Month: December 2011

Approaching the 2-week mark

Today is our 13th day of home ownership. A lot has happened since the last post and we have a lot of projects to share. There has been some progress with the floors and also with Big Project #1 – not to mention some unexpected architectural discoveries and how we (I) spent a significant portion of Christmas afternoon holding a (very) hot water shutoff valve to prevent our boiler from flooding the basement. Yes! Fun!

The trouble is there is no Internet at the house yet. So once we’re finished working for the day, we come home, shower and forage for some food. Some catatonic time is spent in front of the TV and we’re usually in bed just past 10-ish. We’ve  become incredibly boring and absolutely exhausted. But I promise to fight off sleepiness and post some photos tonight.

Time to head out and do some more floor scraping – swollen fingers and all.



We closed on the house on the 15th of December. The week leading up to it as well as pretty much every day thereafter have been full of house-related activity. Because of this,  Christmas and all of its accouterments was  the farthest thing from our minds. Yes, we are bad people.

As the bad Christmas people that we are, this has turned out to be quite a great week, as far as unexpected gifts go:

Beautiful (and free) French doors for the Garden apartment

The view through the ceiling of the original dumb waiter pulley system still in our attic. Always fun to discover something unique about the house (more on this in a later post)

A test to see if we can strip the pain off the original wood floors. Yes we can!

Big Project #1

The Pink Lady is a 2-family house. We will be living on the parlor and top floor and renting out the garden level apartment. The previous owner had the reverse configuration (lower duplex with top floor rental). After being downstairs neighbors for all of our married life, we decided it would be exceedingly luxurious to be upstairs neighbors for a change. This of course presents some fairly immediate renovation challenges (as in get it fixed up and rented sooner rather than later).

This is what the garden level looked like. Since this was the owner’s living space, the kitchen is really large – way way too large for a one bedroom rental in New York, that’s for sure.

Looking into kitchen from living room. Hello plastic chandelier!


Bedroom (ignore the couch and the flower arrangement)

Hallway leading to rental unit: super skinny & gloomy

The challenge is to make the kitchen smaller to allow for more living space in the middle room without disturbing that super loud tile in the kitchen, as there reno budget does not allow for a floor do-over.

This is what we plan on accomplishing:

Make kitchen smaller, make living area larger

Add French doors to divide bedroom from living area

Re-arrange entry way to create private entrance that is wide enough for an actual person

Make the bathroom bigger, comfortable  for a regular size person

Replace plastic chandelier

Replace garden access door with an exterior door (current door is just a cheap hollow core door meant for indoor use)

Move thermostat to parlor level


It’s a lot to do….

A glimmer of hope

There are some interesting color choices in our house. We named this one Crayola-Flesh-Color-Crayon, and it covers the walls, doors, window shutters (more on these in a later post), and all the trim work in one of the upstairs bedrooms. Luckily, whomever painted this some years ago didn’t use any primer. The paint just comes right off.

It took me about 20 minutes to pick the pain that is missing from the door trim. It was like picking at a scab: totally addictive – which is a good thing given the amount of woodwork in the house.

No! More! Vinyl! Floors!

I think the way I feel about vinyl floors is the same way some people feel about wire hangers.

Of course, the top floor of the house was covered in vinyl flooring. In some cases, many  layers of vinyl flooring, like a sandwich of ugliness. I spent two days pulling it up with my trusty Rival iron, a scrape-y tool and the most amazing pair of work gloves I have ever owned. In this case, good gloves were key, since this crap is sticky beyond belief.

Layers and layers of vinyl. The top layers is vinyl’s best attempt at looking like wood…

For most part, the vinyl tiles lift up fairly easily once you heat them up with the iron (I found that the cotton setting works best). What it leaves behind is a sticky mess – and in some cases, a heavily damaged wood floor that is in need of some love.

Before: the floor in all its vinyl glory. 

After: no more vinyl

After a weekend of basically ironing the floor, our top level looks like this:

There is still a huge amount of work ahead to get these floors in any kind of decent shape. We are hoping to save most of it, although the front room (the foreground in the picture above) has some serious damage – which was not helped at all by the tile glue. I was bummed that I didn’t find oak flooring with intricate inlay patterns. But I am ecstatic that at least it’s no longer covered in  Dinosaur-by-product.

Hello there

Meet the Pink Lady. She is a 2-family brownstone in Brooklyn and she is also our new home.

We have been wanting a house for a very very long time. We started looking in earnest this past summer when it seemed as the confluence of super low interest rates and lower property prices was just simply too good to pass up. I have to admit that when we were looking I never actually thought that we would come out of this process with a house. I figured surely something would go wrong along the way and we would fall in love with a house just to see it go away.  See, buying a home in Brooklyn is like having your wisdom teeth pulled: everyone you speak with has a horror story to tell. To help us wade through the process, we got ourselves some professional help. Erin Douglass was our broker and she very patiently paraded us around the neighborhood showing us different options – from fully renovated houses to total disasters. Of course, we were just naturally drawn to holes in the floor and falling plaster. What is not to love?

While The Pink Lady is not an unmitigated disaster like some of the places we’ve seen, she does require a fair amount of work. A lot of the original details remain intact under gobs and gobs of paint, but some of the “improvement” choices that were made over the years really need to be addressed. In other words, there is no shortage of projects in our future. Since we’re on a budget, so we’re tackling the bulk of the work and bringing in professionals where needed (plumbing, electric, anything that could cause an Earth shattering ka-boom).

In a way not to annoy our Facebook friends with constant posts about our house, we created this blog for those of you who are interested in seeing what we are doing (and why we are never around to do anything fun ever again ).  If you’ve been through a reno project and want to share, by all means, go to town in the comments section.

So this is it. Let the insanity fun begin!