Inglewood Craftsman Home

Restoring our 1906 home in Inglewood CA on a budget


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Outdoor Vintage Window Scenes

This project was a while in the making. I collected antique windows and shutters over a matter of months, possibly even a year- purchasing some, scavenging others. Jon kept wondering and asking what the plan was for them as they continued to fill up space in the basement. Alas, my Pinterest board describing the vision in my mind didn’t help relay the message well, so he was in the dark until project time.

In the basement, I removed all the old hardware so that it wouldn’t rust outside or ruin the windows. Some of them needed to be repainted to protect the original wood, but most of them had more than enough coats to protect them.

I had a large enough stockpile of windows that I didn’t need to plan the layout perfectly; rather, Jon helped me decide on placement by holding each window up where I asked him to while I stepped back to view it from afar.

We placed them in three areas: on the wall of the house where the guest bathroom juts out, behind the hot tub, and on the neighbor’s garage wall. Jon did all the hanging, drilling first through each window, then through the masonry.

Eventually, I’d like the guest bathroom to have a real window. However, for now, it’s the only wall of the house without any windows! To make it blend in better with the rest of the house, we painted the walls behind the windows white; the glass now appears to at least lead into something dimensional, rather than just sitting on top of the pink wall. This was the toughest part of the installation, as we needed to measure, use chalk lines, and paint somewhat precisely on stucco to stay within the lines. However, the paint seemed to work; at a recent party, people didn’t believe that these aren’t real windows!

Behind the hot tub (pictured at top) is my favorite area for the installation, and I believe the most successful. The addition of both windows and shutters creates a little homey environment for the hot tub; it’s no longer just an item stuck in the corner of the yard, but is now a purposeful and peaceful surrounding. And, as a bonus, the tall shutter blocks more of the view and sound from the neighbor’s yard.

The neighbor’s garage wall has looked empty for a while. At some point, someone painted the wall to match the house (pink stucco, hooray). My “domestic journeys” list had included the task of painting this wall, possibly green or brown to match the other stone walls we’d painted, and bring the yard together. However, I think the windows round things out and bring everything together instead.

Finally, I added one tiny window over the outdoor couch to tie in the laundry room windows to that area as well as to the neighbor’s garage. It all looks like one little homey scene now.

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I still have a few windows and shutters left over- not sure what I’ll end up doing with them yet!

Before Images:

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Our Very Own House Crane

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—Guest post by Jon—

It’s been the longest unsolved challenge we’ve had since moving into the house on a hill – how do we get heavy things up to the first floor of the house? For those who haven’t visited, there are only two ways into the property and both involve a lot of stairs. The house is perched 15 feet above the street, so you can either go through the garage, into the basement, and up two separate flights of stairs, or you can go in the front gate, which will take you up one long, narrow flight of stairs to the front of the house.

So, say I want to power wash our concrete patio, or do some gravel landscaping in the backyard, or aerate the lawn. All of these things either involve equipment that is too heavy to lift up the stairs or, in the case of the gravel, would take a very long time, and probably a broken back, to carry up bag by bag.

We came up with all sort of ideas for how to get things onto the property including winching things up the stairs with some kind of stair climbing platform, winching things up the grassy hillside that leads up to the back yard, cutting a hole in our neighbors garage to bring things through, buying a helicopter, etc. All of these solutions ran into a problem somewhere and didn’t pan out, so during some recent projects, which I’ll have posts for later, I’ve had to rent a forklift to move up heavy equipment.

But one day I happened to notice a small crane on the back of a pickup truck – used for lifting things in and out of the bed. So I looked it up and it turns out that some of these little cranes can lift up to 1000 pounds and only cost about $250. One of the options that I kept coming back to lift things up using some kind of crane that would attach to the top of a ledge that overlooks the public sidewalk in the front of the house. I couldn’t find an affordable crane that was also small enough to fit in the relatively confined space, but this finally seemed to be the solution!

image_22963So I started by drawing up plans for the concrete footing which would support the crane. The crane arm was actually the smallest part of this job – the main part was the huge amount of concrete that had to be poured to support the weight. Not having much experience with concrete, I ran the plans by an engineer friend, who had a couple suggestions on where I could be a bit more efficient by changing the shape of the footing from a straight column, to an L shape.

Concrete Footing A

Click on the image to enlarge

 

These plans also have the actual prices for everything involved in this project. At a rate of $300 per forklift rental, this crane will pay itself off in just 4 uses.

So once I figured out the cost and the plan, I started digging. I needed a hole that was 20″ wide, 36″ long, and 4′ deep, which turned out to be a challenge since about half of the digging was going through thick clay, by hand.

