Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stairway to Heaven, revisited.

Believe it or not, we managed to cram a fair amount of home improvement into the 30 hours we were up at our house this weekend, including, but not limited to, painting a chocolate brown trim down both sides of our painted stair runner. This taps into the painted chocolate brown floor we now have running through the upstairs' hallway and bathrooms, so it's a nice tie-in from the upstairs (chocolate) and the downstairs (the green-grey from the kitchen cabinets was the source for the color of the runner up the stairs...)

Granted, it's still a work in progress, as I've got to go back up and tidy up the inevitable paint-tape leaks (there were plenty...) but if you squint your eyes, you can see that it's gonna be awesome eventually.

Gimme a couple weeks and I'll set it straightened out! 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Upstairs' Bathroom: Numero Dos

Our second renovated bathroom is actually the "Ensuite Master Bathroom". Yes, I said "Ensuite". And I called it the "Master Bathroom."

We are getting pretty high on our horses up at the Catskills' Farmhouse. 


This bathroom renovation consisted of one-million little projects, and a couple of enormous projects. We started by installing wall-to-wall horizontal bead board paneling, and then shellacked and painted the whole thing, top-to-bottom. We bought the bath tub on Craig's List (I know-- I'm like a broken record...) and the sink vanity is actually a sideboard I bought on Craig's List seven years ago, and then recently converted into a sink.

That's a pretty neat story unto itself, actually. I originally purchased the antique sideboard for our little house in Sparrowbush, and while it was perfect in that house, it was really much too small for the scale of our farmhouse. That said, I still loved the piece and wasn't ready to let it go, so I was determined to come up with some innovative way to keep it in the house without it looking like dollhouse furniture.

The solution I came up with--- and it's pretty ingenious if I may say so-- was to cut a hole into the marble slab and under-mount a porcelain sink bowl onto the marble slab. Then I rustled up (hunted down?) two terrific (astoundingly cheap) vintage looking faucets to install to the left-and-right of the sink bowl, and there was my sink installed and my sideboard transformed!!

The next step was to jerry-rig the actual sink cabinet to accommodate the plumbing-- so we recruited our incredibly talented friend Danny to cut out portions of the drawers and the back-half of the lower cabinet to make space for the drain pipes and water connections. Danny whipped this together lickity-split, and TA-DAH! Now our bathroom looks totally awesome. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Upstairs' Bathroom: Numero Uno.

Not a whole lot to report about this bathroom because I don't have any "before" photos of this space. It wasn't originally a bathroom, so pretty much everything you see is "new to me", though obviously, nothing is actually new because that's not how we roll at the Catskills' Farmhouse. The tub and armoire are both Craig's List wins, the sink was purchased out of someone's front yard for $50.00 (delivery included!) and the tole-style mini chandelier is a $10.00 auction victory that I spray-painted white and John re-wired for me. Even the shower curtain rod is a handy-me-down... It came with our other clawfoot bath-tub (also found on Craig's List and picked up from someone's front yard), and we realized that it worked perfectly in this bathroom and we even had all the odds-and-ends parts to hang it up! 

Oh wait! There is one thing that is completely new in that bathroom! The toilet!! Even we like to throw down a little cash on a brand-new, not-previously-peed-in-toilet. 

Everyone has their limits. You've just encountered mine.  

At some point, I'm thinking maybe I owe you guys a floor plan so you can see exactly how we conjured this bathroom out of thin-air and re-configured much of our second floor in the process; but I wouldn't hold your breath on that front because-- as I've mentioned-- I'm pretty freaking swamped right now!!

Maybe I'll finally have some free time when I'm on vacation?!?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Conquered, but not completed!

Next on our "conquered, but not completed" list: The cupboard stairs and upstairs' hallway. The problem with being very home-design-D-I-Y-ambitious is that you don't just "paint something" and then it's done. You don't just scrape something and then it's finished. OOOOOOHHHHH NOOOOOO. There always has to be a bunch of "next steps" -- and our staircase and hallway were no exception. 

