Fuzz Butt! vs. Cat Door

Full Name: Nipomo Balkwell

Most commonly known as: Nipo ( Knee-Po)

AKA: Fuzz Butt, Creatche (short for creature), little mongrel, pin head, Neep Neep, you get the idea… I have a bit of a thing for nicknames, I blame it on my dad who nicknames everyone. My cat is no exception to this rule.

Who could say no to that face (We learned):

Nipo Kitten

Somewhere midway through renovating I decided that I NEEDED a fuzzy little unconditionally loving animal. So you are probably wondering why I chose a cat…hehe…only cat owners will understand that one. I found her on craigslist, stopped by to “take a look” at her and decided that I couldn’t live without her. That is when we ended up with our creatche.

On the way to renovate:

On the way to 1508

Throughout the renovation we would bring her back and forth between our apartment and 1508. She hated being along all day during the weekends and the house was a kitty adventure land full or surprises.

I promised Andy that cats were exceptionally clean animals, who you could train to not destroy furniture. Knowing Andy had only had dogs I even tried to find a cat breed that was similar in personality to dogs. Let me just tell you now that things never work out the way you plan… As a kitten she had major stomach problems and was one of the worst smelling cats I had ever had. She is also the only cat I have ever seen that REFUSES to lick their own butt (I know disgusting). I think she knew right off the bat that Andy didn’t like cats, because she went straight for his leather chairs. We tried every form of kitty discipline we could, sadly the chairs were a lost cause. Good thing I have a lot of throw blankets :(

Since our move we have been trying to find a “good home” within 1508 for Nipo. She is still a bit of a smelly cat so we started in the oversized office closet after that didn’t work out we ended up putting her litter box and food in our downstairs bathroom. She sprayed litter Everywhere! Even when her box was in the tub I would find litter in the dining room… I couldn’t take it anymore…I never wanted a litter box in the tub… So after much debate and deliberation we decided it was time to move her into the garage…bring in the “Cat Flap”:

Cat Flap

A picture of the tub, prior to her move into the garage: ( I take full responsibility for being lazy and not cleaning up the mess often enough)…

Litter Box in the Tub-GROSS

The first place to start was to find the perfect location for cutting a “through” wall cat door between our living room and the garage. I am going to state right away that this is Not our ideal situation, but we are getting desparate and need our second bathroom back. Similar to a through door cat door you first choose the location you want the cat/dog door. In our case, we broke in through the garage side first to make sure there was no electrical wiring etc:

Garage Side

Yes, that is a Major electrical conduit running through out garage. The previous owners jimmied in this crazy electrical system in the garage. We plan on fixing that when we do the total garage reno in the near future. For now, the conduit hangs out…
Once we located where it was safe to core through the wall we came into the living room and traced out the cat door opening and made sure it was level with the baseboard and electrical socket. This is pretty easy, just use the cat door itself and a pencil (easier with two people – I was tracing before I Had to take a picture!).

Tracing Cat Door Opening

Once we made sure it was level and aligned with the base board we started cutting out the drywall:

We started with a hand saw

 After breaking the hand saw blade we moved on to a more powerful, less exact tool.

Almost done!

You can cut out the hole with any type of saw you have. We found that we had the most control with the hand saw (which you can buy for under $10 at any hardware store). The Sawzall got the job done more quickly, but was a little less accurate. In the end we were just glad we had both the holes cut:

Cat Door Opening

The garage side of the wall already had a hole in the plaster, so we lost a lot of drywall when we tried to cut out the cat hole. Andy cut a new 2×4 to fit  on the left side of the opening and attached it to the 2×4′s you see in the picture with (2) Simpson A34 Brackets. The 2×4 was laying around and the A34 are for sale in the wood section of home depot for less than $0.50 a bracket. The cat door needs to be securely attached to the wall at the four corners. In most cases your wall or door will be solid and you won’t have to add 2×4′s.

Once the hole’s have been cut you pop the cat door in and secure it with the (8) provided screws:

Trying to get Nipo through the Cat Door

Nipo in the cat door

We were suprised the catdoor install was sooo easy. It took us about an hour and we completed it on a weeknight after work. If we hadn’t had to frame out the 2×4′s on the garage side it probably would have taken 30-40 minutes.

The total cost of the project:

Cat door= $37.8

2″ Liner to install in the wall = $12.00

We had the 2×4 and simpson clips laying around.

