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river cottage renovation begins!

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Seven and half years ago, when we were still living in New York City and before our little girl was even an idea in our minds, we bought a small cottage close to the Hudson River. During the house inspection, several issues were pointed out to us — poor drainage around the house which caused damage to the sill beam, old termite damage that had been haphazardly fixed, patchy concrete stucco that covered the house. “Everything’s fixable,” our inspector had told us. In love the little patch of land and the quaintness of the place, we naively plunged forward thinking, we’ll take care of that, one day. Then life happened, as it does, and the big plans for our little house took a back seat.

This winter, we were served a twist of fate that plunged us into action. You may recall that especially harsh blizzard back in February? Well our furnace took that opportunity to stop working. Four or five days passed before we discovered the malfunction, and during that time all of our six of our radiators burst (yes, burst!), pipes under the house had split and the hard wood floors got water logged. We wouldn’t be able to use the house again until all that was fixed.

Fortunately, we got a bit of insurance money to help us pay for this work. But immediately we started asking ourselves — should we be installing new floors and radiators when we know that what’s under the floor, the sill beam, needs to be repaired. We didn’t want to just fix the cosmetics — as the previous owner we bought it from did. We decided to wait until the weather warmed up so we tackle the drainage, stucco and sill beam as well. Once that work is done, then perhaps we could have some fun on the interior, and bring some of my country kitchen fantasies to life. (You can see some of them here on this Pinboard.)

We found an amazing local contractor to help us with our project and set a plan. First we’d remove the floors and the old radiators. Then we’d take down the stucco, add a french drain and repair the sill be beam. None of that is especially fun or sexy work, but it had to be done. Little did we know that we would be pulling the string on a sweater ready to unravel.

Coming up next: The surprise under the floor!

From our partners

blogwatch: renovation candy

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Last week, we officially closed on our little cottage upstate. We haven’t spent the night there yet, but are heading up after work tonight to for our first sleepover. All we have in there is an air mattress and a couple of folding chairs. It will be like camping! I’ve already had a few restless nights thinking about all we need to do there, but there’s no rush. This weekend our main concern will be tidying up the yard and garden, which are looking a little wild for sure! I’ve been hunting online for inspiring renovation blogs and have found a few. The one above is from Apartment Therapy’s tour of Chris’s Green Hideway. It’s an adorable little bungalow near Santa Barbara that’s only 750 square feet. Love it. Last week I found a few great house-makeover blogs via design*sponge. On Day-Lab’s blog, there’s a great post about a recently renovated kitchen. You have to see the adorable window panels. The Cabin House blog chronicles the fixing up of a small house in Oakland, CA. They’re using gorgeous bright colors and perfect vintage pieces — including a great old stove — to make their place a home. I also regularly check in at dominomag.com’s Renovator blog. Brooke Williams and her hubbie have been documenting the saga of their home renovation which started nearly a year ago. Progress is being made — the most recent is a stunning closed-in porch that is painted Tulip Red. Wow.

Do you have any great renovation sites I should check out? Please let me know! — Angela M.

From our partners

and the winning door color is….

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A few weeks ago we asked you to help us decide a color to paint our door. The results were pretty divided, with Bergamont Orange in the slight lead to a more traditional red and a bright yellow-orange. We were torn. So we took a step back and looked deep into our hearts and tried a few more samples, including a punchy orange-red called Top Tomato. As soon as we saw it on our door we knew it was the one. In our mind’s eye, we always imagined a “tomato red” door, but were worried it’d look too Fourth-of-July-ish all the time. We got over the fear and went for it. We love the results, though it certainly is bright! Hope you do, too. Thanks for all the amazing feedback; it pushed to look more and follow our guts. You guys rock.

See more info on our ongoing cottage renovation here.

From our partners

pipe shelf project: how we made an industrial modern desk space

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Our 18-month long, unplanned renovation of our little river cottage is nearly complete. I am so excited to start sharing some of the final details with you. One new addition that we are especially happy with is a pipe-and-wood book shelf that Chad built in a little nook by the back deck doors — the area formerly known as our dining room. This is a look that admittedly is crazy trendy at the moment.  Two shops we love, Watson’s Cabinet in Hudson, NJ and Salvage Style in Maplewood, NJ, have pipe shelves that they use to display their lovely wares, and inspired us greatly.

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Here’s Chad’s step-by-step.

