Thursday, December 31, 2015

Electrically Speaking

The electricians have successfully acquired their permits and are hard at work on the upstairs unit. I am so excited to see things going back IN the house. I've done a little electrical work before but never with the armored cables. Our house looks like a Borg assimilation and I like it. 




Our house never fails to amuse us with crappy hack jobs from the past. Today I found cardboard, regular brown corrugated cardboard, used as lathe under the lumpy patch job in the bedroom ceiling. The ceiling fan was removed to reveal a support system of, well, CARDBOARD! Congrats Jenky Previous DIYers, this one makes my top 5 list.



Not as craptastic but equally as tragic are all the old gas light lines left poking out of the crushed ceiling medallions around the house. Yes, our house is old enough to have had gas lights. It's pretty cool in my humble opinion. Even the basement has old relics of gas lights left behind. At the time our house was built, it had to have been pretty chock full of modern conveniences for a middle/working class home. I'm getting a better picture of what made these row homes so special, and why they were protected and added to the National Historic Register.



At the rate that the electricians are working, I expect that the electrical rough for the upstairs unit will be complete by mid next week. I also heard through the grape vine that we can expect heat mid next week as well. Although I am a bit more skeptical about that as I have to watch the HVAC contractors like a hawk, and for every day they have worked this week, I've had to ask them to go back and fix one thing that was done either in haste or due to laziness. Never you fear, photos are soon to follow.

In the meantime, have a safe and happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Post Christmas Wrap Up; A Christmas to Remember

As of last night, all but three of us have been hit with the norovirus (thus far)... what is affectionately being referred to as the "winter vomiting disease" by some creative news sources. 

Here we are before the accident: 


With only a few hundred square feet minimally touched by construction, we tried to get out about as much as possible.

We went to Rockefeller Center on Christmas Eve. 


We were lucky to have unseasonably warm weather, keeping us warm in our unheated house. So the lack of snow on the ground was more of a Christmas miracle for us than anything else. 

A few of us also made it to the New York Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden. It was spectacular to see the beautiful historic homes, buildings, and sites of New York rendered and sculpted using plant materials surrounded by tons of model trains. My favorite was this block of row homes of course.


And my husband; He looks so dapper. 


I also spent some time preparing 2 holiday dinners for 8 people using only our Cuisinart Crockpot. I have to pat myself on the back. I was worried that Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner wouldn't feel right, but it ended up being easier than if I had had a stove/oven/microwave. I streamlined my expectations and simplified the meal. I think this is a good analogy for how I will approach January 2016. Keep it simple and expect great things.

The electrician starts Monday morning!



Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmas Spectacular 2015

This year we are hosting what I am lovingly referring to as our Christmas Spectacular Full Construction Immersion Experience.  Christopher and I will be sleeping on an air mattress in the unfinished 2nd floor. It will be very rustic. 

I will be cooking for 8 in our high tech multi cooker. There will be soup. Lots of soup. Also, eating out. Thank heavens we live in NY where eating out on the holidays is pretty typical and we have a large selection of places in our neighborhood at which to eat one hot meal a day.

It kills me to say this, but the pies and cookies have been ordered. Sigh. Next year I'll bake up a storm, but for now, I'll take a stroll to our local bakery each morning to pick up fresh tasty treats. The biggest perk of this set up is that variety will be far greater than anything I would have whipped up. And I guess there is a teeny, itsy-bitsy, tiny, weeny, party of me that is looking forward to spending most of Christmas week with my family instead of wondering if the pie crust will turn out alright. 

In terms of pre-Christmas construction, we are pushing to get the HVAC installed and the 2nd floor bathroom near complete so that we can have at least one bathroom where tape doesn't do double time as tile. We've been incredibly lucky this winter so far as temperatures have been mild and I even had a 60 degree day to finish sanding one of our entry doors. 

That project will come later, right now I'd like to bask in the holiday decor I was bequeathed by my folks. With one garland, a bolt cutter (best tool ever), a few extension cords, two strands of lights, one  spool of ribbon and some floral wire, Christmas officially visited our row home renovation.

 

All lit up with man and dog:



Gratuitous bow shot:



I'll have you know, I trained for several years under the stiff arm of Bonita Quenzer Real Estate Mogul tying bows and hanging greens all over the neighborhoods of Pueblo, CO each winter. Glad to see the muscle memory kicked right back in. I can still hear the coyotes crying in the pre-dawn hours on the frozen tundra, as I raced from mail box to mail box with crystallized tears glistening on my cheeks. Seriously, it was fun. Wish I could do it every weekend. (I love you Grandma).

