The Beauty of Black


The Beauty of Black


Anyone who knows me knows I'm obsessed with black. If I see something that needs painting, my first instinct is always to paint it black. I feel fortunate that the color of our house is baby blue (only time you'll hear me say that!) as its a perfect opportunity to give it a new dose of oomph. I can't wait for Spring. black-1 black-2

Every time I look at our house, I'll close my eyes and dream of one of these. And promptly trip up one of our weird half-steps. Sigh.


Before and After: Comparing Pre- and Post-Construction


Before and After: Comparing Pre- and Post-Construction

After moving in at the beginning of the month I neglected to share any pre-"our shit is everywhere" photos, which right now is the IMPORTANT STUFF because holy shit this place was a disaster and while its still a disaster in a different way, let's at least enjoy the fruits of our (contractor's) labor. When we came into the house for the first time, I had vision. A bohemian sunroom in the back, a formal library upstairs, a light-filled dressing room for me to primp, a kitchen that actually has some semblance of usable storage. But before I could get started on all that, we had to do some serious work to the house. Namely, remove the horrible carpet, fix some holes in the ceiling/walls, get rid of the AWFUL cigarette smell and generally give this lady a fresh outfit. So, let's do a little before and after.

Living Room A poorly placed closet and some seriously red carpet just killed the vibe the minute you walked in. This isn't a big house, it doesn't have the grand entry I dream of, but that doesn't mean it can't be beautiful.



And after...



Dining Room Okay, so originally we weren't going to do anything to the dining room. Paint it and that's it. But when we ripped the carpet up, we noticed that the hardwoods extended under the tile. Removing one showed they did indeed go under so up the tile came (only in the dining room because the cabinets and appliances were on top of the tile in the kitchen, and we didn't have time to remove the whole kitchen) and after an unfortunate surprise, they were brought back to life.


That's the best I can offer for befores, but after...



I'm planning a few mid-term projects around that awful tile, but we may just end up covering it with a rug and calling it a day until we can really remodel the kitchen.

Office/Library This room was used as the previous owners bedroom. He was a heavy smoker and unfortunately there's still a bit of a lingering smell, which I attribute to the old lighting and windows that need to be replaced. Come Spring. I'm particularly pleased with the library as I decided we should spend a bit more to make it truly special. This landed us on a chevron pattern for the floor in the room that extends off the back, affectionately named the library henceforth.



And after, oh baby. *heart eyes*



Our Bedroom The final room I want to show quickly is what has become our bedroom, as it once had a giant hole in a ceiling covered in texture. While the floors look nice here as well, ultimately its the ceiling I enjoy looking at (fortunately I get to every evening and morning!).


And then, there was no hole! (Or icky texture..)



Our Next Steps Oh man, oh man. There are so many next steps. Right now I'm dealing with our lack of storage. We've purchased and built an island for the kitchen, a bigger dresser for my ultimate dressing room idea, and bookcases for some built in DIY in the library. Our other big priorities include replacing all the windows (as you can see in some of the photos..) and redoing the deck, as its quite the hazard right now.

Until next time.


And we're in!


And we're in!


8AM, truck pick up. 8:30, movers arrive, a half hour early. 10:30, house is packed into the moving truck. 1:30PM, belongings are, somehow, fitting into our new, smaller home. How did you accumulate all this stuff, one of the movers says. I considered keeping his tip, and his pizza. Moving day was fairly uneventful, except for driving a 26' long box truck from the 90's that barely ran, parallel parking that sucka and generally being in a daze all day. I felt bad, we didn't do most of the moving—Eli helped out more than I, because they needed someone to tell them where stuff went—but from all the final packing, prepping, stressing over the new house, and more, we were exhausted.


Friday saw us in a daze by 2:30PM, sluggishly taking small, fragile load after load over to the house before finally our girls were brought over. We were home. Kira is used to moving—I've moved every year for the last 10, 7 with her. She gets a bit skittish for a few minutes, but into the carrier she goes, quietly and then released into the wilds of a new place with new smells, she begins her exploration. Mouse on the other hand hates change. She is so skittish and gets freaked out at every noise, smell and object that is different than what was there before. She whined in the car the whole ride over and has taken to hiding under the covers of our bed most of the time, along with the occasional howl from upstairs while we're downstairs.


