All posts tagged “renovation

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Project : Thanksgiving

It’s become something of the tradition since I moved back from LA for Thanksgiving to be  the biggest home improvement weekend of my year. In my broke and workaholic state it was the longest “vacation” I’d take each year, so it was my (our) one chance at a big project.

In 2007, Scott, my bff Kim, and I stripped 3 layers of wallpaper and painted (all 4 coats of red) the master bedroom.


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P1000743In 2008, we did the same thing to the living room.

In 2009, I embarked on one of several reorganizations of the spare bedroom which is totally just storage room.


Last year, we made Scott an office and I cleaned out and repainted the hall closet (seriously the first time in at least 28 years this had happened).












during after










This year, despite my best efforts (I was still planning on hitting up IKEA until about 8pm last night), the project is a little different. And probably A LOT less labor intensive.

Tomorrow morning we hit the road to Bucks County, PA to marry off Aimee

Keriann & Scott 0125 © Jimena Roquero Photography© Jimena Roquero Photography

Keriann & Scott 1075 © Jimena Roquero Photography© Jimena Roquero Photography


… and her crazy—I mean amazing—Dave. (I really just wanted an excuse to post this photo.)


Keriann & Scott 1132 © Jimena Roquero Photography

© Jimena Roquero Photography



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Nice little Saturday planned : Shiny new office and storage closet


Literally! It’s shiny, see:




So I spent Thanksgiving weekend busting my ass. This is the 2nd year running of using my only annual 4 day weekend to get these kinds of project done, and I kind of regret this, as the highlight of my mini-vacation was catching snippets of the dog show Thursday afternoon each time I walked by the TV.


The lowlights include hands so raw (constant washing + an assortment of cleaning products – any kind of lotion = a big mistake) they literally cracked & the meltdown I had somewhere around 7pm Sunday night when the house was still in shambles. (Does it make me extra crazy that how blissfully clean it all ended up was totally worth the meltdown?)


Projects we tackled:


1) Recreating our crappy office into a nice office, as inspired by some  repurposed stainless steel IKEA cabinets courtesy of Felicitas Oefelein:








2) Moving this:



Into this:




As these things go, it got worse before it got better:






But we ultimately transformed the whole thing into a slightly less-messy, definitely less-DIRTY closet:




Success rate : 80%?


I would still like proper storage vessels for my grandmother’s china and crystal to perhaps put those where they belong, like the attic, hahaha.


We haven’t yet done anything about re-editing art or hanging guitars and /or bicycles on walls.


I would also like a sweet vertical shelf thing for my Vogue collection. And any old IKEA bookcase in order to do away once and for all with stupid wire snap together shelves…



Oh yeah, and I need an actual desk chair!


BUT, in real life "before and afters" don’t reach 100% overnight, or even over a weekend. So it’s never too late to fix the lingering details that are bothering you…

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Sweet Deal : Rug!

DSCF0890the living room, very much a work in progress…


I have been DYING for a new living room rug, every since I moved back into the house 4 years ago. This is because the old rug looked like this:


DSC00920 the living room, circa march…


Replacing it was not easy because I needed something in the 10×13 to 12×15 range, i.e. not cheap.


I thought I had found a worthy candidate for ~$400, and web-stalked it for about…a year. I finally decided to order a small size to check it out (and see if the cat would scratch it).


It was… meh, but I probably would’ve made do if the cat didn’t go ballistic on it almost immediately.


At a loss, I now put off the rug purchase indefinitely. And of course, a few weeks later, the perfect rug dropped in my lap via one of the links at the top of gmail:




You have to dig a bit for the not-scary-traditional rugs on the site, but they are there and so beautiful. And so cheap! (AND it arrived in 3 days!)


After finding a 10% off coupon code, the final total for the 10×13 rug = $312 (inc. a freebie 2×3 area rug and free shipping).


Sweet deal.

