Tuesday, September 23, 2008

cue quincy jones

I can't tell you how much I wish I had an after shot for you here. This was pretty much the state of the front section of our backyard for the last two months.

We did hire a "clean-up" guy last week. He came the following day and removed a lot of metal. We really had a lot of metal. Someone had been hoarding it in the basement. Most importantly, he removed the stinky old stove that none of us could lift out to the curb. He even had a red pick-up truck ala Sanford and Son!

Alas, he too must have been scared away by the swarms of mosquitoes and the never-ending clean-up job. He never showed up again.

Fortunately, our amazing neighborhood gardener, Winston has saved us from our festering junk heap! Winston does work for our neighbor who has an almost identical house to us. I say almost identical because their house was not renovated in the 30's and because compared to ours, it looks like heaven. Manicured lawns and perfectly trimmed hedges with fresh exterior paint and I can only imagine inside! Ahh.
Winston does a lot of the houses in the neighborhood - he will come around when he thinks something needs trimmed and just work. He's a little hard to find - we begged our neighbor to send him over to us next time he saw him. Eventually, I would like to do the gardening myself. I love garden work. For now, I'm extremely overwhelmed with all of the weeds, vines, hedges that tower above me and did I mention the bamboo?! If you look to the left of the top photo in this post (above the pile of dried ivy) you'll see we have a bamboo forest taking over our yard. It extends way beyond the lattice and into the middle of the yard. If anyone needs bamboo for a project, let me know - you are more than welcome to take as much as you need.
We hired Winston to remove the roots of the ivy around the house since we are already getting re-sprouts here and there. He performed nothing short of a miracle yesterday in rounding up all of the garbage in the yard and sorting it into bags and bundling vines and wood. Now we can actually set it all out on the curb on garbage day. Not all at once, but at least it's very manageable now. We can see the stone patio now and even found a strange thing resembling a headstone sticking out of the ground! I highly doubt it's a headstone but I can't imagine what it could be. I'll need to shoot some pics and ask for opinions.

I do however have some recent photos highlighting the new lighting in our kitchen and dining room. Check them out:

No, nothing looks finished yet. But we're hoping that one day soon it will be!

I enjoy starting sentences with And. And no, the house has not killed us.

Yet. But if we don't get to move in soon...
Breaking News: the upstairs bathroom is gone.

Really it's not a loss... did you see it before?

Yes, a replay of the 12X12 white tiles, black grout, Pepto Bismol (or is it more Amoxicillin) pink, numerous towel and toilet paper bars (I think I counted 9 in here,) 2 medicine cabinets, exposed vent pipes and of course, lots of dirt and grime. And that's with a new sink and a new toilet! We realized that the plan we had to renovate the bathroom next year was a little well, stupid. It's our only bathroom apart from the closet in the dining room. How would we shower during renovations? And really, I couldn't imagine myself waking up in the winter months and getting ready for work in that space. Now matter how much we clean it - it's still gross (did I mention the spiders?) And it's not only just because there are a bunch of workmen and spiders using it all day. It's just not user friendly. I mean, the light fixture is on a pull chain! We decided to just do it now. And why not have another delay? We're apparently never going to get to move in.

After making that decision and telling our workmen, we came "home" the next day to find the bathroom almost completely gone. Actually, most of it is being stored in the bedroom (formerly of the huge cracks in the walls.)

I know - nasty! But look at those walls! No more cracks! :)

And if that photo doesn't make you sick just check this one out of the bathroom (with old toilet) while the plumbers were working on it:

Now for the positive aspects:

We're going to do a little bit of recessed lighting in here - just like downstairs in the dining room and kitchen. I don't want a fixture because with the curtain rod I think I'll feel like things are always just attacking my head. Besides the spiders.

I want the new lights to work on a switch so I don't have to use the hall light (and wake up Fernando) or fumble in complete darkness around the shower curtain area to turn them on. And hello - spiders?

