• May 3, 2005

Flora, Fauna & Another Harmonica

Building a living doghouse out of vines and more

Restoration Diary, ,


When we purchased our house we also become the proud owners of
one yard plant.


Exhibit A) This is one of the earliest photos of our new-to-us house.
When I look at the asbestos siding, vinyl windows, less than stellar
paint job and collapsing front porch I have to wonder, “WHAT were
we thinking?! Why did we agree to pay the full asking price?”
Oh, that’s right, we live in Los Angeles…

The photo captures the lone plant that came with our house (outlined
in pink). I had brought over some pink azaleas and a hanging plant
from our apartment, not that they made a big improvement.


Exhibit B) This is our house today. Boy, what a difference some
paint, our life savings and a few plants can make! I am training a
passion vine to grow up over the open beams at the end of the


I have been completely surprised by these $3.99 climbing roses
from Home Depot. I was never a “rose person” and probably
wouldn’t have picked these up if they hadn’t been priced to sell
on triple mark down. I’m now a full fledged rose convert.


I wish I knew the name of this yellow rose. The blooms are huge!


This nameless pink rose is starting to intertwine with the purple
flowered passion vine. The result should be lovely.


My solution to our ugly, rusting chain-link fence until we can
afford to replace it. This vine was also on sale at Home Depot.

Living Doghouse Update
I think I might be building another one of these houses very soon!
They are fighting over who gets to sit inside.


Guess who won?


The star jasmine is starting to fill in on the back of the dog house.

Hmmmmmm, this may just be a fluke…
Or, maybe I’m getting into the “working on the house again” mood?
The other day I found myself standing on my office chair picking loose
wallpaper off the ceiling with a nail file while talking on the phone. The
chair is on castors so I would talk, pick the ceiling, pull down the loose
wallpaper and roll along to the next spot of loose wallpaper.

Talk, pick and roll…talk, pick and roll…

Not until I had rolled myself to the other side of the room and saw the
trail of destruction behind me did I pause to wonder what I was doing?
I slowly sat down in the chair and gently laid the nail file down.

Later in the day I complained to David about how our pocket doors
aren’t completely flush with the wall when they are open. They stick
out a few inches from the wall and that has always bothered me.

David and I took the doors out and cleaned all the loose debris
and 93 years worth of dirt blocking their tracks. The doors are
now completely hidden in the wall.

I found a harmonica inside the crevice that holds the pocket door.
It matches one I found in the wall of the other pocket door last year.


Twin boys, the grandsons of our home’s original owner, grew up
in this house. Was this some sort of mischief on their part or
are harmonicas in the wall some type of symbol for good luck,
like a horse shoe?

Comments { 21 }
  1. mom

    Your flowers are absolutely beautiful. Especially the yellow roses. I like how you have used the grass in the corner too. If I hadn’t been seeing the changes on this site, it would be hard to believe it is the same house.

    You have done a great job.

  2. Jess

    It looks amazing. The windows and plants and paint made the biggest difference for me. Love those roses–there’s nothing quite like the big-box-end-of-the-season-cast-offs, is there?

  3. deb

    your garden is looking fantastic! i have never been a rose person either, and now i have 3 different bushes in our side garden. they were neglected for at least the last 7 years (POs never did any gardening) and last fall i chopped all the dead branches and trimmed the others. one of them was in really bad shape and now they’re in pretty good condition, but they still have the aphid problem- where are all the ladybugs at??? this fall i’m going to chop them right to the ground and start to shape them into nice round bushes. they’re all different colours, too- one white, one pinkish yellow and the really sick one has beautiful large yellow blooms. my mother, who loves roses, says to use something called fossil dust around the base for the bugs, but i can’t seem to find it…

  4. RPF

    HGF, your good IN farm background is surfacing!
    The roses look great.
    Love, RPF

  5. Kim

    I’ve been a lurker for about a year now. All I can say is WOW! My best friend inherited a 1922 bungalow in Tacoma, totally in disrepair. Whenever she gets frustrated over the amount of work involved in restoration, I remind her of your site. Its definitely been an inspiration to many.

    I’m so glad to see you posting again, and I hope you’re both enjoying your hiatus.

  6. Kasmira

    Thanks for sharing the photos! After 2.5 weeks of nonstop work, I’m beginning to get a little burned out on the garden. You’ve helped me stay motivated!

  7. Dave

    How do you find time to update this site AND work on your house at the same time having some sort of life? I just purchased a 1931 bungalow in Puyallup, Wa. and could use your advice! There is lots to do and it doesn’t seem like there will ever be enough time or money.

  8. Kristin

    Man, what an improvement! Stunning! I love the plants and the colors you painted the house.

  9. Alice

    Your house is beautiful and I love the flowers. I’m sure that is a climbing Peace rose–one of my favorites.

  10. Jocelyn

    Looks great and like you are enjoying it too-glad to hear it. Your dogs really crack me up also- we have 2 small dogs and the rivalry stuff is quite amusing.

  11. Chris

    The climbing yellow rose looks like it might be “New Dawn” You should be able to google that name.

