The finished house: Blood, sweat, tears, paint, and beers

Nearly every day, I browse lovely sites and blogs featuring beautifully styled homes photographed in bright, natural light. They contain hard to come by vintage chairs whose owners have somehow picked them up at flea markets for pennies. Hand loomed rugs with ridiculous price tags that look like they’re from the flea market. Coffee table books stacked everywhere but coffee tables, by color and size. And close-up shots of painstakingly styled shelves, countertops, and windowsills, showing off a beloved collection of dust-free trinkets, “haphazardly” stacked artwork, well-established succulents, purposefully empty vases, and disposable time and money.

So when it came time to photograph Deep Eaves in her final, finished state, you could say I had expectations. However, I live in reality and not a modern home design site. Here in Jamaica Plain, as wonderful as it is, magical light does not stream through the windows. My modest budget could only buy so many props to fill 1,100 square feet on the unfurnished third floor – and the ones I did buy came from Ikea, Target, or West Elm’s sale section (let’s be honest, I’d shop at all three of those stores even with a bigger budget). And while most days I love that Lou and I don’t have a lot of “stuff,” looking through the lens of the camera my home furnishing inferiority, the empty dresser tops and sparse shelves left something (okay, lots of things) to be desired.

Of course, I don’t really care about the stuff. What really matters is that the photos shown here, taken by my dad, show off all our hard work. My dad visited for a long weekend and we spent a couple days shooting all the rooms from different locations, with different exposures, bracketing, and at different hours of the day. When he returned home, he spent hours on the photos, wrangling the shadows and bright spots so all that’s actually left is magical light. The only thing he didn’t do was work in any Eames chairs, Moroccan rugs, or art pieces. #photoshopfail

Here’s a selection of the photos with a few “befores” sprinkled in for fun. For the full set – only a few more than what’s seen here, turns out, visit the Flickr album.

entry iii

Top of stairs entryway

170_amory_street_MLS_HID995902_ROOMmasterbedroom

guest bedroom

guest bed before

guest bedroom before

living room alt

living room through to dining room to kitchen

living room before1

living room before

glass door i

stairwell going down from the third floor sitting room to the second floor bedroom

glassdoor

the space formerly known as the scary closet under the stairwell

scarycloset_before

Scary closet and stairwell before

hallway iv

new built-in with underwhelming amount of “stuff”

hallway vi

new built-in and entryway with vita light

entryway-builtin-before

entryway before (also, how many people can you spot in this photo?)

hallway vii

Flor covered stairs, perforated steel radiator screen

hallway stairs before

before: horrible mantel, linoleum, and carpet treads

kitchen i

pinterest-worthy coffee nook

kitchen iv

kitchen

kitchen v

kitchen before1

kitchen before

third floor hall iii

top of the stairs, third floor, and hallway to office

third floor hall1

third floor hallway before

master bedroom

master bed

the master suite – bedroom

dressing room iii

the dressing room in the master suite

master-dressing room before2

master suite before

library i

the sitting room in the master suite

library

window seat in the sitting room

library before1

sitting room before (FKA third floor kitchen?)

library before 2

sitting room sans window seat before (FKA third floor kitchen?)

office ii

the office

office before

the office before

third floor bath i

third floor bath sink

third floor bath

third floor bath shower (waiting on shower glass)

third floor bath before

third floor bath before

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Tornado season, here we come

Holy crap. I am so behind on updating y’all on Deep Eaves. Let’s just rip it off like a Band-Aid, shall we?

(suspense)

(more suspense)

(seriously though, it’s like Zayn Malik leaving One Direction big)

(it’s like Lynn just made a relevant pop culture reference big)

We’re selling the house and moving back to Texas.

There, I feel better. Now I don’t have to try to explain why the last few months have been so stressful, and silent on this front. I can tell you all about the updates we’ve made without being like, “I can’t wait to enjoy this subway tile for years to come! (lies! lies! lies!)”

teamwork

I thought about doing a series of posts (and by series I obviously mean one) leading up to the big reveal to catch us all up on the serious amount of work that’s happened in the last few months but seeing as how even one post has been a challenge lately…

There came a point when Lou and I were wondering what we should do next. Not in an “errrrrm, should we redo the bathroom or the basement” sort of way, but in a “how long do we want to stay in Boston” sort of way.

