Upstairs Kitchen is Gone!

I’m aware that some people grew up engaging in wholesome sorts of activities, like reading the Bible or watching Schoolhouse Rock. For such individuals, that type of stuff might have played a significant role in their understanding of how people should act and how the world should function. My family wasn’t really like that, though. Instead, every Sunday night, we tuned into a little television program called The X-Files, which I now realize was all part of my parents’ never-ending commitment to help raise the next generation of neurotic Jews (this, along with poor digestion). There, with eyes wide and hearts racing, we were taught the secrets of the universe while also having the shit scared right out of us. The fancy-pants parents of today would never stand for this sort of thing, but this was the 90s. Things were different then.

I’m just going to assume that you live on planet earth and know what The X-Files is. If you don’t, you need to take a good long look in the mirror and ask yourself what you’re doing with your life and commit to making a change. Then go get a Netflix subscription. The X-Files hasn’t really seen quite the same trendy resurgence of late that shows like Twin Peaks and Buffy have, but it’s only a matter of time. As a home design blogger, I feel semi-qualified to make semi-confident trend predictions about these things.  You’ll want to stay ahead of that one so that you’re cool when everyone else begins to recognize that the first 6 seasons of The X-Files were the best TV ever produced.

ANYWAY. In the pilot episode of The X-Files (which, admittedly, we watched as a re-run), there’s some crazy stuff happening with UFOs and aliens in Oregon, which Mulder and Scully go out to investigate. At one point, they drive through an area with radio signal interference, which Mulder mysteriously takes note of by spray painting an X on the road. Later on in the episode, they drive through the same area again, but THIS TIME Mulder checks his watch:

903x-files

Then they see a flash of blinding white light.

whitelight

When it’s over, Mulder looks at his watch again.

x-files912

They mysteriously skipped over nine minutes of time. Mulder gets out of the car to find the X on the street. Scully follows behind. They discuss it in the pouring rain at night time, because most things happen in the pouring rain at night time on The X-Files. 

x-files1

THEY LOST TIME, YOU GUYS. BECAUSE OF ALIENS AND STUFF. Awesome. Best show.

I bring this up because this is more or less how a lot of home renovation projects seem to be taking shape. I’ll walk into a room to grab something, or think I’ll spend 20 minutes or so working on a project, and then I’ll come to and realize that the sun has set. I’ll check my watch and realize I haven’t had anything to eat or drink in many hours. I haven’t even peed.  Then I take stock of my surroundings and realize that things look completely different than they had when I walked in. Maybe I have an open wound or two that I either failed to notice or failed to attend to while in the thick of things. All that time spent in the middle is muddled and fuzzy, a sort of abstract blur of tunnel-vision activity.

This is how the upstairs kitchen in my house vanished. I’m pretty sure I went in to grab a bottle of olive oil in the early afternoon. Then, POOF! Magic! It was the middle of the night and the kitchen was gone! I have only this series of photos to piece together what I guess happened in the interim.

kitchen

First of all, this was the upstairs kitchen, which was presumably installed when the house was split into a two-family. It’s at the back of the house, directly above the downstairs kitchen, and was very ugly. I’ll admit that it was actually pretty functional (this is the kitchen we used while we renovated the downstairs kitchen, so I’m actually really glad it was here!), and almost all the components of it are being reused elsewhere. The stove, for instance, we moved downstairs for our kitchen (since the original stove was a busted-up piece of scrap metal), and the cabinets went to the mudroom (and, probably someday, the garage) and hold all my tools. The still-working but very old and inefficient fridge was donated, and the sink was kept just in case we want to use it for a future remodel.

ANYWAY. I demo’d that shit all by myself over the course of an unexplained time lapse. This is sort of how I did it, I guess:

sinkcab1

I started with removing the sink, which I figured would be the most difficult. It was. The plumbing had already been disconnected at the basement level (I think ahead and stuff), so there wasn’t anything super technical to worry about. Just a lot of disconnecting things without adequate tools. Without adequate tools is becoming kind of a theme of my life——I’m FINALLY learning that I need to invest in decent tools when I need to buy them, and replace the cheap-o ones that are all breaking with something better when they inevitably give out. Cheap crappy tools were fine when I was just playing around in my apartment, but they’re not ideal for house renovation.

Anyway, the sink plumbing came apart super easily. I thought it would be easy-ish to just lift the sink off the base once the plumbing was disconnected. HAHAHAHAHA. Oh, Daniel. When will you learn.

See that strip of white behind the sink? Well. The sink was sort of built into that strip. That strip was made of three pieces of 1/2″ plywood glued and nailed together and screwed into the studs. WHYYYYYYYYY.

sinkcab2

Sawzall time! Note how this sink base is A) the worst thing you’ve ever seen and B) super hand-made meaning super-badly-made meaning built like a tank. I really did think I could just take this whole thing out as a single unit, and I’m pretty sure it ended up as just a pile of splinters, infused with my rage.

undersinkwoodprying

Once it was gone, I got to wondering what the deal was with the platform that the sink base was sitting on. In another room, there’s something like this under a radiator, which the wood floor was clearly laid around, so I figured that this was the same kind of deal all along. Then, whilst demoing, I had the following conversation with myself:

Me: What if this piece of wood is actually on top of the wood floor? What if there is more wood floor underneath it?
Me: No, definitely not. It’s the same as under that radiator. The floor probably rotted out at some point so they cut it all away and added this thing. Or something. Your house isn’t the fucking Secret Garden.
Me: I really think this is a possibility. I don’t know why you’re always so negative.
Me: Because everything is terrible. You know that.
Me: MAYBE THIS WON’T BE TERRIBLE JUST GIVE ME A CHANCE.
Me: You’re going to regret this.
Me: We’ll see about that. By the way, your left arm is bleeding.

So I dug in with my pry bar. And hammered, and pried, and stuff, and probably hurt myself again.

prying2

WHAAAAAT. There WAS wood floor underneath the weird platform thing! I was all:

x-files2

Anyways. Then I removed the sheet vinyl floor, which I was pretty safe about, I guess. It’s possible that the backing of this kind of sheet-vinyl contains asbestos, but luckily there was no adhesive used to secure the flooring to the wood floor underneath. I used a box-cutter to cut it into strips, rolled it up (spraying the backing with soapy water as it was exposed, although the sheets weren’t tearing or coming apart or anything scary like that), and bagged it all up.

