Making Your Home Feel Bigger On a Budget: Our 5 Home Depot Hacks

Living in New York, we’re no strangers to tiny closets, narrow hallways, and “cozy” charm. But, no matter where you live, it can be a real challenge to figure out how to make the most of your home’s footprint. Whether your first home is a cute bungalow, a 50’s style ranch, a fixer-upper craftsman, or an old-school place like ours, we could all use some more space!

When we closed on our first home in 2018–a classic brownstone in Bed Stuy–we quickly realized the challenge that lay ahead: renovating this modest space with an equally modest budget. 

However, with determination, creativity, and a little help from The Home Depot, we successfully embarked on a DIY renovation adventure, which eventually morphed into a thriving small business!  Now, as the Brownstone Boys, we help folks all over Brooklyn figure out how to maximize their space while sticking to their budgets. 

Here are our top hacks to help you unlock the potential of your new home without spending a small fortune: 

Breaking Up the Basement: 

The basement is often an overlooked area, which, with a little imagination, can add valuable square footage to your home. And as our small business grew, we knew we needed to create more space at our place to host meetings and clients. While our basement had lots of room, with the boiler and mechanicals on full display, it wasn’t inviting or usable. Inspired by the speakeasies of the 1920s, we designed a new slab wall to close off the unsightly mechanicals and create a warm wood look–for less! 

At Home Depot, we grabbed an RYOBI ONE 18V Cordless Miter Saw, some Varathane Classic Wood Stain, and plenty of Furring Strip Board to assemble our new wall. 

Now, with that quick, budget refresh, we feel more comfortable and confident than ever having clients over to our basement workspace. Our takeaway? Sometimes, it’s more efficient and cost-effective to section off an eyesore in the basement so that you can enjoy the rest of the space surrounding it.  

The Power of Color:

When your square footage isn’t budging, color can be your best friend in creating the illusion of openness. We know what you’re thinking–white paint everywhere, right? However, for this project, we relied on the opposite: a dark, Hunter Green Rustoleum paint to create contrast in our bathroom reno.

First, we used our RYOBI Portable Table Saw to get the perfect cuts on the door so we could install a frosted window feature with a vintage look. Then, we got to painting with our gorgeous dark green from HD! 

Painting a smaller focal point (like a door or window frame) in a darker color compared to its lighter surroundings draws your eye in a way that makes a space feel larger by contrast. We love picking up little tricks like this one that allow you to create the illusion of more space using color and natural light. The best part? No need to bring down any walls to make your room feel bigger!

Unleashing Outdoor Potential:

Whether you have a sprawling, overgrown backyard, a small patio, or even a stoop, you can always elevate your available outdoor space! Especially when the weather’s nice, having a comfortable, welcoming outdoor area will make your home’s footprint feel much larger. When we first moved in, our small, neglected backyard was hardly where you’d want to spend a relaxing evening. But, with a bit of elbow grease and some strategic budget buys from Home Depot, we took our yard from forgotten to unforgettable! 

To get started, we brought in this Sun Joe compact push mower to turn our yard into a clean slate. Once everything was cleared up, we grabbed these treated Weathershield planks to create gorgeous planters that would keep our greenery from Home Depot contained and tidy. 

The finishing touch? A scattering of clean marble chip landscaping rock by Vigoro

With just a few budget-friendly changes (and ok, a lot of elbow grease), our backyard has become a favorite hangout spot for movie nights, iced tea with neighbors, and of course, the perfect nap place for Zuko! 

Our three C’s for renovating your Outdoor Paradise: clean, curate, and customize!  

Strip It Down: 

If your first home happens to be an older house (like ours) then you’re probably familiar with painted-over woodwork and finishes, a.k.a the “landlord special”. These bulky, uneven coats of white paint can be an eyesore and give a cluttered, rough look to a room.

When we first got the keys to our brownstone, we knew we would need to do A LOT of stripping to reveal some of the natural wood beauty of our classic home. Wood is nature’s own little trick to make any room feel bigger, thanks to its reflective qualities and elongated grain patterns. 

Using the Wagner Paint Eater, Klean-Strip Paint Remover, and some good old-fashioned steel wool (along with the proper PPE), we uncovered some hidden gems! 

Now, our guests always comment on how the natural wood draws light into our space. This easy DIY brings a touch of the outdoors into your space and adds a great complement to your houseplants or any wood furniture. 

Another quick hack–don’t have any original woodwork in your house? You can create the same effect with a great coffee table, wooden bookshelves, or even side tables, like these from Home Depot. 

Storage, Storage, Storage: 

This Home Depot Hack is for those who are just dipping their toes into the world of DIY and want a quick, cost-effective, and simple solution to free up some space at home. When it comes to creating an open, inviting layout, storage is absolutely essential. 

In Brooklyn, we’re seeing a huge trend of folks repurposing industrial, metal furniture like lockers, cabinets, and shelving for storage. It’s easy to find these items online, at rummage sales, or even at the junkyard at budget-friendly prices! Now, you’re going to need a little Home Depot magic to get these pieces from worn down and rusty to gorgeous and space-saving.  

With these wire brushes from Anvil, you’ll be able to get old, chipped paint off of every nook and cranny. Once your surface is prepped, you’re ready for a few coats of Rust-Oleum 5-in-1 spray paint in the color of your choice!  

We recently worked the same magic on a vintage iron bench we snagged online and we’re so, so pleased with the results

So, whether you’re a first-time homeowner trying to maximize your space, or a seasoned renovator in search of a new project, remember – it’s all about using what you have to your advantage. And sometimes, all you need is a touch of creativity, the right tools, and a little bit of the Brownstone Boys’ inspiration!

Transformative Furniture with Resource Furniture

Photo: Jordan and Barry aka The Brownstone Boys revealing the carriage house, as seen on In With The Old, Season 2.

It’s more important now than ever to have flexible spaces in our homes. That guest bedroom might need to double as an office. Maybe you don’t have a dedicated space for dining but still need a place to eat. Or maybe you host guests occasionally but don’t need a separate bedroom that is unused the rest of the time. This is true for most people no matter how much space you have. 

This past year, we worked on our largest project to date. A unique building that started it’s life in the late 1800’s as a carriage house. Once horses no longer trotted the streets of Brooklyn it was turned into a garage and then a junk shop. We transformed it into a modern day carriage house home for a family of 4. It was the largest undertaking we have worked on to date and was an absolute dream to help this family transform this historical structure. When we initially met Heather & Rene (the homeowners) and we began discussing their needs for the space we discovered that even though the house would be big for Brooklyn standards with 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, one common conversation kept recurring. They needed to make the most of the space. They are hosts. They have a very large family located throughout the states (including Puerto Rico!) and as they built their forever home they needed space to host large groups of family that doubled as space the family of 4 could use when they weren’t hosting. They didn’t need a 4th bedroom 365 days out of the year, but they wanted space for working, watching TV, and spending time together as a family. We wanted to make sure they could squeeze it all in. 

The solution was designing rooms that were completely flexible and using furniture that transforms for multiple uses. During the holidays their home turns into a 6 bedroom house. When not hosting they have 3-bedrooms, all they need for a family of 4, with a family room perfect for snuggling in to watch TV and a family game room with kitchenette and access to roof terraces. How did we do it? By using the perfect pieces of transforming furniture from Resource Furniture

The family TV room with a full bathroom is on the first floor of the house where the living room and kitchen are as well. Just past the interior courtyard the much of the house is built around there is a door that is usually left open. On any given day if you walk into this room the first thing you will see is a comfortable and beautiful couch and shelving unit. It looks built into the wall it sits on. You might be invited to plop down on the couch and pillows and pull the throw up over your legs to watch TV in this cozy space. What you might not realize is that this entire unit transforms into a comfortable queen bed complete with a REAL mattress (not a foldable one that comes out of a couch). Hidden behind the couch in the shelving unit is a wall bed that very easily pulls down to become a comfortable place to rest for the night. It’s the Swing from Resource Furniture. One of our favorite features is the way everything can remain in place on the shelf as it lowers to the ground. Swing is a vertically-opening wall bed with a queen bed and a nine-foot sofa with retractable chaise. It provides the choice of an L-shaped or straight sofa configuration. The Swing Chaise is easy to open and operate and integrates seamlessly with Resource Furniture’s shelving and closet systems.

In this home we have another completely transforming space for you! On the top floor 2 levels up from the ground floor, past the floor of 3 family bedrooms, is a family game room flanked by roof terraces on both sides. It has a kitchenette, a full bathroom, and foosball table…a paradise! Once you come up the stairs and take in the beautiful light flowing in from 2 sides, the next thing you might notice is a wall of shelves that look built-in. On them are displayed family photos, books, items collected from travels, and some life with some plants. Next is one of our favorite things to show people in this entire house. Hidden on the right side of the shelves is a small lever. If you slide it down and pull gently the entire book shelves begins to rotate around. As you continue to spin the shelves around everything just remains in place. Nothing has to be removed from them making the transformation very fast and easy. Eventually the shelves have completely rotated so that you no longer see them or any of their contents. Instead there is a queen mattress that is tucked away and ready to be pulled down into place in a simple tug with one hand. Once the bed is pulled down into place 2 night stands can slide out from under the mattress. In about 30 seconds our beautiful shelves full of family photos and books is a comfortable and inviting bed you would have never known was hiding inside of it. This is the LGM from Resource Furniture. 

Jordan and Barry aka The Brownstone Boys revealing the carriage house, as seen on In With The Old, Season 2.

LGM is a rotating wall bed with a queen-size bed, pull-out nightstands, and a full-height bookshelf system. It’s available with optional cabinet doors for closed storage, or an optional five-foot fold-down desk which our unit does have. So with this piece of furniture this room can have 3 uses. Primary it’s used a family game room with an attractive shelving unit. It’s second most frequent use is as a home office by flipping up the desk built into the LGM. Finally on the occasion they are hosting a large group it becomes a full guest suite with a kitchenette and full bathroom. We envy any guest that get to stay in this space with such a comfortable bed and 2 roof terraces!

We are still struck when we enter these rooms set up as family spaces that they can also be bedrooms and we are equally as struck when we enter them set up as bedrooms that it can be family spaces. That’s the secret to making a successful multi-functional space. Designing it in a way that it feels fully committed to the use you currently need for it and then again when it transforms. You don’t want your family space to look like it might also be a bedroom and vice versa. Resource Furniture does a beautiful job of that. We also appreciate that they spend as much time making their furniture beautiful as they do making it functional. So you aren’t sacrificing design for the ability to make the furniture transform. 

We talked about 2 spaces that we made multi-functional with Resource Furniture but the possibilities are endless. We had an absolute blast visiting one of their showrooms seeing all of the amazing flexible pieces of furniture. Our minds were racing with ideas for all kinds of spaces big and small. We pictured a small studio that can be a bedroom, a living room, a dining room, and an office all using these amazing pieces of beautifully designed furniture. Multi-functional spaces and transforming furniture are one of the biggest and necessary trends we see taking over in 2023. 

What is High Point Market!?



