El Rancho

Fabulous 50's home is rescued by overly opinionated guy with too much free time and a gay man's flare for design. Woo hoo!! Grab a pinata and a stick - sounds like a party!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New Posts can only mean one thing!

I'm done! Good job to me. I am going to keep it simple with before and after pics of every room on the interior. I apologize for the lack of updates - was busy working, traveling, finishing projects, etc. In fact, my cousin Mike came down on his way to South Carolina (his new home) and helped do a bit of re-landscaping and a touch of painting in the laundry room.

No-one stays for free, people. Anywho, enjoy the updates.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

laundry room.

so as you may or may not recall, in the back room (music room) of the house, there were two doors on the side as you entered from the den. one went to a laundry room that was so small, you couldn't open the door on the dryer without it hitting the wall. the second door led to an over sized, walk-in closet. i decided to make better use of the space by ripping out the laundry room doorway, dividing wall, and all the flooring.

here is a shot inside the laundry room doorway after i had ripped out the drywall and trim covering the dividing wall:

yes, the space between the wall and appliances was the width of a step ladder.

here is a shot in from the closet doorway:

looks like i had already ripped out a stud at this point. the sill plates were actually very difficult to move, but after some pulling and pounding, i got them out of there.

mess 1:

and mess 2:
alway so much fun to make. never so much fun to clean up.

and here's a shot back in after everything was removed:

note: i need to put new ducting in that will blow into the new laundry room and into the music room. there was previously no direct heat or air going into the room because the duct had collapsed within the dividing wall thanks to the "handywork" of the previous owner. you can see the ugly carpet on the left and nasty vinyl on the right, some loose wires, paneling, etc. it all get ripped out.

here is the outside:

you can see i ripped the wood paneling off and exposed the drywall. unfortunately, the whole room wasn't drywalled underneath the paneling and i didn't want to mess with the trim or i would have ripped down all of the paneling. instead, i recovered it and painted it all eggplant (those pics are coming). that mess of wires is from the security system, which was a complete bitch to conceal. did i mention i was not a fan of the original owner's "work". yes? just checking.

here is a shot of the floors scraped clean before i put the flooring down:

i am so sick of pulling up flooring i can't even begin to fully express it.

here is a pic Double E snapped of me putting down the flooring:

this is actually sticky vinyl strips of faux cherry wood. i had never used anything like this before, but it is surprisingly good-looking, very inexpensive, and quite easy to install. i wouldn;t use it for common areas of my home, but for something like a laundry room, it's pretty much perfect.

see what i mean?

this turned out to be a really great choice for this room. i would definitely use this stuff again for a similar application. it's also extremely low maintenance and easy to replace. i feel like Armstrong should be paying me for this ringing endorsement.

and here's a shot of the old doorway after i had reframed and drywalled it, then covered it all with the hideous paneling:

and a final shot from the inside:

this is just before i rehung the "closet" door, which was a 36" ( the laundry room was 32"), which is great if i ever need to swap out the washer and dryer or move anything large in here.

that's pretty much it. i still have some drywall, mudding and light electrical work to do before it is complete, which i am hoping to get to this weekend. once that's done, we'll do some cosmetic stuff to it with paint, lighting, shelving and some artwork ideas i have. i told Double E that i want this to be the hippest laundry room ever ... which is totally unnecessary, since we spend about 20 minutes a week in there. anyway, this is where we now do laundry and store things, like the vacuum cleaner.


i am wiped out. although i have slacked on my blog duties, i had been working feverishly up until 2 weeks ago to get everything done before our housewarming party. i am happy to report that Imbibique '07, which we dubbed the event, was quite a success that saw some 40 odd people drink all my beer, empty my liquor cabinet, eat all my food and irritate my neighbors until early into the morning. successful, indeed.

anywho, i am about 95% done inside and out with the new laundry room the only thing that needs to be finished. there's probably too much for me to cover before i go to bed tonight, but i can at least get started.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Improvement Totals for 2006, as promised.

As you are probably well aware, it is tax season. Tonight I submitted my return for the year and in the process totaled up the sum of improvement costs for the year which came to ... *drumroll* ... $4,956.11. This includes the cost of the new fridge I bought, which I wasn't going to include in the total, but why the hell not, I have a receipt for it.

Pretty cheap relative to what it's probably worth now, I suppose. I am also really proud of how well it meshes in with the nicer (already renovated) homes in the neighborhood. now, if only my neighbors would follow suit and/or just disappear, all would be well in the world.

Once I am done with everything, I will add the 2007 receipts to it as well. I can't imagine those will be more than $1,500-$2000, but stuff always pops-up, I guess.