By this point, many hours had passed. I guess Max finally got curious about my whereabouts and came upstairs and was all:

scully

And I was all:

mulder

And the kitchen was all:

beforeafter

OK, I know it still looks a mess, but it’s exciting that it’s…not a kitchen anymore? It’s just a regular room that needs a lot of work?

floors

Pretty much the big exciting news is that the floor is actually in pretty great shape! Turns out all those years of being covered up did a nice job of protecting it, so while down the line we’ll probably want to refinish it, it can totally just be cleaned for now and look fine.

after2

I still have to rip out that pantry thing in the corner, but after the sink cabinet…well, at least I’m semi-prepared emotionally and mentally to deal. It’s going to be a pain.

after1

Anyway, this is a pretty good room. It will be a pretty good room. That door leads to a terrible set of exterior stairs that you can see here (which we’re hoping to have removed soon!), and the window has a piece of plexi on the outside, so it doesn’t open. The walls are all made of this weird fiberboard stuff (not plaster, not drywall), which is in pretty lousy condition and has a gross texture, and now half of it is ripped out to make way for new plumbing for the upstairs bathroom (long story, different post…). Basically, it will all need to come down to the studs at some point.

But! Underneath that pillar thing between the window and the door is a brick chimney! Above that super low ceiling (I think it’s 7.5 feet) is nothing! There’s no attic over this part of the house (the kitchen and this room were a later addition, probably around the turn of the century), so someday I’d love to loft the ceiling in here, which will make the whole room feel much bigger. So…refinished wood floor, lofted beadboard ceiling, two windows on either side of an exposed brick chimney——hello master bedroom? That way, that middle room can become a kind of flex space——like chill-out zone with a TV (we don’t want a TV in the main living room, but…I like TV. So.) and a pull-out sofa, which will eliminate the awkwardness of having the access to this room attached to another bedroom. Here is a diagram to better explain what the hell I am talking about, lest you have not memorized the entire layout of my house:

floorplan2

Something like that? I am tired just thinking about getting there. Let’s hope for more magical X-Files alien time lapses, yes? Skip ahead to a time where this is all done?

Cool. Great plan.


177 Comments

  1. I always start ripping out the kitchen sink when I get the olive oil, too, proverbially speaking.

    I love this room! I especially like the shape, and the whole radiator beneath the large windows situation. It will be so charming when you’re done with it I’m sure.

  2. Great work! Can’t wait to see the more progress!

  3. First time commenting… I would not have thought there was a way to make your posts more enjoyable but you did it! Talking about the X-Files and inserting X-Files screen caps!?! Brilliant, love it, more please!
    I love how the house is coming together slowly but surely, and I am hoping that you have lots more (productive) lost time!

  4. Holy cats, that floor is beautiful!

    When we ripped out most of our kitchen we did not find a beautiful floor under the linoleum…just a hole with rotted flooring/dead mice under the fridge. I think you win the vintage house lottery! :)

    • Yes, we were super lucky!! We could only see the very edges of the floor where the vinyl was ripped, where things seemed really water damaged. I was shocked when the majority of the floor was so well preserved!

  5. Absolutely agree with your assessment of the X-Files. I don’t know how you resisting tearing out those awful walls and ceiling while you were demolishing the kitchen. Just looking at them is making me feel twitchy.

    I know it would be a major investment, but have you considered adding a second upstairs bath in room #2 on the floor plan? If you’re opening up walls, anyway…may as well add the plumbing for a second bath? You could totally DIY the rest of it.

    • Laura, you are voicing all my thoughts, agree about tearing into the walls and ceiling; and to adding another bath.

      Go Daniel!

    • Trust me, I want to demolish it all now! We might wait for a while until we’re really ready to tackle this room, though. I don’t want a big demolished room unless we’re not actively working on it, you know? There are MUCH higher priorities than redoing this room right now! We might even fix it up a little, paint, change the light, etc, and make it a guest room for now. :)

      Re: room #2——aside from that room having two large windows, two doors, and a radiator (all of which I like!), I actually really like it as a room. And adding plumbing there would be…I don’t know how that would even work! The room is right over the entryway, so we’d probably need to tear out all the walls (which we wouldn’t open otherwise…they’re totally fine, solid plaster), the floor, and walls in the entryway… plus there’d be a huge bathroom window right over the entry door, which would kind of present a privacy problem…anyway. There are a lot of reasons. There are already two full bathrooms in the house, though, which is more than enough for us, at least! If a future owner wants to add another bathroom, I guess that’s up to them, but I don’t really think we will.

      • Setting aside your relative lack of interest in having a third bathroom, I will say I think it’s possible to locate one there in your house should the urge ever strike. We added a bath in a “sewing room” (being used as a walk-in closet when we bought our house) which is partially over the entry hall and partway over the front porch. There was no plumbing in our house anywhere near this room. Now this project did involve a plumber to put in the sewer and water pipes and I don’t remember what got torn out (nothing conspicuous that I recall) in the house. It’s balloon construction and I think it involved running the new pipes down to the basement, then across to the other side where all of the existing plumbing is. (My husband did everything else, built out from the studs, including all fixtures, tile, wainscot, lighting, etc.).

        I will ask for more details! Anyway, though our house is smaller than yours, it’s nice having a second bathroom upstairs (and there are only two of us).

      • If you were going to add another bath, you should put it in where the plumbing from the kitchen already is. you could easily knock down the wall between 4 and 5 and have a nice master suite…

        D

      • Ha ha – I actually see the two windows as a bonus for a bathroom. I love showering in the sunlight, so I’m fine with having a big old window in my shower as long as the glass is frosted for privacy. I hear you on two bathrooms being enough, but it does mean that guests will either have to traipse up and down stairs to shower, or share the master bath with you and Max. Anyway, to each his own, but I would def go for the extra bathroom on the second floor.

  6. Amazing (hilarious, witty) writing AND home renovation stuff?! Could I be more stoked about a blog? (no) Thanks for sharing.

  7. This is. the. best. blog. ever. I’ve been over here lurking in your unfinished house for awhile (metaphorically) but feel compelled to tell you.

