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…
Transformative Furniture with Resource Furniture
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…
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…
How We Easily Ordered our Windows Online with Pella.com
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…
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…
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…
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…
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….
A Quick DIY 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…
Home Improvement 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…
Waterproofing A Cellar
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…
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…
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….
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…
SIMPLE STEPS FOR REPAIRING HOLES WITH 3M WALL REPAIR TOOLS
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…
Everything You Need to Know About Replacing Your Windows
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…
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…
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…
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…
One Room Challenge: Week 7, Will We Make It !?
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…
One Room Challenge: Week 6, Cabinets & Windows
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…
One Room Challenge: Week 5, Arches & Slat Wall
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…
One Room Challenge: Week 4, The Gathering of Materials
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…
One Room Challenge: Week 3, The Build
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…
One Room Challenge: Week 2, All Things Design
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…
One Room Challenge: Week 1, The Werkroom Speakeasy Cellar
Oh hiiiii! The Spring 2021 One Room Challenge has officially kicked off and your boys are so excited to have been selected as one of the featured designers!! The next eight weeks are going to be a mix of emotions while we completely transform a space in our Brooklyn brownstone. So which space is it…
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…
Excavating A Cellar
What if an entire floor of your home was dark, damp, and scary. So much so you didn’t want to set foot in it. What a waste of space that you could be using as an office, or a studio, or a gym. That’s what many people are doing with their dark, scary, and damp…
Home Improvement Loan with LightStream
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 of more time at home many people are taking a harder look at their homes. Some parts of it might be a little tired or not…
The Lowdown on Leveling Floors
In many old houses walls and floors are not straight, level, or square. It’s something that you learn to live with and occasionally enjoy as a character of a historic home. Watching the dog drop his ball and look in confusion as it slowly rolls to the far wall can be entertaining. Floors often develop…
Our Favorite Quartz Stone – HanStone Quartz
Montauk Quartz from HanStone fits beautifully in our kitchen and bathroom. Photos by Bridget Badore Choosing stone is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your kitchen renovation. You can go with something dark and moody or something bright and white. You also have your choice of many types of material like marble,…
Maximizing Natural Light In Your Home
Most brownstones or townhouses are narrow and long. Usually 20 feet at the street and 40 feet long. Natural light only enters at the front and back so that leaves a long stretch in the middle with no windows. Squeezing every bit of natural light out of the windows that are there is crucial. Lighting…
Ikea #DIY Hack. Making Over an Existing Piece of Furniture
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFacGPA7lGk Before & After of our DIY Ikea Hemnes Hack This #valentinesday we’re embracing our strongest love/hate relationship ever….. Ikea! We all have that one Ikea piece of furniture that’s been with us a little too long. For us, it’s the Hemnes 3 drawer that’s hiding in our guest bedroom. We decided it was time…
Spacekit- An Easy & Fun Way To Decorate Any Space
Spacekit has transformed our dull, dark hallway with a bright pop of color! A big battle in our home is color. Barry loves the grey’s while Jordan likes it bright & colorful! Our hallway leading to the coat nook has always been a dull, dead, and dark space. No more! (Jordan won ) . We…
Designing For Small Spaces
Everyone’s got one. That small and possibly awkward space that just isn’t nearly as functional or beautiful as you would like it to be. Maybe it’s a tiny powder room or a guest bath. Is it your kitchen or office? Or maybe it’s your entire apartment! Any room or home that is short of square…
A New Year, A New Dollar. Renovating in 2021
It’s hard to believe it’s been about a year since we all carved our office spaces out of our living rooms and bedrooms. We spent more time in our kitchens than possibly ever before, cooking, baking, and realizing it’s not the most ideal space. And then with all the extra time at home dreaming up…
A Year In Review: Adieu 2020
2020 is a year we are all anxious to put behind us! Not just because of its difficulties, but also because of many reasons we have to be hopeful for 2021. At the end of any year we always like to reflect on the lessons we’ve learned and the good things that have happened. Like…
SimplyCyn Reno House Tour
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MCRoh5v25k After nine months of a full gut renovation, #simplycynreno is complete! Come inside this stunning home and see some incredible transformations in this full tour! We say “beautiful” at least 100x cause … well, it just is! From a construction shut-down due to a global pandemic and homeowners giving birth to twins, there were…
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…
We’re taking you inside a Harlem Brownstone we recently visited! Some parts are available for sale before the home is listed and we have first dibs! Take a first look and if interested in a piece let us know which item in comments . We will follow-up shortly with additional information once we have pricing,…
Stoop Makeover Update
Our stoop makeover has begun and we are already seeing some new life to our old stairs and railing. The paint was peeling off the railing and rust was showing through. Our stairs were chipping and cracks could be seen in the layer below. We needed to not only make everything look a lot better…
Finishing a Basement
We’re about to embark on another project at our house. We’re making over our cellar (aka basement) as a laundry room and storage area. Often the cellar is overlooked as an entire additional floor of living space in a Brooklyn Brownstone. While you might not want to sleep in a subterranean room, it’s a great…
Stripping Paint Off Of A Beautiful Marble Fireplace
Winter will be here sooner than we want and we’re getting ready for a season inside. We need something to hang the Christmas stockings on! Even though our house had a lot of original features, all of the fireplaces have been removed and we are left with the bricked up and useless bump outs on…
Lead In the Water: Should You Replace A Lead Water Main?