Recently we took a trip to one of our favorite places, High Point Market! As the world’s largest furniture market it’s an obvious draw for us, and we’ve loved visiting in the past to see the vast array of vendors, designers and manufacturers. It’s a great place to get inspired, with companies from around the world specializing in home furnishings and decor assembling to show off their latest and greatest items. The event takes over the whole town of High Point, North Carolina, so there’s no shortage of things to see and do. While in the past we’ve explored the Market on our own, this year we were honored to be chosen as part of the High Point Design Influencers Tour! We were able to tour the event along with some old friends and new friends (aka our fellow design influencers!) and got exclusive access to a selection of manufacturers and retailers to tour their showrooms and see some of the great stuff they had to offer, and we’d love to share them with you!  #HPMKT #designinfluencerstour

Anna Elisabeth is a fantastic line of textiles curated with designers in mind. Though part of Greenhouse Fabrics, the Anna Elisabeth branch prides itself on being woman owned and operated. We got to see some of their beautiful and high quality textiles, and the colors and patterns filled our heads with potential uses! We loved the collaboration she had with Crypton Inc.! Crypton Inc. is another textile company, this time with high performance fabrics in mind. From commercial projects where fabrics need to hold up to the wear and tear of hundreds of uses, to residential uses helping to minimize the risks of wearing and stains. They also keep sustainability in mind, having been awarded Greenguard Gold Certification, and manufacture here in the U.S. Not only are their textiles built to last, they’re beautiful too, with a variety of colors, patterns and textures. We also learned that they provide textiles to other furniture companies, including 85 that were at High Point Market too!

Debrah’s International Co. Ltd is a home furnishings company that uses its global presence as inspiration for the variety of furniture styles they design. With a diverse international team they’ve developed a reputation for quality in their signature European American Fusion style. Though they have over 100 stores in their native China and are marketed in over 130 countries, we were able to visit their first showroom in the US, newly opened right here at High Point.

Dorel Home’s variety of brands cover multiple categories of furnishings, from bedrooms, to offices, even entertainment solutions and children’s furnishings. We loved meeting Mr. Kate and seeing their gorgeous new collection with Dorel and even eyeing Paris Hiltons exclusive collection.

Hooker Furnishings is one of the nation’s largest furniture companies, manufacturing and importing for residential, hospitality and contract markets through their many brands, like  Hooker Casegoods & Upholstery, Sam Moore, Bradington-Young, H-Contract, Shenandoah Furniture, and Sunset West.


Interhall and the Suites at Market Square are both must-see stops. They’re great places to see a variety of smaller vendors with stalls offering furnishings, lighting and decor, you never know what you might find there! We were blown away with Stowed and already looking forward to shopping their items for future projects!

Jaipur Living is a global brand focused on handmade textile based items, like their beautiful rugs, throws, pillows and throws. The Jaipur Rugs Foundation also supports 40,000 artisans across India! The curated tour we had by their creative director had us inspired. Each room highlighted different textiles in the most beautiful colors, tones, and textures. The quality is unbelievable and hearing the back story of how the rugs are made was very special.

Rowe Furniture offers a wide variety of upholstered seating options to fit any space, from sofas and sectionals to chairs and ottomans! They also offer their furniture in hundreds of upholstery options to suit any style or use.

Sherrill Furniture Company is native to North Carolina, and employs local furniture makers to create their beautiful handcrafted pieces. By blending traditional American craftsmanship with modern manufacturing techniques and design, they’ve created a wide array of beautiful furnishings.

The MT Company is a custom upholstery manufacturer that’s family owned and operated and based in High Point. Through their brands Michael Thomas Furniture, Miles Talbott Furniture, MT Outdoor, The Joe Ruggiero Collection and Washable Wonders, they offer a wide array of pieces and styles.

Theodore Alexander creates beautiful, unique furniture built by artisans and master craftspeople. They collaborate with multiple renowned designers to create beautiful, curated designs. 

Universal Furniture encompasses the Universal Furniture, Miranda Kerr Home, and Coastal Living brands, which together create gorgeous designs for a variety of tastes and uses.

Varaluz prides themselves on creating their unique light fixtures and furnishings out of eco-friendly and recycled materials. Their artistic team based in the Philippines takes these materials and craft them into lighting and furniture that cover all sorts of styles. 

Whalen Furniture offers a wide selection of quality built furnishings. From freestanding furniture for the living, dining and bedroom, to bathroom vanities to entertainment and closet organization. They even have Scott Home collection designed in collaboration with the Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott!


How We Easily Ordered our Windows Online with

Photo: Ordering Windows with

This post below is in collaboration as a #pellapartner

We lived with our old, drafty, malfunctioning windows for 3 years. Some didn’t close, some didn’t open, and all of them looked horrible. It’s a project we have put off for years, but we recently decided we could wait no longer! Now that our new Pella windows are installed we can’t believe we waited so long! And you know what, it was quick and easy! Ready to replace yours? We’re going to walk you through how to order, what you’ll need, and how to get them installed.

We decided to install Pella windows. We’re very familiar with their products and have installed them in many of our projects. They are beautiful, efficient, and durable. We walked through the process to order them directly on their website and we were shocked how fast and easy it was. It’s definitely the quickest way to get windows onsite and ready to install that we have seen.

What made us decide it was time? You can order most of Pella’s windows directly through their website! All we needed to do was measure our window openings, and then walk through to configure the order online. Even if you have never ordered windows before you can do it! All of the options are thoroughly explained.

So here is how we ordered:

First you’ll choose what type of windows you’re ordering. We are fans of aluminum clad wood windows because you get the beauty of wood on the interior and the durability of aluminum on the exterior. We went with the Lifestyle double-hung series.



The first thing that you will do is fill in your window measurements. You’ll need the height, width, and the jamb depth. The jamb depth comes in 3 standard sizes. We choose the 4-9/16” option.

Pella lets you choose between different insulated glass options that suit the climate where you live. Advanced Low-E might be the most common, but you can choose AdvancedComfort Low-E for northern climates, SunDefense Low-E for warm climates, or Natural Sun Low-E for cold clients.

Now it starts getting fun! The next option you can choose is your finish. We went with a black exterior and a black stained interior. We really like the look of black stained wood. There are many beautiful colors and wood tones you can choose from.

You can also choose to have grilles in the window. We like the character it adds so we choose the cross grill pattern. It really makes the windows look even more beautiful.


Then you choose your hardware and screen options. We went with black to match the finish of our windows.

The last thing you choose is important. You need to select if these are new construction or replacement windows. Let’s talk about the difference.

Replacement windows are made to replace old windows in an existing home. They are designed to be installed in the existing window frame from the inside of the home. This is a less invasive installation because the existing window frame, interior trim, and exterior elements can remain. The existing window opening is measured and the replacement window is installed in the existing frame.

New construction windows are made for newly built homes or for homes where the window frame is being replaced. This is a more invasive project and would usually be in a full gut project if it’s an existing home.

If you’re just replacing your windows then you’ll likely want to get replacement windows.

That’s it! It is as simple as that to order your windows. Only a few weeks later our windows arrived and we were ready to install.

We love doing DIY projects, but we did have some help for our window install. It is definitely a project you can tackle yourself if you are replacing a window or 2, but if you are replacing all of your windows yourself you might want some help! Depending on how big your project is you might even want to leave the ordering up to the professionals to make the project stress-free or you might just need help along the way. The representatives online can answer basic questions or at any point you can decide to work with a local sales representative, just schedule a free in-home consultation and they will take it from there!  So it’s nice to know that you have back-up when needed.

After living with old ugly windows for so long we cannot stop looking at our new windows. They have completely transformed our home on the interior and exterior! We thought that it was going to be a difficult process, but ordering them at was quick and easy. Now we just need to sit back and enjoy!


Our Secrets (don’t tell!) About the Costs of Renovating a Brownstone

Living in a historic brownstone or townhouse in Brooklyn or Manhattan is a dream for many people. The original woodwork, beautiful plaster mouldings, grand staircases, and iconic stoops on tree-lined streets are too much to just to look onto from afar. You might have come to conclusion that the best path to have one of your own is to buy a fixer upper and build your dream home. Seeing the price tag of available listings is pretty straight forward, but what about the renovation? How much does it cost to restore those beautiful 100+ year old original features, build spaces for modern living, and repair the home to last another 100 years? It’s difficult to even understand if the purchase price you’re looking at is feasible for you without understanding the other side of the equation. If you’re ready to start searching for the right place, we can help! 

A good place to start is trying to get a handle on exactly how much work is needed. There are 2 basic things you’ll want to understand: What the condition of the place is and how much you’re changing the configuration. If you walk in to view a home, the kitchens and bathrooms are relatively where you want them and it appears to all have been modernized in the last couple of decades, you might be able to get away with a smaller scope cosmetic project. If you walk in and see aging mechanicals, deteriorating plaster, crooked floors, as well as a kitchen on the wrong floor and bathrooms in entirely wrong places, then the most likely scenario is that is that you’re going to be doing a fairly large scope gut renovation. That doesn’t at all mean that the historic features and charm would be removed, but it will take some work to restore it all and integrate it into the modern home with historic charm you’re dreaming of.

We have a secret to tell you. It might be the best piece of advice we have for anyone shopping for a fixer-upper brownstone. When you bounce around from open house to open house you’ll see places that you immediately know will be a huge project: plaster falling off the ceiling, carpet that reeks of cat urine, old dirty bathrooms, and ancient electrical panels. And you’ll see places that look entirely habitable: Freshly painted walls, historic charm in great shape, a kitchen that looks like it was installed within the decade (be it in the wrong place), and the electrical doesn’t look like a fire hazard. With the latter you might think you have hit the jackpot on a place that just needs some walls moved and some TLC. You might think, although the price tag is higher at least it is a smaller renovation. Our word of warning is the project size and cost may not be all that different between them. If your plan includes moving bathrooms, creating a big beautiful primary bathroom and closet, reconfiguring bedrooms, relocating the kitchen to the parlor floor where there is none, and adding a powder room – that is a major reconfiguration. After all of those walls are moved the floors and ceilings will need to be addressed, not to mention that crooked floors will look even more crooked next to all of the new features so those might need to be fixed too. You end up re-doing (or resurfacing) most of the walls, ceilings, and floors. Finally, once the plumber and electrician redo half of what’s there for the new layout, they’ll likely want (or need) to replace it all. There is code as recent as the 2,000’s that everything will need to be brought up to. Oh, and what about HVAC? The point is that although a building may initially look like less work since you feel you could move into it as-is if needed, it might very well be the same scope and cost to make it into your dream home as the place with carpet that reeks of cat urine, ancient electrical panels, and deteriorating plaster. So why pay more for the place that only appears to offer you a smaller scope project. 

Since a lot of things go into such a big project, we need a quick way to estimate costs and one of the quickest ways to get a general idea of budget is to use a price per square foot and apply it to the square footage of the home. A price per square foot for the entire house will give you a general idea of the total cost for a renovation and it takes into account that there is a new kitchen, a few bedrooms, several new bathrooms, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC…etc. While it’s not a bad way to generalize the cost of a complete home renovation, it’s really just to give you a quick idea so that you can have an estimation, for instance, if you’re trying to figure out if the fixer-upper you viewed fits your budget including the renovation.  Keep in mind that there may be a feature of your renovation that might push the costs up outside of the price per square foot, one big example of that would be adding an addition to the home which comes with many more costs than renovating within the home’s footprint. For something like that you might want to treat it as a separate line item. Ok! So you’ve got it and just want the numbers, we hear you, and we’re here to give them to you!

One last thing, you should know that we do renovations in New York City and the numbers in some of our examples might be more in line with renovating in New York or other big cities. We provided a range so that you can adjust if you live in a place with a lower cost of living. The low end of the range can be used for areas where the cost of living is less and the high end is for areas where the cost of living is higher. That’s true for contractor and labor expenses, but costs for finish items would likely be the same since we get those items from all over the country and world and many of the suppliers we purchase from are national. Ok ok… the numbers! 

