Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: House Tours (Page 2 of 3)

The Hidden Half – Ranch House Basement Tour

Hello family and friends! I hope you enjoy the house tours we shared with you so far. We spent 95% of our time in the ranch on the main floor and in the backyard. Sometimes we forget that we still have entire half of of house beneath our feet! Yes. The hidden half of our house – a full basement!

As I told you yesterday, the ranch is about 1700 sqft (not counting the garage), and it is divided into 850sqft on the main floor and 850 sqft in the basement. The basement floor plan look like this:

Ranch basement_current

Which is really similar to the main floor plan:

Ranch main floor_no garage

The biggest difference is that the main floor has a kitchen, and the basement has a third bedroom and utility room. The front bedroom is also slightly smaller than the main floor office.

In this first video, we will walk down the stairs, and take a look at the basement living room, and two of the bedrooms:

As you can see, most of the basement floor is covered by carpet, and there is no hardwood floor underneath. We poked around a little and think that under the carpet, there is concrete floor in one bedroom, and old linoleum flooring in another bedroom and in the living room. It will take us some time to clean everything off the floor, and we need to decide what type of flooring we want to use here.

The wood paneling wall is also up for debate. It is in a pretty decent shape, and it is costly to dry wall. but Slav haaaates it. So at least we will paint it a lighter color?

This second video showed you the utility room and the third bedroom I talked about.

The plan is to take down the drywall here and join the third bedroom to the utility room. So at least we can walk around our washer and dryer with their doors open! The studs in this drywall are not even supporting to the roof joints, so it will be pretty easy to just cut every off and open it up.

After we open it up, the basement will change from this:

Ranch basement_current

to something like this:

Ranch basement_proposal 1

So how are we gonna use this 850 sqft space? Tentatively, we would like to convert the basement into a guest suite. Something like this:

Ranch basement_proposal

That includes:

1. We would like to add a private entrance to the basement from the outside, and close the stairs inside.

2. We will keep both bedrooms downstairs, so we can host more family/friends at the same time. The private entrance will take away some of the space from one bedroom, but it is a pretty good size now and it will still fit a single bed/bunk bed without problem.

3. We will make the living room a movie theater/entertainment center by mounting the projector/screen down here.

4. The large room we gained from the third bedroom will be converted into a simple kitchen.

5. We will make a closet to conceal the furnace, water heater, and potential the washer and dryer.

6. We will put egress window in both bedrooms and living room. It is more than what the code asks for, but we care about fire safety and bigger window also let in more light.

What do you think? Any suggestions? Have you remodeled basement in your house, Or installed egress windows yourself?



A Living Place Update – Ranch House Main Floor Tour

Hi friends! Welcome back to our ranch house tours!

Yesterday I’ve shown you our yard and the exterior of the house. Today, I’d like to walk you through the main floor of our ranch:

As you can see, the main floor consists of a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom and two bedrooms. It is connected to the garage with a door in the kitchen (you can see the floor plan here).

1. The living room

The “1” in the above floor plan is our living room. Since move-in, we have torn off the dirty carpet, brought a dining table, a pair of dining chairs, and added record storage. Slav set up a tech center at the corner for his desktop server and routers and stuff, and I put up some window curtains for privacy.

The green rug is an older IKEA one we brought from North Carolina. It is really cheap – I think it is about $30 now – and easy to replace, but we decided to bring it with us, for our pups’ sake. This rug used to be next to the floor-to-ceiling windows in our NC apartment so our dogs spent lots of time laying and playing on it. It was the zone for patting, grooming, tugging, and eating tons of delicious treats. The smell of this rug must encode so many good memories and so many people they cared about. It smells like home. During the packing and unpacking (we moved twice in three months), this rug became the sanctuary in this big rocking world for our pups. You can always find them chilling on it.

We have not gotten a sofa yet – I want to do something fun with the sofa but I feel that something too modern is not gonna speak to the house well – so we wait. At the mean time, we have gotten two recliners and a nice sideboard! Cannot pass these beautiful trims.