Things started out looking pretty grim on the stairs-- old vinyl stair treads, (fastidiously installed of course, with glue, tacks, and hate), chipping paint, and lots of wall paper that was peeling faster than you could climb the stairs. Oddly, removing the wallpaper from the stairs was actually the very first thing I did after we bought the house. Maybe it was out of sheer desperation because every project was so huge--- it was something that I could do that would immediately improve things (no more flaking wallpaper getting tracked through the house) and there was a defined amount of space that I was tackling, so it didn't seem quite so overwhelming... 

Can you believe how enthusiastic I look in this photo? 
Little did I know what I'd just gotten myself in to... 

Funnily enough, once the wallpaper was down, we didn't really address the staircase any further for months-- until the past few weeks really. And then suddenly, a fire was lit and I was on a tear! We pulled down the remaining wallpaper in the upstairs' hallway, John and our friend Ty pulled down the crumbling plaster and re-drywalled as needed, we sanded, we painted, we fought and we won! 

Don't be fooled by the seeming charm of this hallway-- look a little closer and you'll realize that the wallpaper is actually the only thing holding the walls in place. And that crack you see near the ceiling on the left side of the hallway? That is where a whole portion of the wall had become completely disconnected from the other portion of hallway. Like literally-- free standing. That is not what is supposed to happen!! 

And this is what it looks like right now... This hallway has actually survived a considerable amount of transformation, but it isn't that obvious... We completely relocated one door way (the one closest in the foreground) and reframed it as well. The walls were re-spackled and re-drywalled, we painted the floors, walls, moldings, and ceiling, and we're still a little "in-process" re. decorating. 

I had an extraordinarily ambitious plan to take a collapsing antique atlas of my dad's and frame all of the maps in cool, assorted gold frames; and then hang them helter-skelter all through the hallway. I am positive this is going to look completely awesome, and I'm so excited to see it into action. I've gotten as far as buying a ton of weird frames, spray painting them gold, buying the supplies to "patina" them following the instructions of my friend Danny who is a preposterously talented frame maker, and I've even bought the matting for most of the frames. Unfortunately-- I ran aground on time, so for the interim, I've hung a couple of the most interesting frames in the hallway, totally solo, and they're standing in as place-holders until I've got a little more free time on my hands. 


So, yeah. There's no saying how soon that project will actually get completed, but I promise I'll keep you apprised of my progress. 

Also still on the to-do list : Finishing the painting of the stairs themselves. I got as far as removing the old treads, shellacking the entire step (You guessed it! Zinsser primer at work again!) painting the stairs white, and then painting a green-grey stair runner up the stairs, but my plan is to finish the runner by adding a chocolate brown border to the left and right sides of the green-grey portion. This will tie nicely into the chocolate brown paint that is now serving as the hallway floor upstairs. Someday, we're aspiring to sand all of this paint down so it looks a gorgeous as the hardwood floors on the first floor, but we're about $2,500.00 or a whole lot of D-I-Y hours away from that happening anytime soon, so I figured a little creative painting would do the trick in the meantime...  

So this is where we stand as of now. A major improvement from where we started, but still a couple of enormously time consuming steps away from being able to proclaim this project, "FINISHED!" 

The story of our lives... 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Totally on my case...

Well-- I've finally been harassed into action.

My dad has been sending me helpful email messages like "Hey, hey! Check your last (6/13) message (BACK SOON) on After Dinner Design!" and saying things like, "As you know, it's been over a month since your last blog post...", which mostly makes me want to go berserk, but I suppose he's got a point.

It has been over a month since my last blog post.

So last night, while slaving over my latest professional project (yep-- I confess-- I'm spending the vast majority of my time working in exchange for money, which is why I've had so little time to blog about my extra-curricular activities and cooking successes) I came up with a solution that will hopefully pacify my dad as well as interest anyone else reading my blog...

If I can't write about what we're doing right now, the least I can do is show you've what we've done thus far! So my plan is that every couple of days, I'm going to post photos of our almost-finished Catskills' Farmhouse and give you a little blow-by-blow of what I did, where I bought it, how it was done, what's left to do, and occasionally, how it looked before...

Let's jump right in today and check out the current state of our living room!