Total home reno price per square foot budgeting:

• Budget conscious reno with low-cost finishes, little to no structural work, and limited to no configuration changes: $125-$175 psf

• Mid-range reno with mostly basic finishes, some upgrades, some structural work, and some configuration changes:  $175-$200 psf 

• Mid range reno with nice finishes, some splurges, a fair amount of structural work, and a lot of configuration changes:  $200-$275 psf

• High-end renovation with structural work, total configuration change, and high-end finishes: $300-$400 psf 

• Super high-end renovation with a name recognition architect, designer, and all high-end best-of-class finishes. $400+ psf

Hopefully you can find yourself in one of those buckets and you can generalize the cost of renovating your fixer upper or existing home! There are a lot of ranges there so if you’re having trouble landing in one, we would suggest that the once in a lifetime dream home you are envisioning is probably in the upper $200’s-lower $300s psf.

If you are adding an addition to the building since there is so much foundation, concrete, steel, and structural work we would estimate that line item at $700-750 psf. 

Now, that gives you the hard costs of the renovation but there are other expenses you should take into consideration as well. Depending on the size of your project you will likely need an architect, engineers, and city filings. Those costs can vary depending on the scope you have but you’ll want to budget $35,000-$60,000 (but it could be higher as well). If it’s a larger project and you won’t be living in the home during the process (we highly recommend that you don’t) you’ll want to include carrying costs like the cost of the mortgage, insurance, utility bills, and/or alternative accommodations while the work is being done. These are all soft costs. 

Finally, don’t forget to include a 10-15% contingency. There are almost always additional expenses that come up during the renovation. Once walls, floors, and ceilings are opened up it’s quite possible that some repairs may be needed that were not seen before. You also may have to or want to alter a design to account for conditions onsite. These items are called change orders. They can be stressful, so if you have a budget included for them it can make the process much smoother. 

Restoring and renovating a historic home can be a perfect path to owning a piece of history. It will have had many owners before you, some who may have arrived at its doorstep in horse and carriage, and it will likely have owners after you. These well-lived homes are often part of a thriving community that we hold dear and being a part of its significant life is something that’s just very special. Happy renovating!

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Christmas Cinnamon Rolls

Our new favorite tradition in our home on Christmas morning is making homemade cinnamon rolls. If your plans have changed this holiday season or you’re just looking for something to make we can’t recommend making these cinnamon rolls enough! Make sure to make some extra frosting… you will thank us later!

Merry Merry and lots of love (and good eats!), Jordan & Barry

Christmas Cinnamon Rolls 

adapted from ambitious kitchen



For the Dough:

  • ¾ cup warm milk (whole milk or 2% preferred) (110 degrees F)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons quick rise or active yeast (1/4-ounce package yeast)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup butter, melted (salted or unsalted…. whatever your preference is!)
  • 3 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt


For the Filling:

  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup butter, softened


For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract



  1. Warm milk to around 110 degrees F. You can do this by simply warming some milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Transfer warm milk to the bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle yeast on top. Add in sugar, egg, egg yolk and melted butter. Mix until well combined. Next stir in flour and salt with a wooden spoon until the dough begins to form.
  2. Place dough hook on stand mixer and knead dough on medium speed for 8 minutes. Dough should form into a nice ball and be slightly sticky. If it’s TOO sticky (meaning it’s sticking to the bottom of the mixer, add in 2 tablespoons more bread flour.) If you don’t want to use an electric mixer, you can use your hands to knead the dough for 8-10 minutes on a well-floured surface
  3. Transfer dough ball to a well-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a warm towel. Allow dough to rise for 1 hour to 1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size. This may more or less time depending the humidity and temperature in your home.
  4. After dough has doubled in size, transfer dough to a well-floured surface and roll out into a 14×9 inch rectangle. Spread softened butter over dough, leaving a ¼ inch margin at the far side of the dough.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and cinnamon. Use your hands to sprinkle mixture over the buttered dough, then rub the brown sugar mixture into the butter.
  6. Tightly roll dough up, starting from the 9-inch side and place seam side down making sure to seal the edges of the dough as best you can. You will probably need to cut off about an inch off the ends of the dough as the ends won’t be as full of cinnamon sugar as we’d want it to be.
  7. Cut into 1 inch sections with a serrated knife or floss. You should get 9 large pieces. YUMMMM!
  8. Place cinnamon rolls in a greased 9×9 inch baking pan or round 9 inch cake pan. (We lined our sheet pan with parchment paper as well, in case any of the filling ends up leaking out.) Cover with plastic wrap and a warm towel and let rise again for 30-45 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap and towel and bake cinnamon rolls for 20-25 minutes or until just slightly golden brown on the edges. You want to underbake them a little so they stay soft in the middle. Allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes before frosting. Makes 9 beautiful and delicious cinnamon rolls.
  10. To make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Spread over cinnamon rolls and serve immediately. you might want to double this part… just saying Enjoy!


12 Days of Depot- Everything You Need To Get Smart This Holiday Season from Home Depot!

This blog post is sponsored by Home Depot

** GIVEAWAY CLOSED*** Congratulations Gabby Anderson

What’s the smartest thing you can do this Holiday season? Join us in turning your home into a smart home! If you’re like us, your home is a place that you want to feel protected, especially once it’s filled with all those holiday presents! We knew there was an easier way to make our home more connected. So we’re working with Home Depot this holiday season to turn our home into a smart home. From seeing who is at the front door to seeing who is stealing our packages 😫, and of course just playing music and getting recipes in the kitchen, we have some of our favorite items!

And now the best part!? We’re giving away a $500 gift card to Home Depot that you can use to buy any of the items! Winner will be selected via this BLOG POST on Sunday, 12/19.  Good luck friends! 

Here’s our favorite picks to make our home a smart home this holiday season:

For us, waking up in the morning listening to our favorite jazz song gets us ready for the day! With our google nest mini we ask google to alert us of traffic, play our favorite song, and let us know how to dress for the day according to the weather. All from before we get out of our bed 😄! Meet the 2nd generation Nest Mini, the speaker you control with your voice. Just say “Hey Google” to play your favorite music from Spotify, YouTube Music, and more. It sounds bigger and richer with more power and more bass. Ask your Google Assistant for help, and get the best of weather, news, or almost anything. Hear your personalized schedule, commute, and reminders. Set timers and alarms. And even turn on the lights. Nest Mini is compatible with thousands of smart devices, like lights, thermostats, and locks, from brands you love. It blends right into any room on a coffee table, nightstand, or wall.

We get a lot of packages. And most of the time, we aren’t home to receive them. With our Smart Wi-fi Video doorbell we can communicate with our delivery companies and also see who is at our door anytime we want! The Nest Doorbell is the battery-powered video doorbell that works with any home. See what’s happening at your door from anywhere, and get alerts about important activity, like a visitor or package delivery.1 And because it’s wireless, you can install it yourself. View live HD video, replay video recordings, talk to visitors, and more – all from the Google Home app. The Nest Doorbell (battery) requires a free Google Account and is not compatible with the Nest app or the site.

We always install Nest thermostats in all our renovation projects. They’re sleek, they’re efficient, and now they connect to all our other Google products. We love how everything connects together! Reduce energy use and save on utility costs with the Google Nest 3rd Generation Smart Learning Thermostat. Smart features such as Nest Leaf ensure that your home is at an energy-efficient temperature. It automatically regulates your home’s temperature based on your schedule.

By far one of our favorite new features. Our security was a little wishy-washy. But now with our cam + floodlight we can be greeted to our home with bright light during a dark winter night and we can access the camera history to see anyone that might be entering the home when we aren’t there. Here in New York package theft is a major problem. Having the floor light come on when someone approaches our house has prevented it, and we have the peace of mind knowing that if any of our packages walk off we’ll have it alllll on video! You better believe we have our camera set to capture Santa delivering our presents! Nest Cam with floodlight shines a brighter light on what’s happening at home. The smart security camera detects important activity and knows the difference between people, vehicles, and animals. It automatically turns on the lights and sends you an alert.1 View live HD video, replay video recordings, talk to visitors, and more – all from the Google Home app. Nest Cam with floodlight requires a free Google Account and is not compatible with the Nest app or the site.

We sometimes need a little time to talk to others (and not just each other!). We have our hub station located right next to our kitchen range so we can keep company with Google. Asking google to play our favorite mix on Spotify, or asking google to stream our youtube channel, or even check on who’s at the front door, we have a new friend! And we’re so thankful! Meet Nest Hub 2nd Gen from Google, the smart display that’s the center of your helpful home.1 Stay entertained with shows, videos, and music.2 Control your compatible devices with a tap or with Google Assistant. And wake up easier with a Sunrise Alarm.

We’re away for most of the day. Which means Zuko (our 85 lb. Silver lab) is usually toying around until his dog walker comes. We are so curious to see how Zuko spends most of the day. And now we can! These beautiful (and discreet) indoor cameras are a wonderful way to know what is happening inside our home at any minute. Nest Cam IQ is the best-in-class indoor security camera with crisp HD video and advanced algorithms that can identify when someone’s in your home, alert you, and zoom in on their face.

Our home is more secure and more connected than ever. We feel safer and many of our daily routines have gotten easier.

Now, it’s time to enter your chance to win a $500 Home Depot gift card to get smart for the holidays with smart home devices for you and for gifts for your loved ones! Make sure to check out our instagram post and ENTER in comments below!!

Happy Holidays Friends!


Barry & Jordan

A Holiday Gift Guide Shopping from Garrett Wade Tools

This post is sponsored by Garrett Wade Tools

Tis’ the Holiday Season and this one we hope is going to be very special! If you’re like us, shopping for gifts is always a stressful situation. We’re guilty of being last minute shoppers which always adds an extra layer of stress that can easily be avoided. Most of all, we want the gifts that we get for our friends and family to be unique and useful. This year, we’re ahead of the game and making sure our shopping list is completed on time! Earlier this year we worked with Garrett Wade for our annual Block Clean Up and we told ourselves back in April we had to keep them in mind when it comes to Holiday shopping. Garrett Wade is our secret weapon! Not only do they have the nicest tools for all our DIY friends, but they have a wide array of beauty, lifestyle, home accessories, and games for any age. We truly are in love with everything they have and hope you have fun shopping our holiday gift guide.

Here are some of our favorite items in a gift guide that we’re so excited for this year

For the Cook in You – Items for the kitchen

1,Gourmet knife set- if you’re like us, our cooking knives are dull. These knives are aesthetically beautiful but they’re durable and work amazingly. From cutting onions to cutting cheese. They have a knife set that has serrated and regular blades to make cutting easy!

2. Stoneware Beverage Keg- no matter who comes over we always want a beverage available! This helps us eliminate small batch portions and allows our guests to serve themselves. Super cute to display on our open shelves year long!

For the DIY In You- Tools and Supplies

3. Heavy duty screwdriver set – our screwdrivers have been with us for over 10 years! The wear and tear was a little unbearable so it was time to upgrade with some that will last a lifetime. And who said tools can’t be beautiful! 

4. GelDome Flex Knee Pads– call us crazy but this is probably the item we’re most excited for! Our knees will thank us but we promise these will get the most use. For painting, tile work or just household items the knee pads are tremendously helpful to have around home!

5. Leather tool bag– this beautiful bag is designed perfectly and Jordan is excited to have it to bring to all our job sites to store tools for projects or items we need for styling a finished space! It’s also made in the U.S.A

6. Vintage tool box- If you’re like us you have tools laying around the house everywhere. Barry loves a tool box and was very excited when he came across this beautiful vintage tool box. Durable and cute this box will last us a lifetime and we’re excited to store it in our new workroom basement. We can easily bring with us to jobs and we’re hoping we will now know where our hammer is!