The walls have these ever so slight spaces between the beams that you can see here.

They are only about 1 1/2" deep. We're going to use some panel foam for insulation in these spaces. We'll also leave one open along the edge of the tub and built it out over the edge of the tub for a small shelf. At least I think we can do that - I haven't run it by Stanley yet. I'm hoping this will work since there's not much space at the edge of the tub for shampoo and soap. The Deco era tub is staying - we heart it very much.

And this tin ceiling is coming down.

And before anyone screams "BUT WHHHYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!" please realize that this ceiling, contrary to popular belief, IS NOT original to the house. It was someone's cheap and easy fix for the damaged plaster ceiling underneath. We're going to re-plaster the ceiling. And box in the icky vent pipe.

I can't even think about what we're going to use in here. I know that we will eventually replace the pedestal sink with a vanity but this we really are going to try to wait until next year for. Tile wise, I'd like a Carrara marble subway tile on the walls in here. It's a bit of a dilema to plan out though. I see it on the tub wall but since there is a window and a door at opposite ends of the room I don't want a subway tile there. I think it will look strange around the perimeter of the door and window frames. Also, I can't see it covering the boxed in pipe at the corner because I think with all of the cuts that would have to be made to fit over it, it won't really look like subway tile in the end. For the floor, I would like to do a mosaic but I'm not sure if we should pick marble or ceramic tile. So the details are still being worked out. One of these days I'm hoping I'll have a chance to focus and make some decisions!

Monday, September 8, 2008

let there be light and walls and tile

We have walls in the kitchen again! The new plaster is drying and we've had some new spotlights put in (and the fridge was sold.) There was a little miscommunication and now we have a light that isn't centered above the arch but we're just going to have them take it out altogether. We did have a light wired right into that little passageway so I don't think we'll miss it. There will be 3 new halogen spotlights on each side of the room, the center fixture and a little one between the dining room door and pantry.

As you can see the poor doorbell got plastered into the wrong spot. Hopefully, he will be centered back up above the arch soon.

We also had a couple of spotlights installed in the dining room to highlight whatever we end up putting above the fireplace. We had another installed on the wall to the left between the two windows, also to highlight future art. On the opposite wall to the fireplace we had two sconces wired, one on either side of the window.

In powder "closet" news - the tile has arrived! We're very happy with it. It was hard for me to order something like this online since I wasn't able to feel them or see them in person. This time I really got lucky. I couldn't resist laying them out on the floor (even though the room is still quite gross) and as you can see it's not going to take much to cover it. That's a whopping 4 square feet there!

I've been looking around for a nice wallpaper to use in here and Fernando has been freaking me out with the idea of Men splashing urine on the walls. The room is SO small and the walls are so close to the toilet. He's insisting I need a washable wallpaper or tiles on the wall and I've just decided that this will be a Ladies (or Men who pee like Women) only room.
And with that here's a taste of what I'm imagining for in here:

I guess I could have just scanned a sample since these pics are not a very good representation but I didn't. So, you have to imagine that there is lots of black and a bit of grey and silver and the hummingbirds are coral and turquoise. I may change my mind (or come to my senses and buy something vinyl) tomorrow but this is definitely what I like today.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

glimpses of the past

I stumbled across these photos and they reminded me of how far we've come since the vines came down. This is the previous view from all of the windows.

I also came across this photo from the library that Fernando had taken a few weeks ago. It's our house sometime post the 1934 renovation... probably in the 40's. I want to get a copy of the photo but I haven't gotten around to ordering it. They will only let you make a photocopy and their photocopier must be overloaded with toner. All you can see is black in the print. So he took a photo of the microfiche screen.

