Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Fresh Exterior

Ever since we initally laid eyes on our first home, we knew it would need some exterior work to modernize it. I had big ideas of repainting it a brighter white, changing the trim from brown to black, and perhaps replacing the roof with a black or grey one. But, alas $$$$$. Then I went onto a Houzz forum asking for recommendations and surprisingly people had so many great ideas that weren't as expensive or drastic as I had initially envisioned.

From the Houzz forum, people suggested the following:

  • We could update the door and paint it a fun color.
  • We could pull out the bushes (that were probably 40 years old) and replace them with something more modern like a century plant and succulents which are pretty popular here in Southern California. 
  • We could change or remove the "fence" on the front porch. 
  • We could update the hardscaping - to my surprise this was a little pricey so we held off on doing this for now.

So in honor of our one year anniversary, I wanted to share some progress updates on the exterior that we did. 

First, we got a new mid-century inspired door installed. That was a HUGE update! Then we painted said door Benjamin Moore Naples blue. I think this was the update that had the biggest impact. We also got a RING doorbell and a new more sleek, modern mailbox.

Then we (read: Jake) tore out the old bushes and took our time deciding what to do next. We thought about snake plants, succulents, river rock, etc. We thought about removing (or redoing) the small hardscape wall in front of the house but decided against it for now since it looks OK. Eventually we might remove and/or redo it. We will have to wait and see.

This spring, we started researching landscaping. After looking online, we quickly realized that there were typically two options:

Consult with a landscape designer to design a custom front and backyard, which typically comes at a higher cost than we were looking to spend.


Visit a nursery, pick out plants, and plant them (more of a DIY route). 

Then we found Moon Valley Nurseries in Huntington Beach via a Google search. The first thing we liked about the website was you can upload a picture of your yard and add plants from the website to the picture...we had a little too much fun with this tool, as you can imagine. We went to the nursery on a Saturday to start planning our project. We then spent the first part of the design meeting talking about our style, plant and color ideas, and what areas of the yard we wanted to landscape (front, side and backyard).  Next, we went out to the actual nursery and looked at a variety of plants. Jake and I both had so much fun picking out the different plants and determining where they would be planted.

We had a good idea about what we wanted from the beginning, but our designer recommended some plants that we had never heard of which ultimately ended up being our very favorite plants of the whole project! As we selected our plants, they were tagged with our name so we knew exactly which plants were ours. I'm pretty sure this was the best day of Jake's life (so far).  We also got four bougainvillea for the back white stucco wall and decided to go for an Italian villa vibe. We still need to get uplighting for those, but I will share some backyard updates once we decide on our long term outdoor furniture and layout. I never knew how fun (!!), but also a bit stressful and draining owning our house would be. I wouldn't trade it for anything though!


AFTER (1 year progress):

How long we plan to live in this house is another big consideration that we are mulling over before we start spending all of our money customizing the house even further. I had a dream last night that we were putting in a pool! That is something I am considering very strongly but we are not going to move forward with that until we know we want to stay here for awhile.

I've learned that the house to do list is endless and realistically, will probably always be a mile long. So part of the process is just embracing and realizing that the house will never be perfect. But, to be cliche, it's about the journey, not the destination, right? At least that's what I keep telling myself.


Saturday, March 24, 2018


Our Master Bathroom is finally done! While 98% of the work was completed in early February within seven business days courtesy of One Week Bath, there were a few loose ends that needed to be tied up. As I explained in my earlier post, we had to choose a new light fixture at the last minute which really threw us for a loop. And then we thought we had to choose a new toilet (but it turns out we really didn't) but we decided that since we were redoing everything that we should just order a new toilet anyway. That is what caused most of our delays finishing up the project. First the toilet we picked was ordered (or so we thought) but then we found out that it wouldn't be available for several months since it was a brand new model and hadn't been shipped out from the manufacturer yet.

So, we decided to pick out another one but we were debating between two different models and ended up going to a showroom to look at them in person. I've never thought so much about a toilet in my life. But, in the end we got the toilet (and bathroom) of our dreams (well, *almost*). I mean if it was my dream, I would have two vanities and a tub, but given our space and budget constraints I am absolutely loving our new bathroom!

To read more about our inspiration, click here. And planning, click here. The photos really speak for themselves, so without further ado....

Of course, I had to include a photo of everyone's favorite pup, Olive! We are coming up on our 5 month adopt-a-versary and I truly cannot imagine our lives without her. She is just the best! 

Here are some BEFORE photos so you can see what we started with.

