In this blog I will do my best to describe the process I went through in turning my 1957 Ranch-style house into a 2006 Craftsman house as inspired by the Gamble House in Pasadena. Please feel free to comment on anything I write and ask questions as it is the only way we learn.

Note: Since completion of the house I have also decided to allow guest bloggers to post articles related to remodeling. This continues the education process.


TIMELINE
Architect Selection - December 2002 through January 2003
Getting a Permit - January 2003 through November 2004
Construction - November 2004 through September 2006
Post Construction - October 2006 through ???



Adding a Barbecue Island

After living in the house a few months, we decided that our portable barbecue wasn't going to hack it. We also had a concern that the side of our deck dropped off and wasn't safe for people. The result is we built in an extension off the house at the edge of the patio to house a barbecue, ice chest, double burner, three drawers, power, and trash can.

The block was built just off the house. We tied it in using the stone veneer to make it look like one wall.

Barbecue island block wall gets built The stone veneer of the house will blend into the barbecue island


The structure was framed out with aluminum studs. The dark green posts are steel.

Barbecue island structure framed out in aluminum and steel Hardibacker board on barbecue island

The gas line was run in from under the house.

Natural gas to barbecue island comes from house

Golden Buckskin flagstone was used on the top to match the patio and the face is stone. It looks like the barbecue island was here all along.

Flagstone counter is set on barbecue island Appliances are installed in barbecue island
Ice chest and double burned are installed in barbecue island

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Garage Floor Upgraded with RaceDeck

Now that I am moved in, it's time to take care of some details. I want to be able to keep the the garage floor clean and dry but I wasn't crazy about the idea of putting epoxy paint on the floor. After a bit of research, I came across RaceDeck. This floor is used in showrooms and looks perfect for what I want it to do. I bought the Freeflow type as it allows water and dirt to fall through to the floor underneath. When I rarely need to clean it, I just vacuum the floor and everything below comes up.
The pieces snap together like a puzzle making it real fast and easy to complete. The hardest part was emptying and refilling my garage. The installation below took all of 2 hours.

RaceDeck installed in the garage

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Construction is Complete But Who Is The City Forester?

September 24th was the 2 year anniversary of when we broke ground!!!
• Most everything is done now and we are in the process of moving in. In this city, to get signed off, the City Forester must sign off the inspection report. He came over, pulled out his spray paint and put this circle 7 feet off the street in the middle of my front yard and said you will plant a 24" box, Japanese Cherry Tree a.k.a. Pink Cloud. Since this is in the City right of way, I am basically giving the city a gift per their direction. In my opinion, there are now too many trees in the front yard as it was perfectly balanced. Time will tell how it all fills out.


• Code states that glass doors must be put in all interior fireplaces. There is a fireplace store in town that rents doors for 30 days to get through inspection for just over $200. It's one of their standard services!!!

Temporary glass fireplace door


• All that is left to do is minor stuff; low voltage lighting, seal the fence and new gates, make the stained glass for the front door, kitchen, and entertainment center doors, etc.
• There is one more thing I forgot. We had the rear patio fireplace stone redone to get rid of the seam at the 45 degree bend in the wall. While that was accomplished, the rest of the stone was redone but not to my satisfaction. I'm going to redo the opening and face of the fireplace again.
• I am hoping to have the final pictures online by Thanksgiving. There are a lot and I still need to categorize and annotate them all.
And last but not least, there is a third child on the way that is due at the end of November. There is a struggle with my gym being turned into a baby's room. For now, we are going to share it as I will not give it up that easily and the baby will mostly be in our room for the next couple of years. Maybe by then I will have to remodel to add another room! Just kidding....you can put a fork in it because this house is done!!!

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Another Painting Lesson Learned, Stair Railing Being Refinished, Electrical Done, Pond Built

When will it end, you ask? Within a month is my latest prediction. Here's why:
• Skim-coated all walls in house in preparation for paint. Individual patching of blemishes was not working and we needed to overhaul all walls.

LESSON LEARNED: An eggshell finish is great for a house with kids but it's also great at pointing out every imperfection in the wall. If you don't have kids then definitely use a flat paint. We are using a flat paint for the ceilings.

