D-Day Demolition Drama (Days 1 & 2)

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I’ve moved.

Yes, the demolition phase of my renovation is well underway.

But, you won’t believe what they found behind the walls of my 1978 kitchen!


The stolen art from the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, Laurel?


Great guess, and you’re on the right track. It’s not those pieces but some obscure works of art for sure.

I hope I won’t violate any copyright. Oh, what the hell! The title of each masterpiece is underneath the image. Please enjoy!

The first piece of art is by an unknown artist.

Old Lace Permit


The Boston Building inspectors have granted permission to put up old lace.

I found another version, as well.


Andy Wore Holes


I adore the super well-done 3-d illusion of this next demolition work of art.



Hit the road phonejack!





For those that don’t know, the Bowery is one of the more gritty neighborhoods on New York City’s lower east side. And yes, this shitshow was underneath the gross terra cotta tiles.


Hang on; I have another demolition gem for you.


Mr. Clean's Day Off



This next one is definitely of the brutalist genre. Remember the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health?





A fitting title, I’m sure. However, that little light in the corner of the mirror is actually a nightlight. Still, it creeped the freak out of me. It always reminded me of an episode of the Twilight Zone  I watched back in the 60s, where people got sucked into a box through a little light.

That mirror gave me PTSD. Therefore, I had to sleep with the bathroom door closed at all times. True story.

Laurel, this was your bathroom?


Uh-huh. As you can see, it’s in mourning, so we should try to be descreet. ;]

Okay, this next one is super awesome. I mean, this demotion pièce de résistance that is going to pay for the entire renovation and then some. ;]


Guys, get this; they found a [Cy] Twombly behind the sink wall of the kitchen! ;];]


Twombly vs. Rothko -

Looks like it was a tribute to his senior contemporary, Mark Rothko. Very cool, and it’s all mine! Possession is 9/10ths of the law, you know.

Awww… remember when I painted that horrid light right before my 2021 Christmas party.

Incidentally, the GC has the most amazing demo team of two, led by Gerd, a Viking if there ever was one. I am positive this dude could easily crush a diamond with his pinky finger. I’m going to try to stay on his good side.


No, really, all of them couldn’t be sweeter.


However, Gerd had some bad news to break to me. The sink wall in the kitchen will need to be shored up to accommodate the new upper cabinets.

I said, “No problem, because there aren’t going to be any upper cabinets on that wall.” I have to admit Gerd looked a bit confused, so I said it again. And then, I could see he was trying his best to look less confused. Imagine what would’ve happened if I had said, “it’s an unkitchen.” haha


Oh, we are just getting warmed up.


I have one more avant-garde work of art. Bitter-sweet, it is.


Buried Alive
It is entitled: BURIED ALIVE.

So, what on earth is going on here?

Guys, some pitiful sod sometime in the middle-20th century had the gall to remove the original hardwood floor. Those antique floorboards haven’t seen the light of day in decades. So cool. They are the original subfloor that’s on top of the floor joists.

However, yes, as you can see here, the “mud,” as it’s called, is as hard as concrete. Even the brawny Gerd looked exhausted, with this arduous but necessary job of taking away what NEVER should’ve been dumped into this grand 19th century beauty.


Well, there’ve been some changes. However, I need to save them for another day.


I’ve even made some last-minute changes in the kitchen. I decided against the pocket doors. They take up too much space, and I know I will never close them, so what’s the point? Now, both cabinets can be the same size.


Moving was exhausting, but I’m almost finished unpacking. However, in a span of 40 hours after I left on Sunday evening, I’ve been back to the apartment twice.


Monday was a two-hour appointment with the architect. We knocked a lot of things out. It was a super meeting.

Today, I  was with the GC, Robert, and his subs.

Laurel, you seem so relaxed. I mean, you don’t seem to be the slightest bit worried about your renovation..


Me? I don’t worry about anything. ;]


YouTube video

haha. One of my favorite movies.

Well, with each step of the way, I am relieved of some of the pressure. I found a great contractor, and then, a place to live. I’ve done the biggest spring clean of my life and moved.

I have a terrific team of eager and willing professionals who want to help. The renovation has begun, with great gusto. And yes, while dramatic as you can see from my beautifully framed “art,” so far, everything is going well; and according to plan.