So, if you are thinking the BEFORE photos aren't that bad, I would definitely agree with you. The main reason we had to redo this bathroom was because the shower wasn't properly waterproofed and we had at least two, possibly three leaks. Just knowing that those leaks were damaging our house was the absolute worst. I can't believe it's really done, we spent so much time thinking about it and waiting for loose ends to be tied up, it doesn't really seem real! It's so funny I want to shower twice a day now! I have always been a night shower kinda person, but I just get so excited to shower, I want to spend hours in there! So much more spacious than the old box shower that never really sealed in the water.

If you are in Southern California and are interested in redoing a bathroom, I highly recommend using One Week Bath. We are already planning to do redo our second bathroom with them and it is just a matter of time! Also here is my yelp review in case you are curious about the process.

A few of my favorite things:

Open Shower. I love the fact that we didn't add a shower door. We did have them brace the wall in case we ever wanted to add a door later.

The controls. How we put the shower control on the open side of the shower so that you can turn the water on without having to get wet.

The Floor. It's consistent throughout the entire bathroom, including the shower. I think it makes it feel bigger. Honestly, I wanted to do white flooring again but Jake vetoed it, and I do think the gray concrete-style does add more texture so I am happy with that choice. You guys know how I feel about white and that it's my favorite color. But, marriage is about compromise, right?

Overall, I have been very purposeful about choosing pops of color like plants and a pink bathmat because the bathroom is so neutral, I didn't want it to start looking like a hospital bathroom. So there you have it! Now that this project is done, we are embarking on some front and backyard landscaping. Jake will be prepping for that in a few days, so be on the lookout for more house updates coming soon (well, soon-ish)!


Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Bathroom Update

Day 4 of our master bathroom remodel finished up yesterday. I have been sharing some behind the scenes on my Instastories if you want to follow along. The project was slated to be complete in 7 business days, but we've had a few minor setbacks - which project doesn't? Despite being super prepared and proactive, we had a few misses. Honestly, if these are our only two issues, I will be super happy. 

The first issue is the vanity lighting. If you recall, we spent weeks and weeks picking out the lighting fixture. Only to find out that bathroom lighting has to be integrated-LED in the City of Long Beach. Ugh. So, we have been looking non-stop to find a replacement light fixture for above the vanity. I ordered a few bath bars off of amazon, so hopefully that will look good in the space. If not, I will have to spend more time figuring out what I want to do. More to come...

The second issue was that the existing (presumably new) toilet wasn't as water conserving as it should be (i.e. it was low flow, not low enough). So, we had to go on a wild goose chase to find a new toilet and we didn't plan on spending money there, but you know what, it will be really nice to get a new toilet because then the entire bathroom will all be new! So, silver lining? 

But, the point of this post is that I wanted to share some parts of the drawings that the company put together for us as we planned out the remodel. Then, once the project is complete, I can show you the before and afters. Because, who doesn't love some B & A's?!

This first drawing is essentially looking in from the door (we ended up removing the window casing and it looks much better).

The middle view below is the view of the shower right after you walk into the room and then immediately turn left. The ones on the side are the shorter opposite walls.

After we had our initial design meeting, a few weeks later we received these drawings. We went back and forth on some of the details and after probably 6 or so rounds, we had the final drawings. I asked them to add the cabinet fixtures and light fixture that we picked out so I could see how all the shapes played off each other. So much fun, right?

Things I am super excited about:

  • A waterproofed shower (I mean....)
  • The X-shaped sink controls 
  • The half moon shaped drawer pull (it's the little things)
  • Picking out a rug and piece of art
  • Maybe adding a plant in the shower niche?
  • Adding a teak bench somewhere in the shower 
  • Photographing the finished product! 

You can read more about the finishes and hardware we chose here if you are curious. We have never been involved with any remodeling projects before, so this is all new territory for us. This post is definitely not sponsored, but if you are interested in working with the company we are, please reach out to me and I can tell you about our experience once everything is all done. Before making our final decision to work with this company, I called one of their referrals and the customer only had positive things to say about them. And so far, that is what I am experiencing.

Before we decided to redo the bathroom, I remember saying to Jake, will you ever be able to shower in the master and not think about the water leaks? And he's like yeah, it will all be fine. For me, I was always paranoid showering in there even after they told us the leaks were fixed (hint: they weren't). Needless to say, this new shower is going to be amazing. I'll report back once everything is all finished.

Over halfway there!


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Meet Olive

We are now the proud parents of a rescue dog which we named Olive! We adopted her in early November and atm she is laying on a blanket between Jake and I on the couch, sleeping. Her favorite pastimes are: sleeping, walking and eating (in that order). 