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Outlining the hole

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After a few days of digging

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The next step was building the rebar structure which would support the concrete. Concrete stands up very well under compressive force – anything that’s pushing straight down on it. But when you apply tension (pulling apart) concrete easily breaks down. That’s where the steel rebar comes in – it is great under tension. So the combination of the two creates a very strong footing that can stand up to both kinds of pressure (the compressive force of the weight bearing down on the column, and the tension force of the the load out on the end of a 4′ boom).

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I built the base of the cage outside the hole, then dropped it into the hole and added the column.

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Bending the long, vertical pieces for the column

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Attaching the column pieces to the base

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Finished it off with rebar hoops at every 6″ up the column

Next I installed the sonotube, which is a concrete form used to shape the column. The rebar column has to be placed right in the center of the sonotube, so with a few ratchet straps I was able to position everything so it was level, lock it down with the straps, and get it ready for the big concrete pour.

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The anchors for this project had to be a bit more substantial that your typical concrete anchors. Since so much tension is going to be put on them, I wanted to make sure they didn’t move at all in the concrete. As you can see from the design, I had a few different options, but I ultimately went with what are essentially reinforced steel bolts with square plate washers on the end. I made a jig based on the hole pattern of the crane and set it up on the top of the column.

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Anchors sitting upside down in the jig

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Anchor bolt jig placed on the sonotube

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Looking down into the tube you can see the rebar column and the four anchor bolts.

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All ready for concrete!

The total weight of the concrete was about 3000 pounds, so for this I decided to spring for a forklift, one last time. I also had very limited space to work in, so it helped that the concrete was on its own platform. It gave me just enough room to stand between the bags of concrete and the mixer where I was pouring them. The forklift was dropped off on Saturday morning, right around the same time I was getting back from Home Depot with a palate of concrete.

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That small space between the concrete bags and the mixer is where I spent the better part of a day mixing and dumping concrete into the hole.

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Using a concrete vibrator to get all the air bubbles out of the footing

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Filling up the column

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Topping the column off and clearing those air bubbles

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All ready to dry

After about a week I cut the sonotube off and took the jig off of the bolts. Then I placed the crane on the bolts and, after drilling out the holes to accommodate the large anchor bolts, it fit perfectly. I mounted the crane with nuts underneath the base so that I could level it out. The top of the concrete column is a bit bumpy and not perfectly level, so I used the nuts to level it off before tightening it down.

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Drilling out the holes in the base


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Leveling the base

The final step of the installation was pouring grout over the bolts to make sure they stay in place and protect them from water. I had the option to galvanize the bolts but it nearly doubled the cost, so I just decided to cover them in grout.

I took a piece of the sonotube that was stripped off the column, and wrapped it around the top of the column. I used some ratchet straps to secure it and made sure that there was a tight seal between the sonotube and the concrete column. High precision grout is very watery when poured, about the consistency of a half melted milkshake, but once it cures, it is even stronger than the concrete.

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Looking down into the sonotube, just before pouring the grout.

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After pouring 1 bag worth of grout, it was good to let dry.

The result of the grout is a finished looking top. You can’t see the bolts, just the steel post coming straight out of the concrete.

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After drying for a day or so.

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After this step I had to wait a month for the concrete to completely cure before I could finish it up with some paint and sealer.

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I used brown house paint and a sealer on the concrete and a spray paint on the steel post. I think it makes it blend into the fence a bit better.

After installing an outlet close by in the wall of the garage, the crane was ready to use!

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Outlet on the garage next to the crane

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Groceries made it safely to the top!

I picked up a grill cover from Home Depot so that the electric hoist and the crane arm will be protected from the elements. I was originally planning on disassembling the hoist and boom after every use, but they weigh about 70 pounds, so not super easy to run up and down the stairs from the garage every time I want to use it. With the cover, and after painting everything brown, I don’t think its very noticeable at all.

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Crane with its cover

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Folded back and hidden by the ficus tree

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View from the street

I’m looking forward to putting the crane to the test! The original reason for building this was actually to landscape the side yard with gravel. I needed to figure out a good way of lifting 8000 pounds of loose gravel, and now I have it! Many more crane related projects to follow!


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Litter Sign on Hillside



IMG_2053Our favorite Etsy signmaker, who made our gorgeous mission-style “Please Lock Gate” sign, came to the rescue once again when I finally became fed up with all the litter people throw onto our hillside. We live near a busy music venue, so people often throw their trash into our bushes or on the hillside (which, to be fair, does look like vacant land- not that vacancy would be an excuse for litter, but people do feel more entitled to do it when it doesn’t affect people directly). I’d gotten tired of picking up trash every day on our dog walks, so thought we’d try out a sign. I designed it and hoped the wording would be clever enough to be funny, but serious enough to be effective.

