Yikes! Asbestos in the Curbly House! What to Do?

by Bruno Bornsztein

Asbestos abatement 1

If you’re following our series, you know we’re in the middle of fixing up a 100-year-old house and making it energy efficient. Somehow tearing out all the first-floor ceilings got lumped into the to-do list. Then the second floor ceilings. And a couple of walls. And the bathroom. You know … just … everything.

One day you’re just going about your business, gleefully demolishing everything you lay eyes on — a great stress reliever, by the way — ...

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12 Ways I'm Adding Color and Pattern to Our Home with Art

by Alicia Lacy

My gallery wall ideas from Art.com

What's in a wall? If you've been following our Curbly House series, you know what was in our walls; squirrel nests, dead things, and lots of hundred-year-old newspaper. But what makes a wall more than just a bunch of lumber and drywall?

This week, I'm exploring ways to breathe life into our walls by adding hand-picked artwork. With the help of Art.com, we've got an amazing, expansive collection of artwork available. Read on to see how I'm plotting to decorate the walls at chez Curbly House (hint: no squirrels allowed).
Ok, before I start, you should check out this quick video from Art.com; it's a pretty sweet 3-dimensionalization (word? non-word?) of some famous pieces of art, and it's worth a watch:

Now, if you look at our 'before' pictures, it's easy to see that the house had a heaviness about it; many of the walls were painted darker accent colors, and the woodwork was all stained a dark brown. See what I mean?

We've decided to go with a neutral color palette inside the Curbly House to help brighten up the place. Now that everything is sheetrocked and mudded, the house looks a lot brighter and feels a lot happier (even while standing in the inch thick plaster dust that covers most of the floors).

Bringing color and light into this house was a priority to us from the get-go. However, both Bruno and I want to be sure not to overdo the "brightness" and make the place feel clinical. So, we're experimenting with paint colors and planning to add a lot of pattern and color to the walls through art!

I've been gleefully paging through several art collections on Art.com, like an overjoyed visitor at the Louvre. I spent most of my time perusing the Abstract, Vintage, Modern, and Botanical galleries.

Here are some of the ideas I'm tossing around for the stairwell gallery wall, the master bedroom centerpieces, and the sweet prints I want to frame in our kids' playroom.  

Stairwell Gallery

1. Taupe III by Denise Duplock
2. Terracotta Spots by Denise Duplock3. Travel Abroad III by Jarman Fagalde
4. Vintage Map of Paris by Ladyleia5. Tour by Bicycle II by Chariklia Zarris
6. Diversion I Limited Edition by Chariklia Zarris

Master Bedroom

My Art.com inspiration for the master bedroom

7. Duo Stem by James Burghardt
8. Pomponette (sky) by Denise Duplock
9. Dancing Flowers III Mary Calkins

Play Room

Art.com ideas for the kids' playroom

10. Green Zebra by Avalisa
11. Heart Balloon Girl by Unknown
12. Newspaper Kids by Peter Gebhardt

For a look at more of the pieces I'm smitten with, take a look at my Pinterest board (hey, you can even follow me while you're there!).


This post was sponsored by Art.com, but all opinions are my own.

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My Quest for Curbly House Color Inspiration

by Alicia Lacy

Our daughter's room in it's pre-painted state.

We're in the middle of a huge remodeling project to create what promises to be our dream house. Last week, drywall started going up and I stopped having contractions, because for the first time in months, the house began looking like a house again. Read on to see how I'm gathering color inspiration for what promises to be a huge paint job.

One of the bedrooms with a fresh coat of sheetrock and mud

The sight of fresh sheetrock immediately sent my brain into a dreamland filled with paint swatches and color schemes. I've mentioned before that I actually like the process of painting a room, but loathe the process of choosing colors. Luckily, Sherwin-Williams came to my rescue again with a new tool they call ChipIt! Basically, it's a tool that allows you to create paint palettes based on color schemes you like in photos, rooms, artwork, etc. Drag the ChipIt! button to your browser's toolbar to try it out yourself:


Get the Chip It! Button


I wanted to keep the scope of my initial paint palettes small-ish, so I focused soley on the upstairs of our home. Specifically, our daughter Ayla's bedroom (read about the inspiration for her room here), the nursery, bathroom, master bedroom, and play room.

I chose an image from each board, and used the ChipIt! tool to generate a color palette. I opted to intall the ChipIt! tool in my toolbar so that it would be easy to access (the other option is to insert an image's URL on the ChipIt! site). I then created a Chip Book to hold all of my chip cards. From there, I uploaded everything to a Pinterest board so that I can continue to add little details to each board based on the chip cards I was given. 

