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Thursday, March 31, 2011


These are some of the looks I liked today as I drove around looking for gates and driveways...

Although I normally prefer simple and uncluttered looks, I am attracted to several elements in this design.  I appreciate the curved iron/aluminum work.  However, I would prefer a more simplistic design on the upper portion.  I like the posts and the ivy covering the concrete.  I would eliminate the lamps on all the posts.  If lamps are needed, I'd use them on the 2 posts on both sides of the gate.

I like the simple lines in this design, but it needs something else.  Unless this is significantly less expensive,
I would add posts and possibly a concrete base. 

This is what I thought I was looking for, but I've changed my mind.  The concrete base is too large.  I prefer a much smaller concrete area preferably no more than 1ft high.  I love the posts and the design of the aluminum portion.

I think this is exactly what I want.

This look is similar to the one above.  The difference is this fence has a scroll design and the other has none.  I prefer the more simple design.

I like this design but with a small concrete base.  I also love the bougainvillea.  In addition to providing bursts of color, the plant offers security in the form of thorns to deter intruders.

This is the big winner!!!
This is the one I like the most right now.  The base of the wall is the correct height.  The columns are just the right size and look. I love that the 2 fences on both sides of the gate curve back to render a more stately entrance.
Nonetheless,I would like to see more flowers on the inside of the fence.

Now, I need price quotes to help with the decision-making process.  I am leaning towards the fence in the last photo but its not a final decision yet.

Suggestions?  Comments?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Driveway

My children and I have a new hobby...we look at gates and front yards every time we drive through residential neighborhoods.  Well, maybe its not a new hobby...and maybe I force them to give me their opinions...but, I am obsessed with gates and driveways now...these are some looks I am considering for driveways (tomorrow I'll discuss gates):

*picture from Tremron Group catalog

One possibility is a large 24" x 24" travertine paver in a Noce finish with Mondo Grass in between.  Similar to the picture above but with larger pavers and a smaller seperation between pavers.  I also like this for the backyard, and I don't want the same thing in both areas, so I have to decide where I would like it best.

*picture from Tremron Group catalog

The following photos were found on http://www.concretenetwork.com/
The pictures are from projects from different contractors thoughout the U.S.

This is the same idea as above, but made from concrete rather than Travertine stone. 
The slabs are larger and  impressive.

The concrete pictured is scored to look like tiles.  Although I would not use this color
 concrete with the colors I want for the house, the tile look is a possibility for the walkway.

I can use a variation of this look.  We currently have a concrete driveway. We could add a brick or concrete border in a contrasting color and use the existing slab. 
We could add another slab or bricks in the center where the new driveway meets the old.

The look is a possibility.  The color would go well with the color scheme and I could use the existing concrete.
We could just expand whats there and make it slightly larger.

This look is interesting for the walkway.

Similar to what I mentioned a few pictures ago, where I'd use the existing concrete driveway, stain it and add a contrasting border and possibly center dividing section.  I wouldn't score the concrete like in this picture,
 I'd leave a large solid area.
The solid, plain, stained concrete would work well also.

Another variation of the stained contract with a border in the same color.
The border is differentiated  by scoring the concrete. 

This color would be a good complement to the colors I like for the house.
I also like the simple lines and muted appearance of the driveway. 

The property will have many fascinating, decorative features.  I think we can get away with a more simple, inexpensive driveway.
Of course, this is yet to be seen.  As we continue our search for the products to make our house our dream home, I'm sure we will change our minds a few times. 

Possible exterior colors

I received this brochure for pavers and stone products at the Home show from Tremron Group.  They manufacture pavers and distribute natural stone products. 
I love the way these colors in the picture look together.  If you'll notice in the following picture of "our new casa" the roof is a similar color to the house on the brochure. The colors are good together, its just the right contrast  between the terra cotta roof the brown trim and light paint color on the walls.
Possible colors from Sherwin Williams: 
for the trim: Terra Brun, Otter or Bitter Chocolate
for the walls:  Gauzy White, Heron Plume, or Realist Beige

I look forward to painting the house with the new color scheme. 
I think it would be complimentary and elegant. 


Pictured Color:  Mahogany Ash
I just love how it looks!  I'm not sure if I'd go with the driveway in the same color or something different...the jury is still out on that one.  Other possible options for driveway color:  Antiqued Cappucino, Riverwood, Antiqued Sierra, Autumn Blend, or Sand Dune


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Interesting Finds at the MIami Home Design and Remodeling Show

As I mentioned in a previous post, I found several interesting products that I'd like to research further and possibly use in the new house.  Although this is not my first home renovation project, there are new products on the market that would help make the house more energy-efficient while at the same time saving us money.  I'm all for both of those things. Therefore I need to read about these things and speak to knowledgeable experts in the field.  Some of the products I am interested in learning more about are:
Please remember I am not endorsing nor recommending any of these products, vendors or services.  I have never used them.  I just became aware of some of their existence on Sunday.  I am writing about them because I thought they were interesting and want to find out more about them.