In addition, there’s a Whole Foods around the corner, and a Target across the street.

It doesn’t get any better than this. Cale reminded me, when he was here, how lucky I am. He’s right. Fatigue and sore muscles aside, all of this is a blessing I don’t take for granted.


So, welcome to my very cozy renovation home away from torn-up demolition home.


home away from home

This place is only 262 square feet. Admittedly, I still have another hour or two to organize everything. But, why does packing take ten times as long as unpacking?


Wait, Laurel; I see you brought two of your pillows, two stools, and your den rug, too?


Yeah, I spread it over the existing flat rug Sunday night, and got it under the sofa too. Yes, Darlin’s, by myself. I also have two tables and one of my yellow lamps. It’s small but it’s so nice to have some of my stuff with me.

Sometimes I surprise myself with what I can do. It is true. Five years ago, I would not have been able to do any of this. I wrote once about why that is. It is sooo much better now, 99% of the time.

But, I think some of you guys missed something. See the book on the stool?


Oh, and something else.


my painting on my bed wall

I brought the (Chinese repro) Melchior D’hondecoeter. The entire thing weighs maybe a pound, if that. It’s resting on the handles of the Murphy bed. When it’s time for bed, I take the painting down and put it in front of the TV. But, it looks fantastic and really livens up the place.

Isn’t it difficult getting the bed up and down?

No, it’s annoying, is all. Difficult was getting the rug out from under that 300 pound sofa bed and then under this sofa in my rental. Luckily, it comes apart and there’s storage under the cushions, too.


Okay, I have a lot to do in the next two days. It’s time to stop fiddle-farting around. I have to get serious about many details.


But, I’ll leave you with two gorgeous pics from the Boston Public Garden of the early summer roses.


Boston Public Garden Early June 2023

early summer roses Boston Public Garden
I took time to admire and photograph the roses. :]


PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES! Thank heaven for Melissa who does a wonderful job with the mid-week updating!

PS: Are you planning on doing some shopping on Amazon sometime soon?


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23 Responses

  1. Wonderful blog with your wit and writing shining brightly! Love the photos and names of the hidden, now revealed, artwork. Love love love that you are surrounding yourself with a few things that make your place “home” for you. We should all strive to identify those few things that help us to feel settled and at home; a good lesson. Please keep us informed!

  2. Wow! Magnificent, Etsy-worthy images of history being unearthed. Also, an extremely coveted double phone jack that belies the pedigree of your neighborhood. Do you know what a “doubly” can fetch in the antique marketplace? At least twice the value of a single, I am told. Loved this post.

  3. Im loving reading your reno progress reports told with good humour and honesty – so often its just Ta Da look at the end result, its never so simple !!

  4. You are a gem Laurel… thank you as always for sharing your well-planned reno-journey. As I read this around 4:30pm, I realized it was the only time I’ve laughed out loud all day (the Twilight Zone reference). I thank you for that as well!

    Also, thank you for the Amazon reminder. For two days I’ve forgotten to order something very very important (treats for the cat, and I’m not kidding), plus some other things. I used your link and we both won!

    I will echo GL, “Bon Courage Laurel!”

  5. What a fun, creative post! Thank you for making me smile :] It’s exciting (but, also stressful for you!) to get started on all the renovation work. I’m so glad you are sharing this journey with us. I wish you well during this time and hope all with go smoothly. I love that you brought some special items from your home to your rental. I’ve always admired that painting!

  6. I enjoyed this post so much! And I can’t wait for more! We renovated just about everything in our home and I know what you are going through. (Of course, now we want to move to another state…)
    May I ask if that is a Kevin Sloane painting that you hang on your Murphy Bed wall? It is so beautiful!

  7. And they’re off! Yeah! I hope it all goes smoothly and that you LOVE the results. I do shop Amazon and would use your link if you put one up for Amazon dot ca for Canadian readers.

  8. Hi Laurel, I love the pictures. You have a terrific (and slightly twisted) sense of humor. I have had two bathroom renovations in very different houses. The first one was a 1950’s prefab constructed of structural plywood panels. Water rotted all the way through the leaky tile to the exterior structural plywood panel, which had to be removed. For a few hours I had a lovely view of the trees in the side yard from my bathroom. I contemplated a glass wall, but don’t think the neighbors would have like that. The renovation of the tiny main bath in the second house, a 1950’s Colonial, required carting off two tons of plaster, cement and expanded metal lathe. No wonder demolition contractors are so pumped! Enjoy your temporary neighborhood.

