Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Choosing a font for the numbers on the tenants' front doors

I'm trying to tie up some loose ends that need to be sorted out before the tenants' units can be rented.  One of those is choosing a style and material for the number on each of their front doors.

I have a horror of most house numbers because they are almost always generic.  In the last apartment that I lived in alone I replaced the cheap standard "2" on my rental's door with an oversize and extra-deep gray metal number I'd found at Anthropologie.  It was sculptural, unexpected and gave me a little chill of happiness every time I arrived home.  I want the same for our tenants. 

Given that there's *so much* going on in the common entryway (back-lit onyx risers, navy silk covered walls, antique unfinished arched doors for their units, mirrored and gilded antique arched doors for ours, brass and crystal chandelier, leather-wrapped handrails, etc.) I feel like the unit numbering should be a little low-key, without looking like an afterthought. 

To refresh your memory, here's what their doors look like:

And apparently, I haven't yet posted a photo of the hardware installed on their doors, so here are some shots of items in the same line from the company's website (the finish on the exterior of the doors is polished brass, like in the second image):

I was thinking that instead of buying the typical metal number, I'd get a stencil in an interesting font and stencil the number straight onto the unfinished wood, probably with gold paint.  Now the question is which font to use for the numbers.  Keeping in mind that the only numbers we'll have are 1 and 2 (our unit will be unmarked), here's my current short list.  (They're all available in sizes up to 4 inches, so none of the options is going to be large scale.)

Black Chancery:





Thoughts? Ideas? A favorite?

Friday, 26 August 2011

Our bathtub in September Elle Decor

Okay, not our exact bath but one that looks just like it.  I was catching up on my magazine reading yesterday, enjoying an Elle Decor article about a residence in a converted factory in San Antonio.  I turned the page and lo and behold saw the antique zinc bathtub from our master bath splashed across page 203:

I've never seen another tub like ours anywhere, so it was quite a surprise.  The one in the magazine is a smidge taller and doesn't have the faux-marbleized finish that ours does (that I'm not sure we're going to keep), but otherwise they're dead ringers.  Our tub areas have two other elements in common: the weathered, outdoor-ready material on the floor and walls, and the off-center placement of the tub in front of a window.  I'm drooling over the Texas woman's moody tumbled Versailles-pattern travertine (which is exactly the stone and tile size I used for the head house floor but hers looks so shadowy and dramatic).  Even if it's less grand, my instinct is still that brick is more in keeping with the feel of our brownstone.  I also covet her soaring ceiling and window height (despite our skylight addition).

The whole article is filled with captivating photographs.  The page opposite the tub has this bed:

Significant because on Wednesday I met with our custom millwork guy to discuss more built-ins.  I'm trying to figure out what to do in the head house.  It's a really small, irregularly-shaped space.  Its primary purpose is to be a sitting/lounging area (I looooove to lounge).  But it would also be great to be able to dine up there with friends, so I'm thinking of putting two custom banquettes at right angles to each other and getting a table that somehow is adjustable from a coffee to a dining table height (while still somehow working in both positions with the height of the banquettes).  Yesterday, before I got to Elle Decor, I read the September issue of Canadian House and Home and was excited about this daybed - but not its insane price tag ($13,000, mattress not included!):

Two sleigh beds calling to me.  A shallower custom version of the fully-upholstered one (so soft!) may be in the red brick building's future.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

First glimpse of the onyx risers

I was wrong that there would be nothing exciting to photograph at the red brick building this week: today the foreman on the carpentry team began installing the onyx risers on the front (common entry) staircase.

Knock on wood, it seems to be going surprisingly smoothly for something that everyone was incredibly worried about.  Believe it or not, they've even been using a diamond blade on a table saw to trim the ultra-fragile onyx pieces to size...so far without incident!  Because the stone is so delicate, they devised a plan to back each riser with a piece of plexi-glass, which will allow the light from the LED devices to penetrate (hopefully without the stringers casting shadows), while providing stability for the sheets of onyx.  I really, really hope it all comes together without incident!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Installing the interior door hardware

We're in for a few not-very-exciting days of work on the red brick building.  The GC's crew is finishing up some bits and pieces (insides of cabinets, trim around closet doors, etc.), but nothing that makes for exciting photographs.  They've started to switch out the cheap hinges that came with the interior doors for the nicer solid brass ones (in an oil-rubbed bronze finish) that we chose.  Here are a few snapshots from the inside of the exercise room:

The painters are applying final coats of paint everywhere.  They started on our bedroom level and are completely done there, with the exception of the guest bathroom.  They're working on the head house today.  Tomorrow they'll move downstairs to our living room/dining room level and work down from there.  The fresh paint makes the space feel bright and beautiful.

