Unhinged: hidden doors

With the holidays suddenly, oh so suddenly upon us, becoming unhinged might seem imminent. As a bit of a control freak, I find that during times like these – that is … massive amounts of disruption to one’s normal schedule…if you take the opportunity to just put a few things in order, it can make a world of difference to your mental health.

left: FritzJergens Pivot Hinge. Right: Soss Hidden Hinge.

Me, I like things to be clean, in their proper place. I know my boss will get a kick out of this when she reads it, because my office is typically a disaster. I’ve got stacks of priority stacks, emergency stacks, stacks that must be attended to before I leave for my next evening outing. I’ve got baubles, bells, lights, and ribbons, quotes, and mementos, inspiration photos and post-its full of ideas. My office is chaotic. Marie Kondo would have a fit – Lisa is kind enough to mostly leave me to it – even if – it – isn’t exactly what she had in mind. It’s a process.

In plain Site – a whole other room behind the bookcase.

So too is one’s home. Part of that process for me, has always been the hiding away of things. They call it a facade for a reason – it’s hiding something, even if that something isn’t a stack of magazines or dirty dishes stowed in the oven until the unexpected guests take their leave. Everyone has something to hide, which is why I love secret doors and compartments. It adds to the air of mystery that surrounds a person. It hints at the layers, their depth, the intrigue. Just when they (all those people in your life) think they have you all figured out, they discover, that that book shelf of yours, is actually hiding a passageway to a secret room.

The French knew – all those years ago. Curved door, curved molding, hidden hinges.

How you go about getting that hidden room, or door that looks like a wall, was initially, a tightly held secret. I knew that it could be done. I’ve seen the Oval Office, well not in person or anything, but on tv, and in movies, and the doors look like they are part of the room – no visible hinges. What a wonderful trick. For my Charlestown place I had to settle for a flush mount door with beveled molding, and visible hinges. Even though I hated conceding to a visible hinge , the door looked pretty good.

Even ship lap gets into the trend.

Today, hiding is made so much easier with pivot hinges. Concrete, tile, wood, whatever your material challenge, there is a hinge that can handle it. Soss can take on doors up to 1100 lbs, they’re pricey but that is a pretty big door. HD has options at a much more affordable price point, and there are many others in-between. Slap a little molding on an inexpensive flush mount door and paint it, and you have a work of hidden art. Add wall covering and you’ll really have them fooled.

Just think, if the holidays get really tough, you’ll have a place to stow away for a few blissful hours – drama free.

Birds of paradise…dare to dream there’s an en suite bath on the other side of that door.

Two Faced: What to do when your back is your front

Your front entry that is. I know what I am doing is considered rather unique. Not the flipping part. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is a flipper these days. No disrespect to Tom, Dick or Harry and most certainly none intended to the Tomasia’s, Dorathea’s and/or Harriet’s that are forging their own path on the road to financial security – I salute you all. The point is, this is about me, the me that can’t seem to do anything normal, or easy, or in a way that I can just blend into the crowd. Sometimes blending is a welcome cloak against the condemnation that follows from the pitfalls of this business of being human – if you know what I mean.

Enough greenery can make anything look better.

When I selected No. 5 I didn’t give much thought to the fact that you enter through the back of the building. Not just because that’s the convenient way to get there, but because it’s the only actual way to get there, unless you want to crawl through the window. The window BTW is the intended exit route if there were a fire. It works, but nobody is worried about what they look like when the are escaping a fire…am I right?

This particular set of row houses (those intended for the servants) are pretty, in their simple, unfussy way. They certainly don’t look like the brownstones of the eight street district, or Beacon Hill, and the back of them – well, it’s the back. They are draped in wires, cables and cords. They are gated or fenced in from the street, but still can be viewed from the same. My gate is a thin barrier at best to the outside world, and yet, I am decidedly subconscious about the way it looks.

When you open the sage green gate (anyone that knows me well, knows that THAT color has to change), and are presented with a small wooden walk way leading to a few steps, a small outdoor deck and my back door. My back door is really a kitchen door. Three rows of divided lights sit atop two long vertical panels. It would be fine for a country home – even better if the top half opened to a grand back yard, and it were the fifties, but this is neither the country or that decade, and as for privacy, don’t think I haven’t noticed the next door neighbors, on floor two, peering down in at me. I’ve got my eyes on you too, and a stun gun, so beware. I also have a new front door sitting in my living room. I’ve always wanted my own front door. Condo living doesn’t really afford you a front door in the traditional, single family home sense of the word, and I have visions of a southern porch, inviting me down the boxwood bordered path on perfect pavers, to my glossy doored destination. If there is any solace in the selection of this soggy bottomed abode, it’s the back door – which of course I am going to turn into my very own front.

Wayfare . Metalic Galvanized Steel Coated Planter.