What's that? Did you just ask me how I came to own a PAIR of faux-albino alligator chesterfield sofas with burgundy mohair contrast cushions?!?!? A good question my friend! Believe it or not (I know-- I'm full of surprises!) I bought those babies on Craig's List, from a guy selling furniture out of a garage in Newark for $300.00 for the pair. And I was so nervous about buying a pair of them that my friend and I dragged them out into the street and set them up "mock-living-room-style" with a stand-in coffee table and end table and everything. If he'd been selling a rug, I would have laid it down to really give me a better sense. 

Because let's be honest. Buying two faux-albino alligator chesterfield sofas with burgundy mohair contrast cushions is no small commitment. 

How many times have I found myself saying that??? 

 And now a quick reminder of what the living room looked like when we got here... 

A quick lay of the land: First, we removed the linoleum floor-- during this process John nearly broke his calf-bone by hitting himself with a hammer while pulling up the composite board installed below it! You've got to give it to those old farmers-- they sure did shit thoroughly when they set their minds to it. Maybe a bad idea, but by gum! They were gonna do it right!

After we finally got the linoleum up, we sanded the floors back to their original natural finish, sealed them with a satin natural sealant, and then shellacked the hell out of the entire room. John and I are both FIRM BELIEVERS in Zinsser's B-I-N Shellac-Based Primer (though neither of us know what the B-I-N stands for...) That stuff smells like nobody's business, but it will make paint stick to pretty much anything, FOREVER, and will seal in whatever is on the other side so you'll never hear from it again. DONE DEAL. 

Then we painted the room (Benjamin Moore's Semi-Gloss White on the existing wainscoting, door casings, and window trim; and BM's Beach Glass in Eggshell on the panel walls above the chair-rail) and called it a day. 

The room is completely furnished with hand-me-downs, street-finds, and Craig's List buys... 
That awesome console that fits perfectly over the radiator came from Freeman's Alley, which is a jumpin' restaurant on the Lower East Side of Manhattan where I happen to have an awesome friend; the french-looking chairs came from my parents' house, and the coffee table is actually a salvaged "critter crate" with a slab of glass on top. 

Still left to do: 
-Reupholster the french chairs in a slightly darker, more baby-resilient fabric. 
-Replace the burgundy mohair contrast cushions with a softer, lighter, brighter, beige-y fabric that attracts a little less dog hair. John currently refers to them as "the maroon tongues" which is completely gross sounding and surprisingly accurate. 
-Continue growing my collection of creepy old portraits to round-out the room a little more fully...
-Eventually, I'll probably replace the coffee table with something a tad more sophisticated, but I'll tell you, free is always a compelling case...

That pretty much brings you up to speed on the living room. Check back in the next couple of days to see our transformed "cupboard staircase" and upstairs' hallway! 

Or maybe even sooner if Papa doesn't let up!! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Check me out... and I promise I have lots I'll blog about soon...

Hey, hey, hey! 

Check out my sassy "Asked & Answered" interview, which was just featured on Nate Berkus's website!

Swing on by and take a look-- apparently Nate wants to come up to the country (I might just take him up on that offer!) and I wear my heart on my sleeve...

So there ya go.... 

Monday, June 9, 2014

R.I.P. Free Time.

It's a CRAZY time right now, and sadly, my spare time has died a tragic death, and with it, my ability to maintain this blog in a timely fashion. Since I last posted (May 21st! The horror! The shame! That is almost three weeks ago!) I've been swamped with work projects, life projects, and of course, home improvement projects. Just because I'm not posting doesn't mean I'm not doing!

During my silence, we've installed a new sink in our kitchen in Brooklyn (OMG. We'll talk about this eventually. It's fantastic.) We've installed wall-to-wall paneling and a bead-board ceiling in the guest bedroom in the Catskills' Farmhouse, made all new outdoor cushions for the furniture at the farmhouse, completely re-dry-walled-re-plastered-re-painted-re-awesome-d the stairwell and upstairs' hallway in the farmhouse, and have had the entire outside of the house painted. There's also gardening that's been done, stone paths that have been laid, and cool exterior lights that have been ordered for our eventually beautiful front porch.

I promise I will eventually blog about all of this existing progress, but in the meantime, you can follow all of our projects and adventures by checking in on my facebook page, my instagram account (@christinasalway), or my twitter feed (@christinasalway)

Catch me there and then check back here soon to see more detailed accounts of all of our ventures!