A few weeks ago, we received our tax refund. And it was the Biggest. One. Ever. Apparently when your employer forgets to change your tax info from NYC resident to way-out-in-Pennsylvania resident, that’s what happens. We hemmed and hawed for a while about what we could spend it on. We briefly considered cashing it out in pennies and making a Scrooge McDuck vault in the basement, but that didn’t work out so well when Peter Griffin tried it.
So we scratched that plan and allocated our funds to 3 things:
1. The dining room do-over
2. New kitchen cabinets
3. Plane tickets for next year’s vacation
Let’s back up for one sec with an update on what’s happening with the upstairs renovation. We’re soooo close to being done with the actual renovation and almost ready to move on to the styling phase (a.k.a. the fun stuff). We still have to seal up both sides of the brick wall in the hallway and paint the trim in the office closet. After that, we’ll build some furniture and bring in the accessories to get those rooms totally finished.
It’s going to take only one weekend to paint-and-seal upstairs, but when we woke up on Saturday, we weren’t feelin’ it. Luckily, Bradley had already ordered everything we’ll need to insulate and drywall the dining room as soon as our tax refund showed up. So we moved all the furniture out of the room and got to work.
Here’s a refresher on what the dining room looked like when we moved into the house:
All together now: ewwwwwwww. The only thing that’s staying is the huge radiator, but we’re going to cover up its ugliness by making a radiator box. Sort of like putting a bag over its head.
Anyway, we’ve already done most of the dirty work in the dining room over the past few months.
With the demolition part of the job pretty much done, we’re going to jump right in with building things. On Saturday, we started building a wall.
We started by making sure there was no power running through the outlets, and then ripped off all the trim.
We had to make a decision on whether or not to keep the woodwork in this room. The cool thing about it is that it’s original to the house. But that’s about all it has going for it. We think that the thick-and-clunky trim weighs the room down. It makes the big windows appear smaller and the 11.5′ ceilings appear shorter. And, most importantly, this look is just not “us.” So we decided to get rid of the trim and go with the same look we started upstairs — trimless windows with concrete sills.
Once the trim was down, we started insulating. This room is completely un-insulated, so we’re basically hemorrhaging heat all winter.
We screwed foam insulation directly onto the plaster to add an R-value of 5. At the bottom of the wall, we noticed that the trim had damaged some of the bricks. Bradley mixed up a batch of cement and patched those spots.
He recently made a door for a fancy apartment in SoHo. When he went to install it, he noticed there was a big collection of old bricks that the apartment owner had removed during her renovation.
They were in great shape and each one was stamped with EMPIRE on one side, so we assume they were made in the Empire City a long time ago. The owner was getting rid of them, so Bradley gladly took them. This way we can have some old NYC brick in our home.
With the foam insulation complete, we taped the seams and sealed the gaps with Great Stuff.
Then we took off the basement door and framed it. That way we can cover it up and it’ll be like the door never existed.
We’ve always hated the way this corner looks. The doors aren’t the same height, which looks odd. Plus, there’s outdoor access to the basement, so this door is redundant.
Now you see it….now you don’t.
Next, we framed the wall for even more insulation.
Fiberglass insulation is my jam. I realize it makes me sound completely insane, but I love insulating. There’s something really satisfying about the click…click….click of the staple gun. And, as long as I wear long sleeve shirts, I don’t get the dreaded itchies that everyone complains about.
Bradley had to do a little electrical work for this wall, so I happily took over the insulation duties. Here’s what it looked like by the time I finished:
The fiberglass insulation has an R-value of 19. Combined with the foam insulation, we’ve brought the R-value of our wall up to R24. From R0. We’re going to be nice and toasty next winter.
You can see Bradley’s electrical addition poking through the insulation. He wired the wall we can install two swing-arm sconces. We saw this baby in the Restoration Hardware catalog and fell in love:
We love the old-school look and the ability to swing the lamp where ever it’s needed. We don’t love the price tag, because this is a really simple DIY project. And our version will hide the cord behind the wall for a much sleeker look. That’s still a few weeks down the road. Right now, we’re building walls.
Fast forward to a few hours later:
And that’s what our dining room looks like today. We’ve got more framing, insulating and drywalling to do, but we think it’s already looking so much better in here.
The most noticeable difference is how tall the ceilings feel without the hideous wallpaper border along the top. We’re not really sure how that trend became so popular 20 years ago, but all it does is make the room feel smaller. Good riddance.
We’re still in the wishlist stages of planning out our dining room. Here’s what we’re thinking:
- We’re already considering a warm blue-grey for the walls.
- We’ll build a wall-to-wall built-in bench with storage compartments under the seat. This would make some seating for…
- The dining room table we’ll build from some reclaimed spalted maple we recently acquired. (The guy told us we could have it for free if we removed it from his property, and we gladly did.)
- That basement door we covered up? We realized that’s a ton of wasted space under the staircase. We’re going to turn that into a coat closet. More on that when we renovate the hallway.
- We’ve decided to leave the brick wall raw, but we need to clean and seal it. That sucker sheds more than both of our dogs combined.
That’s what we’ve been up to, peeps. We’ll be back soon with updates. What’s going on with you? Any DIY projects in the works? Are you putting your tax refund to good use?