Irvine Update: Bye Bye Beam and Loving the Purple

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in, which I guess is good and bad – good because we’re busy; bad because I haven’t been keeping you up do date.  Nevertheless, in case you were worried, rest assured we’ve been hard at work in Irvine and on a couple of other big projects (let’s face it, given a choice of sleep or blog, well, you get it).

Since my last Irvine update, we’ve had to secure a few more permits because we added a few more elements to the project.  More on that below.  Now we’re done with all the framing, the new plumbing and electricity are installed and good to go, and it’s time for drywall – and wait til you see the color (no, Sapir, we’re not leaving the house purple).

So where should we start?  How about the family room?

The big news here is that I succeeded in getting rid of that intrusive ceiling beam that divided the original family room from the addition.  This one.

Ceiling Beam

From the photos, it may not seem like a big deal, but believe me, it is. That beam divided the room and made the ceiling feel lower than it really was.  Plus, functionally, it made it hard for the room to work.  We needed a special permit to remove it, but it was well worth all the effort – even the inspector agreed.  With that beam gone, we’ve opened up the entire room, removing the artificial divider and making for a much more comfortable and functional living space.  And, there is a much more spacious feel to the entire room.

On the other side of the room, we finished the structure for the new office.  Have a look.

The city won’t let us install windows on the outside wall because the house sits on a zero lot line (I guess they don’t like neighbors playing peek-a-boo), so to bring in light, we installed five interior windows – four on the wall adjoining the family room and one over the door.  These will be filled with frosted glass that will let in light but maintain privacy on both sides.


Thinking about resale, this room could be used as a guest room, nanny’s room (since it’s downstairs, the family has privacy upstairs), or any other kind of bonus room. For now, it will be an office with a door that locks, keeping little hands away from important papers and expensive machines.

Outside the office, you can see the makings of the kitchen workspace.  We call it “Grand Central Station,” because that will become the functional center of the home in terms of the family and its activities.

Think desk organizers, a bulletin or white board, places for all the notes from school and activities, right off the kitchen where the family spends most of its time anyway.  Functionality with a capital “F.”

Here in the kitchen, you see that special drywall I was talking about.  Dig that color.  It’s very high quality and prevents mold and mildew- the Scarlet Letters of resale – from developing.  This is a great example of how thinking ahead can save $$$.

Upstairs, we’re finishing up the “behind the scenes” work in the two bathrooms.  Here’s the master.  Again, our lovely purple drywall, for obvious reasons.

Shower going in with jets on both sides.  Can’t see them under the plastic, but they’re installed and ready to go.

Dual vanity will go here.

And in the fourth bedroom, we’ve installed a pocket door for privacy in the bathroom.  That’s the framing for the closet you see below, with the bathroom on the other side.


So that’s where we are.  New windows and doors are coming this week.  Stay tuned.

Thinking about renovating?  Contact Doron at 949-228-5218 or for your complimentary, expert consultation. 


Permits Secured and Ready to Launch

Remember my big project in Irvine, the house I pretty much tore down to the studs?  Wondering why you haven’t heard about it for a while?  Permits.  The city and I were doing the Cha Cha for the better part of the last three weeks while I secured the necessary permits for the remodel.

Permits are a vital part of the construction process for major remodels because they
ensure that what’s being built complies with national, regional and local building codes.  Not all remodeling projects require permits, but for those that do, there’s no getting around them, nor would you want to.  Construction done without permits where required can result in significant fines and penalties.  The city might even come in and demo the unauthorized construction – something neither a homeowner nor a contractor ever want to see.

But more important, permits ensure that what your contractor is building is safe. It’s kind of like a checks and balance system, only it works a lot better than Washington does, but we’re still hopeful about that one.

In Irvine, we needed an electrical permit and a full building permit for the construction.  We had planned on leaving the electricity as is, in which case we would not have needed the permit.  But as the scale of the project grew and we decided to put in more lights throughout the house, we upgraded to a 200 Amp panel, and that’s what the permit allowed.

What will that mean for the clients?  Well, suppose they’re having a party one night.
They’ve got lights on in the backyard and throughout the house.  DJ’s pumping some tunes, or maybe there’s a band.  Hors d’oeuvres are warming in the oven, air conditioner’s on, dishwasher’s going, you get the picture. One of the guests decides to turn on the bubbles in the Jaccuzzi and BAM!  Circuit overload and bye bye electricity.   And that’s when the real fun starts: people start falling over each other in the dark, drinks are spilling, food’s flying, glasses breaking – pretty ugly.

That won’t happen with a 200 Amper.  This guy is Superman; really powerful.  The breakers won’t jump, lights and music will stay on and the party will continue well into the night.

The other permit is for the construction, and now that that’s secured, we can start
the framing.  Framing is basically where we build support walls out of wood which will allow us to knock down other walls to create an open floor plan.