This update brought to you by the Fuji FinePix A700.

it looks like the free camera i lamented about in past blogs has seemingly been lost in transit, so i took the $200 Visa gift card given to me at work a few weeks back (as reward for a job well done, my friends) to CompUSA and bought the above mentioned camera and a 1GB memory card. The whole thing cost me a whopping $18 ... the stars have aligned in my favor for once. It's quite a nice little piece of equipment and the specs can be seen here for anyone "in the market" as they say: http://tinyurl.com/3295j2

Due to this wonderful turn of events, I can now show you the bathroom and hallway updates. This first shot is from the living room into the bathroom via the hallway (confusing, i know - just look at the pic):

so here it is. the hallway is this flat grey color, which i wasn't sold on until i painted the trim (bright white like everywhere else). i painted the walls a while back, but never finished the trim because i got distracted by a million other things. I replaced the light fixture, too (not pictured), which is pretty modern and i will paint the ceiling sometime this week (a cleaner white). ok, so you can see the bathroom from here ...

... please allow me to elaborate:

yup, that's a whole lotta squares. i decided that i was going to paint 6 in. x 6 in. squares (to match the width of the border tiles) and use a monochrome color scheme based upon a single Behr color card. I started by using an outline of a square, but this was tedious and not all that accurate in keeping things level. I decided (thankfully) that it would be easier to mark every six inches along the bottom and side of each wall with a ruler, then i went back with a yardstick (and a 6 inch level), which i used to complete the lines both vertically and horizontally. this sped things up considerably.

here's another photo:

i forgot to mention that i also did some patching and sanding on the walls before i painted. i still have some touch ups to do along the ceiling and at a bunch of different places where paint dripped under the tape, etc. I will be repainting the ceiling as well. the lightest color is a very faint teal paint i had left over from another project (it looks white in the pics) and it isnt satin like the rest nor is it holding up well near the shower. i bought another quart similar to it and will go back and primer and repaint those squares.

... but that's not all. i also gutted most of the wiring in the bathroom and updated it as well as putting in a modern vanity light and installing a modern ceiling fan/light. this also meant i had to install a three way switch to control everything and trust me when i tell you that snaking that wire through for the fan absolutely sucked major ass. the attic is floored, so i had to pop up a few of the boards and bore a hole through a joist before i could even fish it through. i actually had to have Double E help or i probably wouldnt have been able to do it.

in addition, i repainted all the trim and doors (bright white, as usual) and replaced all of the hardware with stainless steel hardware. all of the hardware in the house is being replaced with stainless hardware as i finish each room. i have too huge boxes of it sitting in the garage ... individually, not so expensive, but when you purchase all of it ... including new knobs and hinges for 38 doors in a pantry kitchen - ouch. it got a bit expensive.

anywho, here is the sink area in the bathroom:

the knobs are really heavy-duty and a huge upgrade over the ugly crap that was in there. yes, i am aware the tile is dirty - no need to mention it. we are getting a maid soon, i think. i still want to update the faucet and shower head, i just haven't quite found what i like yet. i want something that looks a little bit older to go with the rest of the house and i heard there is a plumbing shop not too far away that kind of specializes in that kind of thing. we'll see what i find ...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

everything she just said is true.

i am wonderful, thoughtful, intelligent, attractive and ... wait, i think she only said i had been working on the bathroom for the last 3 days. hmm, we need to work on the compliment giving a bit more around here. anywho, i have been working nonstop on the bathroom this week in an attempt to get everything with the house finished by Feb. 12, which will be the one-year-of-ownership mark. Sadly, I havent been able to chronicle it all with the lovely photos you have come to enjoy, because the camera pooped out. A new one is on the way and will hopefully be here by tomorrow or Saturday, though.

i got started by removing the ugly vanity over the sink/mirror and putting up a new one in its place. i also installed that hip exhaust fan/light that Double E posted the picture of. it was a bit of a chore because the attic is actually floored, so i had to pop-up one of the boards where the fan was going and one of the boards next to the steps where i needed to snake the wire through. i drilled a pilot hole next to the most centered joist to give me a rough idea of placement to view from within the bathroom and then once i determined where the fan needed to go in proximity to the hole, i drew the outline of the fan and cut through the drywall. once the fan was hooked up and everything was wired together, it pulled out the single switch in the wall and ran the fish tape up through the wall and a hole i bored in another support (it's not a joist, but i can't remember what its called this late at night - use your imagination - think thick piece of wood) with mucho help from Double E who held the tape for me. After I pulled everything back through the box, i installed a 3 way switch: one for the vanity light (and an outlet on the side of the mirror), one for the ceiling light, and one for the exhaust fan. pheeeeew. this took all night to do, but it looks perfect.

