Friday, July 13, 2012

Home Renovation Diary Update

The stairway to heaven was cursed. 
In fact, it was driving us to hell in a hand basket!

The spiral staircase was an inspired, gateway to the new loft office/ atelier/guest room. 
It was to be a visual, cinematic gesture: custom black iron work, stairs we’d stain to match the kitchen’s new wood floor, copper-painted spindles to better match the copper floor insets that randomly punctuate the porcelain tile floor in the renovation’s dining and sitting room.
It was a good design concept. 
Bill engineered the specs, found a Pennsylvania craftsman to build it and the railing.
What could be better? Simpler. 
The builders and literature said “Two people, Two days.”

Umm, unless they had a super hero in mind, this is unrealistic and was never going to happen.
But we didn’t yet know that.

As gal Hilary often admonishes, “It takes a village…” and in this case, we did reach out for help. 
With optimism, we had an extended-circle friend come to help install and we were most grateful. 
In just one long day, the spiral stairs were up! 
Thanks to Bill, the point of first-stair entry matched up to the dining room carpet with the precision of a German-engineered Porsche fanaticism. 

Next is the railing.

Not so fast.

The steps we learned have an ordinal pattern that needed to be followed.
The stairs were up and winding and twisting with all their sinuous charm but it was not meant to be.

Not unlike those Apollo astronauts, Bill came up with an original, “duct-tape” remedy that he’d thought about, worked out and re-worked out a gazillion times in his head and on paper.

The plan was brilliant. The jack wasn’t. 
After some stroke-inducing attempts between the two of us, he reluctantly agreed we could use some help.

In came our brother-in-law, Gerry, the mastermind of all things good, family, and construction; along with our fireman-hero nephew Brian and friend, who had the brain muscle and muscle-muscle – if you know what I mean – to get these bloody steps aligned properly. 

Success was celebrated with lots of grilled hot dogs, beer and fair-thee-wells.

Now the “easy” part.
Just needed to get the rail up and banister up.  
Bill painted the spindles a copper color to match the copper in the insets in the floor.  Here they are painted and looked not unlike those terra-cotta Chinese soldiers!  

Bill and I were steeling ourselves for the task ahead when miraculously, the extended-friend circled back ‘round that very morning. 
Brilliant you say.
I did too.

The stair railing was up in less than half the time.
Only trouble was, now the railing  had to be painted in situ.  Sigh.
The question was to spray or to brush paint.  Each was fraught with issues.

Soon, after some trial and testing, all was resolved and we were back on track to completion.
Not without some painful “Holy Smokes” and “Oh for the love of Pete” and some sailor-style cussing.

And there was more, I assure you while putting in the railing. 

Was it worth it? 

Decorating the Loft with Furniture

I’m not embarrassed to say, it came to me in a yoga moment.

We had listed our black lacquer furniture that was oh-so-courant in our previous townhouse and as a placeholder in this house on eBay and Craig’s list. (beware that Craig's List, I say)

I had been totally seduced by the sexy Koket day bed while walking the Architectural Digest show earlier this year.

(I have been trying to do a feature story on the designer, Janet Morais, ever since I fell in love with her “Love Happens” romantic, design approach.  And will do when we are not so both over the top crazy. But don’t miss her designs simply because we are oversubscribed.)

Feature story to follow, accordingly.  Morais possesses a passionate attention to detail, customer service and an enduring romantic, feminine perspective.
Plus a wicked sense of humor.

It doesn’t get any better.
Plus you get to glam it up.  From the moment it arrived in it's own sarcophagus
My nieces couldn’t resist. 

Neither could I.  
It’s a longer story for another post and while fraught with its own can-you-believe-it-moments, the designer and I never lost our sense of humor and dare I say, glamour. 

The daybed is quite sexy, no? And it has black lacquer sides.
So while I can’t remember if it was a downward facing dog or plough or a triangle pose, it did indeed hit me that hey- I can re-purpose and use the glamorous furniture we have to complement the outrĂ© daybed.

Ask me how much satisfaction it was to “shop” in our garage and basement for long-forgotten furniture and I will tell you it was over the top hilarious.
The price was right. Free!
It cleared out the garage so we could actually put the car back in after almost two years of having my wonderful mother move in with us and accommodating all those boxes and then moving all our stuff there for the repairs and renovation.

It was just so great
And in that meditation moment, it came to be.

The only challenge was we sorely needed that manpower yet again.

To the rescue was nephew Brian aka superhero fireman and friend.

I held my breath twice in spite of their careful, homecrafted attention to hoisting the two furniture pieces up, up, and ally-oop over the loft balcony, prior to the railing going up.  

And then, just like that, it looked like it had all been planned from the get-go.  

In some way, perhaps it was.  All that good karma cannot be a mistake.


Almost there.

Wait till you see the Parisian-like ball-gown silk drapes… 
And the beginnings of the garden design will break your heart with hope…


  1. really cool information to see like that keep posting..

    1. and I would be honored to have you become a Follower of the blog too. Please sign on for email updates. I saw your lovely blog but didn't see where to follow. Please advise. My ancestors were British gardeners. And we visited Bury St. Edmunds a few years ago - I donated some of my hanging flower pots from my Garden Pendant Collection - and I spoke at the awards ceremony - it was grand. Thank you!

  2. Thank you, my garden designer friend! I very much appreciate your feedback. and promise to keep posting for you. puff, puff. Stay tuned for one later on installing the first of the garden design - in the oppressive heat.