Month: May 2012

Fireplace tile clean-up

The fireplace in the garden apartment looks like this:

It seems OK, until you take a closer look:

Varnish is splashed all over the tile. On the floor, the tile just looks sad. Sure, this tile is over 100 years old but it still has some life in it.

Enter my favorite tool in the whole universe:

Turns out the tiles had a layer of polyurethane on top. Some scrubbing and some Mr. Clean Magic Eraser did the trick:

While the tile is definitely showing its age, cleaning the gunk off it makes a huge difference. Here is the half way point with the right side cleaned up and the left side intact:

Here is a closer shot of the cleaned up border:


Yes I am that person

This makes me insanely happy. Giggly even!

Behold all of the paint colors available in Behr paint.

It took me three separate trips to Home Depot to collect every single Behr paint chip. The stack became so tall I could no longer hold it in my hand – and didn’t want to risk stashing it in my purse and it falling out of order. After the wishy-washiness of trying to find the perfect shade of non-commital for our entry hallway, I decided life would way better if I just had all the colors available (not to mention it would be much cheaper, since it’s basically impossible for me to go into a hardware store and not buy anything).

The husband thought this was ridiculous at first. I reminded him that it could be much worse: I could be hoarding diamonds. Since paint chips are free, that was the last he ever spoke of it (and I have seen him eying my stash…)

A side note on paint: as is the case with anything, you get what you pay for. I find that Behr paint does the job better than cheaper brands (Glidden, I’m talking to you), plus it comes in a low VOC formula as well. Colors such as red are a pain in the ass to paint evenly, so buy expensive paint if you’re going in that direction. Because I’m basically lazy, I prefer to be able to buy paint at the hardware store. Maybe someday I will put on my fancy pants and go to the paint store. Until then, Behr will have to do.

Project Grape

We have a mature grape (tree? vine? bush?) in the backyard. This makes me super happy because it brings back so many childhood memories – besides, how cool is it to be able to grow your own grapes? Even though we are super excited over the possibility of grapes, we’re much less excited about the condition of the grape-holding contraption:

A tangled mess of vines made the area directly below basically useless. Cue up some basic plumbing supplies and a lot of patience:

A few hours later, the plant was properly supported and the area beneath tall enough to stand up without fear of being poked in the eye by a branch.

Since we have no idea which kind of grapes we are growing, here’s hoping for some tasty mystery fruit in a few months.


Actual shades of gray

I’ve been a tad obsessed with the color gray… the actual color – get your mind out of the gutter. We shall not discuss how I ran into Barnes & Noble last week in dire need of a bathroom, only to find an absurdly long line thanks to the massive crows that were there for the 50 Shades of Gray lady. No we shall not mention that at all.

This wall has since been repaired and painted (white), yet not even crappy books can shake my love of gray. I suppose it could be worse… it could be pink!

Garden Kitchen

For the past 20 years, our house has been configured as a lower duplex with a top floor rental. Having lived under people for 95% of our married life, it was time to change that. We decided to reconfigure the Pink Lady into a Garden rental and an owner’s duplex on the parlor and top floors. Since we’re just regular people with regular jobs, we have to carefully prioritize the reno and re-arranging the house is going to have to be done in steps. This decision is not without consequences: a top floor kitchen and dining room next to the bedrooms and a guest bedroom off the living room. The focus right now is to get the apartment finished and rented out.

Basing our Garden apartment reno decisions in our “extensive experience” as tenants, we chose to make the existing kitchen smaller and the living area bigger. We removed the kitchen island, which served the single purpose of housing the cooktop. The previous owners, for some reason, didn’t tile under the counters, so we were left with the impossible task of matching this awful tile (impossible), since replacing the whole floor is cost prohibitive right now.

Kitchen with the island in place

Exhibit A: Why you should always tile under the counters.

It may come as a shock to you that the old kitchen tile cannot be found anymore. The best (!) match we were able to find is this off-white marble-ish tile. It’s not pretty, but it is what it is. For now.

With the island gone, the next task is to purchase a stove. Since the oven and cooktop used to be separate units (such a waste of space), removing one requires the removal of the other. The new range is going in the space currently occupied by the built in oven (which is the absolute smallest oven I have ever seen – I don’t think you can fit a standard size cookie sheet in it).

The built in oven takes up a ton of space, yet this beast is absolutely tiny on the inside.

The fridge is ugly but in good shape, so it will stay. Since it’s a giant white thing, might as well buy a white stove to match – woo hoo!


The entryway in our parlor floor has a lot going for it, yet is suffers from a constant malaise of gloominess. Brownstones are notoriously dark given the lack of side windows, and even though our front door is about 50% glass, this is still a dark and moody part of the house. The skylight above the staircase helps a lot, but whatever it contributes, the current wall color sucks away.

Yes the paint colors matches the cat.

Right now, I’m thinking this will help fix it:

Granny Smith White and Pure White

Before painting the wall needs a skim coat, since the plaster is cracking in some places and you can see paint drips from previous paint drips throughout. Paint drips are my nemesis!  I figured once I have the colors picked, there will be no more excuses to get this project underway (ha!). After two trips to the BedStuy Home Depot (first time I forgot the paint chips and couldn’t remember the name of the color), I’m painting a section of the wall with  Granny Smith White as the main color (in a satin finish), with the picture rail Pure White (in semi gloss) and the area above the picture rail and the ceiling Pure White (in satin finish). Off to apply the second coat (and yell at the paint drips some more). I’ll post pictures in a few days.