I’ve been feeling bad about not writing but for good reason – so much has happened in the last week that by the end of the day I dont have much energy left to write. But thankfully I have been taking pictures during the day. As you know, we are recent transplants to the Hudson Valley – arriving in the beginning of July – and just a few weeks ago our dear friends David and Susan (both amazing artists) bought a place in Hurley, just outside Woodstock.
They found a place that was formerly home to an artist and in addition to the house they have a separate art studio, art storage and ceramic studios (jealous!.) Their house is already amazing – and they’ve just been getting set up and haven’t started their renovations yet. It was such a treat to be inside a clean (beautiful) house with no plaster dust or projects in process.
Cant wait to see how their house comes along! Its so nice to know that close friends are just a short drive away.
Back at 45 Henry, we’ve been hard at work. In the last post I mentioned we’ve been sprucing up the common spaces in the house – a stairwell and two long hallways. After stripping the stinking, ancient carpet off the floors I found tar paper stuck down onto the bare wood. Not just a in few spots but completely covering all 500 sq ft. 500 sq ft of 150 year old hardwood floors trapped by tar. After trying everything in the book (mineral spirits, denatured alcohol, Turpenoid Natural, Sentinel 747, KrudKutter, Goof Off, and boiling water) I used a heat gun and a wallpaper steamer, to no avail. Day 2 just ended a huge mess, a few more inches of dirty floor and a general feeling of impossibility. So it was time to get out the big guns – a 17 inch floor maintainer with the Diamabrush Hardwood Prep Tool on the bottom.
After two solid days of work with the hardwood tool the floor were finally clean…and ready for two more days of sanding! I’m a big fan of the tool rental at Home Depot – I average only spending 1/3 of what I’d pay someone else to do the work. And when its warm out and I can work all day that just makes more sense to me. Plus we learn about our house, about how to use these tools, and most importantly we put love and care back into this place that wasn’t cared for well the last few years. Below you can see how they came out. Left = just sanded, Right = first coat of polyurethane.
It’s hard to scratch something totally off the To-Do list all at once – often we get something 80% finished and something else comes up that needs our attention right away. The floors were big push, but the final coats of poly and the stain on the stairs have taken a week. We can only do it at night so that our 5 tenants dont step on it. At this point we are actually almost finished and I’ll have more pictures soon!
I’m very happy to say that we’ve also FINALLY begun to work on our apartment! Since moving in at the beginning of July we’ve just been living like squatters in our own place. Like I’m just putting my suitcase and clothes into a closet TODAY. Its probably been one of the more stressful parts of the process. At the end of a 12 hour day you just want to be finished and not have to re-clean your kitchen and bedroom so you dont sleep in plaster dust. Whoever said that home renovation was an emotional roller-coaster hit the nail right on the head. It has been very difficult to find a contractor to work with – somewhat surprising to us. Early in July we had a few promising meetings but either the quotes were too high or we just never heard back. We were holding off on doing anything till we could use the contractors estimate as a metric for what we needed to do in order to afford everything. We were tired of waiting and this is what happened!
Its hard to see exactly what this is – in the center there used to be a partition wall between our tiny living room and kitchen. Demo’d that. Also on the left you’ll see a knee wall. Demo’d that. (its just being pushed back). In the center you’ll see a staricase shaped thing. Our attic stairs. Demo’d the wall hiding them. Also took our the door headers. But for the grand finale – I took our the ceiling and gave the space a cathedral ceiling! You can see things better from this angle (looking in from the hallway.)The four straight days of demo and two days of cleanup (hauling out debris by hand) was so worth it. Walking into the formerly dark, dingy, and claustrophobic space has given way to an aesthetically and architecturally open space. Pretty soon I will start to move the knee wall and put together a built-in pantry there too. Nadene gave me the idea for it – she was inspired by this cabinet she found on Pinterest.
We were able to find some antique farmhouse windows on Craigslist – the nice multipane ones! We have 5 lower windows and are on the hunt for the smaller upper portions. I plan to frame out the cabinet in the knee wall and retrofit the windows onto the space. A lot of work needs to be done to repair and clean up the windows but hopefully we’ll make some progress there soon! More to come on that.
Here’s one last photo image till next time. Taken just after sunrise on ‘The Bluff’ of Newburgh. Just down Henry Avenue.