Monday, November 30, 2015

The struggle is real

I'm not going to sugar coat it. I am struggling right now. Granted things are better, way better than where we were last year. For those of you who don't know, here is a brief recap:

We were renting a trashy small apartment in which our landlord unexpectedly passed away. We found ourselves in the middle of an all out family war for the property. It was a four unit property divided among three relatives. One of whom had already passed, leaving his apartment share to his wife. We were renting our unit from GCG. He passed, and the demands for rent began to show up. "Pay me the rents". "Pay me the rents now in cash". "Don't give the rents to the woman". etc, etc. We had no intention of paying anyone other than GCG's estate so we did everything by the book in terms of writing and sending the appropriated documents to those involved and starting an account for rent and documenting EVERYthing in terms of lack of heat and hot water (long running issue). The man illegally living in the basement was part owner of the building, and the author of the grammatically stunning notes from above. He liked to pee in Snapple bottles, leaving them in an artistic covering on the table in the basement. He liked to scream the same few foul phrases over and over most likely while drunk off his gourd from $2.99 hooch. He liked to sleep in a basement with no running water and no plumbing, on a soiled mattress laying on a concrete pad so thickly covered in dirt we thought it was carpet the first time we went down there. He also liked to, on occasion, leave feces in the vestibule; of which that is a whole other story. He also liked to turn the heat off in the attempt to extort money from us for the rent to which he was not entitled to. It was a long cold winter last year and we had many calls to 311, the police, the fire department, and frankly, most everyone pointed to someone else who could do something but said they weren't legally able to keep him from turning the furnace off. It was a regular ol' mess.

So moving forward a year; yes I am ridiculously grateful that we are in our own house, with our own lack of heat, but this time it is because we are working on the home and making it something we can be proud of. The problem lies in that I have absolutely no control over anything. The DOB is dragging their heals, most likely not as much as our expediter. (If you're reading this by any miracle of miracles, CALL ME). The contractors are doing the right thing and waiting to do the permitted work until the absent permits are pulled, and moving forward on select projects.

Again, life is also a bit messy and sticky in other areas, but when isn't it. I just feel myself sliding and everything I try to do in order to pick myself up and feel optimistic, falls just short of working.

Did I mention that I invited my family for Christmas? I know they will make the best of it with us, I just pray we have a semi-functional kitchen in time for Christmas dinner and a place free of construction debris to celebrate together. As it stands now, it is all I can do to keep my eyes focused on the future.  For the week, that means rehearsals and performances of "Amahl and the Night Visitors" with shifts in Times Square mixed in. There, now who doesn't feel more relaxed?




Friday, November 20, 2015

To Covet

The hunky contractors are busily framing out the new bathroom/laundry room/closets in the upstairs unit. With luck and pixy dust, we'll be cooking on a real stove (exit crock pot stage left) and gathering in a mostly finished home for Christmas. I have had, and am probably currently having a panic attack. I invited my family to join us in NY for Christmas this year. What? Jump back! What sort of masochistic fool takes on a two unit full scale renovation project, while managing another project for her folks, while working in a Times Square restaurant (Holiday Season anyone?!), while singing a lead in an upcoming opera, while remembering to breath, while not screaming her head off because of her shear insanity? This sort: Hello.

Taking a brain break from my memorization, I decided to troll the internet for things I covet. Feast your eyes on these pretties.


House Number Lab gold leaf historic house numbers. For the time being, the crafty red painted numbering will live to face another sunrise.


A tiny giant of a soaking tub from Kohler. This bad boy is one of the only tubs small enough to fit our New York bathroom. Alas, we found one other less luxurious model after a week long nightmare of dinged and damaged tubs. Still, this is what our tub looks like in my mind.

Curvy and solid, just the way I like 'em, from House of Antique Hardware. Imagine these holding up antique walnut open shelving in our kitchen. That was fun. Moving along.



