Tour: Second Floor!

upstairsfloorplanbefore

So, when I posted the tour of the first floor a week ago, I did not intend to hold out on you a whole week before sharing the second floor! I’m such a withholding tease. I went ahead and arbitrarily decided that I was going to finish the kitchen on/by today, which was total madness and obviously did not happen. But I DID drive myself crazy trying to make it happen, and that’s half the fun of this whole renovation thing, right? Just letting yourself become a totally filthy feral lunatic rat-person who forgets how it feels to eat and pee and wear clean clothes and sleep? I’m doing it right?

ANYWAY. SECOND FLOOR TIME. As I keep mentioning, the house was split into 2 units in the early/mid-70s. As far as we can tell, the couple who owned the house lived exclusively on the first floor, and according to some neighbors, they rarely had tenants in the second floor apartment. Accordingly, the second floor is both oddly well-kempt and a little neglected, but overall in better shape than the first floor.

hallway

At the top of the stairs is a door (which locked us out automatically once, and we had to go digging through our 1 million keys to get it back open!) and this whole crazy wall situation. The wall doesn’t reach all the way to the ceiling (I guess for air circulation? Or because wood panelling comes in 8′ sections…), but it still makes things extremely hot and extremely dark/narrow/creepy in this hallway.

Luckily, it looks like it was built around the original banister, so I’m pretty confident that when we take it down, everything will be totally intact underneath. This isn’t a huge space or anything, but it’ll be so amazing to open this hallway back up.

The top photo on the right shows the hallway looking toward the front of the house, and the door on the left is the attic entrance. There’s a full, small set of stairs leading up the attic, which is really cool. The middle photo shows the woodwork that wraps the stairs——it goes all the way up from the bottom step, wraps around at the top and follows the floor on the second floor. You can kind of see it in the first photo, too.

The bottom photo on the right is the hallway looking from the front bedroom door to the back of the house. We’re coming for you, banister! Soon you will be revealed and so pretty! Fingers crossed.

My favorite part of the hallway is where the wall curves in front of the entrance to the front bedroom. So pretty.

frontroom

At the front of the house (directly over the possible den, possible office, possible library room) is this bedroom, which is the one we’re using now. The freeze-thaw effect caused the original wallpaper (under other layers of wallpaper, under several coats of paint) to start to separate from the wall in a lot of places, which is why it looks so crazy. The walls seem like they’re in good shape underneath, though.

In the top photo on the right, you can just see the entrance to the bedroom closet, which is actually pretty large. Houses this age usually don’t have many closets (and they’re usually really small) because people would have stored clothes and things in large wardrobes, but this house actually has quite a few good-sized closets—which I hope means that nobody down the line decides they need a “master suite” and starts rearranging all the walls, or something like that. When we finally get to the point where this room is a priority, I’d like to get electrical run in the ceiling for an overhead light. Right now, the only light source in the room is that little landlord sconce (not old, not cute), and the closet is completely dark.

nursery

At the end of the hallway (and attached to the front bedroom), is this little room, which was probably a nursery originally. This room is really small, and every wall has either a door, a window, or a window and a radiator on it, so there’s no way to really make it a dressing room or anything requiring big furniture. I like the idea of using this room as an office, maybe, or just putting a twin bed in it and having it be another guest room? Undecided. It gets great light, though, and is probably in the best shape of any room in the house.

By the way, the floors on the second floor are in much better shape than the first. The polyurethane is super thick and super duper shiny, so we’ll probably want to redo them at some point, but that can certainly wait.

Bathroom

Back at the back of the house is the second bathroom, which is directly over the first floor bathroom, but a little bit bigger. It’s kind of a weird hodge-podge of eras and styles (guessing the last renovation was in the 50s or so, based on the floor tiles and tub), but it’s going to be SO great when we renovate.

We already had to replace the toilet (this one was probably original to the house having indoor plumbing, and was really leaky, had a cracked tank, and would have been really inefficient, anyway), but I LOVE the door (although we need to change the orientation), I love the mirror, I love that little shelf under the mirror, I love the stained glass window (the only one in the house), and OMG THAT SINK.

When I first saw that sink, I almost pooped myself. It’s so awesome. Whenever we meet people in town who looked at the house when it was on the market, they all remember that crazy sink in the second floor bathroom. Of course we’ll have to keep it, although I wouldn’t be opposed to trying to convert to a single tap. Double-tap sinks are cute, but annoying to use.

This bathroom definitely needs a clawfoot tub someday, right? Right.

middlebedroom

To the right of the bathroom door is this room that we’re calling the middle bedroom. There isn’t anything in it right now, but it’s a nice size (not huge, not small) and should be a nice place someday. It has a weird light fixture and a weird newspaper from 1941 just sitting on top of the radiator.

It also has a super cool window bay, but I can’t tell what’s going on with it. I know there was a problem with the roof here and the realtor had new drywall installed and some wood pieces put in to fix it. I’m pretty positive that there should be windows on the sides, too (based on the moldings), but either they were torn out at some point or they’re encased in the wall. I have no idea. I’d love to restore all of that someday, but I guess some paint and maybe a window seat or something could go a long way in the meantime. It’s a mess right now.

Ceiling is a bummer, obviously. The actual ceiling should be quite a bit higher than this one, so it’s possible it’s hiding up there under those acoustic tiles. So many mysteries in this room.

creepycloset

Speaking of mysteries…this room! This is a weird little closet room off of the middle bedroom, except it isn’t set up to be a closet. Instead, it just has a few weird layers of weird linoleum, the pine plank subfloor, and…another closet. Creepy closet inside the creepy closet! I love it. The tiny closet fills the space under the attic stairs, and I love how miniature it is. That door is like 4 feet high. Maybe it should be Linus’s room.

I actually dig this tiny weird room, though. It has a nice big window, and I’m psyched to take all that weird crumbly flooring out. I think with the original subfloor painted white (it’s already painted, and I don’t really want to try to strip and refinish it), this could be a cute little space. I’m actually tempted to make THIS an office (I know I keep saying that about every room…we won’t have 4 offices, I promise), because I really like working in small, contained spaces—it helps me stay focused and keeps me from getting distracted by all the projects staring me in the face everywhere in this house. I DO wish this room had a door, but maybe we’ll find it somewhere or be able to move one from where else or something.

It’s also *slightly* possible that this room could become a laundry room, as it’s kind of the only place to put one on the second floor. Maybe. Also not a priority right now.

kitchen

Here’s the upstairs kitchen! This is the kitchen we’ve been using while we’re working on the downstairs one, so I guess I’m glad it’s here. Eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later!), I’d love to make this room a bedroom, maybe with a couple of twin beds, since we want to be able to sleep a lot of people in this house). Even though we’ll probably want to gut this room eventually——the walls are all masonite, and the ceiling is weirdly and unnecessarily low——we can totally make it cute without going through all that. The hardwood is right under this sheet linoleum (and looks to be in OK shape, from what I can see), the cabinets easily pull away from the walls, and we’re planning to re-use the stove in the downstairs kitchen and sell/donate the fridge. The stove is probably from at least the early 70s, but it’s in pristine shape and works well. Anyway, I’m excited for this room to be cute! We’ll get there!

upstairs-floorplan-post-demo

That’s it! I made this little alternate floor plan, for after the demolition. I know it’s very similar, but taking out some of that stuff is going to make a HUGE difference to how the upstairs feels!

Next up, the exterior!

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117 Comments

  1. Holy crap this house is huge! Maybe Linus should wear a bell, so you don’t lose him. I love the door knobs, the crazy sink, the mirror, screw it – the entire house.

  2. Is that a secret set of stairs on the second floor? Does that go to the attic? Love to see what’s up there!

    • Yes, it’s the attic stairs! Attic isn’t super interesting, but I’ll post about it at some point. :)

  3. i’m curious as to how you’ll handle the ‘middle’ bedroom. obviously you need to go thru that room in order to get to the back kitchen/bedroom, so i would think it would serve a better function as an upstairs living room or library or something. but then you said you want to have lots of sleeping options so that would be a little prohibitive… sleeper sofa(s) or daybed(s) maybe? so the room could still sleep people?
    love all the little quirky spaces and the bathroom fixtures (especially the door and that mirror!).

    • Yeah, that’s a good option for that middle room. I’m not sure yet! We basically have no furniture or anything right now, so we have some time to figure it out. Walking through a bedroom to get to another bedroom is probably my least favorite thing about the whole house!

  4. Looks great! I saw the sink on Instgram and thought it was cute but double taps are the worst. Then I read this post. Glad to see we are on the same page! This Reno looks like fun!

  5. 1. Thank you for introducing me to the term “landlord sconce”.
    B. That closet within a closet? Clearly, that is where former occupants kept *Grandma*.
    iii. That bathroom sink is to die for!

  6. So many amazing and also curious features! I really dig that weird ceiling light fixture, and also the pattern on the linoleum in the outer nesting closet. It’s a great house! I am sure you will make it look killer.

  7. I can’t help but think – what about making that front little room (#2) a bathroom? Freestanding tub set at an angle in front of those windows? If you want the house to sleep a bunch of people, another bathroom might not be a bad idea. I know, I know, it would require plumbing (and possibly winning the lottery) but it could be really pretty!

    • Yeah…that would be nuts! We’d basically have to run pipes through our entryway to make that happen, haha.

  8. This house is already so awesome! I wonder what that weird room was used for…

  9. After scrolling through on Instagram, and reading that you had a new post up, I had to get out of bed and start the computer to see the second floor in the largest format possible. (I did exactly the same with the 1st floor post). And it was worth it again.

    Your house and its details seem more and more amazing, with endless possibilities.

    Is there a door leading out to a balcony from your upstairs kitchen?

    • Thanks, you! <3

      The door actually leads to a weird set of stairs that goes down to the backyard. I assume it was added to meet code because this was a second unit, so *eventually* I’d like to remove it and replace that door with another window, which is probably what was there originally.

  10. Could the little room off of the middle bedroom have been a maid’s room? That would explain the nested closet, at least.

  11. Omg that tiny closet should totally be Linus’ room!

  12. Have you considered making room 4 a living space of some sort? It would make it easier to make that tiny room with mini closet into an office then (without going through someone’s bedroom) and then room 5 could be a bedroom also (without having to go through someone’s bedroom). Does that make sense?

    • Yes, we’ve definitely considered that! Especially if we ever have a TV at this house, that might be a good place to put it.

  13. Love the paneling detail below all the windows. Since there are two of you, you can have at least two home offices & possibly a home studio? If that’s an option I would make the small room off the master bedroom a sitting/morning-coffee-or-tea room (a comfy place to read the paper, ipad, etc…), the middle bedroom a design studio, the big closet off it one home office & the smaller closet a doggy hangout. Having to designate a purpose to too many rooms is such a terrible problem to have ;-)
    Can the attic become another guest room in the future?

    • I know! SUCH hard problems. My cross to bear.

      Those are all good options, too!

      The attic is totally unfinished right now, but I’d love to try to finish it down the line. It covers everything on this floor except for 5 & 6, so it’s a pretty large space. I can see it being a really beautiful loft-like bedroom and office space or something. Unfortunately, it also gets SWELTERINGLY hot in the summer, so I’m not sure how practical it would be without also installing an A/C system in the house.

  14. I would make 3 into a daydreaming/reading room with a day bed and rows of books on the floor along the walls. the little extra closet is for magical creatures (like Linus!).

    What a great house!

  15. You can definitely tell that this house was built before indoor plumbing was in widespread use – I’m assuming the fact that both bathrooms are on the back means they were not original. My house/apartment is the same way.

    Maybe make that small front room a minimalist sitting room? Great light and could be part of your bedroom suite. Just throw one or two of your many chairs in there along with a plant. Boom, done.

  16. love it. as i read the post and look at the photos i think to myself now how would i do this > vision it then continue reading and boom we think alike. i love the mirror and shelf. i like the dogs room (my new dog looks like linus!) and serously thought tibbi (my puppy) would love that as her bedroom and read boom same idea lol. a study would be cool next to it with that natural light! minimal desk chair lamp and bobs your uncle study nook. i reckon put shelves along the hallway. loving this and super excited to see the transformation unravel. you going to vlog any > that would be a nice bonus. start a youtube channel and earn some $$$$$$$ as you go. peace :P

  17. p.s i thought you could relocate the novelty sink to outside. it would be awesome to have a sink outside near a tap and flower potting station… just imagine it! its quirky and would be cute. thats my vision anyway. :P

  18. It looks like you get to room 5 (bedroom 4) via room 4 (bedroom 3) correct? I wonder if you would want to make these two rooms into a giant master suite and put a master bath in the corner of room 5 (it shares a wall, and hopefully some plumbing pipes with the 2nd floor bath, right? or the current kitchen sink plumbing could be used as a starting point). You could then have a walk in closet/dressing room/master bath–maybe a sitting area too–hard to tell how big that room is, so this might be a ridiculous suggestion. But if you want to have lots of houseguests (and children some day?) you may appreciate having your very own, unshared bath.

    The house is amazing and I can’t wait to see what you’ll be doing with it. I’m sure it will be creative, amazing and hysterical (you make me laugh).

  19. There are so many little details that are going to be so amazing once you start to work your magic on this house. I can’t wait to follow the progress!!

  20. Wow, lots of details to love on this floor. I think the light fixture in the middle bedroom and the old linoleum in the mystery room are really cool. I hope you keep little pieces of the everything for a house archive.

  21. You could cut into the wall of bedroom 4 and put in glass french doors (maybe the ones from downstairs?) which would brighten up the space at the top of the stairs and make that room into more of the living/library/studio situations mentioned above. It really is awkward to have to walk through a bedroom to get to another bedroom. My wife and I lived in a hall of residence in during university that was built around the same period as this house, and this type of room set up was really common. My wife lived in one of the inner rooms and it was super uncomfortable. But French doors would also drop you down to two official bedrooms, unless you use space #2 as a bedroom or build out the attic. SO many exciting options! This house really is gorgeous.

  22. Long time reader, never posted until now. A few minor suggestions:

    1) seconding the thought of keeping that middle room as not-a-dedicated-bedroom. Daybed, sleeper sofa or something. you may plan on having tons of guests as time goes by, but not everyone relishes the thought of bedrooms as passageways. (you might be able to re-use the door as the new door for the kitchen turned bedroom or for the closet in that room)

    2) Kitchen as bedroom – consider building out closets (Eventually, eventually) on either side of the entrance door. It doesn’t look like the existing closet has the depth for hanging clothes (but I could be wrong)

    3) weird little room#2 – fabulous. The possibilities are endless – a cozy reading space; a designated tech free zone, a music room, an art room, meditation room, dog bedroom (as if!) green house-plant room or whatever.

    4) You’re closing up the back door? Is there not a deck? Or is it one of those horrid ‘I have to have a second egress because it’s a rental’ abominations?

    Also, I have to rain on any parade, but be sure to check the local building laws in regard to switching doors and working with bathrooms. I know in the city there’s rules about upgrading to handicap access and have 18″ clearance on the pull side of a door. I have no idea how that translates into single family homes of course, but it may be worth a trip to a website or two or something.

    (Hope I didn’t come off as too preachy – I work in the business….)

    (Also, I’ll bet there IS a banister inside the atrocity by the stairs)

    (Lastly, and I just remembered this…I rented a top floor apartment during college in Michigan that had a VERY SIMILAR layout to the front – weird little room accessible from both the hall and the front room. Though this one had a closet in it too. There was also a closet big enough to park a car in that you entered through the bathroom. I still can’t explain it. And paneling. Lots and lots of paneling)

    (lastly, I am insanely undeniably inconsolably jealous.)

    • Thanks, Debora! Totally with you on all counts. The door is indeed a horrible egress abomination disaster, so I’d love to just replace with a window down the line.

      And thank you for the reminder about the building codes! I still can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be OK to switch the way the door swings, but I’ll find out——there’s a good chance it’s like that for a reason, I guess!

  23. This house is HUGE! Maybe it’s time to start adopting children Brangelina style…or you could airbnb some of the bedrooms out to make extra cash…to fund renovations, of course. Hope you’ve got lots of time up your sleeve! Lucky ducks!

  24. I’m pretty sure your house is a portal to Narnia.

  25. I HATE Feedly! I’ve written two responses, and each disappeared before I could hit send.

    1. I would have bought the house on the basis of that sink alone.

    2. The Deco fixture from the “library” would be best in place in the restored downstairs vestibule.

    3. I know this is really not your style, but I am on LOVE with the peeling wallpaper on the curved wall of the hallway. Maybe it’s worth preserving some of that as an art piece – nice, clean lines of restored hallway, and then bam! Art! It reminds me of this:

    http://buddhainteriors.tumblr.com/post/9157357351

    4. Room #2 – which I agree, was a nursery – would still make a fabulous dressing room. You don’t really need that other door to the hallway, do you? Lock it, and if you are not a fan of putting things against defunct doorways, hang a neutral floor to ceiling drape the whole width of the room. Then install an IKEA STOLMEN closet against it, a dresser on the wall it shares withe the bedroom, and. A lovely slipper chair in the corner between the windows. I can’t imagine a more charming place to get dressed in the morning!

  26. Oh wow. I think you have enough room for a small hotel there…
    Ditto on the Narnia comment :D You should at least find a way to incorporate a hidden door somewhere… oh look there, the tiny meta-closet is waving to draw attention…

    Curved walls make me swoon, I love them so much! You are so lucky :)

  27. Ahh the annoying Middle Bedroom conundrum (room 4 on your reno plan)..Had the same deal with my parents old house. Best idea is to make that room a Library or something with a sofa bed, type deal going on in it.
    Setting it up with room dividers etc is awkward and makes the room even harder to deal with. Making it an open space, a room to relax in, especially if that little room (room 3 on the reno plan) is an office enables you to have more space too. (Can use the extra space for shelving, books, larger table to spread out work etc etc.)
    The small office space is good, but having somewhere close by for larger work is always a bonus!

    I agree Claw Foot Bath! Yes! Yes! Yes! We had one when I was growing up, best bath ever!
    And please keep that sink, it’s amazing. I love it.

    PS Would you like me to come over from New Zealand to help out with some repainting/wallpapering? I’ve done floor sanding and varnishing too! ;)
    LOL

  28. The light fixture looks fascinating, which brings me to asking a question if you don’t mind…

    how do you match light fixtures to a room? I have this teeny tiny bedroom in a shared apartment and it has a hidious looking light that is very inconvenient while changing bulbs. I have been meaning to change it but i dont know what i should be looking for. do you have a any basic rules you follow?

    thanks for writing up such a fun blog for us!

    • Oh man, I have no idea! As with pretty much everything I do, I kind of just trust my instincts and buy what I like, and then try to match pieces that complement each other’s scales and proportions in the same room. The problem with light fixtures is usually either that they’re really ugly or that they’re horribly out-of-scale for the room. I tend to like larger-scale light fixtures, generally, but there are also instances where a really small and sweet pendant can look adorable in a small room. It really just depends what else is going on in the space! And, for me, usually what turns up at the thrift store or on Craigslist. :)

  29. I am sooooooo envious, those windows! The possibilities! cant wait to see the exterior!
    We bought a money-sucking monster of an old house about 15 years ago in the south west of France. It was ‘dans son jus’ which translates to ‘in its juice’ which basically means untouched for many years. We’ve previously only been able to go there for the summer months but we now live only about two hours drive so we go there at every opportunity. I spend all or most of my time there sanding/painting/fixing and dreaming of what could be. It hasn’t been changed much in the last 15 years (Lack of financial resources and time to organize renovations) but it’s now totally functional and almost cob web free. I LOVE being there, it resources me. So you see I should be all that jealous but trust me when I say I WANT YOUR HOUSE! Enjoy it to the full!
    P.S. Also have a central room which lead to two other bedrooms, it is very impractical as a bedroom so now serves as an upstairs playroom/living room for the children.

  30. It’s really charming; I love the way it is pretty much all there, just to be uncovered. Even the ’20s interventions sit amongst the original parts well. Your own layer of style is going to site well there too. When I look at your photos I also think of Eliz. Dunker’s Smaland house, the Mjolk cottage, and Minna Jones’ summer cottage: all simple hospitable places like yours. You have a great project ahead…!

  31. Oh my god! The woodworks! The curved wall! The windows! The bathroom sink! LOVE the upper floor. This is gonna look amazing!

  32. This is incredible! I love the old details but also all the possibilities.
    Is it crazy that I am excited for you?

  33. The upstairs is really lovely, too. I can’t wait to see the banister revealed again – that alone will transform the whole space of the upper floor.

    All the features you mentioned in the bathroom – door, window, sink, mirror – so glad you appreciate all that stuff. But as you rightly say, a claw-foot bath is what it lacks. I’m sure that will look really charming.

    My thoughts on the walk-through situation of the bedroom joining the kitchen: take out the kitchen entry and door and fill in to make a whole wall (this would give you two new clear walls in each room). Then, using the existing entry door to the middle bedroom, build a small vestibule jutting into the bedroom space and knock through the wall (in that corner next to the bathroom) to create the new access to the back bedroom (currently kitchen). You wouldn’t need a second door, just a door frame. Finally, knock a hole in the wall further along in the hallway (perhaps next to stairwell to attic) and put in a doorway there to the middle bedroom ( i.e. in the opposite corner of the room to the current door). That would mean some work, yes, but would solve that problem of having to access the back bedroom (currently kitchen) from the nice middle bedroom, which is very awkward.

    I really hope that you and Max will live in the house yourselves, but I know you look at it as an investment too (and rightly so), and I think if you solve this access problem, sympathetically, in keeping with the structure of the house, you will also instantly add value to your property. Then you really will have a four bedroom house, whereas at the moment, it’s a three bedroom with a walk-through access ‘space’.

    Daniel, can’t wait to see what you’ve already done to the kitchen. My own flat is only 380 sq ft, and I’m not doing any renovating, but I just feel inspired by your tenacity and creativity – you’re just in the zone! And you can write, too, which is what really makes everything you do so compelling.

    • Thank you, Thel!

      We’ve actually considered doing EXACTLY what you’re describing to solve the access to the bedrooms problem, except we were putting the door on the middle section of the “vestibule,” and possibly filling the space inside the middle bedroom to the left of the vestibule (if you’re standing in the room looking at the door) with closets. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I *think* even with that, this would still be a descent-sized room.

      That kind of thing is a longggg while off, though. At least for now, we’ll live with the existing layout and see if we can’t make it work. I think some of the suggestions in the comments above for how to use that space are really good, too, and obviously I’d prefer not to do big alterations to the layout if I don’t have to!

      • Hi, Daniel, you guys are so right! Minimum intervention, only one sledge hammer job required! Door to the middle bedroom in the middle of the vestibule, and built in closets along that wall in the room will even up the proportions. I can imagine that very easily, and the room looks big enough to take it because of that fantastic bay window. I think this is certainly an idea to keep in mind for some time in the future.

  34. Is it possible to put up some dimension on those blueprints? I’m curious about the sizes of rooms.

    • I originally had dimensions, but they made the floor plans look really cluttered and messy and I figured it wasn’t that important! I don’t really want to go back and edit the images (it’d take me forever), but if you’re interested about a specific space, just ask! I’ll be more specific about that kind of stuff as I work with each room, but the goal of these posts is really just to introduce the spaces and hopefully allow everyone to get a sense of the flow and all that.

      • I was also curious mostly just about the size of bedroom 2 cause on the floorplan it looks like the size of a walk in closet yet as a nursery, I think that it would be great.

      • It’s about 6 x 8, give or take a few inches!

  35. Sigh…I have no brilliant thoughts, since the floorplan stage is All The Stuff I’m Not Good At, but I love your house. I think you and Max are going to do beautiful things with it, and I’m excited to live vicariously through you.

  36. Your excitement is infectios!!! This is exactly what I’ve always dreamed of doing, never did & now I get to live it through you two. Which is ok, your taste is so much better/cooler than mine could ever be :)
    Have fun & keep up the blogging…………..

  37. Wow! That bathroom is fantastic. Can’t wait to see what you do to it!

    Where does that door lead to off of the kitchen? Is there a little widow’s walk out there? (Sorry if someone else asked! I didn’t go through all of the comments!)

    • It’s OK, I should have mentioned it in the post! It leads to a set of stairs that goes down to the backyard.

  38. We rented an apartment similar to your upstairs, 25 years ago. What is the odd little room with a closet in your house was a pass-through open to both larger rooms. Instead of a little closet under the stairs we had shelves on that side. Having it closed off raises all sorts of possibilities. We also used the little front room as an office.

  39. that tiny 2nd bedroom with all the windows: you could turn it into a walk in closet by using clothes racks http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40177233/

    http://www.doorsixteen.com/2013/06/10/yeah-i-could-live-there-6/

  40. oh! one thing about the clawfoot tub: as pretty as they are, they’re a pain in the ass to shower in, imho… especially on a regular basis – i have one in my apartment. having the curtain hang around on all sides can be really claustrophobic and they’re a pain to take down all the time to wash and/or replace. just an extra 2¢.

    • Oh yeah, I know that about clawfoots! We’ll definitely have a working show in the downstairs bath, though, before we even think about changing this bathroom, so I think it’ll be OK if one/both of us doesn’t love using the clawfoot tub as a shower. I don’t personally really mind it, though, but I’ve never lived with one.

  41. I am so excited about this house and you posting about it as you fix it up! The funny closet with the weird linoleum is likely where that 40′s newspaper came from. All of our upstairs bedrooms had the same type of lino in it, with newspapers underneath. One layer was from the 20′s and another layer on top was from the 40′s. Watch out for that stuff when you remove it, some of it contains asbestos. That’s the life of a old house owner–so many ways for it to kill you!

    • Yep, I think it was under the floor! I haven’t even touched that floor yet, but I think there’s probably more. And yes, we’re being VERY careful about asbestos! Thanks!

  42. Another longtime lurker coming out of hiding. I realize you likely have a to-do list a mile long but would love to see how you are ordering the renovations once the kitchen is complete. Promise not to hold you to it. Great house and great fun for your readers!

    • Me too! Haha. It’s really going to come down to time and money. There are a couple of bigger things we need to do on the house that we have to hire out, so I want to be very cautious of spending money on big stuff until those are taken care of. It’s possible we’ll focus on just stripping walls and stuff like that——labor intensive, but basically free——until we can save up for bigger things like bathroom renovations. Right now, we’re kind of flying by the seat of our pants!

  43. Wow, the house is way bigger than what I initially thought! Looks at all that potential bedroom space…

    And I agree, that bathroom sink is the highlight of the house right now. Make it work!

  44. Amazing!

    1) Do you have a general time from when you think most renovations will be done – 2 years v. 5 years v. working on it forever?
    2) This might not be relevant for such an old house, but my 60 year old house had a copy of all the interior renovations made over the years. It’s neat to see what changes have been made.
    3) Regarding code permits, we got hit with about a $7,000 fine/fix a couple of years ago when we decided not to pull a permit when we replaced a door with a window. About $2,000 was the fine and about $5,000 was to take out the changes we made and redo it with the foundational supports required by the city. It was a huge pain! Plus, the city inspector had to come out a million times. BTW, a neighbor ratted us out to the city. :(

    • Thanks!

      1) Not really! There are a few things that need to be done ASAP, but after that, it’ll really just depend on time and money. There’s some stuff that’s basically free (stripping wallpaper, paint is cheap, etc), and stuff that we’ll need to save up a few thousand dollars for, and we’ll just have to wait and see. I have a hard time ever seeing anything as “done,” though——I know there’ll always be things I want to do! I’m sure it’ll take us a few years just to get through the “initial” punch-list, though.

      2) We’re trying to find stuff like that, actually! Unfortunately it’s a little hard to track down, but we’ve done a little research so far and have much more to do. I think the best we can really hope for are some old pictures that might show the house in various states, which would give us a clue about when some of the additions and things were added.

      3) Yes, we’re being very careful with permits!! I’m sorry that happened to you, though! Hopefully we’ll be able to avoid situations like that.

      • Thanks! I forgot to say that I found the copy of the interior changes on file with the city.

  45. i got chills reading about that newspaper from 1941 – a room where time stood still!
    Or maybe i’m just easily spooked…
    I love that this house is HUGE. As a tiny apartment dweller with a massive bully, I can only fantasize about dog bedrooms and so will live vicariously through your renovation updates ;)

    • Somehow that floorplan of the second floor looks a bit more challenging than the first floor one ;-)))

      Just another thought regarding “transforming” room 3 and 4.

      If room 3 has the charms and the additional closet, why not turn this one into the main bedroom enlarging it by taking out the deviding wall between the two rooms and building a new wall just behind the side window (nearly in line with the outside bathroom wall?

      The smaller portion towards the back could become a walk-in closet then with natural light from the back of the house and chests of drawers under the windows and closets in front of the new walls?

      Within the new larger bedroom you could even enlarge the bathroom by adding a portion of that room to the bathroom.

      Of course, I am only doing a “theoretic ride” here, because it seems as if ceilings between the two rooms might be very different, and who knows where you have the best views?

      Making room 2 a guest room right next to your own bedroom? Is that a clever option?

      I am curious what the hallway will look like when the wooden construction is gone. Yeah! ;-)) And really looking forward to what you did to the kitchen downstairs, but don’t outstress yourself.

  46. Great house! The tiny room at the front of the second floor may have been the sewing room. They needed the daylight back in the day.

  47. Finally, the second floor! The anticipation was killing me!

    I think either room #2 or room #3 would make a good bathroom. Half bath at the very least. With all those guests sleeping over, you don’t want a line forming down the hallway!

  48. Oops, I meant weird closet, not room # 3. And I just read the comment about plumbing thru the entryway.

  49. Can’t wait to see what you do, and I know a lot of people are putting in input here so I don’t want to add too much to that, but… Pretty sure you should build an even tinier closet in that small closet. Then put something in there, like I dunno a framed picture of burt reynolds or such. It would be the best gift you can ever give the next owners.

  50. How do you think you’ll deal with the accessing a bedroom through another bedroom situation? I lived in a few student houses that had that situation but people dealt because it meant cheaper rent.

  51. This Old House has scads of full episodes from past seasons online. In ’09 they did a huge reno of a Brooklyn brownstone which reminds me of your home. You can view the whole series at http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/tv/video — scroll to “New York City House.”

    Sidebar: how about calling the downstairs room that’s parallel with the entry a throwback name like “front parlor?”

  52. Congratulations on the house and the engagement!

    I had a sink with twin taps and found a mixer — I got mine on CL. You have to measure the distance between the two holes where the existing taps are and that will be the size mixer you need (it mixes the hot and cold water together for you). Here’s the old one I got: http://townhouseturnaround.wordpress.com/category/bathrooms/page/10/#jp-carousel-742

    I hate the separate taps — I was just in England and lots of homes still have them — they like extremes, I guess. Me, give me warm tepid water any day.

  53. Hi Daniel, long time listener, first time caller :)

    I could never wade through all the responses you get on every post, but wanted to suggest checking out a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, in case no one else has suggested it. I linked to a list of all the NY stores. They have really cheap architectural salvage and now furniture too.

    Best wishes on your home ownership adventure! Your house has so many cool features that I’m sure you will make the absolute MOST of!

  54. Oooooooooh yes, you must keep that lovely second floor sink. What are the chances you could possibly find a clawfoot-ish tub that MATCHES that sink? Maybe? Maybe? Somehow?

    I’ve been reading up on architecture books from the mid-to-late 1800′s recently–actually, mostly about extant Tudor architecture, especially in smaller buildings–but hey, it’s still from the right time period ;) There are SO MANY books from that era, out of copyright, in their entirety, on Google Books for free.

    So hey. While you’re taking down obvious transplants and figuring out what’s underneath them, there is an enormous wealth of resources in how to work out how and what was where in the original building. If you’re not lucky enough to have records somewhere, filed with the city or county somewhere, that had original plans…there might be, somewhere. Or even sketched-out plans associated with the title as it changed hands early in its “life.”

    Oh hey. Be careful on that second floor (or the first floor ceilings) anywhere there might be old water damage from old leaking that was just sort of tiled or plastered or painted over. I know someone restoring a 1910 house–which had also been cut up into multiple apartments, doors walled over, etc etc–whose contractors came in one day to discover that the only thing holding up the cast-iron clawfoot tub on the second floor, directly over the back entrance everyone had been using to get in and out for *months*…was only held up by the cast-iron vertical plumbing associated with it. The floor was entirely rotted.

    There was a few days’ worth of panic at that point while people realized what could have happened, what could happen any minute, and frantically tried to work out how to brace it up before it fell through the floor and destroyed a fair amount of the first floor. They couldn’t even, really, safely get TO it once they realized what condition the floor was in.

    Another fun discovery was where they’d cut through a supportive beam for the second floor to run ducting for the AC.

    Be *careful* in old houses that have multiple-layer flooring that could be concealing anything, and walls added in and built up around unknowns.

  55. I agree that the little room with the big windows was either a nursery or a sewing room. The other room, with Linus’s little pad (can we agree it’s his?) probably was a maid’s room.

    Here in L.A. we have Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, in Barnsdall Park, which I toured years ago with my parents. It’s one of his smaller Residential Mayan temples. Have you seen it? It’s closed for repairs right now, but it’s worth it. I bring this up because the owner, Aline Barnsdall, was so filthy rich she hired Frank Lloyd Wright to build a house for her and her daughter. That was scandalous at the time; Aline was unarried. The child had a beautiful room of her own, and right next to it was a tiny, claustrophobic, dark and low-ceilinged space that would barely house a cask of Amontillado.