Due to the fact that a good deal of my entry is “common space”, for those of you that are unfamiliar, it’s like being married and having to negotiate with your partner for approval on purchases. Since the sale of the unit below is under negotiation, I can’t even being to hypnotize him into accepting that there is no other color in the world more perfect than gray. It’s a real drama for me, A. Because I am not married and don’t negotiate getting what I want with anyone, and B. I am totally impatient. So I just began painting. I painted everything that I “owned” and then started to slyly move down the corridor until I was made to stop. Well now it just looks silly, and will have to be painted, and since I never selected that detestable first color, I have no idea what it is. The logical thing to do of course is to continue on with my beautiful Benjamin Moore . Trout Gray.

I have a happy entry mat that says “HELLO” and I purchased some beautiful long, linear and tall black planters in which boxwood’s will be planted to hide the condenser, and the less then happy trellis that sits in front of it. I am going to trim the windows out in black, and hang large beautiful wreaths in them both. The piece de resistence? There is going to be a black and white striped canopy. I haven’t figured out how to do it just yet, but trust me when I tell you, when I am done with it all – my back is going to be the very best front you ever did see.

Happy Saturday.

s – Tile ME Pretty

Home Depot . Jeffrey Court Carrara Subway Tile . 3″ x 6″ . 8 Pack $6.98

I had no intention of installing a back splash in the kitchen, mainly because I had no intention of renovating the kitchen, or the living room, or the bedroom, laundry room, or frankly any of the rooms in what was supposed to be a “move-in” condition unit. How the naivety of it all pains me. I want to be a believer, but my natural instincts, which admittedly some find rather tiresome, are to be skeptical, to question, to doubt. What a downer. Isn’t it so much more pleasant to be around someone that spews sunshine? That’s the type of person I gravitate toward, but when it comes to money, and my money specifically, I want Glum from Gulliver’s Travels – you know – one of the Lilliputians to – “it’ll never work me” back to my senses.

Home Depot . Hex . Ceramic Tile in Greecian White . 12″ x 12″ . $9.98

Because sense my friends is just what you need when you’re talking about your cents, and your sanity. Both of which have been tested for me these last few months. I’ve thrown money at the electrical challenges and the infrastructure. In case you didn’t know, infrastructure is a French word describing the underlying framework of a system. See the underlying in the previous sentence in BOLD? Yes, those are shouty caps. The wires are not supposed to be snaking their way around the periphery of the living room floor waiting to ensnarl some unsuspecting guest, as if they were on a trek through the jungle. If I have yet to be clear here – they are meant to be hidden, not in a PVC pipe, but behind the wall.

Home Depot . Royal Herringbone Winter . 12″ x 12″ . $20.67

Now that I’ve started, the onslaught must continue. Water is meant to live in the pipes, or the tub, sink, toilet, or happily in a puddle on the exterior of the home. It seems so friendly and harmless when it falls from the sky in tiny droplets, but anyone that’s hurled themselves into the pool cannonball style landing smack on their back, can attest to the brutality of water. It is wile – E! It can travel untold distances from the point of entry, tricking you into believing you know exactly where it came from, when you in fact may never know. Hiding your head in the sand will do no good. You must rip and tear like Bill Murray tracking that devious goffer in Caddy Shack. You better find it or it will haunt you forever.

So that’s a long way of saying that I need to pick out a back splash tile and do it fast. Normally, I love tile, and while that hasn’t changed, the amount I can spend on it has. If I could incorporate a sad face emogi here, I would. Still, I think one of these will be lovely. Please weigh in. Your opinion matters to me, and it will make me so very happy.

The Bathroom Reveal

Now I know at least one of my readers has been poised on the edge of their seat awaiting what I promised was going to be a two week bathroom redo. If you want this to be an article about schedule slide it could be, but we’d never make it to this amazing transformation. Suffice it to say, the delay had to do with a nervous home owner and the decision to let the floor “cure” before scrubba, dub, dubbing in the space. It was likely a sound decision, that this impatient person would never have made.

While delaying gratification isn’t a strong point of mine, I am in full support of the home owner’s (also known as my sister) decision to re-glaze instead of replace the tile in their NYC apartment’s only bath. The downtime, the cost, the mess, all make this decision a smart one.

Hvar . Croatia – the inspiration for the bath.

While it may look like the ice in the rink at Rockefeller Center, it is in fact paint, and I would not recommend gliding around on it in anything other than a slipper. Just to be safe of course.

Kohler Poplin Vanity.

From deco, gray, dingy, and damaged to bright white and beautiful. A potted plant pops against the stark white wall, and a photograph in the spirit of Slim Arrons, taken on a family holiday in Croatia, acts as the inspiration for the bath’s design. Note additional touches like the Muji toothbrush holders, and the CB2 glass shelves keep the space from feeling overcrowded. Vanity is available at Home Depot – Kohler Poplin 24″ Vanity. Sink is also Kohler. Walls are in Benjamin Moore’s Super White, and don’t forget that the reglazing was done by: Supreme Bath Reglazing.

Bathroom Rehab

When you live in a city apartment and you have only one bathroom, taking on a renovation of that space can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Add to that a pre-war building (those were made out of concrete and require a special handyman to hang a picture). The picture, in case you are not clear, is that nothing in these types of buildings will be ripped out easily and replaced. Not without a wrecking crew, and if you are in fact planning on continuing to live there, well, you have a problem.

