A Surprise in the Vestibule

The other day I had our shop-vac out (P.S. shop-vacs are life-changing) and was cleaning up the common area in the main front door of the brownstone, which we share with our upstairs neighbors. There's this really nasty, unfortunate commercial grade carpet everywhere in there and it's dark blue-gray so it shows every spec of dust, every sliver of newspaper. I pretty much hate it.

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Since my shopvac is so shockingly powerful, I kept accidentally sucking and pulling up the carpet piece on the vestibule floor. Suddenly I saw a flash of black and white tile under the carpet. 

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I felt like Charlie when he saw the little twinkle of the golden ticket so he ripped away the chocolate bar wrapper as fast as possible. That old carpet was up quicker than you can say "carrara marble with soapstone."

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After vacuuming and wiping up decades of dirt, I couldn't have been happier about my surprise discovery. It's definitely not perfect, condition-wise, but I love this 106 year-old original floor. Such character!

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And isn't this simple pattern a great design? Gracie says "It looks like chocolate chip ice cream or a Queen's fur coat." Love that girl and the way she sees the world.

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74 comments:

  1. Much better than the carpet! I saw something about restoring a marble threshold a while back that you could try to make it even prettier :)
    Cheers
    http://www.designsponge.com/2013/01/before-after-cleaning-and-restoring-marble.html

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  2. Beautiful! What a find! Love the history that you can find hiding in plain sight.

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  3. are you freakin' kidding?! that's awesome!

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  4. Only you could find such a sweet surprise. I think baking soda and hydrogen peroxide with dawn with get anything out....mix the paste, let it sit and then wash.
    What a surprise.
    pve

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  6. Awesome discovery! A beautiful classic!

    Houseofpemberley.blogspot.com

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  7. Isn't just unbelievable what you can find under crappy carpet sometimes? I've had a similar entryway experience and numerous discoveries of luminous wood floors! Cheers to you!

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  8. is that a Happy Accident? I love it, and it cleaned up so well...lucky you!
    xo Nancy
    Powellbrower.com

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  9. awesome! i love when that happens. instant character to a space you hated...happy day!

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  10. SWOON!!! What an amazing discovery!! And the cracks? Make it even more awesome. You got it, Gracie!

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  11. Well hello there beautiful floor! That would make my day:)

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  12. Your landlord must love you!

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  13. This makes me so happy and it isn't even my house!

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  14. This makes me so happy and it isn't even my house!

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  15. Lucky, lucky girl!! I wonder if there's any of that lurking under my 40 year old linoleum floor??

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  16. I'll take marble and soapstone with character any day of the week over indoor/outdoor carpet :) Who invented that anyway? So ugly!

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  17. The best kind of surprise!

    I peeled up linoleum once to find encaustic tile underneath and since then I expect/hope to find a treasure every time I pull up the corner of a carpet in a new apartment. What a treat!

    I checked out your shopvac link and now I'm intrigued. Do you only use that for dirty jobs or could you use it as your regular vacuum?

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  18. What an amazing find! And I love the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reference! Lol

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  19. Wow! That is a lovely floor!!!


    Emily
    eageremily.blogspot.com

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  20. What an amazing find! Unbelievable. Side note: whenever I hear the word vestibule I always think of the Friends episode where Chandler gets stuck in one with a model when the power goes out--haha.

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  21. Beautiful. Shocking it was even covered up in the first place!

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  22. The treasures you can find under carpet! Amazing!

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  23. Your landlord? Should be paying YOU!

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  24. LOOK AT THAT! Amazing! Seriously, ditto the comment about your landlord should be paying you. Who would ever cover up such beauty???

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  25. That IS a great discovery! 1000x better than old dingy industrial carpet.

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  26. oh, I disagree.... I think it "is" perfect!! Great find!

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  27. OMG, SO Gorgeous! What an amazing surprise!!

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  28. What a fantastic surprise! It's beautiful!

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  29. Amazing discovery! That pile of dirt that had been under the evil carpet makes me die a little.

    I love Gracie's observations. Tell her to stay awesome.

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  30. Amazing! Why would anyone cover that up? That's exactly the flooring I WANT in our vestibule. Nice find!

    http://simplymodernhome.com/

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  31. GASP! So so beautiful!

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  32. so beautiful? why on earth would anyone cover that up with carpet?!

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  33. What an amazing find!! I love how that looks.

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  34. I know this is slightly off topic but your post about your upstairs neighbor confused me (because I see stairs in your photos). Is your brownstone split down the middle so you have half and they have half or is there a third floor apartment ? Here in San Francisco the victorian flats are almost universally split by level and not down the middle and were originally built that way. Your brownstone was probably originally built as a single family and usually aren't very wide, right? What's the deal, inquiring minds want to know!

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  35. What an amazing discovery!!

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  36. What a wonderful surprise! Don't you just feel giddy wen something like that just falls into your lap!!

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  37. Wow, that's amazing!!! I love that pattern!