For Everyday – Our Favorite personal items

7. Waxed tote bag– Jordan carries a canvas tote with him every single day! You can only imagine with all the dust we are around how incredibly dirty the tote bags are. This bag is beautiful and designed to be indestructible!

8. Small beard Natural Horn Comb- grooming is an important part of everyone’s daily life. And men- you should take care of that facial hair! This comb is perfect for smaller beards and Barry’s excited that Jordan isn’t the only one with a beard brush.

9. Brush (or Jordan’s beard brush)– for those with a thicker beard (Hi Jordan!) or some really great hair (Jordan wishes) this brush is super durable and anyone will feel luxurious using it! Highly recommend for any sex!

Happy Holidays friends! We hope this holiday gift guide helps you find unique gifts your loved ones will love! We hope your shopping adventures are fun and exciting!



Transforming the hallway in our rental with KILZ Restoration Primer!

Do you have a space in your home that has beat up walls and scuff marks all over the walls? For us, it is our hallway leading down to our renovated speakeasy basement! It’s a space with a lot of traffic. Not only does our 85 lbs. lab love following us down the stairs to do laundry and beating the walls with his tail but its a shared hallway with our tenant (and friend) Kimberly as the hallway leads to her 1 bdrm apartment.

The walls in the space were never touched. We have worked on projects below in our basement, inside her apartment, and obviously our home on the upper two floors. Because of this, the walls were in very poor condition. What do you do with white walls that are in need of a desperate paint job. The solution is easy, we simply use KILZ RESTORATION™ Primer



(Formerly KILZ MAX) is a new generation water-based primer, sealer and stain blocker offering performance of traditional oil and shellac-based primers. It tackles the toughest stains including heavy water damage, rust, smoke, nicotine, grease, tannin, ink, pencil, felt marker, pet stains and more. KILZ RESTORATION™ Primer also seals persistent pet, food and smoke odors. Use on interior surfaces including drywall, woodwork, plaster, masonry, brick, painted metal, ceramic tile, glass and most other glossy surfaces. 

We love using KILZ® not only for our DIY projects, but it’s been our trusted primer for several large renovation projects. KILZ® makes a full range of surface coatings, from primers, to paints and specialty products, that are widely distributed and available at over 30,000 retailers, big and small, both online and off, across the United States and Canada. No matter what product you choose, and no matter what project you’re working on, the KILZ® Brand is trusted by DIYers (like us!) and Professionals alike to deliver excellent, long-lasting results you can be proud of for years to come. 

KILZ RESTORATION Primer hides all the scuff marks before paint is applied and eliminates odor

In one short afternoon we took our high-traffic hallway from drab to fab and we were able to transform the space completely with KILZ®. We Top coated the primer with water-based or oil-based paint and it just completely transformed the entire space and feel. We’re so happy Kimberly has a beautiful entryway now to walk into after a long NYC workday.

Every project is worth using KILZ® Primer. Check out all the products HERE

Home Improvement Loans with Lightstream

Researching loans with Lightstream

#ad This post is sponsored by LightStream, but the content and opinions expressed here are our own.

Over the past year that we have all been spending a considerable amount more time at home, many people took a hard look at their space. Some parts of it might be a little tired or not as functional as you would like it to be. With a bit of extra time on your hands you might be dreaming up some renovation possibilities! That’s one of our favorite things to do! Many people hit a dead end on their renovation journey once the dream turns into the reality of the cost. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We needed to create a workspace in our home. Our design samples were occupying our dining table and we really need a dedicated space to store them and spread out to create designs. It’s something that was really going to make our home more functional for us, but it was also going to add more value to our home for the future so we felt like it was worth taking on the purposeful debt.

Investing in improvements to your home can be one of the best financial decisions you can make. Most of the time money spent on smart renovations can easily be recouped from the value it can add to your home. That is purposeful debt because it works for you in the long term.

Before our Basement Renovation

After our Basement Renovation

Anyone who has a mortgage knows that when it comes to your home, debt isn’t always a bad thing. Improving your kitchen, bathroom, work space, or even your backyard can make an impact on your quality of life and enjoyment of your home now and the value of it for many years into the future. So for many taking out a loan for home renovations is a smart choice! LightStream is one of the most uncomplicated ways to fund your renovation, allowing you to focus on the dream and not the financing.

Many people don’t know where to begin or think that applying for a loan will be a long, arduous process. Fortunately LightStream allows you to apply with a simple online process, and you can potentially have

That means you can get started on your renovation with no delay and you will have the freedom to make the dream a reality.

Budget is one of the first conversations we have with our clients and often it is the most important. Everyone has one, and it almost certainly will determine the scope of the project. It was very important for us to create our basement space to be a place that we wanted to work and host clients. There was also a lot we needed to do to make our basement a finished space.

In some situations using smart debt to finance your renovation might even be a better choice than using savings. Renovating your home can be extremely rewarding but it can also be stressful. LightStream’s lending uncomplicated philosophy and ease of use can help relieve the stress and make your renovations dreams a reality.

Through our special link,, any of our readers can receive a .10% APR discount on their loan, if they’re approved. Visit to check your rate and to learn more and apply today.

Happy renovating! 

Waterproofing A Cellar

Our beautiful basement is now waterproofed!

The weather is changing and we’re coming into the rain and snow season. New York City recently had a record amount of rainfall in one hour during a tropical storm then a week later that record was shattered by a second storm. The amount of water was something our homes and cellars just never had to deal with before. It seemed like half the cellars in Brooklyn and most of Queens were flooded. After the first storm many of us thought, ‘good thing this doesn’t happen often’, but after dealing with almost twice the amount of water only a week later it probably means it’s something we need to be better prepared for. Many people who have never had leaks before had waterfalls in the basements! So now we’re all asking the question, how do I prevent this from happening again?! 

Truth be told, it can be difficult to determine where water intrusion is happening, but what you can do is take action to direct water away and try to seal things up as much as possible. Here are some smart precautions you can take. 

We noticed some water and moisture on the back corner where the hatch was so we went to troubleshoot the area.

It was time to repoint the entire hatch wall and seal up the hatch to eliminate any additional water.

A new hatch was placed in our backyard that will prevent any additional water.


One of the first things you might want to do is make sure water is going where you want it to and not where you don’t. If water is pooling in your backyard you might want to regrade so that it flows away from the house. You can also add a drain that connects to the sewer line to move water out of the backyard so that it doesn’t flow down to your cellar. 

Instead of looking down, look up! Sometimes the issue is on the roof. If water is not draining properly through the gutter spout and into the sewer it might be cascading down the back of your house. That makes it much easier for it to find a way in or just overwhelm the waterproofing. 

If you have redirected water away from your house and made sure it is draining properly, it’s time to start waterproofing. 

Before repointing the hatch walls. A place where water would easily flow through.

The repointing hatch walls. We’re sealing up the hatch to eliminate any additional water flowing through.

Access Hatch

The front and rear access hatch is often where water can leak into your cellar. Some hatch covers are made of plywood and roofing material and don’t do the best job. Consider having a steel hatch door installed. They will cement it into the walls so that it is water tight. If you already have a steel door and it is leaking, check the corners. The concrete can deteriorate in that area and may need to be patched.

We knew we had to repoint our foundation walls to eliminate moisture and water

Re-cementing and repointing the foundation walls is a big job.

Foundation Walls

If water is coming in through the foundation walls (often this happens in the back but sometimes in the front as well) it could be a big job! As your house settles cracks can form and mortar in the joints can open up. This can allow water to enter. You might also want to check any penetrations of the foundation wall. The sewer pipe, water main, and electrical service come through the wall and may be allowing the water intrusion. You may see wet streaks on the foundations walls or water pooling or marking the floors and walls. Repointing the mortar or sealing up the openings with hydraulic cement may solve the problem. It can be a bit of trial and error. 

Usually most water intrusion comes through the back foundation wall since the side walls are mostly shared with another house and the front typically has concrete preventing water from saturating the soil. In the back is where the water has better access to the foundation walls. One of the most effective ways to solve the issue is to excavate the outside all the way to the bottom of the foundation wall, then a waterproof barrier or sealer can be applied to the outside of the wall. This can prevent most water from penetrating the wall.


The slab can also be the problem. Some homes have a rat slab (a very thin layer of concrete poured over the dirt floor.) Moisture could be coming up through it, especially if it’s cracked. A new slab might help your basement feel a bit drier. 

Be Prepared 

No matter how much waterproofing you do, things can change, the house can settle or mortar can continue to deteriorate. Also, even relatively watertight walls can absorb water from the soil outside and then transfer it inside. This can make the air become more humid. Since your cellar is subterranean it’s an area that should be ready to deal with moisture. A dehumidifier will help remove excess basement humidity. Make sure any building materials are mold and mildew resistant. Usually the floor of the cellar is below the sewer line so make sure you have a sump pump that can remove any water that might find its way in.

You may need to try a combination of methods. Redirect water, repoint and seal up cracks, and take further waterproofing precautions if necessary. After two record breaking storms that brought more water than we’ve ever seen before a week apart, one thing for sure is that this is an issue we will need to deal with again in the not so distant future. It’s time to take some action and be as prepared as we can. 

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The Gates House – Reveal & House Tour!

We are so thrilled and proud to share the Gates House with you. It has the more restored original features than any of our projects to date! Many many painstaking hours have gone into fully restoring them. It all takes time! This project has been over a year in the making! BUT it was worth the wait! We are excited for you to see the beautiful white oak floors with a Peruvian walnut inlay, the gorgeous woodwork and stained glass, the restored plaster tapestries, not to mention the custom painted kitchen cabinets and modern bathrooms. It’s truly one for the books! It takes a village to renovate in NYC and we’re very thankful for our wonderful partners, collaborators, and craftsmen who took part in this project. Most importantly, to homeowners Laura & Rebecca and their new born twin girls (yes our second set of twins if you’ve been following along) Welcome home!

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Vintage DIY Door(s)

Our favorite room in our home is our vintage inspired guest bathroom, and more specifically, our favorite feature in it is the vintage glass WC door. It’s a project we took on and we just can’t get enough of because we expanded our collection of them to 4 more with our recent speakeasy basement renovation. We’re not done yet! We love the look and would (will)  do it again! A lot of folks have asked us where we got it and how to make one, so we wanted to break it down for you.

The secret is if you want a door like this, you’ll likely have to DIY it. There are some vintage glass panel doors like this out there but chances are it won’t be the right size. They are few and far between, but what is readily available are doors that have wood panels in many sizes. We easily found one that was very close to the measurements that we needed. 


We could have scoured the local salvage yards for one (Brooklyn folks- Old Iron Architectural is great for doors!), and I’m sure we would have found it, but we decided to get ours from a vintage seller on etsy. They had a large stock of doors that would work for us and the price was right at only about $100. We recommend typing in the size of the door that would work best in the search (either on etsy or ebay) and finding a seller near your home that will deliver.

Once we received the door we needed to alter it. This is the hardest part. It does require some tools and some skills to use them. If that doesn’t sound like you, it is possible to have someone else do this part for you. If you bring it to a local woodworking shop they likely can quickly and inexpensively make the cuts for you. Or you can even ask the seller you get it from if they can do it for you. Our door was very close to the size we needed but it was less than an inch too wide. We trimed it down on each side with a circular saw. Then we cut out the top wooden panel so that it was open for glass. Fortunately, trimming the side of the door also cut off where the old hinges were, but we did need to fill an old hardware hole with wood filler and let it dry overnight.

The next day we sanded it all down to get the old paint off. Finally we added the trim piece to where we cut the wood panel that will eventually hold in the glass. So now we had a door that we cut to the right size, altered for a glass panel at the top, filled and sanded. Now it’s ready for the cosmetic part: glass, paint, and hardware!