This ingenious jewel is the pièce de résistance What restoration project would be complete without an accurate replica of an antique icebox, but with all the modern conveniences of electricity! Just kidding, or am I?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

In Memoriam: Crappy Stuff


Main waste line 

Loads of debris shoved in tiny hole in the attic crawl space

Strange medicine cabinet that hung into the ether
Petrified mouse jauntily making it's way in the world


Just got word that we need to say a final farewell to our house water main as well. I was hoping it would make it through the storm unscathed but it has been steadily leaking more and more over the past month. FIE ON YOU CONSTRUCTION GODS! Must there be so much loss?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Windows

I have been waiting for the windows to be completely installed to write this post. I realize that nothing will be completely finished until the whole of the project is complete. That being said, they are 98% complete. We still need to:
- Insulate in the old weight pockets in the front bedroom (just three windows left).
-Finish stripping the trim we are staining, and prep the trim we are painting THEN install it;
-Stain the windows, paint the trim;

Then they'll be complete. Sadly, the painting and trim work will be the last thing we do, so we will be happy with our 98% windows until then. It is a HUGE upgrade so we are content to bask in the rays of light that now flood our home. It is a bit different than the flooding of water in the basement, a welcome change.

Plus, last February was a wee bit chilly with windows that didn't close, broken glass, and a missing transom (a.k.a. trash bag and cardboard) above the back door, which itself was nothing more than a piece of plywood bolted into the opening with a big scary gate and an even scarier pad lock keeping us in.



So let's get down to business. Windows, they cost an arm and a leg, gave me my first, second, and third gray hair, kept me up endless nights worrying and eventually turned me into the anxious drooling dolt of a person that I am today. Yes, a more appropriate title for this post is "Windows; picking, purchasing, surviving and installing the single most expensive item in your renovation".

There are a dizzying array of windows out there on the market. The frames themselves come in vinyl, aluminum, wood, fiberglass, not to mention composites of multiple materials when you start cladding wood windows with aluminum, vinyl and proprietary mumbo-jumbo. I should first say that if we had the original windows, we would have put the effort and money into rehabilitating them, but they were nothing but a wisp of a memory, and what we had instead were metal contraptions from the 70s, some if them even had glass.

The old kitchen window, note the presence of glass.
Since we are on a National Historic block, we were limited to some degree as to the materials we could use if we wanted to take advantage of the Historic Tax Credit. Working with the National Park Service, we realized we had only two options but no specifics. Let me me explain: We could use a wood interior window with a historically clad profile for the exterior, or we could purchase an all wood window. So knowing very little about windows, I began to do all the research, make a choice on a product, get the bid, submit our choice then wait and see if it met approval. When I asked for a short list of approved windows, I was met with silence. There is no such thing. So google and I trolled around the web looking for documents from other state and local historic applications that had approved windows. I loved the idea of all wood but we had to keep in mind that while we live on the first floor of the building, we will have renters on the second and it will ultimately be an investment property. A window with very little upkeep was a big factor in our decision to chose a clad window. The rear of the property gets a lot of sunlight and I'd already rehabed wooden windows in a bungalow in CA. The paint on the South facing side, flecked in a few places after one year, and only took three years to start chipping in earnest. Again, if we had the wood windows to begin with, we would have happily and lovingly maintained them. However, we were dealing with a blank slate; a very daunting and expensive blank slate. The price for new windows, large ones at that, was staggering and every little added cost to one window, was multiplied by 14. Wood windows were our most expensive option. Clad was the second most expensive. We used an aluminum clad on the front. It is also the historic face of the home and what we could use and still have approved. I did the math and it was worth the added cost, since in order to qualify for the tax credit a certain percentage of your repairs has to be on the exterior of the home. Well, looking back, we didn't need to worry about hitting that mark, but at the beginning of the game, way back last spring when we ordered the windows, it was a consideration. Silly us.

That being said, for the rear of the house we pulled the trigger on Andersen 400 Clad double hung windows, bare wood interior, Terratone exterior. The front of our house now sports Marvin Clad Ultimate double hung in Pebble Gray with bare wood interior.  Why two different windows you ask? 1) The Andersen were less expensive 2) We qualify for the credit with the Marvin on the front. It seems simple enough but it gave me an ulcer.

