The Little Reveal

When we first started our renovations we pictured the big ta-da moment when everything would be done and we’d move into our perfectly designed, painted and furnished home like on Houzz or HGTV.

The reality is that we moved in when there was not even a kitchen and now that we have been here for over a year, there is still a punch list that needs to be completed and an endless list of ongoing projects not to mention the rental unit upstairs.

We thought we’d take advantage of our clean house to show all you faithful followers a few good before and afters with at least a little, ta-da!

Parlor facing south before.

parlor facing south

After.

P1010752

As for decorating we pretty much just have our old furniture because we can’t financially justify buying any new furniture until the house is completely don’t and we have a tenant paying rent.

Parlor facing north

Parlor facing north

P1010759

parlor facing south

Here we took out this door and partial wall to make the living area a bit larger since it is only a 16ft wide building.  We did not need the hallway behind the door because we were closing it off to separate the our unit from the apartment upstairs.  The building was a two family shared by the same family so they never officially block access between the two.

This awkward chair will be moved once we give it a design update some day.

This awkward chair will be moved once we give it a design update some day.

A little vision and a lot of patience (plus money) can go a long way.

Back facing north before the extension.

Back facing north before the extension (with the realtor).

P1010761

My dream kitchen

We love that we were able to save the ceiling because they don’t make that pattern of tin anymore.  Ours is a modest kitchen compared to some “dream kitchens” but for NYC and for a small family, we think it is perfect.  We will write an update on the drawbacks to marble counter tops and white cabinets later.

The closet on the left was built out and is  now the powder room.

The closet on the left was built out and is now the powder room.

P1010762

How to Cut Down a Tree For $30

It seems wrong to cut down a tree for any reason in the concrete jungle but we had a fir tree in the backyard that was leaning, with dead branches and was smack in the middle of the yard.  Our neighbor did not like it either so he offered to lend us his chain saw.  The first step was cutting the top off.

backyard

We won’t go into details on this part, just know that it involved a ladder, a chain saw, and some rope (to make sure the top fell where we wanted it to) and a bit of luck.

We cut off the top of the tree leaving about 8 feet of the trunk so we could pull it out later. This left us with a bunch of large tree branches that we now had to deal with.  Enter, NYC and its new organics recycling program.  Thanks to the new program, we were able to cut up the branches and separate them into tied bundles and then set them out on the curb (a few at a time) to be picked up by the city.  We also received two new brown bins where we could put all our garden clippings, leaves and sticks for the program to recycle.  Brilliant.

Oh and in case you were wondering, you can’t burn fir tree wood in your fireplace because it has too high a moisture content.  If you were cutting down a tree whose wood you could burn, you would have to let it dry out for a significant period of time before you could burn it in a fireplace.  You cannot burn wood in a fire pit in your backyard–despite what our neighbor says.

Now, for the trunk.  One day, our other neighbor had gardeners in her yard so we asked them how much to remove the trunk and roots.  He told us $300 not including taking the stump away.  That was not in our budget.  In our previous apartment, we had watched a tree stump being removed and they used a large truck and some chains.  We could not use this method because our backyard butts up to private property all around.  Because we are cheap and always up for a challenge, we purchased a 2 ton cable winch from Harbor Freight for 20 bucks and some chain. The winch works by attaching a chain around the stump and another around a solid object (in this case our other much larger tree) then you crack away on the winch and watch it pull the tree down.

IMG_4747 We had to tighten up the chains several times (as the winch only provides about 6 feet of cable) and dig around the root system a bunch but we got the tree down.

pulling_tree_downAfter the tree was down we cut up the trunk with the chainsaw and wrapped the chains around he stump and cranked more until all of the roots were out.

pulling_stump_outIn the end we had just this big hole in the ground but no worries because the contractor left us a giant mound of dirt when the extension was created.

IMG_4760 Afterwards, there was some more digging and cutting with an axe to get out the roots out but we are now stump-free.

 

NYC to Ban Wood Burning Fireplaces in Historic Brownstones?

finished - kitchenIf you are thinking about putting in a new wood burning fireplace or restoring that old fireplace, will the new Mayor’s proposal affect you?  Bill de Blasio recently announced proposed updates to New York City’s Air Pollution Control Code that might affect your decision to not wait.

Now, de Blasio already has mixed review in this household.  Forcing certain 10 year olds to go to school in a snow storm and then cancelling after school programs so that their first Valentine’s Day dance was cancelled, did not go over too well.  We are conflicted on the horse carriage in Central Park ban (couldn’t proper regulations fix it such as only owner-driven horses) and positive about bringing the fireworks back to the East River.

When we first heard this news we were panicked because we spent a tidy little sum on reconstructing our fireplaces and the thought of not using them was quite distressing, not to mention we counted on them being a factor in our home’s resale value.

According to various news media websites (not always so reliable) the proposed changes would include banning new fireplaces from being in built in residential homes. If you are like us, a wood burning fireplace was high on our list of must-haves when we were purchasing our home.  Long snowy winter nights just wouldn’t have been the same without being able to curl up by the fire.

It is unclear how the new rules would affect homes that already have fireplaces that require reconstruction.   Would it make a difference if there is a chimney in existence but no smoke boxes?  Ours were really decorative heat conduits that pumped heat from the coal burner through the house.  From what we’ve read it looks like as long as the chimney is there that you might be ok.

For those who already have reconstructed fireplaces, the proposed codes say you can still use them but the regulations would require that home owners only burn wood with a low moisture content.  We are fine with that.  How they are going to enforce it is another question.  Are they going to hire wood police?  I hope retailers who sell wood only sell approved wood because I can’t tell the difference.

Apparently, it has only a handful of sponsors so we shall see where it goes.

**and for those who read the NY Times article that made us look like environmental hussies, the point I made was that, like stairs, the novelty will wear off and we will probably only use it a few times a year and we would of course follow the law on what to burn.