Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bathroom - Part 4 - To-do list / baby steps

The bathroom has gone through a wild transformation, but obviously we aren't close to being finished yet! 

To do:

-- Install overhead light cover and shower light cover - surely John and I can figure out something as simple as this!
-- We (I) recently realized that we'd (I'd) be a couple of idiots to do a complete gut bathroom renovation without replacing the circa '70s ugly chipped-film window. The problems with this window go beyond anything a white coat of paint can fix. So we're off to Lowes, hopefully sometime this week to deal with this issue.
-- Paint the walls (the ceilings are miraculously done and the walls are primed and ready to go!). I would paint the walls this weekend if we could settle on a color. I'm hoping for a grey-ish color, but not sure how light or dark to go.  We'll see.
-- Next we'll re-assess the bathroom door situation. Our current door is original, except sometime, probably in the '70s or so, someone thought it would be a good idea to add a sheet of plastic laminate (in a dark wood finish) to the back side of the door. It is U-G-L-Y with a capital U! We are lucky enough to have a couple of extra doors in the shed and I think one of them can be fit to the bathroom door, but of course since it's been in the shed for a long long time, it needs a good sanding and/or paint thinning to take care of the crackling finish.
-- After another round of credit card bill resuscitation, we'll hit the floor next. So I'll place an order for the marble tiles around the end of January (again this is all in my dreams, so we'll see what actually happens!) I'm hoping the GC who does the floor tile will be able to also install new woodwork around the window and door to match the rest of the house. At this point we may also want to consider adding a marble saddle in the doorway, and trim around the floor.
-- A radiator cover is a must - that thing gets hot! I think our local hardware has someone who can custom make these covers - score!
-- At this point we'll be ALMOST done- except for 2 of the most important items! We have to put in an order for a sink vanity/console. The Pottery Barn one I pictured in another post may be too deep for the space, but I've found a similar option online, so I have to do a little research into it.  We already have a brand spanking new toilet, it just needs installation!
-- Now we'll just need to deal with the decorative items - including the sink mirror, wall sconces, shower curtain, towel hooks, towel bars, and some kind of storage cabinet that will hopefully fit into the nook above the toilet.

I'm out of breath just making this list. But baby steps people, baby steps...

Bedroom - Painting Part 1

I decided to tackle the bedroom painting as the next project.  A few weeks ago we started removing wall-paper, patching holes, sanding rough areas and caulking all the windows and trim areas. So we've been ready for paint for a while. 

It took about a half gallon of Decorator's White (Ben Semi-gloss) to finish about 90% of the bedroom trim, doors, windows. It is already looking so much better. (Still have the backs of the doors to finish!)

One of the make-it-or-break-it reason for loving this house was for all the heavy trim work and doors. It's all completely original to the house - including the doorknob hardware. Of course they are all tarnished and some have been subjected to messy paint jobs. 

I'm starting to scrape away the paint as I do each door. It's not the easiest task. It's only kind of working. I know there is some kind of Martha-Stewart-y way to submerge the hardware in boiling water, or some such thing, but the hardware almost seems petrified to the surface of the door and I didn't want to make a bigger mess. Maybe someday that will be another project!

Next comes the walls - hope to have it done this weekend. Of course I bought the paint the weekend after we signed on the house, thinking it would be done before we moved in - HA! But now that the trim is done I think it's actually feasible! 
I picked Crystalline (Benjamin Moore Aura in flat finish).  It's a soft bluey-greeny-grey.  I've been obsessed with this color for a while and I'm hoping it will live up to my wildest expectations.  

Box Room

Our "guest room"... I'm posting this photo and hoping it will embarrass me into moving our storage junk into the attic, and painting away the leaf motif. (Also removing the red ribbon pull from the fan will help!). 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cozying up for the holidays

The last few days have been a whirlwind of unpacking and settling in. I can barely contain myself to hold it together until I get a paintbrush and roller in my hands!

Look at the frame over the fireplace! We bought it a few years ago for $20 at a thrift store that was closing in Jersey City. It fits perfectly above our fireplace! I could search high and low the rest of my life and probably never find such a perfect fit... I'm thinking about getting one of those antique glass mirrors made to fit in it. That would be sweet!