So many people have asked me how I convinced Jake to finally get a dog and I think it's a combination of a few things. Actually let me back up. As an adult, I have wanted a dog for as long as I can remember. Of course I love to travel, go to happy hour after work and go on spontaneous random adventures without having to worry about when I would get home. So, a dog didn't exactly fit into my life. But I still wanted one, and I was probably more fascinated with the idea of a dog than having an actual dog. Jake never shared the same obsession that I had with dogs and once we moved in together all of the places we had lived did not allow dogs so it was kind of a moot point. Over the years, I have been pretty vocal about wanting a dog and it was kind of a little joke that we had. When we moved to Charlotte, we did live in an apartment (for three years!) that allowed dogs and it seemed like we were the only ones that didn't have a dog. Looking back, I am glad that we waited to get a dog because we did travel a lot over those 3 years and it would have been too hard to have a dog in a small 1-bedroom apartment. 

Fast foward to 2016 when we moved to California. The house we rented didn't allow dogs and that was that. Even though the owner had two dogs, he decided not to allow dogs which I totally understand. The flooring in the house was made of bamboo (which I love!) but it really showed scratch marks and wear and tear. Heck, we have a rental property too and don't allow pets. So I get it. When we bought the house this summer, one of the first things I brought up was getting a dog. I joked  about doing a powerpoint presentation titled WHY WE SHOULD GET A DOG - I think I saw that on a commercial where a kid is giving his parents a presentation about getting a dog. 

The last straw was last Fall when I visited my family in Hawaii and spent a lot of time with my brother's dog. Just having a little furry animal to cuddle with and take on walks was THE BEST and I was so sad to leave the dog (Hi Randy! and Aaron and Lydia, too!). My sister in law joked that she would have to check my luggage to make sure I didn't take their dog home with me! Haha... I got home from my trip and was basically non-stop talking about getting a dog. I asked Jake if I could start looking up adoptable dogs online. I think he just told me to go ahead and do it since he knew I would do it anyway. Ha! So, naturally I did and bookmarked 15 dogs on Jake and I went through the dogs and he literally crossed at least 13 off the list. So, there were a few left. We met one in person and decided that it wouldn't be a great fit - we didn't feel that connection that we thought we should/would feel. A lot of the rescue organizations had like 10+ page applications with questions like, where will the dog sleep? Do you have a vet picked out?, etc I knew we would figure out all of that eventually but I didn't want to spend 2 hours filling out each adoption application. 

One of the other dogs that caught my eye was "Blossom" -- she was going to be at an adoption event at PetSmart in Costa Mesa the following weekend, so it was no pressure and we didn't have to fill out an application to meet her. I vividly remember hugging Jake before we left to meet her and saying, "Thanks for letting us do this. I know there is a .001% chance we are getting a dog today, but the first step is looking. Kind of like when we bought the house. We had to get the ball rolling by going to an open house." We got to Petsmart and Jake pointed her out. She was wearing a pink collar and she was in a larger kennel with a few other Chihuahua's. The other dogs were barking their heads off and "Blossom" was in the corner sunbathing, totally ignoring the other dogs barking -- she couldn't care less. That is when I knew she would be our dog. 

We took her out for a walk around the grassy area and we both agreed that she was super mellow and seemed to have a great temperament. She is 4 years old too and we knew we didn't want to get a puppy. A few hours later and after signing our life away, she was ours. We didn't have anything. The rest of the afternoon was spent procuring doggie supplies. We promptly renamed her "Olive". We spent $978757 (not really, but you know what I mean) buying a kennel, bed, dog food, leash, poop bags, etc. We made an appointment for her to get all checked out at the vet (which was another $357876). At this point, I realized dogs are expensive. But, it was Day 3 and I just signed my life away so I sucked it up and went back to cuddling her. I could do a whole 'nuther post about the vet and how many times we have gone in the past two months (at least 5 vet visits) and one emergency vet visit (corneal abrasion). But, I wouldn't change it for anything.

In the past (almost) three months, she has brought us so much joy and happiness and love. Sure, sometimes she turns into "crazy woman" -- I literally call her that but it is happening less and less. She does have a few quirks that we will need to work through with a trainer, but once we do that I am confident to say that she will be the perfect dog. We don't know a lot about her history other than she was at SEAACA which is a notoriously high kill shelter. She was slated to be euthanized when the Rescue Organization came in and adopted her the day before she was going to be put down. You're crying, I'm not crying... They rehabbed her for about six weeks and got her in tip top shape. She got microchipped and spayed a few days before we adopted her.  

The newest thing she does is, when we leave the back sliding glass door open, she will go out there and sit on a patio chair and bark for us to come out there and play/relax/hang with her. The first time she did it, I thought she could hear a neighbor or something, but no, she was just sunbathing -- wanting Jake and I to come out from our offices and hang out with her. UGH. JUST THE CUTEST. (Can you tell I'm a proud doggie mom)? 

To sum up things, I leave you with this actual conversation that happened a few minutes ago: 

Jake: "Sometimes I can't tell if Olive likes to be pet or not"
Me: "Well, I just pet her anyway" 


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