 

Our contractor has been invaluable in this process, whom we found through the window and door dealer, Naussau Windows and Doors. His initial proposal was for either a full tear out or a replacement insert. I am going to attempt this next bit of window explanation wizardry while trying not to bore you to tears, if you have even made it thus far. A full tear out is super energy efficient and gives you the largest glass size for your opening while integrating the window most effectively into the fabric of your home. They take out everything; from one side of the brick to the other. In our case this included the moldings, the window sills and the paneled wood beneath the window. Entering stage left in this saga is my starry eyed optimism who saw original wood and desired nothing more than to save it from demo and dumpster. Looking back, it wasn't worth saving. *gasp* How can I even think those words. I am supposed to preserve the historic fabric of this home. Well, seems Starry Eyed Optimism missed the part where the trim was previously hacked to shreds and large portions of it were new additions or missing entirely. I can't explain how I didn't see this other than to claim Future Vision. I have this habit of seeing a space as it will be, not as it is. This has been incredibly helpful while living in a construction zone surrounded by boxed possessions and construction materials and debris. It wasn't so helpful in making this decision.  That being said, we opted for the inserts. It will be OK in the end, but I do have my regrets.






Thursday, November 12, 2015

Preservation League of New York

The night before Christopher left town for his Mobile Opera gig, we rubbed elbows with some pretty swanky folks.

We were invited to the Preservation League of New York Gala, Pillars of New York. We spent the evening in the Rainbow Room of Rockefeller Center dining on some damned good food, drinking some damned good adult beverages and listening to some damned good people get awards for their contribution and hard work supporting NY preservation.

We are incredibly grateful and thankful to be invited as their guests for the evening. It was a relief to be out of my serving uniform or demo scrubs. On our way to the gala I did find some white paint under a fingernail and a smear of something on the back of my elbow from lord knows when. You can take us out on the town for a few hours but the renovation made sure we didn't forget what we were going home to.


And of course, I can't forget to mention we were featured in this schnazzy little article as part of the Preservation League's Annual Report. We're looking pretty dapper if I do say so.

Thanks to Liz for the tremendous photo

Friday, October 2, 2015

New Plumber

Our contractor showed up this morning with the plumber to go over the project with him. As he crossed into the house, the first of many pipes popped at the seam. I like to think that it was luck that kept those pipes together since February. We did loose water for a bit in the house, and are still without hot water and use our shower, but the plumber immediately sprung into action. (Water leak pun intended.) He had the one leak fixed in no time, and cut loose the old brass pipes to the basement bathroom. A few other leaks popped up after he left, and I am rather hopeful he will make it back before the end of day to fix them. 

We are on our way to work as I type this so I am hopeful, but not expecting it. The plumber wasn't planning on starting work today so I am greatful he was there walking through while the leaks begin to spring in the first place. 

In the end, looks like we are getting all new pipes as Brass is Wack, yo. Copper (and pex) is where it is at, and while the basement is a yawning pit of doom, we are going to fix it up right. 


The electrician also walked through today. We went through the scope of work and once again, I am very happy with the contractor's regular crew. 

Before the rain began falling inside and out, I did get the last of the peeling paint scraped from the original railing out front. It is all painted up in rust inhibiting red, next year's pantone color of the year, and ready for it's final coat of basic black. 


But for now, we're off to wait some tables. Times Square, here we come.  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Basement Flooding

Our sad clogged waste line.
The title says it all. A water seepage problem that I thought I figured out and had taken care of came back with a vengeance this morning. It wasn't because I didn't have the right thing fixed, or that something else was contributing to the problem. Nope. It was because I hired the wrong person to fix it.

So after a fun morning of wet vacuuming and cleaning, I went to knock some heads together, politely that is. (Seriously folks, this is the second time I've wiped poo off of the basement floor. Thank heavens C was there to help this time or I may have completely lost it. So that said, I was looking forward to my chat with folks at  $49.99 Sewer.

I walked down the block, seething quietly, towards the Rooter Co. to have my nice civil chat with them. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a "For Rent" sign, instead of the business that was here, with a little odd feeling, part nausea part ick, I knew in a moment it would not be fixed quick.

DAMNED YOU 49.99 SEWER! 




Thankfully the contractor arrived on the scene today. His crew started on their first day of work in the basement. Rather than track down the ghosted rooter company, I've decided to hire someone I know I can trust that will take care of the problem for good. I've been seriously pleased with Barry so far and as our friend Oliver puts it, "It doesn't hurt that they are all extremely handsome men". It is like a bloomin' reality show in our basement. I'll have to get a group shot. It being their first day of work, I am a little hesitant to ask them to pose for a photo, I don't want to come off as super creepy. Once they realize I'm only "special", and not *special*, I'll think about approaching them. Maybe.