We got our vintage chicken wire glass from a store called Olde Good Glass. They have some really amazing vintage and vintage inspired options. We gave them the dimensions and they cut the glass for us, we just had to pick it up! There are many neighborhood glass shops that might also have some great options. Reeded, chicken wire or frosted glass all work really nicely! We nailed one side of the trim piece with finishing nails, installed the glass, and then held it in place by nailing in the other trim piece. 

We really wanted our door to pop so we painted it a vibrant forest green called Isle of Pines from Sherwin Williams in our WC but for the basement doors we went with a classic Black (Tricorn Black). We definitely suggest having some fun with the door and making the color pop! I suppose a natural wood door wood be gorgeous too depending on the condition of the door. The hardware needed to feel as though it was always on this vintage door so we got ours from House of Antique hardware. It has a crystal knob and brassy backplate.

Finally, we didn’t want our guests wandering around wondering which door was the bathroom so we stenciled on “WC” in antique looking black and gold letters from House Number Lab. House Number Lab is great because you can completely customize the font and text. 

This door is a fun DIY project that we think really makes our guest bathroom special. It wasn’t very expensive but it’s something that brings a little bit of joy into our day. If you do end up making your own door please share it with us! We just can’t get enough of the Vintage Doors!

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What To Consider When Buying a Fixer Upper

Buying a home that needs work can give you the opportunity to design a space that works and looks exactly how you would like. You can choose the layout, pick the finishes, improve the functionality, and make a home that you and your family can enjoy to its fullest. When we set out on our renovation journey this is exactly what we wanted to do. The chance to restore an old home and make it better for us and the next generation. There are many options out there from light to full gut renovations, but what should you consider when buying a fixer upper? 


The sales price of the home is only half the story. To understand if it’s the right place for you, you will also have to figure out the renovation budget. This should include hard costs for the construction, materials, and finishes as well the soft costs for the architect, engineers, and filing. You may even want to budget for a place to live during the construction (see below). As you consider this along with the scope of work (also see below), you will be able to determine the budget. It’s very important to understand these costs before pulling the trigger on the purchase. You don’t want to buy a house that ends up needing $400,000 of work when the purchase price only leaves you with a renovation budget of $200,000. It might not be the one for you. 


Buying a home that needs a full gut renovation could mean that it will be quite a while before you are actually able to move into it. In New York, getting through the architecture & design process, filing with the city, and the full construction to completion may well take a year. 

Living arrangements 

Usually it’s not possible to live at home during most renovations. We definitely don’t recommend it, especially if it’s a big renovation! Not only can it be quite uncomfortable but it could slow down the work considerably if the contractor has to work around people living in the house. This could actually end up increasing hard and soft costs. We also don’t recommend having a hard deadline to be out of your current living situation and needing to be moved into your newly renovated home. It can create a very stressful situation if any unexpected things arise that could delay the project. Make sure you have a safe and clean refuge away from the construction. 

Scope of work

The biggest consideration when buying a fixer upper is what the scope of work will be. Do you want to remove walls and completely reconfigure the rooms? Do you need to fully replace all of the electrical, plumbing, and mechanicals? Are you adding hvac? Are there beautiful original details to restore (we hope so!)? Are there major structural issues that need to be addressed? You will likely want to have an architect or contractor (or project manager like us!) go with you to assess what the potential renovation costs will be before you move forward. 

What should you look for when viewing a fixer upper?

Every old house has a story to tell. Look for unique features that you can bring back to life. Tall ceilings and big windows are beautiful features that new construction buildings usually don’t have. Ornate woodwork that has been painted can be stripped and restored. Marble fireplaces can be polished. We love to see stained glass, plaster mouldings, and ceiling medallions. They are all things that you are only going to see in an old house. Maybe it’s the ideal location that can’t be beat. Or even the potential for great outdoor space. Whatever draws you to an old home, it can be a rewarding process to give it a new lease on life. The road to the finish line may be long and the ups and downs can be stressful but in the end you’ll have a home that you’ll love. get there, it can be extremely rewarding to build your own home. 

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How to Get Professional Results Yourself with the 3M Wall Repair

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by 3M.

We like to move our art around and change it out for new pieces regularly. So, we often end up with holes in the wall that we need to repair. Time to patch them up! 

We found the perfect product to get a professional job quickly and easily! The 3M High Strength Small Hole Repair, All-In-One Applicator tool is literally the only thing we needed to repair our nail holes. 

How to use the 3M High Strength Small Hole Repair All-in-One Applicator

It’s really as easy as 1,2,3:

  1. First, we squeeze the spackle out and spread it into the hole we were repairing.
  2. Then we used the other side of the tool as a putty knife to smooth it out.
  3. We let that dry and sanded it with the built-in sanding pad.


It seriously couldn’t be easier. Not having to gather a bunch of different tools and then clean them all after saved a ton of time.

We also found some other holes around the house we repaired too. This spot hiding behind our vestibule door was a bother us for over a year! Now it’s fixed! 

The 3M High Strength Small Hole Repair Kit comes with multiple tools, including a 3″ putty knife, primer enhanced spackling compound, 4″ drywall repair screen and sanding pad so we were able to patch these holes and get professional looking results!

Photo: Bridget Badore @bridgetbadore

These products are a game changer. We don’t have to hunt around the house for multiple tools because it comes with everything you need. We also don’t need to guess at the best type of spackling compound for each repair, it’s all ready for us to use.

We will always keep these on our tool shelf.


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Everything You Need to Know About Replacing Your Windows

It’s time we change our windows in our home, something we wish we did during the renovation

Whether you have original windows or tragically cheap replacements like we do, there will come a time when you’ll need to replace them (or possibly restore them). It’s not something that is done very often so if you are going through it, chances are you have never before, and you may never again. So we thought a complete guide to replacing windows might be helpful. 

A before picture of our windows pre-renovation

Where Do You Start 

One of the first things you will likely want to consider is if you are replacing your windows as part of a larger renovation project or just as a stand alone project. The main difference is that in a larger renovation you may want to use new construction windows rather than replacement windows. If you are removing interior mouldings and trim in a renovation project you can replace the windows brick to brick, with new brick moulding and a new frame. This option requires removing the interior trim and interior finishing work needs to be done. The advantage is that you can get a slightly larger window, with more glass and more light. You can also avoid having to use flashing around the windows on the exterior, but more on that below.

Replacement windows are smaller than the full opening and designed to sit within the existing frame.  It’s a much less invasive installation process so it is what you’ll want to do if you just want to replace your windows without a lot of other peripheral work. Since the windows are installed on top of the existing window frame, the new framing will need to be covered by flashing. Flashing is a material (often sheet metal or aluminum) that is used to weatherproof around the window and to cover the exposed framing. 

Beautiful new installed aluminum/wood windows installed at a renovation project of ours

Window Material 

There are quite a few options out there for window material but we are going to focus on 3: vinyl, aluminum clad wood, and wood. 


Vinyl windows get a bit of a bad rap. The technology only became popular in the 1990’s and has improved dramatically since then. You might be familiar with some that were installed many years ago and there are some that are poorly constructed and may not have lasted very long. But there are great vinyl windows that may sometimes be the best option for your project. Vinyl windows are very low maintenance so they don’t require regular upkeep. They come in many colors and finishes and do a pretty good job of replicating a wood look. A well constructed vinyl window can do a great job of insulating. Their biggest drawback for most people are the aesthetics. While they have gotten better, putting a vinyl window on a traditional home like a Brownstone feels a bit wrong. They might be better for modern installations. 

Aluminum Clad Wood

Usually referred to as wood clad or just clad, Aluminum clad wood is the best of both worlds. They have the beauty of wood on the interior and the durability of aluminum on the exterior. They also have the advantage of the insulating qualities of wood. It’s a very durable and long lasting option. There is very little maintenance needed since the exterior is clad with aluminum. 

Before replacing windows at a renovation project, the original windows blocked some additional natural light.

Now the windows are floor to ceiling and allow so much more natural light throughout the entire home


Wood windows are beautiful. The look of wood is considered the most high-end and of course what the original windows would have been made of. For that reason anyone who is restoring a historic home and wants to be true to the home’s origins would want to use wood. In fact, if your home is in a landmarked area you will likely have to use wood windows. Wood is a great insulator since it’s excellent at inhibiting the transmission of cold and heat through the frame. The drawback to wood windows is that they require regular maintenance. They need to be painted and sealed throughout their lifetime.

Ordering Your Windows

You can hire a window company to come out to measure, order, and install your windows. If you are doing replacement windows this is likely what you will do. If your window installation is part of a larger renovation project then your contractor might be doing the install. They will measure and they may order the windows, or they may rely on you to order them. Once they arrive your contractor will install them.

Lead Times 

You should check with the window supplier for specific lead times, but generally you can expect anything from 6 weeks to 16 weeks, and some custom windows may even take longer. Currently lead times are affected by Covid and they have been unpredictable, so order early! 


Your installer will move through your home and remove one window at a time and install the new one. They will insulate around the window frame. Sometimes flashing is used on the outside (especially with replacement windows) to cover the visible frame. On the inside often a piece of trim covers the exposed part of the frame (for replacement windows). Installation for an entire home might take a few days depending on how many windows you have. 

If you do not choose to have the window company install the windows, you will want to properly get the right measurements.

Design and Functionality

There are several design options besides the window material. They will come in various colors and hardware options. You can even choose to have grid lines or not to have grid lines. For functionality you can have single hung (one operable sash), double hung(two operable sashes), or casement windows (one pane of glass that tilts open, sometimes with a crank). 

New windows can dramatically transform your home. They can give a face lift to every room and the exterior. New windows will also make your home more energy efficient and more comfortable. 

New windows can drastically change any space and if the budget allows, we recommend to do during your renovation

Our New Kitchen Obsession- The Kraus Workstation Sink

Any design element that makes a kitchen more functional and aesthetically pleasing has our seal of approval! Our latest obsession is the Workstation sink from Kraus. We’ve spent a lot more time in the kitchen the past year, trying new recipes and preparing almost all of our meals. So we are more aware than ever of what can make it all go a lot smoother. When we were in the design process for #breakandreno, we knew this was the perfect sink for the space. 

The culinary phrase “mise en place”, comes to mind. It’s the concept of keeping the area where you are working neat, tidy, and efficient. Prepping, cleaning, and organizing so that the process of cooking a meal is smoother and more enjoyable. You can imagine how important this is for professional chefs as they prepare to cook for possibly hundreds of people, but we can adopt this concept in the home as well. 

The Workstation sink from Kraus has an integrated ledge that’s designed to serve as a platform for accessories to slide across the sink. You can prep and clean up without sacrificing any workspace on the kitchen counter. The cutting board and drying rack keep the mess off the countertops, and water and liquids simply run right into the sink. As a result, prepping and cleaning up is easier, your workspace stays cleaner, and you can enjoy cooking even more. 

Here at our latest renovation project, #breakandreno, the kitchen is a contrast of dark smoked oak cabinetry, natural industrial concrete countertops, and a bright pop of an organic feeling spruce green backsplash. The granite finish is a perfect medium to compliment the other bold choices in the space. This kitchen needed a sink that is unique, dramatic, and highly functional. The granite workstation sink really checked every box for us. 

Many professional kitchen products like faucets, ranges, ventilations hoods, etc are not only highly functional but also add to your kitchen’s aesthetics. The pro look correlates the high-end functionality of these items directly to beauty of the design. The workstation sink is no exception. The seamless integration of functional accessories will add a touch of professional design to any kitchen.

