We can’t go to the ocean right now, so we’re bringing the ocean to us.
We haven’t split up. And we haven’t given up working on the house either. Quite the opposite. We’re done with the living room, made a few pieces of custom furniture, and started work on the half bath / laundry room…the inside AND outside!
The reason we haven’t posted in a while is because we’ve been crazy-busy with life. In order to make time for the stuff we need to get done, we have to give up a few things. Sitting in front of a computer for hours on end is usually the first thing we’re willing to give up. Plus we haven’t had the time or energy to sit down and sort through hundreds of photos and then write something.
Don’t worry though. We’ll be back to posting soon enough. We’ll skip the overwhelming task of catching up and just jump right in with how our house looks these days.
Sorry for keeping everyone hanging. We’re almost ready for our triumphant return.
Hey peeps, just a quickie post to show you something Bradley’s been experimenting with at the shop:
This is his first stab at making a sink from a mold, and it’s been a huge success so far. If all goes as planned, we’ll have a couple of these in our bathrooms. Maybe even one in our kitchen. And we might even make a few extra for sale if anyone’s interested.
Beats the crap out of a standard Lowe’s sink, amirite?
Our plan for the day: finish off some built-in cabinets for the dining room and office.
Our reality for the day: plumb the eff out of our sewer line.
Turns out our old cast iron sewer line has eroded over the years and some tree roots finally managed to dig right through them. These are the joys of owning a 130-year-old home — sh*t happens.
Long (and gross) story short: we’ve got a smelly situation on our hands. Mostly all over Bradley’s hands. This city girl does not do anything with the word “sewer” in it.
We’ll be back soon with all the details of those built-ins. In the meantime, here are some lessons we’ve learned from our very interesting weekend:
- Invest in a good pair of waders. Bradley has some industrial ones he picked up during last year’s flood. I have some cute fashiony ones that look great while stomping in puddles.
- If it’s yellow, let it mellow. For all other, uh, situations…drive to the nearest chain store. They always have bathrooms. (Thanks, Dunkin Donuts!)
- Offering your plumber a Snickers bar while he’s ankle deep in nasty — highly recommended.
Some time ago, we found this old piece of barn wood:
And it made our hearts sing.
The aged grey tone. The weathered and worn grain. But most of all, the realization that this piece of wood is completely one of a kind. Nowhere on this planet is there another piece of wood that’s exactly like this one. Not even this other piece of barn wood we found to go with it:
Each piece is a unique thumbprint.
They’re so different, but close enough in look and feel that we were inspired to make a set of nightstands for our guest bedroom.
Here’s a rough mockup Bradley did on the back of a piece of MDF while working on another project:
The nightstand will be a basic white box, no back, sitting on four little legs, with one drawer set into it. The drawer will be made from the raw piece of barn wood. The rough sketch above shows a handle, but we’ve decided not to have hardware. Instead, we’ll make a little cutout in the face so you can pull out the drawer with a finger. That will help keep the focus on the gorgeous wood face with no distracting hardware.
The juxtaposition between clean white cabinet and raw, grungy drawer face will — there’s really no other way to say this — look mad hot. We love the way clean elements look when contrasted with raw elements. It’s a look we’re trying to carry throughout the house with our brick walls and rafters butted right up to our textureless walls and trimless windows. We think the nightstands will fit right in.
That’s our plan, man. What do you think? We’ll share the step-by-step instructions for DIYing a set of nightstands in a couple of weeks. We can’t wait. We’ve been stashing all of our bedside stuff in trays on the floor…for the past year.
It’s getting old fast.
Yowza, it’s been a while since we updated with a project. It’s been so long, in fact, that we’re now in a completely different season. (Uhh…when did winter happen??) We’ve always been pretty awful at updating regularly, but the biggest reason we’ve been super sporadic lately is because we’ve both been working more. I started a new gig, and Bradley’s taken on some freelance projects. Plus we’re still working on the house every weekend.
We might not update 2 or 3 times a week anymore, but rest assured, we’re still working away. Check out what we did a couple of weeks ago:
Boom. We painted our dining room floors white. Here’s what they looked like before, for comparison:
And here’s what the same corner looked like a year ago:
Major upgrade, amirite?
