gun moving into this “new” house and of course we’re now way busy trying to get this huge reno under wraps as it always sucks to be living midst construction and sadly I might add, we still are. Making substantial progress but still not done yet, more like does it ever end? And just in case you think I’m fibbing, I kidd you not, the finishings always take the longest.

Putting the mangaris boards on the 5ft deck off of our living room

and building forms to support the frame of what will be stairs off of the side deck, getting ready for some cable railings now,

of course we nearly get done and then mother nature decides to spit rain on us for a couple of days, building outdoors postponed til the ground dries up

and filling up our third dumpster to date since we started, reno garbage sucks

and demolishing and detaching the last part of “this old house,” prepping the area before the backhoe dude shows up. Old front bedroom and bathroom’s toast now

and custom building our closet too from birch plywood we got from Saroyan Lumber,

also finished putting mangaris boards on the ceiling of our entryway

and our second random light is up too, ta da!

Monday, January 23, 2012

backyard studio

Moving on up, a long time coming and it’s nice to stretch out and have everything in its place, organization never felt so fabulous and what a reno! We survived and success! Seriously now, what am I gonna do with all this space? It’s not a mega sized house, far from it but after a year and a half of sharing 480sq ft, 4x more space feels like a mansion and I’m certain more cleaning and dusting is a given. And finally the studio will no longer be used as a storage locker, it’s a clean slate again and we can finish it the way we had intended all along. Of course I’ll miss being hidden in the backyard with the birds and coyotes, the rabbits and like it or not the occasional skunk or two as company. Just 2 years ago it was a site of overgrown wild brush the animals had called home, change is imminent in our ‘hood and it’s like the coyotes are clued in on this fact as well, life moving forward and they were howling up a storm the other night.

coyote serenade from dia morris on Vimeo.

Plans to redo the sink counter wall are in the works, more cabinets and a larger countertop with a fridge at the end, its own tiny kitchenette.

A proper patio deck with its own awning we can grow vines off of is another project for us this year.

Our cozy backyard studio strategically placed for all day afternoon sun and pretty sunsets.

Moving out, cleaning up all weekend and whether we knew it or not its like we were keeping in line with the ol’ Chinese Lunar New Year’s tradition/ritual of cleaning your home to expel negative energy or bad luck, making way for good fortune this new year. Check out my mom’s friend’s New Year spread in Winnipeg, the chicken is a little funny, no? Chinese/Vietnamese or not, Happy New Year! Rawr!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Picking stone, easy and fun? Not really. Honestly, there weren’t many color schemes in stone veneer in our budget range that we were too crazy about. Wrong colors, wrong shapes, too fake looking and I was getting very weary as nothing came close to my ideal stone picks. Of course after a long day of driving all over San Diego looking at stone it always happens like this, we end up not having to drive very far at all and settled on VeneerStone’s Mendocino stack stone that we purchased at our local Home Depot and it looks alright. Phew.. I was a little nervous. Thanks to Louis and Julio for putting it up, it turned out not bad, not bad at all.

The original house’s front fir door is now our garage side door, surprisingly after peeling 4 layers of paint off of it we saw the outline of the original house numbers still remained, those numbers now face the inside of the door. We still haven’t gotten around to staining/sealing the door properly…soon though, for now all that matters is it locks and works properly. All the shelving and storage in the garage was also built using reclaimed lumber from the house’s original walls. We try to recycle as much as we can here, one less purchase and every bit helps.

And now onto stucco…after a few color tests on the wall, we went with a color they didn’t even have a sample of to test on our wall, so we just winged it and it went up on the garage walls first, it’s dark, huh? and then it rained and we had to buy some hay to protect the newly stucco’d wall from puddles splashing water back onto it, hay, really? Good thing horse stables are nearby, hay just down the road.    

Monday, October 17, 2011

mangaris deck

We finished laying out the side deck this weekend, installing hardwood is kind of a bitch, well worth it though. Not only just countersinking the screws, both sides of the wood also needed to be sealed, we took a brush to each new cut as well,  grooves cut out and sealed on the back side on both ends of each board for water proofing too, everything all sealed tight. Mangaris (Indonesian mahogany) looks great and is an extremely durable hardwood, it should be, we broke 4 drill bits installing it. And living near the coast we had to use stainless steel screws which cost an arm and a leg ($360 for a pail of stainless steel screws), damn the salty air!

Now we decide on railings, doing some research and I’m thinking cable railings like the pic below may work.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


When we first moved into our old house on January 1st, 2010 we also became the proud owners of a neglected and completely wild backyard. It took us a good month to clear it all up. We tackled 11 trees, some dead and most of them dirty and bushy pines, lifeless and leaning

and plenty of pinecones and wood for all my friends,

10ft wild brush so thick and messy, dry and deeply rooted everywhere,

wild geraniums too,

and wild jade everywhere, imagine over 50 years of jade branches touching the ground and new plants taking up root, not only did we buy a house, we bought a forest of jade

and an ugly old shed too that needed to disappear. FSU!

A worker also accidently backed up into a section of the old fence so building a new fence came much sooner than planned.


and finally cleared!

Not the most recent photo but you get the idea, we’ve come a long way.