We had to be sure to install the sign close enough to the sidewalk to be noticed, but far enough to be too difficult for would-be graffiti artists to reach.

Jon installed the sign in the very tough dirt with some metal bars attached to garden posts.

Amazingly, it’s been working like a charm! In fact, we might even put up another one in the bushes to further discourage litter in that area.

Inglewood Craftsman DIY Coffee Table


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Handmade Wood Table for the Front Patio

–Guest post by Jon–

For the past year or so, on our front porch we’ve been using a Craftsman-style coffee table that Morgan originally found on the side of the road. It was the perfect size and matched the house, but was not meant to be outdoors. Over time, the veneer around the edges of the table top peeled off, and water damage began to discolor and warp the wood. So I decided to just make a new table top, since the rest of the table seemed to be in good shape.

Old, weathered table top

Old, weathered table top

I modified the design a bit from the original table top by using wood slats, in order to drain water, instead of a solid wood surface. I started by making a frame out of 3/4×3″ boards. Using a dado blade on the table saw, I cut rabet joints on each of the end boards, where the horizontal slats would fit in. Then, after cutting rabets on each end of all of the slats, I put them into the frame and spaced them out with 1/16″ spacers that I cut earlier.

Table Frame

Table frame with rabet joints cut at the top and bottom

Closeup on rabet joint

Closeup on rabet joint

Spacers keep each slat the exact same distance apart from each other while the glue dries.

Spacers keep each slat the exact same distance apart from each other while the glue dries. You can see the table legs and frame int he background.

After the top was assembled, I attached a 1″x1″ frame on the underside to mount into the existing table legs.

Frame on the table top

Frame on the table top

I then stained the top. However, the color was a bit different on the top than on the legs. I actually preferred the look of the new table top, so I decided to just make new legs as well. I took a picture of the old frame and legs and went to Home Depot to get more supplies.

The legs and frame of the table

The legs and frame of the table

I cut the four 2″ legs out of a 4×4, used 3/4″ x 3″ wood for the frame, then cut 20 3/4″x 3/4″ square rods for the vertical slats at each end of the table.

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Cut down a 4×4 in to 2x2s

Vertical Slats

3/4″ Vertical slats, with 3/4′ spacers

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Routed out the 3/4×3″ pieces of wood to accommodate the vertical slats.

Assembling the end pieces with the 10 vertical slats was a bit of a challenge because of how many small pieces of wood needed to be glued, but once those were finished, the process went very smoothly.

I put the frame together using a pocket hole jig and two screws going from the frame rails into the legs. Then I added a 10 inch wide piece of 1/4″ plywood for the bottom, since Dante likes to sit there when he’s hiding from Skinny.

Frame all put together and waiting for glue to dry

Frame fully assembled and waiting for glue to dry

Skinny hard at work, as usual

Skinny hard at work, as usual

Then it was on to stain and poly. I put two coats of polyurethane on everything, then an additional two coats on the table top and the legs, since they are the most exposed to the elements.

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After a week of drying and curing in the basement, we have a brand new patio table that should last us a long time!

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Awning Removal

The Inglewood Craftsman sold itself to us with its natural light via massive windows. I remember telling Karen Larsen, our realtor, that I only had three desires for a home: in Inglewood, no bars on the windows, and natural light. This place nailed it. One entire wall in the living room is a window!

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What originally sold us!

However, a massive aluminum awning blocked a significant amount of light from coming through. My theory is that the awning was installed before most of the trees outside were mature, but now that the trees provide plenty of shade for the home, the awning is superfluous.

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Just look at the greenery and light!

Because of the pitch of the hillside and the weight of the awning, we feared we’d need a team of people to remove the awning. However, I came home one day to find Jon had accomplished the task with only one ladder and a grinder!

The light coming in is truly lovely, and scrappers/recyclers came for the aluminum almost immediately. Check it out! 


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Outdoor Lighting

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–Guest post by Jon–

Since making the backyard a more comfortable place to hang out, we’ve realized that there’s just not enough light out there at night. We have some strings of Christmas lights hanging from the back fence and will turn on the lights in all the back rooms of the house to bleed light into the yard, but neither of these methods are very effective and they waste quite a bit of energy. There aren’t any before pictures for this project because it was too dark – so just imagine the photo above being almost completely black.