  8. Wonderful! I love the X Files tie in. My house is more like Breaking Bad…..I can’t wait to see more!

  9. You are so funny, so handy, so witty, please entertain me!!! This house is so good.

  10. You know how sometimes your electricity will blink off and on for no reason? I still scream, “WE LOST NINE MINUTES!!1!” when that happens to this day.

    You’re much younger than me, though. That shit used to be on Friday nights.

    Best thing about rewatching is how much the size of their cellphones shrink over the course of the series.

  11. Rage Infused Splinters – love it. Looks good! I feel you with the unexplained/ignored injuries. I managed to stab myself in the hand with a chisel and sat there looking at the wound for a couple minutes wondering if I could keep going without getting blood on the trim I was working on.

  12. “Your house isn’t the fucking Secret Garden.” I would like this on a t-shirt, please. One for me, and one to mail to every home blogger I’ve ever read. Amazing.

  13. Amazing job-I love reading about your remodel-it inspires me to work hard so I can hire someone else to do it. BTW, what happened to school and your apartment. Have you moved on?? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • No, we still have the apartment! We’re back and forth, but we both work in the city (I’m freelancing right now, and Max is the associate editor of Design*Sponge!), so we have to be back in Brooklyn about half the time. I’ll post about it soon, I’m sure. :)

  14. If you’re going to lose time, it’s probably better than it be on a home project instead of an alien probe. Fabulous job as always. Can’t wait to see the final look.

  15. Just when I think you probably wont post for ages cos you just worked your ass off finishing the kitchen and stripping the hallway you go and rip out a kitchen! And sounds like you have done even more… Do you ever rest? I mean I don’t want you to, I’m just amazed by your hard work. Go you good thing!

  16. OMG those people…they were like the DIYers from hell. I rent an apartment they apparently renovated. My partner will be so happy to see this post because our kitchen sink situation is just as fucked up.

  17. I lose time while knitting.

    I def kept thinking, “this looks like it wants to be a master bedroom” and then you said master bedroom. The house wants what it wants.

  18. I’ve been a reader of yours for a whopping week or so, and I feel like it’s time I let you know that it has simply been a pleasure. Anyone can fix things up, but it takes a special gift to fix things up and then write about it in such a way that it kicks the asses of all the other DIY blogs. Sweet.

  19. When Steven King wrote The Green Mile, it was originally published in short monthly novels.
    I waited in much anticipation for the newest installment. Looking forward to your next “chapter” is just as exciting, and yours are as well written. Thanks Daniel

    • Oh, shucks, you. Too kind, as always!

    • After reading this comment all I could think about was Daniel and Max renovating the Stanley Hotel (The Shining). I think you would do an amazing job, but I can’t put my finger on which one of you would eventually get possessed and run around with an ax.

      • Absolutely me. Hands down.

      • That’s funny, because when I read the first post about Daniel’s house, I couldn’t help but think about the X-Files episode “HOME”. Thankfully there wasn’t a bed left in the house, or else I think Daniel and Max might have found a quadruple amputee strapped to a dolly underneath it. “My boys are good boys!”. Just the thought of that episode still freaks me out.

  20. Okay, so… this might be completely impossible / way out of budget / just plain insane, BUT. Have you thought about converting room #2 to a bathroom? I’m not sure how many bathrooms you have, but just to through it out there… just wanted to hear what you thought!

  21. i love you. i love x files. i love this blog.
    that is all.

  22. Voting for room #2 as bath

  23. As usual you are effing awesome. Nuff said. I have time lapses too. Think I went downstairs to do laundry done this morning and painted two barstools, a small chair, and a kids train table. Whoa. What happened?

  24. Yep-I totally get the time warp/reno thing.Just got finished a major reno/expansion of my kitchen.I just wish Scully and Mulder would have shown up and helped…..BTW-I love your blog!

  25. Jesus. I cannot get over how good of a writer you are. Seriously. Make this blog into a book. Or I will be forced to print it out myself and bind it together in a slap-dash fashion that totally detracts from your hilarity, and that kinda defeats the point.

    Seriously, though, you’ve got skillz. Capitalize on that, man.

    • Thanks, Caroline! Working on it! (not the blog into a book thing…but some kind of non-blog written thing that people could read somehow, somewhere, at some time?)

      • Do it! Would love to read more from you! All of your writing shines, but the memoir-type pieces you do are especially lovely. You have a great voice as an essayist.

      • We all just want to keep encouraging you on the writing thing. You are definitely a writer, and writers need to hear that, if only to fill the hollow echos of despair in the midst of it.

  26. This was a really fun read. Random thought: the funky wallboard in the upstairs kitchen is probably something called Homasote. Wikipedia has a decent article on it.

    • It’s similar to Homasote! I’ve used Homasote before (to make a bulletin board), so I know what it’s like! This is, I think, fiberboard insulating sheathing, or something like that. Very light-weight, kind of breakable, wood-based product. It’s really awful! We have it in a few places around the house.

      • OMG that stuff is worse! My sympathies. (BTW, the house is amazingly charming, even in progress!)

      • Thank you! Yes, it is horrible!! Luckily it’s just this room, the downstairs bathroom, and two closets, all of which we’re gutting anyway. At least it’s pretty easy to remove, and less messy than drywall or plaster…

  27. So this would be a…demoflow state? That happens to me, too, but usually involves taking things apart that reaaaaally shouldn’t be. That was lucky on the flooring. Your house just gets better and better.

  28. You have all the skills. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  29. X-Files flashbacks & having conversations with oneself: Neurotic Jew probs. BEEN THERE.

  30. Removing a vinyl floor to reveal wood – especially when it doesn’t involve chiseling off the super-glued vinyl inch by inch (I’m not bitter) is a beautiful thing. What a difference. It will be interesting to see the chimney.

    (I grew up in the 70s being subjected to Hawaii Five-0. No one lost time. But they did have really wide ties which could cause temporary blindness.)

  31. My mom was all about the X-Files. That show scared me every time, but anything to stay up late.

    Anyway… SO much better – and yay for wood floors!

  32. I was that Mom! My son and I loved watching X-Files together. It made quite an impression, because he and his wife recently got a dog and they named her Scully.

    I’m probably one of your oldest readers at 52 and I LOVE your blog! I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. When I saw your kitchen finished post come up I said to myself, “this is going to be good, better go make a cup of coffee and settle in!” You don’t disappoint!

