Month: March 2012

Throwing caution to the wind

It’s impossible not to be excited about spring when this is the first thing we see when we wake up:

Disclaimer: we haven't painted our bedroom yet. The color (and terrible paint job) pre-date us.

Sure conventional wisdom cautions against planting too early. Freak snowstorms or icy frost can kill even the hardiest of plants. But last week common sense was not at an all time high around here. As a result….

Pretty perennials

And something I’ve been meaning to do since, well… forever:

English Boxwood bushes flanking the door

Seeing such a close shot of the door reminds me we need to give it a little love at some point. In the mean time, or at least until the next frost, this too is hanging out on the stoop:

I'm all about pink flowers this season


Home renovation and The Princess Bride

I came across a blog post on “Lines from The Princess Bride that could double as comments on freshman composition papers.” I think  many things said in the movie aptly represent things uttered during the home (or castle) renovation process. For example:

“I do not suppose you could speed things up?” Because everything takes much longer than it’s supposed to

“That is the sound of ultimate suffering.” You mean the sound of raw sewage hissing through the sewer  pipe and erupting into a geyser in the basement?

“Inconceivable!” A multi-purpose adjective that pretty much describes everything
“You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.” Cutting corners pretty much a bad idea. Always.
“That does put a damper on our relationship.” DIY is stressful. People (mostly me) get snippy.
“You be careful. People in masks cannot be trusted.” The ultimate truth
“Why won’t my arms move?” The residual effects of paint scraping.
“Look, I don’t mean to be rude but this is not as easy as it looks, so I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t distract me.”

The Micro-Bathroom

Bathrooms in brownstones are notoriously tiny, and our micro-bathroom is no exception. Coming in at a spacious 52 inches by 64 inches, it features a full size tub, a pedestal sink, a toilet and no standing room to speak of. The space is so small there is no room for a toilet paper holder, and any  miscalculation while approaching the toilet will land you in the tub or out in the hallway. Yes, it’s that tiny.

(can someone explain to me why people insist in having bathtubs? This bathroom would feel much bigger if it had a stand up shower instead, but I digress)

There are some features I really like: the tin ceiling and the air shaft window.

Currently everything is caked up in gobs of beige paint. We’re working on freeing up the window, which will add much needed ventilation, and perhaps stop the tin ceiling from rusting. Eventually we plan on turning this space into our master closet – sometime in the distant future. In the mean time, this is where we shower.

There is a room exactly the same size directly below our micro bathroom. The previous owners had turned it into a closet, keeping the tile and soapdish intact. We tore it out and will be turning it into a powder room in the not so distant future.

Spring has sprung

I’m ridiculously excited that winter is officially over. In about 2 days, the tree in front of the house went from this…

… to this:

and delicious squirrel food apparently…

And because no post is gratuitous fun, this is also a reminder that I need to prune a few branches of the tree that are up against the wall (and ripping the window screens). Because? Really? The to-do list never ends!


It’s been unseasonably warm and lovely this month, so it’s time to thaw out the back yard. Among the junk treasurers left behind by the previous owner were these awesome rust covered decrepit vintage motel chairs.

I have no idea what the backyard is going to look like when we’re done with it, but it will sure include these guys.

In other backyard news: the grapevine is still dormant…. us (and the neighbors) are eagerly awaiting this years’ grape harvest.

3 months

It seems that all we’ve done for the past trimester is work on the house. We haven’t really gone anywhere, done anything, or seen much of our friends. We have made some progress, particularly in the garden apartment. But the list continues, and as always the biggest to do remains to win the lottery – so we can afford to finish up our reno…


Install water heater (DONE)

Convert boiler from oil to gas

Remove wood paneling walls

Replace front and rear hatches

Update electrical panels (DONE)

Create laundry area (DONE)

Replace flooring

Improve lighting

Create workshop area

Create storage area (DONE)

Paint access stairway (wall and pipes)

Replace lighting fixture with something more suitable


Remove tile in hallway and replace with wood (DONE)

Paint hallway and stairs (DONE)

Replace runner on stairs

Create new apartment entrance with coat/shoe nook (DONE)

Create actual functioning closet in former scary closet hallway (DONE)

Remove upper cabinets in kitchen (DONE)

Remove island and cook top (DONE)

Patch up hole left by kitchen island

Remove built-in oven and replace with range

Install French doors (DONE)

Fix floor under removed kitchen cabinet

Create proper laundry area (using existing hookups) (DONE)

Re-grout and install new shelves in bathroom

Install GFI receptacles near sinks in bathroom and kitchen

Install weather stripping on garden access door

Remove blinds

Free panted in shutters (DONE)


Replace plastic chandelier (DONE)

Replace hallway/entry way light

Add ceiling medallions in living room and hallway

Fix kitchen ceiling

Fix kitchen radiator

Replace fireplace cover with original cast iron cover

Paint entry alcove (DONE)

Clean out storage under stoop (DONE)



Remove improvised room divider between front parlor and middle room

Demo closet/bathroom hybrid (DONE)

Re-install bathroom in closet location

Create kitchen/dining area in current rear parlor/bathroom

Build deck for yard access

Remove tiles in hallway, replace with wood

Remove fake parquet, replace with wood

Restore staircase (replace broken/worn steps, address excessive creaking)

Fix bubbling plaster under stairs

Skim coat as needed

Replace copper fireplace cover with original cast iron

Re-strip fireplace to remove left-behind paint and dirt in existing varnish

Re-glaze rear parlor mirror

Fix front parlor fireplace where wood is cracked

Replace front hall lighting fixture

Add light in entry alcove

Remove random doorway into rear parlor (from hallway)

Add door to garden level for privacy

Replace windows


Refinish floors (DONE, for now)

Address new floor plan. Move master bedroom to rear, create master bath.

Turn micro-bathroom into walk-in closet

Clean and repair stained glass skylight

Look at the possibility of moving roof access ladder from its current location to closet in spare bedroom

Free up skylight in middle room

Remove and repair ceilings in front and rear rooms

Clean up painted-over air shaft windows

Remove Dumb Waiter gears in attic for use as decoration somewhere

Skim coat

Remove tile in hallway and replace with wood

Strip both front and rear mantels

Strip and repair woodwork

Replace windows

Re-glaze mirror at top of the stairs


Create doors for existing closet