Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Basement window grilles, gaslight support and headhouse brick

There's so much work going on in the red brick building that I feel like I can't move without tripping over a worker.  Today we had a couple of carpenters in the basement building a wall around the hot and noisy air conditioning condensers and the HVAC fans, another carpenter installing the medicine cabinet in our master bathroom and working on the clothing rods in the master bedroom walk-in, a painter filling the nail holes in the crown molding on the second floor and touching up paint and plaster throughout the RBB, another painter finishing the doors to the tenants' units with clear satin polyurethane, a wallpaper hanger applying the navy blue silk to the walls in the front entryway and a pair of iron-workers installing the window grilles to protect the basement windows.  Here's what the window grilles look like this afternoon:

Each one had to be designed differently, since all of the windows are different sizes.  The iron-workers also added some support for our gas light which was moving a little too much so much in the breeze that we've been worried it might swing against the transom window and shatter.

Not the world's most elegant arrangement, but at least now that wonderful lantern is safe.

I realized that I hadn't yet posted photos of the brick-tiled head-house wall, which was finished last week, so here are a few:

I also whisked by our local architectural salvage store today with a chandelier we bought from them that's been shorting the fuse since it was installed.  It's the store where we bought our fireplace mantel, a pair of bronze wall sconces and the cremone bolt for our entry doors.  They were great about getting right to figuring out the problem. 

While I was there, I thought I'd have a look at their recent acquisitions, focusing on things we need like towel bars and toilet paper holders for the bathroom, chandeliers, etc.  I was tempted by several pieces, including an enormous mirror with a plaster ram's head that they've had for a while and which I'd previously admired but think is overpriced.  I wrote down the measurements to check how they would work in the exercise room and will see what can be done about the price if the size works.  The smallest towel bar that I liked seems like it might be too big for our master bathroom.  I need to verify that too.  What I did buy was a motley selection of old address numbers:

They're quite small: between about 1 1/4" and 2 1/2".  My idea is to use one of the 1s and one of the 2s on the doors to the tenants' units.  I can't decide whether it should be a pair in the same font or deliberately mismatched.  Then I'd like to find a way to use one of each numbers to tag our mailboxes.  In case you don't remember, the mailboxes look like this:

I don't how to attach them to the wire, though.  Maybe suspended underneath each mailbox with a loop of leather?  I'd love a cleaner, more secure look than that.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Painted staircase panels and balusters

The painters finished painting our staircase panels and balusters this week.  They were pretty nervous about doing it because the panels are so intricate and only the face of the wood was to be painted.   They decided to use a small sponge and apply the paint in very thin layers.  Their strategy worked:

It's a bit jarring having the panels suddenly white, since they were unfinished wood for so long, but I think the fact that they're painted to match the trim will make them work better once all our furniture is in:  the panels will blend in, adding pattern without being the focal point of every space.  For me they're about amping up the architectural detail in the red brick building.  (An aside: they're particularly fabulous at night, when they cast lacy shadows on the walls.)

Friday, 14 October 2011

New art for the red brick building

We just bought a couple of new works of art for the red brick building.  They're graphite drawings by Kate Sullivan, one of my very favorite Boston artists.  All images of art diminish the original, but in this case it's particularly true because the computer images conceal the subtleties of her hand and that accounts for a lot of what makes Kate's drawings so magical.  The subject matter is massive but the treatment is fine, almost delicate.  Both works are very large, even in their present unframed state, and the scale on which it is realized makes her skill even more impressive. 

The scale also means that we're going to have a bit of a challenge figuring out where to hang the drawings, but I'm a big believe that when you see something phenomenal, buy it and then worry about where to put it later.  This drawing ("Locomotive at Dockweiler Germany") is five feet wide by nearly 4 feet high:

We're thinking of centering it on the wall opposite the dining room table, above the curved landing of the staircase that goes up to the bedroom level.  Our other purchase is titled "La Belle Helene" and is nearly four feet long by 3 feet high:

Depending on how we frame it, it might fit in the master bedroom, next to the glass wall.

