Monday, July 28, 2008

everything a big bad wolf could want.

I hate to admit it but I'm already getting excited about decorating. In truth, I've been excited about decorating this house since the second I first walked inside. Our last place was a very streamlined apartment in a 1950's era building - with a long hallway and large rooms. It was bright but we didn't have windows on every wall. There was a lot of room for large artwork and low, long furniture.

This house is very different than what we've been used to. For one, the windows are lower to the ground and more abundant. There are also many doors. This doesn't leave a lot of wall space for large paintings and long furniture that's more than two feet off of the ground! A few weeks ago I had to make the hard decision to sell one of my favorite pieces of furniture, a vintage, long George Nelson "Thin Edge" teak credenza. The only place we could use it is in the attic... and it's so heavy, I wouldn't want to ask anyone to carry it up there! We sold it yesterday and as hard as I thought it would be to let it go, I now actually feel good. I know that it will eventually be sold (it went to a dealer) to someone else who will have the space to truly enjoy it.
So anyway, here comes my first decor commitment to this house: I purchased wallpaper for the foyer.

I chose Cole and Son's "Woods" wallpaper in what I can only call greige. On the Cole and Son website the color is identified as "69/12149." When I first viewed it in the "New Contemporary II" book in the wallpaper store, I immediately thought "how beige." I also thought ick about all of the other colors that "Woods" comes in (especially the white, too bright.) No problem, I didn't really want to use "Woods" anymore, right? I've been coveting that wallpaper for a few years but have now seen it in every design magazine and mentioned on a million blogs. Why would I want to be like everyone else anyway? I much prefer Cole and Son's "Cow Parsley" in black or "66/7046" anyway, right? Well, actually no. Once I saw the aforementioned wallpapers in the foyer and under the right lighting 69/12149 just jumped out at me! I'll give some props to 69/12151 too - very pretty, but Fernando shot it down (too lavender.) And "Cow Parsley" in 66/7046? Well she seemed a little too busy for our small foyer.

So now here I am with my very own "Woods" wallpaper. And I ordered it in the color that I thought would be the ugliest. But you see, it does this strange thing when you hold it up to the walls in my foyer in daylight - it turns a lovely silvery grey. Magic.

humpty dumpty

We hired a plasterer last week. It's all making me very nervous. He came highly recommended and I have been assured that he is a "plaster master." But I'm still nervous. You see, our crown molding is not wood - it's plaster.
The main room I've been fretting about is the dining room. There was A LOT of water damage on the ceiling from the bathroom upstairs. It is still leaking (still trying to finalize a plumber) but not heavily. One of the plasterer's workers removed the ceiling and was able to save the plaster medallion but... there was molding damage! I've been told that it is normal - the water damaged the molding and he managed to save most of the pieces... still, can it be put back together again?


During demo.

Exposed rafters and pocket doors.

Look up - the missing molding!
No money. Just creepy cobwebs.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

from the depths of the basement...

Tell me you wouldn't run away screaming if you found this while cleaning your basement?

Monday, July 21, 2008

What to do with that brick?

The brick hearth in the kitchen came out two tone - red paint and a strange mustard yellow color. At first we thought okay let's just clean it off. Then after careful consideration we decided that not only would that be time consuming, we weren't sure that the traditional exposed brick look was the look we're trying to achieve in our kitchen. Yes, the rustic red of exposed brick is beautiful but as I was picturing it in my head I just couldn't see it with the modern fittings we've already picked out. Plus, if the exposed chimneys in the attic are a good example, I don't want mortar crumbling over my stove while I'm cooking! Yes, I know you can seal brick. ;)

Here she is in an early shot with some of the old framing still in place:

One look I've always admired is the brick wall treatment at BDDW. Digging around online I discovered that the owner achieved the look by layering joint compound over the brick surface. Since we had nothing to lose (we'd still have to clean the brick anyway) we decided to scratch up the paint with some sandpaper and start layering.

We discovered that joint compound will take some time to dry (especially on a humid day) and it is best to not try to help it along. After using a fan on the surface we had cracks on a test patch. Lesson learned and fixed with more compound.

Here you can see the progress (thanks to my Dad) so far:

I'm really liking the look already and hoping it will hold up over time. I'm not really worried since it's interior brick and not exposed to moisture from the elements. I think we'll paint it a similar white for a bright, clean look.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

she's mighty mighty

Why are contractors so unreliable? I don't just mean general contractors but plumbers, electricians, etc. I can't tell you how many people have cancelled on us, just not shown up or just not followed up with estimates after coming out!(???) How do they stay in business? And why bother coming at all if you're not going to send an estimate? Waste of time.


