Part I: The rental unit, aka back ache and blisters

Finally! After five months, and a few extra days, one floor is done. Those first few weeks seem like a really long time ago. It doesn’t even seem like we’ve done that much looking at it, because we’ve been so close to it. But then I go look at the kitchen and, well, that’s a good place to start.

Here’s a flashback to the linoleum rubber mystery floor that was pulled up and the miscellaneous cabinets and sink that were there.

kitchen before after

And then, after. Except in the above photo, the white backsplash isn’t behind the range so, use your imagination. Pulled up two floors, refinished the original wood floor with a grey stain (and enough wood filler to warrant having to just put down a new floor), took out beadedboard, put in all new plumbing, found the cabinets at the Boston Reuse Center that were taken out of a fancy home atop Bunker Hill in Charlestown, and purchased them for under $1000. Painted and patched the walls and the ceiling, and replaced the ceiling light with one that is only better because of its age, not because of its looks – but hey, the electrical in this house…FML.

It might be hard to see without really standing there, or looking at the bills, or trying to remember the past few months, but we did a lot to improve the living and dining rooms. Beyond just the stain and the paint, we removed the loose shitty tile from in front of the boarded up fire place, touched up the stained board at the fireplace with chalkboard paint (we mentioned to the tenants they could draw some flames on it), replaced floor boards, changed out light fixtures and outlets and switches, fixed up the built-in cabinet, and generally cleaned the place up.

One before, and a few after:

dining room before

DSC_0985 170Amory_diningroom dining room after DSC_1018And then, the bathroom. Definitely the biggest undertaking, and, two weeks in to the tenants living there, we are still waiting on that damn rubber floor.

bathroom beforeLou vs. The Bathroom. Guess who won?

bathroom hooks and shower bathroom after teak bathroom vanity bathroom hooksWe did, bitches. Lou especially, because he got to use that red switch-plate outlet cover!

We changed it so much that it looks nothing like the old bathroom. The bath/shower was to your right when you walked in, where the sink and vanity are now. We ripped out the yellowing plastic shower wall around the tub and threw it in the Bagster. We moved the bathtub, which was still in very good condition, to the far side of the bathroom below the window, and to make up the extra foot or so, added a nice little ledge for shampoo, etc. Lou eagerly took off the old, decorative, under-6-coats-of-paint window trim and put clean, minimal, fresh trim in its place. I think it’s his dream to remove the fussy original trim from all the windows and doors.

The sink and vanity and rusting medicine cabinet and toilet and the pink fuzzy seat cover and all that jazz went away. The old bathroom sink was the first sign that the plumbing needed to go. The faucet had a constant drip that had worn through the enamel in the sink, making a nice riverbed. We turned off the water to the sink it kept dripping. This freaked me out and I declared that the house had a crying ghost in it. How could there be a drip when the water was off? Because all the valves on every fixture on every floor, all the way to the street were shot, that’s how. We got rid of the crying ghost and moved on.

Despite my love for subway tiles on Pinterest, tiling these walls ourselves wasn’t really that appealing, and paying someone to do it wasn’t, either. Shocker. The wall behind the sink and over the door was still standing in all its plaster and drywall glory, but we needed something to replace the other walls we took out – and preferably, it would be waterproof so it could go around the tub. Luckily, I saw this board treatment in a lovely bathroom. Boards on a wall = way less messy than subway tile. Not quite the same effect, but still nice. We put some waterproofing material on the wall first, then the boards, then painted the boards with an epoxy paint for water resistance.

After digging through the linoleum, the sub-floor, and ripping up the flooring under that, the wood floor couldn’t be saved. And then for cost efficiency some reason, mainly because Lou likes industrial, non-traditional-home-materials and I like grey, we opted to go with rubber flooring from Italy that is still IN TRANSIT WTF. It took a lot to track down a decent, smooth grey floor, as they’re usually in hospitals or gyms and have weird shapes and colors and traction-y textures.

We had to lower the ceiling about 6 inches, which meant putting a new ceiling up. So we lost the fancy textured ceiling with glitter in it, but we gained a ceiling fan that automatically comes on when it senses motion in the bathroom. Amazing. A new mirror from our local glass company, Jackson Glass (so local they don’t have a website). Vapor-proof industrial lights. And the teak vanity (built by Lou) and topped with dark grey Ceasarstone. The same stone is on the window sill and bath ledge.

Whew. That’s a lot. It looks fairly sterile but it’ll warm up with towels and a shower curtain and all that.

And now, my favorite part: the laundry nook! And adjoining mudroom. The area before, and then, a bajillion times better.

laundry area before

laundry nook after laundry nook and counter mudroom with checkered floorIn the nook: Boards over the crumbling wall on the left, similar to the bathroom. A few fresh coats of paint, new floorboards, electrical and plumbing. A counter over the washer and dryer for added convenience.

In the mudroom: The checkered rubber floor was in really good shape here so we decided to save it. It adds a lot of character, and, well, it’s meant to get dirty. We replaced the glass in the backdoor window and lowered the oil bill $100 a month in the process (only half kidding). I’d be happy living in the mudroom and laundry nook alone. It’s so bright and cheerful compared to what it was.

And finally, the moment I know I for one have been waiting for – the reason this post is two weeks coming – THE SCARY CLOSET HAS BEEN TAKEN CARE OF!!!

You don’t know what the scary closet is? Oh! Well. Allow me to explain. Now, it’s hard to tell, but behind that closed door there on the right, the one with the straw window shade covering it – the kind of shade found in shitty tiki bars, used to be a staircase. To somewhere. Actually, to a bedroom (our bedroom) on the second floor, typical of what many people have told us is a Philadelphia-style home. Long story short, someone boarded it up in an odd way, and we had to break through, unboard it, and fill it so it wouldn’t be a black hole.

door to closet

The scary closet gave me the creeps. It was literally boarded up with various plywood scraps, and more boards over the dismantled stair risers, odd shelves like it was a closet at one point, and very old wallpaper on the side walls, back from the days it was a real, functioning staircase. Every time we visited the place before we bought it, we opened the door and enjoyed being creeped out by the boards. I was just waiting and watching, ready for someone’s skeleton-like hand or face to push through the straw blinds. Finally, on the morning of our walk-through, we opened the door expecting to see it boarded up and instead found the board broken, as if someone punched through it. Clearly, nobody was going to let any valuables get handed down to us.

Below is the scary closet with the board removed. The inside still has the odd shelves and the platform (Why? What was it used for? So many questions). And below the platform you can see a wooden drawer that someone created just for that space. It goes into the back bedroom there, and comes out behind the bedroom door. A secret drawer, if you will. The scary closet just has so much to offer…

inside the scary closet former staircase

Eventually, Lou worked his magic and built a box we could slip into the scary closet and call a built-in bookshelf. It’s like it almost belongs there. Scary closet no more.

built in bookshelfAnd I’m spent. If you want more photos, the album is here.

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About Lynn

Attempting to renovate a house and keep a blog alive.
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5 Responses to Part I: The rental unit, aka back ache and blisters

  1. Kate says:

    I wish we lived in Boston so we could be your tennants. :) love everything you’ve done!!!

  2. Nice work! Thanks for mentioning Boston Building Resources as your cabinet connection. I will share.

  3. Pingback: An endless supply of Scary Closets | Deep Eaves & Empty Pockets

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