Total cost= $49.8

Now if we could just get Nipo to use the door. She is currently afraid of it, so we “practice” ( beg, bribe and force) her to enter and leave the house through her new door.

Nipo and the Cat Door

Posted in How-To, Pets | 2 Comments

To Do Lists

I am going to catapult back in time with this post to give everyone a little insight into our ever expanding To-Do list we have created for 1508. Most of our projects start with pen and paper in hand, drawing chicken scratch sketches of our next projects. To be honest, they usually start at happy hour with a cocktail napkin :) The very first list looked something like this:
• Remove cottage cheese ceilings throughout the whole house
• Remove termite damaged wood floors ( bummer )
• Remove bricks on interior walls
• Remove carpet
• Remove “Patio Cover”
• Remove wall paper in kitchen, laundry room, middle and guest bedrooms.
• Remove Kitchen appliances/hardware

Next the replacements:
• Replace Windows
• Replace Carpet
• Repaint entire house
       Lightly Sand Walls
       Apply Prime Coat
       Apply Final Coat
• Replace Kitchen Appliances
• Replace Wood Floors
• Replace Garage Door
• Replace interior doors
• Repaint Exterior

The list could go On and On. I am sure I missed many things, but you get the idea. We basically gutted and replaced the interior of the house.
Our plan was to spend the first month of weekends removing all interior finishes that were making the house currently unlivable. We also wanted to replace all the appliances during this period of time.

Week 1

The second month would be spent laying wood floors, painting the entire house in and out, replacing windows, refinishing the cabinets in the kitchen. Etc…

Replacing Windows - Week 5


Kitchen Painted

The third month would be spent adding the final touches, tile backsplash, baseboards, doors and moldings.

Master Bedroom Door Molding - We were very proud of pulling off this corner :)

Many of you may wonder why we decided to do a complete remodel all at once in lieu of a room by room reno. The first answer is that we had set aside a budget to renovate knowing that we were buying a house “as-is” that needed basic work done before moving in. Second we had set aside enough dough to overlap living in our apartment and house by one month. We stupidly thought this would be enough time to revive 1508 and bring it up to general living standards. Third, we were just plain overeager :)
So as you have seen from pictures, we managed to finish this to-do list and move on to the more exciting projects. As of today, this is where we stand with our ever expanding list:

  • Finish front Fence
  • Build front gate (something temporary to match fence?)
  • Paint Bedroom Door
  • Install wood floor in Master Bedroom
  • Base Bedroom
  • Paint Bedroom Base
  • Install new Middle Bedroom Closet doors (need to buy new ones currently missing parts)
  • Shave off bottom of back bedroom doors (they don’t clear the carpet)
  • Finish back bedroom (hang pictures/furniture)
  • Install sliding racks in kitchen cabinets
  • Organize office (finish COMM setup in closet)
  • Waterproof upstairs deck
  • Build Wood deck on garage roof
  • Fix wood railing on upstairs deck (all new pattern?)
  • Build-out frontyard BBQ
  • Build front yard Fire pit and counter/pull up bar
  • Pave BBQ/Firepit area
  • Build Pergola
  • Take down dead nectarine tree
  • Buy water fountain
  • Finish fencing along side of house
  • Build side gate
  • Clean out garage (probably during summer to avoid rains)
  • Re-finish garage floor
  • Drywall and finish garage walls
  • Build garage cabinets and shelving
  • New kitchen cabinet doors
  • New night stands (Rocky/ build during wood shop?)
  • Organize piles in middle bedroom
  • Organize linen closet
  • Set up work out/hobby room in middle bedroom
  • Demo downstairs bathroom
  • Re-do downstairs bathroom plumbing (fix shower/tub)
  • Assemble new downstairs bathroom (new tub, sink, vanity and toilet)
  • Tile and finish down stairs bathroom (stone, paint and lighting)
  • Demo upstairs bathroom
  • Re-do upstairs bathroom plumbing (relocate toilet, and second vanity)
  • Assemble new upstairs bathroom (new tub?, sink, vanities and toilet)
  • Tile and finish upstairs bathroom (stone, paint and lighting)
  • Hang Pictures throughout house
  • Install Cat Door to garage
  • Plant planters for privacy on roof deck
  • Decorate roof deck
  • Clean up backyard
  • Build raised vegetable garden
  • Build new railing for back door stoop
  • Paint Guest Bedroom a color
  • Provide moulding around all interior windows

These are some of the major projects we have been tossing back in forth for the last year. We have made progress on a few, they just don’t merit full strike through’s yet :) Hopefully we will get to them all one day.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Life Under Construction

It is about time that I share a few “In Progress” photos with all of you! As I walk around our house shooting mediocre pictures ( throwing piles of laundry, dirty dishes and the like out of sight) I realize that our house is never in a state that is “perfect” for picture taking. The reality is that we Live in our house. We like to cook (A lot), we have a filthy little creature who likes to roll in the dirt/cement piles and track it back into the house and we spend a lot of time working on “projects”. So with no further ado, or excuses I will show you the current state of 1508.

