Entries in New Home (23)


A Ton of Bricks

Ah, exposed brick. The stuff my dreams are made of. Brick walls effortlessly exude rustic charm and supply loads of character to any space. They were totally on my wish list during our apartment hunt, and since our new place did not come with a lovely stone wall, I decided to make one myself! That's when our renovations hit a wall (pun intended). The bricks I ordered were not available for months, so we had to place the project on hold.

Several weeks ago, with our expected delivery date on the horizon, I started palm-rubbing and getting excited again. Then I received a super distressing phone call - Apparently, there had been a freezing spell at the manufacturing plant in Bigler, PA. My share had cracked and was ruined, and the next batch wouldn't be available for another few months.

I totally flipped out when I heard the news. Looking back now, I sort of feel bad for the guy on the other end of the line. Thankfully, he remained pleasant and reassured me that there were enough bricks salvaged from the ruined batch to cover the square footage I needed. They were cut slightly larger than my original order, but I jumped on the offer and snatched them right up. Like I said, it's all about knowing when to compromise! :)

The shipment was scheduled, and I took a half-day last week to be at home for the drop-off. I didn't know what I was expecting. In my head, I was picturing a few big boxes that could be neatly stacked and tucked away in a corner by the door. You can probably imagine my shock when I saw this huge flatbed rolling up our hill.

The driver (His name is Horacio) had mad skillz. He pulled a U-ie AND parallel parked this ginormous truck in front of our building.
Next, Horacio unhitched the forklift and drove it backwards down the street, against traffic, up to our side entryway. Then he plopped the crate down on the sidewalk and drove off with a wave as I stood there with my jaw hanging open.
Cue ominous rain clouds gathering overhead. It was getting ready to start pouring at any minute, so I didn't even have time to freak. I needed to hustle. I borrowed a heavy-duty hand truck from our super and spent the next hour moving the 35 lb boxes into our apartment.

Needless to say, my arms were ready to fall off by the time I schlepped all 27 boxes upstairs and into our second bedroom. I was completely exhausted, but also felt overwhelmed with relief. I FINALLY had my bricks! Hooray!!

Now the fun can really begin. It's time to roll up my sleeves and turn my dream brick wall into reality! More later :)


All Mixed Up


I never would've dreamed that picking a floor stain could be such a complicated process. I mean, sheesh! My vision for our floors was something rich, but neutral… deep, but not too dark, with a variation of high/lowlights to enhance the grain of our oak floors. To my dismay, not a single one of the testers I tried delivered exactly what I was looking for. Serious issues, I know.

Luckily, I recently stumbled across an article about mixing stains to create custom pigment cocktails. It sounded super risky yet fascinating at the same time, so I decided to put my money on a formula which consists of 50% Jacobean and 50% Ebony (both by Minwax).

Although these two stains didn't work for me on their own, their combined forces completely knocked it out of the ballpark!

The mix of hues intensified an array of tones in the red oak.

*Something to keep in mind – Make sure you use an orbital sander when sanding down parquet flooring (We have parquet in our living/dining room, and strip planking throughout the rest of the apartment). A regular drum sander works well on on straight beams, but its linear sanding belt could gouge cross-grain scratches and potentially rip out the intricate multi-directional wood panels.

The hybrid pigments also brought out the deeper walnut trim that borders each room.

We topped off the gorgeous new color with three clear coats of water-based polyurethane. (Oil-based poly tends to give off a yellowish tinge.) I went with a semi-gloss finish that shines without looking glossy, and does a beautiful job at sealing and preserving the natural texture of the floorboards.

I am sooo happy with this beautiful transformation. The new color wonderfully compliments and unifies all the different rooms in our home, and it also sets a lovely backdrop for Chris' new obsession: Rugs. More on that later!



We all know that home improvement projects usually come with their fair share of headaches and hiccups (and maybe a heart attack or two). You just have to roll with the punches, BREATHE, and decide when to and when not to compromise. I've been learning firsthand that it's much easier said than done, but completely vital to surviving the process.

So... unfortunately, some custom materials that I insisted we "needed" for our home turned out to be backordered for several months. I was not a happy camper when we first heard the news, but I was also unwilling to to compromise on something I really wanted simply for the sake of wrapping up this project. This decision forced us to place key portions of our renovation on hold, which meant that we would have to live with the mess of the remaining work for a while.

Is it frustrating? Absolutely. Are there days when I just want to come home to a finished apartment already? Of course. Am I regretting the decision to wait things out? Not one bit.

The important thing to remember is that this is all temporary, and that there is so much to look forward to right around the corner. In fact, this past month has been such a blur of crazy that I actually appreciate- and probably really needed- this brief intermission. 

"Phase 2" is slated to kick off in a few weeks, and I know it's going to be completely worth the wait! In the meantime, since some of you have been asking for updates, I will start sharing snippets of what's been going on as we continue to settle into our new home. It's been pretty darn amazing so far :)

First up - Floors! Stay tuned!

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