Replacing all of the plumbing is usually on the agenda for many people renovating an old home. If you’re moving around kitchens and bathrooms or if the pipes are deteriorating it’s often best to replace it all. If your pipes are old enough there is also a chance that they could be introducing lead into…
Labor For Your Neighbor- Make A DIY Outdoor Bench to #Buildthanks (for under $50)
Labor day is coming up and we can’t believe that fall is already approaching! It’s been quite the year already with a global pandemic affecting millions of people. This Labor Day we want to pay it forward with something that means everything to us, community. We’re working with Lowes this Labor Day to,, #BuildThanks and…
Brownstone Stoop and Railing Repair
Some of the most iconic features of Brownstone design are the front stoop, iron railing, and newel posts. Without that it just wouldn’t be the same. The week we closed on our house, now almost 2 years ago, on one of our first visits we were shocked to discover that one of our 2 front…
How Green Can You Go? Energy Efficient Renovating in Brooklyn and NYC
One thing is for certain in an un-renovated historic Brooklyn home, it’s leaky. And we’re not talking about the roof. Most modern forms of energy weren’t even invented when they were built so energy efficiency had no bearing on the building process. A common goal of Brooklyn renovators is to improve it but many wonder…
Top Surprisingly Big Expenses When Renovating a Historic Home
Restoring a historic home is full of surprises! Some are welcomed, like the pocket doors we discovered sealed up in the wall or the 1906 Brooklyn newspaper we found under a bathroom. Some are not welcomed, especially when they unexpectedly cost tens of thousands of dollars! There are some costs that are big surprises for…
Can You Cool and Heat Your Home Exclusively With A Mini Split Heat Pump?
Now that the summer heat is setting in we’ve been regularly using our new mini split system to cool our home. We had some questions about how good the system and configuration would work. We only installed one 18,000 BTU unit for the entire parlor floor. Even though it is fairly open, it’s about 800…
Recessed Shelves & Niches
We always loved the small touches of character in original homes like built-ins nooks and niches. Some much care was given to creating interesting features and moments in the design. We remember walking through several brownstones in the search for our perfect home and finding interesting ornate niches built into the staircase. Some were staged…
Backyard Makeover Reveal and Tour
Outdoor space seems more important than ever right now. If you’re fortunate enough to have a backyard, it’s time well spent giving it a makeover. We’ve been working tirelessly in our backyard for the past few months but we’ve been dreaming about it even longer. After going through a major renovation of the house, we…
We All Want Something Custom! Furniture and Built-Ins
Our renovation budget required us to get creative to stretch it to the finish line. We tried to combine inexpensive items with some higher-end touches to achieve the overall outcome. Sometimes off-the-shelf items just won’t get you to the gorgeous finished look of that inspiration photo you’re swooning over. We certainly didn’t have the budget…
Lighting Design 101
Now that we have been living in our renovated house for over 6 months, a lot of people ask us what we would have done differently. One of the things we immediately say is the lighting design. We didn’t make any huge mistakes (well except for the guest bedroom light switch ending up behind the…
Backyard Landscaping and Gardening Update
Tis the season for gardening and planting! The sun is out and birds are chirping and we’ve been working on our backyard makeover the past 2 months. It’s been a really fun 100% DIY project and the perfect distraction from the problems of the world. We have already planned our space, torn out a lot…
Budget Kitchen Cabinets With A High-End Look
Kitchens are often the most expensive spaces to renovate. There are a lot of moving parts and pieces that add up quickly. Of those, often the biggest and most expensive is the cabinetry. There is a wide range of options and the sky’s the limit. Fortunately there are also ways to achieve a high-end look…