You can see what I mean with these photos of the framing in the dining room.   In the original home, a wall separated the kitchen and dining room (where the oven is), and you had to step down to the sunken living room.


That separating wall is now a relic of the past, and we decided to lower the dining room floor three feet so that it will be flush with the living room.  What will be left is a beautiful,
open space in which the dining area can be extended out (because this family
entertains BIG).  Plus, the higher ceiling will make the house feel much more spacious.

I know, it doesn’t look like much, but really friends, this is progress.

Here in the family room, you can see another example of framing.  This family room was huge.  Remember this?

We cut down the space a bit to make it more manageable (I do have a 68” TV that would have been perfect for this room but my wife wouldn’t let me give it away), still leaving plenty of seating and entertaining area.  By doing that, we expanded what
used to be the laundry room on the other side, and now we have plenty of room
to make a nice office that can also be used as a guest room.  The wall will go up soon, but here’s the wood frame.

So that’s where we are.  Lots of dust, dirt and wood, but believe me, it will be worth it.

We’ll be finishing up the framing this week which will give shape to the final layout.  We’ll also be installing the new plumbing for the bathrooms we’re building in the master
suite and fourth bedroom, as well as for the kitchen, and we’ll finalize the placement of the light fixtures and exhaust fans.  If you’re a Bob the Builder type, you’ll find this stuff fascinating.  If not, stay tuned anyway because soon we’ll get to the interior design part – colors, tiles, flooring, etc.  The client has some ideas but will be looking for some input from YOU, so be sure to keep reading and don’t forget to share my blog with your friends.

Got a major renovating project in mind in Los Angeles, Orange or Riverside
counties?  Contact Doron at 949-279-2011 or for a free estimate or design consultation.

Seven Hot Bathroom Trends in Irvine Remodel (so far)

Recently, Christopher Solomon of MSN Real Estate identified the 13 top
bathroom remodel trends
.  Calling the bathroom “the new den,” he wrote that today’s emphasis is on luxury, with more and more people looking to their bathrooms to relax and luxuriate after a hectic day.

In other words, those fabulous, super posh bathrooms in the Wynn and other high end hotels aren’t just for vacations.  Today people are incorporating the “wow” factor in their homes, and getting more value out of their homes while they’re in them and when they sell.

The master bathroom in my Irvine project is undergoing a major remodel.   Let’s see how many of the top 13 trends made the cut.

#1 – Large, airy showers.  Well, it wasn’t before, but it will be soon enough.


We’ve literally torn out the entire bathroom AND knocked out the wall
separating the adjoining room to make space for what is going to be a large,
glass encased shower with hinged doors.  I know, not very luxurious right now, but just wait.

And look up at the ceiling.

That’s right, what ceiling?  See that strip of wall paper?  That’s where the old ceiling was.  We’ve knocked it out entirely straight through to the attic so we can create what will be soaring ceilings.  Now THAT’s airy.

 # 2 Noisy Jacuzzis replaced by soaking tubs:  We’ll leave the Jacuzzi for outside, we’re going for serene experience.

# 3 – Let the light in: According to the article, people want their bathrooms brighter and more sun filled than before.  We’ll be extending the skylight to bring in more sun and we’re thinking about that octagonal window too.

#6 – Walling off the loo: One of the biggest trends in both new construction and higher-quality remodels, says Solomon, is “privatization of the toilet,” in other words, giving it its own room.  As you can see, we’ve moved the toilet from its old location to one that makes more sense spatially.  You’re seeing the framing for what will be the new toilet room, only this one will have a door that swings out – a little more modern plus all the privacy and added space you could want.


#8 – Smarter storage: Additional storage consisting of small drawers with dividers is the latest in stashing your stuff.  We’re thinking of putting in a nice linen closet plus a tower with shelves that are easily accessible.

#9 – Dueling vanities: Increasingly, homeowners are asking for his-and-hers sinks and vanities, Solomon says.


No more back-to-back washing for Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner.  A new dual vanity will go on the right hand side:

# 12 – Good tiles: Lame linoleum and glazed tiles are out, porcelain and stone tile is in – and so is glass for that matter.  We’ve been looking at some beautiful stone tiles in warm earth tones that are durable, easy to clean and won’t break the bank.  No firm decision yet, but we’re definitely headed in this direction.

So there you go, seven out of 13.  What made Solomon’s list that didn’t make
ours?  Steam baths, small coolers and flat screen TVs, (at least, they’ll have wireless and a computer), grab bars in the tub and showers (clients aren’t there yet),
and heated tiles.  But you never know…we’re not done yet.

Until next time, enjoy a little luxuriating of your own, in your bathroom, or wherever you choose.

Oh, and by the way, the world’s biggest wine cellar is the Cricova Mines in Moldova.  Congratulations to Derrick in Los Angeles who came up with the answer.  A bottle of wine is on its way.

If you’re thinking of a bathroom remodel with some of the top trends, contact Doron for a free, in-home estimate at 949-228-5218 or