There are two new posts today on the Renovation Blogs:
Water Problems with the Extension [Crown Heights Reno]
Picking Colors for the Bathroom [Bed Stuy Reno]

Meanwhile, here are some of the topics posted on the Forum today:
Dumb to Buy Gorgeous Apt with No View?
Seeking Someone for Minor Plumbing Fixes
Need Someone to Install Exterior Doors in Our Basement
Are There Really Bed Bugs at 616 E 18th Street?
Repairing Damage to Original Brownstone Doors?
A Good Rental Broker in Prospect Heights?

Remember: You can follow all the renovation blog posts in a single feed here.


Here are some of the topics posted on the Forum today:
Any Way to Stop Neighbor from Building Extension?
Is There a Mass Exodus from Milk Factory?
Have You Ever Used New York Heating Corp?
Best Way to Investigate Property Violations?
Relationship Between DOB and ECB Fines?
Impact of Neighbor’s Disrepair on My Property Value?
Need Specialist to Repair Plaster Frieze
Place to Repair Vintage Lamps?

Meanwhile, there’s one new post today on the Renovation Blogs:
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Shower Curb Complete [Bed Stuy Reno]

Remember: You can follow all the renovation blog posts in a single feed here.


Here are some of the topics posted on the Forum today:
Is Ditmas Park “Fringe”?
Extracting Fireplace Tiles from Cement?
“Value Spillover” from PLG to PLG South
New Landlord: How Much Security Deposit to Keep?
Can Someone Recommend a Reliable Oil Company?
Cost of Removing and Replacing Stairs?
Cost to Build Stairs to Backyard??

Meanwhile, there are three new posts on the Renovation Blogs:
Grouting “Sort of a Pain in the Ass” [Bed Stuy Reno]
Contractor Almost Tosses Old Clawfoot [Windsor Terrace Reno]
Treasures from the Excavation [Crown Heights Reno]

Remember: You can follow all the renovation blog posts in a single feed here.


A reader who’s in the midst of a project to convert two of the fireplaces in his Clinton Hill brownstone to wood-burning and reline three of his flues sends in a mid-project report. So far everything’s going well, if a little slow: So far, the workers have been very careful to protect the existing mantels and surrounding parquet floors with rosin paper. We can imagine that having to witness holes getting punched in the walls might be a little traumatic, but since the flues aren’t straight, it’s the only way to go in this case. Getting down to the boiler from the ground-floor kitchen has proven to be the trickiest part of the job so far because the original hearth in the kitchen, which serves as the foundation for the three fireplaces above it, gets very narrow in places. Ultimately, the workmen were able to get the piping through it though. When the job’s complete, we’ll have a final report. In the meantime, check out the slideshow on the link. Update: The slideshow should be working now.
Fireplace Reno Slideshow [Flickr]

Here’s an email that came in from a Brooklyn Heights couple who run a design-build business called Dwellings Ltd and are in the process of renovating their own newly-purchased co-op.

I wanted to share an architectural find my husband and I uncovered during the demolition phase of a coop apartment we recently purchased. The apartment is in a stunning limestone building in Brooklyn Heights with the original mahogany trim, plasterwork and mosaic tiled hallway still intact. It’s one of the main reasons we were drawn to the apartment—this house was really something in its day. The apartment is on the second floor and there was what appeared to be an unused shaft between a closet and the kitchen that we could use as additional space. There was no evidence of the shaft in the apartment above or below. We figured it was the remnants of a very large dumbwaiter. After making the proverbial inspection hole, however, we discovered the interior was finished plaster and wainscot trim. Clearly not something one would have seen inside a dumbwaiter. It was also very large (3′ by 6′) and a ton of construction debris that had been piled inside the shaft from the renovation of the apartment above many years before.

Progressive removal of the debris during demolition proved that what we took for a floor was actually a glass panel. After completing the cleanup, we discovered the remnants of an amazing large stained-glass panel which would have served as artwork for the parlor floor below, lit from the shaft that at one time went clear up to the roof. In addition, there were windows into the shaft which would have provided fresh air to the center of the building. We were both happy to have found this piece and at the same time saddened that it was in the condition it was in. Why it wasn’t removed and put to good use at the time the shaft was run with duct work and closed up we can’t understand. We’ll attempt to resurrect it in some form, either cleaned up and left as the artifact it is, or disassembled and reconfigured into a more modest smaller piece. See the attached photos for what is left of this once-impressive large piece of artwork. Light under the small pieces of glass show many of the individual pieces have beautiful motifs painted on them—leaves, fruit, and geometric forms.

Another find during demolition was…


Ooh, are we jealous! Since our salvage infatuation hit us after we already had young kids, we’ve never been able to get away for a good old fashioned architectural salvage road trip. Over on the Windsor Terrace Reno Blog, Mr. and Mrs. Limestone took a tour de force through New England recently, hitting such hot spots as the Old House Parts Company in Kennebunk, Maine, Portland Architectural Salvage, and White River Junction-based Vermont Salvage, among others. Awesome!
Architectural Salvage Romp in New England [Windsor Terrace Reno]


Some of the newer readers might not even realize what a big part of the site our renovation blog was in the early days of Brownstoner. Truth is, we miss it. Plus, we did kinda leave people hanging by not showing the finished product. It may have had something to do with a couple of harsh comments about the choice of shower curtain in the kids’ bathroom and something to do with the fact that a house like ours is never really done. Unless you have a bottomless pit of money that allows you to perfectly restore everything in the house before moving in, a brownstone reno is really a lifelong commitment. Which makes it hard to say, “Okay, we’re done now!”

With that said, it’s time to start revealing the finished product in bits and pieces. As promised last month, we’re starting with the kitchen and hoping other readers will follow suit by sending us their photos and stories to run on the main page. There are some good shots of the evolution of our kitchen in the July 2005 archive that are worth checking out as background.

The current kitchen is at the top of the stairs on the second floor where a bathroom used to be. We closed off the original doorway from the hall (where the fridge is now) and opened up the wall to the dining room. We were able to salvage enough of the old pipe molding from our demo to cover the entire opening. The counters are veiny white marble cut from a very large slab (found at Build It Green!) that had been salvaged from the bathroom of an old theater in the West 40s in Manhattan. We saved money with IKEA cabinets and splurged a bit on appliances, with the theory that we could move the appliances if we ever have the money to move the kitchen down a floor to the rear of the parlor. So we went with a Bosch dishwasher, a Bluestar range and a Jenn Air refrigerator. We capped it off with a vintage Art Deco ceiling light.

Okay, your turn. (If you emailed us last month already, please send us a reminder.)


Because not everyone has the time or the inclination to take on an entire reno blog, we’re going to start soliciting readers’ input on a room-by-room basis. Every month, we’ll ask you to send in a few photos and a description of the renovation process you went through on a particular room. And to play fair, we’ll kick off each month with a couple of shots of our finished (to the extent that any budget reno is really ever “finished”) job. We’ll start the ball rolling in January with the kitchen and happily start accepting submissions now.