We were so fortunate to find this gem, a 1936 Spanish hacienda home in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach. This was a smaller home in a very expensive neighborhood. It had a large corner lot and great bones, but we had our work cut out for us.
In 1884 Jotham Bixby, owner of Rancho Los Cerritos, sold 4000 acres of his rancho to what would soon be called Long Beach. The city was incorporated in 1887.
Spanish homes of this era had clay roofs, archways, hardwood floors, and courtyards. Our home was no exception. It was in disrepair and very overgrown, but it wasn’t hard to see the beauty that was underneath.
The original floor plan needed very few revisions. The only changes we made were closing off a door leading from the living room to a bedroom, and taking out a small closet in the master bath to increase the size of the shower.
The entry to the home was through the courtyard. The living room was large and had a beautiful fireplace and the original large windows and wood moldings. The only thing we decided to add were wooden beams on the ceiling. We also wanted to leave the formal dining room as it was. The kitchen had a gorgeous coved ceiling and an adjoining breakfast nook. The breakfast nook had built in shelving and a door leading to the courtyard.
The kitchen was a total gut. We installed rough hewn wooden cabinets, black quartz countertop, farmhouse sink, and a blue clay tile backsplash with a random star pattern. The floors in this kitchen and courtyard just called out for Saltillo tile. This house would have had Saltillo tile when it was built, as it was a very common material due to it’s coolness and ease of care. However, when the tile was laid Tina thought it would be too dark after sealing and would blend with the cabinets too much, so Jessie decided that white washing the tile was the way to go. That was a small change but made all the difference.
The Saltillo was also laid in the courtyard, on the steps and the front porch – and was just what it needed!
Other original features of the home were the built-in telephone nook, the windows and the moldings.
The hall bath had the original vanity, tub and sink, all of which we restored. The original tile in the hall bath couldn’t be saved, but we wanted to honor the triangle pattern by using a similar pattern on the shower walls.
We also used a triangle pattern tile in the master bath. Since the master bath was fairly small and dark, we doubled the size of the door by opening it up and hanging two barn doors. Making the opening larger made the bathroom feel larger and lighter.
Next we moved to the outside, and needed some inspiration for the paint colors. What better place to go than Rancho Los Cerritos! The Bixby family home still stands and is now a public museum owned by the city and dedicated to the history of the Rancho and the surrounding area. Tina and Jessie visited the Rancho with the boys and took inspiration from the colors. They decided to paint the home in similar colors, cream for the body with green for the trim.
Once the overgrown plants were removed it became clear what was needed to finish off this amazing home. We landscaped the front yard with decomposed granite, grass, bougainvillea, cacti and succulents. In the back yard we were hoping to save the in-ground spa. Jessie and Tina were distressed to discover that it had been filled with concrete and brick and couldn’t be saved. Instead it was concreted over and made into an inviting patio area.
This project was a labor of love. We couldn’t be happier with the results of the renovation and we know that the owners will be happy here for a very long time.
We really had our work cut out for us when webought this Victorian home in the beautiful college town of Redlands, California. For starters it was built in 1898, and we had never worked on a home of that advanced age. In addition, it was in very rough shape.The home had not been maintained over the years, there had been a fire in the attic, and it had a sagging kitchen floor, just for starters.
The house is 1800 square feet, but some of the rooms were small and disjointed. We decided to take the house down to the studs and create a floor plan that worked for today’s buyers. This meant opening the small parlor into the living room, making a more open space. We also created a real master suite upstairs, adding a bathroom and closet to the bedroom. The small upstairs hall bath was reconfigured to make it more usable. The final result was a 5 bedroom, 2 3/4 bath, amazing home.
One feature of the home that we really loved was the corner fireplace. This is very common in Victorian homes. There was no original mantle, so we decided to look for an antique mantle that would have been in the home originally. We were so fortunate to find the perfect mantle at Redlands Estate Sale and Consignments. The city of Redlands has so many great businesses, and we had fun discovering many of them during our time in the city. It was a challenge getting the antique mantle into the house. Luckily we had a large picture window on the front porch and it fit!