If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you already know that we painted the floors upstairs black:
We love the black upstairs, but the rooms on the first floor tend to be a bit on the dark side. We decided to go with white to brighten things up. The entire first floor will have white floors, and the second floor will have glossy black. To tie the two floors together and make everything flow seamlessly, we’re going to do a two-tone staircase. Here’s what we’re thinking:
Source: reevesinguam.blogspot.com (found on Pinterest, of course!)
We’ll paint the treads black, and toekick area white. Easy peasy.
We went to our supplier in Brooklyn to pick up a 5 gallon bucket of oil-based glossy white paint:
It didn’t look so white when we opened up the can:
But that was quickly remedied by mixing the paint with a drill outfitted with a mixing attachment:
Mmmph. If that image doesn’t make you crave a latte, you don’t know what’s what.
We followed the same process as when we painted the floors upstairs (you can read all about it here). Our first coat was a mix of 50% paint and 50% paint thinner to encourage the paint to soak into the wood rather than sit on top of it.
Our paint guy told us to do this and we highly recommend it for anyone painting soft pine floors. It helps make the wood harder — less likely to gouge under, say, the claws of an easily excitable 2-year-old doofus:
It doesn’t look like much, but that first coat makes all the difference:
The second coat — undiluted oil paint — went on after a light sanding:
We gave the floor one last sanding and then gave it another coat of undiluted oil paint:
We still need to paint the black metal under the stove, but we won’t get to that for a while. Regardless, we love how it turned out. The dining room’s always been the darkest in the house. The brick wall and rafters make it so much worse. With the white floors, the room feels super bright, even at night with dim mood lighting. We also dig how it adds a crisp, clean feel to a room that has a lot of industrial, raw and gritty elements.
It has all the character and charm you’d expect from 130-year-old floors but it looks a lot less grimy.
While we had the paint can open, we went ahead and took care of a couple of projects we’ve been waiting on for a while. This is some sliding door hardware we snagged from an old building:
The hardware would have ended up in a landfill, but instead, it ended up in our garage. What can we say — reclaimed stuff is our jam. Now that we’re almost done with the dining room, we pulled out the hardware to prep it for installation.
We started by scarping off the remnants of brown paint. Here’s how it looked after a little elbow grease:
And then we gave it a coat of oil-based white paint. We don’t have after pictures yet because we have to give the hardware at least 2 more coats of paint.
We also painted one of the frames we made 3 months ago.
We have plans for that sucker. It needs another coat and then we’ll share a really fun, really cheap DIY project that anyone can do. Super geeked about that one!
Remember this dorktastic magazine Bradley scored at a thrift shop a few months ago?
He matted and put it in one of the frames we made. We haven’t figured out where we’ll hang it yet, but it’s done…3 months after we started. Whee! Gotta love home renovation timelines!
Hope you dig what we’ve done with our dining room floors. We’ll be back to share some built-in cabinets we’ve been working on for the past couple of weekends. Stay tuned!
Hey guys! We’re just checking in to say we’re alive and well. Superstorm Sandy missed our house completely. We didn’t lose our power or get any flooding in our basement. Some others in our area weren’t so lucky. And our hearts are aching right now for the city that will always be our home to some extent. New York really took a beating. But as usual, when NYC is down, she gets right back up and starts kicking ass — buses are already running and everything.
We have quite a few readers from areas affected by the storm. If you’re one of them, we hope you’re doing OK and that your cities are back in working order soon. Hang in there!
It’s weird to segue from something so monumental to something so trivial, so we’re just going to throw it out there: sorry we haven’t updated the blog in a while. When you spend 50+ hours a week sitting in front of a computer, you sometimes need a break. Rest assured updates are coming soon. We’ve been working on some built-in cabinetry for the office and dining room, and those are almost finished. We’ll be back with more updates soon.
(And thank you to the readers who checked in on us. You guys are the best.)