Now we begin settling into our new place, unpacking and deciding how to decorate. It'll be a mess for awhile, but I hope to clean it up, area by area so that you all can enjoy what we do with the space as well. I'll be putting together a before and after post shortly on certain areas of the house that were transformed in a particularly jaw-dropping fashion. Until then.


Our Progress: Patching, painting, demoing

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Our Progress: Patching, painting, demoing


It's been about 3 weeks since we signed on our house. On the first day, we dove into the small things we could do to tackle the ever-growing list of must-dos before we move in at the end of the month. Since then, we've had a crew working on the things that we maybe could have done ourselves, but ultimately just need done so we can move in. That included patching holes in the ceiling and walls, demoing a closet in the living room and patching and refinishing the floors. In the first few days they made great progress on the walls and ceilings, quickly removing damaged plaster and replacing it with fresh drywall - smooth and even. The ceilings in the hallway and one of the bedrooms don't even look the same, its so clean (you know, now that it's painted — I don't have a photo of that). IMG_1716

From there they've been working on getting the first floor in order. Other than the demoed closet we knew we wanted, we waffled a bit on whether we wanted to explore what the flooring was under the dining room. You see, the previous owners tiled the whole kitchen, dining room and sun room with 12" tan "Home Depot special" tile. Not really sure why. Definitely not for aesthetic purposes. When we ripped up the carpet in the living room, we could see that the hardwoods ran under and after an initial removal of one tile, we had them demo it all in the dining room. Voila! Beautiful hardwoods! IMG_1814

Except not. There was a soft spot so we had our contractor pull up some of the boards. The subfloor was rotted, the joists were in disrepair. This is the current state of our dining room. Oh.



Well that's kind of a bummer. All the wood we went and got at the salvage warehouse is probably not enough now. You see, we had some termite damage that we knew about thanks to my nosiness (I pulled up carpet during inspection and noticed a bad spot, which got us a 10k credit to get it fixed from the seller). We fixed the spots we knew of, at the back of the house and at the front of the house, but apparently it was a bit worse and explained the sloping dining room floor. Our contractor says it should be an easy patch job, but with 2 weeks to go, I'm getting wary about getting everything done. As someone who has worked with clients in the past in my day job, I should know better than to demand a deadline and keep adding things in. Here's hoping we don't have to live at Eli's folks for a week!

With those two weeks to go, and a storm on the way, these are the things we need finished before we can move in:

  1. Repair dining room floor
  2. Patch other places, where there were radiators
  3. Finish upstairs sunroom (library) floors (can't wait to show you all this!)
  4. Finish repairing the wall where the closet was in the living room
  5. Finish painting all the walls/trim
  6. Refinish the floors

Our contractor says it can all get done in the next two weeks... Here's hoping!

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We're Home Owners!

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We're Home Owners!


This morning Eli and I signed a billion papers and are now the proud owners of a baby blue rowhouse!

Promptly after finalizing our paperwork, we grabbed some tools and gloves and headed over to start tearing up the unfortunate burgundy carpet. This carpet covers three floors of the house - every inch minus the bathroom, kitchen and sunroom. Ugh. Herbert, the former owner, must have been a serious smoker - not only were there yellowed walls, but the smell that permeated from the upstairs was unbearable.

We started with the living room, since we had already pulled its carpet back half way a few visits ago. We left the tack strips along the edge because the crow bars we brought to pull them up were too fat on the end, and we were afraid we'd leave noticeable damage along the perimeter. All those little dots you see throughout the picture below are where the carpet padding had been stapled down - so many staples!




Then after a quick lunch — it's amazing having delivery folks know where your house is, compared to living in an alley — we headed upstairs to tackle the smelly parts.

The upstairs boards were in about the same condition as the first floor, but there was a lot more paint splattered all over them. Hoping this will come out with sanding, I imagine it will. Our only space left is the master bedroom sunroom - which didn't have any hardwoods under the carpet, so its just subfloor. We're thinking herringbone wood floors of similar tone and width to connect it, but make it feel more special (it'll feel extra special when there isn't a duct taped AC unit in the window..).

master-floor master-sidebyside office-floor office-floor2


Tomorrow we're meeting with our contractor to get a sense from him on cost and timing for refinishing the floors, painting all the walls, removing the closet in the living room, and a few other must-do things before we move in.


A busy first day as home owners! There's a glass of celebratory wine and a foot bath with my name on them. Til next time!

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