The New Apartment: Progress Tour

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Thank you so much for all your thoughtful comments on what you’d like to see on the blog. It was so clarifying and helpful for me. I wish I’d asked the question years ago!  Lots of you really wanted a peek into the apartment – and since I love seeing other people’s spaces, I totally understand.  We had a dinner party on Saturday and our friends were running a bit late so I took 15 minutes and took some iphone photos for you of our clutter free (at least temporarily) apartment.  The light was low and so the quality isn’t that high, but, at least you’ll get a sense of what we’d done and what remains to be done. I’ve tried to walk you through the flow (always something that frustrates me on house tours online!) and mentioned some of the sources. Here is the floor plan, if that helps you! If there is something you’re interested in and I don’t source it – just ask!  Also, I thought it might be fun to see two other apartments we’ve lived in. The first tour, on Design Sponge was seven years ago!  The second tour, on Cup of Jo, was three years ago. As you’ll see, a lot of the furniture is the same and so is my style! Ha!  Also, the photos on Cup of Jo are stunning and show what a professional photographer (Seth Smoot) and a stylist (Kendra Smoot) can do vs my crappy iphone pictures. 

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Here is a shot of the current state of our 36 foot windowless hallway (the entrance to the apartment is the far door.  I painted the hallway with Decorator’s White from Benjamin Moore Aura line (thanks to my friend Michelle).  I really liked the Aura paint and it was definitely low VOC.  No paint headaches.  The rugs come from Etsy seller CarpetsMall and were shipped in three days directly from Pakistan!   The light fixtures are from School House Electric and I use these pink light bulbs (I’m still a sucker from incandescent).   At the end of this hallway, you enter the dining room (below).
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This is a crappy picture but it shows the other end of the hallway and our narrow “entry way” landing zone.
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Note that I need one more frame! Ha!  Note also the poo bags!  Keeping it real, no stylin’ on this tour! The frames and mats are from Michael’s (a Jenny Komenda genius tip).  The bookcase was Tim’s father’s as a child and fits the space perfectly! So from here you enter into the dining room…
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This is my favorite room in the apartment. I love that you enter into all this natural light after the long dark hallway.  My desk is in the room and I spend most of days here!  You can just see the leg of my desk in the bottom right corner.  The rug is a bound remnant of wall to wall from the bargain basement at ABC Carpets.   The light fixture is vintage from Ebay. A search on “atomic chandelier” will turn up some nice options, if you’re looking!

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Here’s another shot of the dining room. The midcentury dresser is from Craigslist as are the Hans Wegner three leg chairs.  The table was a gift from Tim’s mother and comes from the Hanover Inn which is sweet because Tim and I met at Dartmouth (in the radio station, 17 years ago!! holy smokes I just did that math!).   The arm chair is from Tim’s family, too.  The palm is from Ikea.  The art I bought at auction and is by Matt Overend.

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As you can see in the floor plan, our dining room and living room adjoin. This is one of my favorite views in the house!  The brass scones are School House Electric and the hanging fixture is DWR.  The bookshelves are Elfa (love them!).  Blue velvet couch is Room and Board, as long time readers will know (we’ve had the couch as long as I’ve been blogging – aka 8 years!).Processed with VSCOcam with e1 preset

 

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My mom gave me the white chair when she moved out of her house in Vermont – it has pink piping!  The dollhouse is from Etsy. The antique dresser according to family lore holds that it was made by a family member who was a cabinet maker in Salem MA.  Who knows if that’s true or not but I like to think some relative made it with his own hands.  The basket underneath that holds all our wifi cords is from Home Goods. There is a door out of this shot on the right hand side that leads to the kitchen.

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I have lots of ideas for the kitchen.  It gets nice light in the morning, but has a large and not particularly nice fluorescent fixture that I’d like to replace. The floor tile (covered right now with self-adhesive blue carpet tile from Home Depot) is uneven and poorly installed.  That’s something else I’d like to eventually fix.  Also, as you can see the fridge doesn’t sit properly in the cabinets (all of this predates us).  The main problem, I think, is that the floor wasn’t leveled when the kitchen was renovated.  All of that said, it’s a nice kitchen and bigger than my last two so I’m not complaining!  The big forest print is a photo Tim took on our honeymoon and we had blown up and framed at Michael’s .

