WELL, IT'S DONE ... FINALLY! I'M not sure what else we can do to this house. It's perfect, really. The kids have their space upstairs, including the game room and laundry we added two years ago (not to mention the built-in computer desk), and we have our retreat, with our sitting room above it. The Williamsons stayed in the guest suite last week; I still remember when that was our master bedroom!
I'm glad they were here to see—and enjoy—the last pieces of the puzzle put in place: the pool and outdoor kitchen. It's even better than what we saw on the plans, and it really makes the outdoor living area a great space. Even if all the outdoor areas didn't face north, the 22-foot-deep overhangs would allow us to enjoy the patio and the deck above it almost all day, year-round. Plus, the pool faces the side street, so there's plenty of privacy in addition to the favorable exposure. There's even a full bath under the outdoor stairs.
It's hard to remember what this house was like when we moved in. It wasn't much, that's for sure. The lot was 100 or so feet across, but the master plan required us to build a narrow front elevation and use the alley behind the lot for the cars and a garage. We decided on an eclectic Spanish style with some Tuscan touches (at least, that's what our architect called it) very much like the houses in old Orlando, Fla.—deep-set windows, wrought iron, exposed corbels, and that trio of arches that we've managed to carry though all the additions and remodeling projects since. Those are the kinds of things you take for granted sometimes, but they really make the house feel comfortable and tied together, like it was all built at the same time (ha! We wish).
Back then, it was a simple two-story, three-bedroom house, with one of the bedrooms over the living room and the master suite just off the foyer. Maybe 1,700 square feet, all told. No yard, just a postage-stamp concrete pad behind the kitchen and a narrow path to the garage and alley.
We've come a long way since then (in more ways than one), connecting the house and the garage with the great room and the new master suite, adding more rooms above them, and—finally—achieving nirvana with this fantastic outdoor pool area. I'd say we've got about 6,200 square feet of conditioned space now, with probably another 1,800 or so under roof, the garage, the little garden off the master bath, and now the pool. It's hard to believe we own such a grand house, especially one that started from such humble beginnings!
We had our architect, Ed Binkley, of Blood-good Sharp Buster, draw up new plans that show what our house looks like since we added the outdoor living area. He's designed all of the additions and remodeling projects we've done over the years, but we haven't seen a complete floor plan since we added the great room about seven years ago.
I can see now why Ed calls the house “introspective.” Almost every room looks or turns into the courtyard. That's a function of the long, narrow lot, he says, which afforded us the space to add to the back. There was also a strict limit on what we could do to the front: nothing (according to the master plan for Baldwin Park, our neighborhood).
If you try real hard, you can see the layout of the original house along the front of the floor plan, though we've since blown out the living room with a 25-foot beamed ceiling. The gallery above is the only remnant of the bedroom that used to span that space.
Looking at the plan, the family room and outdoor living areas are almost identical in size; when we open those folding glass doors between them, it's more than 1,400 square feet of living space! And I would never have imagined having a master suite so big, but I sure wouldn't want it any different.
Upstairs, the bedrooms are all in a row, but their doors are set in from the hallway to make it less of a straight line when you look down the hall. That covered deck has become the kids' hangout (when they're not in the pool), and the balcony does a great job of shielding the sitting room over the master bedroom from the morning sun.