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Small city, big town love

It seems like this is turning into a bit of a travel blog. Kinda ironic considering I don’t really travel that much. But I guess I don’t blog all that much either…


I do love to travel, especially because home right now isn’t exactly in my favorite place on earth. That said, I’m still a bit of a homebody (something aided and abetted by my very domestic relationship with another homebody). This study in contradictions can be easily explained to anyone with an intermediate grasp of astrology by explaining that I’m a Taurus with Sagittarius rising. No, I don’t know how I manage either.


Well, this summer we went to two not terribly far from home places, that made for a nice change.


Escape from NY over the Tappan Zee on a Friday afternoon

Callicoon, NY


Every summer my high school friends go camping along the Delaware River in upstate NY. This year the party was moved up river from Narrowsburg to Callicoon, which was totally sweet because we’d discovered the amazingly old-timey town of Callicoon on a liquor-procuring mission a few years earlier. And of course, the boy didn’t have his camera, and so, missed out on some amazing shots like this one:


 pc: Anton Markus

The Olympia Hotel, which has since been boarded up.


The Soaring Eagle campground was fine (OK, the walk to the bathroom was looong), but the real highlight for me was our stop at the farmer’s market and a nice long dig through the flea market before heading home Sunday afternoon.


loving the gorgeous poster

DSC_0538   one of the boy’s less creepy photos—the others involved clowns
 DSCF0503this Tiffany-style lamp sadly did not come home with us

I know it couldn’t possibly be more clichéd to love escaping the city/suburbs for a weekend in the country to go jogging through fields, swimming in the river, eating at farmer’s markets, and digging through antiques shops. But I do! I perpetually want to run away to the country.


this pumpkin did come home with us







Pittsburgh, PA





After the boy, Pittsburgh may just be the unlikeliest love of my life.


See, my surprisingly wise guidance counselor suggested Carnegie Mellon to me back in high school, at which I literally scoffed. I was going to Los Angeles. Kids are dumb. I was a dumb kid.

Then one of my close friends moved to Pittsburgh and I actually visited (en route, in fact, to Los Angeles with my car). And I kinda loved it. It may have been the unbeatable crepes. Or the cheap booze. Or the thriving Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Or how the coal mining capital of the world, was actually…sunny. But it didn’t take me more than a visit to just, like the place.
So now that I’ve been back 5 times, I really like it. Like, we found our future home like it. But first, on Saturday, we fulfilled one of my architectural must-sees (that’s two in one year!): Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater:

It was just as fabulous as all that architectural history brow-beating makes it out to be. It’s…livable, bizarrely ahead of its time, and there were some cozy spots that I just never wanted to leave. I’ll attribute my approval of it with FLW and I’s shared size (he designed everything for the 5’6" person), and love of the earthy orange/green/brown color palette that the 1970s bastardized.




The reason for the visit was to walk in FAAN’s Food Allergy walk in memory of one of the best friends a girl could have, who passed away in 2003 after an unexpected anaphylactic reaction. That was on Sunday, and we had great weather and felt proud to support this cause. (Although I maintain it was unfair to have sno cones and cotton candy as refreshments to those of us like myself who have food dye allergies! Sure, it’s a food additive allergy. And that makes us second class citizens!? Kidding.)


After the walk, we continued the architectural love-fest with a Pittsburgh house tour. Amazingly, this was the first house tour I’ve ever been on, and I was surprised by how awkward it was wandering through strangers’ homes! (Or friends of friends, as our hosts wound up knowing a couple of the participants.) But there obviously were so many people doing the exact same thing that I quickly got over it. And wow, there are some awesome places to live in the city. I especially loved seeing how people handled very similar floor plans very differently.






We wandered off the "official" tour houses and discovered "Randyland," whose pictures speak for themselves. Ditto to the Allegheny City Firehouse, which for a half hour, I strongly considered trying to buy.


DSC_0258  pc:sej





Yay Pittsburgh!


Wishing I had photos to share of our last visit (crazy to imagine us without a single camera), when we visited the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, the Chululy installation at the Phipps Conservatory, and the Aviary.

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At last, a bath.