• Painting is all that is left with the walls. Stefan is continuing and 3 more painters come in next week to finish the place out.
• The stair railing has been fit and will be sent out for refinishing.
• All data, phone, and cable has been hooked up and patch panels installed in garage.
• All exterior wall sconces installed.

Craftsman wall sconce with a peacock filigreeCraftsman wall sconce with an oak filigree

• Office is 100% complete.
• Backyard is fully powered.
• Pond is fully operational with fish, snails, and tadpoles.

This pond is about 600 gallons and contains fish and tadpoles.


• Spa is being filled.
• Trees have been ordered.
• Front pathway is complete.

Craftsman walkway in front yard made of stone.

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Painting Lesson Learned, Stairs Almost Done, Landscaping Going Well

No....not yet! I hate saying this as I haven't been right yet but I expect us to start moving in by mid-July.
• We are still painting rooms. Probably for another 3 weeks. The problem is that all wall and ceiling surfaces need to be skim-coated. My GC was trying to keep the costs down by spot patching the walls and in hindsight it looks like it ended up costing me quite a bit more because it takes forever to spot fix these walls with all of the wood trim everywhere.

A MAJOR Lesson Learned here is plaster the whole house or go in with the plan to skim coat over ALL drywall surfaces. The bottom line is drywall may be faster and cheaper if your building a bunch of condos but it ends up costing a lot more if you are trying to do a good quality job. About half of the screws popped out with all of the hammering due to woodwork finishing.
• Dave Barlow has finished the stairs and wainscoting and is now working on the staircase railing. After that, he should be done. He's been with us 1 year now, did all of the interior woodwork, and was only hired to do the stairs. Unbelievable!

The risers and treads fit together like a puzzle in this Craftsman staircase Ebony plugs in the Craftsman staircase siding


• Landscaping is going pretty well. The front driveway is complete, the front pathway is just about done, sprinkler valves are in, final grading and irrigation starts next week, and the waterfall/pond will finally start next week.

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Everybody is Working - Painting, Murals, Library, Stairs, Wainscot, Playhouse, Landscaping

Well it's mid May and I'm not moving in yet. It's quite frustrating and basically comes down to manpower. My new projection is the third week of June. I'm still taking pictures and will eventually get them loaded but I just can't seem to get in the mood to do it. Maybe I'm just lazy. Trust me though....the house is coming out so much better than I had hoped for and I will eventually get the pictures loaded. Once complete I will look into creating a searchable photo database to make it easy to find pictures you are interested in. Well here's this month's progress.
• We have a painter going room to room now. We had a muralist paint this big oak tree with animals in the kids' room.

Mural of an oak tree with animals in the girls' bedroom.

• We are almost finished laying all of the exterior flagstone around the house. The driveway will be poured this Saturday.
• The master closet is complete. Cedar-lined walls and American cherry cabinets.

Master closet lined in cedar with cherry cabinets

• The library is built. In fact, all cabinetry is complete and will be finished over the next few days.

Unfinished library cabinets with built-in Murphy bed. Library cabinets with Murphy bed

• The stair treads have been sent out for finishing. Dave is starting on the wainscot in the bathrooms and the newell posts for the stairs.

Mahogany, bathroom wainscot being installed

• A playhouse was built in the backyard. We used the leftover shingles for siding, shingles for the roof, Brazilian Cherry and limestone for the floors. Scaled down rafters were carved. It looks awesome!

Craftsman playhouse made from leftover materials

• The waterfall and pond construction will start any day now.
• I had almost half of the exterior stone siding removed and replaced by a new stone guy. My first guy is great at ceramic tile but not so when it came to stone.
• I almost forgot....For the past four months, Matt Keyes of Keyes Landscape Design has been implementing the landscape design. It is amazing! So far we have 18 tons of boulders and need another 6 tons. I believe the landscaping will actually finish before the house now. There is a consistent group of guys that work 6 days a week, 8-10 hours a day. They are really good and fast!

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Retaining Wall and Fireplace Mantel Complete, Upstairs Painting, Historic Lighting

• The North retaining wall is complete.
• The master bedroom fireplace mantle is complete.