Choices 2020: Varnish Or Paint For Our Mahogany Front Doors
We installed our new Mahogany double front doors over a month ago. We’ve been debating whether we wanted to paint them or finish the wood. Since then we’ve gotten a lot of rain and we noticed it taking its toll on the raw wood. It was time for us to get some protection on this…
Cookie Monsters- A Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Adapted From Levain Bakery
There are two things to know about us boys. We love NYC and we love cookies! One of the most iconic bakeries in NYC is Levain Bakery. When you plan your next trip to the city, plan an afternoon in line waiting for one of their cookies. It’s worth any wait. There have been times…
Budget Backyard Patio and Landscaping
We’ve been very excited about starting our backyard makeover for a year and half! It’s hard to believe it‘s here! It was always something we were going to get to once our main renovation was complete. During that process we were so deep into the project it just seemed like something we would never get…
Choosing The Right Smart Lighting System
** Please note we received Bulbrite Solana bulbs as a sponsorship. The opinions and commentary in blog post are our own. During our renovation we really wanted to put in smart lighting. We wanted it to connect to our devices, set it on a schedule, adjust light levels from our couch, and have it integrated…
How We Chose The Perfect Mattress
** Thanks to the Allswell team for the free mattress. All opinions are our own: A new mattress was almost as important for us as picking out new appliances. Maybe more! We spend a lot of time in bed. Whether it’s sleeping, blogging or just scrolling through Instagram, you want something comfortable when you want…
What’s That I Hear? Soundproofing During a Renovation.
Do you find yourself knowing what TV show your neighbors are binging or worse yet what their daily fight is about? You’re not alone, especially as we are all home more now to hear it. It’s something we considered as we were renovating. We had not yet lived in the place since we just bought…
Sometimes You Just Need Banana Pudding …
This banana pudding will change your life. We hope you’re following the #stayhome movement. We’re doing our part to flatten the curve and definitely going a little stir crazy. One thing we know, this banana pudding will change your life and make you have a better day! So here’s what’s cooking with the BBoys… Big…
Our Top 5 Ideas For DIY Projects While We #StayHome
Stay home but stay busy! There are several DIY projects that we have had on our list and we’re using this extra time at home to make them happen! Need inspiration for a project of your own? Here’s our top 5 DIY project ideas you can work on while you #stayhome! Some projects might require…
Extra Time on Your Hands at Home? Planning a Renovation or Home Makeover
We weren’t planning on writing this post today but the times call for a bit of flexibility in our schedules and lives. At first glance it can seem like we all have a lot of time on our hands at home. But with a little thought it can be a productive time as well. Whether…
Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters
If you have ever been last in line for a shower and were left with luke warm water to start, that quickly turns freezing, it probably wasn’t the most pleasant experience. On the other hand, when no one is home all day or when you’re on vacation for days or weeks there is plenty of…
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….
A Mid-Century Modern Makeover on a Budget.
After we spent months renovating our home the last thing we wanted to do was move back in all of our old furniture. We have some great vintage pieces that will go anywhere we do, but much of the rest had seen better days. It’s a great time to refresh and renew to fully realize…
Budget Backyard Makeover
As we write this it is 55 degrees outside in February! In New York! Terrifying global warming concerns aside, it has us really looking forward to our upcoming backyard makeover. We want it be ready to go as soon as we have consistent nice weather so the time for planning is now! After just finishing…
Why is Skim Coating Plaster Walls So Expensive?
