Week Two – Slow and Painful

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[Photo: Hint: It’s Walnut….. But you’re gonna have to read the whole damned post to find out more.]

So, I wish I had a long blog post about all the exciting things happening at our half classic six, but I do not. Instead, I have a post about our renovation progress, a few small victories, and a lot of frustration. I’ll get to the frustration first and then tell you about our small victories.

We scheduled the floor guy to come in on the day after closing to give a quote on the floors with the hope that we could get the floors done quickly. Now, I know you are supposed to get at least three quotes, but I did a few hours of research on Angie’s List (Not a plug, but certainly worth the annual fee) to find a flooring company with experience doing very old floors, and after reading glowing reviews, decided on Company X. He came and gathered all the information, then told me he would have a quote to me within a few days. Then over the weekend, we uncovered some dry-rot issues as I pulled up a few tiles in front of the kitchen sink (previously blogged about). I quickly sent him an email with an update on the situation and the best plan of action was to have the section of rotten floor cut out and then filled in with plywood. So, our plan of just sanding the floor and then painting it quickly went out the window as I realized the best thing would be to simply cover the existing floor (patch and all).

Beautiful example of Marmoleum in a San Jose home Slaughterbeck Floors

Beautiful example of Marmoleum in a San Jose home. Image source: Slaughterbeck Floors

It was at this point that a friend suggested Marmoleum…. What is Marmoleum? Why, it is the original company that developed linoleum back in the middle of the nineteenth century. Marmoluem is still available in sheets as it has always been, but it now comes in modern 12×12 click-together squares installed as a floating floor. It is beautiful and very much a material that would have been used in a 1910 kitchen. Suddenly, Marmoleum was the solution to the wonky floor we were being left with. So, I sent off for some samples to pick a color, and as of last weekend, Yoav and I settled on a light and dark gray checkerboard pattern for the kitchen…

At the same time, we were faced with the reality that we needed a new kitchen much sooner than we had expected (see previous post for more about that). So, on a trip to the Elizabeth, New Jersey Ikea (The easiest Ikea for us to get to via a free shuttle bus from Port-Authority on weekends) last weekend to check out the kitchens (yet again), we nabbed the soon to be discontinued counter-tops we wanted, and continued to go back and forth about which cabinets we want (all to be revealed in a future post). Then on the shuttle bus back to the city from Ikea I said to Yoav…. “You know, if they are going to have to scrape up the tar paper and patch the floor, why don’t we have them just sand it (while they are already sanding the rest of the apartment), prime it, and paint it like our original plan two weeks ago. It will save us a bunch of money.” I realized that the patch will be directly in front of where the sink is, and we can just put a small rug there to hide it. Problem solved…. A painted floor it will be!!! (Until we change our minds again.)

The floors are just sitting in wait for renewal....

The floors are just sitting in wait for renewal….

In the meantime, the clock kept ticking on getting the floors done. We got our quote, it came in at what we felt is a fair price, and we signed the agreement. Then the realities of doing anything in a co-op came into play. Although we already had the OK from Patrick our Super, we had to then deal with getting the managing agent to sign off, and at the same time, we had to submit our paperwork to do the replacement kitchen. That’s when things started to skew off course. The insurance broker for the flooring company was out of town for the holiday weekend, then we needed to amend the quote after I pulled the remainder of the floor (see the YouTube of that here), then there was additional delay in getting the amended quote, and then there were questions on how to properly fill out the forms for our managing agent, and then… Well you get the idea. Basically, we are no further along than we were two weeks ago. And as such, we are not moving in on our planned day either… Bottom line of course, its just costing us more money…. My 60 square foot storage locker alone is more than $15 a day. This stuff adds up quickly.