On the positive side of things, the contractor's three man team made short work of the remaining concrete in the bathroom. Here's a happy view from down the hall.


Speaking of hall ways; after much agony and a bigger bill, we'll be removing the tile in the hall. That is, what tile there is in the hall, will be removed. I was going to patch it, but the patches have gotten bigger and bigger and with the whole entry section missing all together.  It is definitely the right time to fix it and make it right, even if it isn't the right price. That isn't saying the contractor's price isn't fair, only that free is in our budget right now and work isn't free. We knew we'd have to deal with it down the line, but while everything is being torn up down there it makes the most sense to keep tearing things up instead of putting an ugly band aid on it that we'd end up ripping off in several years anyways. So, soon this blech with be covered with swanky new 6 x 24 porcelain "wood" tile. Perfect for a basement. The tile itself is a steal at less than $2/sqft. That much I'm pleased about.









Thursday, September 24, 2015

Delivery!

Some deliveries go more smoothly than others. For example, our tub delivery, wasn't the best experience, and the following several days it took to correct it, also was one of the more frustrating episodes of the renovation thus far.

Finding itty-bitty 4' bathtubs was a bit of a challenge in and of itself. We wanted to keep the cast iron ones in the first and second floor hall baths from the 50s, but the plumbing was done very poorly and embedded under concrete in the party wall. So rather than open that can of worms, we're disconnecting the plumbing and putting in new copper on an interior wall. This means the drain will be on the opposite wall and our current alcove tubs won't work. Thus, the hunt for the 4' tub began. I had several options in this scenario:

1) Buy a claw foot mini tub at $1000 minimum. As an unforeseen expense, $2,000 was too much.
2) Similarly, buy a 4' deep soaking tub. Even more expensive and even less likely.
3) Revert the bathroom layout to it's pre-1950s standard tub. Appealing but not practical as the tub ran the length of the bathroom relegating the toilet and sink into narrow little alcoves. While not unusual in NY, not my favorite option.
4) Buy the only 4' alcove tub currently on the market carried only by Home Depot, even thought the tub received horrible reviews for consistency of finish. So I guess you could say that I knew what I was getting into.

We bought the Bootz 4' tub from Home Depot. The original shipping information was lost somewhere between the delivery company and Home Depot's online crew. They then reordered the tubs to be delivered directly to the house. The two tubs arrived at the house, and I also received a notification that the tubs had finally reached Home Depot for pick up. From 0 to 4 tubs. I thought I'd at least have several to pick from in case one arrived damaged. Well, one did arrive damaged. Off to HD we went to exchange it. Turns out, customer service had no information on any tubs delivered for us. The information in the confirmation email I had, and the confirmation number when pulled up on their system, didn't match. We ordered two tubs, only one showed up as ordered on the in store HD system. Also, it was coming up under someone else's name. After an hour long ordeal, we finally got them to accept the tub for return and I bought a new one online. It was one hot hot mess. And we drove that hot mess all the way across Manhattan to Secaucus, New Jersey where the HD showed 14 of the Bootz tubs in stock. We attempted to pick up the online order upon store opening at 6am. The tub that was pulled for us, shockingly, was not the right tub. So more waiting for the one guy scheduled at 6am that could drive their cherry-picker-fork-lift-thing-a-ma-jig. Minute by minute I imagined the Lincoln Tunnel filling with cars until we were forever trapped in New Jersey. Did I mention the Pope is coming to Manhattan today? When it's your one day off, you've got to just drive in - balls to the walls people.

Eventually we pulled away from Secaucus with the right tub, undamaged, and relatively unscathed.

By 8am we were back in the neighborhood accepting delivery of our HVAC equipment, windows, and kitchen tile!


Almost smooth as buttuh. Windows arrived, all present and accounted for, ready to install next week. The HVAC has already hit a bit of a hiccup as we now have to find a 36" diameter space to run the air return from second floor to the basement. We were not originally informed of this and did not plan for it. Also, turns out we need two air returns, not the one quoted, and we weren't informed that the return vents are twice the size of the old vent.  The vent is nearly the size of our entire entry way where the old one sits snug against the wall.  From what I read and was told, a high velocity system has the bonus of being able to fit into old walls with minimal damage to the plaster, whelp, not so much. We were told we also had to open more walls than we were already planning on for other construction. Communication problems abound. Time for a run and a long think.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Now you see it. Now you don't.

