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Rockaway Re-Renovated

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Finally! The Rockaway house is vacant and spruced up once again after 3 years of dweller wear and tear. It’s going on the market right this second because if I waited for every little detail to be finished, it would be 2020. I so wanted to finish the basement, but I’ll leave that as an option for the purchaser. Either I can do it for a higher price or they can finish it.

A few new painting techniques and Ikea hacks. Whaddya think? Who wants to buy it?

The Ikea Maskros pendant lamps in the living room above didn’t hold up so well after 3 years. The paper “flowers” totally wilted. I was bummed to find out that Ikea doesn’t offer replacements, you have to buy a whole new fixture. F dat! I stole someone’s ping pong ball idea online and I’m lovin’ it! Ten bucks for a bag o’ balls.


This mudroom had a simple painted plywood floor that needed refreshing. I used a damask stencil that I happened to have lying around. Because plywood isn’t smooth, it came out a bit sloppy. What’s the solution to sloppy? Distress, distress, distress! After some sanding, it looks like I meant to do that.


Guess what? The pipes froze this year. And burst. Luckily, I was there to know they had broken because I was unthawing them with a heat gun in the basement when the water starting pouring out. Emergency plumber guy had to break through the walls in the bathroom. The pipes WERE insulated, but sadly the insulation had shifted. Insulation is now taped on and not going anywhere. I lost my original wall technique which I wasn’t in love with anyway. The new copper patina matches the copper sink.

There’s still loads of touch ups and basement and exterior tidying, so it’s not open house worthy yet. But appointments. Appointments I can do.

Rockaway Beach Home for Sale!

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It’s time. The Rockaway house has been rented out to awesome tenants for over a year and a half now. Although I was going to wait until their leases are up (in July) to put the house on the market, an interested party got the ball rolling. That deal may or may not go through but now the tenants and I are itching to know what the future holds, so why put it off?

The Rockaway Beach 2 family home was purchased as an investment property in the summer of 2012. The intention was to renovate and flip. Then along came Hurricane Sandy before the renovation was complete. The house survived with minimal damage but the Rockaway real estate market did not. Now it’s been over two years and still not much is on the market, but that means more buyers for moi. It also means appraisal may be tough without any comps.

So, you wanna buy it? I’ll be showing mainly on Saturday afternoons. Check out the house page and get in touch for an appointment!

For sale by owner (a licensed real estate agent).  Asking $425k and not terribly negotiable.

**Oh, and I should warn you that the house does not look as pristine as it does in the 2 year old photos! It’s very lived-in now!

Just a taste of what we did to the house below. Lots more on Flickr before and after.

Downstairs Living Room


During Demolition



What we did:

Removal of carpeting, 2 layers of linoleum and 2 layers of wallpaper.
Skimcoat and paint.
Repair of original molding.
Salvage original floors.

Upstairs Kitchen



What we did:

Painted plywood cabinets.
Removal of drop ceiling tiles, linoleum and wallpaper.
Sheetrock ceiling, skimcoat room.
Install ceramic tile with border.
Mexican tile backsplash.
Reclaimed wood counter.
Paint antique light fixture.

Pink Bathroom




What we did:

Remove closet on right.
Remove wall between tub and toilet.
Retile with 4×4 pink and black tiles.
Install new mosaic tile floor.
Create sink vanity out of cabinet.

Taste of Rockaway

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Save the date! Saturday, December 7th marks the first event of the newly formed “Hospitality and Entertainment Association for Restaurants and Taverns of Rockaway Beach”. The Taste of Rockaway one day event is 10 bucks for 10 dining establishments. That’s only a dollar per dish.

These Rockaway eatery owners want everyone to know that they are open for business all year ’round. More importantly, I’ve discovered that the boardwalk restrooms remain open during the winter months as well. An important detail to factor into your day of binge dining and drinking.

There are a limited number of passes that can be purchased in advance at any of the establishments. No time frame set for day of, just enjoy the freedom of using your pass during the business hours of each place.

Go to the event’s website for links to each restaurant.

Swimming with Whales in Rockaway

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You don’t need a stinkin’ chartered boat to see whales. Nor do you need to schlep out to Montauk. Check this out. There have been whales hanging around Rockaway for a couple of weeks now. They’ve been spotted anywhere from Beach 90th to the Beach 120’s. How cool is that??



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It’s been nearly a year since I started renovations on the Rockaway house. I can finally say that both apartments are fully occupied now and I get to have my life back!

The project was meant to be a flip that would take a few months. Ok, so it took a bit longer with some minor and major disasters. Lemme fill you in on my setbacks. May I?

