exposed brick, and the bugs that come crawling out of it
yes, friends, you read that right. the title of this post is exposed brick and THE BUGS THAT COME CRAWLING OUT OF IT.
because one did, about a month ago. one GI-FREAKING-NORMOUS centipede came crawling out of my exposed brick wall at 10pm, and proceeded to turn me into a full on crazy woman (think oprah when she’s knee deep in “YOU GET A CAR!” mode). but before we get into that story, let’s take a bit of a stroll down memory lane, shall we?
when i first purchased the grand apartment, the living room looked like this.
and the back wall, in particular, looked like this.
looking at those “before” shots is kind of a trip, if i’m being honest. it looks so much smaller, doesn’t it? it’s amazing how much larger a room looks once there’s actual furniture in it (yes, i’m throwing shade at the dorm style fixture above).
exposed brick (see exhibit A, above) was high on my initial “must have” list, but most NYC apartments blessed with it (especially those in the east village/lower east side) are MUY TINY and MUY DARK. like, you would not believe how tiny and dark some of the units i looked at were. what are we, mole people?
so when we first toured the grand apartment, and there was no exposed brick in sight, i took it for what it was: a relatively large (by NYC standards) lower manhattan 1 bedroom that i could afford, and more importantly, that i could make my own.
it wasn’t until my electrician started chipping away at the walls to bring the outlets up to code that we noticed anything amiss. and by we, i mean me, because no one–not the electrician, not the construction workers, not my contractor–noticed it but me.
one muggy august morning (god bless you, new york summer), i rode down to the grand apartment to check on the electrical progress before work, and there it was, peeking out from behind the plaster: a little hint of reddish brown.
i knelt down amongst the debris, and peered into the small spot no longer covered by plaster.
“hey shmulik,” i called to my contractor, “can you come look at this?”
he, too, knelt down amongst the debris.
“is that brick? that looks like brick.”
“looks like it. a lot of these old buildings have brick behind the plaster.”
pitter patter went my heart.
“is there–could there be–do you think there’s brick behind this entire wall?”
“could be,” he answered nonchalantly.
NONCHALANTLY. AS THOUGH A GIANT WALL OF ORIGINAL 1920s BRICK WAS NO BIG DEAL.
i stood up, and dusted myself off.
“how much extra to open up the entire wall?”
he stared at me. behind him, a worker chipped away at the plaster, piece by piece, with a small hammer-like object.
finally, he spoke. “it’s a lot of work.”
“how much work?”
“a few days extra, at least.”
a few days, i could live with. for original 1920s brick, i could live with just about anything. i told him to move forward, and we’d deal with making up the time later.
and the rest, as they say, was history.
a little over a week later, the wall looked like this.
after move in, it looked like this.
magical, isn’t it? that wall is, by far, the best thing that happened to me during this renovation. for all the bullshit and the things that went wrong, my exposed brick wall is my miracle baby.
at least, it was, until i realized that exposed brick that’s, well, not meant to be exposed causes a few problems:
- so much dust
- BUGS. REALLY F’ING BIG ONES.
now that we’ve looped back to the present day, i’ll remind you of what came crawling out that beautiful brick one night.
is that not the most TERRIFYING BUG YOU HAVE EVER SEEN?! literally, i have chills just looking at it. WHY SO MANY LEGS?! WHY WOULD ANYONE EVER NEED THAT MANY LEGS? like, what else are you doing with your legs at any given time beyond walking on them? TWO WOULD SUFFICE. FOUR WOULD BE FINE. THIS MANY IS JUST ATROCIOUS.
the above, my friends, is a sight you can’t unsee. which is why, after dealing with the dust for months and telling myself i’d “get around” to sealing the brick wall eventually, a single centipede propelled me into action. and by propelled me into action i mean lit my ass on fire.
after almost 10 years in new york, i consider myself to be pretty good at this whole “alone” thing. i’ve learned to not just accept, but to embrace independence. that said, there is nothing – NOTHING, I TELL YOU! – that makes you feel the full force of your singledom like a giant centipede. especially one with that runs so fast you can’t possibly catch it.
suffice it to say that even after penny managed to get the centipede down off the wall and theoretically ended things, i stripped my bed clean of all blankets and pillows before climbing into it, and checked the inside of my toilet bowl before i sat down to pee (can you even IMAGINE one of those crawling into your butt?! i can’t). that night, i barely slept, and by morning, i had made it my mission to SEAL THAT BRICK. ASAP.
but that, friends, is a story for a different day. because as it turns out, like every other renovation task, sealing a brick wall is no small feat. that said, it’s a feat that i accomplished (with a little help from my fam), and i intend to show you how you can accomplish it too.
Okay so I have been wanting to ask this for awhile, why isn’t there art on that stunning wall? I’m assuming there is a reason. Super curious fan here!
mostly because i’m scared to drill into it. i’ve been told it can be done, with the right anchors, but the way that it crumbled when i washed/sealed it makes me a bit nervous. i’d love to put a giant mirror there, but that would be heavy and i have this nightmare that it’ll all come crashing down one night while i’m sleeping 😉
Ah, I understand. Well if you find something one day I think pretty much anything would look amazing up there!
You could lean a large mirror against it and it would look nice. As far as the centipedes go (God, I hate even typing that word), I can relate. I am renting a beautiful restored 1800’s carriage house with 12 foot ceilings and exposed brick walls and steel beams that are a foot thick, just beautiful, but about a week after moving in, realized I had company. I had been spraying like crazy around doors and windows, and then realized one evening when I saw one come out from the exposed brick that that’s where they’re coming from. Just horrific. They are nocturnal wanderers in search of water. They get in the sink and bathtub and scare the hell out of me.
oh my goodness, cindy, that carriage house sounds BEAUTIFUL!! centipedes are indeed terrifying. i’ve been told they eat other bugs, which i suppose is a blessing, but god are they scary.
So how did you end up fixing the exposed brick issue? I have exposed brick and I just found a centipede in my room. Please help!
there’s no perfect solve! i think they just like the brick 🙂 i sealed mine with behr clear sealant, but i’ve still had one or two centipedes since. old buildings, i suppose!