And the answer for both of us was “meh, I could leave tomorrow.” Ok, not totally. That was only the answer if you asked ME, and during the months of January through um, yesterday. Boston is hard, but that (and all the places/oddities I will miss about the city) is for another blog post. Or not.

Basically, in the spring of 2014, we made the decision to stay through two years of home ownership at least to avoid capital gains, so that put us at the end of October 2014. Then we decided that late fall was no time to sell, and we had a signed lease with our tenants through spring 2015. And hey, spring 2015 was supposed to be a strong real estate market and would give us time to make the world’s longest list of improvements ever so we could sell the house for its full value.

Lou has always wanted to go out on his own and start a residential design-build firm, and between all his contacts there, the fact that people still build (as opposed to just renovate 1880s structures), things are cheaper, and all our friends are really in Dallas, the decision was made. Sure, Austin was contemplated. San Francisco, too. But in the end, queso and tornados and friends won out.

new chapter

New chapter starts now.

Now, back to The Prettiest Battleship. She’s about finished! All she needs are a few odds and ends, like for the shower glass to be installed (any day now). I’m still recovering, mentally and physically, from the last two weeks of ridiculous work, limited sleep, horrible eating, and nerves associated with getting the house ready for photographing, listing, and multiple showings and open houses. I will talk about it, but not today.

Pretty photos of clean, styled rooms coming later this week. Until then, the third floor bathroom, because I feel I owe it to you after so many posts about its progress.

Third floor vanity
hedge on the ledgeHedge on a ledge (really, the selling point of the whole place if you ask me).

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Bathroom progress

Just a little glimpse at what’s to be a full bathroom, um, ANY DAY NOW. Hooray for Lou and our friend Jim for allllll the subway tile.

IMG_3344

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Waiting for my porcelain luxury

I wanted to call this bathroom update, “Slowly Making Progress” but then I thought, who am I to judge the timeline and the speed of the work? I’m not the one really doing the work. And more importantly, it’s not like we don’t have another bathroom and I’ve been standing with my legs crossed doing the pee dance for several months. That said, there are times recently when I’ve caught myself wishing we had a second bathroom, like, “Ugh I cannot wait until that bathroom is done.” And then I think OMG YOU ALREADY HAVE ONE BATHROOM, ISN’T THAT ENOUGH? WHO ARE YOU? WHAT’S NEXT ON YOUR WISHLIST? A HOUSECLEANER? A GARDENER? A KEURIG?!? And then I roll my eyes at myself and continue to ignore my very full bladder until our one lone bathroom frees up.

Now and then, I stop into the up-and-coming third floor bathroom and stand in generally the same place and take a photo. At first, this was just something I did, but then I realized I could document the evolution of the room from the same-ish spot and make a time-lapse thingy! You’re thinking “duh.” Sadly, this realization did not make me take better photos, only take them semi-consistently and then write this post.

First, the original bathroom at the time we bought the house.

original third floor bathroom

Now, a not-super-well-produced animation from the time the bathroom was torn down to the studs plus a few new boards, to the fully framed room (that’s the part lou did), to the insulation (that’s the part I did), to the latest and greatest plastered walls (that’s the part we paid someone to do). You may have to click the image to make it replay. derp.

 

bathroom_update

That’s nice, you say. A grayish box full of angles. I can totally see it! So I guess you want to know what the bathroom will look like? Me too.

It starts with a grey cork floor. What does that even mean? Well, it’s grey. It’s got a slight pattern to it. It’s smooth, not like actual bumpy rubbery cork (looking at you, winos) at least not the finished surface that you walk on. The cork is in long boards that will run across the room (like large wooden planks). Cork is lightweight, so we didn’t have to worry about reinforcing the old joists or a lawsuit from when the bathroom comes crashing down on the bedroom below it. It’s no penny tile but hey, it doesn’t cost or weigh as much as tile, or take the installation work of tile. And it’s grey, so really, what more could you ask for?

From there, we have white walls going up to the sloping ceiling. That’s not Lou’s modern architecture, just the eaves of the house. The walls that wrap around the shower area will have subway tile on the bottom half (the vertical part, not the upper angled parts). A glass partition and door will separate the shower from the rest of the room. We wanted it to be open and to be able to just walk into the shower, but flooring issues. I’ll leave it at that.