1. Disaster One. Crappy contractors. I can’t even begin to imagine how badly contractors rip off folks who don’t know a thing about the renovation process. When pipes separate and fall inside the wall and paint starts to peel after a few days, you MUST know that shortcuts were taken, right? This is why I DIY. Unless you want to spend the big bucks on a high end licensed contractor who comes with a thousand percent positive referrals, be verrrry careful.

Slow contractors who didn’t know what they were doing, contractors whose work had to be done over cost me an extra month or two in the beginning (and throughout). A month that I might have been able to unload the house on some poor, unsuspecting sucker prior to….

2. Disaster Two. Sandy. Yes, Superstorm Sandy is listed second to bad contractors. Not that I would ever want for anyone to go through that again, but believe it or not, the combination of incompetent team members set me back worse than the worst storm of the century. All in all, I was lucky. Just basement damage and some siding. Some pocket change from insurance that helped pay for the new boiler. It wasn’t so much the money that got to me as it was the time and momentum that was lost. With an NYC gas shortage and no heat or power at the house, this would set me back close to 2 months.

3. Disaster Three. Oops. Wrecked my car. Well, that’s what we get for trying to spend New Year’s Day working on the house. Some dumb bitch ran the red light and next thing we know, the car was totaled. Another bad luck/good luck story: We walked away! Set back of about 2 weeks until I dealt with the situation and got another car to get over to the house. Remember that the trains were not running after the storm.

Ok, those were the major setbacks. What do setbacks mean? It means you can’t fold. You have to readjust the original plan. With the real estate market down in Rockaway after the hurricane, I knew I’d be stuck with the house for awhile and I’d have to rent instead of sell. On the plus side, I’ll be earning back some money I lost.

This could all be blessings in disguise. The universe works in mysterious ways. It fucks with you but for good reason. Putting me through tests? Hell yeah. Making me hang on to the house until Rockaway rebuilds stronger and better than ever, so my house will be worth a small fortune?

Let’s hope so.


Rented! published on 3 Comments on Rented!


It’s been a long and flooded road to get here, nearly a year since buying the house, but I am pleased as punch to let y’all know that my little property will be fully occupied by July 15th. And no, the renovation isn’t finished!

I needed to set a deadline and find out if anyone even wanted to live there. Figured that if I showed it for July 1st, it could look nice and then I’d have a few more weeks to finish up. Only two people called to purchase and a TON of renters called. There were some would-be tenants who didn’t fit the bill and that wasted time, but at the end of the day, I’m loving the tenants who will be moving in. It was also inspiring to see how many young people want to be part of Rockaway’s resurgence, so I’m kind of glad to be hanging on to the house now.

The apartments will be finished by the time they are inhabited. (Fingers crossed) There’s still backyard and basement work, but it will be livable.

First guys move into upstairs on July 1st.  Downstairs guy moves in on July 15th. Yes, all guys. The middle aged single-guy next door neighbor will be disappointed. He asked for hot female flight attendants.

So what’s my next project?

The Rockaway Donation Game

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Forget Angry Birds. Here’s your opportunity to waste time playing interactive games online while doing some good for society. Repair the Rockaways allows you to purchase virtual bricks for building virtual houses. The donations are real and go to Respond and Rebuild, a volunteer group helping with supplies, education and labor.

Via Mother New York.

Live from Rockaway, it’s…

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Just finished the house website! I actually bought the domain for Rockaway House but then it was just sooo much easier to create the site through Weebly, so I said WTH.

Here goes nuthin’. So, I guess this means the house is officially on the market, even though there’s still plenty of work left to do.

Showing this weekend. The fire under my butt has been lit.

Reclaiming The Rock

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beach baubles

The city is working 24/7 to get the Rockaway beaches ready for the summer. Trains should be running by the end of this month. But if they build it, will they come?

Rockaway Taco reopened earlier this month. The few times I was there for lunch, business seemed good. This being before summer, on weekdays, without trains. Veggie Island opened their doors as well but I was there the very first day when all they had ready was some coffee and muffins. Full menu or not, folks came in to support the business.

Still. Crime is up. Residents are nervous about not having beach protection. The mood of some Rockaway natives is fairly negative. They worry that they remain unsafe while the concentration is put on tourism.

But Rockaway needs the tourism. Businesses were crushed. Some folks are still not back to their homes. Some will never return. This winter has been downright depressing in an area that’s already depressed.

