Archives for the month of: February, 2012

We’re just pushing towards Spring (sort of) and here we are today getting a snow storm! Hmm. No snow all winter and then mother nature waits ’til leap day, Feb 29, of all days. Very funny!

Well, snow it will. But soon enough signs of Spring will be all around us.

Back in late August, and lasting until early October, we did a small landscape project here at 10 Water Street. We really never got around to having the season to enjoy it. So I’m looking forward to Spring and Summer so we can use this newly planned space. When you live on a postage stamp style lot like we do, you have to utilize every square inch. And I feel like finally with the new landscaping we’ve done that. We will still likely gravitate to using our second story deck most of the time but it’s just nice to have a place to relax with your feet on the ground.

We ended up rebuilding our entryway into a small deck. Reconfiguring our cobblestone walkway and gate. Planting a boxwood hedge. Adding a nice lush privet hedge around the southern and part of the eastern sides of our property line. And installing a bluestone patio at the bottom of our new entryway/deck that wraps underneath our second story deck – which has created the feel of an outside room. It’ll be fun to see how we use this new space once the weather warms up.

I’ve added some photos below of what the new landscaping looked like as we were finishing it last Fall. The new privet hedge has shed all its leaves this winter but I can’t wait for it to grow, get thicker, and bring back the greenery over the next couple of months. When you live in such a public place like we do the privacy the hedge will provide is very welcome!

Bring on Spring!

Dwarf boxwood hedge and plantings

New small deck off the entrway with privet hedge in the background

Looking north


Our old house has always had a commercial influence. Built in 1798 as a carpenter/block shop to service the whaling shipyards in its backyard, over the years the house has been all sorts of things from the town post office to dry good shop, dentisit office, bakery and more. When we bought the place we converted it to a private home but kept a portion of the first floor for the storefront. Having rented the storefront to a family member’s real estate business for some time, and then deciding it was time for us to take back the storefront and use it for something we’d enjoy doing, called for some renovations.

The storefront, or “shop”, is really the last part of our house to be renovated. Aside from some new plaster, floor polish and paint, we haven’t done the hard work needed to bring the space back to its glory. As we prepare to open Craft, the time has come to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Which is what we did yesterday. Working with our carpenter Glenn, who doesn’t seem to be intimidated by any old house kind of problem, we started the demolition phase.

We’ve decided to use an architect this time around because we’re bringing the storefront design back to the way it (probably) looked when the house was built. Some old photos from 19th century books on our town give us a glimpse of what the storefront may have looked like. And this photo of our house from the 1930’s is likely consistent with the original design. So this is what we’re shooting for.


Not yet wanting to take out the heating floor radiators because it’s still pretty cold, we covered  and worked around them for the time being.

Prep work

Our plan is to completely gut the space from the ceiling down to the floor, and redo the bathroom. There are years of layers of walls and flooring. It is going to be a very messy job — 200 years worth of dust and debris.

This weekend’s work was focused on just opening up the north wall and a couple feet of ceiling so the architects can get in this week and take proper measurements. So thats what we did. Here’s carpenter Glenn starting to cut away a small portion of the ceiling.

Carpenter Glenn

Signs of some ornate details from the past were found behind layers of walls.

Plaster relief

One wall and 2 feet of ceiling — just a dent in the work to be done  — created an enormous amount of dust and debris. One saving grace is though the space is connected through our mud room door, it is completely separate from our residence so hopefully we can keep the mess contained. Vince worked hard to keep up with the falling debris.

Shovel-man Vince

As we cut away the ceiling, you begin to see the impressive wood that went into building this place. Since this is a post-and-beam structure, the beams and other wood were likely either cut down in the shipyard, or over in the forests in Rochester and brought to the site via horse. The beams are carved with roman numerals which served as early instruction on the best way to assemble them.

True to this kind of timber framing, the weight of the building is on the gable walls and rests on the corner posts. Timber framing or post-and-beam construction is the method of creating structures using heavy squared off and carefully fitted and joined timbers with joints secured by large wooden pegs. The methodology comes from making things out of logs and tree trunks without modern saws. Using axes, adzes and draw knives a carpenter could a assemble a building capable of bearing heavy weight without excessive use of interior space given over to vertical support posts. Like this guy:

Man with adz

After some ceiling demo, here’s a corner post. The wood is still as strong as it was 200+ years ago.

Corner post joinery

Here’s a wind brace in the ceiling and that “nail”, or spike, is about 8″ long.

Windbrace & spike

By 3:00 p.m. and after 3 dump trips, we’d gutted the north wall and 2 feet of ceiling. What a hodge podge of framing. But this entire wall will eventually be cut away, reframed and windows replaced…consistent with the original design above.

North wall gutted

Lots more work to go. But a productive start.

We headed down to NYC last weekend to attend the NYIGF. It was my first time attending and let me just say this—you have to give yourself a few days to make any headway at this show.

Hello Time Square

We arrived on Saturday around noon. Not all of the exhibit halls were even open yet. Some were opening the next day.

I found some great ideas for Craft as we think about what some of the housewares will be to complement our vintage furniture inventory.

Day two at the show was pretty much spent looking at the furniture vendors. I could have spent all day at the Jonathan Adler and Dwell Studio booths.

Dwell Studio

They don’t encourage you to take photos inside the show (okay, they have signage that explicitly says “no photo taking!”)  so all of mine are of the down-low, odd-angled, thumb-covered variety.

On our way back to our hotel we spent some time in SOHO at the Room & Board store where I wanted to sit on our already ordered new sofa, but yet to have actually tested it out. So we did that and I decided I made the right online purchase. (It arrives Feb 8). Have to say, I am really loving Room & Board. Especially loved this hanging light which I think I’m going to get to go over our dining table.

Room & Board Hanging Light

Before we wrapped up our quick 26-hour visit to NYC, we also made our way to the new Marimekko store at 200 Fifth Avenue (and 23rd). I am going to write more about my love of all things Marimekko in another post soon.

NYC Marimekko Store

But since we have been looking for some new fabric to have curtains made for our upstairs living room, as I looked over the racks of inspiring Marimekko fabrics, this fabric below jumped out at me immediately. It’s called “Tunturipollo”. And as I waited for them to find a full bolt for us, two of the sales girls came by to tell me it’s their store’s most coveted fabric and I had very good taste. Well, howdayalikethat.

The new fabric is already in the hands of our very capable curtainmaker Melinda and hopefully in about a month’s time we’ll have new living room drapes and some roman shades for the kitchen.

We also bought a new shower curtain in a classic Unikko pattern. It’s blue and makes our blue bathroom even more blue.

We stayed in Times Square at the Westin instead of our usual Crosby Street Hotel in SOHO. But we had a beautiful corner room that looked down onto the New York Times headquarter building. Here’s a shot of the top of their building and what I can only imagine is their executive terrace. Nice!

NY Times Headquarters

All in all, we had a fun-filled weekend in NYC. And I can’t wait to go back soon.

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