Downstairs remodel complete

As I mentioned in my last post, we finished the downstairs remodel. Because we are in the midst of a 4 month long upstairs remodel, Karim, Andrew and I have spent the last months living in the downstairs apartment together (3 adults, 2 dogs and 2 cats in a less than 1000 sq ft apt. Its a miracle that we still love each other!). So there was really no excuse  to not finish the downstairs.

We took off the week between the Christmas holiday and new years, on the presumption that we would be doing the finishes upstairs. Instead, we took the opportunity to actually do the finishes downstairs, by way of my ingenious ‘chore lists’. Basically me writing down every tiny piece of every remaining little job that needed to done, and then the 3 of us tackling them, bit by bit.

I know I never posted anything about the beginning of the downstairs remodel, to begin with, so here we go with the whole thing!

The downstairs was really the worst part of the house. It’s an entire apartment with a kitchen, and used to consist of 2 bedrooms as well…. Let me remind you that we never went down there until the remodel started, because it was just awful… 3 different adults and a huge dog had been living down there, all smoking (dog included I believe) for years. And the decor consisted almost entirely of cheap, smoke stained paneling and a smoke stained drop-ceiling. I have said it before and its an awful thing to say but feels most apt: it looked like someone had been filming porn down there: ugly, dirty, morally bankrupt and desperate. Take a look: (this is after we cleaned, even)


The foyer


Another shot of the living room

When we first moved in, my dear and very brave sister took a shot at cleaning it. There was food left in the refrigerator! Rotten chicken still on plates. The smoke film was thick and greasy and colored everything yellow – the paneling was not in fact intended to look like a yellowy pine after all, but was after cleaning really more of an ash color. And the fridge was white. 721

It was just bad. At first, we just avoided the downstairs altogether except last winter when we used the foyer window to grow the seedlings. You may remember the ‘ghetto greenhouse’.


Ghetto greenhouse, winter 2015

Well in the spring, we tore the whole thing out, down to the studs:


We moved the washer and dryer from their upstairs middle-of-the-kitchen location into a tiny weird storage room at the bottom of the stairs. I don’t know how to explain to you that there was a length of tubing running from the bedroom into a box in the laundry room, the box was bolted to the joists in there. The box contained – sealed away like a nuclear secret – an industrial fan that was venting the bedroom.  Not an AC, just a fan. And th storage (soon to be laundry) e room itself was awful, too. And needed foundation work and patching and basically everything that a room can need.

I patched and poured, we built a table , put up cheap faux bead-board paneling and installed vinyl plank flooring and called it done. Voila, working laundry room although no one would call it pretty, still.

Simultaneously, we were working on the rest of the apartment. We got a cheap crew to install drywall and a new ceiling. As they were a cheap crew, they disappeared after doing a relatively crappy job (anti-shout out to you, Charles Hindsley).

But at least we had something to work with, which we have been doing every since! I don’t have time nor inclination to point out every tiny job we did, so I’ll just hit the highlights:


The bedroom was first. We went with vinyl tile (tongue and groove) in there, and it is actually really nice. I did the whole thing, ceiling included) in a paint color called shell white….IMG_6038

And it turned out very cute!

On to the foyer…



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