{House} Hello from the Outside

I had tried to fix the phone jack over the dining room table once, and it didn’t work.  The working phone jack is next to my bed, which meant the phone cord traveled all the way over to my dresser.

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Since that’s not where I want the phone (and the phone needs to be hung from the wall and not on a table), I decided to move it before I painted.

Time to remove the box and cord!  A simple screwdriver opened the box.

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Then a few more screws to release the wires and remove the box from the wall.

NYC apartments have a tendency to be painted every time they are rented, and everything gets coated in paint.  This included the phone cord (and also doorknobs–which I’ll get to another time).  A utility knife cut through the paint around the cord.

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And needle nose pliers pried the staples out from the wall.

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No more cord running up the wall!  I’ll sand and fill in the holes before I paint so there’s no trace of the previous cord and box.

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The cord ran around the apartment via the baseboard, which didn’t get as much paint as the walls, and the cord pulled free quite easily.

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I worked my way around the apartment until I got to the box where the cord got split in two.

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I cut the cord down to the appropriate length for the box above the dining table, and unsheathed the wires.

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Then I had to disconnect the old wire, and connect the new one.

rewire old phone jack outlet diy yourself hook up

And then hang the phone!

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Now I just need to work up the confidence to ask the doorman to call me to see if it works.  Cross your fingers and wish me luck!

PS.  Title courtesy of this song.

{Home} Color Conundrum

I can pick out the exact shade of my favorite color in two seconds flat, but picking a color for my walls has me stuck.  I read and bookmarked this post a few years ago, which suggested painting your rooms in shades of the same color.  I loved the idea then and couldn’t wait to try it out now!  I hope this color arrangement will add some more definition to what is ultimately one open space.

I picked out some paint strips in light neutral colors, and was able to narrow it down to one set, which is basically a long strip cut in half (see how the numbers are continuous?).

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Yes, technically these strips aren’t shades of the same color but slightly different colors that get progressively darker, but I think the idea still holds.

I was stuck on which lighter shade to use for the living room, and which darker shade to use for the entry way, dining area, and dressing room.  Luckily it’s pretty easy to get samples made.  I actually went back to get an additional sample since I still couldn’t make up my mind!

I ended up with three samples painted on the living room wall (left) and three on the dining room wall (right).

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The paint is from Benjamin Moore, and the colors for the living room are 856, 857, and 858, and for the other rooms are 858, 860, and 861 (listed in order as they appear on the wall).

There isn’t much light in my apartment, and the past few days have been cloudy, so it was hard to get a good picture of the samples.  Though I can tell you that the color appears very different depending on which wall the sample is on!  Right now, I think I’m leaning towards the lightest for the living room (856), and the lightest or middle for the other rooms (858 or 860).

I think I just need someone to come over and make the decision for me!  Any takers?  I’ll bake cookies or brownies! 😉

{Home} Space Race

One of the best things about living in a big city is that the resale opportunities and deals are endless.  I mostly furnished my last apartment from Craigslist, and it seems like the new additions to this apartment will be no different!

I was browsing for a new light for the dining area and kept stumbling on the Sputnik fixtures.  This light was a steal at $100 (with an extra box and a half of light bulbs), and I couldn’t forget it!  It turns out it’s also famous, as it was recently featured in an Apartment Therapy home tour.

sputnik light brass vintage

I had tried to install this light myself, but the electrical in my apartment is very old, so I asked the super to help.  He came over one morning and began to tinker with the wires.

The box needed a crossbar; luckily he had one in the basement.  He wrapped it in electrical tape so that it wouldn’t touch any of the exposed wires in the box.

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I didn’t take many other pictures of the process, as I helped him a little by holding the flashlight and handing him pieces.  The “white” neutral wires were cut so that they could be pushed farther into the box.  They got a new wire nut in place of the fabric electrical tape.  Some of the wires were exposed due to the decaying cotton wrapping, and they were wrapped in electrical tape to protect them.  Then it was just a matter of attaching the wires from the fixture to those in the box, screwing the fixture into the crossbar, and then adding light bulbs.

