1916 Row Home, Crafting

Rhinebeck and other Knitting Things

Guys I have a secret… I have another blog. One dedicated specifically to knitting. I started it last year meaning for it to be a site for aggregating knitting news and information, but didn’t have the time to put into it. The idea was that it would be sort of like a long-form Pinterest board to save knitting stuff I care about. Now it’s just sort of my awkward spot for writing about my own knitting. I haven’t figure out exactly how I plan to approach having two separate places for stuff. For a while at least I’ll probably cross post things here. Like this post about my trip up to Rhinebeck, NY for the annual Sheep and Wool festival. Spoiler alert: I bought some yarn.


I’ve been doing a ton of knitting, so at least for the next few months there will probably be a fair amount of activity there. I do have a bunch of stuff to post here about the house I’m working on, but I’m waiting until that whole project is wrapped up to share more. Mostly because I haven’t had a chance to get any decent photos lately. Between work, kids, the house, and my husband’s ice cream shop it’s easy to let stuff fall through the cracks. But in case you’re waiting with bated breath, here’s a crappy cell phone shot of the kitchen!



Removing carpet staples
1916 Row Home

How to Remove Old Carpet and Flooring Staples

Our 100 year old house came with wall to wall carpeting everywhere except the kitchen and bathroom.

Old blue carpet

Actually there’s evidence there was once carpet in the kitchen too.

Kitchen carpet scrap

I ripped out all the carpet and found all sorts of things, like this very old outlet that had just been carpeted over at some point. I hope they had the common sense to disconnect the outlet first, but who knows. We put all new outlets in so now this thing can be safely removed.

Hidden Outlet

The flooring under the carpet is indeed solid wood, and it’s in OK shape, but it’s really just 100 year old subfloor. At some point it was painted brown. It has been carpeted over many times and the carpet padding was a disintegrating sticky mess. It left behind at least 60 years worth of rotting wood tack strips, rusted nails, and gunked up staples.

Old carpet padding

The tack strips can be removed with a pry bar and some patience, but the carpet staples are trickier. For a while I was using a pair of normal pliers and then the plumber took pity on me and lent me a pair of end cut pliers. It makes the task much easier.

It’s worth mentioning that I have heard this particular tool called a “cross cutter,” “end cutter,” and “side cutter” by various people. End cutter looks the most correct to me, so I’m going to go with that one.

I also have a teeny tiny pry bar that I use for the ones that are really flush to the floor. It came in a 3 pack of adorable pry bars and they’ve been super handy during this whole process.


The first step is to find a nice line of staples to work on. I find it easiest to work in one small area at a time. Keep a handheld brush or broom handy so you can keep the area clean and see what you’re doing.

Old Carpet Staples

Sometimes there’s a ton of padding around the staple, to the point where you can’t even see which way it faces. Use the tiny pry bar to scrape away gunk until you can see your target. Then place the pliers over it and gently grab it. You don’t want to actually cut it, just grab it.

Removing carpet staples

Then rock the pliers to the side in order to pull up the staple.

Removing carpet staples


Removing carpet staples

Some staples need to be coaxed up a bit with the pry bar first, and a few staples were so stuck I actually had to get a pair of vice grips to get them out. But most of them come out pretty easily this way. It’s still not a quick process, but if you get into the swing of it there’s a nice sort of tedium. Keep sweeping up as you go, the little bits of carpet fuzz and staples get everywhere and if you don’t stay on top of it you won’t be able to see what you’re doing.

One thing about this process is that it’s pretty hard on your hands after a while. Take breaks and stretch out your wrists, no one wants to get carpal tunnel from staple removal!

Bare original floor
1916 Row Home

Preparing the Kitchen

The photo below shows the old kitchen in the house I’m remodeling. It was taken from the doorway and shows pretty much the whole room. Notice anything missing?

