So here’s the deal, we bought a house! Actually, we bought a house last year and were slowly renovating by ourselves. Some projects I’ve documented as part of my editorial work and some are just sitting on my laptop waiting to see the light of day. Now you might have seen some of these projects elsewhere, but as with any good story there’s always more to tell! This blog is a way for me to knit together my editorial and personal design work in one place.
Ready to meet our house? Great! It was built in 1910 and is located in Brooklyn (right on the Queens border) in a neighborhood called Cypress Hills, formerly home to Mae West and current home to the historic Neirs Tavern and Highland Park. Over the summer I went to the Department of Buildings and got our original blue prints going to gain a little incite about the original layout of the house. My block is made up of identical row houses, thus the developer only filed one blue print for the entire neighborhood. You might notice that the house below is flipped with the front door on the left… that’s why.
As you can see this is a 2 story building with 2 (well 3-ish, I’ll get to that later) apartments. Lucky for us the second floor of the house was already renovated, so it was ready to rent. Done and done. The first floor and basement (where we live) is not renovated… That’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned because it give me the chance to restore some of the original details and generally design things like the kitchen from scratch.
We looked around a lot for house with original detail that was in our price range. If your house hunting in Brooklyn, un-renovated property is almost always a cash deal. We didn’t want to pay more/ live with a developers idea of a tasteful renovation. Although our house is not super fancy, there are still a few original touches that give the space character. Like unique ceiling details, a couple of stained glass windows, and cool tiles. More on all that later.
We definitely have our work cut out for us with this house, both inside and outside. As far as the exterior is concerned, there are a few improvements I would like to make to up our curb appeal. They are things that don’t really require any major technical skills so that makes them a higher priority. My mantra with this house is unless it’s a safely concern were going to tackle the projects we can do ourselves first. Here’s my list in no particular order.
Removing that aluminum awning above the door
Paint the soffit
Add some large planters
Replacing the front door
Get rid of the over abundance of old cable wires on the left side of the house. If anyone knows how I can get rid of them, I’m all ears. It seems like the cable companies should do that right?
Deal with our fence! Originally, I thought I could just paint it black and I might still do that. After looking at some of the original fences in the neighborhood I really want to remove/replace it, or maybe just take off the midevel spikes at the top. Is that even possible? In a dream world I would replace it with something more original looking. The same goes for the white window bars. I think the previous owners chose white for the iron work because they thought it would soften the look. I think it ends up calling way too much attention to itself. I much prefer black!
See this house? It’s just down the street and pretty much identical to ours. They got it right! black iron work, no awning, and see that? DOUBLE DOORS! This is how these houses were intended to look. Restoring the doors and removing the awning is gonna be a game changer! It will improve the functionality of our entryway and restore the original lines of the house. Oddly enough, I’ve seen these doors at salvage spots around town, so I think it’s fairly likely that we will be able to find something vintage.
This is our situation. There’s a little vestibule and then another door that leads to the main entryway. The full sized door it’s really too big for the space. See what I mean? Not only is it super awkward to open the door for guests the present configuration blocks out all the natural light. Ugh, Why? (fist shaking in the air) I hate this door so much I can’t even bring myself to paint it. I don’t want to waist a moment of effort on something that really just needs to be ripped out!
On the bright side, the door works and with more pressing issues on the inside of our house the exterior will have to wait until Spring. Right now we’re focusing on the interior projects that we can handle on our own. So stay tuned!
The great thing about starting a blog after a full year of renovations, is that I have plenty of material to show you. So this will all feel very fast and magical like an episode of Rehab Addict … maybe.