I came up with a basic plan (where the lights would be placed and what kind of fixtures and bulbs we’d use) and began sourcing all the parts. I decided on a total of 12 fixtures that would run down one entire side of the house and around to the backyard, all of which would be switched by two separate wireless dimmers (one zone for the side of the house and one for the back). We’d also use all LED spots to save on energy costs. A single LED bulb lasts about 25,000 hours and uses 10W of electricity, compared with an incandescent bulb that draws 60W and only lasts 1,200 hours. The total estimated cost for the whole project was around $800, which included 12 LED bulbs, 12 outdoor fixtures, a couple hundred feet of Romex, and wireless remote switches.

Click to View Full SizeWe wanted to cut the cost down a bit, and saw an opportunity with the fixtures. Even the cheapest fixtures that we were interested in cost $40, but luckily Morgan spotted some at an auction for an amazing deal. We ended up with 20 light fixtures for $60, or $3 per fixture, which brought our total cost down significantly and allowed us to have even more fixtures – we decided to go with 15. However, these were indoor, wall-mounted pin-up light fixtures with in line switches, so I needed to make some modifications.

The first step was rewiring the lamp – taking the in line switch out and adding Romex, The second was creating a snoot. A snoot is basically a cone that goes over the fixture to direct the light onto a specific spot and keep it from spilling on the surrounding area. Even though we were using spot lights, there is still a fair amount of spillage that we did not want coming into the windows of the house, or creating hard shadows on the stucco of the exterior walls. We didn’t care about it spilling anywhere else, so I designed a half snoot that would shade just one side of the lamp.

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Click to View Full SizeI took roof flashing, cut it to size, shaped it in the fixture, and epoxied it to the inner side of the fixture. Keep in mind, the hard part about all these modifications is that everything has to be done 15 times, so this process took a while. After the epoxy dried it was on to paint. Everything got a couple spray coats of white, and then a clear coat.

Installation began on the exterior of the house by mounting each light in a predetermined location. Earlier I had hung a few fixtures temporarily to determine exactly which type of bulb (wattage, neck length, and LED color) to use and how far apart to space the lights. I decided on a short neck, 10W bulb with a warm color, which by LED standards is still actually a cooler color than a regular incandescent bulb. The short neck allowed the bulb to sit very deep in the fixture, making the most use out of the can and the snoot. I spaced them about 6 feet apart, which created some nice pools of light on the ground without creating either areas of dark shadow or the opposite- flat white light everywhere.

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After mounting the lights to the eave of the roof on the side of the house, I realized that because of the sideways pitch of the roof in back, the lights would all end up being mounted on an angle, so I made some wedges out of scrap wood, painted them white, and affixed them to the eve. This gave me a flat surface to put the fixtures on and saved me from having to modify the fixtures yet again. So after all 15 fixtures were mounted, I painted the cables white where they ran along the eave, and the peach color where they ran along the house. I then ran the wire into the house and moved into the attic.

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I spent quite a while crawling around on my stomach in the attic, since the areas I was working in had only a foot of vertical clearance. Also, eye protection and a respirator are very important to avoid ingesting 100 year old dust and who knows what else is floating around up there.

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I ran cabling along the entire length of the attic and then another cable along the back side, splicing in all 15 lights along the cable run. I ended up with three lights on the back cable, and 12 lights on the side cable which would run to the two separate switches.

I tried out a few different wireless switches and didn’t like any of them, so I decided to run hard wires down the wall to two new switches. We already had one switch in the wall, so adding another two isn’t very difficult. The fire stops in the wall already had holes drilled through them, so all I had to do was fish two more pieces of Romex cable through. After that, I cut out a larger hole for the electrical box, wired up two new switches (which look like like the old pushbutton switches, except these have a dimmer) and wired everything to power.

Morgan picked up a triple push-button switchplate cover for $8.50 from eBay to complete the look.

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And just like that, we have light going all the way down the sidewalk and into the backyard. They are dimmable LEDs, so at their brightest they look like street lights, and at the dimmest they resemble a soft moonlight – and are actually the same color, so when the moon is out it matches perfectly.

Now we can entertain on the back patio until all hours of the night, and our Airbnb guests can use the back door as their own private entrance!

–Guest post by Jon–

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Composting!

We finally got started composting a few months ago! I’d like to learn vermicomposting techniques, but for now, just the basics.

Found this adorable counter composter on Amazon, of all places!

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Found this huge Earth Machine composter on Craigslist for only $30. Sweet deal, considering it was brand new! I love Craigslist, but there are a few things I won’t buy used- a composter is one of them.

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I checked a few compost guides, and it turns out you can compost:

-Used napkins and paper towels

-Coffee grounds

-Cardboard

-Balloons

-Dog hair (yuck!!)

 

And way more! Hope to have some great soil for next season’s garden. I’d also like to put in a Doggie Dooley or equivalent at some point. Hey, we want to reuse everything around here!