Saturday, July 30, 2016


It seems a bit premature to be trimming out the apartments. We are still slowly moving towards our plumbing inspection aka I am painfully dragging all parties along whilst fueled by frustration and panic. My calls and texts to all parties involved have probably become more frantic and deranged, but no apologies. 

And while the flow of the project is a bit herky jerky, it is flowing. Trim is going in and I can finally really see the rooms coming together. Upstairs we salvaged as much of the old stock we could from both apartments. I wanted to complete one unit as much as possible with old moldings so that the new molding profiles wouldn't be as noticeable. The upstairs had the most trim still in place, which easily decided where the salvaged trim would go. Most doors were missing pieces here and there and half of the baseboard was missing part of the molding profile. 

The baseboards were made with two separate pieces, flat stock and a decorative cap. We opted to recreate the look downstairs with a speed molding, a single piece of stock created to look like the original two. 

We also steered clear of any special order profiles and instead ordered items that were similar in shape and proportion. I kept to profiles that could have been found in a neighboring house but weren't an exact match for our original trim. There is a thing called a budget, yo. And whereas said budget has been blown to smithereens by such sexy additions as a new sewage waste line, upgraded electrical panels, new to code and sealed gas lines, I am trying to claw back whatever savings I can. (Is it really savings when you buy something and spend money on it if you hadn't intended to spend the money on it in the first place) Whoa. I just got philosophical there. Time to back the truck up. 

Way up. Up to the top of the windows up. Trim profile style. 

The original headers on the windows upstairs are what referred to as Boston Headers. They are built from three pieces. Two of the pieces, the sill (bottom piece) and the flat stock are super easy to mimic. We adjusted size a bit to make it larger while keeping the proportions. 

Reasoning for the sizing up is that the other items of the room have been sized up as well, opening between kitchen and living space, doorway between hall and living space, kitchen window doubled in size, living space in general is simply larger than it was before. Keeping it all in proportion! 

Baseboard is a similar profile but again, we went for the speed moulding, same basic shape and height. The decorative trim forming the "legs" around the doors and windows was originally composed of three piece. I loved the heft and shape, but on our floor, the outermost piece, the back band, had been removed from all but one brightly painted door for some bizarre reason in some previous remodel (1950/60s I'm looking at you). 

It isn't an exact match but now that it is in place around the first window, it feels right. That is all I was hoping for. And when looking at pictures of the new and the original size by side, it redoubles my trust in my original decision. It isn't the same, bit it still looks like it was built from several pieces and frankly I like how the crown piece on the Boston header hearkens to the outermost piece of our trim mold. It is the little things that make me happy. 

For the private spaces in the 1st floor apartment, i.e. bedrooms, bathrooms, we're using mitered corners instead of the larger more formal header. In the bathrooms we'll move away from the decorative stock all together and use flat stock. Surprise, it doesn't all have to match! I know, I know, breathe, it will all be ok in the end. The trim work gives clues as to the function of the rooms, more utilitarian rooms like kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms *sigh* get more utilitarian moldings. Public spaces like dining rooms and parlors (we've combined ours) get more public and grander profiles. See there, logic prevails.

Monday, July 18, 2016

1st Floor Framing

Oh the light! Opening a wall up makes a big difference in channeling light through a row home. We have two openings from our kitchen into the living space now. We decided to keep a small sense of visual division to retain some of the original layout while accommodating for modern living. I didn't want it to feel like a loft, but I did want to incorporate the kitchen a bit more into our living space. 

Whereas in 1912, the kitchen in our house was separated from the dining room via pocket doors, and the dining room at the back of the house separate from the parlor which was at the front of the house. This left both bedrooms in the two rooms between them with out any windows or direct light. We have now combined the living and dining space into one room at the back of the house near the yard and eventual garden, and the kitchen is mostly open to the living space. One of the bedrooms is now at the front of the property with it's own set of bay windows. The second bedroom is in the same location, but we've added back pocket doors where they were in the original floor plans I found. This time they will be glass and filter all that glorious light into the interior of the home. 

New header between kitchen and dining area placed at same height as the top of the windows for continuity. 

Kitchen demolished and chase wall for electric and plumbing in place.

Here's a photo of the dining room from when we moved in. It looks towards the back yard and you can see the kitchen through the doorway to the right The pocket doors had long been removed when we bought the home. The only indication they were ever there was from the old plans and once we opened the walls up, the framing was in place to allow a big hefty door to slide between the studs. 

Move in day was pretty bitter sweet.

And here we are today!

Taken while standing in the bedroom, looking into the new living room / dining room with grand openings into the kitchen to the right.

Looking from the kitchen back into the dining room / living room with the header in place at the back of the photo for the pocket doors dividing the bedroom from the living space.

And one more photo from the beginning of the project looking from the dining room towards the 2nd bedroom which now has a big ol' opening for glass pocket doors. 

Even with the door open and full sun outside, that bedroom was almost pitch dark. What a welcome change!

Friday, July 15, 2016

2nd Floor Rental Kitchen Progress

I ended my last post hoping to share good news. And as luck would have it, I do have some good construction news.  The cabinets are in upstairs! The rental kitchen is starting to really look like a kitchen as opposed to the bleak pit of despair it was when we originally purchased the building. Let's have a look back at what we were dealing with.

Anyone have an uncontrollable urge to scratch their eyes out? I personally have no words, just a general sense of queasiness in my stomach.  Boy howdy we've managed to come a long way. We aren't finished, but the cabinets are in:

We put doors and drawers into place:

We put the jewelry on this morning. Look at the pretties. I bought a template for $5 rather than reinvent the wheel (I have 3 more kitchens to go with our building and my parent's BedStuy property). We used two sizes of handles and we have three different drawer sizes that we were working with, so for this kitchen alone, I would have ended up making 7 different templates. No thank you. The $5 was worth it, considering the kit also came with a brand new perfectly sized drill bit. 

Doing a little tidy up work before the counter top template guy showed up. Unfortunately, he ended up leaving before completing the template as the stove was installed too close to the old chimney bump out not leaving space for the backsplash to wrap around and thus no template was made. I am in the process of contacting our contractors who installed the cabs while I was in WA, to give them the good news that they have to install a filler piece and, oh fun, move the cabinets surrounding the stove and fridge over the the right 3/4". Doh!