Upon finishing the demolition for the second floor and basement, I got a hold of a clean out company and said goodbye to the evidence of all our hard work. Finishing the demo doesn't keep me from waking up in the middle of the night thinking of some small thing that we forgot to take out or remove before the cleanout crew paid us a visit. That sounds very ominous now that I think about it. It brings to mind big white vans from Jersey pulling up to "clean up a nasty mess". But they were very polite and even attempted to half-heartedly sweep up after themselves. The great news is that we can see the floor! The bad news is that we can see the floor! Here are some before and after shots for your viewing pleasure.

basement bedroom and game room

basement exercise room
2nd floor kitchen and living room looking into bedroom 
2nd floor small front bedroom and back yard
The clean out ended up costing us in the ball park of $1500. Yet when you consider all the concrete block hiding under that red awning in the middle of our back yard, concrete backed tile from the basement demo, and the plaster and lathe we took out from the second floor, it was a heavy truck and a half of trash we got rid of. They did recycle the metal. We didn't see the money from it, but I do like that it was recycled. I can't imagine finding the energy to take it down to the recycle center myself at this point, so someone else might as well.

I'd rather spend my energy fixing up the items going back into the house. I've been working on picking paint colors for the cabinetry and stumbled across a great clean white from Benjamin Moore called Snow Fall. I decided to test out their Advanced Alkyd Paint on something small before tackling all of our kitchen doors and drawers. I am in no way feeling like our kitchen is small when I look at the pile of doors that I have to paint. I tried finding a company in town that would take them and paint them in a spray booth setting but alas, for NY, our job is too small and no one wanted to mess with it. So, that leads me to this:




I love the size and quality of this bathroom medicine cabinet but I do not love the faded gray-brown wood finish that has antiquing in all of the crevices. It doesn't go with anything else I have picked out for the bathroom but I figure a lovely semi-gloss paint job will spiff it up nicely. I prepped it per instructions, cleaning, lightly sanding and wiping off any excess dust with a tack cloth. I removed all the hardware and the two mirrors that were accessible. I patched a few dings in wood as well. I bought the brush that the Benjamin Moore dealer suggested and went to town. I was a bit bothered by the bubbles that formed in the self leveling paint. For the most part, it did indeed smooth out over the course of it's drying cycle but there are still bubble holes that I had to sand down and I am hoping a second and third coat will alleviate the problem. 






I am suspicious that the brush I used for the first and second coat, which super smooth, wasn't soft enough. I ended up with some fine brush marks left in the finish. The whole reason I threw down the cash for the Advance paint was for its durability and smooth near factory finish. I will be sanding between the second and third coat and using a different brush for the top coat. Fingers crossed.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Buy all the things

I'm so tired of buying all the things. I have shopping fatigue. This is a real thing. I am trying to make sure every possible item that we need is ordered and delivered so that when the contractor begins his part, he'll have not only the specs on everything, but the actual products available for installation.

We have lights, fans, faucets, plumbing valves, toilets, you name it, arriving via our friendly UPS man. It is almost a daily occurrence, which gets tricky here since packages aren't left outside, but instead have to have someone available to accept them. I'm starting to think he's trying to arrive just around the time we get home from work so that he doesn't have to keep taking our haul o' goods back and forth. It could just be luck, but I prefer to think of it as a benevolent act of kindness.

On the topic of buying, we bought a couch. A sectional to be exact. C's parents gave us a generous gift to help with the purchase of an appliance or some other renovation related expense. We already purchased our washer/dryer and are using lightly used hand me down appliances for our kitchen, so we started dreaming of a new couch. Our current couch is a bit of a mess and is known to leave our backs in a bit of a mess as well. I got it as a floor model back in grad school and it has moved from Colorado, to San Diego, to San Francisco, to New York. It has seen a great many places and a great many years. So when Ethan Allen sent me an e-mail advertising a much coveted sectional 20% off until the end of August, I persuaded C to go to the store and sit on all the couches with me. It was met with much approval. We have my side of the family coming into town over Christmas and also hope C's family will come stay with us for an extended period of time soon after the house is finished. We need seating, seating that won't leave a person begging for mercy or for the number to a local motel. So, after a few hours pouring over fabrics, we have a couch, or at least an order for one. I'm so excited for it in all of it's stain guarded, performance grade, velvety softness. I expect to spend a few afternoons sprawled in it's embrace as the breeze wafts through our new screened in windows. Such dreams I have.

