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Last week’s work was all about anything to do with the floor.

I’ll start this post with showing how the space looks after a week’s worth of work on the floor. After alot of hard work, we have a sub-sub floor down. I took this photo late this afternoon as I was in the shop looking around. (Still keeping windows covered with bad curtains to keep interested townfolks out.)

Glenn The Carpenter (GTC) isn’t afraid to deal with what are to me the most discouraging of problems. Like 200+ years of moisture that has caused some of our beefy floor joists and the a couple areas of some sills to deteriorate. He assures me that while it may look bad, it’s not so bad. (famous last words) In fact, some of the floor joists are still biggers than today’s floor joists just because, well, this place was “overbuilt” as GTC likes to say.

Some areas of the plank floor had to be cut away and replaced with glulams. On Tuesday I came home and found a variety of holes cut open and I could look straight down into the basement.

The area in front of the door was particularly in need of repair. Based on some of the old framing, shading on the floor and overall deterioration of the plank floor, chances are very good that when the house was first built the entry had an exposed vestibule of sorts where the floor immediately in front of the door outside was exposed to the elements. So, what does GTC do? He just cuts it out and patches the floor with some glulams. I came home on Wednesday to GTC yelling, “don’t come in!”, as I opened the shop door….because I would have fallen right into the basement. Or down there:

Different angle view looking through floor into the basement.

Entrance to our basement is usually accessed through a door and then down some stairs via our mud-room. Thankfully, GTC cut a hatch in the floor so he can go up and down without having to drag a mess into the house. We’ve decided we’re going to frame a trap door in the shop for direct access to the basement when all is said and done.

This week’s work was also about finalizing the design for the front of the shop and having a visit from an engineer who our architects insisted we had to involve. There were some concern that with new codes and our need to buy hurricane proof storefront windows, we might also have to frame out the whole storefront in STEEL. Ugh. The dollars just kept adding up in my head and lead to much anxiety. Here’s our architect John talking with the engineer.

We ended up with a different solution which does involves some structural panels being built into the wall…but it appears they will be a fraction of the cost of what the steel would have involved.

We have settled on a revised storefront design based on some of the structural requirements. We’ve also settled on some interior specs. While the majority of the shop’s interior will be left wide open, we are adding a new bathroom and a small kitchenette, and the architects have included what will be likely area for some sort of reception desk for our eventual hobby!

But again, alot of good progress this past week. Next week is all about the basement. We’ve decided since things are still relatively “opened up” we are going to add some support in the basement for the floor joists and likely poor a cement floor. We have a dirt basement floor that we covered with vapor barriers a few years back. But we may poor what is called a “rat-floor”, in the biz. 😉


We’re still at the dirty work phase. In fact, by the looks of things, I think we’re going to be here for some time. Big loud sigh.

I should know better after so many years of projects.

Watching one whole side of the house sway back and forth in an unexpected storm back in 2000 after we’d cut away the sill and jacked up the walls and excavated down to the dirt seems like childs play to me right now.

It’s that old house “well, we won’t really know ’til we open up the walls” line of thinking that always gives me a knot in my stomach, or more accurately — knot in my wallet. This week it happens to be, “well, we won’t really know until we pull up the floor.”

The storefront walls and ceiling are pretty much gutted. And starting this past Monday, Glenn The Carpenter (GTC) started taking the floor apart. The old black and white linoleum tile floor (for the record I love original linoleum…but these had to come out to get to the floor(s) underneath), sits on top of a subfloor, which sits on top of what was probaby a gorgeous tongue & groove wood floor, which sits on top of strapping, which sits on top of the original three inch thick massive plank floor. Add 200 years worth of nails…which GTC reminds me of every time he tells me he’s had to get another new saw blade because the nails ate the last one. It’s not a good thing when he brings home a credit appication from our local hardware store and suggests I open a charge because we’re going to be shopping there often over the next few weeks.

Here are some shots Vince took today of GTC’s floor removal progress.


Add in new concerns about “well, we have everything opened up so let’s put some more support in the basement” and I’m wondering about this can of worms. But then I remember how this place is so much a part of us and I fall back into old-house-steward mindset.

(That steward mindset stuck around for about 5 minutes.)

