Softer, safer stairs

November 6, 2011

Our most recent house project has been to add stair treads to the front stairwell. Our nearly ten-year-old pup has been getting a little arthritic and occasionally slips on the stairs, so we needed to think about a safer way for her to get up and down.

We knew we didn’t want to go the traditional carpeted stair route, but after searching online and all the home supply stores in the area, we couldn’t find anything that we thought looked simple, modern and in line with our style.  Ayesha had a great idea to check out Flor, and we learned that we could get their standard tiles custom cut to use as treads.

We found a great subtle gray-on-gray stripe in a low pile, and Ayesh did some research to find a good adhesive double-sided carpet tape from Global Industrial that is non-toxic and fume-free and supposedly won’t damage the finish on the stairs, should we ever wish to remove the treads in the future.

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Bridging the gap

September 5, 2010

I’ve been subjected to both mom and sister giving me crap for not updating my blog in for-ever. Guilty. I admit it. I have been so busy working on unpacking and organizing the house, that I  haven’t stopped to share the progress of this work. Yes, I am lame.

One of my favorite changes we recently finished is the bridge we built over the staircase on the second floor.  We wanted a new way to connect the top landing to the back of the house where the bedrooms and bathrooms are, and came up with what we feel is a great modern solution.

It used to be that you’d climb the stairs and come to a doorway on the immediate right (the entrance into a room), or you could take a couple of steps left onto a small, narrow, useless landing that didn’t go anywhere.

Before: View of old staircase going up with view to doorway at right; at top landing looking out at the “dead end”; view of the solid stair rail looking down to first floor.

Now, when you come to the top of the stairs, you can still turn right and go into a room (the office) OR you can turn left, walk a couple of steps onto a small narrow landing and then turn again, take a small step up onto a bridge that crosses over the staircase, and head to the back of the house to where the bedrooms and bathrooms are.

Here’s a look at the process and the finished product:

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(Don’t let the photos of Dottie lounging on the bridge fool you – it took her a while to get comfortable with it.  When the temporary plywood was first installed, she wouldn’t go over it.  We had to cover it with a sheet for about a week, slowing folding the sheet back until she would go over it.  When the glass was delivered, we had to play the sheet trick again – although it took less time for her to get used to crossing as we folded the sheet back a little more every day.  Now, when I get up with her in the mornings, she gets halfway across the bridge and then turns to look to make sure I’m following her across it.  If I’m not fast enough, she’ll lay across it, feigning boredom and annoyance at me for taking so long to go downstairs and take her outside.  It’s her stage now.  Too funny.)

 

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Stairway to heaven: basement access

June 27, 2010

Our stairway down to the basement, from what used to be the front hall closet, is almost complete.

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Awwww, family photo

November 19, 2009

Work on the house is on “pause” for the moment, so that we can work out some kinks and wait for the windows to arrive.  This past Saturday my moms and sisters were in town, and so was my new, fantastic friend Kenny (Ayesha’s known him for years).  Kenny, an uber-talented photographer (also brilliant blogger of www.smonkyou.com, a pre-daddy blog) took some wonderful photos of me, Ayesh and the house.

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I can see clearly now

October 21, 2009

I stopped over to the house on Saturday, stepped into the foyer of the house, and could see all the way up to the underside of the roof.  Everything is ripped down to the basic orgininal framing.

All the old plumbing soon to be ripped out

All the old plumbing soon to be ripped out

Clear view all the way through

Clear view all the way through

The front foyer

The front foyer

I took a ba-zillion photos, but unless you’re in the space and seeing it with your own eyes, it all looks pretty much the same.  That won’t be the case for long, however.  Ayesha is a much more talented photographer than I am, and she managed to get some really great shots, and a few of me standing amidst the ruins.  (I’ll see if I can’t get her to do a guest post for the blog).

This week the contractor and his crew are working on ripping out the old framing that needs to be adjusted on each floor – there are only a few original walls that will be rebuilt in the same locations.

In the meantime, we’re starting to contemplate our options for windows, fixtures, and everything else that needs to go in once the draywalling happens over the next couple of weeks.

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The new old house

October 4, 2009

I rented out my lovely little condo earlier this year and moved in with my partner. She and I cohabitated peacefully through the spring and summer until we were enticed back into the real estate game – sooner we than expected.  

A cute little bungalow in our neighborhood came onto the market, and although the place needed way more work than we were willing (or could afford) to put into it, we were curious to look around at other homes in the area also for sale.  With the current economic climate as it is, we realized that in the neighborhood we thought we’d never be able to buy in, we could actually find a fixer-upper in a reasonable price range.  

It didn’t take us long to find a diamond in the rough: a great little dump in a wonderful neighborhood. On a quiet residential street, near a big park, the 1908 home was split into a bi-level apartment building some 30 years ago or so. It doesn’t look like much from outside; the dilapidated siding is chipping, the windows are old, small and caked with dirt and the front and back yards are overgrown.  The house is narrow and short (20’ x 40’) with only a few feet on each side separating it from the neighboring properties.  

Front View

Front View

 

When you walk in, however, tall ceilings, bright rooms and a beautiful grand craftsman staircase greet you. Despite having been split into two apartments with a bunch of small rooms on each floor, the place has charm and significant potential.  

Try to see past the mismatched old wood, linoleum, odd layout, nasty old bathrooms, minimal kitchens, and dumpy back staircase.  Our hope is that we can open up the space, replace the windows, put up new siding, re-do the floors and turn this early twentieth century A-frame into a twenty-first century modern masterpiece.  

We have been working with a general contractor and an architect to come up with a new layout and plan for renovating the house.  I think we’re getting close to having some concrete plans, which I’ll share in future posts.  

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“Before” photos by A. J. Hassan  

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