If you are knowledgeable about any of these please post a comment.  I'd love to hear what you think.

STEEL BUILDS BETTER guest post from SprayRock/ Steel Stud Supply Company

This is a guest post from one of the exhibitors I saw at the Home Design and  Remodeling Show.   Click on the link:

Outdoor Living Space

Living in South Florida we are fortunate to have warm weather almost 12 months of the year.   We can comfortably live outdoors for most of the 12 months.  I am looking forward to remodeling our new outdoor space. This is what it looks like now:

We have thousands of tadpoles in the pool right now.  Someone or some people have been in the house.  They left the front door unlocked.  The living room doors were left wide open, as well as the doors to the bedroom downstairs.  Paint was splattered all over the Chicago brick on the pool deck.  Glass has been shattered on the pool deck and inside the house.  Additional items have been taken from the property.  The doors of the bedroom downstairs have been kicked in, so even if the doors are closed, the bottom of each door has a huge opening and therefore the house is subjected to rain damage and animal and human intruders.  Some items like chairs and things that were stored in the garage are thrown all over the pool deck.     It's sad to see the property deteriorating and being vandalized while we stand around and wait for the sale to be finalized.  Meanwhile, I am very busy planning what we will do when the house is ours.
Future posts will include photos of some great ideas I've seen...I can't wait.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Miami Home Design and Remodeling Show

I attended the Design and Remodeling Show yesterday.  I spoke to various exhibitors and appreciated learning about products that are currently on the market for remodeling projects. 