i had to wake up early the next morning because the old tub in the bathroom actually has one of those bath fitters tubs over the top of it and it was leaking water in from a poor seal job. the repair guy had to come and pull it up to let all the water drain, then lay it back down and reseal everything. sometimes you gotta call the pros, people. that night i cam home and removed all of the cheap plastic towel bars that were on the doors and scraped away all the area where the paint had chipped because of moisture. i also washed the nasty parts of the ceiling with some bleach water. i then primered everything in the bathroom: walls, cabinets and doors. all the wood was this awful off white color (i'll repost the old picture in the next post for a before and after so you can see what i'm talking about if you don't remember)after the primer dried, i went over the rough parts of the walls and ceiling with some drywall compound.

tonight when i got home i sanded down all the patches and then re-primered them. once it dried, i took a 6" piece of cardboard i ripped off the back of a pocketsize notebook and used that and a yardstick to measure out a grid of 6"x6" squares all over the wall (i still have one wall left to do - the mirror wall). i went ahead and assigned a number to each individual square (from 1 to 5), making sure that none of the same numbers touched each other on any two squares. The night before i purchased 4 quarts of paint - one of each color on a teal/turquoise color card, going from light to dark. I also have an old can of very faint turquoise (almost baby blue) that i will use as the fifth color. The result should be a random, monochrome grid like the picture that Double E posted. Yes, i still got my paintin skillz, even if i dont use 'em anymore.

hopefully, everything with the bathroom will be wrapped up by the end of this weekend. i don't plan on stopping until everything is done. really, almost everything i have left to do is painting related, so it shouldn't be too difficult to finish everything up.

stay tuned.

A shout out, for our Jacob.

Hello, everybody. It's Erin, here - I realized I hadn't yet made a post to this fabulous blog, and all I'd really like to do with this one is to make a quick shout out to our "man in charge", Jacob.

Over the past 3 days, he has done nothing each night except for work on our bathroom. He has wowed me with his electrical and light installation skillz, installing a new light fixture/fan combination:

He also installed a new vanity light, but I'm unable to show you a picture because I'm lame and can't find it online. Sorry. He has also patched the rough spots and primered the walls, as of last night.

While I was surfing knitting blogs, I came across this post. We're loving this idea:

Anyway, I'm just proud. I'm sure Jake'll post pictures of the whole enchilada, once it's finished, and we have a digital camera again.


Friday, December 22, 2006

tiki puka puka 3.0

ahh, back to this little project. i preface this by saying it won't be a full post due to the camera pooping out - i guess i could pull out the memory card and load the images onto this computer sitting on my lap, but i'll save that as a rainy day project.

anywho, i installed astroturf on the floor to give a "grassy" appearance and also to conceal the roughness of the concrete, etc. i also walled the interior with plywood and then painted it all red (again, barn paint). of course, prior to walling everything off, i cut and framed an opening, attached a hinged door to it, and a small countertop that faces the deck. this is essentially the bar. like i said, i dont have full pics, so i will post the ones i do have along with the hilarious narratives you have come to love:

this was the first piece i cut and installed. these triangle pieces and the walls were really easy to do, but ... arggggh ... putting up the ceiling by myself was a pain. i basically had to balance everything on my head and then screw it into place. the kind of thing that would have been hilarious to watch some other fool do, but not so hilarious when you're the aforementioned "other fool".

here are the support pieces i put into place to help support the ceiling boards:

i put these up in multiple places in the center and corners, where needed (where the boards met). fascinating.

action photo of me looking through a hole:

after i measured out my window thingy, i pre-drilled some pilot holes in the corners to make it easier to cut with the jigsaw. after i cut everything out, i used a belt sander to smooth the edges, then i framed the opening with 2x4's and added a pine top. i cut a piece of particle board for the door, which i wouldn't normally use for exterior applications, but i 1) had a shitload of it leftover and 2) used three coats of polyurethane on it, so it should be okay. i hinged it and added a latch to lock it from the interior.

if you remember back a ways back, i had ripped a bunch of shit out of this shed, because it was a somewhat filthy woodworking shop that looked like it had never been cleaned. junk removal revealed quite a bit of termite damage in the structure and at the time i think i believed i would replace most of the damage. upon further inspection of the shed, i realized that it wasn't built that well from the beginning and if i really put much time, money and effort into it, i would probably just tear it down and build something else. everything i did definitely helped to reinforce it and offset the damage and probably didn't cost me more than $100. when the time comes, i can knock it down and put up something really cool, but for now, this will do.

also of note, i had predrilled and wired everything for an outdoor sound system with all of the wiring hidden behind the wall. a few weeks ago i went ahead and set everything up with some old (but killer) hi-fi equipment i had sitting around and gathering dust. now we have music pumping through the hi-fi outside in the back yard. time to boogie, my friends. time to boogie.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

i shoved a knife into my hand.

it's true. this was back in october when my brother came over to help me reroute the power going into the shed (a.k.a. tiki hut) and the garage, which is surprisingly the first time i have hurt myself. it was at the very end of the night when all of the wiring was done and i was trying to cut the insulation off the last wire. as it turns out, the knife really wasn't sharp enough to cut the wire, but was, in fact, sharp enough to find it's way deep into the palm of my hand. no worries, i just rubbed some dirt on it and kept going.