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Processed with VSCOcam with e3 presetThe rug is from Etsy and I’m VERY proud on my pot racks!  They are towel racks from IKEA!  Processed with VSCOcam with e2 preset

I’ve blogged about this little space off the hallway (sort of an entry way to the bathroom).  I’d thought of wallpapering this space but haven’t committed to any paper (or the expense of putting it up!).  The bedrooms didn’t photograph well (it was 8pm when I took this photos!) so that will be a post for another day.   The towels are from Garnet Hill.

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Good For A Laugh: A Tiny Hamster Tiki Party

Alex has been home sick for three days and as of this morning, Tim has succumbed as well.  I’m the last woman standing in this household, which is a good thing because the plumber is due to arrive at any moment to tear up our kitchen trying to get to a leak in the apartment below ours. #reallife #homeownership  

I subscribe to The Kitchn’s Daily Digest, and as I’ve said before and will say again, it is one of my favorite sites and I love to look through the digest first thing in the morning while I drink my coffee and generally wake up.  This morning the digest included this insanely cute video of a hamster having a Tiki Party (which may be an ad for Clorox) from Hello Denizen.  Alex and I sat at my computer and watched it three times.  I hope it makes you laugh as much as it made us laugh!  And wish me luck with the plumbers!

Printmaking with Gelatin & Jelly Roll Pans

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 11.13.38 AMThanks to Stephanie for pinning art teacher Cassie Stephens’ original project.  Head over to Cassie’s site for the full DIY which is much clearer than mine!

Alex and I spent the morning making these detailed leaf prints … using gelatin in a jelly roll pan! This takes a little planning because the gelatin takes a few hours (ideally overnight) to set.  I used two boxes of Knox Gelatin in three cups of water (note that Cassie suggests using more Gelatin and more water but I didn’t have more gelatin).  Once the gelatin is set, you roll on some paint, place your leaves (I used leaves from various houseplants and my mother’s day bouquet) and do the first print.  This will be high contrast.

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Then you remove the leaves and do another print.  This one will be very detailed, showing all the veins in the leaves.

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I used my own roasting pans, along with some acrylic black paint and printer paper.  The only “speciality” item that you might not have lying around is the brayer paint roller.  I’m sure you could use fancy paper but the printer paper and the acrylic paint dried fast, which was good because we made a TON of prints.  The first couple of prints come out kind of gloppy so don’t get discouraged!  The best and most detailed prints come after you remove the leaves and do a few prints.

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Thanks to reader Amapola for asking for a post on this after seeing it in my instagram!

A Question For You: What do you want me to blog about?

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Here’s a shot of my slow progress turning the new apartment into a home // a new striped dress I’m wearing today // some flame stitch upholstery I saw at a regional auction // some country house inspiration found on Pinterest and a new cutting board I’m crazy about (Thanks, Kate).

I really meant it when I said I was trying to blog more often.  I’m curious – what do you most enjoy seeing / reading here? And, what do you think about some new columns for the blog?  Let me know in the comments and as always, I so appreciate your time and insights. 

My ideas for new columns:

  • The first is an interview type conversation with an expert friend about an object, painting, interior, landscape or building and why it is important/interesting/beautiful.  We spend so much of our time online looking at images and mostly we don’t really talk about why we like a particular image.  So I thought it might be useful (all blogs need to be of use to their readers, after all!) to go just a bit deeper, without going too deep or too academic.
  • I’ve been thinking about starting a Design Book club for years – either virtually, with a facebook chatroom, or as a monthly post or live in person event (or all three, I guess).   Would that be interesting to some of you?
  •  I’ve always wanted to do the Daily Dose of Greens as an actual daily post.  Something you could depend on to bring a bit of serenity and beauty into your inbox or blog reader. Would you sign up for something like that?

Caught My Eye: Fun Elbow Patches

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Hi there!  If you’ve come over from Joanna’s blog for the first time, welcome!  If you’re a long time reader popping over because you’re curious what I’ve been up to recently, I promise I’m trying, truly, to blog a couple of times a week! I am much more active on Instagram these days – “Instagram! It’s the new blog! Ha!” So come over follow along if you like what you see. Thanks, as always, for reading! 

I just spotted this shibori patch sweater at Madewell, which reminded me of a sweater I bought at ASOS over the winter with faux tattoo patches on the elbows.  It’s turned into one of my favorite sweaters because it looks pretty simple and basic until you catch one red faux tattoo patches and then it’s kapowy!

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The one I have is sold out but they do have a cardigan version ($45) which might be good for icy air conditioned offices this summer?  Or, better yet, make one of your own!  Most of these are around $4.