Anyway, we are now vine free. The only success we've had in hiring anyone came in the form of roofers. They showed up (I know AMAZING!) and have so far cleared off all of the remaining vines that we could not reach. Even the chimneys are visible!
They're not starting any of the actual roofing stuff until Friday. Nevertheless, the house already looks better and we've been getting many compliments on the progress. As a matter of fact, I hear we're the "talk of the neighborhood." Now we only have to live up to everyone else's expectations. ;)

Monday, July 14, 2008

mama, don't let your babies grow up to be...

Dirty. Or 'N Sync fans.

A little installation that used to hang above a BED. A bed where someone was actually sleeping.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

wallpaper free!

It's all gone. We could have had it worse but it was still hard getting it all down. There was wallpaper in the foyer, kitchen?, upstairs hallway and two bedrooms. The foyer, kitchen and hallway were easy - everything just pulled down without a fight. But the bedrooms seemed to be really fond of their covering. Here's one of the bedrooms that Fernando and Chris had previously attacked:

And here's the other bedroom with it's wallpaper on:

It's hard to tell from the last photo that the original background color of the wallpaper was a pale BLUE. There were spots that had been covered by frames throughout the years that were still a little blue. So why does it all look so yellow? NICOTINE.

It was a two day affair and far from fun but my mother and I got through it. I even had a huge blister on my finger from all of the scraping but thanks to my sister's Reiki, you'd never know now.

The walls in the second room are now ready to be prepped for painting. The room with the blue flowered wallpaper has the worst plaster damage in the house. We may not get to it for a while - luckily, we have 3 other bedrooms to use in the meantime.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

everything looks perfect from far away...

If you can't tell by now my posts aren't exactly being posted in order. Well, they are but I've been writing at the end of the day and adding photos later... so the posts haven't been getting published right away. I'm keeping the dates the same though - so we have a record of our progress by date.

We have a roofer coming next week (hopefully) to start the roof, gutters, point the chimneys and take down the remaining vines. Yesterday, we had a landscaper tame the hedges in the front and on the side - this I haven't had a chance to see yet but I'm very excited to hear that we can walk freely down the side of the house now! And he indentified all of the poison ivy and removed it. He was actually immune to the ivy and was able to touch it. I'm beginning to think I may be immune to it as well - I picked up a lot of those vines and I didn't have the slightest reaction.

Some highlights from phase two of the vine removal last week here:

Fernando did the chopping, I did the clean-up and Chris was the muscle again.
And here's another shot from last week taken by the roofer:

I hear there's some view from up there... makes me wish I wasn't so scared of heights!

Monday, July 7, 2008


Since we've been so busy we decided not to have our yard sale on Saturday but we did have it on Sunday. It was tiring but I did have a good time. We got to meet so many nice new people from the neighborhood and we got rid of a lot of stuff. Our first customer came out from Sheepshead Bay and we even had a few people come out from Queens. Not bad for only advertising on Craigslist!

Unfortunately, the oval portrait of George Washington sold. I've had two requests for it since the sale. The strange thing is I thought of keeping it for the frame and putting in a photo of Giant Toby (our grey cat.) It seems both requests were specifically because GW was in the frame (and now I'm relieved I wasn't the heartless one to tear him out!) Who knew George Washington portraits were so desirable?

neighborhood kitty visiting our yard

Friday, July 4, 2008


The hearth was back there after all! My father and F. hacked away at the wall behind the stove and sink and there it was. It's in remarkably good condition, just missing part of one brick where they put in an electric box and covered in a layer of paint. After seeing it, I commented how amazing it would be to put the new range in it. We measured and it will actually fit the new range! Now we have a few ideas for the range hood but I have to do a lot more measuring before a final decision. And we should be able to vent the hood into the chimney.

Here's the demo:

You can see the red linoleum is gone - but the paper backing is still there. I'm not going to scrape it up until most of the demo is done to save the wood a little wear and tear.

Hmmm - apparently, we didn't take a photo of the hearth exposed! I guess that will just show up in a later post.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

appliances and discoveries

I am very excited to report that we have chosen and purchased all of our new appliances for the kitchen. I've actually been eyeing the GE Cafe appliances for a while now and hoping that I could convince Fernando into buying them.

We ended up with the range, dishwasher and the french door refrigerator. I have to admit that I didn't even check out the range all that well and I later discovered that it has two ovens (sounds like a cookie party to me, Erin!)

We had a major discovery after scraping up all of the super stinky red linoleum off of the floor - we have wood floors in the kitchen! We did plan on putting down a tile floor so not only will the wood floors warm up the kitchen, they will save us money too. ;)

As for the range hood... we weren't sure what kind to purchase. We still haven't chosen the cabinets or finalized the layout. We've decided to wait and buy it later - who knows what other surprises we will find? Poking around the other day we discovered some brick behind the plaster walls. I don't think I want to expose any of the walls but I'm hoping to discover the original hearth behind there somewhere. The former owner claims it's back there and that it was just covered up in the last renovation (you know the 1934 renovation!)

smelly red linoleum: