Friday, July 15, 2011

Good ol' memories

I have a friend who is rebuilding their house after a fire. She's looking for help. I pulled up this blog (after forgetting the URL because it has been so long) to send her links to some of the pictures. I started reading some of our posts. Oh my, what fun! I'm a funny writer :)

After a few blissful days of being box free, Audrey came into this world and our apartment was filled with baby stuff. Now, along with baby stuff, our apartment is filled with boxes again. We've sold our place and are moving to Brooklyn. I can't believe we've been living here for 5 years. FIVE YEARS! This is the longest I've ever lived anywhere in my entire life. Dang!

I'm gonna miss the Ghetto Penthouse.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Surprise! Role reversal

Yesterday was Sean's birthday. I left work at 5 so that I can get home and decorate it with happy celebratory birthday decorations before Sean got home. It was going to be a surprise.

I walk through our door and saw this. I think I must have stood there for a few seconds, thinking, something isn't computing... when I left work that morning, there was a pile of leftover renovation boxes... now there's the dining set that we picked out a while back, along with a pretty flower arrangement, place setting, and pretty napkin folding.

Huh!?!? What's going on?!?!

Apparently, Sean decided to surprise me with our new dining set.

I told Sean - wait, but it's your birthday. I'm suppose to surprise you, not the other way around. That's like birthday backwards!!!

Man, oh man, the dining room does look mighty fantastic! It's perfect for our space and the colors just mix so well with the rest of the apartment. We love it!!

Oh, also, Sean has apparently been hiding his table setting and napkin folding skills. I think come this holiday season, I may be out of my job as the table setter :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The bedroom dream - slowly becoming reality

Moving from a 900 sq ft apartment (that's NOT counting the 900 sq ft garage) to a 550 sq ft place (with no garage) - we definitely felt the pain of the less space. Everything was smaller - our dinner plates didn't even fit in our cupboards.

To make the space feel livable, we got rid of stuff and got some new furniture... including a platform bed and two small bedside table / dressers. We ended up getting the Malm line from IKEA (it was cheap and functional) and our bedroom became very matchy. I really just despise matchy furniture.

Now that our renovation is done, it seemed like the perfect time to fix our matchy, totally non-inspiring bedroom.

On a whim, I moved the new side table we got for the living room into the bedroom and WOW - it was perfect! Just totally the right size and the right look - modern and simple with a dash of quirkiness and individuality.

I love how a simple bunch of flowers add the touch of color and life.

The good news is that I'm starting to finally get a bedroom that I love.

The bad news is that now I have to find a new white side table for the living room. And I have to somehow find room for the clothes that were stored in the bedside table / drawers. Though, I love this look so much that I'm totally willing to get rid of clothes to make it all fit. (Dang, did I really just say that!??!)

Oh, I don't think we ever showed a picture of our knob / lock for the bedroom.

We had to get really creative with our bedroom doors because our built-in dressers go right up to the door frame and a normal door wouldn't fit. We really wanted a sliding door, but it was just going to be too expensive, so we ended up with two small panels. Problem #1 solved.

The 2nd problem is how we were going to open/close and lock the door. We couldn't get any regular knobs / levers because they will prevent the doors from opening all the way. If the door didn't open all the way, you would have to be a size 0 runway model to fit through the opening. Since Sean and I are normal shaped and love eating way too much, we had to look for an alternative solution. We ended up with these ancient Chinese cabinet pulls. There's a little slider to lock the doors and they raise just inches above the door surface. Perfect!

The other totally fabulous bonus is that they help add a little oriental touch to the bedroom. Part of that quirkiness that I love!!! :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Renovation ends... decoration begins

Our renovation is done! But no, we're not done. Now the decoration starts.

The red / brown always looked so cozy in our old apartments. But at the ghetto penthouse, it just makes our living room look dark and well, dark. So now that we have a new living room, we decided to lighten up the room.

First, curtains! Because after paint, curtains make a room (or so the blogs tell us). We had tons of green curtains leftover from our bedroom and we thought they would look swell in the living room.

Voila - instead of burgundy velvet curtains, we now have sheer green linen curtains. Step 1 complete.

Next step - rug! After browsing many many rug sites and realize how many ugly rugs there are in this world (do people actually buy these rugs!??!), we finally find a refreshing green modern, but warm rug. Now it graciously live on our living room floor.

We're not done yet, but so far, it's working! Go warm, cozy, and bright room!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Walking to work with a 74" shelf

We've been pruning through our stuff and putting items for sale on craigslist. One of the items was a 74" IKEA Lack shelf.

The buyer called me last night and was wondering if he can somehow pick it in the Midtown west area during lunch today. The shelf is pretty light and I'm only 15 minutes away, so why not.

Whew. So today, I carried a 74" shelf down the streets of Manhattan. Miraculously, I managed to wipe out NO ONE. I even managed to not ding anything... well, until I got to my desk and wacked into the file cabinet.

I got some weird looks and an arm workout. What a way to start the day.

Monday, July 27, 2009

We put the second coat of paint on...

... the first coat went on in 2006. Yes, we're just a little late.

After taking a break from anything nearing home renovation, we're back. This was a very home reno focused weekend.

First, closet

We needed some time to figure out what to do with our closet. We needed to maximize every little inch. After a weekend of sketching and researching, we realized we needed parts from 3 different manufacturers. Fun!

Here's Sean installing the railing for the closet.

Next, re-potting

Carl and Ellie are thriving. In fact, they're getting so big that we needed to re-pot them. This has never happened to us. How do you re-pot?!?! After some words of advice from parents (aka plant gurus), we got some pots, some potting soil, and gave it a go. It was surprisingly easy, and very fun! I like playing with mud!

Fingers crossed that Carl & Ellie survives.

Finally, painting

With our new living room arrangement, we wanted to move a shelf. Sounds so easy. Well, as part of moving the shelf, we needed to cover up some holes, then we needed to strip away this unused phone wire (okay, we didn't need to, but it was right there and it was bugging me). This last thing led to a lot of scraping off excess paint and sanding and need to repaint.

A simple "move the shelf" task became: move all the furniture, remove all the nails & screws, wash the walls, spackle the holes, remove the wire, scrape off paint, sand the baseboard, put down painter's tape, thrown down some drop-clothes, and finally... painting.

Here's Sean removing the wall anchors. Those babies stick!

Sean painting... look at the expression on his face, so thrilled.

We put down drop-clothes, yet I still managed to get paint all over my hands and feet!

This weekend was too exhausting... I curl up in a ball and go to sleep.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hello Carl & Ellie

I've talked about them, but I just realized y'all have never met them.

Meet Carl & Ellie (formerly known as Hansel & Gretel). They joined us right before renovation started. I was a little concerned that they wouldn't survive the renovations. But they're little troopers.

Now they're as good as new with new buds and new leaves. You can't even tell they survived a 5 week renovation... well, except for all the plaster dust on their leaves. We're going to re-pot them and possibly give them another friend. So maybe soon, it'll be Carl, Ellie, and Dug :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A weekend of unpacking

It's Friday night... instead of heading to the pier to watch a movie on the waterfront or any of the other various cool things to do in NY, we went home and unpacked. We had a deadline - Graham and Inge are coming Saturday night and we needed to make our home somewhat presentable.

This is what our home looked like Friday night - not quite what you would call presentable.

Lots of heaving lifting:

*ahem* unpacking:

By Saturday at around 4:

Ain't so shabby. The Ghetto Penthouse cleans up quite nicely given the right wardrobe and accessories :)

Sunday was closet day! We have this big closet space... but no closet rods or shelves. How to reclaim 16 cuft that will otherwise be lost with an off-the-shelf closet system?? Clearly this requires a tape measure, coffee, and a good sit.

Sean gets serious with ladder as he ponders all that is the closet.

After a few hours of flipping through catalogs and navigating web sites... and a few more hours of browsing Home Depot, Container Store, and Bed, Bath & Beyond - I think we may have a solution. It involves mixing and matching parts from different systems. We're not sure if they're all compatible - should be interesting experiment.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


"Unpacking" - what a wonderful word. This time, it means that our renovations are nearly complete... complete enough where we can unpack some of our belongings and try to bring some sense of normality back into our lives.

This past weekend, we unpacked! Why tell you with words when we have pictures?!?!

First, we remove the tarp. Wow - stuff!

Sean rolls up the tarp. Or maybe he's doing a Child's Pose yoga move. Should I tell him that its not a yoga mat?


There was this pink film on the stove... apparently, it dissolves in water. A few swipes with a rag and voila - like new :)

The box that held our stove grates.

Door bumpers. They're the cutest thing ever.

Measuring & placing the shelf liners.

Dividers and first item in the drawers - our wok!

We found the very important coffee box (the drawing is clouds parting and the coffee pot arriving from on high - personally, I think it looks like a transformer)

Sean pays his respects to the coffee pot.

Drawers are filled!

Cupboards are filled!

Leftovers in the fridge since we can now microwave.

A bottle of wine in our new wine cubby.

Pretty vase with our spatulas and such.


Vacuuming and mopping to remove the 6 weeks of dust and plaster.

We attempted to move the bed without disassembling it. The doorways wouldn't have it. The bed disassembled very easily - which is a little worrisome as we used wood glue when we originally put it together, so it should have been - well, near impossible to take apart.

Well some things are still out of sorts - no working outlets in the kitchen yet. Though we may be onto something... stumbling out of bed and getting coffee within 2 ft ain't so shabby.


Not too much to do here yet... just hanging shower curtains. Which was a little hard to do when we could only find two curtain rings. Luckily, some scrummaging through boxes labeled bathroom (who would have thought a box labeled with bathroom would have bathroom stuff?!?!) and we uncovered the rest.

We're all moved in - again :)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Tonight I ate like a human being. On the floor.

With our renovations wrapping up, we spent the weekend unpacking our stuff back into the kitchen. Today, our stove was hooked up and the gas was on! We took the opportunity to visit our grocery store (hello grocery store, we've missed you. now kindly remind me where all your contents are located...) and buy groceries. Lily was working late so I surprised her with a home-cooked meal! Our first in 6 weeks! Just a simple pasta dish with Sean Kenney's Patented So-What-If-I'm-Irish Pasta Sauce, but it's one of Lily's favorites and she seemed happy to consume it. A little candles and some flowers, and ... we sat on the floor to eat, because we sold our dining furniture before this all began. Welll, close enough, we're slowly re-emerging in the 1st world, and it's kinda neat.

Missing: Kohler toilet

So our toilet is MIA. Home Depot has managed to lose our toilet AGAIN and has no clue what's going on.

First of all, how in the world do you lose a toilet?!?! And then to lose it again?!?! After days of trying to call them and track down our toilet - still no luck.

We've spent a lot of money at Home Depot for our renovation (mostly because their prices are lower in lots of cases than even online sites)... but I guess you get the service that you pay for. I've definitely gotten way better service from smaller companies - they do things like follow-up on questions and return calls.

*gasp* what a concept!??!

I'm definitely going to think twice before doing any more special orders from Home Depot.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Our apartment wants to be in Europe

The Ghetto Penthouse is disoriented. It thinks it's in Europe. I mean, I can't think of any other reason why its dimensions are perfect for European appliances and accessories. Hmmm... maybe the Ghetto Penthouse is snooty and pretending to be all Euro-style.

The latest saga is towel bars. Things that seem so simple is actually totally difficult. when you have an apartment with a Euro-complex. We need a 18" double towel bar in chrome. At this point, we're not even looking for a pretty one - just any towel bar that fit those criteria. Nope, no can do. They're either 24" or single or in any finish but chrome or they're $300.

Maybe we should just lift our apartment with balloons and head to Europe.

Ghetto dining

The good ol' days of ghetto living. Living ghetto style has many challenges. One of them is attempting to eat in our home. It usually involves sitting on the floor (thus, getting the butt covered in all the o-so-wonderful dust particles that's floating around our home) with plastic utensils that don't really cut food and plastic take-out container lids that threaten to topple over with each breath.

Every once in a while, we dine in style - sitting in a comfortable cozy chair and using a paint tray as a plate. Here's an action sequence of Sean eating sushi in style.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

T minus 2 days

Except for installation of toilet & doors, Alberth just told us that the renovation will be complete on Thursday.

Yipee!!!! This coincides nicely with Lily having Friday off and can spend the long weekend cleaning up and trying to shape some normally back into our lives.

Lounging on a couch - here we come!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Coast to coast renovations

Hi, everyone. This little photo update serves two purposes: 1) to fill you all in on the ongoing mundane saga of our plaster, pipes, and progress pics... and 2) to show Lily, who is on "girly-vacation" in San Diego this weekend, the progress that was made to our apartment after she left.


Our countertops arrived yesterday! I was very excited about this, but I forgot that it meant we would also have our sink and faucet installed! It's actually starting to look like a real kitchen again. :) The countertop is a quartz stone, and has some light-gray flecks throughout. (Might be hard to see in this picture.) It has a nice sheen and is really elegant looking. Lily was 100% spot on with getting a stainless steel faucet. I was like "shouldn't it be chrome??" and we debated it for eons. of days. But she was right, the stainless matches everything else and it looks great against the countertop.


We wanted to re-use our old built-in cabinets, but one of them was too small for the new wall space. So our contractor is building a new cabinet to match. We also designed ourselves an awkward L-shaped little linen closet, and he came up with a smart idea for how to arrange the shelving, and began putting that together yesterday also.


Do you know how hard it is to find parquet wood floors? No one makes them anymore. Most of my online research lead me to believe we would have to get all the little wood pieces cut by hand and inlaid by hand. Back when this type of floor was all the rage, they had premade interlocking chunks that you could just lay in place, like tiles, but no one makes them anymore. I searched everywhere online and our contractor searched all over the city... he finally found the exact same kind that we have, at a lumber yard in East Harlem. Whew!


And yes, the apartment still looks like this. Tomorrow will be the end of week 4. Our contractor expects to have a few more days of work next week, but believe it or not it's all coming together!

Valve emergency!

Our emergency this week was a plumbing miscommunication from week 1. It turns out that our contractor installed a shower valve that doesn't fit our shower handle, so we had to rush-order a new valve yesterday.

Our poor contractor had to tear the wall back open to take out the wrong valve, so we don't have ANY running water in the WHOLE apartment until the new one is installed.

The new one should be coming via Overnight UPS today... so here's hoping UPS shows up before our contractor has to leave for the night! (I survived last night without a toilet, but I don't think I can do a plumbing-free weekend!!)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back in the first world

I came home tonight and do my usual tour. I walk into the bathroom and see:

Yes! Not only do we have electricity - we have a mirror and a sink and faucets! We're back to the first world.

*sigh* Now I really don't have an excuse on why I leave the house with Einstein hair or eye boogers... now I have to go back to just admitting that it's really just my inability to leave the house in a presentable state in the mornings.

BTW - the photo above is a re-enactment. We had to capture the moment somehow!

Now, we can finally take a bath! Sean and I decide to try it out. He declared that this is now the 2nd most comfortable seat in the house. (The first is the club chair, which is usually buried under our blue tarp and takes loads of effort to dig out each night)

Our kitchen appliances are plugged in. We have a working fridge and a working microwave. Tonight, Sean figured out how to use the timer on the microwave... and as I'm writing this post, he just exclaimed "We have an oven light! And a surface light! And a night light mode!"