Our immediate plan for the living room is to finish the floors. Down the road, we would like to move the computer stuff into the garage (where our internet cable came in the house), and build some book storage against the garage wall. We have so many books that 1/3 of the Slav’s office is filled with them now. So we need to spread them out a bit.

2. The kitchen

Oh, the kitchen. Among the greasy cabinet, the moldy grout, the old appliances, and the dirty flooring, I do not know which part of the kitchen we hate the most! We cleaned up quite a bit in here to get it up and running, but it is about all I can say with this place.


We have already took our hammer here and removed some cabinets (which did not improve the look at all), and we started to get really curious what is behind the soffits. But hold on! We do not have the budget to do anything to it (except demo, I guess), so we might have to come up with some temporary beautification here.


3. Our bedroom

Our bedroom is the first room we set up after moving in. Having a clean and comfortable place to sleep really made renovation easier. We got a really comfortable mattress from Costco a year ago and have been enjoying it a lot. And our new storage bed is steady as a rock. We actually rotated our bed 90 degrees so we can get more cool air from our floor vent, but the room is still like the day we set it up – simple and calming.

As you can see, we have a really small closet here. We have fair amount of clothing living in colder climate, so this small closet only fits our three-season clothes. All of winter coats, snow gear, and Slav’s formal shirts are kept in the closet in the office, which is directly next to the bedroom closet. The plan is to reverse that closet to the bedroom to make a big closet, with the help of some kind of storage system like the PAX.

4. Slav’s office


The room we have the clearest vision for, is Slav’s office. I knew what I was gonna do to this room as soon as I saw it for the first time. It is 14′ by 10′, a pretty good size, and we will open it to the living room with a pair of french doors – something like this.

We also want to build library shelves here for all the National Geographic we brought from a recent estate sale. Since we plan to close off the closet to the bedroom, the old closet wall becomes the perfect candidate for displaying these beautiful books:

— The closet currently houses all of Slav’s formal clothing, our winter coats, and travel gears. We will reverse it to facing the bedroom to make space for a whole wall of library bookshelves here —

It will be a fun project to remodel this room for sure. Hopefully we can get to it this winter. Opening it up to the living room will open up our living space so much – like you have another living room on the left side when you walk into the door! But we will still be able to close it off with french doors/pocket doors if Slav needs some privacy.

5. The main floor bathroom

Same as the kitchen, our main floor bath definitely can use some re-caulk. I am gonna save you from the pictures of old aluminum windows and moldy silicone for now. Our plan for it is to refresh the caulk and sealant in the bath, and potentially add more storage. Down the road, it will be nice to completely renovate this room, including getting rid of the bathtub (no one takes bath in our family), stealing some space from the hallway to fit a two sinks, and upgrading the toilet.

Here you have it, our main floor living space. It is merely 850 sqft but perfect for two of us. We think that it will be really lovely once we open the office to the living room, and renovate the kitchen and the bathroom. One goal we have for the main floor is to keep it simple and minimal. To be honest, we were a bit surprised that how well we fit in this small space – we have not even used the entire basement yet!

Ranch House Tour – Our Yard

Ladies and gentlemen, it is house tour time!

Since moving in mid-June, we have been working very hard on our ranch. It has been 7 weeks today! I am happy to report that we had just reached a sweet spot yesterday, where all the major eyesores of the house were gotten rid of, and our main living area was cleaned up. That means we can sleep and cook in a clean house like a normal family, instead of just creating more dust and more chaos each day. I am sure that the pups appreciate it! Charlie and Roxie were really not fans of loud noises and sharp tools.

Our timing could not be better – I will be starting a new full-time job tomorrow, and Slav is picking up the pace of his business. For the next month and half, we will focus 95% of the energy on our work – the work actually brings in money rather than burning holes in our pockets! We also cannot wait to experience our neighborhood – shop at our neighborhood farmer’s market, start doing yoga again (for me), subscribe to local newspapers, and have Sunday brunches. You know, like actually live in our home, not just working on it.

But do not get me wrong, the projects are still happening. There has been so much we’ve done and I’ve still not told you yet! To be clear, I am not holding any information back intentionally, it is just that we’ve done so much and so quickly, and this one-person blog could not keep up.