anyway, as you may or may not remember, the wiring going to the shed wasn't inside a conduit and the insulation was actually missing from one wire. it was actually running out of the attic (from behind a gutter) and then straight into the shed just below the roof. not cool. not only that, but as i tested things at the fuse box i realized that the same line was used for parts of 5 rooms, the front exterior light and the power to the shed (both sides). seemed like a bad thing waiting to happen.

i cut all three wires where they were going into the shed and pulled the wire back up into the attic. i capped off the line that was running through all those other rooms. this left a dedicated wire for the shed and then the one that was carrying power to the garage. i bored a hole out through the side of the house (via the attic), rant the wire into a box and then through some conduit directly into another box in the shed. the garage power (which is buried) was spliced back together at the box and the power for the shed was split into two lines just to make my life easier based upon the outlets that were already in there and the light i installed at the top.

exciting, eh? that's wiring, folks. non-stop action. these pictures will elaborate on the magnificent story above:

that's the box out the side of the house connected to the conduit.

here's the whole thing. seems so simple, but even with someone helping me (my bro, standing on the left), this took all day. of course, we stopped to watch the titans game, which probably slowed us down.

"hello! i'm high on insulation and blood loss!" me in the attic, smiling for no reason at all. i certainly wasn't having a good time.

here's the "junction" box. this is where all the real magic happened:

and here's a lovely medley of everything coming together:

that's the bulkhead light that i bought. it has since pooped out (i tested all the wires, changed the light bulb, etc.) and i think i will probably just replace it with something very simple (and cheap). now that the interior of the tiki hut is done (next post), i have alternate lighting in there (red net christmas lights, etc.) so i am not that worried about it, but i would like everything to work as it should.

ok, i still have a bit more to update, but this is a good chunk of it. also, the camera finally died. i think double E has an old one, but i need to check.

birthday present showcase.

double E bought me a variety of lovely gifts, but the only one that had much relevance here is the picnic table (kit) i asked for. once it was assembled, i sprayed it with green barn paint, available at an lowe's and highly recommended by this dude as exterior paint not only because of it's low price, but it's durability and color consistancy. anywho, once it was done and had dried, it looked like this:

not sure what that white spot is on the front corner, just some photo magic, i suppose.

that's it. great update, eh? here's one more pic of the whole enchilada:

who's that on the bench? looks like a little friend i like to call PBR. umm hmm, that's right.

also, you may have noticed that in most of these shots only a few of the screens are in the windows. i dug the rest of them out of the attic and put them in a few months back. it was a bit of a puzzle figuring out which screens went where, but after a little trial and error, i got it all worked out.

has it really been 3 months?

eek. well, fear not, homies ... i have been hard at work. kind of. i am going to randomly post the things I have been working during the hiatus, but i'm sure i will miss some items. thems the breaks.

ok, so when i bought this place there was a horrible fluorescent light in the kitchen incased in a long blond wood box. it got yanked only to reveal an imperfection in the ceiling that was basically making it concave. my brother actually cut it out with a keyhole saw with the plan being for me to go back and re-drywall it and smooth it out. it took a really long time for me to get around to it - here's what the "skylight" looked like:

there were lots of rough spots, screw holes, excess putty, etc. whoever put the box up looked like they did it with their eyes closed or had maybe subcontracted it out to a monkey.

behold a little thing i like to call progress:

... and finally, with the light installed:

arrggh. my neck hurt like hell when this was done and i swallowed about a pound of insulation, but it looks really good. moving along ...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Labor Day? you got that right.

damn, 3 day weekends are supposed to be for sippin' on umbrella drinks in your hammock ... but i spent mine finishing up the outside of the house. i did a bevy of trim painting, painting of the concrete in the back of the house and repainting the deck:

it's a dark walnut or chocolate color ... i painted the top rail as well. it looks pretty damn fine if i do say so myself. and i do say so myself ...

towards the house:
it looks oh so fine against the yellow. 2 sidenotes: you can barely tell in this photo, but the base of the house on the backside was still the original grey color, but on monday (after this pic was taken) i painted it white to match the rest of the house. also, you only see some of the screens in the windows. not sure why they weren't installed, cuz they're all here. i found all the screens in the attic and in the garage ... and they look brand new.

so this upcoming weekend, i have a tiny bit of trim painting to do, some touch ups on the house and garage, putting down the 2x2 trim pieces i painted for the edge of the deck/house, replace to exterior light fixtures and i will be done with everything on the exterior with the exception of the tiki hut.

it's getting close, my friends. i hope to have the interior done (except for the music/recording room) by the end of the month and then you will get all of the reveals right here.

end of transmission.