01 March 2015

and so it begins. again.

well, we certainly had a bit of a break, didn't we?

not much has happened on the house front in quite some time but we're *finally* getting started with a huge project that we anticipated from day one: replacing the foundation of our very old house.

it's been a long time coming, and has involved years of sketches and planning and interviewing, but we've finally broken ground this week. for those of you most interested in interior design, new updates to this blog may be a bit of a bore. but for those of you who are interested in what it takes to replace a failing brick-and-mortar foundation set on a sandy ex-creek bed in the middle of a very busy city, well, stay tuned!

a bit of background... when we bought the building in 2009, g and i knew that we'd eventually have to get around to this work. it was obvious, inside and out, that we had a bit of a situation.

before getting started

from the outside, you could see that the bays, each two stories high and over 30 feet tall, were sagging away from the center of the house. on the inside, you can both see and feel the effect of the foundation sagging on both sides. g and i have both become accustomed to the unusual experience of sleeping with our toes above our heads due to the sag along the outer walls in both units.

so, when the time was right, we started working with a structural engineer on plans to replace the foundation - and to add a garage while we are at it. this took much longer than expected due to san francisco's tedious approval and permitting process (for example, they approved the removal of both concrete retaining walls but would not approve the removal of the ficus tree that grew on top of the one on the left?!) and because we had to make some concessions due to our proximity to the uphill neighbor's above-grade brick foundation (we won't be able to excavate to the property line and have a garage as big as the house's footprint).

when the dust settled on our plans, and permits were finally issued, we started with removing the trees from the front of the house. it is always a sad thing to see mature trees removed, especially in an urban environment which is already starved for them, but we had to do it. one would prevent us from accessing the site and the other was a risk to both the current and future foundations.

the (very sunny!) day after the trees came down

while it is was sad, i have to admit that it is quite nice to finally see all of the beautiful victorian features of the house without obstructions. i still love it very much and am excited that we get to care for this amazing place so it will last, hopefully, at least another 100+ years.

that being said, with the trees gone, the problem with the foundation is even more obvious when viewed dead-on. you can see in the photo above that the sag is particularly bad on the left. in the dining room, there is about a 5-inch slope from the interior wall to the outside wall. makes for interesting post-dinner moments when everyone feels they maybe had too-too much local wine to drink!

here's what we intend it to look like when finished.

plans for the exterior

the paper was a bit wobbly, so please try to imagine that everything is finally level! you'll note that both retaining walls are gone in the bottom/ "after" sketch, and that we'll have a carriage style garage door on the right. on the left, we'd planned on victorian style wrought iron railing but, with all of the wonderful sun we now get, we're leaning towards a low- or no-water garden that everyone can enjoy.

and now for the fun stuff: set-up and demolition. on tuesday morning, our awesome contractor (eugene of oak leaf construction) came by with some of his crew to get the prep work started. sadly, my favorite member of the oak leaf team, tipper, was unavailable that day...

our foreman, tipper, on another job

we started with taping construction paper down on all of our floors on the lower level of the building. this was a much bigger undertaking than i'd thought - it took over 4 hours just to finish up in my unit. as a reminder, our floors are gorgeous wide-plank old-growth douglas fir. the problem is that these are actually the original sub-floors for the house - at some point the oak floors that were installed above them were removed in favor of plywood and carpet.

floors and long-gone paint job, pendant

as we'll be excavating tons, literally, of sand from below the house, the likelihood of it blowing up through the floors is high. so here are our *fancy* new floors...

beautiful new pink paper floors

i also spent a while taping up the bottom bay window with a heavy plastic drop cloth to keep sand from blowing through my 100+ year old, no-longer-square sashes.

lovely new window coverings to match

and then we were ready to frame out the construction site on wednesday, and start the demo on thursday. here's a look...

framing the site so no one can access on off-hours

closed for the night!

after the site was secured, they removed the siding below the bay on the right and found a WONDERFUL surprise. there is no foundation at all under our enormous two-story bays. whomever build the house ran a brick foundation around some of the perimeter but decided to build the bays right on top of the sand with no actual support! the guys doing the work said they'd never seen anything like it - yay for us!? 

at least this is a good explanation for why we've seen so much settling, even in our short time here.

