apartment progress: finding an old door and kismet.

April 15, 2021

In old house stewardship and making slow progress, sometimes it really just feels like I’m waiting for the stars to align. And then sometimes they do.

I was struck by a bit of restlessness this morning and so when the birds started chirping at 5 am, I decided to get up and join them. Not in the chirping, just in the wakefulness. I’ve been painting the woodwork in the kids’ room this week and I’m eager (read: impatient) to get it finished so I can move on to other projects that have been on my mind: repairing a radiator cover, finding a replacement doorknob for the door into the office, reaching an agreement with a certain child of mine who changes their mind daily about their vision for their bedroom.

I don’t mean to dump on the trim painting. A fresh coat of trim paint really does make an enormous difference to the overall feel of a room and there’s no doubt that I have the monotony of the detail work to thank for the influx of other project ideas. There’s nothing like glopping more paint onto doorframes to get the creative juices flowing.

Today I put a second coat on the door that separates our small office from the kids’ bedroom; a six-paneled composite door with a faux oak texturing. Our landlord was kind enough to install it before we moved in and we’ve been grateful to have it, but it’s a bit adrift in an apartment filled with older beauties. As I painted it I puzzled over what, if anything, I might do about the doorknob that’s too big to be replaced by an antique and the fact that the door itself stops three inches short of the floor. (The gap is very useful for sliding notes to working parents and less useful for making any kind of sound barrier.)

Before breaking for lunch I logged onto our neighborhood Buy Nothing Group to firm up a ball jar handoff and staring at me was a brand new listing for three antique doors, complete with glass knobs, ready for the taking. A few texts and one drizzly skateboard trip by James later, the door is here, with a frame that seems to fit it perfectly and what I hope will only be some minor work to get it hanging.

Slow and steady progress around as per always, and sometimes, just very good luck.

PS. I wrote a piece all about The Buy Nothing Project for next week’s edition of Cubby, in case you’d like to sign up and have a read.

PPS. This morning, as I waited with the birds to dive into painting, I decided to plug our street address into the The NYC Municipal Archive Online Collections. I’ve said here before that the archive’s vast collection of 1940s tax photographs is one of my favorites to sort through and for whatever reason, this morning I realized I’d never looked up our building. The photograph shows covered up bricks on the facade, a tiny tree in an otherwise empty front garden, and a wide open sidewalk where an old oak has since grown so large it’s setting the pavers askew around it. I have no doubt that the shades over the windows in the front door are the same that are still hanging. Would that I could take a peek through the windows and catch a glimpse at the moldings. In case you like peeping into the past as much as I do, here are detailed instructions for how to search for New York City street photos.)

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Megan April 15, 2021 at 5:26 pm

    What incredible luck! On my own hunt for a goldilocks table to fit in our eat-in kitchen. Off to my local NextDoor app.

  • Reply Millie April 16, 2021 at 9:18 am

    I joined my local Buy Nothing after you wrote about it before. It is such a lovely group. I’ve given lots away to people who will actually use the stuff. And you’ll never guess what we got for my daughter’s 12th bday from the group – a guinea pig!!

    • Reply Nicole April 16, 2021 at 2:56 pm

      Dear Millie,
      I wish you and your daughter much joy with your guinea pig! I don’t want to make assumptions so I will put this here in case other readers see it and can benefit: guinea pigs are as big a responsibility as they are small in size.
      They require a qualified exotic vet (not just any vet’s office) and more space, quality food/hay/vegetables, and attention than most folks realize.
      They are not classroom accessories or easy starter pets for children whose grownups don’t want to deal with a physically bigger pet like a dog.
      Again, perhaps you have lots of experience and I’m not at all trying to criticize or judge or assume that you don’t, but maybe another reader is considering getting a guinea pig and hasn’t been informed of the massive responsibility of time, attention, and finances (for example, a $2,000 surgery), and will do the research or reconsider if they conclude that a pig isn’t a good fit for them right now.

      A wonderful resource is Guinea Lynx: http://www.guinealynx.info/plea.html

      All the best!

  • Reply Erika April 16, 2021 at 3:19 pm

    This reminds me I need to list a ball jar on buy nothing…

  • Reply Gillian April 16, 2021 at 3:37 pm

    It’s so nice that you were able to find a door that matched the original features of the apartment. That door knob is gorgeous.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Comments are moderated.