There are two four-letter words that stoke fear into budget-conscious renovators‘ minds. They come up all too often in New York City renovations with its abundance of prewar architecture. The often necessary but expensive “Skim coat”. It’s part of the territory if you’re a fan of old buildings with plaster walls. They are durable enough…
How We Found The Perfect Kitchen Faucet
Our kitchen is one of our favorite spaces in our house. Although many people are moving toward traditional closed kitchens in a separate space to hide away any cooking mess, we are big fans of an open kitchen that allows for easy entertaining for the cooks! The center of our kitchen is a large island…
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…
Brownstone Doors – Replicating What Once Was
One of the most distinctive features of a Brooklyn brownstone is the double entry doors. They are usually two tall 24” doors with glass panels and decorative moldings. There is sometimes a transom above them or occasionally the door itself follows a curved arch of the facade above. If they are still there and in…
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…
How To Strip Paint Off Of Original Woodwork.
We love sharing our reno and #DIY project stories. And we love hearing from people that are inspired to take on project of their own. By far the topic that we get the most emails about is the process of our paint stripping. So many people out there have beautiful historical homes with woodwork that…
New Year New DIY Projects
We’re starting the new year off by planning some of our 2020 DIY projects. The majority of our renovation is finished and we can now enjoy our space and dive into our list! When a major renovation is finished it can sometimes be surprising how much work is left to do to create your dream…
A Year In Review
2019 was a big one for us. We successfully (mostly) completed a major renovation in less than a year. And we’ve shared the experience through our blog every week! This is our 52nd post of 2019. So we thought we would look back at what’s happened. After cost, timing of a renovation is the most…
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…
When Do You Need A Structural Engineer?
Many new homeowners walk through an old Brownstone with aspirations of creating a large open space. While we are fans of keeping original details and not removing too much of the original structure in some buildings it does sometimes make sense to open it up. We kept our structural changes very light so we didn’t…
Adding Character With A Custom DIY Coat Nook
For better or worse we opted not to carve up our floor space on the parlor floor with a coat closet. We didn’t move many walls on this floor so there just wasn’t a great place to build one. Every place we considered was obviously interjected into the space. But we still have coats! And…
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…
Closets- Organization & Storage options
Our brownstone is spot on with the usual measurements of 19’x 40’. In our duplex we have a living/kitchen/dining floor and then a bedroom floor. We chose to build 3 good size bedrooms rather than have one that is only big enough for a desk or a single bed. The compromise we made is that…
Stairway to Heaven – Finishing Off Our Staircase with a Runner
We faced some tough decisions early on in our renovation on what to restore, what to repair, and what to replace. Our place is 130 years old and has had several renovations over its lifetime. Each one no doubt chipped away more and more at the original charm. We wanted to restore as much as…
Our Halloween Treat- Final Inspections!
Now that all of the major work is done in our place we are having all of our final inspections done. It’s an interesting place to be in the process because in addition to building our place to be our home we have spent a lot of time building to match the approved plans so…
Closed Kitchen Comeback: Is An Open Kitchen Right For You?
When we set off on our renovation journey one of the things on the top of our list was an open kitchen. We love the look of having a show-stopper kitchen being seen from the living area and we really wanted the easy flow and entertainment quality of having an open space. Most of the…
Whenever we talk about “finishing” our renovation project someone reminds us that it will never be completely finished. We’re almost to the 95% complete mark, which I guess is where it will always be. While that may be scary for some, we’re perfectly happy about it because…well, we love a project, and we’ll have plenty…
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…
A Difficult Decision: Choosing The Right White Paint
We didn’t plan on writing an article on paint, especially since our place will be mostly painted white, but given the amount of time we have spent trying to pick white paint and to get the sheen levels right we felt like we needed to! We’re planning on letting the architecture and original features of…
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….
Deck Access Options: Replacing a window or adding a slider.
Over the past few weeks we have been really excited to see our deck being built. One of the things that we are looking forward to the most about our place is unwinding at the end of the day by lighting up the grill, having a glass of wine, and enjoying the outdoor space. Adding…
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…
Living In The Living Room
We’re in the last few weeks of our renovation, so in addition to scratching things off the very long list of construction items, we’re thinking about furniture placement. This has us revisiting the layout of the parlor floor and we’re combating a problem many Brownstone (and townhouse/row house) owners have: where to put the couch!…
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…
When one door closes…
The first impression you get of a house is often the front door. It can be inviting and add to the curb appeal or it can detract. The same is true of each room in the house. The impact of having beautiful doors is often underestimated. They are one of the last things we’re ordering,…
Water, Water, and Water.
