Monday, January 10, 2011

Life Changes

I had and made some huge life changes in the past 2 years, I lost my mother, 2 aunts and an uncle, as well as did much downsizing in that time from my lovely Yorba Linda home, above, to my sweet new home/studio space, below in Anaheim Hills. The downsizing was the result of my divorce process after 24 years of marriage. Now my kids vacillate easily between the 2 homes. Thank you God! What I miss the most about the larger house is the yard that I had a free hand in designing after we gutted both front and back. I used to spend between 5 to 7 hours a week hand watering, pruning, designing, planting and weeding. A highly therapeutic process for me.

But now I divide my time between 2 homes and 2 garden patios, mine and Jim's, and they are easy walking distance from each other. Above and below is my home and garage before my short sale went thru, and before I made any changes.
So I thought it would be fun to document those changes, so here we go, my before and afters. And it only cost me about $10,000!!! LOL Let me start by saying the new place was filthy. The man who owned it before me was a chain smoker, so every surface was stained and covered with smoke. The first thing I did was to hire a heavy duty cleaning company to come in and rip out the carpet, and scrub down every surface. I also had an ozone treatment in both house and garage to get rid of the heavy smell of smoke. Surprisingly, it really worked. I also had special paint (Kilz) put on the walls to help kill the smoke smell. So now when you walk in it smells oh so good!

Above is a shot of the entry, and the door leading into the garage. All of the befores where shot before the cleaning crew came in so you can see how dirty every thing was. In the after you can see the new stone flooring that Jim laid for me, and also a shot into my new studio space.
Below is a small alcove next to the entry leading you up the first flight of stairs. There are a lot of stairs in this place, a great workout for my backside. :)

And just look at that nasty carpet, above, leading you up to the main living space, and the same stairs afterwards.

Above is the main living area, and below is the after shot, looking out to my cute little patio. Many of the art pieces on the walls were either done by my students, myself or professional artists whose work I collect to teach with. And then a few pieces were found at garage sales that Jim and I love to scavenge thru on Saturday mornings. Michelle, look what I have hanging over the couch, that beautiful embroidered jacket you sent me to wear to my art award presentation last year. It's the focal point in the room and I used it to base all my color choices on. Thank you again for that gorgeous piece.

Oh, there's my worker bee Jim fixing something in the dining room area, and below is the finished room. Love the rich mahogany flooring that Jim laid for me here. In fact, because of Jim, and his thrifty ways, ideas and help, I was able to save a lot of money putting this place together. Thank you baby!

In the shot above, you can see the bedroom's loft edge. It's a great place for displaying antique quilts and handwoven rugs from Mexico and the Navajo trading posts that I love to collect and teach with.
Check out the smoke stains on the kitchen cabinet above where he had a small calender hanging, yuck!!
The kitchen and dining room afters.

Stairs leading up a half a landing to the bathroom, above.

Surprisingly, the bathroom was the cleanest room in the house.

Here are a couple of shots of the bathroom finished. In the pix below you can see the same stone flooring that Jim laid in the entry, he also put here in the bathroom. Thank you honey :).

And once again, another set of stairs leading up to the loft bedroom. And then the after below.

I had the cleaning crew rip out all the window coverings to let in as much light as possible. And I had my daughter Dani help me pick out a new bed frame and coverlet, below

The twigs over the bed came from Ikea, and I cut them down a bit (they were really long, and the pieces I cut off I put in the vase in the corner) and then reassembled them into a hanging sculpture. Easy and fun!

Here is the other angle of the room, and how I finished it out below. Because this top floor gets so very warm, Jim installed a fan system in the window, so that I don't have to always turn on the air conditioner. The man is always saving me money! The round barrel chair in the corner, covered with the maroon throw, belonged to my mother. As a child I remember going into her bedroom where it was at and spinning myself silly in it. In case you are wondering, it still spins really well. LOL

Here is my sweet little second floor patio before I did anything with it.

And here are a few shots of the plantings I put in. Poor Jim had to lug all this stuff up many stairs. The tree and barbecue were especially rough to bring up. My son, Zach, helped him out whenever he was around with the heavy stuff.
There is a really cool store down in Laguna called Green Cube where I picked up this wall sculpture of succulents, and those very clever plastic bags with plants growing in them came to me after they took them down from their window display. All I had to do was ask and they were more than happy to give them to me. Believe it or not, those plants are still alive today after 5 months of brutal SO. Ca. weather (winds, rains and punishing heat last summer).

My favorite redo was converting part of my elongated garage into my home/studio space but still having enough room to fit my car in. There was this home gym machine that the previous owner left behind so I gave it away to a friend and then the games began.

Jim and I decided that to save more money we would do all the painting ourselves. Both my kids even pitched in and helped a bit. The hardest decision was picking a wall color. In my last home studio I had lime green, orange and yellow walls and ceiling. So this time I wanted to try to tone it down a bit. But I love yellow walls, they make me soooooooooo happy, but we decided that this yellowy orange was a bit overwhelming on this long wall above, so when I got home one day Jim had painted me a love note over it before we changed to a lighter color :). But now when I look at the after below, I almost wish I had kept the darker value. Oh well!
In the photo above you can see my floor loom that I haven't touched in sixteen years since my daughter was born. I'm hoping one day that I will weave again. Sandra, there's that picture that I was telling you about above the leopard cabinet. :)

Here is the view from the opposite direction. I did keep that darker yellow on a couple of the smaller walls and overhangs. And I found this really cool screen at Ikea to put up to divide my car space from my studio space.

And to cover and hide the washer and dryer, Jim installed a wooden pole so I could hang the drape covers (they are made with hemp so they kinda smell like pot LOL). He also installed wonderful lighting so I could see inside this very dark space. We still have to paint the small area above the drapes. Probably this summer. The floor is especailly cool, the wood is from Africa and Jim did a beautiful job installing it. He's a mighty handy guy to have around, and I'm a mighty lucky girl that he's all mine! LOVE YOU SWEET MAN.
All in all, this whole transformation took us from May 1 until the end of August this last year. So a good 4 months. And it was a blast! For EXTRA CREDIT: on a piece of yellow paper LOL, cut into the shape of a house with roof and chimney, put your name and period on one side and on the other tell me which transformed space you liked the best.


  1. What a beautiful job of transforming an ugly duckling condo into a home that is so artistically you. And I love your little studio in the garage. Time to think about warping that loom!

  2. I have enjoyed reading about the changes in your life and how you have carved out a new life for yourself and kids. You are so inspirational. Wishing you luck and many blessings on your life journey!

  3. What a fabulous transformation Debbie, I love everything about it!

    Carol x

  4. Did I tell you when I visited that I love your house? Well I do. :]

  5. Wow! You did a wonderful job with everything! I adore those wall succulents. Your condo is like a butterfly--metamorphosis!