Who Are We?

Andi and the beautiful built-in in our dining room.
We are a household of two and we recently bought our first house. And since it's our first house, we want to make it our home. And we want to do it on our own. Therefore, if for whatever reason we have to pic up a hammer to fix something, build something, or demolish something, we'll do so.

In addition, after a grueling 14 month wait on the waiting list, we finally obtained a plot in our nearby community garden. As much as we love Whole Foods and our local organic corner market, they are expensive so we decided to try our hand at growing our own crops, regardless of the fact that in our not-so-distant past a bowl full of succulents took issue with our care and decided they were no longer going to live like that.

Finally, we like to fill our home with projects that we've created ourselves. Furniture from Room and Board and Marc Chagall prints are nice and all, but we like to mix in our own originals whether they be photgraphy, painting, upholstery, or a collage of Muni passes.
We've created this website not to inundate the internet with our end-all source of DIY knowledge (because we certainly are not experts), but as a vessel for people, master craftsman or not, to share their experiences, expertise, and lessons learned while using our own projects as backdrops.

If you see a post and want to share hints or tips, or feel the need to correct a misstep or two that we've taken in our project, please comment!

Hi. I'm Dean.

Since 2000, I’ve toiled in the architectural field as a designer and project manager. Before that, I did a 6-month stint at a large American construction company while in graduate school. Most people believe those of us in the architectural profession innately have the skill set to renovate their own homes. Some of us do, but most of us would prefer to create a BIM model of the space, put together a set of construction documents, and then pick a contractor. We might even answer a few RFIs and approve a few change orders, but that's the extent of our hands-on experience. And I’m definitely part of that group.

I’m a self-described DIY/renovation novice. I rarely use tools beyond hanging pictures and even then I prefer this crazy Velcro product to stick them to the wall. My most proud DIY projects include changing the alternator and serpentine belt in a 1984 Dodge Aries K car (it only took me 3 months... in 1996), framing a new bathroom addition with rooftop terrace with my buddy Chuck for his house on the peninsula (I was primarily used as muscle because Chuck is OLD), designing and building a built-in entertainment console, a shelving unit really, for my old apartment in the Lower Haight (using Chuck’s tools), and of course, hanging pictures. Not exactly the experience I would look for in the resume of my contractor.

Hi. I’m Andi.

I am a fundraiser at a big San Francisco cultural institution. I moonlight/fancy myself as a creative person. One of my major hobbies is home design--I carry fabric swatches with me at all times in case I have to make an impromptu “match.”  We will see if my design passion translates into an appetite for construction.

Here are my relevant experiences:
  • I upholster stuff. Three chairs, a bench, and a loveseat to be exact. To toot my own horn, they all look pretty good.
  • At the age of 15, I ripped down all of my 70's brown Marimekko wallpaper and painted the room minty green to compliment my Laura Ashley “Bramble” bedspread.  I am no longer confident in my decisions from 1995, but the project gave me experience in manual labor.
  • I studied oil painting in Argentina. Our home is chock-a-block with original artwork. 
  • I watch a lot of HGTV (Holmes on Homes, Color Splash, Design Star, and my absolute fav: Income Property).
That’s it! I am approaching this project with a million peaceful thoughts and a river of positive energy, much like a Buddha would if he were to renovate his home, tend his garden, or upholster his own furniture.


  1. Hi, I love what you are doing to the house and the blog is great! Do you mind sharing what you paid to repaint the exterior and also where you got the wood cabinet in the renovated bathroom? Thank you!

  2. FLS, painting Victorians in SF is no cheap undertaking, especially when you consider we have 9 colors on the house (with one being 14k gold). We also have a corner building so we had to paint three full sides and one half of the 4th side that is attached to the building next door. So there is a lot of paint as well as a lot of fine detailing to paint. We got three quotes from three different painting contractors with the cheapest coming in at approximately $67k, which we accepted. A large portion of the quote was for scaffolding.

    As for the bathroom cabinet, Andi found it on craigslist and painted it herself. That cabinet is probably her 2nd best craigslist find ever (in my opinion), behind the original Saarinen Tulip Side Table from Knoll that we have in the living room.

    1. Hello from Texas!

      I saw your finished reveal of your Painted Lady on Apartment Therapy. What a beauty! Congrats!!

      Oh....that also linked me to your bathroom re-do - which was awesome! Keep up the good work!

      Take care! Amy

  3. Hi there!

    You two are truly impressive in your DIY capabilities -- doing your own demo work and framing is no small task!

    My wife and I own a flat in an Edwardian building not too far from yours (we actually considered buying one of the units in your building when it was for sale last year) and we are slowly massaging it into shape. We really dig your design sensbilities, and your blog has been a great source of inspiration and help, especially when it comes to budgets and local service providers. We have a kitchen reno and a bathroom addition ahead of us in the next year or two, so we will definitely be re-reading your entries and trying to learn from your experience!

    Also - and I hope this doesn't sound creepy - but it would be super cool to meet up in real life, as fellow SF DIY'ers and aficionados of old buildings...

    Take care!