As frustrating as all this is, there have been a few small victories and they are actually signs that things are happening… Last week I mentioned the burglar bars were gone…. Yay! Then on Sunday, I hauled our base cabinets, the sink/counter top, and four heavy bags of peel-n-stick tile down to the basement, and with an “envelope” in hand to help grease the wheels, all of that stuff magically went away followed by our stove. It helps to have helpful staff on hand. I was left with kitchen which only had a few remaining wall cabinets, a fridge, and a nasty floor partially covered in tar paper.

Ugly cheap brass doorknob was installed instead of just fixing the existing hardware. WTF?

Ugly cheap brass doorknob was installed (before/left) instead of just fixing the existing hardware (after/right). WTF?

Another small moment of joy was last night when I righted a wrong…. You see back on that very first day we saw the apartment, just as we set foot in the door, the selling agent showed the the glorious cedar guest coat closet with the door that over eight feet tall… The first thing I noticed was that somebody had drilled a hole above where the original doorknob was and installed a hideous brass doorknob. My immediate thought was WTF were they thinking? The mechanism for the original mortise lock was still in place, only the original doorknob was missing…. I remember commenting that one of the first things I would do is fix the original doorknob. Which is exactly what I did last night. I had already picked up a replacement crystal doorknob at the Home Depot for about twelve bucks and in about 15 minutes, I had the cheap brass doorknob removed, and the original mortise locking mechanism working, reinstalled with a new crystal doorknob. All it took to fix the locking mechanism was to scrape away the paint that had dried on the inside from a careless paint job. Instead of fixing it, somebody thought it was a good idea to drill new holes for a new lockset into a mahogany and cedar door. Again… WTF???

Under the bedroom window is now nice and neat looking.

Under the bedroom window is now nice and neat looking.

Today I also had a couple of small victories…. With the radiators pulled (and sitting in our bathroom) so they can do the floors, I took advantage of the opportunity to paint the area behind where the radiators sit below the window sill. I did it in both the bedroom and living room, the trim color is really lovely (it doesn’t translate well in the images) and we are both super excited. I will take a moment to mention that this is the first time I have ever used Benjamin Moore paints…. They are the go to product for many designers, but at nearly $45 a gallon, a bit steep…. We happen to have a Benjamin Moore store a short walk away and I decided that I am all grown up now and deserve to have nice paint…. Well, let me tell you…. It is totally worth the extra money. I could not be happier with how well the paint went on, and the coverage was nothing short of amazing.

Before (top) with partially stripped fireplace tile. After (bottom) is a much better look.

Before (top) with partially stripped fireplace tile (and the previous residents crap). After (bottom) is a much better look.

Another victory today was the tile surrounding the decorative fireplace. Somebody in the past thought it would be a good idea to slap some black paint over the lovely original white tile. Then somebody half-heartedly attempted to strip the paint off… I remember thinking on our our original visit that finishing the stripping job would be another quick win. So today I tackled the tile surround and it came out quite lovely indeed. I didn’t get to the black interior area (we are still debating to strip or not to strip) but the area around and the hearth came out absolutely wonderful. Yes, there are damaged, cracked, and broken tiles, but hey…. It’s over a hundred friggin years old… I expect it to be imperfect.

Close up of before (top) and after (bottom) stripping. So worth the effort.

Close up of before (top) and after (bottom) stripping. So worth the effort.

The last thing I want to share this week is our victory on eBay….. Yoav and I have been on the hunt for this mid 1960s walnut dresser/credenza from the Broyhill Brasilia line for a while now…. Isn’t it fabulous? We will be using this as our entertainment center in the living room hiding the cable box, Blu-ray player, and such behind the doors in the center. We have seen it locally for as much as $1600…. On eBay it is typically in the $1200-$1400 range…. We scored it from a seller in Ohio for less than a thousand bucks including delivery. It is in remarkable condition for being 50 years old…. Definitely a highlight of our frustrating week and a big SCORE!!!

Our new (old) entertainment center, Mid 60s walnut Broyhill Brasilia dresser/credenza... Score!

Our new (old) entertainment center, Mid 60s walnut Broyhill Brasilia dresser/credenza… Score!