Have you ever looked back at the ‘before’ photos from a house project and immediately thought “What the hell were we thinking, taking this on?!” Well that’s exactly what happened to me this week, when I randomly discovered a few ghastly shots taken during the month we moved into the Retro Ranch.
My original vision of turning this half-acre hell into our own private midcentury tropical oasis was obviously stronger than my common sense. Because if I saw the original property listing now, I’d scream “Run! Run away!” to my husband, and yank out the power cord on the laptop.
When we toured the house in August 2014, I don’t quite remember the property looking quite so apocalyptic. We were clearly viewing this original, one-owner, 1965 ranch through mod-colored glasses. But according to the photos, the reality was that we had a rotting ramshackle fence edging a backyard of dirt, a field of weeds, a dying Japanese maple, massively overgrown apple trees and grape vines, and a crumbling concrete patio. Little did we know, this lovely Grapes of Wrath vignette also came with possum, skunks, moles, snakes, hornets, bees, wasps, yellow-jackets, ants, termites, and spiders so big they could carry my Chihuahua away. My back still aches just thinking about the unending assortment of prison-labor landscape projects that were the Crisco-based icing on our retro-renovation rum cake.
Bette Davis captures the essence of our move-in weekend photos perfectly with her famous 1949 movie line: “What a DUMP.”
Nevertheless, here we are 3 years later, sipping hibiscus tea under the fringe umbrella on our Polynesian Patio, enjoying lush, manicured views while listening to the peaceful rustle of palm fronds and the ting-ting-ting of shell wind chimes in the breeze. Ahhh….
So in light of the fact that we are nearing the end of our third summer at the Retro Ranch, I thought it would be fun to share our original scorched-earth ‘before’ photos and our tropical-transformation ‘after’ shots–with the caveat that I am not recommending this type of DIY backyard renovation unless you are glutton for punishment like us. But we sure dig the swell finished product. Mahalo!