Month: April 2012

Making an entrance

The entry way to the garden level apartment used to be a narrow hallway flanked by a mishmash of closets. The space was barely wide enough for a person to get through – a fairly thin person that is.

This is the best “before” shot I could find. The closets are to the right. Pay no attention to the debris on the floor (that is what happens when you pull up ugly tile)

What is probably the world’s skinniest door. It turns out it’s hiding a really cool forgotten feature.

There was also evidence of some major water damage and a lot of rotted wood. Yum!

It gets worse before it gets better… demo in progress

The closets were not particularly well built and seemed cobbled together from whatever materials were available, just short of cardboard. We removed them and in the process found the old dumb waiter shaft.

Looking up the dumb waiter shaft from the garden level. The “ceiling” above is the bottom of the pantry on the top floor.

Looking up into the attic from the top floor kitchen, we found the dumb waiter mechanism still more or less intact.

We replaced a water damaged wall and created a nook for coats and shoes where the closets used to be – after all, we didn’t want to give up all the storage in that area.

Cell phone snapshot of the new coat nook in progress

There is now space to comfortable access the apartment and as a bonus, the awful tile is gone (and replaced with durable and earth friendly bamboo flooring).

Not quite finished yet, but much better already


Fireplace #1

Of the 5 fireplaces in our house, two have ugly brass covers. Luckily, all the original cast iron covers were still stashed away in the basement. Yesterday we tackled the fireplace in the garden apartment. It has the least ornate mantel.

This is the best photo I have of it in it’s “as purchased condition” (The flower arrangement came with the house).

The ill fitting cover obscures most of the original tile. You can also see the open archway on the left that was replaced with the awesome set of free French doors, courtesy of the Internets.

Just removing the modern cover and replacing it with one of the original cast iron ones made a huge difference in my opinion.

Up next: a fresh coat of paint and some serious tile cleaning.

Digging for gold

With this amazing weather, it’s been hard to focus on inside work. The backyard has been screaming for attention, and attention it got this weekend. As is the case with everything at our house, nothing is ever easy or simple. So, true to form,  what started as planing a few tomato plants ended up being a full day of digging. Turns out there are all sorts of things mixed into our soil – and I’m not just talking about a ton of rocks.

We dug up this thing – not sure what it is, but looks like a bath tub of some kind. It has the cast iron feet and a drain hole.

Once all the metal was pulled up, we saw this thing:

A blue stone slab with a couple of holes in it.

After much digging, we were able to pull it out and found this:

Best we can tell it is an old cistern (once again covered back up with the blue stone and soil) which continues to exist under what is now our vegetable garden.

A sad day for Bricks and Brownstone

Bricks and Brownstone was the first book I bought when it looked like this house thing was actually going to happen. I was (and continue to be) fascinated by period detail and the different styles of row houses in Brooklyn, and the book provided information overload. I keep going back for reference and I suspect my copy will be heavily dog-eared before we finish work here at the Pink Lady. Sadly, Charles Lockwood, the author of the seminal row house bible passed away today.

While the book was out of print for a while, you can easy get it online (or have the nice people at The Strand order you a copy).