Tuesday, June 04, 2013


It's been too long!

It's been way way way too long... but that doesn't mean I've stopped working! Most recently I did a bit of a quickie-redo in the master bedroom. I have to tell you...touring tons of homes as a real estate broker, the master bedroom is always the last place to get attention. Anyhow, I could show you some before pictures, but they're horrible. I exposed the concrete floors, scraped the ceilings, and repainted. Here's how it looks now:

Thursday, January 12, 2012


New Mailbox

If you have $200 to spend on a modern mailbox...definitely buy this one:

The craftsmanship on the Neutrabox is unparalleled and the price, given how it's made, is actually quite reasonable. But if you're like me, you might need something a bit more economical.

So how did I get into looking for a new mailbox, anyway?

Like many problems, it started with the innocent but erroneous believe that a tilting item on a post would be fun and charming, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The reality, like most leaning structures, was that eventually my mailbox would fall down.

This thing was a bit of a last vestige of the previous owner's poor planning. It was located in the wrong spot and was the wrong design. There aren't really a lot cool, modern, post-mounted mailboxes. I decided to go back to some of Cliff May's original ideas: common materials, executed simply.

Instead of the awkward, complicated post pictured above, I decided to go with something simple...just a plain 4x4 post with a hidden platform to support the mailbox. No crossbars, not piece rising up in back, no bevels. And for the mailbox I wanted something simple and elegant, but also common. If you're on a budget, a great way to find modern-looking stuff is to go industrial or even agricultural. That's where you find the simple, functional stuff. Ultimately I decided to go with a simple rural mailbox, just like the one I have above...but in clearcoated aluminum. 

It really looks great with the stainless house numbers. Anyhow, I had to put in a new post and it's really important to get the details right (like having it be level and plumb). It only takes a few extra minutes to add some stays and double check your work, but you'll appreciate a post installed right for years to come.

Finally, here is the finished product. I even used stainless screws to make sure they'll always match the clearcoated aluminum mailbox. It has a very "fragile" look but platform is completely hidden underneath. In reality, it's very solid, and feels great when it snaps closed. I just need to paint the post and I'll be done. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011


New Desk

I'm a total workaholic...especially lately. One of the things that makes that lifestyle choice a bit more palatable is a kickass desk. Also, you may have noticed I haven't done an update on the floor project. I'm actually done (including baseboard repainting) but haven't had a chance to take pictures.

As a quick aside, painting baseboards the same color as the wheels does some much to streamline the appearance of a room. This is even more true in Cliff May homes where white baseboards just stick out and unnecessarily dry your eye to the lower edges of the room. Even in a plain-old tract home, this is great way to help the room "read" modern. The only pitfall, of course, is that your wall color and floor have to actually go together.

Anyhow, below is the desk. I started off with the Ikea Vika Lilleby trestles -- at $15/ea there's no way I could duplicate them. However, I was a bit disappointed their glass top selection. Not only was the glass either frosted or "circuit board" patterned, but it was only 3/8" thick and tempered. Tempered glass sounds like a great idea for a desktop, but it isn't. Tempered glass is very susceptible to bumps from the edges. Instead, I found a local glass company that made me a custom-sized piece of 1/2" non-tempered clear glass with straight edges and gently-clipped corners (so I won't poke myself). The price was reasonable and for $200 I now have a kickass desk.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


Some Success!

My goal through the holiday weekend was to remove the tiles from my office. In my arsenal of tolls I have a scraper, heat gun, chisel, and hammer. I had heard this job can be a real bear so I wanted to give my plenty of time to complete it (and take breaks as to not lose my sanity).

I was able to get it mostly done, save for some cleanup around the baseboards and the closet area (which is more because I have stuff I'm too lazy to move. I also still have tomorrow. The plan is to pick up a product called Bean-e-doo (it's made from soybeans) on Tuesday as it will turn all of the black mastic into oily goo. From then, it's time to degrease and clean. Finally after that I can explore some surface treatment options. Here's a closeup:

In my case it went pretty well. Some tiles came up a lot easier than others and I learned there are definitely some subtleties to proper flooring scraper technique. Fortunately, there was only one spot with about 8 tiles that required me sitting on the floor with a chisel and hammer. 

As for surface treatments, right now I'm leaning towards a satin finish acrylic sealer. I think the "wet look" epoxy will be a little too much and I'm worried about stripping it later if I don't like it.

Saturday, September 03, 2011


It Begins!

This has been on the plate for a while now. Cliff May homes were built with asphalt composition tiles in throughout the house. A black, asbestos-containing, super-strong mastic was used to adhere them. I love the look of the tiles that my house came with. Instead of black, I had a deep ox-blood color. Unfortunately, when one of the previous owners installed carpet the tack strips obliterated the edges of all the rooms. In my office I have decided to remove the tiles and go down to the concrete to see how that feels for a while.

I couldn't wait so I did a test spot with crappy adhesive remover. It took the mastic right off. I think the Bean-e-doo will work even better.

Monday, August 15, 2011


It's been TOO LONG

So here's the deal...

I've been lazy. That's the truth of it. I've also been busy with two new work websites: www.BroadmoorExclusives.com and www.OCModHomes.com. These aren't Cliff May-specific websites, but if you like my blog, mid-century modern homes, or cool houses in Orange County, California -- they're worth checking out. We're also getting ready for something big: www.OCCliffMays.com -- but it's not quite ready yet.