First things first: to the lady who commented and said that Bradley’s hot…I know, right?? He’s also really nice, really funny and really smart. I’m a big fan of that guy. Especially when he does stuff like this and lets me put it on the internet for everyone to see:
Heh heh. What a guy.
Things are starting to cool down in our neck of the woods. We built our first fire of the season recently:
This year, we’re determined to use our wood-burning stove for heat 90% of the time. We had our oil boiler topped off last winter, but we hate using oil for heat. A few weekends ago, we had two cords of wood delivered and we spent two full days stacking wood. I didn’t take any photos of that because I had the flu and really just wanted to curl up and nap all day.
We know the living room is going to be insanely cold this winter — no insulation, remember? — and it’s the room we spend most of our time in. We won’t get around to insulating it this year, which means we’ll freeze our fannies off if we hang out in there too long.
Now that the dining room is fully insulated, complete with new door and new windows, it makes sense to move the couch and TV in there for the winter. For those of you keeping track at home, this is our third living-room-to-dining-room migration in 18 months. Sigh. Someday, the madness will end. But not today, peeps. Not. Today.
Before we move in, we want to paint the floors and put up trim to finish up the room. But before we can do that, we have to address some issues with our dining room floors.
The floors are old and weathered, but we love the way they look. What we don’t love is how much they bounce, creak and groan when you walk around. Bradley’s mom summed it up: “You could never sneak up on anyone in this house.” We’re pretty used to creaking wood floors from years of living in pre-war apartment buildings. It’s the bouncing that freaks us out.
The bounce in the center of the dining room was so bad that it felt like you were inside a bouncey castle. Or on a trampoline. OK, fine, we’re totally exaggerating, but it was pretty bad. Last winter, Bradley built a wall in the basement so we could store our firewood in one corner:
That wall happens to be right under the dining room, and as soon as it was in place the bouncing stopped. Now we just had to worry about the creaking.
In our case, the creaking was due to wobbly boards. The solution was to nail them down so they stop shifting around.
We used these special nails that have a corkscrew twist through the body. This helps keep nails from popping up and also makes it really hard to pull them out once they’re in place.
We started by snapping some chalk lines along every beam that runs under the flooring:
Finding the beams was easier than it sounds: the butt end of each board has to rest on top of a beam. So we snapped a line down the center of areas where a lot of butt ends met up. Pretty soon, we had a series of parallel lines at fairly regular intervals:
Then we just went in and bang 2 nails per board all the way down the line.
The nail heads are totally visible, but they form nice, straight lines down the length of the room. This is not going to be the right solution for every creaky floor. It would look pretty odd in a new house with shiny new floors. But it works for our old house because the floors are already distressed and rustic. Visible nail heads just adds to the charm.
We nailed down the floor boards in the hallway while we were at it:
And we’ll do the same in the living room once we’ve moved all the furniture out.
There were some crusty, rotten strips of wood in the doorway that connects the living room and dining room, so Bradley removed them and replaced them with new strips of wood:
The process was exactly the same as what we did in the guest bedroom close way back in May 2011. You can read all about that here.
While he took care of that, I put up all the switch plates and outlet covers:
It’s been hard to photograph the color of the walls accurately, but you can really see it now that the outlets are in place.
It’s starting to look finished, but we have a lot of small details to take care of before we’re done. Like installing our new doorbell:
We don’t have any good before pictures of our old doorbell because we ripped that sucker out and stomped on it, Office Space style. You can see it in this picture from earlier in the year:
It was a beige monstrosity straight out of 1975 and they didn’t even bother to center it. We replaced it with this bell that looks like a teeny-weeny version of something that might hang in a middle school classroom:
We centered it, of course. But we’re not 100% happy with it. We might paint it white so it’s not so shiny.
It looks fine during the day, but it’s hanging so close to the track lighting that it blinds us at night. A crisp white will help it blend in a bit and hopefully keep us from burning out our retinas every time we walk through the room.
We painting the floors this weekend, and we can’t wait to share that with you guys. We also have some more updates on what we’ve been up to for the past couple of weekends. Plus we have to share our plans for the laundry room, downstairs bathroom and kitchen. Stay tuned!