Also John is obsessed with finding the perfect pair of upholstered chairs to set on each side of the fireplace. A man after my own heart...

So much to do! In the meantime, we've added a few small touches to bring the holiday spirit inside...

Bathroom - Part 3 - Shower time!

So the good news is that the day we moved in, our extremely generous Uncle Ed heroically braved the pending snow storm to finish the tub fixtures. That means we were able to *officially* move in and live here!

We pulled out the swatch of the Carrara floor tile - doesn't it look pretty? Just wait 'til after the new year...
*These photos were cropped carefully to avoid showing our 50s era blue toilet
** Also don't know why these photos are turning pink in blogger - trust me everything is stark white!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bathroom - Part 2 - Dream Bath

So here is our bathroom inspiration board! 

Everyone keeps telling us we should have a traditional wood vanity with cabinets and drawers. But this is supposed to be our dream bathroom! We know we definitely want a Carrara marble sink top and that seems easy to obtain. But we haven't found a wood vanity we like so far.   Home Depot and Lowes only carry styles that have particle board sides. How can we put a precious slab of marble on a particle board base?  This is the same stuff Michelangelo used.  I don't think so!!

So my sister, Age, insisted we should try a chrome base. My mother found one on Pottery Barn, it's the one pictured above - isn't it pretty?  Actually, the cost is ALMOST the same, close enough to just go for the one we want. 

We'll see!

Yay Floors!

So one thing is completely done, finito!  
Now it's time to paint!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Floor Day

We decided early on that this house needed a little help in the flooring department. We had squeaks and creeks all over, which, okay fine, it's an old house, but worse, there was a really soft spot in the doorway between the living and dining rooms. Like REALLY REALLY soft. This was caused by a misalignment in the framing of the house or how the house settled or whatever. We knew it was structurally sound, but the kind of thing that would drive us crazy in the long run.

Another problem - in places the tongue and groove had worn down to almost nothing, leaving gaps between the boards.  So we decided that even though it was over double the cost, we would be better off laying down a new floor and being done with it, than going through the trouble of sanding and re-staining something that was not worth saving. It's hard to see in this photo, but in person everything about the floor looked worn and old, and not in a good way:

Luckily we found an awesome floor guy. He came in yesterday and laid down new red oak floors in one day, the floor feels much more solid, and a lot of the squeaks went away:

This morning we drove over to pick out the floor color - this is the fun part!!! They laid down about 4 colors from some of the cans we picked up at the local True Value, and we got to pick and choose:

Top to bottom the colors are:
- Special Walnut - not sure if this is the official name, but it came from the floor guys and that's what they were calling it
- Ebony - in real life this looks black!!!  We're going for drama, but this was going a little too far...
- Jacobean - dark brown without the red tones. Also in real life this looks much darker.
- Dark Walnut - a little too red.

And the winner was...

Jacobean! We snuck into the house tonight (through the basement door) to peek in through the kitchen doorway. This is the floor without the top poly coat.  

It's being finished tomorrow, and on Saturday we'll be able to walk on it. Can't wait to see the final result!

One other note: luckily the squeeks, creaks, and soft spots were limited to the first floor. The second floor wood seems to be in good condition, but definitely needs a real good sanding and refinishing. Another thing to add to the list...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bathroom - Part 1 - One Hot Mess

So, back to the bathroom. It looked like this just 48 short hours ago...

But we got a little carried away. So carried away in fact, that we're lucky we have even a functioning toilet left...

Sunday mornings. I remember when we were carefree apartment dwellers. Sleeping in, or lazying around in front of the TV. We'd debate who had to do the dishes. Whether we should take a walk to get a bagel or make french toast at home. Oh Sunday mornings, you seem so long long ago. 

But guess what we did this morning? 
Yes, we spent this Sunday morning bagging every last little crumble. Then dragged each bag into one of the small bedrooms.  Then John crowbarred all the little floor tiles up along with the layer of cement, so we are down to the plywood floor. 