Anyhow, as part of a photo shoot in the Broadmoor Exclusives neighborhood in Tustin, (see the results here) I rented a special, architectural wide-angle lens for my trusty Canon Digital Rebel. While the rental price was affordable (just $28 for 2 days), the cost to purchase this lens is about $900 -- but after my
experience with it, I'm beginning to think it just might be worth it. Here's a picture at the right...it's actually a 10-22MM lens, specifically designed for digital SLRs.

Anyhow, I think the photos turned out great and the lens is especially useful for those tight interior shots and downright irreplaceable for small spaces like bathrooms. While I had the lens, I thought I would take some pictures of my own house. And here they are...listed below.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


New Website!

I've been busy.

It sounds like a lame excuse and in a lot of ways, it is. But it's been for a good reason. For a long-time I've thought that's it's a bit of a travesty that so many young folks in Orange County are buying crummy stucco boxes when they want something more interesting. Unlike areas closer to Los Angeles, there has not been nearly as much coverage about mid-century modern homes in Orange County.

As some of you know, I'm a real estate agent by trade. I work in Orange Orange County, California and love mid-century modern homes. Combing all of that, I've created www.OCModHomes.com. In short, I've set about cataloging all the great, affordable modern
home neighborhoods in Orange County.

At first, I thought I would wait until it was complete and 100% ready. But then I realized that would probably never happen and I didn't want the perfect to be the enemy of the great. So I've decided to start promoting the site, even as I add material.

My goals are actually two-fold. I want this to be a resource for those looking to buy mid-century modern homes in Orange County and those appreciate the homes. But I also want this to be a resource that will improve the state of many of the neighborhoods. Sadly, many of these homes are not treasured by their owners and many people are unaware they even exist. People often ask, "who's job is it to be an advocate for these neighborhoods?" Well, I think it should be the real estate agents that want to service these homes; more specifically, I think it should be

Sunday, December 19, 2010


More bathroom pics

I was able to get the drywall done and the mirror mounted. What a pain the mirror was...you need to get the clips perfectly level but because it's a mirror, it's heavy and you need to use drywall anchors -- notorious for not going in straight.

It doesn't look too bad with the drywall patch primed....
Of course, the proof is when it's painted and...I suck at drywall. This was my first time doing any kind of mudding and it's a lot harder than it looks. For the next time around I think I'd do a much better job. I also learned some tricks along the way. For starters, the pre-mixed mud is a little thick and rubbery. It works a lot better with a small amount of water added and thinned out. Here's the result...hopefully the mirror will cover most of it:Fortunately, the mirror covers a lot of it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Quick Bathroom Refresh

I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but dropping a toothbrush (net weight: 2oz) on my sink resulted in this:

As you can see, there are also numerous stress cracks around. So I knew it was time for a new sink. I've never been a fan of the pedestals (though I like how they make small bathrooms look bigger). Anyhow, this is one of those situations where one thing leads to another (notice the funky tile on top of the sink) and you can quickly end up with a gutted space and drained bank account. Instead, I thought about what was most important to me and established a firm limit of scope.

I decided I would need a new sink, vanity, faucet. I also wanted to remove the aging medicine cabinet, add an electrical outlet inside the vanity (to keep the toothbrush and shaver chargers hidden) and finally move the bathroom light so it would be centered over the sink.

Whoever installed the previous sink loved construction adhesive. It was used to attach the sink to the wall (in addition to brackets) and the pedestal to the floor. Surprisingly, the tiles on top of the sink came off without a hitch. The construction adhesive did a number on the drywall. Even though it would be covered by the new sink, I had to add it to the list of little things I needed to make right, along with new quarter-turn angle stops and escutcheon plates.
After a quick clean up I did a mock-fit of the new sink and faucet. I ended up "Ikea Hacking" -- using pieces and parts from different items not originally designed to go together. This required some modifications, but I'm happy with the result.

Now onto the fun part that I had been dreading: drywall. I have purposely avoided any drywall projects. My standards are high and experience non-existant. Those two trait rarely go well together. I made the patch panels and got on my first layer of mud. I was also able to move the electrical junction box for the light and patch that area as well. I think it's going to take me another week. Fortunately, a new mirror will cover most of where the medicine cabinet was and the new light fixture will hide mistakes in the upper patch as well. I'm trying to take my time...if it takes 5 iterations of mudding to get it right, so be it.
What's left...I need to finish the mudding, repaint / texture the wall. And then it's just a bunch of odds and ends. I'd like to hang some art and really "finish it off."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

So I've pretty much given up TV...which has given me a lot more weekday time to do little things. None of these are really that monumental, but it's cool to work on a lot of the little details to make things perfect.

Today, I did do something cool. I really want the courtyard 100% finished. I've been struggling with an area of dirt wondering what to plant. It's really too small for a tree, and with a tree so close to the house there's always the fear that today's dream will be a nightmare 5 years from now. I was originally planning on going with a special species of Podacarpus but no one around me has it right now. I stumbled across Kangaroo's Paws in 5 gallon containers -- I didn't realize these plants got tall enough to act as a focal point -- up to 8ft.

I snapped this while I was getting new pipes. If you are wondering whether or not your house is a Cliff May prefab, this is proof-positive, should you find it in the walls (it's also in the garage walls).

This winter I've really got to think about the pool replastering / backyard remodeling project. It's the next outdoor area after the courtyard.

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