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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Free Kitchen Design Apps to Make Your Designs, Floor Plans, and Mood Boards

An early SketchUp of my kitchen plan

As your kitchen plan comes together and you start speaking with vendors and interviewing contractors, it's helpful to have something to show that's more than a collection of inspirational photos saved to Houzz or Pinterest. Contractors can get overwhelmed by too many photos, so I boil it down to just one inspo photo, my room design (with measurements), and a moodboard—I keep mine on my phone at all times, just a click away in dropbox. It's not difficult to create them, and many of the apps you will need are free. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

This First 3D-Printed Home Took Just 10 Days to Build

via Zillow

A home-building process that uses a 3D printer to produce cement walls may finally crack the code on affordable housing. Imagine a giant printer that squeezes out row after row of cement as it traces the footprint of the home, building out all the walls, both internal and external. A two-person crew is there to watch and troubleshoots errors as the skeleton of the structure goes up over a period of eight to nine days. Then the machine backfill walls, as the crew installs anchor bolts and assembles pre-built timber pieces for the roof. When the structure is complete, finishers come in to finish walls, paint, apply siding, and roof, while a third crew installs fixtures and appliances. The method is said to be stronger and more durable than wood-frame construction house at half the building cost.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Is the Pink Bathroom Back?

via Yellow Brick Home

Anyone who has ever renovated an old home has likely encountered "the pink bathroom." It's often the first thing you see hit the dumpster in home renovation shows. The once-ubiquitous fixtures are lined up like pastel tombstones in architectural salvage yards everywhere and can be had for a relative pittance. But not for long! Savvy renovators are snapping them up. Repurposed in a more modern context, pink console sinks look especially fresh and new. Could we be on the cusp of a return of the pink bathroom?

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Restoring Chipped Laminate on a Saarinen Pedestal Table


Our pedestal table has survived three moves and two renovations—and in the process has taken some hard knocks. It wasn't in perfect condition when I found it on Craigslist. I paid $175, if memory serves, and there were dings and scratches on the pedestal base, which I sanded and painted. In the last move, though, the laminate top was gouged in a very prominent spot. Strategically placed candles got me through. (I do love these colorful candles that I found at Designer's Guild in Chicago!) But was there a permanent fix for this this chipped laminate? I did some research on how to repair laminate and found a product contractors use to fill seams on laminate counters, called, fittingly, SeamFil. Here's how it works.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Least Expensive "True" Counter-Depth Refrigerator Solutions

via Bosch
We often hear that appliances come in standard sizes, but there's a great deal of variation in refrigerators. So-called "standard" 36-inch refrigerators vary in height and width, and more importantly depth. This is immediately apparent to anyone shopping for a "counter-depth" fridge. What the industry calls a "counter-depth" fridge costs several thousand dollars more than a conventional refrigerator—and still protrudes past your countertops. If you're looking for a more streamlined look, here are the options.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Why It's Nearly Impossible to "Flip" in New York City

Photo: RedFin.com

Several years ago a listing for a 900 sq ft two-bedroom in our neighborhood caught my eye. Back in September of that year the same unit on another floor sold for $230k. Why the giant price differential? The latter was a wreck, indeed, as these side-by-side photos show. Fast-forward a few years and a relisting caused a flurry of speculation in the real estate community of the Jackson Heights Life forum. Did someone "flip" that wreck? It brought up a good question: Can you even "flip" in New York? The answer is no, at least, not in the conventional sense.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Drab Kitchen Colors: A British Invasion

Bespoke craftsman kitchens of DeVol and Plain English, and the latter's off-the-shelf brand British Standard, have been gradually weaning us off our white open kitchens in favor of neatly milled and kitted-out snugs. Leading the sensory seduction has been color: golden ochres, muddy pinks, green-y grays, and moody blues. They are hues that would have looked right at home in Great-Great Grammy's Victorian farmhouse, though this time around they feel fresh and modern. Let's call them "the drabs."

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

CottageCore: Hemp Sink Skirt (No-Sew)

hemp sink skirt

I'm approaching the finish line on our cottage kitchen refresh. The new paint color—"craftsman" gray, as one of you so aptly described it—has added a warmth and dimension to this modest kitchen. Now that the cabinets and trim are all one color, from toe kick to backsplash, it feels more built-in and solid and so cottage-y good. How would it look if I went full "cottage core" and added a sink skirt to cover the washer dryer? I don't have my sewing machine with me at the cottage, but I do have some iron-on hem tape from some long-forgotten curtain project. So, I decided to give no-sew a try. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

CottageCore: Painting the Kitchen Cabinets Farrow & Ball "Pigeon"

painting-cabinets-before-after

You've heard of "pandemic baking"? Welcome to my version: pandemic painting. Rather than dwell on the sad prospect of a summer with no guests, I'm seizing this opportunity to spruce the place up. Most of the walls haven't seen a lick of paint since we bought the place and painted it top to bottom in 2007. The kitchen was in slightly better shape; we'd renovated 11 years ago using plain IKEA pine cabinets (no longer available), painted a nondescript off-white. I've been itching for a cabinet-color refresh for years, and now—with no guests underfoot—is the time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Artful Home: Artwork in Interior Design


The most important thing in a home to me is the art. Almost anything can be "art" if you find it beautiful. The piece over our dining table was painted by a Queens street preacher giving a sidewalk sermon on "grace and resurrection." The bright colors and energy set the tone for the house. Here's a look at more of the art that inspired our home renovation.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Kitchen Design: Think of Each Run as a Vignette