And just over an hour later it was finished!

sputnik light brass vintage dining area room

sputnik light brass vintage

sputnik light brass vintage dining area room

Two of the bulbs are burned out, but I was too excited to replace them quite yet.  The old fixture also had a bigger canopy/base, so the ceiling needs a little paint, but that should be easy enough.  In the mean time, you can find me gazing at it!

{House} A Change of Plans

I enjoy browsing Craigslist ads, but when I was living in an apartment, it was only window shopping.  I’d been in my new home for less than a week when I saw a light fixture I couldn’t pass up for $100.

brass gold light fixture sputnik

It’s in great condition, and the sellers even gave me an extra box of light bulbs!  I knew it would make an impact in the dining area, I just needed to find a ladder and some courage to tackle my first electrical project.

The ladder was easy enough; a quick text to my super and I had a one to borrow.  Turning off the breaker was also simple: turned the light on, and found the breaker that turned it off.  But–spoiler alert–installing the light was a whole other issue.

The current fixture is a simple three-bulb flush mount with a frosted glass shade.

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There were two nuts and a metal plate holding the glass shade to the center thread, which didn’t even need a wrench to unscrew.  Thankfully there weren’t any dead bugs hiding in the shade!

I got a good chuckle when I saw the random assortment of light bulbs hiding behind the glass shade!

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I unscrewed the bulbs, and as I did, something came out of one of the sockets, hit me in the chest, and then fell onto the floor.  It scared me, but I let it go.  It wasn’t a bug, and I was in too deep to stop my expedition now.  I chalked it up to being an old piece of metal and pressed on.

After the bulbs were out, I removed the rest of the center thread.  There was another bolt (that was also connected to the center tread) holding the fixture to the ceiling that needed a wrench to be loosened.  I scored the paint where the fixture met the ceiling so that it would come loose from the ceiling easily.

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The fixture still hung close to the ceiling, so I pulled gently to take a peek a the wires and box, and that’s when I got an unexpected surprise!

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It’s extremely old!  Old wires, old plaster, old electrical box.  Old, old, old!  Even if I could have figured out which wires are which, the box doesn’t have a crossbar for the new fixture to screw in to.  I’m also missing electrical tape and should probably use wire caps anyway.  I think this will be a project for the super or an electrician.

Since the new fixture wasn’t going to be installed that day, I had to put the old one back together…

Back in when the bolt and the center tread to hold the fixture to the ceiling.  Then came the light bulbs.  As I was installing the second bulb, I noticed that the socket seemed loose.  Upon closer inspection, I realized it was missing a screw to hold the socket in place–the mysterious metal piece that attacked me!

I got down on my hands and knees and started looking for the tiny screw with an iPhone flashlight.  I found it hiding under my dining table (it’s the tiny speck to the right of the table leg in the picture below).

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It took some finesse, needle-nose pliers, and a small screwdriver to get it into place, but I was able to secure the socket.

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Once the light bulbs were in, the glass shade, metal plate, and two bolts were the last pieces to put the light back together.  I turned the breaker back on, and the light worked!  A small victory in this learning experience.

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And for now, my fancy new light will continue to sit in a corner, waiting for the day when it can finally be installed.

{House} Can You Hear Me Now?

My building’s front door intercom uses the landline phone system.  Which means I need a landline phone (just a phone, not the actual landline service).  I browsed eBay for an old looking phone and knew Pottery Barn would have just what I’d like.  For less than $15, I got an old-fashioned phone with modern push buttons.

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There are actually two phone jacks in my apartment: one over the dining table and another next to my bed.  The dining room jack wasn’t working, so I tried my hand at fixing it.  The old jack had been painted over a few times and looked in rough shape.

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After scraping off some of the paint, I was able to get inside it to remove it from the wall (the two dark screws in the picture below).

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I ordered this one from Amazon and had it in hand a few days later (Lowe’s and Home Depot didn’t have the model and color I wanted in stock).  The new one is much nicer looking!

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Then it was just a matter of connecting the red wire to the red spot, and the green wire to the green spot.  A few screws from the plate into the previous holes in the wall, popped on the cover, and it was done!

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Then I just had to plug in and hang up my new phone!

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I asked the doorman one night to ring me to see if it was working, and it still didn’t work. 😦 I’m not sure where the issue is, but I’ll be keeping this on the list of things to fix another day…