Small, cramped kitchen

That’s right, this kitchen lacks a stove. There actually is a stove, it’s in the room behind the kitchen on the same wall as the sink. This means that if you have a pot of hot something on the stove you have to carry it around the corner into another room. There’s no counter space next to the stove, so you’ve got nowhere to set things besides the stove itself. The paneling, flooring, and cabinets are all things I could live with; having the stove another room was not.

On one wall we’ve got a giant window and giant radiator taking up nearly all the space. On the other (next to where I’m standing taking the above photo) we’ve got a door to the basement, significantly cutting into where we can put things. The previous owners put the fridge in the middle of the room which I guess makes sort of a work triangle with the back room stove but… ugh.

Empty kitchen

The first major step was to move that doorway. I put it around the corner, in the dining room. This gives us more space in the kitchen as well as a small storage area behind the door at the top of the basement stairs.

Doorway moved

That hole above the new drywall is for the central air! We ended up hanging new sheetrock over this wall. Underneath the wood paneling it was in pretty rough shape. Before the wood paneling, which tore up the plaster with a million nails, someone had glued a faux tin textured… thing… and it wanted to take the plaster with it when it came down. Sheet rock over plaster isn’t my favorite thing in the world, but in this instance it was our best option.

Old and new doorways

With the doorway moved we installed a new prehung door and fit it with trim to match the rest of the house. On the left is the existing doorway to the kitchen with original trim, and on the right is the new door with new trim. The wide angle camera lens I used is doing some funny things with the perspective, the door looks much wider than it really is. In reality the space between the door and doorway is wider than the door itself.

The contractors removed the cabinets and moved the utilities. I was all excited to start putting it back together. And then I started looking at the flooring, which I was going to just floor over with click-lock vinyl. Specifically I looked at the spot where the cabinets had been to figure out what I was going to do about it.

Old kitchen carpet

Why yes, that IS carpet. The flooring here is more than half an inch thick, and that’s after I’d peeled up the first layer. There are at least 3 layers of flooring here and they’re all rotted / falling apart. The thought of putting even more thick flooring on top of that made me a bit ill. I made a somewhat hasty decision to take it all out.

Bare original floor

All things considered this part wasn’t too bad. It took my dad and I about 3 hours, the last of which was just removing all the *&@$# nails from the floor. The hardest part was that it’s just really dark in there. The recessed lighting isn’t working yet, and with all the rain we’ve had there wasn’t much natural light coming in. My dad brought a small work light (sitting on the window sill) which helped… unless one of us was standing in front of it. “Hey where’d the light go?” “I’m a human eclipse!”

Kitchen rear

With the flooring out I think we officially have a blank slate with this kitchen. The next step is to finish and sand the walls. Then we put in the flooring and replace all the trim. Once the trim is in we can paint. Of course by “we” I really mean my contractor. I’m also having my contractor hang the mounting rails for the cabinets because the wall they’re going on is masonry and I don’t have any of the equipment needed. Then I can build and hang the cabinets myself.

Ikea kitchen design

I’m using Ikea SEKTION again, because it’s affordable and since I’ve used it before it’s a known quantity. I also like that it’s modular, meaning if a tenant destroys one of the doors I can pick up a replacement locally and install it with minimal hassle.


The layout isn’t perfect but I think it’s the best we’re going to do on the budget I have. Moving the radiator and resizing the window wasn’t an option for this project. The radiator pipes in the southwest corner keep me from taking the cabinets all the way into it. It’s a bit of an awkward space, but still not nearly as bad as having the range in a totally different room!

I still need to decide what I’m doing for the backsplash. The cabinets will be white and the counters I’m going with are a black and white textured granite called ‘white mist,’ which I’m hoping will be forgiving when it comes to hiding minor tenant damage. The floors will be a warm wood look vinyl plank.

White Mist Granite Slab

I’m trying to find an affordable tile backsplash with some color in it but I don’t want it to feel completely dated in a few years. If anyone has suggestions I’m all ears!