Did I mention there’s the work we’re going to need to do to sure-up some of the massive ceiling timbers/joists before we even begin to think about framing the walls? Three beams/joists will need to be doubled up, or cut back a couple feet, and then we’ll create a “T”, by using some kind of bracket and as equally old looking beams to connect back to the weight bearing sill. I’ve found a blacksmith who is coming to the house on Saturday to take a look at creating some original looking brackets that can be used to make the “T”. If we weren’t exposing the ceiling beams this would not be an issue…but we are…so.

One of the three ceiling beams that will need repair/support is the one pictured below. See the brickwork inside the wall? At one point probably close to when this place was built in 1798, and John Atsatt or some other owner was using the building as a carpenter shop to assist in some part of the whaling ship building process at the shipyards in our backyard, there was a chimney in that wall connected to a fireplace or a stove in this room keeping people warm. And clearly there was some sort of fire based on that beam damage. Glass half full — I’m glad the whole place didn’t burn down.

The way I see it — it’s the same thing as if I was into restoring an old car. Or if Vince was obsessed with collecting something. We’re pretty passionate about bringing this place back to the way it was…and some day soon we’ll make the shop as strong as the rest of the house, and certainly more beautiful than it is today.

Wasn’t that the name of a show on HGTV sometime ago?

Well, Glenn The Carpenter found this vintage pool ball in the wall as he was finishing up the demolition work on the storefront. I wonder how it got there.

I love the patina…and the #14’s typeface.

Maybe I’ll frame it and hang it in the shop when the project is all said and done.

This past weekend more progress was made. More ceiling came crumbling down. One wall was gutted to show the over two hundred years worth of different approaches to framing. I need to take some photos of the interior to show the progress. One cool thing is we discovered the remains of an old chimney in one wall, and what appears to have been a fire. A fire that chewed through one of the massive timbers. Gotta talk to the architects about that. Glenn The Carpenter scoffs at the idea of needing advice. He may be right. He’s already sourcing some old beams to make the repair. But speaking of architects, we met late last week with our neighbors Peter & Libby from Turowski Architecture and they presented some design ideas for the front of the shop as well as side elevations. In regards to the front, I think I know which one of the 3 designs below we’ll go with. The top design has a double door which feels very New England general store to me. But then the bottom right design is simpler. Hmmm. Well, more progress…and progress is good.

A few weeks back I posted about our trip to NYC for the NYIGF and my purchase at the Marimekko store of their tunturipollo fabric.

We had some curtains made for the upstairs living room as well as roman shades for the adjoining kitchen.

Here are a few (bad) shots of how the curtains look. Need to get in there another day with better light, but for now these will do.

Not used to having anything on these windows, never mind a pretty bold color like this. Interesting to see how much lighter they are during the day when the sun is shining through.

They’re growing on me.


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

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.

I’m not one to post about self improvement but these 5 “rules” make alot of sense.

Putting them up here so I don’t forget!

About a year ago I wandered into one of my favorite Boston mid century shops, Reside, and saw a Milo Baughman (for Thayer Coggin) recliner that I liked. Not loved. But liked. I ended up buying it because I thought I’d use it somewhere…in a client project or maybe even at home. And at that time I had it in my head it would definitely need to be reupholstered. The burnt orange, original, fabric would have to go.

I put the chair in storage and kinda forgot about it….until a few days ago.

We were thinking we needed something tall, kinda leggy, not very bulky, and comfortable for a corner of our upstairs living room. And then I remembered that old chair I’d put away.

Off we went to fetch the chair and bring it home. And I gotta tell you, I’m really happy. Here’s the chair at home.

It’s become my new favorite chair.

I remember my father had a recliner that was his CHAIR. I think this baby is my new CHAIR. It is so darn comfortable as well. It reclines out to this.

The ash frame is beautiful and elegant. The arms are crafted perfectly, your elbows literaly sink into the curved wood. And I am in love with the original fabric and color. No reupholstery needed thank you very much,

I’m seeing all kinds of uses for this chair—naps, reading, blogging, and just stairing out into the harbor.

It’s January 21st and we’re getting our first real snowfall of the year!

It’s a beautiful day and everyone in our house seems to be napping, including our surly dachshund, Winnie. That’s her up on the pillow.

I think we’ll just stay inside most of the day and be cozy.

Happy Saturday.

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