Me, I love a bathroom or I hate it. I want it to be a quiet sanctuary of sorts. I want to go in, close the door, block out the world, maybe turn on some nice music, having a steaming hot shower, dry off with a fluffy towel, and have the ability to turn around without hitting a towel rack, the back of the toilet or the door – you out there reading this, living in tiny places – you know what I am talking about.

While I cannot make my sister Mary Beth’s bathroom any bigger – we can make it feel like a tiny spa, and do it all without throwing the baby out with the bath water. Now some of you might balk at the thought of reglazing – this inexpensive fix will in fact transform your space. No painstaking effort to pry up the existing tile, I don’t even know how they’d get that tub out of the apartment without taking out the door, popping a window out, and have a crane take it down. If you were being bombed, this tub would be the only thing left standing, and you could happily say it served one good purpose. Reglazed – it will serve two.

Patch the tile, glaze the tub and then the tiles, add a new sink, toilet, vanity, and light fixture, and voila – you’ve performed a miracle – and it only cost you about $2500. It’s true. Take that. The last full bathroom renovation I did cost me $25,000. It was only 37sf That’s $675.67 a foot. You know what it feels like to stub your toe – that’s a huge toe stubbing cost.

Stay tuned for the after pictures. It’ll all take place over the course of a single long weekend away.

So many great options from Lumens.com Left: Saber $180. Top Right: Winton Bath Bar $219. Bottom Right: Rondelle Bath Bar $314.

Re-Making of the Manse

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The Manse . circa 1789

Finding new life after more than two hundred years shows fortitude and resilience.  Jo-Jo’s late 18th century home sat directly on the frozen earth, no modern barriers of protection, its only insulation the newspaper and sail cloth that lined the walls underneath the wall paper.  Who knew wallpaper wasn’t all form, it was a big part function.  I stand educated.  Perhaps all these less technical methods allowed the house to breath.  One’s survival depends on it, after all.  I thought the old girl would crumble when she was jacked up, when that carefully preserved earth was shoveled from under her, when her old bones, which were crooked with age, were laid gently down on her new foundation, miraculously, they did not break.

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The new addition.

She rested, and settled, and straightened herself out.  When they say “built to last”  this is what they mean.  Like a surgeon at work on a poor souls scoliosis riddled back, when the builders were done, she’d grown taller.  Nearly a foot of ceiling height was gained, a modest 6′ addition added to the rear of the house to accommodate another bedroom. She underwent eye surgery of sorts, getting all new windows, and a hair cut in the form of asphalt shingles.  Her every day dress is shingled on three sides, but she’s wears her Sunday best, in the form of pale grey painted clapboards, and Nantucket Red painted doors, on her front facade, greeting Parishioners as they head to Holy Trinity just steps away.

She has been an excellent patient, allowing her team to work wonders as they fortify her skeletal structure, remove and strip the toxins – mold, lead, termites – that took up residence at 261 Main, and prepare to insert an entirely new respiratory system (Heat and AC where it didn’t exist before), and a sparkle in her eye, in the form of all new wiring and lighting.  Somehow, even now, with not a light on, she manages to shine.

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The took the whole tree trunk …why not?

This weekend was all about the big push to outfit her.  A gal can’t be expected to wear only one outfit for the next 200 years.  Flooring, hardware, appliances, fixtures, paint colors, wallpaper, you name it.  My head is swimming.  We visited Stonewood Products . 15 Greatwestern Road. W. Harwich to look at flooring and interior siding options.  Rough Sawn Fir, and Schoolhouse Oak, Shiplap in Pine.  I looked at Smeg, Blue Star, Miele, Bosch, Fisher Paykel, refrigerators and stoves at KAM Appliances . 210 Yarmouth Road . Hyannis, MA.  Martha Stewart, Woodman, and Kraft Made kitchen cabinets, and tile, Home Depot.  Subway, penny, Carrera, fish scale, Tileworks . 705 Main Street . Harwich. MA.  Vanities, sinks, color combinations.  Decisions, decisions, decisions.

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Jim Falla . The Architect in the midst of his creation.

I’ve never seen the point of troubling too much over the decisions.  You make them.  Some are good, some are bad.  You do your research and then take action.  The amount of time you worry over whether or not it’s a good decision, doesn’t seem to impact the outcome for me, one way or the other.  So, since time is money.  I make them quickly.  Jo-Jo does not.  There will be a lot of coaxing to get her to commit.  She makes me put together design boards with three options for every space.  She insists that she is my Client, in the way only Jo-Jo could.  In the way only the youngest in the family could get away with.  Much love Jo-Jo – you’re boards are in the process of being assembled.  Get ready to decide.

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Stonewood Products . I wish you could smell this place…heaven.

As I sit and look at the snow falling in the back yard, I envision a tiny house in its farthest corner.  This tiny spit of land already holds two homes, but I feel strongly that it could accommodate one more. It would be tiny after all.