Terrific Broth

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

Tag: House Tours (Page 2 of 3)

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!

Ranch House “Before” and Floor Plan

Ranch main floor_3D_transparent

Exactly a month ago, Slav and I became owners of the ranch. She’s not fancy by any means – in fact, she was one outdated grumpy. But she is STRONG, and has good bones. Since move-in, we have been chipping away the dated and trimming away the dead. We are making this old granny a classy lady on the block.

To better illustrate our intention for the ranch, I want to give you an overview of the property and the layout. Consider today’s pictures as the “before” tour to the ranch, because we have not done any upgrade yet. All we did was demo, pulling out carpet on the main floorcleaning out the yard, leaving a simpler and cleaner state for future renovations.

And I get to try SketchUp for the first time! Warning: it is addictive, just like the Sims.

The Site Plan of Our Property

Our intention on how to use the interior space is closely tied to the orientation of the house and how it sits on the lot. So it makes sense to take a look at the whole property first.

Ranch Site Plan

Our ranch is west facing, with a front yard on the west of the house and the backyard on the east side. The side yards sits on the northern side and the southern side of the house/driveway. A concrete path wraps around the garage, connecting the front drive way to the backyard porch.

There are also two porches outside of the two exterior doors. Both of them are in good shape, except both porches sunk quite a few inches and towards the house, which could direct rain water to the foundation. It is not a big deal for now, since both porches are protected by metal porch covers. But we plan to correct the sloping issue soon.

Porch cover in front


Porch cover at the back


A pine tree (the small circle) covers the front porch, providing much-needed shade to the living room window in the afternoons. A big apple tree (the big circle) is in the middle of the backyard. The rest of the yard are all sod (and weed). The landscaping option is wide open here.

The Main Floor Layout

If you narrow down to the match box in the site plan above, you can see the floor plan of the main floor. I am only gonna talk about the main floor today, since we intent to keep 95% of our activities to this floor.

Ranch main floorplan_dimensions

The main floor consists of two bedrooms on the northern end (left), a bathroom, a living room, and a kitchen. The two-car garage occupies the southern end of the house (right). During summer days, the house stays relatively cool compared to the garage, which is a big plus. And we will see how it plays out in the winter. Slav will be spending lots of time in the garage, so we plan to insulate it well to prevent it from getting too hot/cold.

The whole main floor is merely 850 sqft, putting on strict restrictions on furniture size and placement. It prevents us from buying any “filler” furniture, and what we get will be multi-functional and well-thought. We aimed for small house on purpose in order to force ourselves to live simple. George Carlin really drilled the “stuff” theory into our heads!

The living space

Ranch main floor_3D

1. Living room; 2. Kitchen; 3. Bedroom; 4. Office. 5. Bath. 6. Stairs to the basement. 7. Two-car garage.

When you walk into the front door, you walk directly into the living room (1), with a picture window and the living space to your right.


The living window faces west, making it a great spot for late dinners. We use our dining table throughout the day – this is where I work on my laptop, open mails, doing small crafts, and have my afternoon tea with some music.

This is the view of the kitchen from living room. The white door leads to the backyard. And the wooden door on the right goes to the garage. With a doorway, two doors and one set of stairs (6 in the floor plan), the current kitchen layout is pretty choppy.


Ranch House - 6


Kitchen is the one room we do not have any clear vision yet – Slav wants the wall between the kitchen and the living room to come down, but we are pretty sure that it is weight bearing. We will also lose precious wall space (which means cabinet space) if we knock down this wall. Kitchen is not on our plans this year, so there is plenty of time to think over. For now, we just want to clean it up, live in it, and slowly get a feel how we want to use it.

The bedrooms

Ranch main floor_3D

In the layout above, both 3 and 4 were used as bedrooms by the previous owner (they have 5 kids!). There are two closets between them, each opens to one bedroom. We chose the smaller bedroom (3) as our bedroom for three reasons: first, it faces the backyard, whereas room 4 faces the street, so it is more private. Second, it faces east. Morning light fills the room and really helps us to wake up naturally. Last, this room shares a wall with the only bathroom (5) on the main floor. We can potentially put in a doorway on the shared wall and create a master suite if we are so inclined.


The other bedroom (room 4) will be converted into an office for Slav (we plan to host guests only in the basement). Slav has been writing grants for living for almost three years now. He always worked from a desk at the corner of our living room, which was rather noisy and distracting. It is a long overdue to give him a space which he can close off from rest of the house. This room also have a west facing window which harvests the last straw of light of the day. Slav is a night person and usually runs on 10 AM to 2 AM schedule. The lighting in this room will help his productivity in late afternoon/early evenings.

Slav’s desk in North Carolina


Slav’s desk in our Evergreen Rental

04 living-desk

New office in the ranch!



Since this room will be an office, we plan to reverse the closet to face the bedroom. It not only gives us a bigger closet for the master bedroom, but also provide a much needed wall for built-in bookshelves. All of our books (20 boxes to be precise) are still sitting inside of the garage. Inside the garage! What a crime.


Fence, fence, and more fence


Coming out of the backdoor from the kitchen, you can find a fully-fenced backyard. That is >300 linear feet of fencing, so we are really grateful that it came with the house. It could have looked better though – the wooden fence at the back is worn and in two different color, and the fencing on the right side and facing the front yard are all 4-ft chain links. We will be replacing them with 6-ft  dog eared wooden fencing, and the tentative plan is to include the side yards on each side of the house. It is mostly for matching where the neighbors’ fence sits, but it will also give us some space that is out of public view. It could be perfect for things that are not easy on the eyes, like a compost bin or outdoor clothing lines.

The fencing situation is a bit complicated on the left side of the backyard, as we have two layer of fencing: our neighbor’s 6-ft wooden fence, and our 4 ft chain link fencing, with trees sandwiched in between.


The neighbor’s wooden fence is in a bad shape, partially due to the tree roots. We plan to repair it from their side, then take down the chain link fencing from our side. It will make trimming the trees and cleaning along the fence much easier. We are talking to our neighbors and getting estimate for the fence work. So stay toned! The fence upgrade is happening!

That is it! The main floor and the site plan. We have a long list of things to take care of in July before I start working full time again (starting August 1st). So there will be lots of things popping up on the blog. I hope you guys like reading our progress so far. I am trying to make this blog less of a laundry list, but it is hard! House renovation IS literally going down a list!


Page 2 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén