Year: 2006

My shop is a war zone!

I’ve completed boxing in the bay windows. I had to deal with these windows downstairs during the living room renovation so I knew this wasn’t going to be a cake walk. The original builders pretty much winged the framing so the angles aren’t consistent. The trim was essentially supported by a trash can full of shims… some of them three inches thick. So here’s where I’m at now. As here, I usually use hardwood plywood for box framing like this unless it’s going to support the weight of a door. Cost isn’t the only consideration, although using red oak plywood …

My shop is a war zone! Read More »

Happy Halloween

The neighborhood was a mob scene of power rangers and fairy princesses tonight. Our state senator had the brilliant idea of turning the park down the block into “Haunted Halloween” with a disco, a haunted walk, hay rides, a food court and kiddy amusements as a safer alternative to trick-or-treating. As a result, half the kids in Brooklyn were there. Then they assaulted my neighborhood for their sugar rush. Next year I want a government subsidy on my candy supply. Halloween is a kids’ thing and since I don’t have kids it’s not exactly my thing. But I endure it …

Happy Halloween Read More »

Wall Prep Tips

I’ve got a lunch meeting with a prospective client today so I’ll dive into the first priming of the master bedroom project this evening. This gives me an opportunity for some virtual renovation this morning: reading the Houseblogs sites and posting to my own. Bill over at Enon Hall posted a cool Top Ten list. There are some good tips there. Ya’ll should check it out (although my lumberyard likes to see double-spaced, typed materials lists with product codes and a letterhead, preferably faxed in advance). Since I’m in “wall prep mode” I thought I’d post my own Top Ten …

Wall Prep Tips Read More »

When Robots Attack

Being the gadget freak I am, I’m of course a big fan of home automation. 90% of my house is under X10 control and the command of a FreeBSD server running some perl scripts I hacked together. I’ve already written some articles about X10 and my trials and tribs with it so I won’t repeat them here. I love having my house turn its own lights on/off. I like setting up whole-house lighting schemes, available at the touch of a button. But truthfully, X10 is a lot like owning a 1970s-vintage Triumph motorcycle. You run it for a while, then …

When Robots Attack Read More »

Forging ahead…

At last, some visible progress on the master bedroom renovation. For most of last week and the weekend I repaired plaster, which isn’t very exciting photography. If you can see something it means you didn’t do a very good job of it. Four years ago, I replaced a termite-ridden center support beam in the basement with a steel I-beam. As careful as we were, there was enough settling that the upstairs plaster took a minor beating. Because these were stress fractures that went all the way through the brown coat, I had to dig out each crack with an old …

Forging ahead… Read More »

Where’s the progress?

You DIYers know what I’m talking about. A friend comes by to check out your latest completed project and goes “ooh! ahh!” over the paint color and asks where you got your terrific door knobs. You modestly thank him for the compliment. But, deep inside, you feel like Michelangelo after hearing, “Hey, nice paint colors. Where’d you get the cool frame?” You shed blood on this room for… what?… three months and that’s all he can see? Paint color and door knobs?! Is he blind or just clueless? He doesn’t see the five hundred feet of mesh tape you skillfully …

Where’s the progress? Read More »

DIY Stained Glass

I’ve only got ho-hum jobs on my plate this weekend: insulation, plaster fixes, running BX… nothing worth blogging about. But I was thinking forward to what I’m going to need to finish off this bedroom renovation (in about three months). Since the renovation involved merging two bedrooms, I now have two entrances into it. The problem is that the doorway I want to get rid of gives the upstairs hallway much of its summer light and is also needed for cross ventilation. After mulling it over, I decided to replace it with a knee wall topped by a pair of …

DIY Stained Glass Read More »

A hundred pounds of plaster later…

It worked! It took four days, three fifty pound bags of plaster, a makeshift profiling knife and a couple of finish coats but the radiused closet corner is done. There was only one mishap. Jack the Dog, my Newfoundland, was standing at the base of the ladder looking up at me when about 8 ounces of wet plaster fell off my palette and landed squarely on his head and muzzle. Against his black fur it looked like he’d been smacked in the face with a custard pie. So there was a quick diversion to the back yard for a bath …

A hundred pounds of plaster later… Read More »

You don’t know until you try

The guys at Kamco were right. Quarter-inch drywall can curve to a minimum five-foot radius, dry. Wetting/scoring it can reduce that to as little as three feet “if you’re really good!” The problem is, the radius of this corner is about ten inches. That’s even too shallow for High Flex, which I could only get by special order and only in palette quantities anyway. The story of this closet starts here. I could have saved myself a lot of problems if I’d just built a square corner on that closet. But I really wanted a radius here to match two …

You don’t know until you try Read More »

The Borg

Shortly after I moved to Brooklyn, one of the largest local independent home improvement centers closed, Mars Lumber. It’s now an Outback Steak House. The attitude at Mars was gruff and impatient but there were always professional trades people hanging around to give good advice. Mars fell victim to NYC’s first Home Depot store on Hamilton Avenue. Home Depot was bright, clean, well stocked and the people were friendly. Good riddance to Mars. But then a funny thing happened. The Hamilton Avenue Home Depot took an abrupt nose dive. The quality of the help was the first casualty. The bright, …

The Borg Read More »

Get more stuff like this
in your mailbox

Subscribe to Brooklyn Row House and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Scroll to Top

Welcome to Brooklyn Row House

This blog is about the challenges of renovating an old (1903) Brooklyn, New York row house.

My last major renovation project was the master bedroom, most of which is about finish carpentry. You’ll find other completed home improvement projects in the Projects submenu at the top of this page.

I’m not a professional builder and don’t pretend to be. I’m just an experienced amateur raised in a family of committed DIYers. I try to closely follow local and national building codes but don’t mistake anything on this site to be professional or even accurate advice! Your mileage may and definitely will vary.

This is the third iteration of BrooklynRowHouse.com, from scratch-built to Drupal and now Wordpress. I hope you enjoy your time here.