When I decided to open up some walls for our kitchen renovation, I knew I'd have to consider the design carefully from every angle. What would be the first impression when you entered our home? How much kitchen could you see from the entryway? Sitting on the sofa and gazing over at the kitchen, would I be looking at a sinkful of dishes? A hulking stainless steel appliance? On the wall of the sink elevation: Did I really need wall cabinets, which would block the line of sight to the window? It pays to consider every elevation as a vignette. These are the considerations that gave shape to my kitchen design.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Spray-Painted Kitchen-Sink Faucet One Year Later


Our kitchen renovation is a year old, and I'm still smitten! It is a pleasure to cook in. But more than this, I love that point on the backsplash where the arc of the veins in the bookended marble slabs seek each other out, like the reaching fingertips of Michelangelo's "Hands of God." You may recall that I took a risk in this renovation and spray-painted my drinking faucet to match the Delta Trinsic sink faucet in Champagne Bronze. (I did what?!) Wonder how that's holding up? No holds barred photos after the jump.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Painting the Cottage Kitchen Cabinets a "Beachier" Color


Despite its modest size and lack of insulation, our 1925 beach cottage has its charms, and we spend nearly every weekend of summer there. Cabins of the era, even when not a primary residence, can be a source of endless projects. Every year it seems something needs repair or sprucing up. We renovated the kitchen 11 years ago using IKEA cabinets that we painted ourselves, and it's held up fairly well. I only just refinished the wood countertops last summer. This year I'm planning a cabinet-color refresh to something a bit more "beach-y." After considering dozens of possibilities, I've arrived at the perfect paint color. Let's take a look.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

My Honed Marble Bath - SIx Years Later


When the design for our bathroom renovation was just a gleam in my iPad but I was starting to investigate marble for the tub surround, I was definitely concerned with how marble would wear in a bathroom. I did some research, and articles like this one from Houzz, "Why Marble Might Be Wrong for Your Bathroom," gave me pause.

"Marble is easily etched by acidic materials, such as lemon and certain cleaning products... Because marble contains minerals, there's always the risk that its iron content will turn to rust in a bathroom." 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Fixer Upper Friday: 1 BR in Carlton House Converts to 2

Via Streeteasy
This week's fixer upper special is 1,000 sq ft 1 BR in the Carlton House—with a terrace!—that could convert to a true 2 BR with grace and ease. Comparable two-bedroom homes in this neighborhood go for upwards of $650k, and that's without the outdoor space. This home is listed at $465k, so at the very least there is $185k of instant equity on the line—and that will pay for a nice renovation, indeed. Let's take a look.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Rudolf Reindeer Cookies

Matthew Cohen
I don't usually write about food at Renov8or, but these reindeer cookies are seriously cute.  I've been a longtime fan of the Reindeer Cupcakes over at Your Cup of Cake. What makes them stand out from the handful of other reindeer food crafts in my opinion are the cartoonish eyeballs, made from white M&Ms, and the vanilla cookie snouts. So I thought about how to adapt the effect in a cookie. I chose to break up the pretzels, as it makes for more rakish antlers, and mine are all "Rudolphs" with red noses in this batch of two dozen, though you could easily add some plain snouts using brown M&Ms, to represent Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and the gang. However you decorate them, they're sure to be the star of the holiday dessert table.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Installing LED Accent Lighting Above a Run of Bookcases—Easy DIY


It's been five years since I hacked some IKEA BILLY bookcases to create our built-ins that line the wall in our living room. At the time, we were in the middle of a gut renovation of our bathroom, so I asked my contractor to trim them out with some simple molding and I was a happy camper. It wasn't until months later that it dawned on me I'd missed an opportunity to add ambient lighting at the top. Luckily, I did have the foresight to have some outlets installed, so when I came across LED tape lights at a Black Friday sale this week, I jumped on this vacation-day project. It was super-easy to pull off, and you can do it too.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Rope-Wrapped Exposed Steam Pipe—Four Years Later


Like most co-op homes in New York City that were built in the early 20th century, ours is heated  by steam that runs up risers from a giant boiler in the basement and heats up radiators in each room. Love or hate it, steam heat is what it is, and so we deal. The two exposed pipes—one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen—get very hot. After scalding myself getting out of the shower our first winter here, I made wrapping the exposed heating pipes in rope my special project before the next cold wave. Many have asked how our rope-wrapped pipes are standing up to wear. Well, having just replaced the original manila rope in the bathroom with sisal rope, I thought I'd explain why.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Troubleshooting Clei Wall Bed Installation


Have you seen the amazing "transforming" furniture by Italian manufacturer Clei? Whenever Dwell writes about micro living, there are always a few of their pieces featured—like this bed that comes right down over the sofa. Well, I've been stalking these online for our spare bedroom/office, almost since the day we moved in. So when one popped up recently on Craigslist, I pounced on it. Of course, buying large items on CL is never without challenges, so here's my advice if you're considering purchasing a fancy murphy bed like this secondhand.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Why Polyurethane Is the ONLY Wood Countertop Sealant That Worked for Us



A few weeks ago I shared the "unvarnished truth" about our wood countertops—and it wasn't pretty. I can't believe I made the rookie mistake of relying on "oil" for my sealant. If you're considering wood countertops in your kitchen, and especially if yours is a sink counter, be realistic about the way you actually use your countertops. If you're like me, oil was not enough protection as a sealant.