All the fires going on in southern California right now have made me think (once again) about what I would do if I had only 10 minutes to evacuate my home. About 25% of our office is out today because they either have be on standby for evacuation or they just have no way of getting in because of all the freeway closures.
Since I’ve thought about this before, I currently have an evacuation checklist inside my desk drawer. A checklist is handy because when you have to grab things in a rush, you’re likely to forget something that was important even though it seems like common sense now – like your passport. My checklist has the following items:
our accordion file that has our car titles, passports, my citizenship certificate, our marriage certificate and other important documents
our memory box that has our engagement photos, wedding photos, all the letters & cards James wrote me and other sentimental items we’ve collected over the last 10 years
the watch that my mom gifted James on our wedding day
my engagement ring (if I wasn’t wearing it already)
I’ve also thought about scenarios where I don’t even get a chance to evacuate my home because either the fire was so sudden or maybe I just can’t get to my home because of street/freeway closures. To prepare for this, I started scanning a lot of the documents on my checklist and uploading photos onto Flickr. I’m not done digitizing and backing up everything but I definitely feel the urgency to finish this sooner than later.
When I started college, my mom bought me this multi-functional store unit (see below). It has since gone through at least 5 moves with me. I never really loved the look but it was functional and, most importantly, free. So I kept bringing it with me to each new apartment, which was always a pain because not only was it heavy, but one of the wheels would keep falling off.
In our current apartment, it served as an entryway catch-all and storage unit for some of James’ shoes. But as you can see, it didn’t fit very many pairs so I kept tripping over the pairs that he left scattered all over the floor. Another thing that didn’t work well with this unit was the shape. It was really low (maybe up to my thigh) and wide.
When I saw this shoe cabinet as I was flipping through the new Ikea catalog, I knew it would be the perfect replacement. Not only did it take up less floor space because of it’s tall and narrow shape, but it was also inexpensive – only $25!
Now, all of James’ shoes are neatly stored and we gained some square footage back, which is important when you’re living in only 480 square feet!
At first the only changes we planned for the hallway were switching out the carpet for hardwood floors and painting the cabinets and doors white. But my mom came up with the idea of removing the current cabinets and replacing them with new, separated cabinets. The idea was brilliant because it made the hallway look a lot wider and now there is counter space to fold laundry, display pictures, charge your phone, etc.
The main changes that were done for the living room & dining room were switching out the carpet for hardwood floors and removing most of the wall mirrors.
The only wall mirror we kept was the one above the fireplace because the frame around it made it look modern and it fit the aesthetic we were going for. We replaced the pink tiles around the fireplace with new marble tiles and bought a new fireplace door. The wet bar was completely redone with the same cabinets, countertop and mosaic as the kitchen and the faucet was replaced with a new one.
Before we closed escrow on our condo, we already started planning the remodel. We knew everything in the kitchen had to go except the fridge because it looked new and matched the look we were going for: white, grey and modern.
The white cabinets and grey counter tops were an easy decision. But we went back and forth on if we should use quartz, granite or real marble. We ended up choosing quartz because it was hard to find a grey granite that we liked and real marble stains and yellows too easily. We didn’t know what kind of mosaic we wanted but as soon as we saw the one we chose, we knew it was the right one. It has marble and pale mint glass, which surprised no one considering our wedding colors were mint & grey.
In addition to replacing all the cabinets and counter tops, we also moved the placement of the fridge and pantry. By moving the pantry to where the microwave and stove used to be and keeping the space where the pantry used to be open, it made that corner look much bigger. We’ll eventually add a built in breakfast nook bench.
All the under cabinet lighting was installed by James. Even though it was his first time, he did an awesome job :)!
What transformed the space the most was removing the doors and widening the entryway to the dining room and removing the blocks on the ceiling that was covering the HVAC vent. We had our contractor shorten the vent and move the opening so that only one wall needed the block. With the entry way wider and the ceilings higher, our kitchen looked twice as big as it did when we started.
Here are some more before and after photos of the space:
It’s been a quiet few months on this blog because I’ve been busy renovating the new condo James and I bought at the end of last year. It’s 1,800 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms located near Century City. You can actually see my work building from the balcony!
Renovations began right before Christmas and ended last week.
We still have a few things to take care of (fixing windows that won’t shut, replacing a rusted doorknob, getting some of the doors sanded and repainted, etc.) but for the most part, it’s done and will be move in ready soon.
Now, we just have to find a suitable tenant.
We bought this place with the intention of moving in eventually – maybe when we have a kid or two. But right now, we’re perfectly happy living in our 480 sq. ft. (rented) studio. Not to mention, the overhead cost of our new condo is twice our rent so we’ll be saving a lot more money staying put ;).