Ayla's Room

This fabric from Spoonflower was the reason I wanted to go with a coral/aqua or pink/blue color scheme for Ayla's new bedroom. It's the cheeriest print in the universe. Based on the swatch, ChipIt! gave me these color ideas:

Color board for Ayla's bedroom

Play Room

Our new house has four bedrooms, which is a real treat. We'll be using the fourth bedroom as a toy storage hub, errr ... play room for all the kid stuff that's currently cluttering our house. I want to keep the wall color simple in the room, but love the thought of using wallpaper on one wall. This "Lovebirds" wallpaper by Aimee Wilder might just be the ticket. Based on the ChipIt! results, I think it will be fun to paint some of the furniture we'll be using in the room in the orange, gray, and ivory ChipIt! drew from the birds.

Playroom color inspiration

Master Bedroom

We won't be creating the master bedroom until we do our addition this fall (fingers crossed, we hope it will be this fall). But, we know we'd like to keep the room's colors soft and subtle to give it an open, airy feeling. The room will overlook our backyard, which is full of old trees, so it's important for the bedroom to have an organic feeling that keeps the space feeling natural. This image from Art.com captures the feeling we'll be going for with our new sleeping quarters:

Color inspiration for the master bedroom


This wedding centerpiece from Ruffled inspired the colors in our initial nursery (read about that makeover here), and I love the color scheme so much that I want to bring it with us to the new house. Only this time, I plan to add polka-dots to the wall! Here's the color palette ChipIt! generated based on the photo:

Nursery color board



In addition to thinking about paint colors for the upstairs bathroom, we're also in the process of choosing fixtures, a vanity, tiles, etc. This image from West Elm incorporates the colors and style we're considering, and ChipIt! gave us some great suggestions based on the image:

Bathroom color inspiration


Our next step will be to get some paint swatches and samples, and begin putting some of these colors up on the walls to see how they work with each room. Stay tuned as our painting adventure begins!

Read all the posts in the Curbly House series! Follow along as we document every step of our complete home makeover, from gutting the walls to putting up the finishing touches. And don't forget to let us know what you think in the comments!


This post was sponsored by Sherwin-Williams, but all opinions are my own

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Week 4 Journal: Bye Bye Bathtub (and Chimney Too)

by Bruno Bornsztein

Our Bathroom

The Curbly House
bathroom looked decent, by all accounts, and except for being a bit on the small side, functioned just fine. So I was actually prepared to leave it pretty much as-was, maybe with a few fixture replacements, some new tile, and paint. But what we found when we took out the first floor ceilings underneath the bathroom made that impossible. Read on to find out how we gutted the bathroom, and watch an awesome/scary video (depending on your point of view).

Remodeling is a little like surgery; you want to make the fewest cuts possible. The problem is, once you start getting things opened up, you find new problems you didn't know about, which leads to more surgery, and so forth. 

In our case, we ripped down the first floor ceilings because they were covered in foam tiles, and the plaster was failing. But when we got a look underneath the bathroom, we were confronted with a problem: a section of the toilet drain was corroded, all the way through. In other words, there was a four-inch by two-inch hole in the pipe that carries waste from the toilet to the sewer. 

That's a bad thing, in case you're confused.

At that point, we knew we'd have to re-plumb the whole bathroom. That would mean ripping out the floors to access the plumbing, and reworking the joists under the bathroom so we could get the pipes into the floor (as opposed to the way the were, five inches higher):

The previous bathroom floor was raised five inches to allow plumbing to run underneath

We'd also need to run a new main waste stack to the basement, and new venting through the roof. So, a total gut job ensued. 

I started by ripping out the medicine cabinet, toilet and vanity. Then down came the trim, paster, and lathe. 

This revealed a nice little squirrel manion tucked into one of the walls above the bath tub. Not really unexpected at this point.

That left the bathtub, a heavy cast iron monster that we figured weighed about 600 pounds. Although we kind of liked the curved edge, we had to move the tub drain to the other side of the bathroom, so there was no chance of keeping the left-drained tub.

There was no way it was going down the stairs (I doubt the staircase could've supported it), so the only option was out a window. After much thought and (mostly half-assed) planning, we decided to lower it down on a heavy duty strap looped around the chimney for leverage.

We popped the bathroom window out (that had to be replaced anyway), strapped the tub on, and gingerly started pushing it outside (yes, we made sure to keep wandering group of schoolchildren from walking underneath it). 

Amazingly, this worked perfectly. The friction from the strap on the chimney made lowering the hefty tub easy: I could hold the strap with one hand and keep the thing from moving, or move it in increments of a few inches.

The whole ordeal took about three hours, but finally we had the tub removed with only minimal damage.

