The Grand House, The Row House

We Have This Thing For Exposed Brick

Maybe Mark was a mason in his former life because he (and I!) LOOOOVE exposed brick.

It’s was a main feature in our first home renovation.

The small rowhouse we gutted and totally redid had fireplaces EVERYWHERE!

Our second renovation will feature exposed brick but not as prominently, because we’re going for a different style with this house.

As Mark exposes the brick, some of it is in decent shape and some of it is not.

The brick in the kitchen had to be cleaned and repointed.

In our first house, we used a light coating of muriatic acid on the brick to get the plaster completely off.

We used a sprayer and then a coarse brush to get all the pieces off.

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We haven’t had to use acid in the second renovation.

We’re hoping the exposed brick in this house will add a modern twist to an otherwise classic Victorian house!

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Moving In

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Only a morning fueled by caffeine could help us attack our next home renovation project.

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We found an old brocade mirror that weighs about 60 pounds. Even though Mark is a beast, we got some old cardboard and cut it to the size of the mirror.

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Using the cardboard (because it’s wayyyyy lighter) we found the exact spot on the brick fireplace where we wanted to hang the mirror and marked it with tape.

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Mark moved the brackets so we could hang the mirror horizontally.

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He drilled into the brick because the mortar is kinda soft and crumbly.

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We lifted it up and TA-DA!!

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First, a quick mirror selfie.

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And then, it was lots of grilling, sunshine and friends for Memorial Day weekend!

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Demolition, Family

I didn’t cry at my wedding but I shed tears over this brick.

I’m so happy I could cry. And I think I might have shed a tear or two…but then again, it could be from the crazy dust that never seems to go away.

All of you have been so encouraging about our “exposed brick” project…you’ve sent in countless suggestions and I’ve read every single one out loud to my husband! I gotta be honest…it kinda feels like we have a team rooting for us and the house!!

You read in my last post how we scraped, brushed, vacuumed and then sprayed to get the plaster and mortar off the brick.

Here’s the before…

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And the after…

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I really think it turned out nicely. Another comparison…

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And finally (in case you don’t believe me) – this is me NOT CRYING at my wedding…

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Happily weeping (on the inside) over my wall. 🙂

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Demolition, Family, Heavy lifting

There’s no substitute for hard work.

I am tired. My hands hurt. And I hear the “whack whack whack” of a hammer against plaster in my sleep.

No one said this would be easy.

But they should have said – “IT’S GOING TO BE REALLY FREAKING HARD!”

We are in the FINAL STAGE of our demolition…and it’s the most tedious.

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We are on a MISSION to get the last bit of remaining mortar off the brick. We have a TEAM approach. Person #1 goes first with a small scraper and scrapes each brick and tries to even out the mortar…

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Person #2 follows with a “deck scrub” brush and brushes the wall like there’s no tomorrow. (A perfect job for my dad because the man was born with muscles)

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Favorite brother-in-law/person #3 then VACUUMS the brick to get all the loose mortar and dust off…

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And then…after all that…it’s time to spray the acid. That’s about as happy a person can look holding a bucket of muriatic acid…

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The acid not only cleans the brick but evens out the color of the mortar.

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We do notice a huge difference…my husband is jazzed about it and talks to the brick when he’s finished. 🙂

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I’ve got some BEFORE and AFTER pictures I’m going to post later. I hope you all notice a difference too…if not, you’ll have to lie to me because after this much work, I can’t handle disappointment.

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Design phase

We got plans, I tell ya…BIG plans!!

My husband, Mark, is a landscape architect. Actually, he’s the best landscape architect in the world. 🙂

He mostly designs city parks, vacation communities and high-end residential spaces.

That (obviously) makes him the perfect person to design what we want our house to look like. Thanks to his genius, and his SUPER COOL 3D model program, we have a vision of what our little corner of the world will hopefully be someday.

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After we got the house, Mark went through and took the measurements of everything and built the house “as is” in his computer program. (There are 2 bedrooms upstairs that aren’t pictured)

He then made the VIRTUAL changes to the house that we would like to make in REAL LIFE. Like exposing the brick, moving the bathroom and putting the laundry room upstairs…

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Because it’s a narrow rowhouse, we want there to be a clear line of sight from the front door to the back. Right now, the stairs block that view because they’re in the middle of the house behind that white wall…

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If you look at it from the kitchen, that wall in the middle of the house really breaks up our downstairs into three tiny rooms…

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We’re blowing out that wall and moving those stairs to the side of the house next to the exposed brick. It will be a “floating staircase” – you’ll be able to see through it so the house looks bigger…

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I will say, I’m REALLY REALLY glad we have this blueprint. It helps with planning and building, and it just gives us that small glimmer of hope we need to keep going!! (I hope it doesn’t take 15 years to finish)

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Heavy lifting

It kinda looks like someone threw up on my wall.

I like exposed brick.  Our house is going to have that modern/industrial vibe, and I think it will look cool.

That said…after chipping off the plaster, some of the brick looks good…

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The other half looks like someone threw up on my wall…

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Our architect friend thinks this is one of the original Lawrenceville rowhouses that was built back in the 1850’s.  They used this pumpkin-colored brick that’s kind of porous and it really absorbed all the moisture, so the plaster is stuck SUPER HARD TO IT.

Because my chipping isn’t perfect, some of the mortar sticks out between the bricks in a shape that our neighbor likened to boogers…yes, boogers.

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Since that is a super gross comparison, we’re going to get some muriatic acid and paint that on.

I’m told that will help get rid of some of the leftover mortar.   Any other suggestions???  You can leave one by clicking “leave a comment/comments” on the upper left hand corner near the title.  Thanks!

 

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