HOUSE: Newburgh + Vanity + Wearables

Should I be belting this?


This is a pretty hot look, right? Yeah, this is my basement-demolition suit. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to buy one of these things five years ago, because it’s kind of the greatest thing ever. If you’ve ever done demo work, then you know how completely filthy you get during the process. It sucks. Dirt and grime and plaster and dust and soot and everything else imaginable get everywhere,including into your hair, down the back of your neck, and into the fibers of your clothing.

This purchase means that I can work in leggings and a t-shirt and just throw my fancy white suit on over them (there’s even an elasticized hood to protect my hair!) and emerge, hours later, with nary a speck of dirt on my clothing. Fabulous.

So yeah, I’ve been working in the basement. A lot. I think I’ve clocked about 17 hours down there so far, and there are many, many, many more hours (years?) left to come. I’m actually having fun (!) though, in a weird way. I guess because anything I do can only be an improvement.

basement progress 1

basement progress 2

I know, I know, it still looks like a mess, but when you consider how it looked 20 days ago, it’s a pretty major improvement. I’ve filled up about 20 enormous contractor bags with various types of non-salvageable debris already, corralled an area of things to donate, and organized and condensed all of the stuff we’re keeping. Eventually there will be proper storage down there and it will all be put away, but at least you can walk across the room now…and more importantly, you can FIND STUFF.

basement progress 3

These shelves under the stairs were here before (I don’t think I got a photo of them), but they were a crazy, jumbled mess. I’d still like to see everything stashed in bins on the shelves to reduce visual clutter, but again, at least now I can find a tape measure or a screwdriver when I need it. I’m not sure I’m at a point yet with this basement where I should be talking about “visual clutter”, anyway!

basement progress 4

basement progress 5

See that? We took down a whole wall of paneling! It was really satisfying…and really disgusting. The basement was flooded with about 3′ of water once upon a time (probably due to a burst water pipe when it was a boarded-up HUD house), and the paneling basically comes down in thin, delaminated sheets. As you can see, the brick underneath is worse for the wear because of the water damage too, but fortunately this isn’t an exterior wall.

Evan pulled down all of the furring strips on the rafters left over from the former drop ceiling, but we decided to leave the furring strips on the wall on place in case we want to put up new paneling—we’ll see. You can buy pre-painted sheets of white beadboard-style paneling that’s rated for moisture resistance in below-grade applications (see link below), and it looks pretty good. Certainly better than the brown stuff that’s down there now, and also better than crumbly brick with layers of peeling paint on it!

I also pulled up about 450 square feet of vinyl floor tiles, which was grueling…but again, really satisfying. We’re thinking we’ll probably just give the floor a good scrubbing and paint it with basement/garage floor paint. I’m not going to worry about the unevenness. We can patch anything really egregious, but we don’t want to pour a whole new floor. I figure I can always throw down a few sisal mats to make the space a little less cold.

Tricia Foley's basement
Designer Tricia Foley‘s basement // Photographed by Eric Piasecki for Martha Stewart Living

Okay, humor me for a minute. I know my basement is never going to be this nice, but I can at least use this as a point of inspiration, right? We’re going to be leaving our rafters open, and I think painting everything up there with a fresh coat of white paint will really go a long way toward brightening the whole space up. I also love the way the beadboard paneling has been cut to fit around the rafters rather than stopping underneath, which is what I usually see in paneled basements. You won’t be seeing an open fireplace or picnic table in my basement, though, sorry. It’s for the best!

ETA: This is the info card for the moisture-resistant beadboard-style paneling I mentioned. The price is for one 4×8′ sheet. We saw it at Lowe’s, but I’m sure there are other places that sell it.

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  • Reply Karen @sugarspicelivin February 22, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Good luck!! Sounds like a tough job, but I guess someone has to do it. And I love your inspiration.

  • Reply Margaret February 22, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    buahahahaha! did you take the credit card home again!?!!

    • Anna @ D16 February 22, 2011 at 5:51 pm

      I don’t get it! What?