once they'd built a temporary support for the bay, they were able to start removing the concrete retaining wall. ah the dulcet sounds of a jackhammer at 8AM on a friday morning...

a slow and tough business

by the end of the day on friday, the guys had removed the front of the retaining wall and started trucking out the sand by hand. this has to be done with extreme care, especially at first, to make sure we don't destabilize our building or either of our neighbors'. just the excavation portion of the project is slated to take about 2 months. 

so, one week down, and SIX TO NINE MONTHS left to go! please keep your fingers crossed and wish us well!

the incomparable bill withers - he's been on repeat in my house of late

26 May 2012

collect. that. check.

so, here i am. saturday. long weekend. sitting on the couch, WORKING. this, my friends, sucks hard.

i was taking a short internets-shopping break and realized that, while all of my pillows are piled high on a chair and my kombucha bottle is front and center, the room looks kinda nice. finally.

one of these days i will get around to a photo tour of this room but, in the mean time, here's a snapshot. courtesy of my life that currently totally blows.

hope you're having a better holiday weekend than i!

jen x

to ms. summer: you were one heck of a lady. may you rest in peace under that big disco ball in the sky.

16 April 2012

my (office) shame.

well, i think i've pretty much shied away from giving y'all a look at my home office for the past 3 years. out of shame.

it still confounds me. look at this mess. and the boxes behind me aren't any prettier. but when i'm done with my work day i sort of just want to run downstairs. you know?

so tell me, what would you do to make this room better? (you know, other than starting completely from scratch.)

"i have one thing to say... sashay, chante!"

03 April 2012

turn on your heartlight!

master bedroom

bet that title brings back some memories, huh? well, if you're as old as i am that is. how many times did you see e.t. in the theaters?

i'm in the process of gathering up a few new lights to put up in ye ole house and thought it might be fun to pull some pictures together so you can see all of the fixtures together. i get SO MANY nice comments/ compliments from visitors, first-timers and repeaters, about my "collection".

what do you think?

entry hall
(it doesn't look this creepy usually! not sure where that red glow is coming from.)

dining room

family room

family room

home office

soon to be in the guest bedroom

and two of these soon to make their debut in the kitchen

and, now, sing along with me and neil. :)

02 April 2012

easy peasy lemon squeezy lighting project.

lighting pwn!

so cute, right? i can't thank nicole at parlour enough for inspiring me to make this adorable pendant light!

it was about as easy as it gets - and super cheap too. here's what you need if you want one yourself. gather up:

1. single light pendant (like this one at home depot)
2. paper lantern - i used the 20" version from pier 1
3. coffee filters. i used about 600 for mine. you can get them on the cheap at amazon
4. your trusty glue gun and lots of glue sticks. i hadn't used mine since my sorority days - brought back some memories, i tell ya! (" i am a sigma kappa girl, sigma girl. i wear a pin of gold and pearls, gold and pearls...")

and then you just start gluing. and gluing. and gluing. put a dab on the bottom of each filter like so:

and place the dots of glue veryclosetogether, like this:

about half way...

and DONE!

now i just have to call my electrician. AGAIN. i'll post a photo when it's up in the guest room. until then, back to the dreaded kitchen cabinets...

01 April 2012

kitchen update.

nothing much to say, but here's a preview of what the kitchen might look like when it is done. (and please ignore the command strips holding the bin pull in place - i was still figuring out where i wanted it! classy as always...)

30 March 2012

um... YES!

i have been on the hunt for the right lighting for my guest room for a LOOOOONG time now. it's the only room left with one of those boob lamps that were *everywhere* in the house. and, my dear readers, all of you know how much i love a sassy light fixture!

here's what the guest bedroom looks like now. i love it, except for that ding-dang light!

so yesterday, as i was surfing some of my favorite site and following all kinds of links, i found this.
nichole at parlor: you. complete. me. (see more of her lovely dining room and this project here.)

i think a big, fluffy cloud is just what the guest bedroom needs. so, off to pier 1 i go for a paper lantern and then safeway for 1000 coffee filters... (yes, i DO love to torture myself.)

and here's one of my favorite tracks from my college days to celebrate. wheeeee!

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