View Full Version : Home Improvement

Beton Brut
09-30-2009, 07:31 AM
With all the design professionals, tradespeople, and interested "civilians," who regularly post here, is there any interest in a thread about home improvement?

I'm in the middle of a gut-remodel of my kitchen, and the project has exploded into the adjacent bathroom due to a serious plumbing issue. I approached my contractor with a proposed design, and it's being executed with some improvements he added. It's been fun sourcing appliances and finishes (I do this every day at my job) but it's also dirty and disruptive. I'm taking photos as the project moves along.

If you have your own stories to share, post 'em here.

09-30-2009, 10:38 AM
Start a renovation blog!

Beton Brut
09-30-2009, 11:43 AM
The thought occurred to me (and about 10,000 others)...

I prefer the interaction of a forum to the self-important monologues we often find in the blogosphere. My thought to start this thread is really driven by the overall "slowness" of the board lately. I'm tired about complaining about the astonishingly dull array of projects that are in the pipeline, and thought this might be an interesting diversion for some.

09-30-2009, 11:54 AM
Hey, most of the posts here are self important monologues! ;)

I have a few stories from my home renovations a few years ago. I'll see if I can find some time later on to write something up.

09-30-2009, 12:07 PM
While on the subject of renovations: I wonder if anyone on the forum is in a position to make personal interventions to improve the aesthetic quality of the city - for example, building out their home or business to the sidewalk, recladding their shitty vinyl triple-decker in brick or at least real wood, etc.

Beton Brut
09-30-2009, 01:50 PM
From another thread:

Bad grit we should ban: street-facing chain link fences on residential property; aluminum or vinyl siding on residences over 50 years old.

In the interest of full disclosure, my grandmother chose to side our home in the 70s. I've always hated it, and intend to have it shingled. At the moment, I'm focused in making interior improvements. Three years (and a better job) will help make this happen.

09-30-2009, 01:55 PM
As an architect, carpenter, landlord, and property manager, restoring old buildings is pretty much all I do all day. I've probably gone through a few hundred gallons of Peel Away 7 stripping, de-leading, and refinishing woodwork/stone/metal/plaster over the years.

09-30-2009, 02:00 PM
Peel Away 7

Finding this stuff was like finding God.

09-30-2009, 04:00 PM
Has some of the best prices on the Dumond Chemical Co.'s products.

Their masonry cleaning and graffiti removal/prevention products are pure genius and well worth it.

Peel Away 7 is great on every material and is even mild enough for really soft marble. It is effective as a poultice for removing stains as well. Denatured alcohol does a great job of removing any of the white residue which may be left behind after the final wash. Just be careful because the alcohol fumes are extremely strong and flammable.

The new smart-strip seems like a good product, but it takes much longer to use than the 7. Not having to use the paper backing or aluminum foil to control the dwell time is a plus though. Well, that and having a significantly reduced odor.

If you strip any metal and it takes on white spots, clean it with the denatured alcohol, and polish it with some NEV-R-DULL wadding. If the spots persist, try polishing the metal with extra virgin olive oil on a clean cotton rag and then do your best to wipe the surface dry to the touch with another clean cotton rag.

09-30-2009, 04:26 PM
The recipe for home improvement is like the recipe for cooking Bluefish:

Filet carefully. Put the fish on a charcoal grill, coals evenly spread. Flip after 3 minutes. Remove from grill. Soak in olive oil. Return filet to the grill, and the carefully monitor the pinkness of the flesh. When done cooking, gently wrap with light seasonings in tinfoil, place on coolest side of the grill. After 4 minutes, and then a cool down, place in a zip lock bag to keep the freshness. Final step: place bag on your neighbor's front step, ring door bell, and run away. Go to restaurant and buy proper meal.

09-30-2009, 08:27 PM
^^Alas, some us can't afford to eat out every night.

Two quick stories.
So when we bought our little folk victorian house 5+ years ago (yes that was right around the peak of the housing bubble, thanks for asking!) my wife and I made a long and extensive list of renovations and repairs that needed to be done. From taking off the faded vinyl siding, taking down the 100+ft of 5ft tall chainlink fencing, redoing all hardwood floors to adding a second bath, etc, etc.
As we were looking at the hole-filled, cracking horse-hair plaster walls in our living & dining rooms, my wife looks up and says:

The ceiling is too low.
Look at space between the top of the windows and the ceiling it is only about an inch, there should be a lot more space.
Well, there might be old ceiling medallion on the other side!
Sure, there might be.
We can poke a hole in the ceiling and find out!
Hells no.
We have a list a mile long of things that need to be fixed, I'm not going to start punching holes in a perfectly good ceiling and even if there is a ceiling medallion up there I'm sure hell not going to tear down a perfectly good ceiling to get to it.

And so, the next day while I'm at work, I get a very excited call from my wife.

Guess what?!?
We have tin ceilings!

It seems my clever wife took the shelving out of our built-in hutch climbed up and poked a hole in the wall above the ceiling, stuck a flashlight in and found this:
http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x176/bstnstatler/th_DSCN0563.jpg (http://s183.photobucket.com/albums/x176/bstnstatler/?action=view&current=DSCN0563.jpg)

And so another week was added on to our schedule so we could remove two lower ceilings in order to reveal:
http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x176/bstnstatler/th_DSCN0579.jpg (http://s183.photobucket.com/albums/x176/bstnstatler/?action=view&current=DSCN0579.jpg)

Second story:
While gutting a small room upstairs so that my contractor brother in law could build a second bath for us I was cutting some floor boards when sparks started flying. I shrugged thinking I had hit a nail. As I lifted up the board I looked down a saw a narrow piece of copper pipe cleanly cut in half. I immediately knew it was a gas pipe. I called my brother-in-law in a panic:

Dude, I just cut a gas pipe!
Did you blow up?
Is anything on fire?
Um, no.
Do you smell gas?
Uh, no.
You cut the feed pipe for the gas lantern that probably hung in the front hall right below you. It was probably shut off 70 years ago when they electrified the place. You're ok.

09-30-2009, 09:13 PM
For brownstone renovations, you can't do much better than http://brownstoner.com

10-01-2009, 08:22 AM
Great story, Stat. (I hate to think of all the lead dust and asbestos I have inhaled over the years...)

10-01-2009, 08:32 AM
We had our kitchen and basement renovated recently. All I can say is, make sure you hire a competent contractor. Our kitchen came out beautifully. Our basement took 8 months to finish, the guy thought he didn't need permits for a basement, didn't know that the HVAC needed a return, put doors on backwards, and left a pile of trash next to the furnace for a nice family of mice to make their home.

Anyhow, it would seem your contractor knows what he/she is doing if they made some design improvements.

By "our" I mean my family. I didn't have much to do with the process, apart from crticizing paint choices and bath fixtures.

10-01-2009, 09:05 AM
I'm very indecisive about paint colors.

I'm very indecisive about paint colors.

I'm very indecisive about paint colors.

10-01-2009, 09:14 AM
^^ Go with a nice gray/blue.

10-01-2009, 04:44 PM
Get yourself a full color book on McKim, Meade, and White's architecture, H.H. Richardson's, Frank Furness ( specifically "Architecture & the Violent Mind"), and the book "American Art Deco".

You'll have every classic paint combination there to be content.

I also recommend trying off white or soft metallic stenciling for ceilings. The effect similar to decorative shear curtains and looks heavenly with a crystal chandelier.