Tina’s other nods to the drama of Victorian design were the wallpaper that we installed in the living room, the green octagon tiles on the fireplace, the jewel tone backsplash in the kitchen, and the marble tile in the bathrooms. It is always her goal to stay true to the era of a home while making everything work for the modern lifestyle.
As mentioned above, when we took the walls down to the studs we discovered there had been a fire in the attic. The house had knob and tube wiring and there were many rats nests in the attic, which is an invitation for fire. Luckily the house was built of redwood, one of the hardest woods out there, so the fire only penetrated 1/4 inch in to the wood and didn’t cause the entire house to burn down. We were able to replace the burned wood, rewire the home, and continue our renovation.
The original hardwood floors were throughout the home, and we weren’t sure we could bring them back to life. But we worked our magic and the result was fabulous! Our first choice is always to restore the original hardwoods if possible.
What you didn’t see in the TV show was a visit from our friend the chimney sweep. We wanted to make sure the fireplace was safe for the new homeowner, so we had a fireplace inspector/chimney sweep come out to check it. Terry from A Quality Chimney Sweep came out to the house in his top hat and tails – just like in Mary Poppins! He cleaned and repaired the chimney and fireplace for us.
A Folk Victorian home gets it’s name from the fact that the homeowners over the years have added their own touches and embellishments to the exterior, trying to outdo their neighbors. This house was no exception. There was an intricate pattern in the fascia that was broken in places. We wanted to restore this, so Jessie used spray paint to duplicate the pattern before cutting out a new piece. It worked perfectly! Tina decided to use Gothic inspired paint colors for the exterior of the home, and to landscape with plants and flowers that you would have seen in the yard when the house was new.
A house that is 119 years old is bound to be full of surprises, and this house did not disappoint. When Jessie was on the bobcat in the backyard he discovered some old bottles, a pot, a coffeepot, a bell, a railroad tie, and a spoon. Tina cleaned these up and displayed them on the mantle. There also was an original chandelier that we were able to rewire, clean and put back in the home. The opportunity to restore items to their original place in our homes makes us so happy!
We got the opportunity to buy this 1918 Grove House in the city of Ontario from another investor. He started the project and was unable to finish it. It was a great house, but unfortunately we inherited a few of that investor’s problems. This was one of our largest home renovations to date with 1900 square feet, 4 bedrooms and 2 baths.
Ontario was settled by the Chaffey brothers, who came to California from Ontario, Canada. Easterners flocked to California in the early 20th century. The warm weather and ability to grow crops all year round was a real draw. Southern California had the perfect climate for growing citrus. There were lemon and orange groves all over the area, and this home was originally a farmhouse for the groves. It would have been the only house for miles around at the time it was built in 1918, surrounded by lush citrus trees as far as the eye could see.
The house is on the historic registry, thus we couldn’t make any changes to the floor plan. It still had many of the original features, such as the river rock planter on the front porch, coffered ceilings in the living room, and beautiful mahogany paneling and built-ins. It had a large kitchen and large dining room.
There wasn’t much demo to do on this house, but we had to make sure the house was up to code. We updated all electrical and had to reframe some of the walls. We had two major surprises, however. The foundation needed major repairs – new rebar, posts and concrete. This was an additional $10,000 we hadn’t planned on. Also, the city threw a wrench into our plans when they required us to gable the back roof that was over an upstairs addition. Another $5,000! This was adding up fast. Oh well, it’s only money. Right?
True to the period there was no master suite but we were lucky to have two bathrooms, one up and one down. The upstairs bath was huge and we wanted it to have a dramatic design. Tina chose black subway for the shower walls, dark green paint for the bathroom walls, and a mahogany vanity that had a double sink and was 72 inches wide. It was uncertain if the vanity would fit through the door at first, but it just squeaked through. Whew!