1. Plan the space.
First measure the space and spend some time online looking at various designs.  There are a whole lot of ways to build shelves and you might like one style over another style out there. I chose to make the desk area more open by putting the support pipe in the back, closer to the wall.  One link that I found really useful was this one from Beneath My Heart.

2. Buy the parts.
Iron pipe can be purchased at your local Home Depot or Lowes and it comes in a few different diameters.  You can also buy galvanized steel rather than iron, but it costs almost twice as much. Instead, I chose to use 1/2 inch pipe and spray painted it silver to give it a galvanized steel look.

When you are selecting the pieces of pipe, make sure you choose all the same diameter (it comes in 3/4s or 1/2 inch). I also discovered that Lowes sells the pieces individually wrapped in a plastic baggie, while Home Depot sticks the price tag directly on the pipe which was nearly impossible to remove. Go to Lowes to save yourself a step there!

After making sure you have the right diameter, choose the lengths you want.It all depends on how much space you want between your shelves. I chose a 12-inch height.  Under the shelves, the support is made up of an elbow and a tee and 6-inch pipe. If you want deeper shelves, you may need longer length pipes.  I decided to use 12 inch wide pine and stain it.

Here are some links to parts I bought. (Here’s another hit: Save your receipts!)

Floor flange 1/2 inch

90 degree elbows

1/2 tee

12 inch pipe , 1/2 wide

3. Measure them out on the floor.
Once you get all the parts, you’ll want to measure out your plan on the floor. I started by sketching out what a wanted to build on a piece of paper and tried to think of it as a Lego project, making sure I had all the parts that would fit together.

4. Spray paint the parts.
Do this before you put everything together. This is optional, depending on the look you want. I sprayed paint about 2-3 coats on the metal parts.

5. Start attach to the pipes to the wall and floor.
Attaching your first pipe to a wall can be tricky.  You want to make sure that you are screwing the floor flanges into a stud and not just the drywall.  Since I knew exactly where I wanted each support to go, I had to attach a 4-inch wide board to the wall and use it as my anchor for the supports.

Basically, the board is drilled to the studs and now I can put the supports anywhere I want on the board. Make sure it is level.

6. Prepare to add the wood shelves.
Put on a pair of gloves because little threads from the end of the pipes can cut your fingers when you are screwing them together. When you place the first pieces down, it’s important to use a level and long shelf board to make sure its level both left to right and back to front. If the first  pieces are not level, your whole shelf unit will be wonky. You can tighten or loosen the parts, but don’t depend on that. If your floor is uneven, you may need to put something under the footers to balance.

7. Final touches
I coated the desk and shelves with Polyurethane before putting them together.

When you are ready to apply the shelves, be mindful of where you place them on the pipe.  Measure them first, and carefully drill holes where you want the vertical pipes to pass through. Be mindful of where you want to shelves to rest on the 90 degree elbow supports.

 

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See more of our cottage renovation, here, including a slab-wood counter top for the kitchen, and how we chose our exterior paint color.

From our partners

ode to schoolhouse electric. there aren’t enough light fixtures in our lives!

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As we finish up the heavy lifting on the cottage renovation, it’s time to start thinking about the fun stuff — decorating! Though our depleted budget will mean that the we’ll be opting for more creative ways of recycling yard sale finds and upcycling Ikea with clever hacks, there is one thing that we are going to splurge on: Lighting fixtures. We are looking for a couple of lights that will go in the kitchen area: One for over the sink and another for the bar that divides the living room from the kitchen space. The mode we’re going for is modern industrial Swedish farmhouse. Does that make any sense? That means that we want some Edison bulbs with simple fixtures that aren’t too sleek or modern.

Our quest has sent to an old favorite, Schoolhouse Electric, which upon rediscovery, we love more than ever. Beautifully made in Portland, Oregan, the company began by finding old milk glass lighting fixtures and reproducing them for modern spaces. Now the company has expanded to include furniture, tableware and even jewelry — all with the same beautiful lines and clean design. But the core of the company remains its beautiful lighting. One new gorgeous design is the Ion C- Series, a playful tabletop light that would bright a splash of color to any office. For our dining area, we’re looking at the City Chandelier, which features 7 Edison bulbs hanging from sturdy chords. Like many of Schoolhouse Electric’s designs, you decide the bulb shape and the finish on the chord and hardware, allowing for amazing customization.

Need more inspiration? Watch the video below and take a tour of the factory.

From our partners