There will be a few light fixtures. On one end of the bath (opposite the shower) there will be a sink and countertop with an open shelf down below. In the center of the bathroom, a wall-hung toilet, thus saving several inches of space in front of it for people on their way to the shower. And two windows, both with new glass that is not cracked or foggy. All of these items are still works in progress, or being discussed, or sitting in their boxes in the adjoining bedroom waiting to be unwrapped.

Finally, in classic Deep Eaves style, this bathroom was probably an add-on between 1940 and 1960, so the door opens out into the hall, instead of into the room like a proper door. Long story short, we aren’t tearing out the doorframe to redo it so it’s just going to be called character. That’s what people pay good money for, right?

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An endless supply of Scary Closets

Oh, hey, what’s that over there in the corner of the bedroom? A ball of dog hair and dust the size of a tumbleweed? No, not that, the other thing. Oh! A door! Well where does it lead? You don’t know? You’ve never opened it? There’s an arctic draft coming from it? Sounds terrifying. Let’s open it up!

Innocent Door

Ahhhhhhh! Eww! What is it? What is it?! Hang on, lemme turn on the light…Oh. Just another staircase. With more bad paint. And crumbling walls. And nasty linoleum. Classic Deep Eaves.

Enter the Scary Closet

Yes, another set of stairs leading to another floor creating another space for dust, debris, dead bodies, ghosts, and potential to hide. And because I cannot build bulkheads or frame out a bathroom, but I am always trying to find an excuse to use wallpaper, I chose to confront that movie that scared me to death as a child (my friend’s parents had all kinds of cable): I redid Scary Closet #2. For Scary Closet #1, read / scroll halfway down this post.

Let’s look at the before:

floorboards

Nasty linoleum, nasty walls, nasty shelves, nasty stairs, nasty stain from 1985.

Top of StairsHere we are at the top, looking down from the (newly labeled) library.

The LibraryHere’s a wide shot of the “library” – a.k.a. old door OR.

I began by tearing up the linoleum strips which were just hanging around, not glued or nailed or even stuck due to the passage of time. I pulled out that shelf thing, which had been poorly nailed into the wall. And then began the real work. Fixing the walls. It took buckets (okay, a tub and a half) of patching stuff (technical term) slathered over major gaps, holes, and cracks to smooth out the disgusting, lumpy walls. Sanding, smoothing, more patch stuff, more sanding, vacuuming (still can’t spell it right and that’s all I used to blog about in the early days) and finally, priming the shit out of the stairwell. If you’re looking for a new way to get high, try painting a stairwell with stain-blocking primer. Like, three coats of it because the weird yellow stains just seep on through. Also, there were like, 16 foot ceilings over the stairs, so, that was not fun but a good arm workout.

Fresh PaintSome progress.

For the stairs, which had a few vomit-colored stairs among the rough, once-stained set, I opted to just go glossy white. *This shit will look so good on Pinterest* I thought, as I inhaled another deep breath of chemicals.

Pretty stairs

Do you know how hard it is to photograph a fucking stairwell like this? (Especially with the laziness that kept me from busting out the Nikon.) Almost harder than actually redoing it, which is why these photos are pretty awful. Sorry. But you should see these pretty white stairs in person. Three coats of primer and two coats of high gloss paint and only a few stains show through now (see above photo – second to top stair, right side, brown spot).

Stair-Closet Bisection

From the start, I have wanted to use wallpaper on something – namely, a wall. But also from the start (literally, like the second day of owning this house) I have detested the idea of wallpaper because I had to remove two bedrooms, a bathroom, a dining room, and a living room’s worth of wallpaper.

I hate wallpaper

 I’ve aged like, 10 years in the two we’ve had this house. Ugh. 

Anyhow. So I went to Target because I had seen some stick-on, removable, overpriced “wallpaper” rolls in pretty colors and I was sold. I made Lou take a break and help me measure and hang each section. Could I have left the wall white? Totally. Does it look like a glam little closet and staircase now? I think so.