    Thanks!

    • Got ya beat by a decade, Bonnie. Devoted reader here and likely older than Daniel’s mom (role reversal: my daughter is a huge X-Files fan and introduced it to me). But this is a blog for all ages. Smart-funny-skinny kid picks up power tools and hilarity ensues. Now if Daniel would only turn his talents to videos (tutorials or just crazed DIY antics), I could cancel Netflix.

    • No, no not the oldest by far, think 74 1/2! I’m GG material & love Daniel, my surrogate great grandson.

    • I campaigned to name Mekko Scully, but Max wouldn’t let me!! I’m glad somebody did, in any case!

      And thank you! :)

      • And Scully’s dog’s name is Queequeg. That’s actually the best.

    • Well, if this is the over 50’s section of fan comments, add my name to the list. See Daniel? Your blog has a wide range of appeal. I find other blogs to be too cutesy, too sweet, too syrupy. We love your no punches pulled, hilarious reno posts which are occasionally peppered with family bits (because ripping off wallpaper is great, but Max and pups keep you sane).

  33. You are totes up on the asbestos-in-lino thing (which is not so super big/ well known in Australia because we didn’t use so much lino in the asbestos era), but that ‘weird, fibreboard’ wall stuff? My guess is asbestos cementboard. Used to enclose just about every porch on every old house in Australia in the 1950s-1970s, plus some whole entire houses were built out of it. That’s the asbestos I’m alert for in doing renos down under. So, um, maybe google that if you’re not familiar with it, and see if that’s what your stuff is?
    Apologies if you are already totally on top of asbestos cementboard and you’ve already discounted it as what your walls are made of. Just thought it was worth a heads-up.

    Our fun reno “what?!” moment: I was re-painting our ‘asbestos’ sleepout when I accidentally pressed my fingertips too hard against the ceiling. And it dented. Cementboard doesn’t dent. That’s when I discovered that in fact the vast majority of what I had thought was asbestos was in fact styrofoam sheets with a thin layer of gapfiller. Yes. Our sleepout (sunroom) is built of styrofoam. Only three probably-asbestos panels in the whole darn room it turned out.

    • Thank you, Clare! Our walls are definitely not asbestos cementboard, but thank you for bringing it up! I’m pretty sure the walls are actually fiberboard insulating sheathing, which should not have asbestos in it. It’s really not supposed to be used for interior walls…it’s very soft, and dents and breaks very easily, super lightweight…which should at least make demo easy!

  34. I never got into x-files that much – I’m a few years older, and I think I was busy with graduate school, etc. I do remember that every one I knew dressed up as Mulder and Scully for Halloween ’97. Lots of trench coats.

    I was, however, a huge Twin Peaks fan. I’m about to introduce it to my husband who somehow missed it the first go round. I actually got to meet Sheryl Lee a few weeks ago because she’s filming in St. Louis and my daughter got to be an extra in a scene with her. She’s pretty amazing, but all I could think of was her wrapped up in plastic. That scene freaked me out for years…

    We got lucky on some floors in our house, but not the kitchen. We did kitchen-lite reno to the first time around. I’m pretty excited to do a better version again sometime soon, and figuring out the floors is priority number one.

    What about a second bathroom upstairs? Even a little one might be nice. I do love a tiny, sweet bathroom.

    • Love Twin Peaks! You know, David Duchovny has a PRETTY great roll on Twin Peaks, so maybe you should give X-Files another shot! I think maybe it’s gotten better with age, like a fine wine.

      A few commenters above have made the second bath suggestion——see my response to Laura up near the top!

      • I can see your point about excessive bathrooms – and I’m all for not having more than you need. I guess I was thinking of a more out-of-the-box type of bathroom – even if it was a simple washing sink in a piece of furniture.

        Regardless, it’s looking great.

  35. I agree with others that the 2nd floor should have a guest bath, but I think that putting it in room 2 could be expensive (the other side of the house from the plumbing). What about putting a master bath in room 5 and making rooms 4/5 into a master suite? I don’t know if room 5 is big enough for the bedroom & a bathroom, or if room 5 becomes bath/closet/ (& den?) and 4 becomes the bedroom.

    Regardless, I love the blog and would pre-order your book on Amazon if there was a way to order a book that hasn’t been written.

  36. That was supposed to be your Passover kitchen! Every frum household needs one so you don’t have to kasher the main kitchen each year.

    Love your blog.

    • Oh, we’re Jewish, but not…like, THAT Jewish. Our traditions pretty much start and end with eating and casually using a handful of yiddish words. :)

      • I was just teasing. I didn’t really get a frum Gay Gardens vibe from you all, but when you run out of things to do, I bet you could design and build an awesome sukka.

  37. You know, you’re kind of like CSM with these posts you sneak in when I wasn’t expecting one so soon. Probably we’ll find you rigged the 1980 Olympic Hockey finals and masterminded the fall of the Berlin Wall, too! (I know you’re way too young for all that, but I had to throw an obscure X-Files reference.) It is so seldom a DIY blogger mentions the best show ever – not to mention that they so perfectly dovetail it into a post of the reno of their home. You are the best!

  38. This is maybe totally minor but have you considered moving the door to the potential new master bedroom to the right, in the corner? It will give you a better den (couch wall AND a tv wall!) and will make the master seem bigger (door not opening into the bed). Just an idea!

  39. Despite its relative availability to the general public, I notice that there has been a dearth of bible references in your blog, nor do I see anything about Schoolhouse Rock that I think would have helped you despite having watched it again recently. Your Sister, maybe. You, not so much. Which brings me to the question, or comment, at hand. Which is “So tell me again what the problem with Sunday Night X-Files watching was again?” I mean, first of all, hearts racing and all that is an excellent way to prepare for sleep. Second, you were like 7, which means we were like 35, which by definition means that we knew best, doesn’t it? I’m just sayin that you make this whole thing sound like it was enforced torture! And, look at you now! Gazillions of readers hanging on every word, random subject matter with extreme relevance, and pictures! You got any pictures of Noah building a fricken Ark that would have made this post any better? Huh? I know, this is my first public comment ever, and you want to know “So what caused him to “break”?” And the answer is, Do you really think Mom was going to let you watch what you now acknowledge to be the best television ever produced? I mean, seriously? I fought for you! And, my reward? The public humiliation of being dragged through the mud, and on the three month anniversary of the release of the Area 51 papers, which conclusively prove….., well not a whole lot, but I fail to see where that is important. It was just too much. I had to say something, or risk being beamed up somewhere and wisked off forever. Or, sentenced to have lunch with Eugene Tooms. Either way, not a happy conclusion to this story. X

    • Ladies and gentlemen, my dad!