    • Margaret February 22, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      sorry, it’s a Jeff Lewis from Flipping out reference. he makes his staff wear those when they mistakenly take the credit card home with them.

    • Anna @ D16 February 22, 2011 at 5:58 pm

      Oh, sorry! That’s the second time someone’s made that reference and I didn’t get it! I haven’t had TV for a while, so I’m about three seasons behind on that show. 😉

  • Reply Fiona February 22, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Um hello? Yes, there’s something strange in my neighbourhood, who’m I gonna call? There’s an invisible man sleeping in my bed. Who’m I gonna call? (lemme tell ya something, bustin makes me feel good)

  • Reply Tristan February 22, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Enormous. Undertaking. You are inspiring me to clean out our scary garage of d00m.

    Well done. You deserve two cookies and a fancy mixed drink.

  • Reply Samantha February 22, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    So awesome – I can definitely see the improvement! And good call on that hazmat-esque suit. I’m planning to help my parents with their not-really-touched-in-20-years basement, so I’ll be investing in one or two of those!

  • Reply Michelle February 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Would love to know more about the pre-painted bead board for the basement. Where did you find it and how pricey is it?

    • Anna @ D16 February 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm

      I’m sure they sell at other places too, but locally we priced it at Lowe’s for about $21 for a 4×8 sheet.

  • Reply Sarah February 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks for sharing your basement renovation with us! I’m excited to see the progress you make. We have a similar, unfinished basement and I’m always on the lookout for ideas on how to make it more inviting and organized so our kids will want to play down there more often! Would you mind sharing sources for the beadboard paneling? We’re looking at painting our concrete floor and ceiling rafters, but covering the ugly concrete walls might be a great improvement. Thanks!

    • Anna @ D16 February 22, 2011 at 7:12 pm

      We saw it at Lowe’s for about $21 for a 4×8 sheet.

  • Reply Grumble Girl February 22, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Uch. I remember doing ours too… now it’s just a refuse-filled mess, though underneath it all, it’s “finished.” I would really like to repaint. And purge. And shop for other nice things… love your inspiration photos! If only we could have a fireplace in the basement (*swoons*) I might consider living down there. Okay, maybe not… but hoping to make it a good space soon. Yours is gonna be so great, Anna, I just know!!

    And indeed – perhaps a patent cherry red belt… and pointy shoes. BEAUTIFUL!!!

  • Reply Stephanie February 22, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Vast improvement! Congrats!

  • Reply Sarah February 22, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Kudos on taking on a terrifying basement. Ours is pretty bleak, too, and we are going to take it on this spring.

  • Reply Bunny @ 86'n It February 22, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    I can’t help but post this photo link because I do, in fact, belt my hazmat suits. (With two belts!) Then I tuck the legs into knee socks and duct tape gloves to my hands. Yes, that is how nasty our crawlspace was. Dead cats people. Dead. Cats.

    • Anna @ D16 February 22, 2011 at 9:02 pm

      HAHAHA, that photo!! Wow.

      Also, ewwww. I don’t think I could handle that level of nasty. 🙁

  • Reply jeannette February 22, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    this kind of work really makes me think humans are wonderful. which i don’t, always. and the outfit is hott.

  • Reply Amanda February 22, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    ANNA! This is great, truly, but you are KILLING ME WITH THESE POSTS! What! About! The! Random! Light!?!?!?? I have been checking everyday for the unveiling! Do not even TELL me you haven’t retrieved it from Dan yet!? Oh oh oh! I want to live vicariously through your lucky, lucky find! When will all be revealed so that I can drool over it?

    • Anna @ D16 February 22, 2011 at 10:44 pm

      Oh, I have the lamp, but it’s going to be a while before I can hang it. We’re not 100% sure of the location, and even then there are a few other things that have to happen first. It takes us a long time to finish projects! 😉

    • Amanda February 23, 2011 at 8:15 pm

      Oh you! Fine. I will wait. But only because you post the most gorgeous photos and have adorable dogs and really great clothes.


  • Reply Amy February 22, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    The progress in your basement is very impressive! And I think painting the rafters and the floor will really look nice and clean and bright! I actually really like the brick, and if it were me I’d try to brush off the paint, but that is probably a huge pain, and I understand the appeal of white beadboard.

    • Anna @ D16 February 22, 2011 at 10:47 pm

      You can’t even imagine how much brick there is, though! It’s a 900 sf basement, with multiple interior walls. Also, the brick is so damaged from water in areas that it really does need to be coated to prevent further erosion—not the mention the enormous amount of dust it creates. Furthermore, it’s a “soft” brick, and removing the 3+ layers of thick paint (most likely lead-based) would severely compromise its integrity. It’s really not a possibility. Our choices really are to either seal the crumbling areas and cover the walls, or remove the flaking paint and repaint.

      Remember, this is a basement—it’s not the outside of the house, or even a living space! 😉

  • Reply Alice@AliceinDesignland February 22, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    The top pic made me laugh…..REALLY HARD. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply Diane February 23, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Awesome. I kind of dig the hazmat suit look. It would make getting dressed in the morning a lot easier.

  • Reply Tux February 23, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Wow! I have been totally obsessed with your blog ever since you were a runner up for AT’s Homies. I only found you recently but over the course of a few days looked at every post all the way back to the beginning. One of my favorite posts was the recent “Don’t go into the Basement”
    You seriously killed me with that handsome fellow lurking by the washing machine.
    Earlier today I was thinking, hmmm. I wonder when we’ll hear more about any progress with that basement.
    I can’t wait to see the finished transformation!

  • Reply Tania February 23, 2011 at 1:00 am

    I have no doubt your basement is gonna end up looking better than those pics.
    But to answer the important question: Yes. Belt it.
    I’m thinking you need some Super Hero belting inspiration:

    Oh My God – I can see it now… you and Daniel should dress as renovation superheroes for your TV show… I see capes… I see high boots… I see you in a white lucite mini skirt… black knee high boots, a white lycra jumpsuit with a big black droplet on your chest… a necklace of mini eames chairs… I can really see it. I think your kryptonite should be chairs. If you should meet your nemesis, all they need to do is ask you sit on this (indicating a beautiful MCM chair) and you’ll crumble… but don’t worry… the masked Daniel will save you with carefully applied paint and electrical tape…

    On second thoughts, maybe you should be saving the chairs…
    I can see it now… a gagged and handcuffed lady is sitting on a butterfly chair in a basement. You save the chair and leave the lady.

    OK… I better go now… can you tell I should be working on my tax return?

  • Reply Devon February 23, 2011 at 3:31 am

    You know what those suits are really good for? Sledding. Run up to the top of a snowy hill and belly flop. Just make sure you know what’s at the bottom…

  • Reply anne b. February 23, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Wow, you’ve done so much already!
    I don’t have a basement in my apartment (it being an apartment), but when I know one of my non-living storage spaces is organized & clean, I feel better about my whole place. Like somehow my mental ‘map’ of my apartment is changed.

  • Reply the brick house February 23, 2011 at 6:09 am

    you remind me of the abominable snowman in that getup! Like this guy, but cuter.

    • Anna @ D16 February 23, 2011 at 8:11 am

      HAH! Yeah, I definitely have a better pedicure than him.

  • Reply bliss February 23, 2011 at 8:28 am

    omg, i really thought you were seriously wearing that as an “outfit” and i was going to scream, YES A BELT or maybe an open flame. but honestly, i had a yellow cotton flannel outfit exactly like this in the eighties, with which i wore a bubble gum pink belt. in public. for real.

    anyway, you have done a great job so far in your basement, and i think you will be able to make it just as beautiful as the inspiration shots 🙂

  • Reply beth c February 23, 2011 at 8:40 am

    good idea with the suit… I actually wear one occasionally at work, seeing as I work around hazardous waste, so I know the wonderfully feeling of peeling off the filth with the suit and being clean underneath!

  • Reply kate February 23, 2011 at 8:53 am

    ever watch Flipping Out (with Jeff Lewis)?…he makes his assistant wear one of those in public to humiliate her if she messes up…she belts! really helps with the mess?…duly noted…! thanks….oops…just read the above comments…someone already commented on the Jeff Lewis referance…!

  • Reply Dan @ Manhattan Nest February 23, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Damnnnnnnnnnn. In case there was any question, Anna’s right—she’s put in a HUGE amount of work!! I can’t believe you pulled up all those tiles (how did you end up doing THAT?)! I’m a little jeals that Evan got the honor off pulling the furring strips off the rafters. I’m sure it wasn’t as fun as it looked like it might be in theory, but it seemed like it would be so satisfying.

    well. I’m just so proud. keep it up and let me know when you need an extra set of hands!

    • Anna @ D16 February 23, 2011 at 10:23 am

      The adhesive under the tiles (which I’ve decided was COMPLETELY SAFE AND FREE FROM ANYTHING TOXIC, so let’s please never speak of it again) was so dried out that the tiles really just popped up by sliding a wide pallet knife underneath. Time consuming, yes, but not especially difficult.

      You are MORE than welcome to come up and help remove paneling! As soon as it’s down (which I actually think can happen with one day of solid effort), we’re going to have our junk guy come and haul away all of the crap that’s piled up everywhere. That will be an amazing moment!! And then the real fun can begin…

    • Dan @ Manhattan Nest February 23, 2011 at 11:26 am

      haha, you know I’m the LAST person to get in anyone’s face about toxicity and shit. I’m still under the impression that I’m invincible and impervious to home-related health hazards. I treat my house well, therefore my house likes me, therefore it’s not also trying to kill me. Solid logic.

      Demo! Love demo. It’s so rewarding. And with the SUIT?! We could do ANYTHING.

    • Anna @ D16 February 23, 2011 at 11:39 am

      “I treat my house well, therefore my house likes me, therefore it’s not also trying to kill me.”

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure there was an episode of This Old House that gave that exact advice.

  • Reply Laurie Jones of House to your Home February 23, 2011 at 11:07 am

    You look like one sexy beotch in that suit! It makes me think Jeff Lewis of Flipping Out is punishing you for taking home is checkbook!! I can’t believe how much work you did! Who needs a gym membership?!

  • Reply michelle February 23, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Love this! Can’t wait to see what you guys do, it will be soo pretty. How fun is that suit, dude, pretty hot.

  • Reply maxwell February 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    If I walked into a basement and saw you wearing that, I would scream and run away. Especially if you were standing exactly like you are in the top photo.

    This being said, my basement is far worse than yours in terms of extreme disorganization. There are probably dead bodies hidden behind the piles of garbage we have down there. Basements in general are just terrifying.

  • Reply erin@designcrisis February 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Holy BLEEP I cannot fathom how much work you’ve done down there. It seems like renovating Casa 16 is a full time job… I don’t know how you find time to do it all!

    ps: the outfit is genius.

  • Reply Pistachio February 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    My god girl! That basement is a full time job! I know that reno will be in my future, the B.F. and I were looking at homes in Ossining this weekend. Our price point is LOW so fixing and reno will be our reality sooner than later….
    P.S. Take a look at this house:
    Cute right!

    • Anna @ D16 February 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm

      Super cute, and that is a LOW price for Ossining for sure! But yikes, the taxes…

      Have fun renovating for the rest of your life. 😉 (It really IS fun, I’m not being sarcastic!!)

  • Reply Dusa February 23, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    We gave a hazmat suit, complete with gloves, booties, and dust mask to the male half of an expectant couple as a baby shower present (labeled as ‘diaper changing suit’).

    I giggled to myself when I saw the ‘shell chair graveyard’ in the basement.

    • Anna @ D16 February 23, 2011 at 11:39 pm

      They’re not dead! I swear! 😉

    • RebeccaNYC February 24, 2011 at 12:14 am

      yes, I have a question about the chairs. fess up…how many do you own?

    • Anna @ D16 February 24, 2011 at 8:49 am

      Chairs in general? Or Eames shell chairs?

      If it’s the former, uh…I have no idea. A lot?

      If it’s the latter, well…gimme a second and I’ll do a rough count. Somewhere around 20, if you count the wire (DKR) chairs, too. All are vintage, all were as cheap as (or cheaper than) stuff you might find at IKEA, and most are either awaiting rehabilitation or have already undergone major overhauls.

      And I really DO use them! As recently as Thanksgiving, in fact. 🙂

  • Reply Laurie February 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Love the suit! The basement is getting there. 🙂 Your basement and our shed have kind of the same thing going on. Our shed filled with stuff from two previous sets of homeowners and all my brother’s junk and a bunch of my junk and broken construction materials, had a dead squirrel in the corner, and is apparently a giant toilet for either raccoons or possums or neighborhood cats or all of them. I… just kind of want the ground underneath it to swallow it whole so that I never have to think about it again.

    But what I really wanted to say was, remember a while back when you posted the recommendation for Mario Badescu? I went to their website and filled out the survey, and they sent a nice envelope full of samples. The Enzyme Gel Cleanser is soooooooo good. I have temperamental, sensitive skin with rosacea, and there are pretty much NO cleansers on earth that don’t turn my face into a painful, red, horrible oily slick. But the Enzyme Gel Cleanser works. It’s really great stuff, and my skin feels so niiiiiiiice. Thank you for the recommendation. 😀

    • Anna @ D16 February 23, 2011 at 11:41 pm

      Laurie, I’m just going to skip over the possum toilet (ew!) and say YAY about the MB cleanser! I also have super-temperamental skin (I have acne rosacea), and the Enzyme cleanser is fantastic. Have you tried the calming cream yet?

  • Reply dgal February 23, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Your home is coming along beautifully! Your basement will be AMAZING, I am sure. I also think that you should belt the suit with a thin black belt 🙂 While reading your post, it stirred up a memory of a recent post I had read elsewhere on another blog and it left me quiet uncomfortable, maybe I am overreacting or being a it sensitive. The blogger had asked to be provided with fixtures and accessories in exchange for a post. I just wanted to know your thoughts on this. I am sorry if I went off topic a bit, just curious on what you think and wanted to know if I was crazy for letting something such as this leave a bad taste in my mouth.

    I look forward to seeing what you do with you basement 🙂

    • Anna @ D16 February 23, 2011 at 11:37 pm

      I’ll try to be as nice as I can in my response to your question. 😉

      That kind of thing goes on all the time—bloggers receiving compensation or goods in exchange for featuring certain products in their home remodels—and while I can’t really judge others for making that decision for themselves, it’s not a practice that I engage in. I also feel uncomfortable when I see it happening on other blogs, and if it becomes incessant, I will simply stop reading. If a fixture or material has been provided in exchange for constant promotion, the blogger’s opinion on that item is rendered meaningless for me.

      There is absolutely NO product placement on my blog whatsoever, nor do I receive compensation in any form from anyone, anywhere, for anything you see or read on my blog.

      Not everyone feels the same way about this stuff, though, and I accept that.

  • Reply cajeta February 24, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Put a bird on it!
    How about putting American Clay plaster on your brick? It can even go over the painted brick.

    • Anna @ D16 February 24, 2011 at 7:33 am

      I really don’t want to cover the brick with anything that would prevent its repair. (Remember, this is my basement! These are structural and foundation walls, and I’m not trying to turn this into a finished living space.)

  • Reply Natalie February 24, 2011 at 5:38 am

    Scary photo..!! but practical suit, I need something like it..mmm…

  • Reply mommy February 24, 2011 at 8:08 am

    The white suit is fantastic! You are not going to paint the basement until it gets warmer outside and you can ventilate the place, right?

    • Anna @ D16 February 24, 2011 at 8:42 am

      What are you, my mother? Oh, wait…

  • Reply Nicone February 24, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Hello. Good luck on the work on the basement. I just redid mine and I loved the demolition part of it, as well. The best part is being able to find stuff when we need it! And, yes, definitely belt!