The kitchen was large, and we wanted it to have a traditional look. Because of this we used bead board cabinets, marble countertops, a farmhouse sink, and tin backsplash. Tin ceilings were everywhere in the early 1900s and now companies have adapted the tin and made it into backsplash material. This kitchen was unique, beautiful and true to the period. We were very proud of the final result.
Finish carpentry was very important in this house. We are proud of the talented crafts people that work for our company. From installing and adapting the vintage French doors in the living room, repairing and rebuilding some of the mahogany panels, refinishing the coffered ceilings, and giving the beautiful built-ins some tender loving care – they hit a home run!
On the exterior we decided to stay with the Americana theme. We painted the siding a navy blue, the trim a crisp white, and the corbels a beautiful red. In the porch planter we put red and white geraniums, and in the front yard azaleas, gardenias and camellias. Just like the plants the farmer’s wife would have lovingly tended in her yard back in the day.
This house will always be special to us because you got to see the day that our third beautiful boy, Max, came into the world. This is why we do what we do. In the end it is all about family! Not just our family but the families that will be living in the homes we renovate for many years to come, making their own beautiful memories. We are truly blessed.
This time we found an abandoned ranch home in West Covina that was built in 1952. It was just off the 10 freeway, and truly was one of the most run-down homes we had ever purchased, including peeling paint and water damage. The house was 1050 square feet, with three bedrooms and only one bathroom. The purchase price was $275,000. However, we saw a lot of potential in this home.
In southern California in the 1950s the freeways connected Los Angeles to the suburbs, marking the beginning of suburban living. As a result of remarkable expansion during the post World War II building boom, West Covina became one of the fastest-growing U.S. cities between 1950 and 1960. Everyone had a car and garages were very important, which is why builders starting building single story homes with attached garages. It truly was the beginning of the car culture, which remains today in southern California.
We thought we could have fun with the design on this house, using touches of car culture, especially after we discovered a stove that was left in the house. It was a 1950s O’Keefe and Merritt stove, De Ville edition, and had decorative features that looked like a hood ornament and speedometer. We decided to restore the stove and return it to the kitchen.
Other original items we wanted to return to the kitchen were the mid-century boomerang style cabinet pulls. They were in pretty rough condition, but we took them to Inland Powder Coating Corp. in Ontario. The pulls were sandblasted, taking them back to the bare metal, and then powder coated in a bright yellow that Tina chose. Very eye-catching!
This house only had one bathroom, and we strongly felt we needed two. We found the solution in the laundry room behind the kitchen. We sealed up the wall between this room and the kitchen, and opened the adjoining wall to the bedroom. We made this room a bathroom, thus creating a master suite. We then were able to take a hall closet and convert it to laundry space.
The other floor plan change we made was taking down the wall between the kitchen and dining area. This opened up the area and made it feel more spacious.
Tina originally wanted to use cement-look tile on the kitchen floor. This industrial look was very mid-century and also a nod to the car culture (aka a cement garage floor). However, upon further research she found that you could now buy Terrazzo tiles and that idea intrigued her. The tiles are much more cost-effective than the large poured Terrazzo floors that were common in the 1950s and 1960s. She also wanted to use metal strips between the tiles to join them, and the result was both unique and striking. We then installed modernistic flat panel cabinets with a quartz countertop that was also the backsplash, and with the yellow cabinet pulls the kitchen was complete!
We wanted to use the same upbeat style in the bathrooms! We used the 12×24 concrete-look tile on the floors and shower walls, laid in a stacked pattern. To add a bit of whimsey we laid penny-round tile in a bright colored accent racing stripe coming down the shower walls and across the floor to the doors.
To complete the inside we had the hardwood floors refinished and stained gray, giving the floors a true modern feel.
