this old house – the exterior

Big day this past Monday – workers from our siding company came to peel away decades of material from our home. It was unnerving to see our house torn apart.

Removal of siding - decades of layers Removal of siding - decades of layers

We didn’t plan to address the exterior for another year but we realized after installing the new windows it was necessary. We can’t risk putting up sheetrock with the potential for leaks. The house needs to be 100% weather proof. It’s frustrating because once we think we’re on track again another obstacle pushing back the timeline.

Removal of siding - decades of layers

Above you’re seeing the original sheathing from around 1890. The first layer of siding on the house was cedar and it was in excellent condition. It was painted a light gray at one point which helped protect it. We had thoughts of keeping the cedar up, but with the new windows, there were too many damaged areas. Also the upkeep would be a ton of work.

In a few months, brand new, super durable composite wood will go up! We hate vinyl. It just feels so fake and it would take a beating considering how close we are to the beach. The winds off the water are so powerful.

I realize now why these new constructions houses go up. It’s easy. It takes and exorbitant amount of effort, time and money to do something special. The other day I read my first post on the house to remind myself why we are going through all of this.

Here’s a progression of photos. The first being from 1938. Matt bought a print of this from the NYC archive. It will hang in our living room when all is done.

91st Street - Rockaway Beach -1938

This the house in 1998 (from the movie No looking back)


I took this before we bought the house in 2013


And now this is where were we are at today.






Fivey’s Shelf

Now that we’re moved into the basement I’ve been looking for ways to improve the space. I thought new moldings for the windows would be an improvement. I told Will and Matt I would like the windows to resemble an old Italian summer kitchen combined with a mystical hobbit house aesthetic.

I made clear, the most important element was the window ledge. It needed to be big enough so Fivey can hang out and watch the squirrels.

This was my initial concept drawing.

The plan

And here’s the final product! I was thrilled with the outcome, it’s spot on.

Fivey enjoying the view

window ledge

It was difficult to get a good photo of the window with the light coming in. I’m trying to show the detail here, it’s beautifully crafted.


This is the second ledge built, we kept the existing molding because this window will be replaced at some point. Fiver enjoys sitting here too, especially in the evenings.


Update: patriotic johnny pumps appear in rockaway beach

Fire hydrant - Rockaway

When I wrote about the patriotic Johnny pumps appearing in Rockaway somehow I missed this one. It brings to mind a kind of patriotism Andy Warhol would have approved of. We’re not sure who is responsible for these paintings. Maybe it’s the Rockaway Civic Association, the RAA, or one very patriotic Rockawayite? Contact us if you have any information about these wonderful public art displays.

fire hydrant - rockaway beach




tagged in community, news, queens, rockaway

Patriotic Johnny Pumps Appear in Rockaway Beach


So what’s up with all the patriotic Johnny pumps in the 90′s? I have one on my block (pictured above).  I thought it was a one-off thing, but the past week I’ve been noticing more and more. It’s cool, I like it.

Anyone know what the story is? (Ehm… Katie Honan?)


All of these are between 91st and 99th and many are on the Boulevard.


U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!


This one is like a patriotic Johnny pump with an old world barber feel. Very creative.


And this of course is not patriotic, but it looks awesome, a new trend?


tagged in b91, queens, rockaway