Renovating an old home - a labor of love

Yesterday marked the 1 year date from the closing of our "new" home.  Which built in the 1880's, required some extensive work.  There was an illegal 3 bedroom apartment on the 3rd floor, the former owner made cosmetic teeth in the basement.  Not to mention the old knob and tube wiring we found hidden in every wall, and failed floor joists in half of the 1st floor.

The architectural planning and renovation process began quickly after the purchase and 5 months into the process we moved in (no kitchen sink at that point, but we had walls and some running water on the second floor.)  A year later we finally find ourselves at the "punch list" point for this phase.  Buying and renovating an old home is a labor of love to say the least and we went through many love/hate phases during the year, but they truly do not make homes like this anymore.  Each 5 panel ladder door was milled specifically for my house, for that specific doorway.  And let me tell you, after removing, sanding, and repainting every single interior door ourselves, those suckers are solid old growth wood, built stronger than any recent manufactured door I have ever seen.  They must weigh at least 50 lb each.  Not to mention the old hardware which we stripped layers and layers of paint to revile a beautiful rose brass.

I feel an intimate connection with our home.  I feel like I know every inch, every detail and really appreciate the craftsmanship and detail found in our 130 year old home.  Which makes this recent article in the NY Times, alerted to me via Elements of Style all the more upsetting.  Apparently, famous New York designer Mario Buatta purchased a beautiful 1840's Gothic revival home 20 years ago, with the plans of renovating and restoring it.  Flash forward to to today, he has done nothing.  In fact the home stands in worse shape and is rotting away. I think it was his poor health initially stalled the project, but comments like “This is not a communist country, you can do anything you want with your property,” but makes me think his ego and spite are more involved.  Renovating and restoring an old home is not for the faint of heart.  I know, but so should this seasoned designer.  I find it baffling he would let such a work of art and craftsmanship rot away.  Ugh.  So gross.  There is a petition pleading with Mr. Buatta to come to his senses and just sell the place to someone who will save it.

Christopher Capozziello for The New York TimesChristopher Capozziello for The New York Times

On the home front update

We are working away to get all the little details finished before baby #2 arrives in early June. Which by the looks of my calendar is rapidly approaching.  Eek.

The other weekend I styled and organized our library book shelves. All photos via iPhone...will do real photos someday, I promise.  Anyway, a work in progress as we watch basketball.

photo 1

Coming along.  Just need to figure out what to do with that upper gallery. I want to continue to add to our book collection, but I am determined to do so slowly and deliberately to ensure our library reflects us and the books we actually read.  So figuring out some place holders as our library grows.


The living room is coming along.  I got these chairs from Jordan's Furniture of all places, for a great price and they are super comfy.  I think they look like RH chairs, but were a fraction of the price. (Need to steam the skirts.)

 SWStudiosPlaying with pillows.  Have no idea where I am going with these.  Will just let things evolve.

SWStudios-Living room

Kitchen is complete!  Could use some rugs and picture on the walls, but that is to come.


The 3rd floor. So we gutted, foam insulated, added a new HVAC system and put up blue board to that 3 bedroom apartment on the 3rd floor I was talking about and reconnected it to the main house.  Future dream plans, include making it a media room/game room with a joinng guest suite and full bathroom.  The plumbing is all up there, we just need to give our bank account a rest.  Right now it looks like this...but I are working hard to get complete organization before baby.  I have already had about 3 car loads of stuff hauled off to Good Will.

 photo 2 photo 3