Category Archives: renovating

April 19, 2017


Last week was pretty exciting at the house.  Pella installed the french doors which lead from the kitchen out to the deck. They are wood doors with grilles (since I am grille obsessed).  Pella only offers grilles on the outside of the window pane with wood doors, so that’s what we went with.  We had the doors painted black to match the rest of the windows. Pictures below 🙂


Should be seeing some real progress in the next coming weeks, so I am going to try and post more often.

Cheers, Hayley

March 14, 2016

hello from the other side

It’s been just about three months since I have updated this blog.  It’s always easy to post when everything is going great and you have exciting progress to share, and it’s even that much harder to write when things are going all wrong.  It’s like documenting all your failures and greatest fears coming true.  But when I started this blog I did so for the purpose of doing just that… documenting the ups and the downs the good and the bad.


Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

I’ll give you the good news first:

The rental unit (garden level) and cellar are mostly complete.  We moved into the rental in mid February.  It’s been really touch and go though.  The first weekend we stayed here we had no heat or hot water but luckily it was unseasonably warm for February so we made do.  We also went to the gym to shower.  A few days later we had heat and hot water but then the hot water went.  It took two days to get it working again.  Then a few days later we had a huge leak from the bathtub into the ceiling of the cellar, so back to the gym for showers.  Everything is covered in dust, the windows are installed wrong, the electricity is screwed up.  Sorry I forgot this was supposed to be the good news!  But all these things that are wrong and incomplete aside, the rental unit and cellar look complete, on the surface, for the most part.  At least I can show you these photos below and you will think so.

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So here is the bad news:  The parlor floor, second floor, and backyard are not even close to being done.  They are a mess and our general contractor has basically bailed on us.  He was not paying his crew/subcontractors.  The architects we hired to manage the construction process and who recommended this contractor to us are not taking responsibility for the fact they mismanaged it completely.  Another subcontractor was brought in and we have yet to figure out his angle although I am sure he has one so we proceed with caution.  We will have to get a new general contractor, I know it is inevitable.

This has been one of the most challenging experiences of our lives.  I don’t even know how to quite verbalize how difficult the last two months have been.  I don’t understand why the construction industry is like this?  Why does it have to be like this, so corrupt and backwards?  And I don’t know why we were so naive to think we would be the exception to all the horror stories you hear about construction.  We are certainly not.  We are living out this nightmare each day and that is a difficult thing to blog about.

Today I met two neighbors on the street who live a few blocks down, Lauren and Justin.  I had never met them before but they are also going through a huge gut renovation of a brownstone.  They stopped me to say hi because they follow along on the blog.  We got to talking and quickly realized we have similar experiences and stories about this renovation process.  It was comforting to know that we are not the only ones who are going through this, but it was also sad to hear they had been through something so similar because we know how awful it is.

Since we are now living in the house we have gotten to know some of our other neighbors and they have been very kind to recommend other contractors to us.  I also called a woman who has been screwed over by the same GC, Franco Lucic of LMF Group, just as we have and she was so kind.  We agreed to stay in touch with any new developments.

I don’t know why so many general contractors are nothing short of liars, thieves and down right criminals.  But after the last week I do know that if something like this has happened to you, you are certainly not alone.  Everyone has their own horror story to tell.

I’d love to be posting beautiful pictures of my renovated house right now.  The one that was promised to me by amateur architects and scumbag contractors.  And instead I am writing about how most of my house is in shambles.  But I think it is important to share because it is the truth.  I know others have stories to share like this.  I would love if you have a story to share for you to do so here!  It’s amazing how when someone threatens your home/property it can so quickly ruin your life.  And the worst part is it feels like these contractors just keep getting away with it!  They then turn around and do it some one else!  I have no way to change it but at the very least I can speak about it and share it with others.

Cheers, Hayley

December 10, 2015

Entry way Inspiration

One of my favorite things about row houses are the entry ways.  I love when they feel old and grand.  I’ve been thinking about how we are going finish ours.  None of the original tiles are intact and there is currently no pendant, so we are basically starting from scratch.

Our entryway space is similar in size to this image below.


                       Source: Houzz

I love this wallpaper from Rifle Paper Co.  It’s perfect for an entry way because the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality and welcome.

entry wall paper

                                      Rifle Paper Co.: Pineapple (Ebony) Wallpaper

I am leaning towards this tile pattern…

entry tiles

                              Source: The Oregonian

The hardest part is picking a pendant.  Do we go with 1.) Traditional 2.) Geometric/Modern  or 3.) Vintage?   I love them all!

1.) WayFair: Penn Station 3 Light Pendant

entry light 3


2.) Shades of Light: Clear Glass Prism Pentagon

entry light

3.) Shades of Light: Clear Seeded Glass Globe 

entry light 2

Cheers, Hayley

November 17, 2015

Construction Update: the Bay Window

Things are moving along on the house.  All the plumbing and electric has been run for the most part, there were some rotting beams in the basement that were replaced, and the cement base for the deck has been laid.  Hopefully in about  two weeks we will be ready to start putting drywall up.

HOWEVER, there has been a bit of surprise debacle with the bay window at the back of the house on the parlor floor.  To jog your memory is used to look like this…


And now is currently looks like this…


When our contractor took up the fake flooring that had been laid over the original hardwoods he realized there had been some water damage and that the window which sticks out on the back of the house was sagging a bit.  We talked about it and decided he should fix it by propping it back up and replacing any damaged wood.  Well when they began the work they realized there was a piece of pipe running through the side of the window that was no longer connected to anything.  So for who knows how long water has been pouring into this window/corner of the house.  The trim and wainscoting has been salvaged and the window will be rebuilt, but the whole thing had to be taken down. Hence the giant whole in the back of the house.

