The Beginning


The biggest thing on our horizon now is creating our new home.

"Our" lot is on two acres plus at the end of a cul-de-sac and has dozens and dozens of trees: Cedar and Hemlock, Doug Fir, alder, Big Leaf Maple, and Pacific Silver/Grand Fir, and all manner of native flora (some would call them weeds) including thistle and fern. At one end there's ravine where we spied two deer grazing their way through the orchard grass. And since the landscape is natural, there are several species of birds, especially the beautiful
Goldfinch. We spied a pair traveling from thistle to thistle for their favorite seeds.

has got space, it's got green, it's got wildlife. All this and that incredible view of the
snow capped Olympic Mountain range.

It didn't taken us long to hone down our want list.

When you buy bare land, there are a myriad of ways to fall into "the money pit". You donít know what youíre getting into expense wise when it comes to bringing in utilities and geological considerations. Not to mention the cost of septic tanks (the norm here) and wells which are common.

Barbara Streisand has built a compound in the mountains up against the Olympics between Sequim and Port Angeles. If you have unlimited funds like Ms. Barbra, a spectacular mountain view is no problem. And although prices here are ridiculously low compared to L.A., they have been climbing steadily and demand is high: the Building Department has begun to be inundated with building permits and the Assessor's Office is adding staff.

In places like California where weather is so mild, people build for looks and not exterior conditions. In locales where weather is an important factor, it seems most homes share a similar architectural style, and siding is the most commonly used material. And it's less expensive than stucco. Despite the fact we're in the midst of exquisite forests, most people opt to denude the land of trees and place their house in the middle of a bare parcel. Planned landscaping is not unheard of but it's rare. I'm sure there are good reasons for this: time, money, upkeep, whatever.

There's a lot to learn.

Once we moved here, we took every opportunity to quiz the locals about the area (as well as city personnel at the Building Department and the Assessor's Office). We peppered them with questions about property values, quality of life, population growth, and anything else we could think of.

Although we take incredible drives elsewhere and fall in love with every new possibility we see, for the money and the amenities, we've come to the conclusion we canít do better for what we need and what we can afford than .

One of the reasons weíve moved here is the wildlife, so I hereby state that I will NOT be one of those transplanted Californians living in rural areas who want their dream garden or else. Those are the people who get in trouble; they start out loving the deer and then pretty soon theyíre fencing in shrubs and flowers and have lost their aversion to hunting season. As for me, Iíll plant a few iris (which I hear deer arenít fond of...we'll see!), but the rest they can chew on with my compliments.

Weíre bursting with millions of ideas, some of which will incorporate design from our Kelton Avenue home and some that will be new, improved, and (how unusual!) unique. With Gregís incredible talents (he truly is a Renaissance man), weíre limited only by our imaginations...and our pocketbook and months of trial and error. For the past several years weíve been scanning photos out of books and snapping pictures of house details in and around L.A. Why? Wishful thinking I guess. Who knew?

Weíve been through several possible floorplans already. Should we do a one story or a two story? Although we want to think ahead when it comes to design versus physical health, sometimes those two elements donít mesh. One idea had the main living quarters on the second floor. Entry to the house would begin at a meandering path, over a small bridge to the porch. The first floor would have a library and guest room, storage, and the garage. This way we could boost up the windows of the main living quarters to maximize the view.

Greg spent years working on the mega mansions of Beverly Hills. A $22,000,000 remodel was common place. And so, our exposure to custom houses has helped to hone our tastes but also opened up a Pandora's box of choices. At this point, it'll be a mix of
Queen Anne Victorian, Storybook (those whimsical homes built in the 1920s that remind you of Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs), English Tudor, a little bit of bungalow, Cotswold cottage, a little bit of Thomas Kincaid, and a good measure of Craftsman thrown in for flavor. Ohmigawd, itís a mishmash (letís just call it eclectic) but I think we can do it and make it work. At least weíre going to try.

Greg is extremely talented with different architectural computer programs. Adding that to his construction knowledge should give us a boost up. In order to save labor costs and allow us to put more money into materials, Greg must do a majority of the work himself. He's only one man and the more work he does, the slower it goes, so we estimate nearly two years of construction once we begin. We've given ourselves until March 2005 to finalize the plans. Since building is booming here, it will probably take 6-10 weeks for the city to plan check our design and that will mean we could break ground as early as next Spring. This is an important consideration so that we can get the roof up before the rainy season.

But none of this will stop us from designing our home to be all that we dream of. And with Greg at the helm, thatís a given. Greg feels he has one more big project in him and he wants to build me my ultimate dream house. Watch out Washington, here come the Taylors!




First, we've decided to give our little homestead a name

Scarlett O'Hara had Tara, Rebecca had Manderlay...

Here's where we'll tell you all about the joys and sorrows of building our own little love next.

Greg has bought dozens and dozens of construction manuals and computer programs, sent away for hundreds of catalogues, and combed the internet to help him make the most of our choices.

As for me, I've got a list going of ideas that's bordering on War and Peace. I'm taking inventory of everything that worked at Kelton and everything that didn't, adding that to my obsessive-compulsive wish list, and trying to make sure all of that is incorporated in the new designs.

I've also been asking anyone who's home I'm invited to why they made the choices they did, i.e. why shower curtains and not a shower door, why no Jacuzzi, why a large undivided kitchen sink.

A little note: get it while it's free! Before you move on to reading these Chronicles, I may be crazy, but I have method to my madness. Yes, it's going to be a lot of work keeping up with this website, but it'll be worth it in the end. We're going to be working with my old producer to team with HGTV to create a book out of this saga...

In the meantime, we're learning a lot

Now proceed to the July thru September 2004 Entries






to see what we've been up to lately

(the newest entries are always at the bottom of the page)