Following are some of the exhibitors at the show, I've listed their names and nature of the business:
  • A Kool Saver... Energy Conservation Contractor
  • A&R Design, LLC...construction and interior design
  • AAA Energy Saving Solution...tankless water heaters
  • Abyss Industry...Lighting manufacturer
  • ADT Alarm Digital...security systems
  • Advanced Fence Construction...aluminum or chain link fences and gates
  • All Air of South Dade...a/c installation and repair
  • All Florida Pool and Spa
  • All Wood Designs...kitchens, baths, custom furniture, etc.
  • Alpha Windows and Doors...windows and door contractor
  • Alternascapes...Fieldturf (TM)
  • Ambiance Interiors Manufacturing Corp...stairs, railings, etc.
  • American Heat...tankless water heater
  • Apex Claims Adjuster & Property Inspections
  • Aqualumi Bathware...luxury bathware specialists, unique plumbing fixtures
  • Arcon A/C, Inc...Tempstar heating and cooling products
  • Armarium Custom Wood Work...kitchen cabinetry, custom furniture, wall coverings, etc.
  • Art Connection...framed art
  • Artistic Concrete Group...stamped concrete, pavers
  • Artistic Wall Designs...custom art designs, faux finishes, and murals
  • ArtQTech...stairs, railings, custom furniture
  • Bath Trends...bathroom fixtures, vanities, sinks, doors, etc.
  • Best Landscaping, Inc
  • Bost Billiards...billiard tables
  • Budget Blinds...blinds, shades, shutters
  • Caribbean Clear...chlorine-free pool purification system
  • Clear View Miami...custom screens
  • Closet Company...custom closets, pantries, playroom, garages, etc.
  • Costal Designs, Inc...art, paint and designs for doors
  • Cousins USA Moving and Storage
  • Dantin Services...a/c systems
  • Dax International Brokers...contemporary bath and kitchen elements
  • Designer Doors...garage doors, entranceways, shutters, gates
  • Direct Builders/Direct Air Conditioning...a/c systems and duct cleaning
  • Essig Pools...custom pool builder
  • FHA (Florida Home Improvement Associates)...kitchen refacing, texture coated paints, thermal reflective insulation, hurricane impact doors, insulated impact glass
  • Florida Classic Closets
  • Florida Solar A/C..solar a/c systems, sell and service all major a/c brands
  • Forever Pools...pool resurfacing and remodeling
  • Garage Door Refacing
  • General Impact Glass and Windows, Corp.
  • Granite Transformations...kitchen and bath remodeling
  • The Grout Doctor
  • GRS MAstercraft of Sabana Windows
  • Guarani Wood and FLoors, Corp...solid and engineered wood floors
  • Handy Gizmos
  • Handyman Connection...www.handymanconnectionfl.com
  • Iberia Tiles
  • Ideal Generators Sales and Service
  • Jim Bryan Safe and Lock
  • JLE Electronics...security and surveillance systems
  • Jungle B's Landscapes, Inc.
  • Kingdom Air Conditioning...a/c systems
  • LaStrada Furniture and Interiors...kitchens and baths
  • Linen USA Home Decoration...home accessories
  • Luxapatio...outdoor kitchens and pergolas
  • Margarita's Garden...indoor and outdoor plants and glazed pots
  • Metro Blinds and Shades...window treatments
  • Miami A/C Filters, Inc.
  • Miami Awning Company...custom awnings and canopys
  • Misting Store...residential outdoor cooling system
  • Modani...contemporary furniture, outdoor furniture
  • Murphy Beds SAles and Services...space-saving solutions
  • NAS Unlimited Doors
  • Orkin Pest Control
  • Outstanding Furniture...weatherproof outdoor furniture
  • Paradise Gates and Entry Systems, Inc
  • Piano Showcase, Inc.
  • Planet Solar...solar power installation and design
  • PBM WinDoor...impact resistant windows and doors
  • Pool Boy Plastering, Inc...pool finishes
  • Potomac Garage Solutions...garage storage and organization systems
  • Pride Flooring
  • Priele Italian Design BAthrooms...vanity sets, cabinets, shower panels
  • Rainaway Rain Controlm Inc. roofs, rain gutters
  • RC Home SHowcase...impact windows
  • Recol Aluminum Products...screen enclosures, carports, hurrican shutters, patio covers
  • RhinoShield...ceramic top coat for exterior paint
  • RollingShield
  • Rubbitall, LLC...non-slip suface flooring
  • Secure Windows and Doors...impact resistant
  • ShelfGenie...glide-out shelving for new and existing cabinets
  • Shell Lumber
  • Sherwin Williams Paints and Wallcoverings
  • Stone and Marble Depot
  • Stone Gallery
  • Stone Market
  • Stormwise Shutters
  • Specialty Doors and Shutters
  • Spray Rock Steel...automated framing system
  • Topcret...cement-based coverings for floors and walls
  • Total Power Professionals...residential and commercial generators
  • Tremron Group...manufacture brick pavers
  • Tropical Tile and Marble...porcelain, travertine, marble, limestone, granite, etc.
  • True Cool Air Conditioning Service, Inc
  • Vertical Express...motorized window shadings
  • Vertical River Designs...waterfalls
  • Via Viridis Green Solutions, Inc...decks, docks, pergolas, furniture, siding, ceilings, doors
  • WinDesign Impact Windows and Doors
  • WM Bagster...dumpster in a bag
  • Wonderful Glass and Mirror...frameless shower doors, tabletops, etc.
  • Youngsters...kids and juvenile furniture
  • YourPatioFurniture.com
I will be writing more about some of these companies.  Please post your comments if you are familiar with their work.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Garage turned Family Room

View of back wall of garage and extension
 from second floor
This house does not  have a traditinal  family room, a room for the family to gather to hang out, watch TV, and just enjoy each other's company.  Ideally the family room should be close to the kitchen so the family can gather together within these two rooms while meals are prepared and then enjoyed.  These two rooms would be the heart or hub of the home, where most of the "living" takes place.   The only area that is near the kitchen that could be transformed into the "living area" would be the existing garage.  Another reason for choosing the garage as an area to transform is because of the boring wall that borders the pool deck. 

Same back wall of garage from
another angle

I understand why the garage wall exists, but I haven't found a reason why that wall which extends from the garage exists. 

I think it should be demolished.  I volunteer for that job!!!  (That's one of the things I can't wait to do.)  I think it would be a great stress reliever to knock that wall down! 

Third view of the same wall

I picture a large, spacious family room in place of the garage.  I would add a window where the garage door is now.  A bathroom on the wall opposite the kitchen would be convenient in conjunction with  another window or door to the back of the yard.  I would prefer to have a wall of disappearing glass doors on the third wall overlooking the pool.  (The wall in the picture towards your left would be all glass, and the other part would be gone.)


The wall on your left is the "stress-relieving" wall that will be removed.  The wall directly in front, behind the trees will have the bathroom and either a window or door leading to this area.  Naturally some of these trees would have to be moved if we opt for a door.

Thoughts?  Ideas?  Please post a comment, I'd love to get some input.

A Balcony with a View

Call me spoiled, but I don't think this is a captivating view!
As you'll notice in the photograph this roof is the first thing you see as you look out from the balcony.   The structure below this hideous roof is the existing garage.  The wall pictured is the standard-sized  master bedroom. 