Just for good measure, here is a photo of the other small bedroom, filled with more bathroom demolition...
Don't you love how the sunlight streams in?

Our home!

Here is our home...

We love the blue and white! The entire exterior is the original wood siding, freshly painted with a brand spankin' new roof. The walkway, sidewalk and curb are all original flagstone. This is the photo from the listing ad which is why it looks so springy. Since the closing took place right after the owner moved and the day after garbage day, and the next garbage day was a national holiday, well, let's just say it's almost a week later and the sidewalk and curb are barely visible from all the trash! So we'll take updated outdoor photos later on.


I love the Roman shades, but they are in various forms of breaking down, so they might need replacing soon. I love the idea of each individual window having it's own shade. The radiator also needs a cover. Not sure where to get something like that...

Looking into the house, we catch a glimpse of the living and dining rooms:

Living room:
Fireplace! A real live fireplace!! 

The other side of our living room has a scrumptious staircase. Will definitely post more photos of that soon. At the time I took the photos, it was used as a not very photo-friendly hardware dumping ground.

Dining room: 
All original molding and stained glass window. 

The kitchen is in total working order. Except that there's no dishwasher. And the fridge is technically not even in this room. And in a perfect world I'd have my perfect white kitchen. But for now a working stove and sink will do!

Heading upstairs:

Bedroom 1: 
AKA the Master Suite Bedroom. We are debating whether to splurge for a King or Queen size bed. But the little home repair birdie keeps telling me we will be squeezing into our full size bed for a while yet! This is a nice size room - I don't think the photos show its full scale potential. It has an ok-size, almost-walk-in closet that will be able to fit a lot more with a few shelf adjustments.

The red in the photo below is wallpaper. I was so anxious to rip it out, I did it before I did anything else! 

Bedroom 2:
As of this posting, we've already ripped up the purple carpet. Some new paint and it will be better than ever...

Bedroom 3:
White walls with sponge painted leaves. At least it isn't wall-papered! 
We also wasted no time in ripping up this carpet. What lies beneath? That's another subject for another day!

Blink and it's gone...
Since it is the only bathroom in the house, we are wasting no time renovating this baby before we move in...

So since taking the photos a few days ago, we've ripped up the carpets in the small bedrooms, painted all the ceilings, scrubbed the kitchen down from top to bottom, cleaned up leaves in the front and back yards, prepped the living room, dining room, sunroom and master bedroom walls for paint, tested and committed to a few paint colors, scrubbed down all the natural woodwork to prepare for paint, polished the built-in bookshelves in the living room, uncovered some original doors in the garage, made 3 trips to the local hardware store within 24 hours, started to remove the wallpaper in the upstairs hallway, finished removing the wallpaper in the Master bedroom, ShopVac-ed our mess, and knocked back a couple of beers and a few pizzas. We were EXTREMELY LUCKY to have 10 of our very generous family members (and one small Yorkie) helping all weekend!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Skeleton Keys

On our second day owning the house we stopped by to "check on things" and found in our entryway a little surprise...

A set of skeleton keys kindly slipped through our mail slot by the former owners! So magical! The house I grew up in has an almost identical set of keys and my parents display it in their kitchen. I might do the same :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's an American Foursquare

After finding our house, I guessed it was built in the 1920-1930s.  After googling things like "American Architecture of the 1930s", I finally found it:
The American Foursquare:
According to this, the American Foursquare is also known as a "Prairie Box" or the clunkily-worded "Transitional Pyramid". It was a popular mail-order style, hence the above ad. Everything would be delivered in a box car with a book of directions and all the parts pre-cut and numbered for self-assembly. Sounds like fun, right?  No wonder they were only $1,995.00.  

I love the reminder at the bottom of the ad: DO NOT ATTEMPT BUILDING WITHOUT PLANS


Long, long day, but it is done - John and I are officially homeowners! It has been an unbelievable time. From the time we settled on the price with the previous owners until today was only 5 weeks. Fastest closing ever!