  12. Ana

    When I look at both pictures and I see the differences, I get overwhelmed thinking how in the world did they plan these details? But they come little by little don’t they? I mean you can’t just look at a house before you buy it and say this is the rose bush that I want to plant here, this is the fencing that I want around my front porch or this is the color that I want for the exterior, can you? It all falls in place little by little. It’s beautiful, the details, just beautiful.

  13. jason

    Love the before and after here, from original condition to current. Beautiful work. We had the same asbestos shingle removed recently, and fortunately found our wood to be in surprisingly good condition. Anyway, painters are due next week and we’re still testing color schemes, the back of the house is an incoherent rainbow of indecision. We love your colors and would love to see what they look like on our Alhambra bungalow (if you’re willing to impart the knowledge, that is…) And we’re looking forward to regular posts again – enjoy your break in the meantime!

  14. halloweenlover

    WOW! What a difference is right! I love the colors you chose, and that red for the fireplace really makes it pop against the rest of the house. Beautiful!

    I am in the process of picking flowers and plants for our garden. Our one plant is a rhododendrum. And then dying boxwoods around the edge of the lawn. Yuck.

    I like the gardening website http://www.bluestoneperennials.com. Their stuff is super cheap, but it arrives quickly and grows fast. Just in case you are looking for more gardening. This is the first time I used them, but they have been highly rated. I am checking out home depot though, those roses are gorgeous! I’m so jealous!!!

  15. heather

    Hello! Sorry I haven’t checked the site for a few days.

    After some research I discovered that Alice was right when she said that the yellow rose is a Climbing Peace rose. Thanks!

    Anyone out there know the name of the pink rose?

    Thanks for the suggestion of BlueStonePerennials.com. We definately aren’t done landscaping the yard. Although, I can’t say I’m a fan of Home Depot, they do seem to have some great deals on flowers and plants.

    Here are the house colors. They are Ralph Lauren colors that I found at Home Depot (again!). For a place we don’t like that much we sure do spend a lot of time there. We had the colors mixed into Ben Moore paint.

    Body color: Amazon NA60 (Ralph Lauren Naturals palette)

    Trim color: Hampton Court NA54 (Ralph Lauren Naturals palette)

    Accent color on windows: La Mesa Red (Benjamin Moore)

    Thanks again for all the feedback!

  16. buster

    we just finished our kitchen – feel free to take a look and steal as many ideas as you’d like. take heart: you CAN have an island in a small space…if you do a tricky multi-use thing like our magic cutting board over the sink, it helps save space.

  17. buster

    oh, the URL didn’t show up – sorry. try: homepage.mac.com/pjfraser/house

  18. Greg Bryant

    Hi folks,

    Just found this site surfing and what a help. We’re also neighbors with our 1912 bungalow being on 43rd st. Arlingon/Vernon area.

    I grew up in this area and a little familiar with the look but i never thought I would buy something so close to the memories of my childhood.

    Anyway your work has been good tips for me and my wife. We are now gutting our kitchen and bath at this very moment. OUr next project will be the floors that are covered by carpet and the similiar coats of paint on the mahogany wain— (forgot), molding, french windows and doors.

    Would you recommend the silentpaintremover for this type house interior?

    best of luck


  19. heather

    Hello neighbor! Our kitchen and bath will also be our next big projects inside. We are trying to save up enough $ to tacke the job!

    In my experience the Silent Paint Remover didn’t really work well for detail work and it waas too bulky to fit in tight corners. It is a GREAT product for flat surfaces but doesn’t work as well for thngs like picture rails or detailed molding. This was just our experience.

    Using a heat gun for areas with more detail and corners and the SPR for flat surfaces would probably work well. Although, our woodwork was stripped with a chemical process.

    It was nice hearing from you! Keep in touch.

  20. ST

    I’m glad I came and took a peek tonight. I’m the niece and goddaughter of one of your home’s inhabitants, Ray Catudal. I thought I’d come see how your house was coming along.

    It’s gorgeous. I loved seeing the before and after pictures.

    I too have become a rose convert. We live in a home that was built in 1957 (I think now the new term is “mid-century”) and so we’re constantly redoing everything, and lately it’s been the garden.

    Anyway, I didn’t know that the Peace rose came in a climbing version. This weekend we planted two climbing roses. One is called Blaze and the other is Joseph’s Coat. Here’s a link you might enjoy. It’s full of rose pictures. http://www.rose-roses.com/catalog/rosepictures.html
    The pink climbing rose reminds me of an English type rose, but I’m new at all this rose stuff, too.

    Again, my late uncle would beam with pride if he saw your lovely home. How wonderful that his childhood home is now in such a marvelous state.

  21. heather

    Dear ST,

    Hello! Thanks for keeping in touch. It is wonderful to hear from you.

    When we painted the house we tried to match the original 1912 colors. We still have LOTS of work to do on the house but we are making progress…

    That is a great rose link…I’m starting to get into the Old Garden roses. I have almost purchased Joseph’s Coat a few different times but I don’t have a place for any more climbing roses.

    If you or anyone in your family is ever in this area and want to stop by the house please get in touch with us. You are more than welcome any time.

    heather + dave

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