The Family room:

Family Room

Who am I kidding…plenty of more excuses to come…Here is my 8 year old Zgallerie ottoman ( in desperate need of slip covering). I keep saying I will take a sewing class and make the ottoman slip cover my project. With work, woodshop, renovating and the occasional relaxing I think we are going to have to live with the beat up ottoman for a while longer.

Across from the Couch

The walnut credenza on the right was my First major woodshop undertaking. I designed it based on a lot of my favorite mid century furniture. The only thing missing are the two sliders that will hide the right and left compartments. I have a habit of finishing things to 95% . Andy will be happy when I finally complete this piece and prove I can finish a project. I will be happy to hide the Wii fit boards and yoga mat :)

Looking Towards the kitchen

Another piece of furniture near and dear to my heart is this stainless steel table dinner. I welded up the frame with my dad and bought a remnant piece of travertine for the top.

Now looking the other way towards the front door:

Looking towards Front Door

Now for the kitchen:


The stove:

The Stove - F.W.Bertazonni I love you!

The laundry Room:

Laundry Room and Downstair Bathroom

Can you see me trying to hide in the photo…hehehe… I should probably start learning photoshop :)

To finish off the downstairs we will take a quick peak in the office. Prepare yourself for a complete disaster…

One day this will be cool...not today

How amazing would it be to have a charcol accent wall behind my flea market find London Bridge painting?! Oh…and to have the DIY plumbing pipe shelf finished and organized…a girl can dream!


On to the upstairs:

Upstairs Hallway

One day when I take the time to print pictures from our recent Southeast Asian excursion this picture wall will grow. Moving on into our Bedroom:

Master Bedroom

Currently working on convincing Andy that a patterned duvet might be a nice change from our three year old white one…No luck yet, and duvet’s are SO expensive! Maybe I can work in some new pillow shams :)

Antique Table

As I said, we “Live” in our house ( proof above on the nightstand)…

Looking from our bed towards the windows

Off our room is the giant rooftop patio that is in need of some TLC. Once we finished the downstairs we are moving on to this outdoor space. I want a Jamie Durie style outdoor room up here :)

Roof Deck

So many plans for this space…never enough time or money!

Fancy railing shot and the tree that provides us with an amazing amount of privacy

Back into the house we have the middle bedroom to show off:

Middle Bedroom

Middle Bedroom

So… this bedroom was supposed to be our “workout” room…hahaha…ever since our move in November it has turned into a complete dumping ground for everything and anything that needs a home. I tell myself every week that I am going to take the time to organize this space. Install a “california closests” type closet organizer so I can find everything a home…Instead we shut the door and hope that our minions show up to clean our mess. No minions yet, so the mess continues to grow!

On to the guest bedroom:

Guest Bedroom

Guest Room - Hodge Podge

And finally the upstairs bathroom:

Upstairs Bathroom

I admit that the bathroom is not “that bad”… It is just that it is not us. One day I will follow through with my grand plans in here, in the meantime I will keep trying not to drop my hair dryer in the sink!

So friends, that is it! An overall inside 1508 house tour. I hope you enjoyed and I can’t wait to show you what it morphs into. Please feel free to comment on the good, the bad and the ugly…Any organizational home office advice would be greatly appreciated.

BTW - I am working on getting myself one of those fancy Nikon/Cannon cameras…until I save up enough pennies please keep putting up with my “medicore” photos.

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Springing to the Nursery!

After a couple tough work weeks and a fair amount of rain we stepped out into our neglected garden on a Saturday morning to assess the damage…Despite needing a bit of a scrub, pruning and some TLC it was clear that our garden was springing back to life. Perfect timing since we are almost ready for summer BBQ season. Here are a few pictures from the garden this weekend:

Front of Garden


Front Yard - Looking towards the street

If you were reading the Evolution of the Fence post then you now have a peak at our much needed privacy fence.

