Archive for September, 2011

Well, I’m Floored

The two guys who are refinishing our hardwood floors are named Andy & Andy. I’m not sure if they have last names. If their surnames exist, they are a mystery. Our realtor, who hired them to refinish the floors in her new house and has recommended them to a half dozen clients over the years, does not know their last names. All she knows is that they do great work for a reasonable price. We were sold!

Andy & Andy also like to start work early, as I found out when the elder Andy called to say he’d meet us at the house at 8 am. “How about a little later?” I said. “Why?” said Andy. And I didn’t have a good answer, except that I am a princess who doesn’t like getting up early. So Alec and I left our apartment at the terrible hour of 6:45 am. The El was packed, much to my surprise. You mean other people get on public transit this early to go to work? Shudder.

When we got to the house, we saw that the plasterers have pretty much smoothed over the walls in the entryway. They look great!

The plastering crew has moved onto the kitchen. Here you can see the work halfway through (and our lovely art glass window, on the other side of which is the powder room):

The main event for the day, however, was the flooring. The sellers told us they had meant to get the floors refinished, but hadn’t gotten around to it and instead convinced themselves the floors were part of the house’s old-timey charm. There can be something kind of nice about worn hardwood floors, but refinished ones are even better! And hopefully, if we take care of these floors, the investment we’re making now will last a long time. Here’s a shot of the floors now. You can see how tired they are, even beneath the fresh layer of dust and plaster:


The younger Andy started sanding the master bedroom floors right away. That is some serious exfoliation.

Then Andy & Andy gave us four choices of stain. We were looking for something a bit darker than the warm golden wooden trim found throughout the house. The differences between stains were pretty subtle. See for yourself:

Clockwise from the top left is nutmeg, golden oak, golden brown and some color whose name I didn’t catch. We chose…drumroll please…NUTMEG! It has the cutest name by far. And it should look great in the house for many years to come. We just have to make sure not to scuff up the new floors when we move in next week.


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Makeover Time!

We woke up early today to do our final final walkthrough (the sellers, who were renting the house back from us for two weeks, moved out last night) and to greet the painters. We are in a bit of a time crunch because we want to have some work done in the house before moving in during the last week of September (our apartment lease is up on Sept. 30). When we were looking at the calendar, it seemed like we had plenty of time even with the rent-back period. As it turns out, we have just enough time to get two major jobs done before the big move.

The first job is smoothing over textured paint in the entryway, stairway, kitchen and first floor powder room. I feel a little bad about this because the previous owners clearly loved the look of high-gloss textured paint, and we had a team of guys scraping it off the walls within one minute of getting the keys. This is obviously a matter of taste – I just prefer smooth walls. But I was feeling neurotic enough about not offending the sellers that when I e-mailed to ask if we could have painters come in during the rent-back period to take a look and give us a quote, I couldn’t bring myself to say “painters” or “plasterers” and instead resorted to saying “tradespeople,” which then gave me class anxiety – because who on earth says “tradespeople?”

ANYWAY, here is a glimpse of the textured paint on the stairway:

I’ve got other photos, but who wants to look at a series of wall shots? (Also, you can see the pretty Frank Lloyd Wright-ish sconce that I am thrilled to inherit. Yay!)

Next week, we have flooring guys coming in to refinish the hardwood floors. They’ll be overlapping a bit with the painters, but they should be able to work around each other and this was the only way to get everything done before Moving Day. It will be a mad dash to the finish, but I am super excited to see how fresh everything will look when the work is completed.

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Cubicle Cuteness

On more than one occasion, I’ve told someone I’m a newspaper reporter and the response has been, “Oooh, that’s so glamorous.” Hahaha! This could not be further from the truth. I have a fun beat and I did get to see the top of Lady Gaga’s head once at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, but there are many media jobs that far outrank mine on the glamour scale, including being a janitor at the Conde Nast building. Newspaper reporters are known for being a bit slobbish. For example, take a look at my cubicle:

Yikes! That’s about six months worth of old printouts, newspapers and unopened mail sitting there. Under my desk is a landfill-clogging assortment of business books (mostly with titles like “How to Leverage Your Personal Social Media Brand and Innovate Your Way to Disruptive Thought Leadership in the Web 2.0 Ecosystem”) and promotional swag that arrives, unsolicited, in the mail every day. Corporate America could save billions of dollars annually if it stopped overnight FedExing me this stuff.

My work chum J., who likes quirky crafts and Etsy as much as I do, came up with the brilliant idea to give our drab beige cubicles a makeover. Part of our inspiration came directly from Etsy, where the staffers at their Brooklyn headquarters get $100 each to spend at the website on decor for their individual work spaces. After months of talking about this, we finally spent a Saturday giving our cubicles a makeover. Here are my new digs!

J. and I went to Jo-Ann Fabric for the wall coverings. My hot pink damask fabric was 50 percent off and the woman at the cutting table let me have the last half-yard of the bolt for another 50 percent off. Yay bargains! Our next stop was Home Goods, where I came away emptyhanded but J. picked up a pretty and very convincing fake potted orchid. And at Target, I bought the lamp with the navy blue shade and the hot pink melamine bowl (right of the monitor) to hold toiletries, including the fragrance-free hand soap that I carry to and from the office restroom like a big dork.

Putting up the fabric was surprisingly easy because J. figured out that we could use a butter knife to shove the edges into the seams of the cubicle walls. Hot pink damask is not for everyone, but I lurve it. The color matches the oversized Hello Kitty calculator I recently bought to replace my vintage TI-85 and also complements the yellow-and-pink metal canister I bought at Pearl River Mart last year as a pen holder. (Not pictured: My hot pink water bottle and hot pink lunch tote. One could go blind gazing into my workspace for too long.)

J. chose a dark red color scheme and did a much better job with her fabric installation than I did. Not a pucker in sight!

You’ll see that J. also bought an area rug at Target. I’d like to get a rug for my own cubicle, along with some other accessories like a cute mouse pad, letter tray and basket for the heels that I keep at the office. It’s a work in progress, although J. and I are convinced that these spruced-up cubicles are going to have an immediate, dramatic effect on our professional lives. I am looking forward to a burst of productivity, followed by a Pulitzer Prize nomination.

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