the light at the end of the tunnel

We first looked at the Fresno Square condos when they were built about the time we married back in the mid-70’s.  We could not afford them, but we liked them.

We tried to buy one several years ago when the housing bubble burst because we wanted something we could pay cash for; something no one could take away from us no matter what.  We put an offer in on a unit that we knew we would need to completely gut, but the bank never responded.

Bob kept the complex on his radar.  A lot of the units are rented since they are located 1/4 mile from California State University, Fresno.  Several things seem to happen there.  Either some of the units were purchased about the same time we put in our initial offer and people gave them a cursory upgrade and flipped them or, at the end of semester, the owners decided to get out of the rental business.  Some are still rentals.

My mother-in-law’s family trust bought one of the first type, and we bought one of the second type.

The flipped unit had more done to it than the one we bought; however, we still gutted the kitchen (although we certainly kept the granite countertop the flippers installed).  But we repainted (I swear they spray-painted the entire unit  — Tristan still shudders at the word “taupe”) and redid the flooring on the ground floor.  We tore out closets — the units have the only floor-to-ceiling closet doors I have ever seen, which were nice in 1975 but dated now — and made the vanity space IN the main bedroom into a closet.

There are still things we need to do in that unit (the original particleboard cabinetry in the bathrooms and that bathroom fan which vents into the attic, for example), but Bob feels it will be easier once we are on site in our own unit instead of a 20- to 30-minute drive away.  It’s in good shape, and Brenna and Tristan enjoy their independence.

The units have been thoroughly upgraded (as we are doing), cursorily upgraded, or left just the way they were in the mid-70’s.  We know because it is customary these days for real estate agents to post pictures of the property they are selling and, when it’s Fresno Square, we always look.

This past weekend Bob and I worked on the downstairs bathroom.


This is the LAST big deal in the unit.  We were going to tear out the already modified closet in the downstairs bedroom and put in a built-in desk like the one in Tristan’s den, but I had the brilliant idea to just put doors on it so that I could keep my yarn and fabric there and otherwise lay out the room so that Bob could have one end for his desk and GIGANTIC landscape printer and I could have the closet end for my sewing.  I laid it out in an online program called Floorplanner and it fits nicely.  This put us a wee bit closer to finished.

The design on the walls of the shower upstairs and the tub/shower combination downstairs are the result of necessity.


Bob really fell in love with the rippled white tiles months and months ago when we saw them at Home Depot.  He also liked the blue and white tiles, but could not figure out how to use them.  When the time came to purchase them however, none of the area stores (Fresno, Clovis, Madera) had enough tiles to do what he wanted.  He bought the entire stock of all three locations and still did not have enough.

He ran into the same problem with the kitchen tiles, which is why the backsplash and the area behind the stove are the same tile only in different sizes.


He found the small tiles in white (like the rippled tiles and the blue-and-white tiles).  Then, we spent a week in Incline Village’s High Sierra Lodge where we own a timeshare.  They had redone the showers with an inset of a different tile, and an idea was born.  He found a way to make the rippled tile go the distance and he found a way to use the blue-and-white tile (which comes in sheets just like the small tile only he cut it into strips).

He basically did what we do in knitting when a solution for a problem becomes a “design element.”  It was his idea also to use the rippled tile vertically so it looks like water sheeting down the wall.  I think it looks nice.  My cousin thinks it’s creative.  Brenna didn’t recognize it as the same room when I sent her a picture.  Whatever it is, it solved a problem and it works.

The rippled tile is also going behind the vanity in the upstairs bath, but we must await the arrival of the countertop before installing it.


We purchased the replacement outlets and light switches for the bathrooms this past weekend.  They measure for the carpet in the two bedrooms this week and the countertops for the bathrooms and utility room next week.

This week I will paint the ceiling in the entryway and start trying to paint the downstairs bedroom, which will be our den/office.  (I say trying because the boxes of wood flooring, among other things, are stacked in there.  It will take some maneuvering.)

Bob needs to paint the popcorn ceilings to seal off the asbestos (I have vertigo issues and stenosis at C7, so looking up is not good — the entryway ceiling is low and I can use the paint roller on an extension and avoid looking straight up, so it’s doable.)

After that, the wood floor goes down and door trim and baseboards go in and we’re done!

We DO need to rent a scaffold so we can finish those upper edges in the stairwell.


I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel!