Friday, January 14, 2011

Renovate Brooklyn! Day Five: A little bit of cheating never hurt anyone...right?

So the entire premise of this blog is that all of the work happens from 8:00pm-midnight and all of the work is completed by us, the charming, hardworking couple. But yesterday, our blog had an affair, a dalliance, a little tryst with our wonderful friend and contractor extraordinaire, Fernando Honoré. Fernando is a contractor that I have worked with consistently for the past 4 years on all sorts of projects with my company, and when I told him what mischief we were up to, he kindly offered to lend a hand. As they say, always accept help when you're in over your head, so I keenly agreed. It didn't seem fair to ask Fernando to work within the confines of our 8:00pm-12:00am schedule, so I took a half-day and met Fernando in my living room yesterday morning (yes! I said morning!) Together, we ceremoniously took down the remaining wood studs that separated the old living room from the old guest room, though truth be told, Fernando did all of the work, and I ran around taking photos and picking up pieces of discarded wood and nails so the dog wouldn't step on them.

(F.Y.I. If you'd like to contact Fernando for your home renovation project, he comes highly recommended. He can be reached at: )

Down went the first beam...

And then another beam went down and then another until there were none. Well almost none. Fernando kept two on the left side and two on the right side to err on the side of caution, and give extra support to the floor above ours. Rest assured, Fernando is also a licensed, insured contractor who knows his stuff. If he says it's safe, it is safe. This has created one larger, completely phenomenal space that is truly enormous by cramped-brooklyn-railroad-standards. If someone is keeping track of our to-do list, I think we can confidently tick this off!   
 We are over the moon!!! 

You'll be comforted to know that the work did not stop there, at the reasonable hour of noon. Oh no. I bid Fernando a very grateful good-bye, and once he was gone, I too went back to work. And then like little yuppie robots, John and I filed back into our apartment around 7:30, and began our renovation escapades once more. There was much to be addressed since Fernando's departure, all of the pieces of wood and molding that had been pulled down needed to be disposed of, the defunct gas-light pipe need to be removed, and the dangerous looking tangle of electrical housing needed to be assessed as well. But the best part- we had to figure out how to arrange the room now that the wall was gone! The icing on the doing-lots-of-work-late-at-night cake!  

It occurred to me that readers might be curious about what we have for dinner before we get underway each evening. Nary a McDonald's Big-Mac crosses these lips, you should know. Last night we had a delicious dinner of Lentille du Puys Salade (yes, lentil salad) and a lovely spread of cheeses purchased from the over-priced and inconsistently friendly/angry Bedford Cheese Shop in Williamsburg. The recipe we use for the lentils is from David Lebovitz and it is a truly miraculous thing. So easy, so tasty, so not McDonalds.

So, dinner behind us, we got cracking. I shimmied up the ladder and using a hack-saw, cut down the very defunct gas line. Then I whacked a couple of huge nails into the ceiling beam and lead the electrical housing above it so it came down near the wall, rather than hanging perilously in the center of the room, just begging for the dog to become entangled in the whole high-voltage nightmare. Meanwhile, John was (finally) saddled with the vacuum and then given the task of lugging the grotty wood down to the curb (last night was trash night so we hoped a couple of hunks of wood wouldn't be there long enough to set off the Dept. of Sanitation on some psychotic ticketing frenzy.) For the salvage enthusiasts out there, you'll be pleased to know that we have kept the big wooden studs and are hatching a plan to re-use them somewhere else in this project, so you don't have to drive over here to retrieve them from our trash, which didn't get picked up because apparently the city is still on emergency snow-removal. (Am I the only person who finds the snow piles far less unpleasant than the heaping, festering piles of refuse?)

Electrical housing and dead gas line dangle threateningly from the ceiling...

Then we started playing around with the furniture. This is really one of my favorite past times. Other people like tennis, canasta, internet-based fantasy worlds, golf, or needlepoint. Not me, I like dragging all of my furniture around until I can't remember where it started anymore. In an effort not to tick off our neighbor's downstairs, I used the dog's bed as a dolly and scooted my office cabinets all around the apartment. I was sure this was an act of pure genius, until John caught me in the act and assured me that it was not. 

Genius or idiot???

The end results may be temporary, but look fantastic so far. We haven't decided if the living room area should go closest to the kitchen and the office area be over near the bedrooms or vice-versa, but until the closets in the old living room come down, we've laid it out as shown below. It is such an enormous improvement from how the apartment functioned before. Next, to tackle those closets but that's for next week. Right now, we're off to the country for a little R & R. 

Looking at the living room area, facing the bedrooms.
Below- you can also see the office area, looking toward the kitchen.

  Have a great weekend! 
John & Christina

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