    The tour guide asked us what we thought it was. Most people said dressing room, or even closet. Nope. It was the nanny’s room. All that money, that beautiful house, and the pampered child, and the nanny got a miserable little space. The tour guide said that was common; servants only needed enough room to sleep and change their clothes. Their waking hours were supposed to be devoted to their employers’ needs, not their own. Old Frank made the nanny’s room depressing on purpose!

    Anyway, you cram your desk in there, wrench a desk chair through the door, and exorcise the place! Design beautiful things and places and drive out the sad vibes.

  56. This house just keeps getting better and better with every photo you post. I mean, that SINK! If you ever change your mind and decide not to keep it, I will personally fly in all the way from Norway and take it off your hands ;) There is just so much potential in this house, I know it will look even more amazing when you’ve worked your magic on it!

    I’m assuming Linus and Mekko are there with you when you’re working on the house? How do you keep them out of the way so they don’t end up covered in paint and dust and stuff? Are they ok with being in one of the other rooms by themselves, or do they manage to stay out of your way while you work? I have two cats (which is a lot different than dogs, I know, but still..) who complain loudly if they have to be in another room, and who apparently need to SIT on everything and rub themselves against freshly painted stuff if they’re in the same room. I’m just curious how other pet owners manage to do home renovation with pets in the house? :)

  57. Hi Daniel
    I love playing with layouts. A couple of ideas for level two.
    This is difficult to describe so I hope you can follow my meaning :)
    If you want to have room 4 as a private bedroom you could move the doorway between room 4 and 5 so that it is closer to the hallway. You would also need to move the door for room 5 so that it would open opposite the door to room 4 – it would look like a little square at the bottom right corner of room 4. The new entrance would be like a little hall/box.
    The little room 2 could also become a larger bedroom. There is a section that is part of the hallway/landing that has three openings – the closet, room 2 and room 1. If you could remove the wall that has hallway entrance to room 2 and build it at the end of the stairs you would increase the size of rhe room while also enclosing the closet inside room 2. You would lose the entry door to room 1, but could make a new entry through the closet.

  58. My grandparents’ house had one of those little bitty closet-within-a-closet! Those were commonly used to store luggage.

    And as an entrance to fairyland.

  59. I’m so excited about your house! So many amazing details that know you’ll do such a great job bringing back to life.

  60. I am childishly excited about following the developments of you house-project! So. Much. Potential!

  61. Here’s a slightly off topic but maybe practical comment… If you are planning on lots of guests for thanksgiving etc., don’t CL the extra fridge (unless it’s disgusting). You might put it in the downstairs laundry room instead. We have an old farm house in upstate NY. The kitchen layout does not have any semblance of a “work triangle” (I think they are overrated anyway) and lots of doors and windows. We ended up with the fridge in the pantry and supplemented it with an extra 1/2 fridge and extra 1/2 freezer under a counter in the pantry as well. It also really helps with the summer overflow of drinks and watermelon too.

  62. This makes me so happy I want to puke, and I’m not even joking. I used to look at old houses in Detroit all the time. We’ve since relocated to Wyoming where we’re searching for a cabin, so I’ve given up on that particular house dream. Whatever, if you’re interested in some house porn, I posted some favorites here: http://milk-shed.com/2013/03/03/letting-go-of-old-dreams/

    More to the point – old places like this in Detroit get totally ransacked for scrap metal and such, but a lot of original fixtures then end up at a local Architectural salvage place. This is Detroit’s (http://www.aswdetroit.org/materials.htm) just for the fun of looking through all the stuff. If you guys have an architectural salvage place of your own, you can very easily find a clawfoot tub, probs even another sink like that. A visit is usually a guaranteed win compared to the hit or miss nature of thrifting and craigslist.

    I kiiiind of hope the entire place will end up with a bit of the same vibe as Max’s childhood bedroom that you guys redid.

    • Thanks, Stef!

      Yes, we’re definitely exploring salvage places for all of that stuff! This is also a really historic area, so people tear that stuff out of their houses all the time. I loveeee a good architectural salvage!

  63. Hey Daniel – woo hoo! I’ve been away and am trying to catch up with all this house buying, photos, demo talk. Is there a photo of the outside somewhere? Thanks and good luck and enjoy! Sinead

  64. Second floor is awesome even with all the quirks. Huge house. Can’t wait to see each step of the process and your and Max’s vision come to life!

  65. Greetings from New Mexico. Holy crap, your new house is beautiful! Many congratulations, and wishing you many fun hours of renovation. If I didn’t have a house of my own to fix up, I’d fly out there and help you sand stairs!

  66. The upstairs is so nice, and that SINK – love it! We had a weird paneled wall covering the existing stair railing in our house too. I think people did that during the 70′s energy crisis. Anyway, we tore into it and had it out in no time at all – made all the difference! Side note – I lived with radiators for over 25 years in both houses we renovated and we loved them. But here is the thing – Norm Abrams (sp?), the This Old House guy said – if the radiators work, leave them alone – DO NOT TINKER WITH THEM. Norm, the perfectionist, said this and I listened. Yeah, I painted them, etc…but I never turned the knobs, never tried to drain them (???), we never touched them – I left them alone and they functioned fine. Just thought I’d pass that along – Love your house and your blog

  67. I need to tell you something that is going to change your life. You need to get a steamer. They are like $75 at Home-De. They take paint off wood, wall paper off walls, weird sticky stuff off floors, clean grout AND you can steam all your dedicates. Best. Thing. Ever. Trust.