Here is the evil pipe that was draining to no where…


The roof of the garden shed that was added on was also rotting.  The bay window sat over this roof…


But fear not, everything is being fixed and there are lots of steel beams involved…

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I can’t wait to see this window when its restored to its original glory!  We also may add some stained glass since we have to replace the window panes anyway (#treatyoself).

Lesson learned: Hiring a certified, professional plumber is important. Replacing a bay window is expensive.

Cheers, Hayley

October 14, 2015

Contruction Update and Parlor Floor Design Renderings

Now that demolition is complete the framing is going up!  Metal beams have been added to each of the ceiling beams since we took out a load bearing wall and the metal beams you see in the picture below are being used to frame out the rooms.

A lot of other stuff has been going on too that you can’t see like all new electrical wiring and plumbing.

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It’s still a little hard to imagine what it’s all going to look like so I am sharing some renderings our architects did.  The finishes will not look exactly like they do in the renderings but it gives you an idea of the general layout of the first floor.

This space….


Will be transformed into this space…




Cheers, Hayley

October 7, 2015

Kitchen Options

It’s Kitchen Wednesday! That’s not actually a thing but I thought I’d share some design renderings of different kitchen options our architects put together.  Punit and I have pretty much decided the finishes we like and its sort of a hybrid of the different options below.  Also we are going to have a tile backsplash instead of exposed brick.  But I am interested to hear what everyone think about the designs.  What do you prefer?  Anything you would consider?

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Cheers, Hayley

October 6, 2015

Floor Plans

I have added a page to show the floor plans.  Check it out here or below!  Once construction is complete this is what the layout for each floor will look like.  It took us months of going back and forth with our architects, Dylan and Javier, and seeing many iterations before we decided on these plans.

Parlor Floor Layout

Parlor Floor Layout

Second Floor Layout

Second Floor Layout

Garden Floor Layout

Garden Floor Layout

This is the original floor plan from when we bough the house.

original floor plan.jpg

Cheers, Hayley

October 5, 2015

Construction is Underway

Sorry that it’s been a while since I provided an update on the house.  We were away on vacation for 2.5 weeks, so I have been absent from the blog.  We broke ground nearly 6 weeks ago at the very end of August and demolition is nearly complete.

Warning: the pictures below may cause anxiety, because the state of the house is causing me some anxiety!  Basically everything has been ripped out of each floor but I have to keep reminding myself that most of the original woodwork and details have gone to our contractors workshop where they will be stripped and made to look beautiful again.  Then all if it will be placed back into the house.  But, when you walk into the house and see almost nothing in the interior you can’t help but ask yourself, “Did we make the right choices?”, “Will it all come together and look as we imagine it?”  But I know it will!  And I trust our architects and contractor.

The good news is that when they took out all the walls and floors and fully inspected the bones of the house there were no majors issues.  So fingers crossed it stays that way.

Also our kitchen range has shipped from France.  It’s on a boat and gets here in December.

Below are a few photos showing the current state of the brownstone (minus the cellar)…

Note the giant dumpster outside of the house.  More than a few of those have been filled up.


Here is the parlor floor which will be our main living space.  The kitchen will go in that back left corner where you can see the exposed brick.


The second floor living space is just one big open space right now, and it is getting new floor boards and a whole new layout.



Finally, the garden level which will be a one bedroom rental unit is being opened up to rearrange the floor plan.


Cheers, Hayley

August 19, 2015

The Cellar

I posted tours of each of the floors except the creepy cellar.  (Check out the parlor level, second level, and garden level.)  The cellar is below the garden floor.  It is actually finished with a drop ceiling and walls but it’s in pretty rough shape.  We plan to refinish it and put in a cement floor.  The washer and dryer will also go in the basement.  Here are some pics and you can see what I mean by creepy.  I had to edit these photos to lighten them up just so you could see something.

You enter through the hallway on the garden level…


Here is a shot of the cellar looking towards the back of the house.  There is a mold problem in the way back corner from a leak we will address.


Here is a shot looking towards the front of the house.


And yes that is an oil tank in the closet!  The house still has oil heat, which we will convert.


Cheers, Hayley

August 4, 2015

“Before” Garden Level Tour

Happy Monday!  I have already posted pictures of both the parlor level and the second level, so today is the garden level.  This is the floor which is level with the street and you can enter the garden level through a door under the front stoop.  We are going to make this level a garden rental which is very common.  However the previous owners were using this as their main living space with a living room, kitchen, and the only working bathroom.  When the brownstone was built over 100 years ago this would have been the dining room and kitchen and the layout today is still basically the same.

After entering from the outside you turn left and enter into the main living space which was once the dining room.


The original fireplace and built in sidebar/bar are still there and we will restore them to their original glory!



If you turn around towards the back this area is where we will install a kitchen.  The closet to the back left will also be used as part of the kitchen space to make the room even larger.  (Dog not included in the rental, although you may bring your own dog).


Heading towards the back part of the house we enter into what is now a kitchen but will become a bedroom.


Turn to the right and there is a door that leads to the hallway which leads outside to the garden.

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Down the creepy hallway to a storage shed that was an add on probably in the 1970’s.


Keep walking out of the storage shed and you are in the garden.


Here is another shot of the garden looking at the back of the house…


A deck will be added to the parlor floor allowing the main part of the house access to the garden as well as the garden rental.  With some landscaping and a new fence this will be the perfect urban oasis!  Maybe a pool?

Cheers, Hayley