Thursday, January 5, 2017

the peach tree renovation.

One of the single biggest happenings over in our neck of the woods is that our little house is getting a big renovation! During the first part of last year we looked into the idea of selling our current home and buying a new one, but after a lot of thought, scouring what was available in different zip codes, both in more desirable and less so, we decided that we had a good thing going with our 2011-sale price mortgage, sweet little neighborhood, and the current condition & size of our home. After evaluating a lot of factors we decided to invest a little back into the property and add some amenities we have always wanted! 

The planning stages started all the way back in July and we are knee-deep in the renovation now. I can’t wait to share the completed spaces but for now this is what we are working on for the current project.

Backyard upgrades: When we first initially planned out the renovation we originally considered focusing completely on the backyard. Living in great Southern California weather, we spend a lot of time outdoors, and it seemed totally reasonable to invest all of our money there. After switching around our plans, we still kept these big hitters in place:

-Fence in our large corner lot. We live on a quarter acre on a corner lot. Our backyard was fine enough but we weren’t utilizing a lot of the side yard at all that wasn’t fenced in. We added 7000 square feet of fencing, knocked down the inner fence, and were suddenly able to triple our backyard space! Talk about an upgrade!

-Add a deck. We had some weirdly configured concrete pads in the back that weren’t connected and felt a little haphazard. We added a big deck that conjoined the concrete spaces, thereby making them a beautiful multi-level grounding for multiple dining & lounging spaces. There’s room to add a big Jacuzzi down the road too! In order to even begin to put the deck in we had to move our air conditioning unit to the roof, and of course the recommendation was to get a new one while we were at it. It was all a big expense we didn’t want to have to front for but in the end we have a brand new central air & heat system running through the whole house and it does work so much better.

-Add an outdoor storage closet. We all know the sob story. Old homes=zero storage. Our midcentury home is no exception. With this new plan we are adding a closet where the current door to the backyard is, allowing us to enclose gardening tools, patio furniture, and outdoor toys for the kids when they aren’t in use. No more piling stuff along the side of the house! 

-Add new larger French doors leading to the deck. Currently our little door leading to the back has very steep stairs and is barely wide enough to carry a large tray of food with. The current window overlooking the back is being replaced with a beautiful set of custom French doors and we are removing the old door altogether (see above). It will make the whole space look so much more sophisticated!

-Add a kids’ space! This is one facet of the big renovation that is already completed. We purchased a beautiful cedar playground set on Amazon, had a section of our yard leveled, and filled the area with rubber playground mulch. I expect a lot of summer night memories to be made in that little tree house.

-Still to do: Upgrade our sprinklers, add fruit trees, upgrade landscaping, put in garden boxes for vegetables! 

Music Studio upgrade. One of the big reasons we settled on the house we did was because it had both a two-car garage and a two-car covered carport. We’ve always parked in our carport and my husband used the garage as a studio space for music. In 2013 we added some insulation and drywall to make the space somewhat more bearable in the summer and winter to be in. This year, we tore all that down and are rebuilding in from the ground up. We tore down the garage doors, added new walls and a steel door into the carport so his late night visitors don’t have to enter/exit through the house. We added three windows along one side of the house to add natural light, and another big set of French doors leading out to the backyard. Rockwool paneling and resilient channeling have been added inside the walls for sound absorption, and we redid all of the electrical so it is well-suited for a man who has a lot of electronic music gear running simultaneously. The pièce de résistance is the vocal booth, which is something my husband has always wanted. We added microphone cables in the walls that can run from his desk to the vocal booth so he can have the highest quality of vocal recording. We can also count this whole studio as a fourth bedroom with an actual closet should we want to sell the house down the road. We may, at some point, enclose the carport so we can have a garage again, but in the meantime we boosted the ceiling supports in the studio and added an attic door with a ladder so we have a place to put Christmas decorations and bins of old keepsakes that isn’t one of the kids’ bedroom closets. Did I mention we have a storage issue in this house?

Still to do: Currently the only way into the studio from inside the house is through a tiny little bathroom that seems like it was added merely as an afterthought to increase the value of the home. The bathroom is functional enough for you to do your business in but using it as a pass-through is pretty awkward. Right next to that is a utility closet with our central heater and one (of two!) of our water heaters. We’d like to reconfigure that closet and put in a tankless water heater, then somehow make that all a hallway to the studio with access to the bathroom and utility closet on either side, but that is another big expense for another time. 

Adding a laundry room. Okay, so I said the vocal booth was the pièce de résistance but I was lying, it is actually the new laundry room! A laundry room was something I really, really wanted when house hunting in 2011 when we purchased our home and again when we thought of buying again before we decided on this renovation. We had washer/dryer hookups in the “garage” when it was actually my husband’s studio, and I always had to coordinate with him when I wanted to run a load. I was always behind and leaving clothes all over the floor, which was a bummer to my artistic husband who needed a place of his own to be creative. Now, we are punching a hole in the wall from our den to access the laundry area and are walling it off completely from the studio space. I’ll never again have to access the laundry through the dumb bathroom and my husband’s studio. With the washer & dryer hookups we are adding a sink, a place to hang dry clothes, a hamper system, a place to iron, and lots of cabinetry to add even more storage. All of our cleaning supplies and appliances (like the mop and heavy duty vacuum) will be housed in that room so we can reclaim the tiny coat closet for shoes and bags. We also added a window into the backyard and it adds SO much natural light into the little space. It will be a dream come true to attend one of my most hated chores. I’ll take the motivation any way I can get it.

Still to do: add a countertop for folding clothes, a peg rail, and lots of open shelving for storage.  Hang an antique barn door to access from the den.

Wow, I can sure write a lot about house projects! And the truth is, even with this there are so many more ways we would love to modify our home. In the end, what it all boiled down to was adding more value and equity into our home as well as making it more suitable for us. I may never want to leave once this custom laundry room is complete but it made sense to sink a chunk of our spending not just into things that would make our square footage more functional for us, but also to increase our property values. If you can get the best of both worlds, why not? The truth is we love our home without all of these modifications but feel so completely blessed and excited to be able to make some changes. I can’t wait to share the completed project in a few weeks!

1 comment:

  1. Charlotte, it sounds like your house is really coming together... I don't own a house but I moved into my apartment nearly 9 years ago and I thought of moving every year, so I never settled in... 6 months ago I found out Valentina will be needing braces and I decided I would not be moving as I have a fairly decent rent for living so near the city. Since I made the decision I have really made lots of changes to make this my home and I am loving it more and more... I can see me staying her for many years to come. (I know all about lack of storage, if I were to ever buy a home I would want storage, storage, storage... also, I am excited for you to get your laundry room done... it is such a must have when you have so many small children)