All posts by Melkorka

Melkorka Kjarval is a New York City based web/graphic designer. During the lucky moments she is fixing up a modest Greek revival farmhouse that she shares with her sisters in the Western Catskills. This blog is a visual catalog of projects & goals and inspiration.

Of the things I miss most…


image from Martha Stewart

When we got the house there were a few problems – namely the house had been gutted by copper thieves. All the copper pipe for the supply lines to all the kitchens and bathrooms, and the gas lines for the ranges, and all the piping for the hot water radiators (along with the actual radiator fins inside the radiators) were taken. So we had no heat – or water to begin with – slightly a nightmare. The first week or so i ran a hose from the cellar outside the house and through a second story window so that we could fill up the toilet to flush it. Very romantic. If I ever had to choose between modern electricity and plumbing – plumbing will always win. Then again what would I do without TV or the internet… hmmm

Anyways! the house had also stood empty for 2 years, so it smelled a little musty and funky. Also the sellers had ‘taken care of’ a few roof leaks by placing large garbage cans underneath them. That doesn’t actually fix anything – note to sellers – and removing moldy homasote and fiberglass insulation, and finding the occasional rodent body – not so fun!

Thankfully one of the guys who works with my Dad over at the farm is a wizard with PEX plumbing – which is flexible, doesn’t burst as easily when it freezes and forgoes the whole copper by the pound thing… but what I really miss – especially when in construction mode and going through socks like they are disposable paper towels is a washer and dryer … Having to lug all my laundry over to my parents farm to use my mother’s laundry machine makes me feel like a messy college student.

So here are some photos of delicious laundry rooms that I would love to have a version of eventually -clean, with a natural light and maybe even preferably a large fiberglass shower that I could wash the dogs in and even hose down a piece of vintage furniture if need be… ah dreams…

Going Green

image (and idea) from no462

I love the color green – especially since I miss it in the winter – we are painting one of the back doors (the one we use most often right now) this pretty ‘palm frond’ green by valspar – I am so excited, the house is painted in a lot of cream white (not my favorite) – and because the door eventually will probably be replaced by a period window so its not a huge commitment. Below is the actual door (notice how dirty it is!!!) with me holding the color swatch against it.

update! see finished door here

The Start

Here is just another renovation blog.

Here is the story – I grew up on a farm in upstate NY and when I am in city I invariably miss the country. So my siblings and I often end up back at our parents farm – so much so that during the summer it is a bit like living at home again (that is, if your version of home involves a working farm). So my sisters and I bought a dilapidated little farmhouse in the town over from our parents place and we are hoping to fix it up into an elegant little number.

This is the Greek revival farmhouse that we bought. My photographer sister took this series of photos the day after the closing when we hadn’t touched anything. It looks a lot cleaner in these pictures than it is right now – plaster, sawdust and moldy drywall have a way of working themselves everywhere.

The original house was probably built in the 1850’s- 1870’s and has expanded along the kitchen el to incorporate what used to be a woodshed. In the 60’s the new owners built a new house to the north of the property and converted our house into three apartments. Eventually the land was subdivided leaving 4 acres with our house.

There are three extremely small outdated kitchens, three small bathrooms, three mudrooms and when we bought the house there were 4 small bedrooms. In order to turn the three units into one unit we had to remove two of the bedrooms so that we could access the back apartment. Being that the house is about 150 or so years old – and has had three separate units for almost 50 years there have been various ‘updates’ in each apartment over time that have signs of each era. One of my favorite touches is the brick floor linoleum in the back apartments dining area. An upside to renovating an apartment house is that most of the changes were cosmetic, and because the layout isn’t original, it gives us the opportunity to choose a modern floor plan without being afraid to ruin any historical details. Let us hope the process proves interesting and not disastrous! And now to work.