Monday, May 30, 2016

Finishing Touches

I went home over Memorial Day weekend, so BBF and I could finish up my little crashpad near Liberty State Park. A friend of a friend will be staying there for two months prior to her move to Hollywood, where she will join those of us shifted across the country for work. For two months of my life, I'll break even on my house rather than losing hundreds of dollars, so long as I overlook the thousands of dollars I've been pouring into renovations for a year.

So it was time to finish.

BBF is a professional contractor with a license and insurance and that sort of thing, so I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was anyway when I walked under the stairs and found he'd installed a new motion-activated outside light, and repaired the entry grate while I'd been in California.

Looking at the photo of the entrance, it occurs to me I should have painted the entryway. But too late now, at least until August.

Inside, he'd finished the mini-kitchen. This isn't a "real" apartment...or it's real, but it's just what we call an in-law suite. There's no oven and no freezer. Someday, I'll apply for my house to be a two-family, and then I'll go to town, but for now, it's just a downstairs bolthole.

There's still space to hang a shelf or pot rack on the right, over the tin covering the far wall. And a rounded shelf could go on the edge over the extended countertop.

I didn't go with an oven because the physical space is so small. I only went with 15" deep base cabinets. That's the same reason I went with a mini-fridge, though honestly, as one person, a full-size fridge is excessive. I didn't get a freezer--I've never seen a mini-fridge with a freezer that isn't just a block of ice, and none of them defrost automatically at this size. If I'm not going to be in town more than once a month, and if friends are staying here, I don't want the aggravation of manual defrost. I remember the blocks of ice from my childhood and most recently, from staying in the national park in Uganda in 2005. No thanks.

The toaster oven is a good start, and I have two gas burners because there was already a gas line here. My awesome heating contractor, Chris from Royal Heating, came by to confirm the gas line was operable, so I don't have to be paranoid.

I never used to use an oven at all, unless I was baking treats for some event, but now I use my oven in Hollywood all the time for roasting vegetables and sweet potatoes. I'll have to use a combination of the microwave and toaster oven. Eventually, once I've done some research, I'll get an appliance that has a convection setting as well as either microwave or toaster oven. For now, I just wanted to work with the appliances I already own.

BBF topped the whole kitchen off with little IKEA gadgets that make the cabinet doors close quietly. Nice. And when I wondered aloud where I'd find a table to fit up against the wall, he knocked one out with the leftover countertop and his table saw. Mister Clever, Hudson County region, 2016.

My goal for the bathroom is to get the door swing out of the way--so maybe an accordion door or a pocket door would work. A barn door would be easiest, but then I'd lose the table space, which would defeat the purpose of avoiding the door swing.

The pocket door would work except that's where the pipes are.

Take a look--the bathroom has a showerhead up on the ceiling, so the entire room is a shower. The pipes are on the wall where the door is. It's a bit of a head-scratcher. The accordion door might be the answer. Oh...but then where can I have a hook for a wet towel?

In the photo of the shower, you can see a panel is cut into the ceiling, near a tile cut-out. That's the ceiling fan, or will be. When the stucco guys (Jetco from JC Heights, who did a spectacular job) worked, they put a vent into the side in both bathrooms. The upstairs one already had a ceiling fan, one of those fans that just goes into the ceiling and is ultimately pointless. It's pointless no more--now it vents to the outside. In the downstairs bathroom, I bought a high-end quiet bath fan, but it's still in its box, stored in the basement.

I picked up one of those racks that stores things over the toilet to get around the lack of storage space in the tiny bathroom, and also picked up a tension shower rod and curtain. Voila--instant way to avoid getting things wet during all-room showers.

And last, I picked up a mirror when I was at IKEA buying the table legs for BBF. He installed it in about five minutes. The previous tenant lived there without a mirror or shower for five years. He had to go upstairs to shower every time. The mirror thing is just goofy--are people that clueless they can't google "how to hang a mirror on tile"? The shower thing I understand. It's disconcerting to start messing with plumbing, and BBF had to turn the water off to the whole building to switch a bad cartridge before the hot water would work. There was some seriously weird plumbing going on in this room. The hot and cold are backwards in the sink, and the shower hot water didn't work at all until BBF dissected it.

What is my dream for this tiny room? I'd like to pull out all the tile and take it down to the studs (I use "like" in a generous fashion here--there is nothing to like about jackhammering out tile. It's dusty and horrible and sweaty, and getting rid of the old tile is even more of a pain in the ass than getting rid of greasy ancient kitchen laminate). Then I'd seal the entire floor and 6-12 inches up the wall all around on the far side of the bath. That's becoming a custom-made shower stall with a threshold, piping, and fixtures. The door moves over a bit, and the world's tiniest sink goes near the toilet. But this is merely a fantasy, and probably one I'll never get around to. Easier to just pull up the floor at some point and waterproof properly. Again, that's going to be unpleasant. I'll delay it as long as I can.

I want to get one of those hanging screens to put over the back door, so I can get a cross breeze going in summer. That doesn't matter yet--the friend staying here has a cat, and she'll never have the back door open. But once she's gone, I'll tackle that.

In the front room, I just had to give it a good scrubbing, and BBF figured out how to install an a/c unit. MK had hung a lot of art for me once he finished painting, and the big question in this room is if the floor is some kind of cheap laminate. I don't think you can tell from the photo, but it's badly scraped up. I think it's just a matter of pulling it up and checking what's underneath, and possibly covering it up again. I am thinking of using Spanish or Mexican tile. Not everything has to be hardwood.

The only other issues are hanging thick curtains over the front door and windows for winter insulation, and finding some shutters I can fit into the front windows. It's important to make letting in light easy, since it's the ground floor. I cheaped out and used cafe curtains and tension rods upstairs in the bay window, but I'll get shutters in there one day too, like I did over at my condo at 350 8th Street in 2002.

If only I could remember where I bought those.

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