As a solution to the problem of the ugly roof, I am considering expanding the bedroom over the existing garage.  However, there is a slight glitch in the plan.  In the photograph you see that the roof over the existing bedroom has two levels.  The area with the lower level is where the two room would meet, and unless I want to crawl from one room to the other, I will probably have to raise the existing roof.

The new addition would serve as a sitting room for the master bedroom. I considered adding another balcony at the end of the room, but decided against it in light of the fact that there's already a huge unnecessary balcony just steps away.  In lieu of the balcony, we'll add large window on 3 walls of the addition.
Another view of the undesirable roof
The addition would be built over this existing garage.


The Grand Staircase (Not!!!)

The stairs in this house are less than grand!  This is the only staircase in the house.  It is compact and cramped (about 2 feet wide, at most).  I fear it will be dangerous as we rush up and down everyday. 

 My vision for this area is more monumental.  I imagine a glorious, majestic staircase with a contemporary feel. 
I prefer a staircase wide enough for two people to fit on each step at once.  I've seen some photographs of likely candidates, but I'm not ready to post them yet.  They may have a glass banister, or just floating steps but will undoubtedly be light and airy.

Let There Be Light

Bright, airy houses appear sharp and pleasing.  There's nothing more appealing to me in a home than plenty of light.

 I love to include many glass doors and windows to add energy and brightness to a home.  (Of course they must all be energy-efficient.)

This half-wall pictured detracts from the vividness  I  long for.  The wood paneling is also detremental to that goal.

I have "light and clear" plans for this wall.  My goal is to replace it with a clear glass all the same height as the one pictured.  The glass wall must be strong enough to withstand my children wrestling near it and banging into it as they walk through this narrow hallway.  The wood paneling will be removed completely and replaced by paint or textured wallpaper.

View of wall and ceiling from living room below

Post your suggestions for possible solutions or beautiful, clear, glass walls to replace this one...

Missing Pieces

Many necessary items are missing from this property. 

As I've mentioned before, the property has been abandoned for close to 2 years.  In this picture you'll notice that many of the essential elements of the electrical box are missing.  I'm not sure the extent of the work necessary to bring the electrical back to proper working order, but it must be done.

Another essential missing item is the air conditioning condensing unit.  One is missing from this picture and a second one is missing from another area.  The corresponding air  handlers are also missing inside the house.

Besides these pieces also missing are:  several appliances, light fixtures, pool equipment, doors, door handles, and more.

Apparently an empty house is an open house for vandals and thieves.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Moon

I couldn't resist including this photo.  Isn't this a beautiful picture of the moon?


  Exterior tour of the home:  This is a beautiful view of the front of the house.  The stairs are behind the largest window.  The balcony above the photographer is one of the bedrooms and the balcony facing the photographer is the study.  Below the study is the dining room window.  The window closest to the photographer is a family room/tv room. 
The photo below is the back of the house.  The area on the first floor with the french doors side-by-side is the living room. The next single french door to your right, at an angle, is the kitchen.  The solid white door holds a sauna, I assume will be used for storage.  The door peeking behind the column is the cabana bathroom and finally to the left of that is a doorway that leads to a bedroom. 
The french doors on the second floor lead to the Master bedroom. 
The reason for these exterior photos is not the tour, its about the COLOR.  I just thought you'd be wondering where everything was, while looking at the photos.

The existing color makes me crazy...I wish I could paint it today.  I've been thinking about the color scheme quite a bit...
Hopefully the roof is in good condition and we don't have to spend money to replace it.  If we keep the existing roof,  I am leaning towards a brown trim under the roof and below the balcony and a light beige/sand color for the walls. 
I haven't decided the color for the doors and windows.  I can't decide whether to get them in the same white or change them to a dark color.
Any suggestion?

The Front

View of the driveway and front of the property
As I've mentioned before, one of the reasons I love this property is the lush, tropical landscape. It appears to grow easily without much care.  However, it does need to be cut back and maintained with periodic trimming.  I am very hands-on when it comes to renovating/rehabilitating properties.  I get very anxious about waiting to see the finished product.  I just want to jump right in and tackle the job immediately (even if I have to do it)!!! I truly enjoy it!  When I go by our new home, I just want to dig in and start trimming the overgrown "jungle".  I picture how beautiful it will be when I finally finish it. 
I have big plans for the area in the picture...
The island seems too large and messy for this property.  I'd like to remove all the shrubs and small plants. I would probably leave a cluster of palms of staggered sizes.  I won't know for sure what I want to do until I start removing plants from the area. 