A lot of kitchen trends come and go, but we think our latest obsession, the Workstation sink from Kraus, is the future of food prep and kitchen design. 

Finding the Perfect Items on Ebay

It was important for us to set the right mood in our Speakeasy Werkroom. We needed great vintage items, unique pieces, and even some building materials. And with only a few weeks to complete the project we needed them fast! Sourcing all of the items could have taken a lot of time and money, both of which we didn’t have in great supply with such an ambitious project. Our secret weapon to get so many interesting items quickly, easily, and inexpensively was eBay.

In the past we have gotten many unique vintage items on eBay so we knew we would be able to find everything that we need. We found fireplace mantles, light fixtures, and even a pair of brownstone doors! 

 We have shown you the major components to our basement renovation but we thought we would walk through all of the touches that really make the space special. All sourced from individual stores on eBay! One of our favorite things about shopping on eBay is that many times we are able to shop with small businesses. We even shopped some stores here in Brooklyn from our couch in the evenings when we were spending our days working on the project. So we felt good about supporting local businesses and sellers here and afar. What is more fun than vintage shopping from home!? 

One of the most important things in the room is the long work table and chairs. We had a vision of a table with mismatched vintage chairs all around it. We needed several and so that was the first thing we searched for. In just a few minutes we had all of the chairs we needed in our cart! 

One of our favorites is this antique vintage industrial drafting stool from eBay seller Jims Odds and Ends. We love the metal piping and brass detail. And it’s adjustable. We have already had fun moving it around the room and using it in different areas. 

The great vintage industrial green office chair on the other side of the table is from eBay store Savings American History. It is a fun mix with different color and texture than the others. 

Another great find is the vintage office desk chair from eBay store Antique Goods. It’s got the perfect vibe for the room and we really like the character that it shows so that there is no mistaking that it is vintage! 

It was really fun to search for all of the unique accessories that created a vintage speakeasy feel. We needed a lot of stuff to fill the space and we needed it quick! We love the pieces that we easily found on eBay and we even saw many other items we still have saved that we’re going back for later, all have been added to our wishlist!

A fun antique stapler from Pickers Paradise By Yardin King, a vintage apothecary jar from Just a Guy Selling Stuff, and soda crate from 123ieasa complete the look of this open shelf on our apothecary style cabinetry.  

We wanted some items to have imperfections to bring some authenticity into the space. We found this Consumers Biscuit Manufacturing wood crate from eBay seller Cardboard Memories that is from 1909! It’s damaged but we didn’t shy away from it! 

How perfect is this vintage photo from the prohibition era roaring 20s of a group of girls drinking beer from eBay store Tribupedia Vintage Images!

When we saw this 1933 Brooklyn Eagle newspaper from Steve Goldman Historical Newspapers we HAD to have it! The article on the left is titled, SPEAKEASY’S ARE DOOMED…we beg to differ. 

We found some great decor items to complete our sitting area. Grounding out everything is a really nice jute rug from eBay store Vi5474. And the small side table from eBay store Styles of Lighting is the perfect size for this petit nook. 

Another trick for us is using ebay for hardware! Whether it’s for doors or cabinets – eBay has a mix of everything from vintage to new! We found some vintage solid brass cabinet pulls from Whispering Wind Clearance Center that are perfect for the cabinetry. 

We also are obsessed with the new door knobs for the two vintage swing doors from eBay store from Simpson Products. The knobs are white porcelain that really pop on the matte black doors. 

We have gotten a lot of vintage light fixtures on eBay over the years. We love old office lamps and vintage floor lamps. They are a great way to bring a mix of old items into a design. The tiny pull chain vintage wall sconce from Wineferb Collectibles right at the entrance is one of our favorites. 

Finally, we were in need of some building materials. We were surprised to easily and inexpensively find them on eBay as well.  The recessed lights are from the TorchStar eBay Store. 

Wait! Last but certainly not least, our RuPaul’s Drag Race inspired laundry room would not have been complete without this Hollywood vanity mirror from Appletree Oz. Proof that you really can get anything on eBay! 

We have been able to easily find unique vintage pieces, old house parts, items that were out-of-stock at stores, and even building materials on eBay. Shopping local small businesses near and far from the comfort of our couch, and often late at night since we worked long hours on this project. All of these items really made our Speakeasy Werkroom special.

Thank you ebay for #gifting our Werkroom items. Each item (whether vintage or new) adds to the overall vibe we were originally designing with. Each piece from ebay adds the perfect touch to our new speakeasy. We are so thankful!

You can watch the full reveal video on our YouTube. Subscribe below for updates and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram!

One Room Challenge: Week 8, The Reveal

Welcome to the Speakeasy Werkroom for our One Room Challenge Spring 2021 makeover. As you know by now, we were selected amongst 20 featured designers to take on a challenge in 8 brutal weeks to transform a space. Its finally time to show you what we have been working on so hard on, and while we’re a little bit nervous, we’re also very, very excited to show you this transformation! Over the past 8 weeks we have been transforming our basement from a dusty, unfinished, storage area to an entire new floor of living and work space. We needed a place to work (hence, “The Werkroom”, spread out material samples and sketches, host clients, and just an area to relax. We’re excited to say that the space is finished and we can’t wait to show you!

Before we get started on each gorgeous area of the speakeasy, take a look back at the transformation of the space. We’re shocked that the space has transformed into what it is:

Week 1 | Week 2Week 3 |Week 4| Week 5 | Week 6 |Week 7


From the back of the basement facing the front of the brownstone

Looking into the space and the laundry area

Where the new wall of cabinetry is.

Since we were transforming our windowless basement we decided to create a speakeasy feel. The details would make for a warm and cozy space that might have no windows but doesn’t need them. To make sure we didn’t miss them too much we did bring in the illusion of windows with some antique stained glass and some vintage industrial windows that offer a glimpse into a second top secret space (more on that below!). One of the most important things to us was to have ample storage to organize our growing material samples collection and, of course, we needed a big table to spread them all out on. We also wanted to feel inspired to design and create in the space.  So how did we do? Let’s start the tour! 

As soon as you get to the basement door you know you’re in for a treat. The vintage door with chicken wire glass is a salvage item. We have 4 of them throughout the space. We installed the name “The Werkroom” in a vintage inspired decal from House Number Lab on the glass. As you open the door you are greeted with another vintage find from eBay, a small wall sconce that lights the stairway just enough to guide your way into the space. As you walk down the stairs you can catch glimpses of what you’re in store for through the new wood slats that double as hand holds. 

At the foot of the stairs we created a small sitting area where we can relax when we need a break to find some inspiration. There is a leather chair and magazine holder from Apt 2B to encourage lingering. A small side table and jute rug were eBay finds. The entire area is lit with one of our favorite light fixtures in the space, the bi-focal light from NYC based Blueprint Lighting –  USE CODE: BrownstoneBoys25 for 25% off your order too! It comes in an amazing 36 colors, we went with Paris green. As a backdrop to this area and extending into the workspace is an ode to Brooklyn, an entire wall covered in a vintage Brooklyn map wallpaper from Spoonflower. 

Moving on from the sitting area you will see one of the most transformative parts of the project. We turned the old structural columns into dramatic arches that define the workspace. The soft curves of the arches create a warm, cozy quality that a squared edge would lack. They are each lit with a sconce that evokes the elegance of antique candle holders from Alora Lighting

On the opposite wall is one of the most prominent features in the room, and definitely the most useful, an entire wall of cabinetry built by Ethan Abramson of The Build With Ethan. It is designed to have an apothecary feel with a marble top and backset uppers with reeded glass. The curve detail on the cabinet fronts echo the soft curves of the arches and adds an elegance you might find in an urban speakeasy. 

One of the things we are looking forward to the most is working at the beautifully built, long oak table from Self Made. It came easily packed to fit in our car and was quick to assemble. The leather and metal work light above from Alora Lighting illuminates the work space perfectly.  To warm up this area we put the most beautiful rug under table from Loloi Rugs. Of course, we went with the area rug from the Chris Loves Julia collection! It really is the perfect color for the space between the white of the arches and the green of the cabinetry.

The cabinetry flanks both sides of the centerpiece of the room, a salvaged antique stained glass window that is backlit to bring some drama and interesting lighting to the room. We really love the glow of the soft light that filters through the vintage glass and the color that it casts into the space. 

The stained glass window is mounted in another organic texture we brought into the space, rich walnut stained wood slats. They continue to the far side of the cabinetry and around a gentle curving wall that functionally hides our basement mechanicals, but is a feature on it’s own. The curved wall opens up the space in a way that a 90 degree angle would have chopped up. The transition from the work space to a hallway is blurred in a way that extends the space and draws the eye. It’s from here you can get a peek through 2 salvaged industrial windows that tilt open just enough to make you think: “What in the world is going on back there?!” 

Another huge transformation of the space is the new tin ceiling from American Tin Ceilings. We went with a classic New York feeling (Pattern #2) in Bright White Satin, with a satin sheen.The easy-to-install paneling has brighten up the space and has provided an illusion of the ceilings looking taller than they are. We had so much fun installing these!

One of our secret weapons to put this space together to find the right pieces on a short timeline was eBay. Throughout the basement there are vintage accessories, chairs, cabinet hardware, and even the recessed lights were all sourced on eBay. It’s one of our favorite places to find interesting items and shop local here and across the country.

Now it’s time for a secret space that’s been teasing itself throughout the room. A speakeasy within a speakeasy, if you will. It’s been there all along but she’s got a whole new look. Our laundry room has been reborn into a RuPaul’s Drag Race inspired space. Bright pops of pink-on-pink, a splash of purple, a little sparkle, but a space that is utilitarian by use. Why not make our laundry experience something to look forward to? Before we transformed this room, in our messy, dusty storage space of a basement, we were drawn to a brightly painted pink door. It was here before we were, always there inspiring us to create something more. We knew it needed to come down, but we wanted to transform it into something constructive. It has found a new home, still the same shade of pale pink, but now as a useful laundry folding table. The brightest addition to the room (and most fabulous) is the custom neon “Werk” sign from our new friends at Custom Neon. We had the best time designing our light but wanted to tie in the Werk motif throughout the speakeasy.

It’s hard to imagine that the space we sit in now was, only weeks ago, your average (below average?) Brooklyn basement. Used only for storage, upturned dead bugs, a layer of dust covering everything, an unrealized potential of a space. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome, and we cannot wait to fully realize the usefulness of an entire new floor of living and work space. We hope you enjoyed the journey as much as we did. Subscribe before for updates (lots of amazing things coming!) and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and YouTube! We’ll have a basement tour coming this weekend with all the before and afters of the space so make sure to subscribe for an alert!

Thank you to ALL the sponsors who believed in us and this space. We’re so excited to start sharing more of each incredible item, piece and feature we brought into the speakeasy over the next couple weeks. And to Linda Weinstein (creator of The One Room Challenge) & Better Homes & Gardens– we are forever grateful and so appreciative of this journey & opportunity. This was the push we needed to complete our basement and we really would have an unfinished basement if it weren’t for you so THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. This was so fun!

Now that we are done with our space, it’s time for a much deserved glass of wine (or whiskey on the rocks). It’s also time for us to check out the other 19 amazing features designed completed rooms! Join us!

Media BH&G | TM ORC

If you want to see more check out our full video tour!

One Room Challenge: Week 7, Will We Make It !?

New tin up on the ceilings in the speakeasy from American Tin Ceilings

We’re going to keep this real folks…. Week 7 is absolutely terrifying! Just so we are clear we have 8 weeks total! So we are one week away from the reveal. With less than a week to complete this space, while our list seems to be getting longer and longer, we have been making steady progress. Nothing like a little motivation and a couple all-nighters to get the speakeasy done! We can see the finish line, but boy oh boy does it seem like such a far way to get to!

