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…
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…
Managing Lead Time’s in a Renovation
Lead times are one of the most important things to manage in your renovation. It’s one of the things that can affect your timeline the most that you also have the most control over. If the materials are not onsite on time to be installed it can create a delay. That delay can create delays…
Building Custom Shelves and Cabinets- A Year in the Making
Anyone who has gone through a major renovation might relate to having a project or 2 (…3 ♂️) saved after it’s finished. Our biggest saved project is the big empty blank wall across from our kitchen. We planned on installing cabinets on that wall but the old fireplace bump out complicates it. We didn’t want…
Renovation Budget Planning: Change Orders
There will always be surprise costs during a renovation once floors and walls are open Budget planning is one of the most important parts of a renovation, at least for most of us! Costs can easily get out of control. Even if you get your contractor quote set and finishes all spec-ed, many renovators go…
Trim & Mouldings: A Quick Guide to the Finishing Details
Trim and moulding isn’t just the icing on the cake it’s an important architectural feature of your home and can serve to protect the walls from damage. Mouldings can bring an unfinished renovation to an almost complete space. They can also do an important job of covering the guts of doors and windows after they…
Renovation Do’s and Don’ts
Now that Phase 1 is complete in our renovation, we can look back and wonder what we would have done a little differently. It also helps clarify a list of “do’s and don’ts” that can ensure a smooth renovation. Truthfully, since our brownstone was built in 1890 there will always be a project to work on….
Hot and Cold: AC and Heat Options To Consider When Renovating
We grew up in Las Vegas and New Orleans (Happy Mardi Gras!) Although we’ve both been in Brooklyn for decades now, we grew up with very different types of heating and cooling systems that usually focus more on cooling a space rather than heating it. Here in New York it’s often the opposite but they…
Pros and Cons of Wall Mounted Toilets
As you scroll through beautiful bathroom design inspiration photos you might notice a recurring theme. What is it that makes these pictures of bathrooms of your dreams so clean, modern, and sleek? As you look closer you might notice that rather than the sometimes bulky, space-eating floor mounted toilets there is a space-saving modern beauty…
Top 5 Hacks For An Inexpensive Kitchen Renovation
Our budget was maxed out just on the construction expense for our renovation so we had to get creative when buying finishes. We managed to put together the look that we wanted on a much lower budget than anyone said we needed. The kitchen was an area where were able to save a lot so…
You Know Those Annoying Old Fireplace Bump-outs That Make Furniture Placement a Nightmare?
We’ve spent the last year designing and restoring our brownstone. Most of the work is complete and we are going through inspections. That means we can finally kick the contractors out, but the work of making it our own has only just begun. We’ve been working on finishing the spaces and have enough projects left…
Is It A Good Idea To Build A Bedroom With No Window?
There are some givens in the design of a 19th century Brooklyn brownstone. With very few exceptions they are narrow and long. You will almost always open the door to a vestibule, then a foyer, and then a staircase going up the side wall. You’ll have 3 windows across the upper floors and on the…
Let’s get Lit- Blending Modern Lighting With 130 Year Old Details
In the 1880’s when our place was built it was most likely lit at night by kerosene lamps, candles, and possibly even gas lamps. We sometimes lose sight of that picture of what took place on these streets and between these walls so long ago: Roaring fires in the wood burning fireplaces, horse & carriages…
Keep It Glassy! Shower & Tub Enclosures
If you are building a new bathroom, especially if you have a nice walk-in shower, you will probably want to have a glass enclosure. Ours was just installed and we couldn’t be more thrilled about it! So we thought we would talk a bit about the process, options, and pricing. A glass enclosure to a shower…
Central Air Conditioning VS. Ductless Mini Split
We’re having some warm autumn weather. It’s been so nice we even sneaked away to go to the beach last weekend. With the late summer we’re having, since we moved upstairs we also have needed AC. Our place didn’t have an AC system when we moved in so it’s something we added to the project…
Sorting Through Kitchen Counters Options
The kitchen is the heart of the house, they say. For us (and many folks) our kitchen is a big feature of our renovation. We wanted it to be big and open. We even sacrificed a powder room to get it. We wanted something that would be seen as a major feature. We also wanted…
Walking On New Ground
There has been a couple of things that have been a long timing coming but are things that we’ve been very much anticipating. Even though they are relatively small developments they are a big step (pun intended) forward to completing the project. And we just plain feel good about them getting done. Refinishing Stairs If…
Finishing and Protecting 130 Year Old Wood
A few months ago we wrote a post about the process stripping layers upon layers of paint off of our 130 year old woodwork. The bannister, door & window casings, and shutters are all original and were caked in paint. Poorly painted we might add. Drips and globs everywhere. We had it all stripped hoping…
Choosing The Right General Contractor For Your Renovation.
As we have gone through our renovation, and spoken to many other people who are in the process, it’s clear to us that one of the most important decisions you can make in your entire renovation is choosing the right general contractor. It can be a very frustrating situation if you make the wrong choice….
We kicked off our renovation in January 2019. Seven months later and we are weeks away of having some rooms finished. But don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere! There is plenty more work to do and more projects coming. For the past 10 months we’ve been living in the garden apartment. Fortunately it’s a completely…
Let’s Talk Money- Budget for a Renovation Project
One of the most stressful parts of a home renovation are the finances. Costs can add up quick, especially when you’re renovating a historic property. Many people go into it with either no idea or the wrong idea of what they are going to spend. While the costs can vary depending on the scope of…
The past 2 weeks have been all about the kitchen. We removed walls and had the space prepped months ago so it’s really nice to see the finishes going in. The Plan Our place had a a bathroom and bedroom across the back of the building where we wanted to put the kitchen. We removed…
Getting A Renovation Project Started.
We’ve spoken with a lot of new home owners who close on their place and then look at one another and think, “now what?!” How do we find a contractor? Do we need an architect? Where do we start? All questions we get weekly. Understanding even a little bit of the process can help relieve…
Getting the Grout Right
We spent a lot of time picking out tile for the bathrooms. We visited several tile stores, saved lots of photos on Pinterest, and listened to advice of designer friends. We chose tiles that would compliment the place and each other as well as work toward the master design plan. But other than the hours…
New Life for our Hardwood Floors
The hardwood flooring is one of the things that is the most important for us to get right. It’s one of the largest surfaces in the house and it can really change the look of every room. The existing flooring was laid about 5 years ago. The original planks are under it, but they are…
We’re at a very exciting point in the project! Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to make some serious progress on finishes that we’re actually going to see rather than pipes and electrical that will be behind the walls. Bathroom tile, flooring, and woodwork will start going in! We’re currently trying to decide…
Deck Designing: Part One
One of the things we are the most excited about for our renovation project is adding the deck! Outdoor space is such a rare and precious benefit in New York and we can’t wait to have this as part of our space. We’re happy to say that as of this week it’s designed and currently…
How To Finish Your Renovation Project On Time…or close to it!
Now that we are 2 weeks in and pretty much done with demo, we are figuring out the art of renovation timing. Everything has a lead time and and it’s a lot of work having to make major decisions on finishes, configuration, fixtures, and everything else that comes along with it. One of the things…
Contractor Shopping: How to choose the right one.
Our renovation project is approved, our neighbors are notified (DOB requirement), and we are ready to get a contractor in the building. We provided the architect’s detailed drawings to the contractors that we were considering so that they can build out their quotes. If you’ve followed along you know we have a tight budget. We…