Designing the exterior of the home was just as fun as doing the interior. A custom milled front porch screen was designed and built by Jessie and our contractor Casey. The wood was layered in different sizes in order to help provide a sound barrier from the freeway noise. The front door is a modern design painted yellow, which gives the front of the house a true pop of color.
The backyard had an old travel trailer, which we needed to pull out. It was a bit of an adventure getting it out, and Tina was a little nervous about it fitting without hitting the house. However, it made it out and Jessie and the boys had a blast washing it out front. He thought it would be fun to turn it into a mobile coffee shop, but that plan is still up for discussion.
The modern landscape and horizontal fencing completed the mid-century look of this home. We really did have a fun time on this one!
We were very excited at the opportunity to purchase another home in the city of Upland, Tina’s hometown. This time it was a mid-century modern home, built in 1959. This renovation promised to be both an adventure and a lot of fun!
The home had been built by the previous homeowner. It is rare that we are able to buy a home and be only the second owners! We had the privilege of meeting the homeowner’s children, and they told us that their dad’s building of this home was a true labor of love.
True to mid-century design, the house had a flat roof, vertical board and batten, large front door with a glass sidelight, hardwood floors, a vaulted ceiling with beams in the living room, a geometric fireplace, built in bookcases, and large windows that brought the outdoors in. We wanted to honor these features, while also bringing a 2017 sensibility to the home so that it would appeal to today’s buyers.
We made very few changes to the floor plan. We took down the accordion doors between the living room and kitchen and enlarged the opening, making each room flow right into the next. We also squared off the wall in the master bath and removed a closet, making the bathroom and shower much larger.
The living room had a fireplace with a very geometric shape that we wanted to keep. The travertine tile that was on it was not true to the era, so we replaced it with a combination of geometric tile (laid randomly) and a textured plaster. The bookcases on either side of the fireplace were painted white, the beams on the ceiling were painted charcoal gray, an accent wall was painted teal, the ceiling and other walls were painted white – and the result was breathtaking!
The kitchen needed to be completely gutted, as none of the cabinets were able to be saved. We took out the peninsula and soffit to further open the area. Tina found flat panel wood grain doors for the lower cabinets, to mimic the previous cabinets, and white doors for the uppers. A white tile floor, with a blue and white 3-D tile backsplash, finished off a perfect kitchen.
Squaring the wall in the master bath and taking out the linen closet made such a difference. The bathroom and walk-in shower were greatly enlarged. Because there was no window in this bathroom we wanted to use light colored tile, and found some beautiful geometric tile that reminded us of the original. Also the original light in the room was amazing! It consisted of four cut glass rectangular pieces on a light bar. Unfortunately the light bar broke when it was being taken down, and we were so sad. Luckily we have a friend, Rob Lewbel, who owns Moonshine Lamp Co in Claremont. Jessie took the glass pieces to Rob and he was able to make a new light bar for the glass pieces to attach to. The result was perfect and provided a lot of light in the room!
The hall bath was roomy and just needed new tile, paint, vanity and mirror.
Moving on to the floors, we hoped that the laminate that was laid over the hardwoods in the living room could be successfully removed and the hardwood floors restored. Once again we were able to patch, sand and stain the original floors in the entire home, and they were gorgeous!
Outside we wanted to give the home a little more interest, so we removed some of the board and batten and installed horizontal tongue and groove siding. With a paint scheme of light gray and white with charcoal trim, the house had just what it needed. A final touch was the beautiful large front door. It needed a pop of color and the perfect shade of tangerine was it!
Modern landscape is defined by strong elements, clean lines and unusual materials. In our front yard we wanted to incorporate all of this, and used a combination of grass, gravel, pebbles and native plants. We already had the curved sidewalk pavers, and the space between them was perfect for the pebbles. We couldn’t be happier with the exterior of this home.
Time to stage! The previous homeowners left us many period pieces which we used in our staging. Mid-century homes call for lots of color, and we were able to add color with our furniture and accessories. The house looked amazing – a real showstopper!