And then came the chimney. See, it ran straight through a corner of the bathroom and was walled in with plenty padding, so the whole thing took up about a quarter of room. It was the main reason the space felt so cramped, and our contractor, Bill Herschbach, really thought we should get rid of it.

I wasn't so sure, but once I realized how deteriorated the bricks and mortar were above the roofline, I changed my mind. Either the chimney came out now, leave lots of extra room in the bathroom, or I'd have to spend a bunch of money later repairing it. And since Alicia and I don't really like wood-burning fires anyway, it was a no-brainer: we'd take out the chimney, leaving the fireplace in tact so we can add a gas-burning insert later on.

Fortunately, demolishing an old chimney is pretty simple (albeit dusty and dirty; there's a hundred years of soot built up in there, after all). I just strapped on a climbing harness and a rope, climbed on to the roof, and started pulling bricks off the top. My dad even got in on the action (I could scarcely keep him off the roof, he was so excited).

Removing the chimney

My dad helping out with chimney demolition

Working from the top, we kept pulling the bricks and mortar off and tossing them down. It took me, my dad, and Bill about five hours to get it torn down to the level of the bathroom floor. 

Bathroom gutted! Chimney is gone! Bye bye bathtub!

Now we have a lot more space in the bathroom, and we'll be able to run a mechanical chase where the chimney used to be (for plumbing and vents).


Sponsored by:
Our bathroom remodel is being sponsored by Kohler! Can't you just picture one of their lovely vanities where that chimney used to be? Of course, although the post is sponsored, all opinions are mine alone.


This is a post in the Curbly House series! Follow along as we document every step of our complete home makeover, from gutting the walls to putting up the finishing touches. And don't forget to let us know what you think in the comments! 







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Our Energy Rehab Results Are In!

by Bruno Bornsztein

 We've started out our Curbly House project with a series of energy improvements. Find out how a new HVAC, ductwork, and insulation are paying off.

Our Energy Rehab Results Are In!

A house is such a personal thing. It’s private, intimate. It’s family. And yet, in most cases, it belonged to someone else before you. And someone else before them. How does a house that belonged to another family for fifty years become your own? How do you know when that change has happened?   

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A Guide to an Organized Move

by Alicia Lacy

A Guide to an Organized Move
We're moving sometime in the next month. I hate the vague sound of that sentence, but it's the truth. Our whole moving timeline is vague due to the fact that the Curbly House continues to be full of charming surprises that are pushing our move-in date back.

The realization that we'll be having a new baby and moving into a new house only a few weeks apart is enough to induce even the calmest lady. Unfortunately for me, I am a Virgo to the core...

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Ayla's New Bedroom: How to Smooth a Toddler's Home Transition

by Alicia Lacy

Curbly House Toddler Room Ideas

Life is a little crazy around our house(es) these days. Our days are spent preparing for a baby in just a few short week, remodeling our new house, packing up our old house, and wrangling a 3-year-old, leaving little time for anything else. In the brief moments of pause, I'm either napping or thinking about how to make the transitions that are coming in the next several weeks smooth for everyone in our family, especially Ayla. So, I've been...

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Curbly Original
Week 1 Journal: Getting Ready for Demolition

by Bruno Bornsztein

Curbly House Week 1 Video Journal  - Preparation for Demolition

I can't tell you how excited I was to finally start real work on the Curbly House. Even if the first week was just me spending a few hours a day over there getting protection down on the floors, walls, and windows, it felt great to actually be doing something.

Week 1 was about getting ready for week 2. We decided to tear out the first floor ceilings; they were covered in foam tile and the plaster under that was crumbling. Plus, taking the...

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Our Home's Energy Audit: Results and Recommendations

by Bruno Bornsztein

Our Home's Energy Audit: Results and Recommendations

We like to think of homes as impermeable. After all, that’s why we have them; to keep the rain, wind, and cold out. Not to mention insects, small animals, and pollen clouds.

But the truth is, your home’s shell is a membrane. It breathes, just like you do. (That’s a good thing!) Every home does it. The important question is not if your home leaks, but how much.

To figure out if our new house had an appropriate level of breathability, we...

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Introducing The Curbly House: Our Family's Dream Home Makeover [VIDEO]

by Bruno Bornsztein

The Curbly House introduction

We walked into the house at 4:30 p.m. on a cold, dark December afternoon. 

The real estate agent fiddled with the lock box for a moment, then cracked open the front door. We kicked off our shoes and stepped in. The floors were cold like a skating rink. We left our overcoats on. The place smelled empty.

“One sec,” the agent said. “Let me get the lights.”

Click. Nothing. Click. Footsteps. A different switch. Click. Nothing. A...

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