  • Reply Becky February 24, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Wow, that’s amazing and hilarious. Mostly amazing. The basement is starting to look really good! It’s definitely a lot more organized. I bet by the end of this your basement will look 100x better than any other basement ever! Good luck!

  • Reply LH February 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Needs a red Devo hat and a belt. I immediately had “Whip It” playing through my head when I saw that picture.

  • Reply laurenjanelle February 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I definitely think your basement could be that beautiful. You’ll just have to wear that suit for a while before it will be.

  • Reply abigail Stone February 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    looking forward to seeing this transformation which i’m sure will be enviably fabulous. my money’s on it looking even better than your inspiration photos.

    oh yeah, love these suits! (me in mine:

    might have to have a party with these as the dress code.

  • Reply Simone February 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    The suit is still very white and clean.
    I’d stop and find out if you couldn’t strike a deal with Morgan from the Brickhouse who is decluttering in a professional capacity (for TV none the less) at the moment (maybe she could bring her puppy?).
    But I am lazy.

    • Anna @ D16 February 24, 2011 at 6:27 pm

      Morgan is 3000 miles away, otherwise I’d have her locked up in my basement already! Oops, I mean I’d be paying her to help me refurbish my entire house…

  • Reply megan February 24, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    question: what color white did you use on your walls and trim? We’re having the damnedest time finding the perfect white, and it looks like you found it already.

    P.S. that suit is the hotness.

    • Anna @ D16 February 24, 2011 at 6:28 pm

      Megan, you can find all of my various paint colors on my FAQ page. 🙂

  • Reply Erik February 24, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Loved that wall-panelling you tore down. I wonder what shipping to sweden would be?

    • Anna @ D16 February 24, 2011 at 10:45 pm

      I’m not sure if you’re being serious or sarcastic…!

      It’s not even wood. It’s sheets of cheap 1/8″ laminated chip-board with 3 feet of water damage, completely rotted and decayed. A total health hazard, completely disgusting, and never beautiful—even when it was brand new!

      Maybe the photos are making look like something it’s not?

    • Erik February 26, 2011 at 12:09 pm

      No, I totally love rosewood wall panelling, we never had alot of that stuff here in Sweden.Ok maybe yours wasnt the best exampleof this but I’m going for that 60’s bank executive look so..

    • Anna @ D16 February 26, 2011 at 12:14 pm

      I assure you this isn’t rosewood! It’s chipboard that’s been embossed to look like wood. It’s fake! Total garbage.

  • Reply Nina February 24, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Great progress on the basement!

    Those suits always remind me of Devo, although this one’s not yellow. I’d totally would wear a flower pot on my head and dance around singing while working on organizing the basement 😉

  • Reply Anna (twelve22) February 24, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Ah, I spend so much time daydreaming about beautiful basements, too. I have no money at ALL to spend on fixing mine up right now, so I’ve settled for just making it less disgusting, one bit at a time.

  • Reply Amy February 25, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    You are a brave one! Thanks for posting the picture of the basement with the white painted “ceiling”. I was just trying to sell my boyfriend on this idea and the photo will help.

  • Reply tara. March 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    i clipped that same martha layout for my inspiration pile…such an amazing basement! i’m sure your basement will be as lovely as the rest of your home :).

  • Reply chelsea locatelli March 9, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Hello shell chairs!?!?

    You are so amazing with this undertaking!! I still have nightmares from scraping popcorn-ceiling junk from our old house. I can’t imagine all the work you’ve been doing! But at least you’re doing it fashionably in your yeti-suit.

  • Reply white collar | green soul March 14, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    I’m going to say that you can DEFINITELY get your basement to look at least relatively as nice as that… I’m mainly saying this b/c it gives me hope that I can at least aim for the same thing. I think painting what you can white is key – first I have to de-cobweb though… gross.

    – agata.

  • Reply jessica define March 23, 2011 at 9:54 am

    great work on the basement–I figured you’d just paint the brick white but your panelling inspiration won me over, nice.

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