julie houston
julie houston

We are always thrilled to hear (and see) how ‘improvised life’ resonates in our readers lives. Sometimes it’s a “shift” of mindset, sometimes it’s a daring diy. In Julie Houston’s case, it was a major renonovation of the back parlor of her Brooklyn brownstone,  transformed into kitchen/dining area.

When children and pets leave — as is nature’s way, aka “the empty nest” — the house goes silent.  The element of surprise, embedded in their activities, is gone.  
After a few long-delayed home improvement projects (too busy to do them for decades), it dawned on me that I was merely trying to make my own noise, create my own element of surprise around here. 

Our favorite bit: Julie’s take on an idea she’d bookmarked from ‘improvised life’ in 2009: Margot Wellington’s long shallow stainless steel sink that doubles as a work surface. (that’s 4 years of fermenting an idea!)

Margot Wellington’s Stainless Sink Lives on — in Brooklyn kitchen renovation! We have done very little to alter the 19th Century “footprint” here, but that installing that sink has been an incredible experience, using it as a work surface. We got the sink custom made at Bowery Restaurant Supply, 2 Delancey Street,(212) 254-9720, owner Peter Chang did a fab and meticulous and economical job.  Not to be mixed up with the place in the Chelsea Market — terrible!!!

Julie Houston's renovation sink
julie houston

Julie did a number of hand-done projects herself like…

…Decoupaged fish from wrapping paper; used wheat paste.

Julie Houston's house renovation school of fish

…Hallway isn’t really to nowhere, it’s to the cellar.  (Did a massive, Collier Brothers clean up)…

Julie Houston's renovation staircase
photo: julie houston

…Bar Stools beyond sanding down, so I stencilled them…

Julie Houston's bar stools before painting

Julie Houston's bar stools after painting
photo: julie houston

Steady hand meditation for color bands on legs….

Julie Houston's bar stools after painting
photo: julie houston

We’ve been in our brownstone since 1978; in Brooklyn since 1969 (I grew up in Manhattan).  It was “love it or leave it” when we moved out here, at the height of the Vietnam War.  

It’s clearly become ‘love’.

There’s something curiously satisfying about seeing this.

Thanks Julie!

Related posts: clever kitchen renovation using new and original cabinets
budget reno + life strategy: hire a project consultant
how to demolish a sheetrock wall with a shovel (++++++ other life lessons)
project + reno lesson: embrace the unexpected……… things won’t go as planned
how would your decorate this blank slate space?

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2 replies on “il reader julie houston’s brooklyn renovation

  1. I’d love to know how much a sink like that goes for… to see if it is in the realm of possibility for me as I consider my kitchen remodel. I’ve also had Margot’s sink bookmarked for all of these years… maybe they’ll be another incarnation soon!

  2. Since Margot’s sink was done many years ago, prices would no longer apply. The best bet is to rough out your dimensions and call a stainless steel fabricator. Some of the online sites have calculators to give you a rough idea. As I remember, Home Depot does, or can tell you over the phone.

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