But the reality is that we're still a ways off. The couch will arrive mid to late November and we are crossing our fingers that the house will be mostly complete, allowing tenants to move in upstairs in October.

I took a photo of the couch fabrics as a happy reminder in the weeks to come. The amber fabric and ivory fabric are accent pillows, the gray is the couch. It doesn't show very well in the photo but it has a nice texture. The small gray/green rectangle is our paint swatch. Happily the black floors and white baseboard of the show room helped me visualize how it will look with our kitchen cabinetry as the living room, dining room, and kitchen will all be open to one another.



On our 'finished list' is C's hand tilling of the back yard (see we neeeeeeeed that couch to sooth and provide a resting place for his aching muscles):

video

It looks so much tidier now. I am itching to get it planted up, but we need to work on our fencing a bit and some of the concrete before hand. The pretty things are always the last to go in. We'll plant next spring, but that hasn't stopped me from dreaming of lavender and cone flowers. At least I'm not dreaming of the pet cemetery we stumbled across back there. What's that? I didn't mention that while tilling C found a large stuffed duck that looked like it was buried by a dog? It was a few inches under the topsoil. We thought it was a bit odd, but not too odd to put up any red flags, after all we'd been picking out other various items from the dirt, including but not limited to : marbles, glass, nails, a hanger, a sponge, broken toys, a domino, utensils, bottles, wrappers, razor blades (multiple blades, yes), a sock, etc, etc, etc. Turns out that big stuffed duck was buried with a big dead dog. We weren't sure at first what it was seeing as how the owner of said buried dog decided that once again, duct tape was the perfect material to wrap it in, turning it into a scary mummy package of eeeek. I understand the burial of pets, what I don't understand is burying a dog 8" below the surface in a rental property that has barely enough soil to plant flowers in it let alone a large dog! But I find myself being thankful it was a dog and not a someone.

All right, shake it off, shake it off.

Here are a few small projects I've been working on. This is our new towel hanger for the basement bathroom. The wood was a scrap I found laying around from the wood paneling in the basement. I ordered the black hooks from Home Depot for around $1.25ea. I cleaned the board up a bit, I still wanted it to be a bit rustic with knots and cracks. I then drilled a few quick pilot holes and used my handy dandy bolt cutters to shorten the provided screws. This was probably the quickest project start to finish I've ever done, not to mention the cheapest.


The mirror took a bit more prep work but it turned out lovely. This will also go in the basement bathroom. We got this mirror as a hand me down from my parents. It had a few wood blocks attached to the frame which I pulled off, removed the old staples, filled in the holes and sanded down. The black paint was a sample can I picked up from Benjamin Moore, onyx, as a possible kitchen island color. I think it is a keeper.



Demo Down

OOPS, left this post languishing in "drafts". UPDATE: Our portion of the demo for the second floor and basement are complete! The back yard is also in a much better place. Update to follow.

We are nearing the end of demolition that we can accomplish on our own. We have one more opening to create in the upstairs unit that will be used for the new laundry closet! We've finished opening these two bad boys up so that we can get new doors in the right place for the closets and Jack and Jill bathroom that will occupy the left hand side of the middle room in the photo. 

And speaking of laundry closets, our new washer and dryer was delivered a few days ago! We have no hookups yet, but I lovingly caress them everytime I pass them, letting my hand trail languidly aling their glossy white...ahem...yes, we have a washer and dryer. There was a slight scratch on the door of one of them so I refused delivery.  They got it back on the truck and called Lowes back, they didn't want to gonthriugh the return as I am sure they would loose money having it returned then having to sell it again as damaged. C agreed to take it back into the house if they refunded $100. Soufs like a win-win to me. We can use every cent we can get and I figure everytime I see that scratch I'll see $100 instead of a brand new machine already dinged. 

While we wait for another cleanout to clear away our demo debris, we gave our hands a break from the power tools by spending a few hours in the back yard cleaning things up. 


It still feels like America's Most Desperate Landscape to me but it is getting better bit by bit. 

And for the daily pretty, we pulled the trigger on this queen pullout couch from West Elm. It is on sale now and hopefully will arrive just about the same time we are ready to finish up the basement recroom. 

Come to me my pretty!