9:30 am: Bagels.
10 am: Walk-through at the house. Found out our huge tree is actually the oldest tree in our town. Cool!
11 am: Still waiting for our closing costs from our lawyer. Relaxing (trying) in town with coffee and tea.
11:45 am: Call from lawyer. Everything is ready and there are no surprises with our closing costs. Awesome!
12 noon: Stop by bank to get the SCARIEST CHECK EVER!!!
12:30 pm: Title office. Paperwork rules!
1:30 pm: Starving. Big Italian Lunch.
4 pm: Still dont have the keys. Try to break into own home. Stop and make a few phone calls first.
4:30 pm: Everything's cleared. Keys are ours!
4:35 pm: Rip out wallpaper in Master Bedroom.
5 pm: Scouring fridge and oven - inside and out.
6:30 pm: Learn how to do a meter reading.
6:45 pm: Sweep.
7:30 pm: Lock up.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Last Look

Closing in less than 48 hours! Can't believe how fast this has gone.  SO anxious to close and get in to the new place and start cleaning. I have grandiose plans for the house, some that I fear may make no sense in any version of reality other than my own mind. So we shall see...

In the meantime, here is a last look at our apartment before everything is dismantled and packed...

Everything in this room is scheduled to be re-purposed, painted or tossed. The brass headboard from Pottery Barn was lovely a few years ago, but just looks boring now. So do the bed-side tables!  I love the lamps, but I'd like to change the shade. The bedding is cozy and pretty, but in an all-beige room - YAWN!!! 
However, the painting above the bed is precious to us and will follow us wherever we go...

Wish I took a photo of the lamp below before I spray painted it white and added a new shade. It resided in my parent's foyer for years.  Mom banished it to the basement shortly after my uncle noticed it and started actually pointing and laughing at its ugliness! I beautified something ugly!

The dresser is an IKEA throwaway. I love IKEA, but sometimes it just doesn't love me back. I can recall several rushed mornings when we were on our way out the door and this thing just started falling apart. I've dismantled and re-mantled this thing to death. It will surely be left behind.

The other side of the room has been designated as the television graveyard. Yes - the dreaded tube tv that is too heavy to put out on the curb but too ugly and gigantic to bother keeping.  It's sitting in an equally hard-to-move armoire. Both will be donated to the curb gnomes*.

Below is our un-remarkable bathroom. Will not miss opening and closing the medicine cabinet door while John is spitting his toothpaste into the sink.

Below is our darling kitchen. I use the word darling very loosely. The refridgerator is to the right but nothing special enough about it to photograph! Someday I will tell my grandchildren - see that tiny spot between the stove and the dish rack? Well, that was Nana's entire cooking space! 

Mrs. Meyers how I love thee, let me count the ways. I could never go back to any other hand soap after this. I love the colors and print of the tray below from IKEA. 

Our breakfast nook / dining room. Ask me if we ever eat at this table! The good news is we can add a couple of leaves to expand it so it will be our dining room table for a while. The bad news - it's a little too country-kitchen for our future formal dining room. 

Living room:
IKEA Lack bookshelf - this truly is one of those staple pieces of furniture that can fit into any home.  The book mish-mash will be neatened up, and we will add some storage baskets/boxes with supplies in our future office.

Fireplace - more like a fakeplace! But love the old marble mantle, even if it surely isn't original to the space.  

Also included is this awesome cast-iron fireplace cover up thing-y with a creepy face. It would be more creepy in an actual Victorian house. In this weird addition to an old 3 story apartment building, it's just funny. Which is why I had to include it...

The other side of the room, the side with 2 large windows, holds a large credenza which we use for our tv.  It is probably the most important part of our home since we spend more time staring at it than any other area. (Reminder to take a photo for memory's sake!) Right now it's a staging ground for our moving supplies and empty boxes. Also further down the room is our office space/entry way. Complete with rigged desk area. (Reminder to take a photo of our desk for comedy's sake!) Like many other of our schemes, we have grand ideas for our desk space later on. 

*Curb Gnomes: Magical creatures who whisk away our unwanted random junk from our front curb. Especially active on Sunday afternoons.