Business advocates are working to lure commercial investors, but in my opinion, there aren’t enough residents to support these shops at the moment. Personally, I think Rockaway needs to offer incentives for newcomers such as artist live/work spaces. Non-residents need a reason to visit Rockaway year round: A huge surf school, a museum (perhaps a surfing museum?), a concert venue. Something along the lines of the DIA Museum that transformed the city of Beacon, NY.

One step at a time. Let’s see how this summer goes.

Stenciled Door

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With a tight budget and desire to recycle building materials, I actually wanted to keep the hollow Home Depot doors that came with the house. Only a handful of them are still in good enough shape, but I thought it would be nice to think of them as blank canvases and make each one into a work of art (or some kind of crafty process).

The closet door above was the first one to get all gussied up. The chipping paint revealed some beautiful turquoise that must have been there since the 40’s or 50’s. That was a keeper. What to do with that? I thought of those signs I found in the bathroom floor during demolition and decided to recreate that.


The paint was chipping off in big chunks, so scraping was a breeze.


DIY is pretty simple. Just get some tape and stencils. Oh, and paint.

As someone without patience, I didn’t use a straight edge or pencil lines. It’s recommended though. I also hand-held the stencil letters and went along to the next one without waiting for them to dry. Yeah, it smears. Don’t take DIY tips from me.


Didn’t have arrow stencil so the arrows were brought to you by the letter “I” and some tape for the point.

Funny story. This particular door faces East/West and the bay and beach are North/South, but I didn’t want to do up and down arrows.

Apartment One

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Open living/dining/kitchen area.

One half of the two family Rockaway house will be liveable by June 1st! As in liveable for normal people, not someone like me who no longer notices lack of switchplates and doorknobs. The self imposed deadline was set for this weekend to take some pictures and start spreading the word. Although it’s ready for it’s close-up, it’s a few days from being ready to show. Show by next weekend? Yeah, probably!!

The entire house will be for sale or rent by the end of this month. I call it a two story bungalow. It’s a cozy (that means small in realtor speak) 2 BR over 1BR, just under 1000 square feet for the whole house. Gotta do some comps and math to come up with prices. The website will get started (but not finished) today.

I’m on a roll baby and it feels good!



Yeah, that toe kick needs to be painted and stove needs backsplash.


The old singer sewing machine base trick. A favorite of mine.


Long, narrow bedroom in the back of the house. I want to work a little magic on those plain, white doors if I get the time.


Kitchen area before.


Living room during demo.

Six Months.

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Six months ago parts of New York and New Jersey literally came crashing down around us. Hurricane Sandy hit us pretty hard, but we’re still here, aren’t we? Many are still homeless and undergoing major renovations, some businesses never reopened, but progress is being made.

Can’t speak of what’s going on in every hard-hit neighborhood because I’ve been trapped working on the Rockaway house everyday. I do know that people are working 24/7 to get the area ready for summer.

The A train still isn’t running out to Rockaway. Last I heard, it should be back in service by June.

Parts of the boardwalk are being rebuilt. There will be boardwalk “islands”.

Concession stands are under renovation and will return.

Sand is being replenished.

Rockaway Taco reopens by the end of this week.

Bungalow Bar has reopened after having $10k worth of materials looted during the renovation.

Thai Rock opens their deck in early May.

The first wine bar ever in Rockaway plans to open by Memorial Day.

Rockabus will be starting up on Memorial Day weekend.

And come hell or high water (no pun intended), my friggin house will be ready to show by mid-May.

Sliding Scale Restaurant

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Shore Soup has been feeding hurricane Sandy victims in Rockaway since the perfect storm hit the area. Now they want to take it a step further and open up a pay-what-you-can restaurant. It will be mobile until they can get enough funds for brick and mortar. Good idea? Check out the video.

Greetings from South Queens

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Listen to some great Indie rock tunes while helping Queens Sandy survivors. Bands from Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Broad Channel and Rockaway Beach put together a compilation album to benefit those who are still struggling in the hard hit areas. Check it out and/or purchase on CD Baby.

Before and After Windows

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Remember when I was bitching about how time consuming the finishing work is? Well, tada! The windows are finally done!

Can’t find the real “before” shots. Those would be initially clam shell molding with wood paneling. Then there was no molding with new sheetrock. Ok, so fast forward to dirty, uncaulked windows with 1 coat o’ paint molding. That would be the photo above.


And this would be the “after”. Shush, I know there’s still touch up to do on that uneven line, but I swear I’m impressed with my cutting in skills. Never use tape. My hand is steady, Freddy.


So, when it’s not so steady (see mark on wall, left side of window) nothing a little touch up can’t fix.

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