One of the biggest transformations this past week was the installation of the tin ceiling from American Tin Ceilings! We were worried the tin ceilings would make the space feel smaller buI it actually gave the space a larger and more cozy feeling. The tin also gives the space a more finished feel. They have so many patterns and colors to choose from, but we went with a classic New York feeling pattern in extra white with a satin sheen so it bounces some much needed light around the space. It is made to install right over the drywall with tongue and groove install for a nice even finish. We got it mostly installed in just a few hours and now just have to go back and do some trim.

Incorporating wood slats from the curved wall into the cabinetry row. We will put LED strips behind

Voila! Now time to stain the slats to match the walnut

Another big development is the installation of the vintage doors…with chicken wire glass! This is one of our favorite design tricks to add some vintage charm to a room. We got our doors at a local salvage yard and altered them to fit our space. We cut the openings for the glass panels and added some trim to hold it in. We got her chicken wire glass cut at a local glass shop. Now we just need to paint them! Black! Installing the doors and cutting each one to size took way more time than expected and really took up the majority of our week. It was well worth it!

Putting vintage chicken wire glass into the cut doors. Stencils on the way.

A total of 4 new doos in the space: 2 pocket and 2 regular


Racing to Finish

This is a big week ahead! We’re installing the stair slats. They are just about ready to go up. They will act as our handrail and will really add some drama to the room. They’ll be stained walnut to match the curved slat wall and the furniture. It’s taking a bit longer because we are adding a steel rod to the center to stiffen them up a bit and prevent any warping. 

We’ll also be completing the cabinet install. The lower cabinets are set, the carrara marble counter is in, and now we just need to mount the uppers, put the glass in, and add some trim. Easy huh!?  Other than that there are several light fixtures to install, a whole lot of paint to get on the walls, floors to finish, and an endless amount of finishing details. So the big question at this point is…….WILL WE GET IT DONE?!

You better have answered yes! We can’t wait to start sharing all our sponsored items and finishes going into the space. We’ve talked a lot about the build (catch each week below) but starting this week, we’re going to share so many details about all our wonderful sponsors for the space who are truly going to make this room so beautiful! We have a mix of vintage and new coming into the space from ebay, the most beautiful lights from Alora Lighting and Blueprint Lighting NYC (each with such different style and character), a wallpaper from Spoonflower that also made us cry when we opened, furniture (and decor) from a new favorite Apt 2b. and a rug from the Chris loves Julia collection from Loloi Rugs.  Oh did we mention there might be a custom neon light from Custom Neon!? How is this all fitting in the space!? Make sure to follow all the updates on instagram and stay tuned for next week’s big reveal post.

We’ll see you on the reveal side folks! Thanks for all your continued support…. We got this! Make sure and check out the other 19 featured designers. While we’re scared to take a look at all their progress we feel so supported and loved by each and everyone. We are so excited to see their spaces.

If you’re wanting to take a look back to see how we got here, check out our past ORC posts

A very special thank you to our sponsors for this event
Make sure to check out the other 19 featured designers. Their spaces are motivating us!
Media BH&G | TM ORC

One Room Challenge: Week 6, Cabinets & Windows

We finally found the perfect piece of stained glass to go in between our new row of cabinetry.

One of the most prominent features in our basement renovation is the beautiful wall of custom cabinetry our friend Ethan Abramsom (@TheBuildWithEthan) is building for us. They will be one of the first things you see when you step into the space and they will be painted one of the brightest pops of color in the room. We finally have the cabinets onsite and this week we have been working hard to prep the space to fit them in. One of the best things with custom cabinetry (and working with Ethan) is he takes the design and excels in making them really high quality and really unique. 

We decided to go with an apothecary style design. We have a row of lower cabinets with a Carrara marble top. The uppers will sit directly on the Carrara top, but will be set back about 5”. The uppers will have glass panels that we are going to fill with vintage glass. We want something with some character and movement. Now we just need to get to our local glass shop ASAP and make sure they will be here in time. Since our design has a vintage feel we went with a paneled style of cabinet front but we added a curved detail (great idea from Ethan!) to tie in some of the other curves in the room with the arches, and curved slat wall…which by the way is looking amazing next to the new cabinetry.  The cabinetry also serves the purpose of hiding our electrical panels. On one side we will have floor to ceiling cabinets to conceal the electrical panels for our work space. 

All cabinetry was painted a smokey green. In fact, we went with a color called Green Smoke from Farrow & Ball. Right in the center of the wall of cabinetry is going to be an open shelf stained in a walnut color. Whats going above the walnut bookshelf is something we’re most excited for…. stained glass!

Ethan Abramsom built us the most perfect row of cabinets. It was great to see him in our speakeasy.

Installing the cabinets before we have the counters templated for Carrara.

If you’ve been following our ORC journey (check out last weeks post here!), you know we have been looking for the perfect piece of stained glass. We visited about three local salvage yards & antique shops looking for the perfect piece. Unfortunately, the only one we liked was through one of our sponsors, ebay , but unfortunately the lead time was 8-10 weeks. So we quickly had to shift gears. It was at this same time, we walked into one of our new renovation projects and saw the absolute most perfect piece of stained glass and the homeowners asked us if we knew anyone that wanted it. WHAT A COINCIDENCE! We are so thankful for Heather & Rene and now we have the perfect piece of stained glass. The thing we love about this piece are the colors. Also this piece has lots of curves in it which is a nice play from the curves in the arches. 

The most perfect piece of stained glass. We’re going to incorporate slats on both sides.

Now let’s talk about the install of the stained glass. We are going to put it above the walnut bookshelf and are going to backlight with an LED strip. Our basement doesn’t have any natural light, but we are doing our best to work with that instead of fighting it. With the LED, our hopes are to give the illusion of a some natural light in the space. This piece of stained glass is a little narrower than we originally planned on which is actually going to work towards our advantage. After it’s framed, we are going to incorporate some of the 1×1 slats from the curved wall onto both sides of the stained glass. Yessssssss, we are so excited for this now!

What you can save from a demolition on a historic home is quite fascinating and we have two more pieces from this same renovation that we are so excited to bring into the speakeasy…. more windows! 

In between the laundry area and the workroom we will install these two openable windows

Between the top secret laundry area (we’re not revealing space until Week 8) and the work room there are two original areas in between the structural posts. We thought this was another area to get creative around. We are using repurposed windows from that same renovation project where we found the piece of stained glass to give the illusion of more windows (and natural light!) in the space. After weighing in on the pro & cons of each set of windows we have decided to use two very vintage window with different glass in each sash. This adds some texture and it also fits the theme of our 1920’s NYC speakeasy. To give it some extra character, we are going to add gold chains to the top of the windows and make them openable!

A job we subcontracted out was the repointing of our parting wall. A huge (and messy) cement job

Prepping and painting the vintage doors before install.

It’s hard to believe that we’re in week 6!  Our list is very long and we only have 2 more weeks to go! What’s next you ask? Well, we must paint the doors and get them installed, we need to get our glass order together, painting the floors are next and then we can start finally with all the pretty finishes. We have some really exciting things coming in that you will not want to miss.  Make sure to follow us on Instagram, and check out our YouTube channel for all the updates! 

If you’re wanting to take a look back to see how we got here, check out our past ORC posts

A very special thank you to our sponsors for this event
Make sure to check out the other 19 featured designers. Their spaces are motivating us!
Media BH&G | TM ORC

One Room Challenge: Week 5, Arches & Slat Wall

Photo: Let there be arches

Our structural columns have now become arches!

It rained the entire Memorial Day weekend here in NY. We had grand plans to take a bike ride through the city and enjoy the first couple days of the official kickoff of summer. Our plans quickly changed given all the rain that we were predicting. And boy, are we glad it did! This forced us to be home the entire week and more specifically get to work on our basement speakeasy! Because of this we have some very exciting updates. The clock is ticking but we have some HUGE items checked off our list:

After framing the slat wall, we then added plywood so we can have it curved

We’re love the texture this wall has added. To leave natural or to stain is now the question!

Adding the 1×1 Pine to the wall

The Million Dollar Wall aka Our Slat Curved Wall

We had to build a room for the basement mechanicals to separate them from the rest of the space. We incorporated this curved wall into the design to create a more spacious feeling. Taking the hard angle off that wall and using a soft curve gives us more square footage to work with, but also eases the eye down the short hallway. It also gives a better view to the vintage windows we are installing to give the impression of natural light into the space. Finally, to create a feature we lined the curved wall with 1×1 pine* slats. With the cost of lumber these days, the magic plywood is our saving grace! These slats will be stained a rich walnut color to match the rest of the wood in the design. A special thank you to Monica Mangin for naming our wall- genius!

The messy drywall of the structural columns. We really didn’t lose too much height

After the drywall of the arch we then added metal to the edges so we can start compounding

Joint compound done! Deciding how to finish these arches

Arch it Up

On the other side of the room another key feature is taking shape. There is a row of structural columns down one side of the space. The columns need to be there so we wanted to make sure they were inviting in the space, and to make sure and create the feeling we want in the room. We are creating arches in between each one. We are losing a little bit of precious ceiling height, but we think it’s worth it! The loss in height is easily outdone by the cozy character the arches bring to the space. We know the ceilings are low and we can’t change that but we can go with it and make the room a more intimate space. 

What’s next:

  • Windows – Our basement doesn’t have windows. It’s dark an a fact we cannot change. So we are giving our speakeasy workroom a feeling that we hope will help us not notice. We are introducing a lot of glass, and even windows into the space. There will be 2 vintage windows that lead into our super top secret speakeasy within a speakeasy (following along for the reveal!). We are using vintage doors with obscure glass leading in and out of the room. And finally we will have cabinetry with glass paneled uppers. 

Playing around with some salvaged windows from one of our renovation projects

  • Cabinets –  Speaking of cabinets…another key feature of the space is beautiful custom millwork by our friend Ethan Abramsom (@thebuildwithethan)! We are so excited for this! We are going apothecary style. We’ll have paneled lower cabinets topped with a slab of carrara marble. The uppers will sit setback on the carrara slab and will have clear chicken wire glass panels to show off all of our beautiful samples we are going to store there. 

The cabinet framing after painted

Obsessed with the cabinet fronts

  • Doors – If you have followed us for 5 minutes you will know that we love using vintage doors. We have 4 beautiful reclaimed vintage doors that we hope will give this newly built out space an authentically old world feel.


  • Floors – The highest priority we have for our floors is for them to not remove any of the ceiling height we have. So we are going to work with the concrete slab that is already there. The best thing for us to do is sand, stain, and seal them. We are  hoping the finished concrete floor will complete the look of the space while maintaining every inch of ceiling height we have. Jordan is fighting me on painting the floors checkered but I think I might win this battle. What do you think? The goal is to rent the sander this week and prioritize this.

Now that the arches are complete we are feeling so much better about the progress

If the next week brings as many updates as this weekend we might even finish early. 🤣🤣🤣 Just kidding, we are going to need every second of time we have before the big reveal on June 28th! Until then, tune in next week for an update! Subscribe below and we’ll let you know when it’s up!