Can you Imagine a long outdoor table for weekend brunches/dinners! I can, now I have to find one :)

Now for a closeup:

Lime Tree... Or not... That is at least what the tag said, then the tree started growing oranges...

Pretty red <3 leaves finally showing up after a long winter

And now for the grand finale… My amazing lemon tree that has come back to bear wonderfully sweet Meyer lemons. When we bought the house 2 years ago this poor tree was so sick and had the worst tasting fruit. I am happy to say that it has sprung fully back and is supplying myself, family, friends and coworkers with a limitless lemon supply:

Lemon Tree

Lemonade anyone!

After working around the yard I decided it was time for a break, a little outdoor shopping was in order. So off to the nursery we went. The sad truth is that I have a bit of a brown (sometimes black) thumb. The only two plants I consistently can keep alive are orchids and succulents. So I am sure you can understand why I immediately fell in love with these succulent pots! How great would they be on my non-existent outdoor dinner table. Or on my other non-existent coffee table by the soon to be fire pit.

The beauty of these plants is that they only need water once every few weeks to a month and they can be planted in shallow soil. They are by far the heartiest plants I have ever dealt with and I personally love the array of color and texture you can find. I was ready to grab that first pot off the table to take it home when I glanced at the price tag of $340.00… Are you kidding me, for a bowl of plants! So I snapped a few pictures and decided to store this one in the memory banks for the day I have an outdoor table to put them on. For now I will enjoy these photos as inspiration!

I think the family member most excited about the garden was our little “creature” Nipo… Here she is basking in the filth/sun.


Eating our Plants…

Pissed off to be back inside:

Trying to Escape.

Are any of my 4 confirmed readers working on their yards/patios/balconies/houseplants?

Posted in Outdoors | 8 Comments

To say our house needed a little bit of a facelift when we bought it is kind of the understatement of the century…

Curb Appeal – Day 1


Where do I start… Let’s see, if you focus your attention on the left side of the garage notice exhibit A – missing address numbers. Speaking of the garage, do you see the massive dent between the first and second panel…Exhibit B – wrought iron gate – rusted, chipped, corroded and just plane ugly! Exhibit C – The monstrosity we assume was meant to be an enclosed patio – we are pretty sure someone was squatting up there with the hornet’s nest and green shag carpet.

First things first, we decided Exhibit C was not only the ugliest thing we had ever seen but posed major safety risks. I could spend a week writing about the countless trips to the city, engineering of a new balcony, ripping down Exhibit C and finally installing new railing…but I will save those put you to sleep details for another day. Long story short, it had to come down and we needed to replace it with a new balcony railing that met the 42″ height requirement for residential deck railing.

Next we thought it would be nice to provide friends and family with a ledgible and complete address. This served two purposes – One, we no longer recieved the “where the heck is your house, I am standing in front of a place that can’t be it, but the GPS says we are here?” phone calls? Second we were able to avoid the awkward pause when we told them, ” No, the GPS is right, come on in!”

After about two months we achieved the first two goals and the house looked a little like this.

Curb Appeal - Day 60-90

Can I just take a moment to highlight Andy’s much loved truck in this picture. Yes, much to my dismay the “Beast” is in a few shots. The 89′ Range Rover with 2005 Chevy block is the loudest truck I never wanted to be associated with. I have grown with time to appreciate the “Beast’s” many qualities and admit that I drive it occasionaly (usually a lot of kicking, screaming, and you owe me a litter box cleaning is associated with this task). Oh and when we are feeling particularly fond of him we skip the moniker Beast and call him “Sue” ( Yes  – A Boy Named Sue!).

Enough about the Beast and back to the house… You can see in this picture we had already ripped down the “patio cover”, recycled the wrought iron gate and painted the exterior of the house a nice tan color (Dunn Edwards Desert Grey). The balcony railing is made of steel tubes with stained douglas firs planks running between posts. I am lucky enough to have a welder for a dad so I turned the railing fabrication and installation into a father daughter bonding experience. Never to old to enjoy time with Dad! We even have our new citrus trees peaking over the block wall in the picture.

Once we finished up the balcony railing we altogether stopped working on the exterior of the house. We knew the minute we moved in that the lack of privacy was not going to work. This tiny little front/side yard of ours was the only outdoor space we had and anyone walking or driving down the street could stare right into our yard and family room windows.