Master bedroom Craftsman, mahogany fireplace mantel


• The painters are starting upstairs tomorrow. They have a lot of sanding to do.
• Su Bacon of Historic Lighting is coming out tomorrow to see the house and advise on entry and stairway chandeliers I'm purchasing from her. They are designed by the craftsman Karl Berry from New York. Su has been a consultant on many big projects. When we went into her Arcadia store, we found out that she was consulted for lighting on the TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I told her about the living room fireplace we were creating based on a picture I saw in a magazine. She knew it well as she was the designer. How cool is that!
• My updated guess on a move-in date is mid May.

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Stairwell Wainscot, Concrete Poured, Work Stopped, Gone Surfing

I received a letter from the City stating that the permit will expire on May 12. At least we now have a target date. I would still like to shoot for final inspection by May 1st.
• We are laying out the stairwell wainscoting. It will be Honduran Mahogany with 6 distinct layers to give it a depth effect. Just wait and see...
• Drainage was put in on the North side of the house.
• Concrete was poured on the North side so we can now build the block wall for the planter.
• Two carpenters and the electrician are surfing and camping at Big Sur for the last two days. My GC is sick with food poisoning and Dave, the finish carpenter is on another job for 2 days. In other words, NO WORK FOR THE LAST 2 DAYS IN THE HOUSE. How in the world will we finish in time when things like this happen?
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Gamble House Lights, Floor Issue, Fireplaces, Ebony Plugs, Kitchen Tile

I have finally caught up with the pictures! I have been taking more than I could annotate and finally caught up today. I am adding about another 500 pictures from the last few months. So let me give you all the rundown.
• I created the stained glass for the light in the December 18th blog post only to find out that half of them were too small. After another week of stained glass work, I finished and my fingertips were raw. I brought the glass panels to Old California Lantern Company for installation and received the lights about 2 weeks ago. They are absolutely stunning!

Gamble House replica light with my own stained glass


• The floors are installed. Lesson learned - make sure the installers verify that the door still opens before the whole thing is laid!!!
• The kitchen, laundry room, and master bathroom American cherry cabinets have been stained with Jel'd Stain Red Mahogany by Wood Kote.

The kitchen cabinets were stained with Jel'd Stain Red Mahogany.

• The walk-in closet cabinets are almost complete.
The walk-in closet cabinets are almost complete


• The master bedroom fireplace is covered with a beautiful Batchelder tile from Mission Tile West in Santa Monica.

Master bedroom fireplace covered in Batchelder tile.

• The living room entertainment center is built and ready for finishing.
The unfinished entertatinment center is ready for stain.


• Dave Barlow is installing the ebony plugs in the scarf joints around the house.



• The living room fireplace is having Moonlight flagstone installed right now. It's a very slow process as each piece is being chiseled to the right dimensions. Look on the left part of the mantel and you can see my sugar cube mockup of the stone corner. I made this to make sure they understood how I wanted the 45-degree angles handled.

The Moonlight flagstone is being installed on the living room fireplace.

• The appliances will be installed tomorrow.
• Clear-coating of the mahogany will start in about 2 weeks followed by painting the walls and ceiling.
• Glass tile from Mission Tile West has been installed in the kitchen. It looks amazing!

Glass tile installed in the Craftsman kitchen.

Well, I'm going to start uploading the pictures now and then I'm off to Kauai for my 40th birthday.

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Wall Sconce Stained Glass, Wood Floors Being Installed

Yes, I'm delinquent with the update again.There are a lot more pictures that I haven't had a chance to put on the site yet so keep checking back. A lot is going on around here.
• I'm really busy now creating the stained glass for some authentic Gamble House reproductions. The stained glass will be different and my own design. I'll tie that into the front door window whenever I get around to it. Go to Old California Lantern Company to see the best Arts & Crafts lanterns. I went in there and 3 1/2 hours later I outfitted my entire house.



• The hardwood floors are being installed right now. It is long-length (8'-16'), quarter-sawn, 5"-wide, Brazilian Cherry. We are having a slight bevel put between the planks to give it an older look. The floor will be stained black, sanded, and then stained with a green dye to subdue the bright reds associated with Brazilian cherry.

Brazilian cherry floor installed in office

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Next Page

Be sure to browse the 2,000 picture Photo Gallery for more step-by-step construction details.