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  38. Oh man! What a great find!

    And what a sweet girl for thinking that way. I just see beautiful tile, she sees something much more interesting.

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  39. What a way to be welcomed home!

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  40. What an amazing find, a huge improvement from that carpet! Well done!

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  41. Is there any issue with pulling up the carpet? Obviously it looks 100% better with that beautiful marble but I was just unsure of what the building owner's rules are. Great find... classic design really never goes out of style!

    - Jaime
    www.southonbroadway.blogspot.com

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  42. what a fabulous surprise!! I wish I would find something that amazing under my ugly parquet floors!

    blair
    www.thefoxandshe.com

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  43. Amazing! I will always be baffled by the fact that people cover up beautiful things!

    Champagne Lifestyle on a Beer Budget

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  44. Lovely! Who knew you would uncover something with so much character?
    {lamourcheznous.wordpress.com}

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  45. We had a marble floor like that at my old office and we took a magic sponge to it, just to get off the top layer of grime that scrubbing didn't get. it look fantastic.

    http://pigtown-design.blogspot.com/2009/10/hallway-part-iv.html

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  46. Touch up any problem places on the black tile with a felt tip marker. I even touch up my car with one of those things. That tile is a great find. Ann

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  47. I have to say that I think A would be adorable!! I can also see a shirt paired with a black and striped shirt :) I LOVE your projects. The dress looks fabulous!! I think they're all nice.wholesale shoes china

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  48. You have some chemical cleaners which are used where I live for cleaning tombstones. You need a mask and gloves to work with it but the stone comes out very clean. You might need that for your "threshold" stone.

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  49. What a great find! That would make me so happy too! much nicer than that horrid carpet.

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  50. Thanks for bringing back a happy memory--my first apartment had black and white hex tile in vestibule (which I too scrubbed!) I then painted the (long) flight of stairs leading to my apartment, chinese red. Made my day, everyday!

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  51. Wow! Gorgeous and your daughter's description is perfect.

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  52. I love this! I was enjoying the whole amazing story, but Gracie's observations are what really got me. :D It does look like those things (queen's fur coat made me literally lol).

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  53. What a great discovery, I love the character it adds!

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  54. Great find! As kids, our parents had bought a row house in Park Slope. One day, my brother and I were rough housing and accidentally punched a hole in a passageway wall between the dining room and the large kitchen. My father shone a flashlight into the hole to ascertain if a stud was near the hole so an easy repair could be made and discovered a treasure instead. Long story short, someone had walled in a solid mahogany and lead glass floor to ceiling built-in server/sideboard! After tearing away the last of the wallboard, all the perfectly intact details were revealed. A quick vacuum and polish and it looked like a servant was ready to lay a porcelain service for tea - was Mom surprised when she came home. Never know what people are thinking when they cover such beauty...

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  55. Dear Caitlin,

    In answer to your question:

    NYC brownstones have a high outdoor staircase, known as a "stoop" from the old Dutch. The house is probably split horizontally, with Jen having the areaway or half basement/garden floor and the main, or parlour floor, with an internal staircase between. The main door on the parlour floor, would lead to the vestibule, a long hall and a grander staircase rising to the upper level (or two) When these homes became multiple dwelling, the long hall was often sealed at one end (and became a long closet for those living on the parlour floor) so the upper tenant could just walk upstairs to their flat. The staircase is always at the the extreme left or right of the building's interior, leaving the rest of the floor free for larger rooms.

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  56. Children view the world in such a delightful way!

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  57. I'm so happy for you and your new discovery. You found a golden ticket!

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  58. I hate to be a sourpuss, but I'll bet that floor is slippery when wet. With today's litigiousness that may be why there was a cover-up... I don't want to rain on your parade, but your landlord may not be pleased that the marble is now exposed.

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  59. Never understood why people would put down carpet over nice floors! It looks great. :)

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  60. Wow, that's gorgeous! So awesome!

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  61. WOW!! Oh happy day! That looks a thousand times better tan the nasty carpet.

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  62. What a lucky surprise! It looks great :)

    Liz

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  63. Love it!!! Love the tile designs (wish I could be that creative with tile!) Can't wait to see it in person!
    white marble tile

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  64. Why would anyone cover that up! I love it.

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  65. THAT. IS. AMAZING! what a fun find. that would have made my week - and what a great surprise to see every time you walk out your door now!

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  66. THAT. IS. AMAZING! what a fun find. that would have made my week - and what a great surprise to see every time you walk out your door now!

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  67. Lovely! I like Grace's comments. And I'm also curious about the shop-vac. Was that the solution to your Dyson/ Miele dilemma? Do you use it for every job?

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  68. Oh wow! Talk about a lucky find! Nothing is prettier than natural stone floors :) Now if only I had that luck when we pulled up the carpet from our front porch...

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I so appreciate hearing from you. Nice comments make my day! Thanks for keeping things light here, friends! :)