Front Yard Looking towards the street

 So we decided a new fence was in order. Initially I wanted to knock down the ugly block wall and replace it with a new tall fence. After doing a little research I realized that the block wall currently sits on our property line and is “grandfathered” in the way it stands. What that means is that If I were to knock it down and build a new fence then I would have to abide by the current building code and build it at least 7′  from the property line. That would be almost 2o0 SF of lost yard… No Way! The other thing I found out by doing a little research is that the maximum fence height is 6 feet tall. Anything higher and you risk the fire department forcing you to tear it down.

If you are ever going to fence in your property, make sure to check local rules regarding fence height and setback requirements before investing any time or money.

Back to our fence…the decision was made! We couldn’t wait to get started! Excitement deflated like a popped balloon when we realized how much outdoor wood like teak and Ipe cost! We could practically buy a small used car for the cost of fencing in our yard :( This option was not acceptable, so we came up with a low budget approach. We decided to buy Home Depot cedar fence boards ( $1.72 a board). We then used an inspiration picture to come up with a horizontal fencing that would compliment the roof deck railing and still look modern and provide privacy. What we ended up with was something that looked like this: 

Front of House with new Fence

What I love about this picture is that there is the single unstained wood deck railing plank screaming to be finished. Oh and yes, the “turkish bazaar” lights really area precariously hanging off of metal rods that are attached to the wood fence! May I take this moment to state that this is a “Progress” photo… Overall we were quite happy with the new fence and added privacy. For an overall cost under $300 we felt that it really made an impact without breaking the bank. We both agreed that it would really feel complete if we could add planter boxes one day… Much to my excitment I arrived home one night from work to find Andy building these:

Planter Box

So I decided to help!

By the end of the night it looked like this…

Planter Boxes

There is still much to be done to give this house the facelift it deserves, but we definitely feel it has come a long way from an ugly duckling to a B list (okay, C list) actor.

For now we need to buy up a bunch of low maintenance succulents to fill the planter boxes, build a front gate that matches the fence and figure out if there is any way to hide the old stained block wall. If anyone out there has ideas how I might rehabilitate the old wall or turn this place into at least a B list actor I would love to hear it!

Posted on by Rocky | 4 Comments

1508 Before…..

1508...and Andy

I may have already scared anyone willing to read this blog away by posting the picture of Andy looking crazy with his “gas” mask on and ant spray in hand. I may also be revealing too much of the exterior for the 3rd post. 

By many standards our house isn’t anything special. It is a 2 story 1330 SF house built in 1964 in a suburb of Los Angeles. There are 4 small bedrooms and 2 full baths. In order to avoid major structural changes (i.e. lots of time and cost) we are working with the existing layout. Our goal is to make this small house feel as open and inviting as possible. Here is the layout:






No time like the present to break out the before/progress pics. Here is a basic look into the house… BEFORE

Kitchen photos before and at the beginning of demolition!

Kitchen Demo - 2 days after closing escrow

Kitchen Demo earlier in the day

Loving those Navy Blue ceilings...thank goodness paint is cheap!

Downstairs Landing Before

Looking up Stairs Before

Dining and Family Room after removing the mirror panels flanking the kitchen entry…

Dining Room after removing wood floors and mirror panels... 1 week into renovation


Family Room Before - Week 1 - We needed to call in the big guns to help rip up the termite damaged wood floors!

Family Room - Week 3 - Freshly Primed

Exterior Before…

Exterior Before... sorry about the picture quality on this one... I scanned it in from a hardcopy

Garden - Everything we found in the crawl space underneath the house

Front Yard Before - After ripping down the "patio cover"

Exterior - Week 3 - Still going strong!

The exciting part of this day was that we actually “Found” that front window once we ripped down the “patio cover”. Up until then we assumed the master bedroom only had one window. We decided that the original owner must have liked the “I live in a cave” feel and embraced a dimly lit cramped room…Yay for our amazingly free upgrade…time to order another window!

So that is about the best of the best for my Before photos. Sadly we did not take any good pictures of the upstairs bedrooms. They were about as filthy and dreary as the downstairs, just add a few layers of wall paper (what a nightmare!).

Now I bet you are wondering what it looked like before the renters moved in… Here are a few sneak peaks. I will add another marathon post of our current “moved in progress” state later

Pre Renter After Renovation…

Kitchen After

Stair Landing After

Stairs After

Exterior AfterDining and Family Room After

So there it is…6 months later… a lot of sweat… a little blood…One Renovated Home! Stay tuned…
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