If you were anywhere around New York City in the past 2 weeks you know the enormous amounts of water that fell from the sky. Torrential downpours almost daily. We have had the place for 6 months now and this really gave us the opportunity to understand how the place is handling water. I guess…
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…
Tiles, Counters, and Hardwood… Oh My!
In the past 5 months a lot of demo and building has been going on, but the next few weeks are going to show the biggest transformation so far! That’s because we are now working on the stuff that you’re going to be able to see when we’re done! Work is finally happening for the…
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…
Feeling Insecure: Working Out Our Security Issues.
It’s pretty scary being woken up in the middle of the night hearing foot steps above your head in what should be an empty apartment under renovation. That’s exactly what happened to us about a month ago. We’re living in the finished garden lower level rental while we renovate the duplex upstairs. It’s a construction…
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…
No Plans For This! Making some final decisions on construction surprises.
For every big project, planning only gets you so far. There are some things that pop up and quick decisions need to be made. We just had a meeting with our contractor and went through a long list of items we needed to make a quick call on. We’re excited about because it really marks…
Finding a place for all the “STUFF”
Most people have a lot of stuff. While we are serial purgers and travel light, we still want to comfortably fit all of our stuff but also make our place attractive to future owners. We may have made some choices that are not too “stuff-friendly” so we are trying to take advantage of space as…
Searching for Strippers: Woodwork Restoration
It’s hard for us to believe at this point that coming into this project that we didn’t plan on stripping our woodwork. It was so far out from all of the other work that needed to be done that it’s just something we didn’t think much about. As the walls move into place, the plumbing…
Capturing our Inner Designer
We went into our renovation with a strong idea of what we wanted to do…and on a pretty tight budget. So we decided to act as our own designers. We do have some designer friends who are helping out with advice along the way, (and the power of Instagram!) but ultimately for better or worse…
Danger! Asbestos Remediation.
One of the steps in many renovations is testing and removing the dreadful asbestos. Asbestos is a natural mineral that has been mined and used for centuries because of its durability in buildings. Because of its carcinogenic nature it is now banned from use. While contractors and builders no longer use materials containing asbestos it…
A Room With No View
A traditional Brooklyn brownstone is about 19’ X 40’ (as is ours) give or take a few feet. There are nice big windows in the front and back, but there are rarely windows on the longer sides if you’re in the middle of a block of townhouses like we are. That means you only get…
Update on Plumbing & Plaster
Our place currently looks like an episode of Stranger Things. Wires are hanging from the ceiling and weaving through the walls. They bundle together where holes are cut and then disbursed to fixtures or switches from there. With all said, it’s moving pretty quickly and even just getting to the electrical phase feels like a…
Half Time: Project Update
We’re about half way through what we hope will be a six month renovation. This week we thought we would catch you up on where we are and the timeline on how we’re hopefully going to stay on track. It feels great to be able to see how everything will come together. Two months ago…
Where No Man Has Gone Before: Adding A New Bathroom!
We’re adding a new bathroom where there was not only previously not one, but there is also no plumbing in that area of the building. There are a few interesting challenges to solve to make this possible. Doing it in an over 100 year old building only adds to to the challenge. We have the…
A long, long time ago in Bedstuy: discovering the history of our Brownstone.
The renovation is moving along nicely! We get excited with every stud and pipe that gets installed! This week we’re taking a break from the construction fun to talk about the community and history of our neighborhood. It’s been amazing to learn the rich history of our building and also experience a warm welcome to…
Plaster Problems: Restoring Original Mouldings
For many of us when we step through the double front doors of a historic Brooklyn brownstone we feel a rush of excitement to see the charm and character of original features. The high ceilings and tall doors, the grand banister and woodwork, the huge windows with wooden shutters, and of course the sometimes ornate…
Our place is over 120 years old, probably more like 130. The DOB started keeping records in 1899 so many brownstones in Brooklyn show that date on record even if they were built before. We were fully expecting to find some surprises once we started opening walls up, although we were holding out hope that…
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…
Decks! Costs and Considerations.