Kate has a solo show at the Copley Society right now.  If you're going to be in Boston any time in the next month, stop by the gallery on Newbury Street and check out her work.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A few in-progress cabinetry photos

My fiance and I are out of town this week, so we're trying to coordinate work remotely.  One of the cabinet-makers sent me some in-progress images of the panel they're building to cover the tub skirt in the guest bathroom.  It needs to have an access panel in case the inner workings of the airjet tub ever need to be repaired.  Here was what it looked like yesterday:

It's going to be painted the same white as the trim in the rest of the room.

He also sent a couple of photos of the medicine cabinet that's going in to the master bathroom:

The old joist wood still needs staining.  I'm trying to decide what to do with the interior of the cabinet.  Paint it white to match the rest of the room's trim?  I love that the glass shelves are adjustable.  If all goes according to plan, both of these items (and several others) are going to be installed tomorrow.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Feeling (less) blue

Things are really humming at the red brick building.  When I visited today the painters had repainted the transom window over the front door and all the trim:

A lot better with less blue.  I still need to live with the exact shade and intensity of the hue for a while, though, before deciding whether I love it.

The painters applied the first coat of black paint on the two side doors.  Much better already!  That ecru color on those cheap aluminum doors was doing me in.  The painters had taped off the floor in the common entry of the RBB and were planning to paint the first coat of dark blue before leaving today.  Curious to see what it's like and hoping it's not awful!  

I took some photos of our bedroom ceiling light fixture, which has been installed.  Sorry for the protective plastic covering the shade: I want to leave it on until the last of the workers leave, taking their plaster-and-sawdust creating tools with them.

I think it works in the space.

Several of the missing bits of door hardware arrived at the hardware supply house and I picked them up this morning.  It's a huge relief to have the locks to both rental units now and to have the new, smaller mortise for the front door to the building.  The last thing we're waiting on are three more cut glass knobs for the tenants units (somehow we were short a few when the order arrived).  But I have a date when they are supposed to ship from the factory - two weeks from now - which works fine.

I dropped off the house numbers which I spray painted black yesterday and, as I was leaving, the carpenters were affixing them to the brick above the entry intercom system (and hopefully remembering to remove the ugly temporary numbers that are on the front door).

The cabinetmakers were on site installing some of our built-in cabinets.  (They were working in the powder room when I was there, but also had the cabinet that's going over our refrigerator and the two for the tenants' bathrooms.)  They plan to be back tomorrow to continue, especially with our kitchen drawers and the shelves in our master bathroom.  If the mirror arrived today from their glass cutter, there's also a small chance that they might be able to install the master bathroom mirror and medicine cabinet tomorrow.  I would love that because we're planning to spend our first night at the RBB tomorrow night and it would be great to have a mirror over the bathroom sink.

Rods, hooks and shelves were also installed in the tenants' coat closets, so those just need a bit of paint.  The rental units are looking great now.  So proud!

Finally, we have our tile guy on site again!  He hasn't been in in about a week and a half because he hurt his back badly.  He's still in pain but seems determined to finish.  I really want him to get both the guest bathroom and the wall of the head house done because as soon as that exterior wall is done, we can start pleading with the green roof company to come and do their install before the winter.  If that happens, I'll be able to get my orders in early to snag the best plants from the mail-order nurseries for the spring.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Feeling (too) blue

I arrived at the red brick building yesterday to discover that the front door had been painted blue.  Well, not just the front door but the transom window, jamb, and all the brick face and trim.  Yikes! 

So I asked them to repaint everything but the door slab itself.  It's all supposed to be black, with just the door slab itself blue!  I hope the weather clears and they can get it done today - poor defaced RBB!  Once there's less of it, it'll be easier to work out whether the blue needs to be a smidge darker or a touch less green.  I do want something lively, but one person's lively might be another person's garish.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Tenants' kitchens: pendant lights and countertops

There have been some changes in the tenants' kitchens over the past week.  First, after months of back-and-forth with the lighting store, the electrician, the local electrical supply house and a few local hardware stores, the pendant lighting was installed over the counter tops in the tenants' kitchens.  Big sigh of relief.

Second, the protective coating of tiger ager was applied to the tenants' soapstone counter tops.  As you can see, the tiger ager turns the soapstone from pale grey to charcoal.  (The photos above were taken pre-tiger ager, the photos below post application.)  I like both looks - the lighter seems more rustic, the darker more elegant.  I think elegant is probably better in Boston's conservative market; the extra protection from food and wine staining is clearly an advantage.