Now the ranch house no longer offends people’s eyes, I think it will be fun to shoot some video tours and show you what it looks like now. This is the “after” to the “destructive” part of our renovations, but a real “before” to any of the “constructive” renovations we will be doing. I will show you our yard and exterior of the house today, our main floor living space tomorrow, and our basement and garage through the rest of the week. I will also share with you our plans for each space. So get cozy, grab a cup of coffee, and read along – it will be a fun week!

Without further ado, this is our back yard:

I made a mistake around 1:15 in this video calling the chain link fence “east side”, it is actually facing west (the front of our house). You can see our site plan (and floor plan) here:

Ranch Site Plan

The back patio has changed since I made the site plan. Here is what the site looks like now:

Ranch Site_2017 Summer

Since move-in, we have

  1. trimmed the dead trees and random bushes and gotten rid of weeds;
  2. power-washed the back fence;
  3. gottten rid of the satellite dish on the roof;
  4. installed a new back storm door with a doggy door on it;
  5. Installed new electrical panel at the back and raised the electrical pole on the roof;
  6. demo-ed the old patio and the metal awning;
  7. replaced an old window well; and
  8. built a new concrete patio and brought in a new grill and patio seating.

Slav also started to refresh the shed we inherited, which was badly rotten and used as a construction trash dump:


And this is the backyard now:



Yesterday, after the video was filmed, I spent 12 hours weeding in the backyard and probably got rid of 1/4 of the ground coverage there:


See all the weeds on along the fence? All gone!


The northern side of the yard were taken over  by little tree sprouts:


And it gets really bad near the shed:


After 12 hours of work:



It was not cool to see bare dirt, but not all the green plants are good and some of them just had to go.

Roxie does not seem to care about the dirt – this girl just needs her sunbath:


Besides finishing shed, our plan for the back yard this year is to replace the chain link fence. Here is our foreseeable backyard to-do list:

1. Mowing and weeding the yard to maintain the sod we have;
2. Renovating the garden shed;
3. Replacing the chain link fence;
4. Fixing the wooden fence on northern neighbor’s side so we can take off the chain link fence there;
5. Starting composting;
6. Fixing faucet leaks;
7. Grading along the back of the house;
8. Finding an outdoor sectional and a fire pit for the patio;
9. Landscaping and gardening next spring.

We have also done a lot to the front of the house and front yard. Shortly after we moved in, we trimmed the pine tree so it stopped scraping the roof, weeded the yard, and got rid of a problematic flower bed.  More recently, we improved our curb appeal by cleaning up our porch, taking off the metal awning and demoing the old patio. Just last week, we refreshed our front entrance, which really made a difference of our curb appeal! And here is what the front of the house look like today:

I totally choked on words towards the end of this video, because we really did not have a clear plan for side and front yard. We knew that we would like to bring in evergreen shrubs – arborvitae and red berry holly would be lovely. I would also love to have climbing roses on trellis as well.

After the fence is complete, the side yard next to the garage will be enclosed into the backyard. We will put in a big gate in the front and potentially make a side patio next to the garage for Slav to park his trailer. We also tossed around the idea of a trellis roof for growing grape vines:


The northern side of the yard slopes down significantly to our neighbor’s driveway. It would be nice to plant a line of arborvitae along our property line to add some height.


This side of the foundation are exposed due to the yard slope, providing an opportunity to carve out a private entrance to the basement suite or installing egress windows:


We constantly walk around this tree at the corner and you can already see our footprints on the lawn. It is a natural choice to build a stepping stone path here:


We love holly trees and the red berries they put out in winter. It would be nice to have them as a low hedge along the sidewalk.


As far as flower goes, I love the simplicity and elegance of an English garden. One thing Slav and I both want is climbing roses on window trellis and potentially above the garage doors. It will soften the long straight lines of the ranch as well as bringing some colors to the front yard.

The whole landscaping thing is really new to me. Fortunately, Slav’s mom has a magical green thumb and our neighbors all have lovely landscaping and free plants to offer. If you guys have good ideas and suggestions, help me out!

Here you have it, our yard tour and garden to-do list. Come back tomorrow for our main floor living space!

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