Three brass hooks are on a board that I didn’t feel like removing, as it’s probably the linchpin holding up the entire wall. There were literally 100 of these hooks throughout the house when we bought it. We unscrewed them all and put them in a bucket in the basement, because we knew someday there’d be a Scary Closet they could go back into. The gold cord also (unintentionally)matches the gold in the wallpaper and the hooks. #pinterestthisshit

Hanging Light and Hooks

I finished up the closet with some not-at-all fancy but totally in budget carpet tiles which I measured and cut one by one (quite proud of my precision – I mean, in Lynn terms, not like, Lou precision – as that’s normally not my strength). Oh, and there’s a 1/4″ plywood board under them that’s on top of the original sub floor. The overall temp of the closet has risen about 20 degrees now.

New Carpet Tiles

We’re standing under the main stairs from the second floor to the third, in case you’re wondering why the sloped ceiling.

And for old time’s sake, here’s the “library” that used to be a kitchen, complete with cast iron sink, Sears cabinets, and a 1950s stove.

Formerly the Kitchen

Oh wait! One more thing. Not only does this stairwell go from the second floor to the third (and back down!), on the second floor landing of it, there’s a door that opens to the backyard.

Floating Door

Top right: Door to nowhere. 

I didn’t photo it from the inside because right now there’s just insulation stapled to it as it’s like a cardboard door and there are major gaps, hence the arctic blast that hits me while I’m sleeping. Outside the door there was once a staircase down to the yard, but like all things Deep Eaves, it was built with random wood and nails and other scraps you’d find around the home so we tore it down and are waiting to win the lottery for spring to rebuild.

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Hold on, before I talk about productivity…

Can we just talk about the greatness of the site Fuck Your Noguchi Coffee Table?

It’s been around for years now, but so has that feeling of jealousy-meets disbelief-plus a touch of disgust-and a dash of impressed.

It exists so that when you’re searching the interwebs for things like hallway sconces and you come across one you like and you dare look at the price and you’re like LOL JK LEMME TAB OVER TO THAT IKEA PAGE, it can console you. Well, sort of.

Oh, did you think last week’s tacky post about how much the house is costing was a one-time rant? Heh.

This is where a light will go

This is a hole in the world’s ugliest wall. It will not be filled with a $400 sconce.

When I first sat down tonight, it was to write about how I finished a project this weekend. But then, of course, there was the need to procrastinate. So, I’m going to go backwards to the FYNCT site, have a look around, then back another step to the ‘spensive lamp shop, where I will realize I cannot / do not want to buy anything, and then, reluctantly, I will write about “my project.”  My tiny, feeble attempt to have a space that looks like like it’s part of this framed chalkboard ambivalence, antlers, globe, tiny flag garland, and light fixture covered in pages from a book room.

P.S. Don’t worry, I’m not in a totally bad state. In fact, I’m quite excited about where all the progress is leading.

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I apologize in advance for this post

Lookout, honesty post! Starting the new year off with a bang. Actually, I’m just here to complain about how much this darn house costs. So honesty, and tackiness!

Now that the giving season – a time when we all reflect on how much we have and how thankful we should be, has passed, I can feel okay when I say, in the most pathetic voice ever, “I am really tired of spending so much on this house.” Okay, and sometimes at The Haven (BUT THAT BURGER). You have to eat in order to run the stairs from the basement to the third floor and back down carrying boards and gallons of paint (or just walk the dog), right?

I know we voluntarily got into this project and I know the house has increased in value and we now own stuff like a really sweet saw/vacuum combo unit…

I told you this was going to be tacky.*

BUT. Let’s talk about the latest gift we gave our house. Actually, it was really a gift the house slash oil company gave us. Christmas morning, when we were in California (a long way from Boston), we got a text from the tenants saying they had no hot water. NO HOT WATER. MERRY CHRISTMAS, WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU, HOME IMPROVEMENT GODS?

I could only imagine how much the holiday–spiked price would be for the oil company to even answer the phone, let alone go to our basement. It turned out to be a clogged chimney, which only cost <way too much> considering one guy spent a little time taking out a few bricks that had fallen from the top of the chimney and replacing parts without asking us, which did not have to be replaced right then. But that’s neither here nor there, just oil company business as usual. At least it wasn’t a whole new boiler system. That will probably happen on my birthday.

The next post will be something about how productive we’ve been. And trust me, we have really been productive! Here’s a sneak peek:

cutting wallpaper

*also on the credit card are monthly contributions to some non-profits so, you know, not a total asshole.

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