While walls are still coming down during our demolition process, we wanted to write about something we are the most excited for in the renovation- our new deck! When going through a renovation there’s a lot of things that take priority and there are things that are nice-to-haves. The kitchen is usually a big priority….
Week One: Demo!
Here’s our second video and a highlight of week one of demo. https://youtu.be/btB5ajzShPU
Let The Demo Begin!
We are a few days into demo and it’s moving fast! Walls are down and we’re seeing the place really open up. We have had a few surprises so wanted to share. After working for months on plans and approvals it’s really satisfying to see progress! On the parlor level the wall that created the bedroom…
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…
For the past 3 months we have been in the design and planning phase. We spent a lot of time in (and out) of the house figuring out how we wanted to configure things. Our architect was also hard at work translating that into drawings and a plan that the New York City Department of…
Take a look inside our Brownstone
Renovation plans are finally approved by the Department of Buildings. Take a walk through the Brownstone with Barry as he explains the renovation plans. Let us know what you think! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbqVp1j6CVw
Battle of the Bathrooms- Old vs. New
Jordan and I are pretty aligned on most of our design choices. Picking out tile was a breeze. We are eyeing a few light fixtures and both have the same favorites. No arguments over furniture. We both love vintage charm as well, but other than restoring original features of our house, up until this point…
10 Questions with the Brownstone Boys
We’re proud to have been featured by our friends at Bed-Stuy Local (www.bedstuylocal.com)! Check out their interview with us below and head over to their site for more! DECEMBER 17, 2018 BY BEDSTUYLOCAL ,The Bed-Stuy Small Business Hustle – “The Brownstone Boys” Today, we are posting our first small business profile! We plan on doing…
Goodbye Mudroom: A renovation issue turned into a win-win.
One of the things we are looking forward to the most is enjoying our backyard. Right now only the garden apartment has access. So we plan on building a deck on the parlor level and popping in a door where one of the windows is currently. We’ll have stairs to give us access to the…
One Big Happy Family? Separating the owner’s duplex from the garden apartment.
Our building has a few interesting challenges that we need to solve as we complete the design. We’ve been working on one situation and we have some ideas but we haven‘t fully decided how to resolve it yet. Our building is configured as a garden level 1-bedroom rental and a parlor/topfloor duplex. The garden level…
Dealing with the DOB: 1936 came back to haunt us!
In our first post, so many weeks ago, we talked of realizing our dream of restoring a Brooklyn brownstone and finished that post with a dose of reality. We knew coming in to this project that the house itself would present problems of its own (even before we closed we found termite damage in immediate…
Kitchen Conundrum: What’s more important the kitchen or a powder room?
We’re working on one of the more fun parts of our project, designing the kitchen! We probably don’t have to tell you how important it is. Heart of the house, right? We know what we want. We have so many photos pinned on Pinterest. So why don’t these renderings from the cabinet company look like…
Squeezing Our Dreams Into Our Budget
We’re in a holding pattern right now waiting for DOB approval to get the sledgehammer out. Our architect is doing a great job managing that, and our contractor is sidelined waiting for approval. So this downtime in physical work is a perfect opportunity for us to plan out our budget. Our renovation is especially exciting…
Tear Down This Wall.
While we were hunting for our brownstone to renovate, we also looked at some recently renovated buildings, mostly by developers. The trend is to tear down walls and open up the entire parlor level floor with a huge slider leading to a deck. Sounds nice. Walking in you are greeted with a bright, open, and…
How much should an Architect cost?
With the closing behind us and our dream of owning a Brooklyn brownstone a reality, we’re ready to transform it into our home! Truth be told, I’ve spent a lot of time working on the floor plan myself the last 2 months while we were waiting to close. I used an app (Magicplan) for free…
It’s been our dream for years to buy and renovate a Brooklyn brownstone. The tree lined streets with charming 19th century architecture. The rows of stoops ready for a coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the afternoon. I’m pretty sure we’re not alone in wanting one for ourselves. There are only…