      1. Schoolhouse Rock DID teach me the preamble of the Constitution. Of course, I didn’t watch it until I was like 17 and studying for AP US History, and didn’t know it existed before that, but better late than never?
      2. If by “preparing for sleep” you mean “preparing to lay in bed terrified of having worms enter my ear canals and eat my brains and make me a murderous monster,” sure. I guess.
      3.I don’t know, I remember Mom being pretttttty complicit in all of this.
      4. You know I brought in the X-Files just to bring you out of the shadows, dude. YOU TOTALLY FELL FOR IT.

      Welcome!

      • hahahahaha!
        Awesome post Daniels Dad :)

      • I kinda guessed that, now we know from where you got your gift of the gab. Hi Daniel’s Dad:)

      • Hahahaha! Brilliant!!

      • In my own defense, I left town ONE weekend with your DAD in charge of the three of you. It was Saturday afternoon and I called to see how everyone was doing under the circumstance. I believe you answered the phone at like age 3 or 4 and I heard a very loud TV noise in the background. I asked what you guys were watching and the answer was JURASSIC PARK. I told you to put your father on the phone and was told he was asleep on the couch, after having started the movie for you. UGH!!!! I rest my case.

      • Oh, rapture! Now we all know where you get that charming, demented, quirky personality from – both Mom and Dad! Lucky you (and us, if you allow them to guest blog on rare occasions, please, please, please!)!

  40. I’ll be the voice of dissent and say NO THIRD BATHROOM. I find it utterly ridiculous that every bedroom must have its own attached private bath these days. I grew up in a family of five (and four of us were female) and we never had more than two bathrooms. And we all lived just fine. Not only is the every room must have it’s own bath concept a complete waste of energy and materials (really? three baths for a COUPLE?), but a shared bath enforces, well, sharing! And respect for other people’s needs. And how to get along. And all that other stuff that seems to be sadly lacking these self-entitled days. Not that the two of you need that, but I just hate to see the worst qualities reinforced, you know? Like, are you friends not going to come visit because they won’t have a private guest bath? Uh, then you don’t need them as friends. (I’m sure everyone will be able to come up with reasons why someone might NEED a private bath, but c’mon, those scenarios are generally the exception not the norm)

    OK. Off soap box.

    I knew that upstairs kitchen was crying to be the the main bedroom. Too bad you probably can’t keep the door and just the landing of the tragic stairs and have a private balcony….

    Also, that sink and shoddy-odd choice materials/solid construction thing has been giving me flashbacks of an apartment I rented in college. We were on the second floor of an addition to a much older house. Lots of wood paneling over basically nothing, and my bedroom had exposed brick that was the exterior of the main house, and basement style windows. The shower was textured vinyl sheeting, and there was no tub faucet – just a shower head and the hot/cold knobs…

    • Thank you for being the voice of dissent! I tend to agree, honestly…I think trying to force another bathroom into this house is just not a good plan, and really unnecessary (for us, and really, for anyone. Even a large family doesn’t really NEED more than two full bathrooms!). It’s an old house, the oldest and largest part of which were built before indoor plumbing, so both bathrooms are later additions. They’re small, but efficient, and that’s OK. I’m more interested in restoring and maintaining original features (that’s why we bought it!) than altering them drastically and irreversibly, and while certain modern amenities are nice (you know, grounded outlets and such…), I really have no desire for a big modern private master bathroom/master suite thing. It’s just not right for the house. If that was something that was important to me, I wouldn’t have bought it in the first place! Besides, we only have one functional bathroom right now as it is, and we’ve had plenty of house-guests, and it’s just not an issue! I think even having two will feel a little excessive!

      ANYWAY. We’ve talked about keeping the door and adding some kind of second floor porch, but it would be a HUGE undertaking and really require rebuilding the mudroom, and I don’t know that adding ANOTHER addition to the back of the house (even if we make it tie in architecturally) would look good! I don’t know…I think the front of our house is really pretty, but one of my big goals with the exterior is to make the back of the house more unified. Right now it kind of just looks like a hodge-podge of bad additions.

    • For me the norm is ONE bathroom (for a family of four or five people) and two bathrooms is like, awesome, why anyone would need more than two (!!!) is beyond me. And why people are proposing such an expensive project right now, when it’s clear that there are so many more pressing issues and money is kind of limited, is hard to understand.

      • We have one bathroom as well for our family of four. Eventually we may add a second one… but I am in no hurry to start cleaning a second bathroom every week. Three is insanity! Or maybe just laziness on my part…

  41. Without adequate tools is becoming kind of a theme of my life——

    not just adequate tools but the right tools! :)

    This was something I heard my father say maybe a million times as a kid “you need the right tools for the job”
    Everytime during my own renos I use a butter knife to quickly remove a screw or pry something off with an exacto blade I can feel him watching me lol

    Great post today
    Love the Scully and Mulder stills :)

  42. I have just recently stumbled upon your blog (through Door Sixteen, whom I also love). I have never felt the inclination to comment on a blog ever, but I’ve been following your story since mid-way through your kitchen reno and I have to say.. I wish I’d found this blog like, 2 years from now because the anticipation for your completed home is torture! I love love love everything you’ve done so far, and your house is so adorable. Thank you so much for the inspiration (design and hilarious writing style).

    I can’t wait to see what more you have in store!

    – Helen

  43. Gah Daniel. This is going to be an amazing room! I too understand the time loss feeling. It happens to me every time I enter a library or start “organizing” my closet which really means trying on all my clothes to find new and unexpected combinations. I adore your blog, twitter and instagram feeds and now that I sound like a stalker, I’m out.
    Caitie

    ps. keep the late night blog posts coming! who needs sleep anyway.

  44. My parents choice of scaring-the-pants-off-the-kids TV: The Outer Limits!
    I still freak out if I hear anything like sounds like static on an old TV.

    For about another month, we live in central Oregon-a place with lots of X’s on the roads, lol.

    I am really enjoying reading about your home being brought back to life with the added bonus of good old fashion WRITING, with not a middle school rap reference in sight. Thanks for that.

  45. I’m going to back your dad, as well as my own, and say that letting young Dan stay up to watch X-Files was a solid parenting decision. When I was little, my mother and older sister would head to bed thinking that I was being allowed to stay up until the end of the hockey game, and it took until the show moved from Fridays at midnight to Sundays at 9 for them to catch on and join us for the weekly ritual. My father, sadly, passed away just over 2 years ago; but I inherited a 9 season box set attached to wonderful memories and a soon to be 18 year old cat named “Mulder” that was found one rainy November night. They are both very special to me!

    I love the idea of having a sitting room/den off the master bedroom. Like a sanctuary for you and Max when the house is full of guests, or just a quiet place to enjoy a glass of wine while discussing your day without having to be propped up in bed. I also like the idea of room 3 being a walk-in closet, but I suspect that both room 2 & 3 will tell YOU what they want or need to be as you continue working on the second floor.

    I know that it is a lot of extra work on top of all the physical labour you are putting into the house, so thank you for blogging (not just about the renovation). I truly look forward to each and every post.

  46. I still have nightmares from the “banned incest episode”. I guess that’s what you get when you’re the youngest child; you’re parents don’t really care what you watch. Great score on the wood floors! Its starting to come along!

  47. I am soooo happy to find yet another new post with pics and progress reports. And you’re an X-Files fan? I utterly loved that show! Did you ever watch its spiritual heir, Fringe?

    • Uh-oh…Fringe is a sore subject for me…I HATED IT! I think I may have watched a whole season, or at least half a season, because I wanted to like it, but it just…nope! Not for me! :)

  48. Can I be your agent? Pleeeeaaaase? I want to get rich.

  49. Good lord, I couldn´t love you more for this X-Files analogy. Also, your dad´s comment. Brilliant. All we ever watched as a family was ALF. And to this day, I think my father doesn´t really understand why his weird daughter would write things in the internets. Well, well.

  50. Bravo Attila !

  51. I just started reading your blog a couple weeks ago. You and Max must be some kind of dynamic duo. Among your myriad other talents, you’re both such engaging writers! Thanks for taking us on this journey. (The house is a gem by the way–can’t wait to see it in five years!)

  52. You, sir, are a delight! I love your writing style and all the awesome things you’re doing in your home. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

  53. Well done! The Mulder reaction/screen shot was priceless. I loved the comments as much as the post.

    So, to chime in on the uninvited redesign of your upstairs . . . I vote for keeping room #2 as a sleeping/office type room. Extra bathrooms = extra cleaning = extra misery.

    You’re gearing up for guests and — if it hasn’t happened already, it will soon — many of them will grow/obtain/find themselves suddenly inflicted with children . . . that *aren’t* dogs. Having a little room off the guest room for a sleeping baby would be awesome for them and for you. Rest of them time? Office or whatever.

  54. best post ever. : )

  55. Dear Daniel,

    Can you please put some sort of a warning at the top of your posts? I keep having to wipe down my screen after expelling my coffee during laughing fits…and being an oldster, I tend to forget how hard I laugh each time (with you, not at you, of course).

  56. Daniel,

    I so enjoy reading your posts and you have inspired me to finally start watching X-Files. I hated all things Sci-Fi at the time, but now Sci-Fi’s my favorite. Especially anything with timey-whimey elements.

    Anyhow, we are currently removing a sink from a bedroom alcove. I’m wondering how you removed the pipes?

    • Thanks, Kathy! The pipes were all pretty easy to just unscrew from sink, if that’s what you’re asking (the chrome p-trap and stuff…). Unfortunately the hot/cold supply lines make a turn between the downstairs kitchen ceiling and the upstairs kitchen floor, so those I had to just saw off flush with the floor (you can’t really see them, and we’ll probably have a piece of furniture in that nook, anyway. The waste line (and vent that goes through the roof) is still there, for the time being, until we’re able to redo the roof.

      If you’re asking how it was disconnected at the basement, the plumber did it! He had to cap the hot/cold lines and change out a section of the main waste line where the waste line for this sink tied in.

  57. Max must come home in fear every night, wondering what’ll still be there! :-)

    But really, this is amazing. It’ll make a great master bedroom/dog bedroom/another office! It must get such beautiful light, it’d be great to wake up in/bring mekko breakfast/work in!

    I had no idea you liked the X Files, you certainly are shy about it!

    Good work Daniel!

  58. When my husband and I were in high school X-Files used to be our Friday night date night. It was a good excuse to watch TV in the dark and cling together while his mom yelled up the stairs “KEEP THAT DOOR OPEN!”

    When I got into college I immediately became besties with a girl down the hall who had built a shrine to David Duchovny in her room. Her roomate quickly decided to be elsewhere on X-Files night. :D

    I love reading your renovation adventures. Your kitchen was like a ray of light in the dark, giving me hope that my carpeted, panelled, odd-layout kitchen can be saved. I am almost at the point where I just take a crowbar to it all and then tell my husband that we have no choice, it’s rebuild right it or starve. /grin

  59. I laughed out loud at “a pile of splinters infused with my rage.” I just love your posts, Daniel. Keep them coming.

  60. Home renovation + The X-Files = My life.
    Thank you for this blog post.

  61. Yes, yes, yes!

    We also ripped out the second floor kitchen and turned it into (or, we’re in the process of turning it into) our master bedroom. Great minds… you know.

    • Kim! I was totally thinking about your house while reading this post, and here you are! Definitely great minds. Daniel has a way of bringing people together! :)

  62. Found your blog through Door Sixteen! Your gorgeous, quirky old house is precisely the type I’d love to buy/renovate, but since we live in a loft in Atlanta for the time being, I just live vicariously through you. Thanks for your always-entertaining posts! :)

  63. the glass door and the 2 panel door are identical to doors in my 1930s row home so maybe the addition was added on around that time

    • It’s possible, although I think the addition itself is older and has gone through a few different iterations. Originally I think it was more like a maid’s quarters, then became a kitchen, was maybe something else like bedroom in between, and then a kitchen again. The closet and exterior door don’t appear to be original to the room, and the walls (like the rest of the house) are insulated with brick and mortar, which hasn’t really been done since before 1900. We’ve actually found a newspaper listing for the upstairs apartment from 1938, so I’m guessing they were added around then. My guess is that the house was a single family for a while sometime after that, and then was split up again in the 70s, when I think this last version of the kitchen was added!

      • I’d love to know more about the 1938 newspaper listing you found.

      • There isn’t much to tell! Just a small classified ad from the local paper describing the apartment as “four bright sunny rooms with bath and heat.” This came after the previous occupant (a reverend) died earlier in the year, who we know was living at the house in 1938, but is not listed as a resident on the 1930 census and wasn’t the owner of the house.

        There’s a similar listing for the apartment from 1940, too, but I don’t think there are any after that. Seems like there were tenants until at least the late 40s, but there’s a big gap in newspaper mentions of the property between about 1947 and 1976 (which was right after the last owners bought and split it back into a two-family…I’m guessing). Anyway…I’d love to do a bit more research, and I’ll do a post soon about some of the history! We’ve found some fun stuff.

  64. I also had a bit of asbestos-panic on your behalf, because fibre cement sheeting (“fibro”) in Australia is notorious for being chock full of the stuff. Sounds like you’re in the clear though!

    Once again, you get shit done and you document it in a very entertaining way. Love it.

  65. I cannot tell you how many hours of my childhood was spent in front of a big box computer screen playing the x-files computer game. Okay, I CAN tell you. Enough that when I’m home from work sick, I can throw in the disc and beat it in an afternoon. But enough about our sassy 90’s up-bringing… Praise jesus that there was original hardwood floors under that sink. It’s headed in the right direction for sure. So much room for activities!

  66. I randomly found your blog and I’m loving it! Many hours have been spent catching up on the house remodel. It’s going to look amazing – you truly have a vision. Keep up the hilarious writing!

  67. My brother and his boyfriend are going to be Mulder and Scully for Halloween. They are currently fighting over who gets to be Scully.

    Samesies for you and Max?

  68. Hi from Finland!
    Just wanted to say that your blog is probably the best thing ever – you make me smile every time, so thank you! You`re an inspiration to us hopeless renovators!

  69. I know that long radiator is useful and necessary and all that, but that nook just looks like the perfect spot for a cosy little window seat.

  70. I just finished watching The X Files and I was/am rightfully obsessed. My favorite type of renovation to read about is the kitchen, of course. This post is fantastic.

  71. Finally an explanation for that strange time warp that happens to me all the time. I have experienced a ton of lost time while stripping the entire exterior of our brownstone. Forgetting to eat, drink or pee seem like common side effects.

  72. This room (and floor) is looking great naked, but what REALLY got me excited was your tease about an upcoming bathroom post! AAAAH I CAN’T WAIT FOR BATHROOMS!!

  73. After you have the staircase outside the new bedroom dismantled, what about adding a small deck? Awesome post btw, as per usual.

  74. I initially read the line about the refrigerator as “old and indifferent” instead of “old and inefficient” and I was totally charmed by this fridge personification: “eh, I could cool your food or not; I don’t really care.”

  75. Holy crap that was a great post! You had me cry-laughing over here with the X-Files screenshots. Keep doing what you do because you’re awesome :)

  76. FOR THE RECORD my 7-year-old and I are currently working our way through the Jurassic Park series. Lots of people being eaten. No singing toys here!

  77. Sorry, I haven’t read through all the comments, but here’s my respectful suggestion for the floor plan: http://imgur.com/bJ402oe

    Basically, 1. Assuming you decide to use room 4 as a ‘living/tv/family’ room; remove the existing door between room 4 & the hallway, (save for reuse elsewhere), and replace it with french doors — fab light into the hallway.

    2. move the FAB sink, mirror & shelf from the upstairs bath to downstairs bath; put a pocket door (or another kind of door) in that wall space so you have direct access from master bedroom into bath; install a small pedestal sink under the window; replace tub with a tiled, rectangular shower.

    • oh my goodness, intense!

      I think these rooms are bigger in your head than they are in real life! The downstairs bathroom is actually smaller than the upstairs one, so there’s no way it can fit that huge sink. I also really don’t mind that there’s no entrance from the formerly-upstairs-kitchen to the bathroom, and I don’t want to put a sink under a window! That would also require lotttttts of plumbing changes (an advantage to leaving the footprint alone is that existing plumbing can stay put. Plumbing is so expensive.).

      I appreciate it though! :)

  78. Hey, Just an idea for the ceilings, could you do the beautiful circular finish that I see in some old homes, like they took a wide spatula thingy and made circles overlapping each other? Maybe its a lost art, so pretty.

  79. And no to one of the above comments, I am the oldest reader here, at 60! Love this blog

    • Sorry, Cindy,to have to burst your bubble. I’m the same age as you and I would have been honored (for once) to share the distinction of being the oldest reader, but JB has us beat at 74 1/2. I’m enjoying all the comments so much that I check in now and then just to see what’s been added, which tides me over until Daniel’s next wonderful post. Keep’em coming!

      • Hey, thanks Ann in SF for making the correction. Daniel’s blogs appeal to all ages, at least up to 74.5.

        He & all the fellow commenters provide such delights to my day.

        Love Daniel, what a talented, creative & personable guy. His mom must be so proud.

      • JEEZ, GUYS. You know how to make a boy blush! <3

  80. I’ve been following your blog awhile and I just wanted to say – I love the way you write.
    Great to see you transform this home (love what you’ve done so far) and I look forward to following along while you rip more stuff out.

  81. Boy Wonder! How did I miss this post to link to in this week’s Friday 13? (Probably the horrible cold that has kept me in bed for two and a half days thus far.) I just dropped in to say two things: One, I realize that you have a perfectly good set of parents (perhaps the most awesome set ever, I realize after reading through the comments), but if you ever need a third, I would volunteer for that role (or, failing that, an auntly commission). I wish I had kids and I wish they were just like you. Second, the first six seasons of The X-Files are actually tied for the greatest TV ever produced…see The West Wing. I’ll say no more, except that OF COURSE we Jews all love The X-Files. Apology is policy.

  82. You’re making such awesome, wonderful progress with this place!

    And yeah X Files! I always loved how you could tell what season it was by Scully’s hairstyle. XD

    I wrote fanfic. No, I won’t show it to anyone now.

  83. This is the happiest Ive been stumbling upon a blog in a long time! You are making me feel significantly less crazy about doing time consuming small scale renovations to my rental apartment. Cant wait to see what you do next.

  84. Thank you, thank you!!! From a homesick NYer in GA. Introduced from Centsational blog and spent all weekend catching up on your antics and door sixteen. Congrats on everything!

  85. What a brilliant post! X-Files analogy is a touch of genius. You are no ordinary blogger :)

  86. pretty sure the stuff on the walls is called beaver board. yeah, i said BEAVER board. it’s gross and was all over my grandmother’s house. BUT. when we removed it we found an old diary of my mother’s that had somehow slipped under the base board and the BEAVER board. how cool is that?! turns out, she kissed a guy named “Bucky” behind the pines in middle school. she got around.

  87. Yay! Just awesome. I’m going to need a doggie post soon. Please.

  88. Poof.Gone. Yeah, wish it was that easy. I think reno demo is kind of like childbirth. Tend to forget all that pain when you see the result. Good Job! Personally, I can’t wait to see the fireplace uncovered.

    Q: Is there a third floor? I tried to find the link to the whole house floor plan, but failed miserably. Maybe you could make that a permanent side link?

  89. No worries, I found the floor plan (aka no third floor). Did notice that very front room, you called den?. With the already to-be-gorgeous living room w/fireplace, and attached sunroom, it might also make for a good guest room on that floor?

    • Oh good! Yes, I’m hoping to add a feature like that to the site soon….

      I think now I’m thinking of that front room as more of a library, maybe with another pullout sofa for guests? We have LOTS of books and magazines, and I think this room is a great place for that stuff! The living room is a great size, but I think it would be awkward to fit books into. But maybe…

      • Having a library in a house feels so luxurious I love it!…. and adding the pullout sofa makes the room practical which is brilliant! I’m planning to have a library/ cigar room in my new house!!! Anyways I can’t wait for you to start that room…. I know that it would be amazing like everything else you’ve done!!! =)

  90. Long time reader, first time commenter, but I totally couldn’t resist on this one.

    Not only have I re-read this post 3 times myself, but I also read the entire thing out loud to my parents at Sunday dinner this week. We laughed so hard our ribs hurt. I just had to tell you how much I respect both your fearlessness as a renovator and your incredible writing. Keep up the rad work, on both fronts!

  91. Today’s Apartment Therapy house tour from Edinburgh shows (in the second photo) what your front hall might have looked like.

  92. like what you have in mind for the 2nd floor – at the end you will do what do want anyway as history has shown:) BUT I’d like to throw my favorite spaces in a home: 1.) a walk in closet so you can lay out all your shoes (or obsession of choice) be it in room #3 or creative use of space of #4. 2.) for room #2, a reading alcove with a daybed so your guest can lounge and carry a few books up to. The doors will allow it to be use as spare bedroom if needed.

  93. No more can I silently stalk. This blog is such a treasure. Please thank your parents for making you *you*. X-files rules.

  94. Hey! They are coming to nyc next month to talk at the Paley Center!
    http://gothamist.com/2013/09/24/mulder_and_scully_reuniting_in_nyc.php

    As I’ve said before I love your writing..but this post..man oh man.. LOVED it

  95. You outdid yourself once again …… with the work on the kitchen, but mainly with the format, style and wit of the writing about it. You need to “profit” from this talent. Don’t let it be “wasted” as you could really benefit mankind as an author or journalist.

    • Isabelle, you have expressed what I’ve wanted to say to & about Daniel & his abilities. Though I must say, as the creme de la creme, he will eventually rise to the very top.

  96. I get that X-Files timelapse with books. Your blog and the other interior design blogs I frequent make me wish I was some kind of driven, interior decoration focused superhuman. Inevitably though I find a book I haven’t read in ages and come back to myself 8 hours later, lying in a dismantled room, hungry, thirsty and not able to see because it’s 2am and I haven’t turned the lights on. Oy.

    By the way, your blog makes my day everytime.

  97. is it weird that I actually kind of like this kitchen? I’d take it any day over the current beveled cabinet & granite kitchens that seem so popular on HGTV these days.
    but of course you don’t need two kitchens and that room is going to be so kick-ass when you finish with it!

  98. You have to check out Malcolm Carfrae’s Hamptons cottage guest room in Elle Decor. The rooms have very much the same shape.

    http://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/interiors/malcolm-carfrae-hamptons-cottage?click=pp#slide-4

  99. I don’t know which I enjoy more, your photos and renovation or the way you write about it. Hard to say, really.

  100. Daniel, if you’ve never run across this blogger, you absolutely-positively must carve out some non-house, non-dogs, non-Max, non-friends-and-family, non-work time and settle down for a spell with her. But don’t try to read and drink at the same time, or you’ll be spewing liquid every which way. Say hello to (or renew your acquaintance with?) Victoria Elizabeth Barnes. You sure seem like delightfully off-kilter, decor-diva, talented and hysterically funny soulmates: http://victoriaelizabethbarnes.com/

  101. How often do you post? I like to know the schedule of the blogs I read so I don’t keep checking (and feeling sad when there isn’t anything new)…and only check when I know something is there.

    • Hi Jennifer! Blogging isn’t my full-time job, so while I try very hard to post as often as I can, I don’t really have a set posting schedule or anything like that. From doing projects to taking photos to editing photos to writing the post itself, each blog post takes many, many hours of work, and I just don’t always have the time. This past week has been particularly crazy! Some weeks I post a few times, and some weeks I don’t post at all. I wish I could give you a better answer! If you read even just a few blogs, I’d really suggest using an RSS reader such as Bloglovin’——it does the checking for you!

  102. “Your house isn’t the fucking Secret Garden.” hahahaha I’m dying. I just came across this blog and it might be my new favorite. Anyway, your house is beautiful!!! I’m excited to start following! I just bought my house a year ago so I’m on the same page. Anyway, funny writing, cute house…love it.

    • Also, could I say anyway any more times in one comment? So much coffee. Anyway…

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