If you’re wanting to take a look back to see how we got here, check out our past ORC posts

A very special thank you to our sponsors for this event
Make sure to check out the other 19 featured designers. They truly are motivating us to finish this space!
Media BH&G | TM ORC

One Room Challenge: Week 4, The Gathering of Materials

Photo: Repurposed Doors found through a vendor on ebay will be installed throughout the speakeasy


Repurposed doors found through a vendor on ebay will be installed throughout the speakeasy

How are we already halfway through this Springs One Room Challenge!? While a lot of work has been done our list of to-do’s seems like it’s getting longer and longer. Last weekend was hot and your boys spent the entire time in the basement making sure framing was complete. The good news is that we’re done with framing and excited to report that new electrical is in place and drywall has even started to go up! Now we are going to focus on the skim coating, finishing the concrete floors, and making sure all items are onsite – ready to go in. We think (and pray) all the above will go in much quicker than the painful process of getting everything cleared and the new framing that went into it. We definitely did not go with an easy space to transform. The good news is, we’re having a lot of fun with it (even having dance parties!) and we’re making some incredible progress!

Framing complete! Cannot wait to get drywall on the columns in order for us to add some arches

The Laundry area is now framed. This will be the real speakeasy within the speakeasy 🙂

Goal complete! We got drywall up (a little counts, right!?)

While we focus less on the construction-y part of the makeover, something behind the scenes we’ve been working on is gathering all our finish materials! We know that’s what you want to see! Our millwork rendering has been completed and in the hands now of our friend Ethan Abramsom who is helping build our row of custom cabinetry. We decided to utilize additional storage for samples and other items so we will do a mix of closed cabinetry and glass to display nicer items. Think of old school apothecary medicine cabinets! 

We’re very excited that our “werk table” is almost ready for pickup! A new local favorite, Self Made Build, has been building a custom 7’ walnut table that is extendable. We are adding black brackets to the table to tie in the effect of old vs. new. 

We also have been hard at work ordering all our lights, furniture and other finishes that will go in the new space! This can be a time consuming process. There’s a million options out there and we needed a way to find the perfect options and get them quickly.  We’re excited to announce that we’re working with ebay on this space! ebay, for years, has been on our favorite ways to source….pretty much anything!  Here’s why ebay is the perfect partner for us:

Repurposing old windows from a construction project of ours!

The New & Necessary 

There are so many items that we need to find a quick, easy, and inexpensive source for. We need recessed lights, hardware, and door knobs. We were able to find what we needed, save a few bucks, and have it onsite quickly to keep the project moving. 

The Local

That’s right, we like shopping locally on eBay! It’s especially helpful for items that are easier to pick up or have locally delivered. We sourced vintage doors from a seller that is about an hour away and delivers for free. It’s also a great option for vintage furniture items. We love being able to support our local antique shops, salvage yards, vintage stores from our couch in the evening when we have time. 

Our tin ceilings have arrived! So excited to install these beauties from American Tin Ceiling

The Antique/One-of-a-Kind
One of the things we love most about shopping on eBay is all of the one-of-a-kind items. We can find almost anything we want just by searching. And while we love shopping locally, sometimes what we want may not be available locally.  It’s just so amazing to be able to shop at an antique store half way across the country or even in another country if we need to. That opens up so many more options and helps us find the perfect items. We searched high and low locally for vintage dining chairs that we couldn’t find, but we found them in Missouri! 

With 4 more weeks remaining until our big reveal, we need to get back to work!  It’s going to be a long road to get to the end of the race but we are starting to have faith that everything will come together. Your support and energy is helping us get through it all! So a big thank you! We’re also incredibly motivated by the other 19 featured designers and their incredible transformations. Check out their progress and give them a follow! To everyone else taking on the Spring 2021 One Room Challenge, we’re cheering you on from our basement in Brooklyn! We got this!

Media BH&G | TM ORC

If you’re wanting to take a look back to see how we got here, check out our past ORC posts

A very special thank you to our sponsors for this event

One Room Challenge: Week 3, The Build

Photo: Finally able to start building the speakeasy. Framing the space first!

Finally able to start building the speakeasy. Framing the space first!

Where we’re at… The Build

It’s always exciting starting a demo and kicking off construction on a project. Anticipation builds throughout the design process, and it always feels like a relief to see progress starting on the work. Definitely not the most glamorous phase for many but this is the stuff we live for! A time to start new and see a space cleared. Since we were storing a lot of stuff in our basement we spent a solid week going through it and giving it away or throwing away what we didn’t need. It wasn’t a small job as a collection of garbage had been collected. We actually had to call a dumpster over from one of our job site to physically get everything loaded out or else our local garbage men would be collecting basement trash for a good couple months. The space was finally a blank slate and now we have started the building phase!

The pink door and the handrail were the first items to Demo

The first thing we did was start framing out some of the new walls. The existing walls in the basement are nothing special, just your traditional stone foundation.  We were too excited to see the space start taking shape. We have the new wall that will hide the gas meters, water main, and sewer already framed! We also furred out the longest wall in the space. The columns where the arches will go are really helping us finally visualize the space.

Framing the existing columns so we can add a drywall arch feature

Hiding our necessary mechanicals with new wall. We’ll still be able to access behind the wall

Our pipes were exposed on the ceiling of the basement. We’ve spent the majority of the week moving them behind the new wall.

Originally we were going to leave our pipes exposed where the plumbing from upstairs is coiled into the basement ceiling. Given we are going to apply a tin ceiling to the basement space, unfortunately we need these pipes cleared now. We are going to pause for a bit on the framing to move these lines so that they are out of the way. Once we get moved we can continue framing, ideally we get to this by the weekend.

Framing all week. Once complete, things will start moving fast!

Full Speed Ahead

We feel like we made a lot of progress in the first week of construction, but we have so much work to do that we are planning on getting even more done in the next week. We are planning on completing the plumbing and electrical work, sanding down the concrete floors, and finishing the framing all by early next week.

In the meantime, so much amazing stuff is arriving! We are excited to see the 4 vintage doors onsite that we’ll be installing in the space. We received a phone call yesterday that the tin ceiling palette from American Tin Ceiling will be delivered today, and we have a stack of drywall ready to go up! The millwork has already started to be built offsite by our local woodworker (and friend!) The Build with Ethan! This is so exciting because it can be installed quickly once it’s delivered. Now, we just need to land on the perfect color! Any ideas!? We’re still thinking about something in the green family…

We’re also so excited to be working with ebay on furnishing our speakeasy space! We must finalize the furniture and decoration items that will help officially give the feel of a 1920’s NYC speakeasy so we must place our order this week! There’s no room for procrastination on our end anymore!

A delivery of drywall makes a boy happy!

Happier with our well-priced lumber order! We thought we were going to have to pay triple/quadruple

Make sure and check out what the other 19 featured designers are up to with their spaces. They are keeping us motivated each and every day throughout this challenge!

Media BH&G | TM ORC 


If you’re wanting to take a look back to see how we got here, check out our past ORC posts

A very special thank you to our sponsors for this event

One Room Challenge: Week 2, All Things Design

Photo: A rendering of the Werkroom

A rendering of the Werkroom speakeasy facing the front of the basement.

It’s hard to believe we are already in week 2 of the One Room Challenge. If you caught the blog post last week you know that we are making over our cellar (basement) into The Werkroom! A speakeasy style work space (a la work from home dream). In the past week we put the finishing touches on the design and we can’t wait to walk you through the entire space. The deliveries from our generous sponsors have also started rolling in so we need to get this space built to put it all in! 

We’re approaching the project just as we would for a client. We put together a mood board to start the conceptual part of the design. We then developed drawings and plans, and finally detailed renderings. Let’s go on a walkthrough of the entire space!

A new blank slate. Finally, a clear basement

A view/rendering of the work table area

The 3 D’s- Design, Details, and Definition

The primary uses of the space will be for us to work, relax, get inspired, and even bring clients to see samples and design plans. So all of those components need to fit in. To enter the space you’ll pass through a salvaged door with vintage glass. As you descend the stairs a slat feature will give you glimpses of the design. Directly in front of the stairs will be a small sitting area with a comfy rug, magazine holder, lamp, and leather chair. On the wall behind it we’ll be using a vintage inspired Brooklyn themed wallpaper from Spoonflower that we are so excited to get on the walls! There will also be a beautiful, one-of-a-kind wall sconce from Blueprint Lighting NYC (we were sold on the name alone!) which will make the area cozy and independent from the rest of the space. We’ll be putting a perfectly comfortable and stylish lounge chair from APT2B directly at the foot of the entrance into the speakeasy. We want to set the tone with all the lounge-vibes when you first walk into the space.

A view looking into the space. The stair slats are a fav!

Through 4 large arches you’ll see the main part of the space. A long 7’ wooden table made by a new local favorite, Self Made with a pendant work light from Alora Lighting to set the tone of a 1920’s NYC workroom. One of the things we are most excited about is getting an entire wall of storage, floor to ceiling, for all of our samples and design inspiration. These beautiful cabinets will be custom built by our good friend (and very talented woodworker) The Build With Ethan. We’ll have some deeper lower storage, a carrera marble countertop, with set back shallower upper cabinets. All of the millwork will be painted a vibrant shade of green bringing a backdrop of color into the space. Since the room will have no natural light we will introduce a salvaged backlit stain glass window between the 2 sides of the millwork to give the impression of some obscured and filtered light. We promise to share more details on the cabinetry and millkwork design in the coming weeks- we’re thinking we might even take a trip to Ethan’s studio!

Color choices for a bi-focal light from Blueprint Lighting NYC

Piecing together cabinetry tones for the speakeasy

One of the things that has to happen to finish the space is to create a mechanicals room to hide the now exposed boiler and hot water heater. Rather than carve a square box out of the space, we will gently curve the wall creating a more open sense of space. We’ll carry the slats from the stairs onto it as well. As you follow the curve it will lead to a small hallway with another salvaged door with vintage glass closing off our storage area. The final part of the space will include 2 salvaged windows with views into a space that we are keeping a secret until the very end! It’s just our laundry room but the design will leave you gagged! You won’t want to miss it!

Let there be tin! Sample choices from American Tin Ceilings

The ceilings are a bit low as you get in a basement/cellar, so to finish off the lighting we will have wall sconces from Alora Lighting illuminating each arch post, as well as some recessed lighting. Something that will change the space drastically is the ceilings! We’re installing a vintage inspired tin ceiling from American Tin Ceilings that will give the space the old work feel we’re going for. Finally, the floor will be finished concrete. We’re still debating if we should paint the floor or not….

Lastly and something that we’ve been holding out on. We just received the best news ever….we’ll be working with ebay to furnish and decorate the entire space! Our shopping carts are currently so overwhelmed with choices and random items that we can’t share specifics yet because we definitely need to clean out our carts first! We’ll be sure to share specifics and reasons we love ebay for our next post. Having a helpful shopping resource for all those necessary (and decorative) items for a renovation project is key and we couldn’t be more excited to partner with ebay! We’ve been fans since they launched a small site years and years ago!

A rendering of our work table by Self Made Build

Starting the Work

As you can see from the before pictures, we have A LOT of work to do! We are very anxious to get started! This week has been about completing the designing, ordering materials and finishes, and what we have not been looking for the most….cleaning out the basement! We are happy to say as we go into week 2, we got it all done! 

Now the contribution kicks off tomorrow! We’ll make sure to update you again next week! In the meantime, follow us on Instagram for the minute by minute update! Our YouTube update video is coming after Week 3.

Filled an entire dumpster with junk in our basement.

We’re incredibly thankful for our sponsors and partners on the challenge this year. So many exciting details still to come!

Our finishes have arrived and we’re so ready to unbox! Time to build the speakeasy!

Give a follow to our new friends (aka Spring 2021 Featured Designers) We’re so inspired and have so much admiration for their unbelievable designs and talents!

Media BH&G | TM ORC


If you’re wanting to take a look back to see how we got here, check out our past ORC posts

A very special thank you to our sponsors for this event