Good Genes

Sooooo many people have asked me, “How does your husband know how to do all of these renovations?!”

Here’s the answer…the handsome Dutch man leaning on the brick fireplace taught the handsome Dutch man in the blue shirt everything he knows.


Add in this lovely lady and that’s how Mark got his know how.


When my husband’s parents were newly married, they bought a fixer upper in Toronto and did exactly what we’re doing.

They blew out walls and ripped up floors and completely overhauled the rooms.

I think some of those renovation skills were passed down to Mark through DNA. My father-in-law is a handy guy with a can-do attitude. His son is the spitting image of him.

And so, here we are…


3 Canadians and the American girl who weaseled her way into this DIY family. 🙂

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Awesome finds

Treasures in an old house & whiskey. Yes, whiskey.

We uncover little things every day. Actually, some of the things aren’t so little…


That is my mammoth freezer. It’s so old, it has drawers. Check it out…


Next to my insanely large freezer is my equally enormous fridge.


It is also really old, really LOUD and it’s a power hog.

They’re kinda cool but they’re too big for our narrow kitchen and so my friend, Abby, is going to take the fridge and we’re working on someone else to take the freezer.

Here’s one thing I’m not giving away…


We found this old wooden drawer made out of whiskey crates in our basement.


Why does my finger look so old and wrinkly?!! Anyway, there’s a bunch of handmade work benches and tables down there…whoever owned the house, waayyyyy back when, built these drawers and used whatever materials they had handy.


I guess our previous, previous, previous owner REALLY liked a stiff drink. (And I will need one when we finally finish). Cheers!

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Why. Grandmas. Rock.

I don’t think my 83-year-old Nunny really “gets” why we would want to live in a narrow rowhouse in Lawrenceville when we could get a normal-sized house in the suburbs with a 2 car garage.

Every time I show her a picture like this…


She kind of gets a look on her face that says her inner monologue is going “Ewwwwwwww!”

That said, my Nunny is a saint and she wants to be supportive.

Since ripping down walls, sawing through pipes and scraping off plaster is a bit much for her, she did the next best thing….


Nunny gave us our FIRST housewarming gift. It’s a beautiful painting she did herself…my husband almost cried when she gave it to him. 🙂

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Awesome finds

We haven’t found gold, but we did find these…

Everyone thinks that when they demo an old house, they’re going to find money and piles of gold in some secret, hidden passageway.

Each time I swing the hammer, I’m hoping to hit the jackpot. (Hasn’t happened yet)

We did find some old newspapers that were stuck in the brick…a couple of old wallpaper sheets that covered the fireplace (who wallpapers a fireplace?!)…and a really nasty rug that covered part of the bathroom floor (I will you spare you the details on that.)

We also found this GEM…


An old Channel 11 magnet with Peggy, David and Chris Long – how great is this?!

I’d say my co-workers looked good back then and look even better now! I guess we were meant to get the house…I take this magnet as sort of an omen. 🙂

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…

Brick 1

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

Brick 3

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.

Brick 2

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!


Demolition, Heavy lifting

My hands hurt so badly, it hurts to wash my hair.

For the last five days, I’ve been doing this nonstop…


Chipping plaster that’s been stuck to these bricks since 1850 (our new estimate on when the house was built) is not fun.

Call me a sissy, but these blisters are starting to hurt.


No pain, no gain…right?!

We demo-ed the house for a full five days.  Almost all the plaster is off the brick walls we want to expose.  The upstairs bathroom has been ripped out and the cheese stands alone.  (The cheese in this case is the toilet)


The carpets upstairs are gone and the ceiling is down to expose the joists so our plumber/HVAC/electrical guys can get in there and run some pipe.

I now totally get why people put their homes into “house tours.”  After working so hard on something like this, I want everyone to see what we’re doing!! 🙂

Demolition, Heavy lifting

Demolition Days

I hate dust.  Like…really, really hate it.

We’re basically ripping the house down to the studs and starting the renovation from there.


We had to pull down the ceiling to see which way the joists run because we’re going to move the stairs, and we have to make sure we don’t move anything that’s structural.  Trying to keep the house from falling in on us and staying alive is priority NUMERO UNO.

Every time we pulled down a ceiling tile, a huge cloud of black dust would fall over us…


It’s not asbestos…we had that checked.

You know how your family will always help you do the stuff that no one else will, like moving??  Well, it turns out they’ll help you renovate too…and they’ll do it for free.


But I will be buying them lots of pizza and beer.  It’s only fair.

Design phase, Family

We bought a house. Holy crap.

I am a first time homeowner.  My husband is a second time homeowner.  So, this is a bigger deal for me. 🙂

We got a super cool (and in desperate need of renovation/love) 1920’s rowhouse in Lawrenceville and we wasted no time getting to work.

We closed last Friday and 1 hour after the closing, this baby was delivered….


Yes, it’s enormous but thankfully we got the bigger one because it’s filling up fast.


Who would have ever thought pulling down ceilings and walls was so dirty??  Too bad it’s not Halloween…we could go as coal miners.