Possible option for a gate
I  want to reduce the size of the island by making the driveway wider...wide enough for 2 cars side-by-side. I plan to add concrete posts with an  iron gate close to the street.  Giving the property a more grandiose entrance while also making the home more secure,  visible and open.
There are big plans in the works for the driveway as well...I just haven't made up my mind what to do.  Any suggestions?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Miami Home Design and Remodeling Show

Catch up on the latest trends in residential interior design at the Miami Home Design and Remodeling Show.  The show runs from Friday, March 25th through Monday, March 28th, 2011 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Visitors will be able to explore an international selection of products and services for residential interior design, home improvements, furnishings and accessories.
Attendees can also enjoy complimentary seminars and celebrity designer showcases.

Among the scheduled seminars are:
·       Andrew Downward from HGTV’s Divine Design show will host seminars at 1:00pm and 4:00pm Saturday, March 26th and Sunday, March 27th on how to change a room for less than $100.00

·      Florida Home Improvement Associates fhaproducts.com, are sponsoring this year’s seminar stage.
This stage will feature various seminars on home improvement and energy efficiency updates available to homeowners in South Florida.

I can’t wait to go, I’ll see you there!

Show Hours:
Friday, March 25th, 2011…Noon to 10:30pm
Saturday, March 26th, 2011…Noon to 10:30pm
Sunday, March 27th, 2011…Noon to 7:30pm
Monday, March 28th, 6:00pm to 10:30pm

For complete schedule of events and additional information, please check their website:  http://homeshowspecials.com/
You can also print a show discount coupon on their website, along with coupons from exhibitors for discounts on their products and services.

Come back and post your comments…

Monday, March 21, 2011

One of my favorite features

I love the yard, the land and all the foliage on the property.  I also love the large windows and the possibilty of adding more windows and more light to the house.

We will have to change the windows and doors.  Some of the doors have rotted and certain windows don't close completely.  Since the property is in Florida, we are considering installing impact-resistant windows and doors.  These would help keep the residents and contents of the house safe in the event of hurricane-force winds.

Impact-resistant offer various benefits including:
Immediate protection from hurricanes
Protection from burglary and vandalism
Noise reduction
Sun protection

In addition, there are Federal Tax credits for energy efficiency improvements to existing houses.  These products must meet current Energy Star criteria. 
Some impact-resistant windows and doors block heat caused by sunlight. They also retain or keep out heat or cold.  Aluminum-frame windows do not meet this criteria. To accomplish the insulating ratings required by the Energy Star program, the windows should be made with vinyl frames.

To qualify for the tax credit products must conform to 2 key energy-efficiency standards and must be certified by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC).  The NFRC label lists the manufacturer, describes the product, and includes ratings for one or more energy perfomance characteristics.

Please comment and add recommendations...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Why this house?

The first time I saw this house I didn't like it.  The layout is odd, the house is dark inside, it has little insulation and it was too expensive.
Now, 2 years after I saw it the first time,  it has most of the same issues as before except the price is much lower.  The lower price makes the property more attractive.

Having to work on a property doesn't discourage me.  On the contrary, I love the challenge. 
I enjoy the process of making the house beautiful and functional.  I see the enormous potential it has.   I see how beautiful it can be.

...and to answer the question, this is one of the main reasons why we chose this property:

We love the yard!!! The property is on an acre and has a tennis court and plenty of trees to build an incredible tree house for my children.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Our New House

It has been 6 months since we made the first offer for the purchase of our new home.  We negotiated the price with the sellers for 1 1/2 months and finally agreed on a price on December 8, 2010.  The house is vacant and the sellers are in default so we have to negotiate the short sale with their lender.  The sellers paid  more than double what we are negotiating for the property in 2005 in the height of the real estate boom.   Real Estate prices have dropped dramatically in this area.  In addition, the house is abandoned and  in disrepair.  Although the bathrooms and kitchens have been redone nicely, the house needs much work.  It's been empty for close to 2 years.  The a/c units, pool equipment, electrical wiring, some appliances, and light fixtures have been stolen.  Some of the doors and windows are also damaged beyond repair. 
Why would we bother you ask?  Why not just purchase a house that doesn't need work?  This is my passion.  I love to purchase properties in need of work and mold them and work with them to make them mine.  I love the entire process as tedious as it might be.  I love searching for the perfect tile, wall color, moulding, hardware, etc. 
I am not sure how much construction I will be able to do before moving in, it depends on final numbers at closing and estimates from contractors.
Obviously, I'd like to jump right in, remodel and move to a perfectly renovated house, however, this time it might have to wait.
Regardless, I will enjoy every moment of the process and will share the entire experience on this blog.