Before I get going on the before/after bonanza, a little background on my long-awaited bathroom renovation:


Four amazingly short years ago, in 2006, I moved back to LI from LA to re-inhabit my childhood home that had been passed down to me from my grandparents and my mom. In a bit of a pickle/temper tantrum, I had chosen to stay in LA to finish school and avoid the looming responsibility of said house, which I was too attached to to sell and too post-adolescent to actually want to live in. So for several years it had been loaned/rented out to friends and people found on Craigslist.

Needless to say, upon my return the place was a shithole. But I got lucky actually, those years of being a rental could definitely have gone a lot worse.

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Sadly, it was a downhill decline for my poor bath even after I moved back in: water damage, mold, failing pipes, carpenter ants, ugly eighties design–the poor thing was just ravaged, and I had zero dollars to fix it.

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After 3 years of feeling helpless, I found the good people at CDCLI through the HUD website, and my 4 years (including one year of applying for and waiting to start their program) of the simple dream of a working sink and a shower with walls became a reality in 4 days of work.


Here you can see some bathroom Befores:

We lost the wall behind the tub during a Thanksgiving Day emergency when the original 50-year-old “hot” knob decided to start spewing water…


That classy inner shower curtain is hiding the other missing wall, this one lost to a carpenter ant infestation. We tore the wall down to take out the beam they had made a massive nest in.

This picture, if you can believe it, makes it look much better than it was, though you can get an idea of how the wall behind the toilet was also rotting away due to repeated water damage from the leaky sink.



Monday : Gutted bath
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New plumbing, tub, concrete board – the works!

Tuesday : Tile DSCF0399
Concrete board and dry wall finished and tile begun…

Wednesday : Electric and more tile

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Hump day: While tiling continued in the bath, the electrician came to switch out our  so not up-to-code old-school fuse box, and install new outlets. We also got a sweet new exhaust fan and an outlet in the bathroom!

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Moving all our crap away from every outlet was practically impossible.

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Love my classic white hex tile floor, but quickly realized I’ll hate cleaning it.

Thursday : Grout and fixtures = finished!
My first look – pardon the table lamp plugged in until we got halogen bulbs for our new wall sconce.

I worked with CDCLI to supply some materials courtesy of my awesome and generous boss Felicitas Oefelein of FO Design, and my own penny-pinching ingenuity. As we collected more and more bathroom reno-related items, our office/craft room became a storage facility.

Kitty helping me lay out tiles.

Above you can see my attempts at deciding on accent tiles the weekend before they started to work. Using basic Home Depot grade subway tiles (~$0.80/sq. ft.) with a bit of mosaic accent tile was a great way to do something beyond a contractor-grade basic bath without spending a ton.

The accent I wound up falling in love with was a glass and stone mosaic that, because this is how my life works, was discontinued and nearly out of stock at Home Depot. After trips to 6 stores, I had hunted down exactly 6 3″x12″ pieces (and sadly this was all from the first 2 stores), so I decided to have our contractor cut down each piece into 2″ x 12″ pieces so they would reach around the bath. At $8 a piece this was probably for the best, as this accent wound up being a $50 splurge!

But I love the blending of modern and classic these give the room; it helps to bridge the gap between the traditional white subway tiles and white hex floor tiles, and my super-modern (super-affordable) Ikea vanity.


Better than I ever imagined…

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After the After
Like most renovations, this one’s lingering on the brink of done. We still need a kickass medicine cabinet—I’m saving up for the biggest mirror as I can buy. I’d also like to install a cubicle track for the shower curtain as an upgrade from the $8 target tension rod we through up there. And there might be a really awesome wallpaper taped to the wall to “try out.”


Ed. note: For the reno purists out there, we did salvage the original hamper, and I’m hoping to give it a fresh coat of paint and install it in the storage closet or master bedroom. It’s an awesome original piece, but so not a good idea for a bathroom—dirty items, humidity, you get the idea.

Also, this entry will be launching a side blog about the slow road to renovation on my childhood home over at Surburban Archeology. Not really having a clue what I want this blog (much like my real life) to be about, I might be posting things in duplicate, or there may be more detail over there. We will see where it goes….