  9. Laurel,

    I would love for you to do a piece on a 1920 home. I would like know more about lighting, rugs ext. My husband and I have just bought one. Im trying to find the right furniture, and a small dining room set.
    Thank you for all your advice though the years. I have been loving your bolg. Please don’t stress about your remodel, God has the your project in his hands. He knows what you want and need. It will be lovely as you hope it will be.
    Judy Mearing

  10. Just love the piece of art on door it’s amazing , I’m usually an all white in my decor but I just love it !

  11. The photos are great fun…loved the titles. Thank you for a morning smile!

    The “Anachronism” is a total keeper… and is somehow reminiscent of a late Diebenkorn (if he’d ever done monochromes).

  12. I want to “WARN” you of the Murphy bed. Be mindful of how it is attached to the wall. In 2018, I had a queen size Murphybed , professionally installed, come OUT of the wall, and fall on me. Then 5 surgeries later, we are still in litigation with all those involved. It can and DOES happen, even when we try to do it the correct way.

  13. You’re lucky to not be living in your old apartment during reno. I’ve lived thru 4 home remodels and the one where we rented a house while remodeling was bliss. The demo looks quite nice and very clean, you’re lucky not to be there!

  14. I love your excitement and your attitude with your demolition. Demolition for a project is always very exciting for me. There’s nothing more wonderful than walking into a blank space – to a first timer it can be overwhelming but when you’ve done it many times, there’s that feeling of, “AND WERE OFF AND RUNNING!”
    Thank you for letting us share with your process! It’s going to be great!

  15. You are so lucky you moved out. The dust that’s created during demo is awful. And the noise! Yikes!
    It seems your new home is in a great location. Hopefully you have a place to do your laundry.
    This is going to be quite the adventure.

  16. We are wrapping up our kitchen renovation this Friday! It’s absolutely beautiful. Our PM was here everyday, he set up an office in the hall just outside our kitchen. We worked with an amazing designer team and our vision has become a reality! Only caveat, it took 6 weeks longer than expected. Having a great GC and PM made all the difference. I’ve been wanting to change my kitchen for 20 years! I feel so lucky and excited to cook and entertain in this beautiful space!

  17. We just finished renovating our kitchen and it went very smoothly, although we rarely saw the PM. Two things that helped: 1) Take advantage of the expertise doing the reno. When we were called in to make a decision, we asked the guys what they thought. 2) Always have a copy of the blueprints on hand because the guys don’t consult them as they’re doing the demo and installation. This resolved a lot of questions quickly.

  18. I love the way you are sharing your planning and execution process. Thank you for inviting us along on your journey. You are so talented and I’m delighted to be allowed to watch you shape your exciting future.

  19. Demo is always the messiest most dramatic traumatic part of renovation. Things should only improve going forward. Keep your beautiful vision close. I used to walk around our unbuilt house in my mind every night.

  20. Going to be interesting to see how this goes for you. We just did a renovation, and the first month was great. Hell on earth started a month and a few days into the reno. If the project manager, and sub-contractors talk and talk a lot things should go well. Our PM was an idiot, and the contractor’s son, so we were against a brick wall. The PM made some huge mistakes and ended up costing his dad around 50k. Thankfully we had a very specific contract in place, that ensured we did get what we paid for.

  21. All good vibes from the maritimes. I’ve just finishes a year in a rental so I don’t envy you but I can’t wait to see your Reno completed.

  22. Renovation horror shows are always entertaining, aren’t they? We found that apparently some previous occupants of our house had lived on beer and sardines — they simply opened a window and threw the cans and bottles out. No artwork there, unless you think of it as an installation.
    Pleased that you have Furlow Gatewood and your lovely peacock painting with you for comfort, worth the effort of moving the painting every day. I’ve just noticed an interesting feature, the swallow in the top left hand corner. A reminder of Gustave Courbet, who painted a blue sky on the ceiling with swallows flying across it in every one of his studios, visible today in the only one of them which is open to the public.
    Bon courage, Laurel!

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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