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February 2009
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April 2009

neighborhood renovations in Pasadena's Bungalow Heaven

IMG_4938 Reader Sarah Hilbert writes to tell us about how, earlier today, residents of Pasadena's beautiful Bungalow Heaven Landmark District to celebrate the new, enhanced versions of the neighborhood's signature street signs:

The streets of Pasadena's Bungalow Heaven Landmark District just got a little brighter: The neighborhood is installing brand new street signs both to proclaim its new designation on the National Register of Historic Places and to honor its 20th anniversary as Pasadena's first Landmark District.

A group of neighbors gathered on March 31 to watch the first sign get hung and to make a celebratory toast to many more years of being historic and furthering old homes' preservation. Several media outlets were also present to cover the event.

The signs are enhanced versions of those that have hung for nearly 20 years, which have faded significantly in the sunlight. Toni Devereaux, the designer of the original signs, was asked to lend her expertise once again in crafting a brighter version. Now crafted from computer-cut vinyl and featuring a dark brown bungalow in the center, the new signs will be longer lasting and stay more visible over time. All signs will be installed by April 26, when the 20th Anniversary Bungalow Heaven Home Tour takes place.

selling your home when you have small children

6308753 Our friend, real estate professional Joel Macdonald, passes along this good advice for those of you with small kids who may be selling - or getting ready to sell - your home:

When you are selling your home, having the property in the best showing condition it can be has got to be your highest priority. Being able to get that feat done when you have kids can be a tough assignment at best, let alone to keep it in that condition all the time your home is on the market. There are a few easy actions you can take to keep your home showable even with little ones living their regular lives.

Organization is the Key Thing

Children of all ages tend to stockpile toys of all kinds. They like variety. As a parent you might have gotten used to the sight of clutter, but someone who is not used to being around small children can notice it. The first step to take, then, in getting your home ready to go on the market is to organize your children's belongings so they can easily be put away and mostly out of sight. This can be approached by getting and using toy chests or storage boxes. Find storage that fits into the space without being too obvious.

Clean up the Exterior of the House

Putting things away on the outside of your home is important as well. Try finding ways to set up, or store, the children's outdoor toys in a neat and tidy way to present the outside of your house well. Toys that cannot be stored in a garage or outdoor storage do not have to be all put away but they must not present a cluttered appearance.

Of course, the regular practice of clearing out things that are not needed in a systematic manner is just as pertinent to the young family members' things as it is to all the other old treasures. This is an excellent skill even if you are not going to move. Children as well as adults have to learn to make decisions. Learning the process of letting things go and moving on is a necessary part of life. This process can be a growth opportunity for the children, though it will be important to get their participation and not force their decisions. That would only interfere with the lesson to be gained.

Keeping It Up
Some discipline will be required to keep everything in order after you are all organized. Trying to keep everything reasonably neat after it is sorted can be difficult, but it is not impossible. Once you have your storage set up, keeping everything in order will be much easier. Limit the number of different things your children are playing with. You can even make the goal of keeping the house straight an adventure or challenge for your kids. They in turn may even remind you to keep other things in the house organized as well.

Don't try and keep your children from all their regular play while you are selling your home. There is no need to turn your home into a sterile clean home where it would seem no children would be allowed. Many people in the market for a family home are happy to see a house that is inviting to live in, with toys in use. Just be aware that it should be kept on the neater side of normal.

If you have children who are messy painters it might be a step-saver to put down a rug for them to play on that can be put away when potential buyers come to see the home. That way you can prevent any cleanup needed to pop back into the neat appearance of a newly cleaned home. Keeping the finger paints put away and out of sight during the time the home is offered for sale might be a good approach too.

It's not too impossible, is it, to allow the children to continue with their normal lives while you are offering your home in the good condition that a real estate sale demands. A little patience and attention, together with organization and daily attention to clearing up clutter, will make the sale of your home with young children much more manageable.

Article provided through Automated Homefinder, the Boulder home specialists of Colorado.

Fawcett House, FLW California ranch, for sale: $2.7 million

Los Banos ("the baths," named after no longer active mineral springs, apparently) sits on the outer edge of Merced County, a few hours from San Francisco. It's farmland - the soil is black and loamy, and the slight scent of cattle will assail your nose, sometimes, when you're driving these dusty roads. It's not where you would expect to find a Frank Lloyd Wright home, but the master architect did design and build a house here at the end of his career, amid the feedlots and windmills. James Temple has the story in last weekend's San Francisco Chronicle:

It is the third-to-last California residence drawn by the master of suburban homes, and one of only two currently on the market.

Obscured from the road by a cluster of walnut trees, the cinderblock structure forms an angular, shallow U. The living room at the base looks onto the garden through a wall of windows and French doors. Twin wings swing open to 120 degrees, a row of bedrooms radiating outward on the north side, the kitchen and play room on the south, before giving way to a palm-shaded swimming pool.


The elongated structure and the lines of the low-pitched roof, banded with a copper fascia, echo the flatness of the fields around it. The wings stretch out like open arms to the Coast Range in the distance. Where the sections of typical homes feel squared off and self contained, the obtuse angles, walls of windows, loggia and terrace open up the space, blurring the boundaries between interior and exterior.

"He softened the whole effect of the place on that barren center of a valley by using the 120-degree angles," said William Storrer, author of "The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion." "It just seemed to be right for the space."

The centerpiece of the family room is a 6-foot-high, 12-foot-wide fireplace, a veritable cave where Randall Fawcett would tend massive walnut logs that burned for days. Built-in mahogany cabinetry and furniture accent corners and spaces throughout the home.

The 6 bedroom, 4.5 bath, 3700 square foot home - on 80 acres - is listed for $2.7 million. For more photographs and information check out the official website & listing.

new baby; Hewn and Hammered languishes

There's a very good reason for the less-than-regular posts that have dotted Hewn & Hammered since New Years. We came home from Korea on 12.31 with this wonderful holiday present, whom I am happy to say is presently (and pretty much for the foreseeable future) going to be taking up all my time.

So it was pretty much the most awesome Christmas / Chanuka / New Years ever.

Dallas: preservationists compromise on teardowns

2807tanner from Robert Wilonsky's article at News You Can Actually Use, Actually:

Ever since last summer, the city -- specifically, Development Services and the City Attorney's Office -- have been attempting to streamline the process that allows for the demolition of buildings in historic districts that it considers "an imminent threat to health or safety." Initially, the Landmark Commission was horrified by the plan, which essentially eliminated the commission from the conversation and allowed the Fire Marshal's office to call in the wrecking ball. But several meetings later, the city has a compromise, which will be debuted this afternoon at the council's Public Safety Committee meeting.

In short, if the city wants a property gone, the Landmark Commission still gets a review before a certificate of demolition's granted -- but the time line's significantly shorter, the property owner or contractor has to show significant and continued progress on a monthly basis, and the Fire Marshal can "order demolition of a structure, without Landmark approval, if a clear and imminent threat exists." It's that last part that concerns Preservation Dallas executive director Katherine Seale, who this morning tells Unfair Park that caveat allows for the "possibility of abuse."

photo: The City Attorney's Office had hoped to tear down 2807 Tanner St., but preservationists intervened.