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1) Magic 8 Ball patch, 2) Skull patch, 3) Lucky cat patch and 4) LOVE patch

 

 

Found: A Great And Unexpected Alarm Clock

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I’m not really a morning person in the first place, but the shock of waking up to a blaring alarm somehow always felt a bit like adding a tiny insult to the daily injury of waking up before I’m ready to face the day.  A few weeks ago I bought a fitbit at Costco, mostly because my husband has one and I like competing on our daily steps. I was also fascinated by the sleep data Tim was recording every night and somehow wanted in on this window into my subterranean sleep life. I’ve really enjoyed having it and definitely am walking more than I was before.   All of this is well and good and I’m sure many of you have fitbits and enjoy the data-watching as much as I do. However, the best part about the fitbit, in my mind, is the ALARM feature.  It vibrates against my wrist at 6:45 on weekdays and manages to not only completely wake me up (I’ve traditionally been a remorseless snoozer) without the blaring nature of a typical alarm.  Best of all, it doesn’t wake up anyone else.  And, if Tim has to wake up early (like 5am) his alarm doesn’t wake me up.   In any case, if you have a fit bit and you haven’t tried it – and if you’re an anti-alarm person, give it a try! PS my two cents: I would not recommend the fitbit I have – the Flex – the strap is ANNOYINGLY hard to close.  I like the one Tim has – the Fitbix Charge HR – it has a normal “strap” and is also a watch, which I find I keep wanting.  It’s a little wider and larger, but, I think worth it for the daily annoyance of putting it on.

 

Read This! Fairy Tales and A Gripping Radio Lab

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I went on a reading bender this weekend and read these fantasy / fairy tale retellings and enjoyed them all:

The Cold King by Amber Jaeger: There is nothing I love more than a Beauty and the Beast re-telling and this is a goooood one, folks!

Bound by Kate Sparkes:  Second to Beauty and The Beast retellings, I love any story that features healers with a bit of magic / journeys on horseback / a good romance.  This has all three, told in a compelling, readable way. I’m on the second in the series now.

 The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher : Sort of a Bluebeard retelling but definitely with more of a horror bent than some I’ve read.  As a gentle warning to long time readers, it is a little bit more gruesome than the books I typically recommend, but, I really enjoyed it for its very down to earth heroine who keeps her wits about her in some very chilling times.

Then, I just listened to this gripping Radio Lab about an urban voyeur.  Insert eyeball emoji!

 

3.30.15 – Daily Dose of Green

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Click through for lots more photos of the amazing house and gardens at Middlefield by Gil Schafer and Deborah Nevins.

Hey! It’s Monday! Don’t you wish we were sitting in adirondack chairs looking at this view and talking about everything and nothing while we drank our coffees?  Then, at some point, we’d take out our kindles and read whatever we wanted with no interruptions? CAN YOU IMAGINE?? HA! All I can say is we all need our dreams and they might as well be good dreams.

PS: Since fantasies only take you so far, and it is Monday, I’ll include this article on the scientific case for cold showers.  I’ve been thinking about it non-stop and trying to put it in practice – let me say cold showers are indeed COLD.

3.27.15 – Hello, Crocus, Clusters of Hammocks

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I visited a friend and long time reader of the blog last weekend and she looked at me with a sigh and said “I’m getting tired of seeing that cashmere dress every time I check for a new post” and that’s when I knew it was time to climb back up on the blogging horse. Nancy is always reminding me that life is full of cycles – of growth, of rest, of struggle and of ease.  So I guess that applies to my blog too, that it has it’s own bizarre life cycle of activity and rest. I’m not sure I totally understand the cycle but I’m giving over to it and making it ok that sometimes I take a break.  A few of you have emailed in the last couple of weeks, checking in and telling me that you missed my posts (mostly, it seems, my book recommendations! ha!).  Whenever I stop blogging it’s usually because I’ve started to feel that I’m talking to an empty room.  So I appreciate all your emails and the enjoyment you may take, small or large, from what I do here.  My crocus are pushing through the soil of my window box, so I take it that spring is around the corner. 

This photo from Deborah Needleman’s Instagram caught my eye this week while I was looking for images of her amazing garden.  Who doesn’t love a hammock?  But three, together? Seems like pure bliss.  Dreaming of summer days and relaxation from a currently grey and rainy NYC.

PS: Some book recommendations:

The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr I usually avoid short stories, since they leave me feeling like I didn’t get enough food at a cocktail party, but Doerr’s stories, especially the first, The Shell Collector are ELECTRIC. I’d say they are like getting hit by lighting but that sounds unpleasant.  So maybe it’s like riding a unicorn?  Not sure, so I guess you’ll have to read it and let me know how to describe them.  In any case, highly recommend!