    • Thanks, Samantha! We actually debated getting one already, but were told that it wouldn’t be as helpful for the wallpaper as a mix of chemicals/scraping would be, so we’re going to try that first! But maybe it would be great for all that other stuff. :)

  68. I think that maybe rooms 3and 4 should be a master bedroom suit! It’s a luxury that’s not really practical but nice to hv?! You can use a sofa bed instead of a normal sofa this way u could use the room as an extra bedroom when needed… The little room attached to no. 3 can be a walk in closet? Or something like that?!

  69. Oops just realized I got all the numbers mixed up lol I was talking about 4and 5!! Sorry!!!!…..and I just realized that no. 3 can’t be a closet bc of the other staircase! ….

  70. I love all of the original wood detailing, the bathroom mirror, sink, etc. I even love the odd bay window just the way it is, but like you, I suspect there were side windows, especially given the downstairs. What does it look like from the outside?

    I can’t wait to see that paneling come down. It really makes things dark and scary, and it’s totally not to code. I can’t believe there’s that huge gap above and they used it to partition off a separate apartment! That’s supposed to be a fire wall!

    I’m with Thel on eventually extending the hallway around the corner to giver direct access to the future back bedroom/current kitchen. If that’s not a loadbearing wall, maybe you could even create a second curved corner. In the meantime, I would do what a lot of people are suggesting, and use the middle bedroom as a den with daybeds and/or pull-out couches for when you have lots of guests. That way, it won’t have too much of the weird walk-through bedroom vibe.

    For that matter, I think the nursery/sewing/whatever room would have a weird feel as a guest bedroom because it is attached to the other bedroom. I think the front room downstairs would make a better bedroom, and this would make a better office. If you are putting in only a shower on the main floor, and you make that room a bedroom, it would be a really good configuration if you ever have any mobility-challenged guests (i.e. grandparents with walkers, people in wheelchairs or with broken ankles, etc.).

    That sink and that bathroom layout are totally screaming for a clawfoot tub, btw. Check out architectural salvage warehouses. Here in Detroit, you can get a salvaged clawfoot tub for like $125.

    The thing that really surprises me is that with all of those windows, there is no window at the top of the stairs or above the stairs to light that area. It seems super dark. If it were up to me, and there weren’t any load-bearing issues, I would knock down the wall between the nursery/sewing/whatever room and the hall, and use that space as an office or den, but letting the light into the stairwell. Then I could sit there and stare at the curved corner all day instead of working.

  71. Also, WTF is with that blocked-off area in the kitchen? Is it a a chase of some kind? I’m also dying to know if there were fireplaces upstairs.

  72. Also, I agree after seeing the upstairs kitchen that the downstairs kitchen may have been an add-on. Then again, it may just be that it was not originally intended to have a room above for fire reasons.

  73. That ‘plinth’ the toilet is sitting on is a warning flag!
    Watch for rotted floorboards below.

  74. There are so many bloggers out there who ramble on and on needlessly until the end of time and you just want to scream “Get to the damn point already!”….. but I never feel like that while reading your posts. Also, I am totally in love with that mirror in the bathroom.

  75. I think you need your own TV show now.
    Yes .That would be great!
    3
    60 mins once a week for the next 5 years :)

  76. Just found your blog. I love your writing! Good luck with the new house. I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

    Is the back staircase still there? And if so, are you going to open it up again? Back staircases always provide comedic situations. All the good old sitcoms had them. I’ve always wanted two staircases just to spice up my life!

    • Thanks! The back stairwell was removed and replaced with a pantry and the closet in the dining room. We really don’t need a second stairwell (as fun as that would be!), so I don’t think we’ll rebuild it. Plus, having a pantry is great!

  77. Is that window bay rectangular? On your floor plan it looks like it’s not, but in the picture it looks like it is. It could just be a box window, with the one big window and walls on 2 sides. We have one in our dining area. At first I was bummed because there weren’t windows on 3 sides. However, through reading architecture stuff and living with it, it has its benefits. If the walls are white, then that window area is a great channeler of light into the rest of the room. If you get a super ninja replacement window. It will be a comfy spot even in winter. Also the side walls give you a place to put art and light sconces, etc. We built a bench and had an thick foam cushion made for ours and now it’s a banquette seat for our dining area. I remember reading an article where an architect said that box windows are one of the easiest and most inexpensive bumpouts to do create space in a room…apparently making one twin or even queen sized is not a big deal.

    • Thanks! It’s…vaguely rectangular? The walls do angle a bit, but not as much as a real bay.

      All of those suggestions are good! We’ve also been thinking about doing some kind of window seat thing when we get to that area.

  78. Someone may have mentioned this already, but I wasn’t about to read through all 113 comments to find out…In response to the odd little room, we have a similar one in our 1920 home. When we were renovating it (previous owners had covered EVERY SQUARE INCH IN CARPET TILES) someone had told us that it was probably a nursery. I guess it was something that some old homes have and it made sense to us because there was already another closet space in that bedroom. So we turned ours into my studio. (http://cherylandrey.blogspot.com/2012/01/before-after-my-studio.html)

  79. Yup, yup, yup adding you to my feedly feed. Love your new home.

  80. Hello! I just recently found your blog and I am loving your house! It’s going to be fun to watch you transform it into something spectacular, that’s for sure.

    As far as layout stuff goes, I hope that if you decide to do a bump out into bedroom 4 so that the kitchen can be accessed from the hallway, that you curve the wall so that it mimics the curve next to the front bedroom.

    The other thing I was thinking was that it would be cool if, instead of changing the door that leads to the stairs, keep the door and add an upstairs porch that mimics the architecture of the front porch.

    Kind of similar to this: http://www.iongroup.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/second-floor-porch-mls.jpg

  81. That’s some fantastic linoleum, right there. Those linoleum “rugs” were wildly popular because they brought color and pattern on the cheap. I can’t find that specific pattern on Google, but it looks a lot like the Armstrong patterns from the 40s.

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