Decisions

Weekend projects by crazy people

A  comment from a neighbor pretty much sums it up: “I always see you here, working. Never partying.  Just working.”

Before

I’m pretty sure the neighbors think I’m absolutely certifiable. Stripping a stone façade is really not a typical DIY project. People usually hire professionals to do that, and methodology aside, I do understand why.  Passers-by provide random words of encouragement, usually punctuated with “that’s a lot of work,” or “this would go a lot faster if you hired someone.” No shit!

This past Sunday over the course of 8 hours, I managed to strip about 18 sq feet of stone. At first glance, seems like a worthy amount, until you realize that it’s really a drop in the bucket. Not accounting for windows and doors, the area of the façade is 558 square feet – give or take.

Some of the paint came off super easy, yet there are patches of stubborn pink that will need a second application of PeelAway. Damn you pink paint!

SlowProgress

The angle of the sun makes it difficult to see any progress. Behold my amazing Photoshop skills! Yellow denotes done-ish. Click to enlarge. 

But wait! There is more!

Because we have two major projects going at the same time (hence the crazy people part) while I scrapped and scrubbed, the hubs worked on leveling the bedroom ceiling beams. The question of the day was “level it to what?” Under normal circumstances, you’d level to gravity: something is either level or it’s not – simple as that. But  nothing is ever as simple as it should be, at least not at our house. As is the case with many old buildings, ours settled over time and the floors are no longer level. The Pink Lady has a noticeable dip towards the center, common to brownstones. It used to drive me crazy and I wanted it gone, but I’m so used to it now I don’t really notice it anymore. Call it charm. Call it being realistic.

The previous fake ceiling was leveled to gravity, making the moldings look super crooked.

Old Ceiling

 

If we leveled the new ceiling to gravity, then leveled the floors, we would have to open the walls and adjust the all the door openings (2 regular doors and the massive double pocket door), or else the doors wouldn’t close). That just seemed too big of a job in the grand scheme of things.

So reality rears its ugly little head again, and since the dip is normal and is not affecting the structural integrity of the house, we decided to level the ceiling to the floor. By having everything crooked together, it will appear straight. Basically we’ll be mimicking the original ceiling (minus the sag in the middle).  Cooky plan, I know – but it seems like the best option.

After the required number of trips to the hardware store, the uttering of a lot of profanity, and a few beers, we are perhaps a teeny tiny bit closer to being done.

An itsy bitsy bathroom

Our house is a work in progress. It’s livable, depending of course of what your living standards are (in this case, a notch better than camping).  We knew going in that it would be a lot of work and we were OK with that. There was electrical and plumbing work that needed to be done. Asbestos that needed to be removed. Rotting floors, crumbling plaster and leaky skylights. Whatever was a safety issue was addressed.  And yet, the thing that gave me nightmares was this:

SAMSUNGThe green bathroom of doom. I don’t know why I obsessed so much about this room, given everything else that needed (and still needs) fixing in our house.  I hate this room to the core of my being. It occupies the side of the parlor floor, a room that one day will be our kitchen. To make that happen, the bathroom will move back to its original location, the glorious 27 square feet of space wedged between the staircase and the green bathroom.

Our first thought was to make it a powder room, since for a toilet and sink, 27 square feet is quite spacious. But then we got to thinking… if we are going to redo a bathroom, why not put a tub in there, too? We both feel strongly it should be a period appropriate bathroom, which means a claw foot tub. We played around with potential layouts:

With tubWith tub is a tight squeeze – similar to what we have upstairs in the shower of sadness.

No tubRemoving the tub would make the room feel luxuriously large, by comparison.

We could add two additional feet to the room if we closed the hallway which leads to the rear parlor (current site of the green bathroom, future location of our kitchen), but removing the hallway access will make our parlor floor very railroad-y. We’re not huge fans of  the no walls/open concept HGTV nonsense, and we want to respect the history of the house – thus the hallway stays.

We found the original medicine cabinet in the basement, which will be re-finished and re-installed. We have some salvage wall sconces, which need to be re-wired. In addition, I’m thinking a small wall of Brooklyn Toile from Flavorpaper:

BROOKLYN TOILE

Hex tile with a simple border on the floor, a subway tile wainscoting (if we go with the tub). We need to source a super tiny sink, a pocket door, and maybe a super cool toilet (not only is it Victorian, but it will save crucial wall space)

Watercloset

 

Right now everything is up in the air. It’s about collecting the right pieces so that the plumbing can be done accordingly. I’m going to guess that progress is going to be slow…

Decisions, decisions

When it comes to the master plan of our house, I pretty much know what I want – right down to the bathroom tile and the refrigerator in our yet to be built kitchen. These are part of bigger projects that are somewhat off in the future. But there are small projects all around our home that could make a huge difference in our day-to-day living – as in make it more like living, less like camping. That is where I seem to have decision paralysis.

For example, I could paint the bedroom. It’s currently an awful shade of beige/flesh. It’s depressing. It’s drab. It’s the last thing we see before we go to bed and the first thing we see when we wake up. And yet, I can’t decide what color to paint it over. I’ve had paint chips taped to the wall for a year. And I still can’t decide.

Exhibit A: curled up paint chips from a long time ago.

IMG_0829

Our bedroom is currently a hovel. It’s utilitarian, but not pretty. A master bedroom as an oasis? Ha! Not ours.

Exhibit B: Our gross walls.

IMG_0830

The walls are cracked and need to be skim coated (I could do that). There is ugly popcorn on the ceiling and moldings (I could remove it – actually  started and got about 1/3 done and stopped for some inexplicable reason). It’s really time to just take a deep breath, pick a color and get it done already!

On a side note, why would anyone paint their walls this awful flesh-tone color?

Wallpaper

It’s pretty safe to say that we are light years away making decorating choices for our parlor floor – and yet sometimes you just have to give in and imagine the light at the end of the restoration tunnel.

A while back I read about a Brooklyn-themed wallpaper pattern designed by Beastie Boy Mike D. Ever since then I kept imagining what this crazy toile style paper would look in our yet to be built period power room. I’m not a wallpaper person – quite on the contrary – but I loved the idea of using a very traditional style (in this case toile) with an unexpected twist.

So I googled my way over to Flavor Paper and spent some time day dreaming about what out teeny tiny powder room may look like with this, this, this or this. I ordered  samples and I realized I’m not any closer to a decision. But it was a lovely distraction from the less fun aspects of bringing an old house back to life. It may be a while, but Flavor Paper, I’m coming for you!.