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel  This is a post-apocalyptic story that features a traveling caravan of Shakespearian actors – any story with a caravan hooks me!  This took me a few chapters to get into it but once I did, I couldn’t put it down.

Small Victories by Anne Lamont  This is a collection of her work published elsewhere and so some of the essays are a little dated. I’ll admit I skipped a few of the essays that date to the Bush administrations, but, I like Anne Lamont because there is always one “truth arrow” in her writing that hits me right between the eyes and I think “yes! yes! she’s so right!”.  I was raised in a pretty agnostic household, so I always fascinated to read about people and faith and how faith sustains them.

I promise it won’t be another six months before I post again.

11.20.14 – Wardrobe for The Polar Vortex

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A little PSA from frozen NYC: Uniqlo’s cashmere dress is amazingly flattering and so cozy without being too hot (my constant problem with cashmere) and $129.  NB: My sister braved the seizure inducing lights of the midtown store with me and raved about how this could be a great holiday party dress.  In my reality, I’ve been wearing it to walk the dog and school drop off.   Still – hi or low, this dress is a new favorite around here.

11.15.14 – Down the rabbit hole

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I’ve been down the rabbit hole this last week – the Japanese organizing rabbit hole to be exact – reading and then implementing Marie Kondo’s practical, funny, spiritual guide to decluttering your home.  Joanna blogged about it last week, then a friend tweeted about it and finally I saw it in front of the register at the bookstore when I was checking out.   I bought it and read it in a day – I highly recommend it.

One aspect of this book that is very different from other organizing books/methods is that Marie connects to objects on a spiritual level and sees home as a spiritual place – for example, she thanks objects daily (her wallet, her worn out shoes, her sheets) for their help. While she doesn’t make the connection explicitly, I found myself thinking a lot about gratitude while reading her book and then decluttering the house.  I realized I’d slipped into an adversarial relationship with my house and many of my belongings – between moving and keeping the house organized (which often feels like a losing battle / a task for Sisyphus) somehow I’d lost some sense of fundamental gratitude for the apartment that shelters my family and the objects that we use everyday.   So getting back that gratitude was probably what I most appreciated about the book.

Marie warns, and I found this to be true, that her decluttering method can be emotional – there are reasons we all hold on to things long after we should have let something go.  The book goes deep – for example:

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life” and “The process of facing and selecting our possessions can be quite painful. It forces us to confront our imperfections and inadequacies and the foolish choices we made in the past … the things we own are real. They exist here and now as a result of choices made in the past by no one other than ourselves..This is why I’m against both letting things pile up and dumping things indiscriminately.”

If you’re not interested in the spiritual life of objects (no judgement here!) never fear – there is lots of practical advice in the book – from what do to with all those mystery cords that seem to be ever carried in with the technological tide to how to make the most of your closet space to how to fold clothes.

I will also note that she does not address households full of children’s toys nor what to do if you live any kind of creative life – art supplies – ideas for projects – inspiration books/papers/materials.  Her advice on paper is to simply throw it all out – which might work if you’re talking about 10 years worth of phone bills, but isn’t as applicable to any kind of creative process (at least, I don’t think so).  In any case, if you embark on this decluttering adventure, let me know!

 

 

 

 

11.5.14 – Wallpaper For A Tiny Space

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As you walk down our long hallway about halfway down the space opens up (see floor plan here) into a small antechamber – the bathroom and master bedroom are off this odd little space.   I love it when there are little moments of surprise in an apartment – and I think this space is perfect for a fantastical, over the top wallpaper.  The suprise would be that you can’t see the space until you’re right on it – so to have it be something green and lush in an otherwise long, narrow, dim Upper West Side hallway makes me happy.  Right now I’m really into the idea of having the space be almost bower-like with some sort of leafy/green wallpaper – and wallpapering the ceiling too.  So if you’re standing in this spot it feels like you’re in some beautiful green garden.  This Cole and Sons wallpaper is a current frontrunner – I have a sample up right now – however the colors are much more muted – almost pastel – than in the image above.   I also like the floral wallpapers at the bottom – I imagine the space would be a little bit like an English garden.  Given that we’re due another polar vortex this winter, I’d take a little English Garden!

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Leaves, by Galerie

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Lonn by Duro

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Reverie by Little Greene

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Traily Plant Silver – Louise Body

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Wisteria, Farrow and Ball

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Midnight Garden, House of Hackney