I can just make out a nice iron fence around the property where we now have a hedge. There is also a tall tree in the front where we currently have a large bush. You can also see the old bluestone sidewalk that was replaced a few years ago by the city because the last owner didn't maintain it. We still have a bluestone path that leads up the side of the house and the window sills are also bluestone.

this charming house

I've had some requests for more photos... so here are some older ones that I never had a chance to post. I've been using Fernando's camera and he's been downloading them onto his computer so I usually have to wait for him to send them to me. I think I'll try just downloading them onto mine in the future - as soon as I get rid of the spyware that's been plaguing me for the last week!
Here are some nice details and things we inherited with the house...

Art Deco wooden doorknobs - I love these and they are on most of the doors. The former owner claims to have a box of them that he says he'll bring by... we're still waiting.

The living and dining room fireplaces have matching log holders. If you look closely you can see that they're dragons! Or sea serpents? Or Nessie?! I've never seen anything like them before and wonder if whoever put them there found it humorous because the house is in St. George?

There are two of these glass hang bars in two of the closets upstairs. They don't photograph very well.

The first owner of our house was a writer for a NY newspaper. We haven't been able to determine which one yet. He's seems to have been a little eccentric and one of the installations we found around the house were the attic stair risers plastered with uplifting headlines!

There's even one up on the ceiling at the top.

Our doorbell hangs above the arch in the kitchen and sounds exactly like the old school bells you'd hear between classes. It's a keeper.

I have no idea if this Art Deco mirror was originally used in our house. We found it in the attic before we had our estate sale. I love the Flash Gordon-esque lightening bolt etched on the front and think it might be nice in the miniature bathroom downstairs.

Here's a view of the lattice on our front porch and the glass vestibule. There are oval cutouts up top to let in more light.

This is our very own Busybody. Well, it's some kind of homemade version of it anyway... looks like someone attached an old car side view mirror to the bottom! It has a view of the vestibule from the living room.

You know the old owner was eccentric when you find the "Postal creed" stuck to the top of the mailbox... neatly hammered out with the help of a label maker. This is actually an old Richmond Farms milk box.

(mostly) remote shopping

Our small bathroom disappeared for a short while last week. In a past life it used to be a little entry way into the dining room on the right of the hearth. I still can't believe someone turned this small space into a powder room! It's currently all boxed in again (of course I don't have an illustrative photo for you - we keep forgetting the camera) and we actually gained a whole inch in width. This is all pre-plaster of course so I don't know what kind of difference it will actually make.

I also purchased mosaic marble tile for the floor. Actually, I bought it online and I'm a little nervous to see it in person. I looked everywhere for a honed Carrara marble tile in a herringbone pattern. Next time you're bored, try going to a tile store and asking for herringbone patterned tile. They will usually show you a hexagon pattern or a basketweave. One woman showed me a basketweave and when I said that I was really looking for a herringbone, she said "that IS a herringbone, hun."
I found herringbone carrara in two places - the first would not give me a price quote? The second (Waterworks) only had it in a polished finish. I really wanted a honed finish because I want that "it's been here for a while" kind of look. We had polished marble floors in our last bathroom and I loved them. They started to look honed after a while but only in some spots. I suppose it wouldn't even matter because the tiles are so small (our other tiles were 12X12) but the honed finish was definitely my first choice. The ordered tiles should be here at the end of the week and I hope they're nice!

The old light in the powder room used to work on a pull chain. It's now been wired to a switch. The ceiling needed to be dropped a bit because of new plumbing and a fan that we had installed. I bought this little fixture (not my photo) on ebay a few days back and I'm hoping it will work for the small space. The globe is glass in a bubbly texture. It needs rewiring and I'm thinking that the brass should be sprayed silver but we'll see when it arrives. I actually have a similar but larger fixture, purchased at an estate sale that we were thinking of using in the foyer.

We also nabbed a slab of Calacatta marble for the kitchen countertops over the long weekend. And what do you know? I don't have a photo of that either. If I did have a photo it would probably look something like this:

It's a beautiful piece and we're hoping they will be able to cut it so that the backsplash is bookmatched with the counter. We mapped it out and the marble guy seemed to think it should work so here's hoping.