Napa Cottage Remodel


I’ve spent the last six months talking with landscape contractors, general contractors, and kitchen designers. I have decided that the landscape architect was a waste of time and money, and regret having turned to one.

She clearly does not garden, as she was placing plantings under the fig tree–a messy site at the end of every year as both fruit and leaves drop. I really don’t need to be crawling under the tree and into bushes fetching rotting figs.

She also was utterly clueless about the cost of materials. Uh, no water feature, thanks. No fire feature, either. Even after I’d told her that I did not want to spend a fortune on the design elements—I’d come up with what I thought was a fairly straightforward concept of a clean, modern design. I’d asked her how much for cor-ten steel containers? Or an ipe deck? Or a very basic “outdoor kitchen” (basically a built-in grill with a counter)? Turns out the answer is, “Alot.”

Additionally, for the price I don’t feel I got any expert advice or consulting. She basically took my ideas and direction and banged out an AUTOCAD plan. I did get a planting plan for the hummingbird garden, so we’ll follow the basics of that.

The landscape contractor I’m working with has a more realistic approach and has helped me to “value engineer” some of the designs to come up with something more palatable.


The kitchen designer, on the other hand, is much more collaborative and has come to me with some creative ideas. We have designs. I’ve picked out appliances. I’ve selected tiles and counters. I have to finalize pendant lights. I’m getting close on window treatments. I’ve bought new flooring (bamboo strand). We’re getting close.

It’s exciting, if not bittersweet. Moving in the new means taking out the old, the history. It means removing the vestiges of mom. In making the home more *mine* it becomes less *hers.*


This will be even more apparent with new decor. I’m going with a simple “modern organic” look. Something easy to maintain and keep clean. Here is my inspiration board.


Stay tuned as we move ever-closer to making this happen.

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