I booked some movers to come on Friday afternoon and help up arrange our furniture throughout our unit (and shift the moving boxes to the rooms in which they belong). I'm really looking forward to seeing our stuff in place.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

More plumbing completed

On his Thursday visit, our plumber did more than install the exterior gas lantern.  He also plumbed the ancient cast iron kitchen sink:

And the gas range:

Upstairs, he added the missing shower valve trim to the master bathroom:

As you can see, after three weeks of phone calls, we've been unable to entice our tile guy to return and grout the area that had to be ripped out because the shower valves had been rough plumbed incorrectly. 

The plumber stopped short of plumbing the master bathroom sink because he didn't have a brass drain (just chrome) and he also raised some concerns about the non-beveled interior of our unorthodox sink that we've got to figure out how best to address.  (Try to get it beveled by the same glass cutter who created the semi-miraculous hole?  Or add a bead of clear silicone to the interior to keep water from pooling above the gasket?) 

As the saga of the sink continues, I also ordered a new tub only set for our bathtub.  The white ceramic set which looked okay in the catalogue and which was supposed to disappear into the brick tile once we'd painted it white looks comically chunky in real life and sticks out like a sore thumb now that we've decided to leave the brick au naturel.  I went with a brass set that is supposed to match the shower trim.

Friday, 19 August 2011

The gas lantern is up

The gas lantern was installed over the front door yesterday and it looks even better than I'd hoped.  (I was so excited about it last night, I actually had a hard time falling asleep!)  The light is very dramatic in real life, especially because the flame is so large.  Maybe it's adjustable?

In other exterior lighting news, our electrician also recently installed three other exterior lanterns from Bevolo: two on the exterior of the balcony and one by Unit 2's side door.  

I love the ones on the balcony and like the one by the side door.  Surprisingly, one of the things I like best about the ones on the balcony is that they project relatively little off the face of the building, which means they don't take up much space on our already skinny balcony.  A lucky break because that was a factor I hadn't even considered.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A couple more photos of the mirrored doors

I got a couple more photos of the mirrored doors to our unit today:

Fingers crossed that the it really looks like a solid wall rather than a pair of doors when it's all finished!

Lots of work in the common entry

Every day when I go in to the building, there's a swarm of activity in the common entryway (so much so that it's hard to find a moment to take pictures).  I shared some photos of the ripped out front staircase a few posts back.  Well, they rebuilt the stairs to account for the fact that the first floor of the building is about 4 inches higher than it was originally.  They've temporarily covered the steps with plywood, which is good enough to pass the final building inspection.  (Ultimately, the backlit onyx risers are still going in.)  Then they cut and installed the handrails, which also must be in to pass inspection:

Again, these are not in finished form: I'm going to have them sent out to be wrapped in stitched brown leather.  The shape is there, though: I really wanted them to flare out at the top of the staircase, curve, and wrap around.

Our carpenters also installed the mirrored panels and French doors to our unit.  Inset hinges were a challenge!  It's a tight space and the mirrors make it hard to get good photos, but here are a couple shots for the time being, taken from the inside of our unit (more to follow!):

They still need to mount the lock set and the bolts, trim out and mirror the six inches or so of space above the doors and paint all the trim gold.

The carpenters also trimmed out the area around the transom window and front door, on the inside of the building, so there's a flat, even surface to paint or wallpaper:

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

New guest bathroom plumbing

The plumber *finally* came today!  He started in the guest bathroom and had installed the toilet and the sink faucet by the time I'd arrived.

The vanity's drawers, which need to be cut to fit around the sink basin and drain (and the vanity mirror, to their right):

The faucet is by Sherle Wagner (scooped up on eBay for a song) and is super-fancy: when you turn off the taps, the water stream comes to a gradual stop.  At first I thought the water wasn't going to shut off properly, but then I realized it's sort of like a soft close drawer in a kitchen cabinet.  Slightly unnerving at first, then mesmerizing.  I like.