Rent This Rustic Island Cabin in Jamestown

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

This past weekend, we headed up the coast to Rhode Island for a three-day weekend. We'd been to Newport a few times before, but availability (and prices!) of accommodations in peak summer months compelled me to look a little further afield for a place to stay, and I am so glad they did! We rented this adorable cottage in Jamestown, RI from local artists, David and Jennifer Clancy, which we found on AirBnB.
The property is immediately adjacent to the Jamestown Windmill (built in 1787). The Clancys live in the old miller's house and rent out a small cabin at the back of their property (you can see its roof behind the windmill above). The landscape is so beautiful. I cannot stress how immaculate the grounds of their property are: The plantings are thoughtful, the stone walls are perfectly stacked, the lawn is ready for its close up--even the mulch around the trees is even perfectly placed.

The back side of the cabin has wooden decks, Adirondack chairs, and a firepit--plus, an incredible view of the Newport Bridge. To the right in the photo above, you can see the enclosure for the outdoor shower and sink (the bathroom is located in the couple's glass-blowing studio nearby).

Inside it's just a single room with a bed, a table and chairs, and a few conveniences like a mini fridge and a microwave, but it's really all you need for a weekend away. If you're headed up that way in the warmer months (the cabin has no heat), I would definitely recommend staying at this adorable little house.

Jamestown itself is a lovely village, and I preferred staying there to staying in Newport--it felt like more of an escape from the city, which was exactly what we needed.

Rental information on AirBnB. As of this writing, there are a few summer weekends left, if you're thinking of booking a trip.

Digest 6.26.15

Friday, June 26, 2015

We're off to Rhode Island for a long weekend, and I'm excited to be staying in this adorable little cottage that we rented through AirBnB. Our weekend will be full of seafood, house and garden tours, and, if the weather cooperates, time at the beach. I hope your weekend is bursting with fun plans, as well. Here's are some of the stories that have caught my eye in the last couple of weeks:

Room for two in just 183-square feet.

An awesome, budget kitchen renovation--oh, the power of paint!

I'm curious about the book Furnitecture: Furniture That Transforms Space.

A luxury appliance for growing herbs and greens (kinda silly).

Is Pinterest making moms crazy?

Buyable pins aren't going to make things any better.

A dinner party made entirely of canned food? Yes!

Or kitchen scraps?

The problem with bagged, pre-washed lettuce.

Turns out a soda tax works. 

Cleaning advice from the Shakers.

Small Space Tip: Ditch the Shower Curtain

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Our new bathroom is small—one of the smallest I've had in New York City, and that's saying something. When we renovated, everything was chosen to make the space feel larger. However, one of the things that made the biggest impact on the feeling of the space had nothing to do with renovating and cost nothing at all. We've decided to forgo a shower curtain. 

When we moved in, we hung a clear shower curtain liner with the full intention of finding a new shower curtain to dress up the space. After researching options, and realizing a good-looking model wouldn't come cheap, I bit the bullet and ordered Anthropologie's Morning Light shower curtain. It was beautiful (I would recommend it to anyone in search of a neutral, tasteful option), but as soon as I hung it, the bathroom felt claustrophobic. My husband tentatively asked, "Do we really need a shower curtain?" and I realized that maybe we didn't. The curtain went back, and we've been living with just the clear liner.

Since then, I've found that we're in good company. Erin, who writes the blog Reading My Tea Leaves, also decided that no curtain meant the illusion of more space.  While decorator Vicente Wolf used clear plastic liners to dramatic effect around a clawfoot tub in this bathroom that ran in ELLE DECOR.

Designer and shop owner John Derian also has no shower curtain in one of the bathrooms of his Provincetown, RI home. 

What do you think? Would you forgo a traditional curtain? Or do you think a bathroom look too bare without one? 

Apartment Renovation: Barn Door Solution

Saturday, June 20, 2015

When it was built in the 1940s, our apartment would have had a foyer, living room, kitchen, dining room and bedroom--a very civilized amount of space for a one-bedroom. When we saw it in 2014, my husband furtively whispered to me, "That one-bedroom is really a two-bedroom." Because really, who has a formal dining room in a New York City on-bedroom apartment?

The sellers had added somewhat awkward double doors (above) onto the dining area--perhaps to illustrate that this room could maybe be a place to shut the door and sleep. However, since the apartment is technically a one-bedroom, it was marketed--and priced--as such. Lucky us.

We knew we wanted to improve the look and feel of the entry to what we considered our second bedroom. Our contractor suggested French doors with glass panes and sheer curtains on one side, which he thought would be more attractive. I agreed that the doors were super-ugly, but what bothered me was the way the swinging doors ate up a significant amount of floor space. Installing custom pocket door was out of the question financially, but I thought barn doors might be an option, though I wasn't sure if the country look would work in our city space.

I'd seen photos of the Dean Hotel in Providence, RI and admired the small space solutions that design-build firm ASH NYC had applied to the rooms. In particular, I love the entrances to their bathrooms that use barn doors with a very traditional style. As I mentioned before, we'd already decided to go with white walls and black doors, so the look was in keeping with what I imagined for the rest of the apartment. 

I showed the contractor these photos and he helped us figure out how to DIY the look. We used two of the HomCom 6ft Interior Sliding Barn Door Kit Hardware Sets from, as it was the cheapest track. (It also had stellar customer reviews.) For the doors, we purchased single panel, solid-wood slab doors (from Liberty Panel Center in Brooklyn) that were the closest match to the apartment's original doors, and we painted them with the same high-gloss black paint used on the rest of the doors.

We're thrilled with the finished results (above), and the doors have been one of the first things that guests have commented upon when visiting the apartment. All told, it cost almost $500 ($215 for the tracks, $270 for the two doors, and a bit for the paint), but I think it was worth the investment. If you have a small space where you're considering barn doors, I would definitely recommend them.

How To Make An Upcycled Napkin Curtain

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

I've got a DIY project up on the Etsy Blog today: This pretty upcycled napkin curtain. I'm super-thrilled with how the finished product turned out (above), especially considering I'm not an expert seamstress. To make your own, you’ll need a stash of napkins (tea towels and other vintage linens will work, too), a sewing machine, a few basic craft supplies, and the Tetris-like skills to piece your design together.

Visit the Etsy Blog for the full how-to instructions!

I thought I'd also add a few of the photos that inspired this project, to get you thinking!

Digest 5.15.15

Friday, May 15, 2015

Happy Friday, everyone. Boy, am I ready for the weekend. We're down to just a few things to unpack, and I'm hoping we can tackle it tomorrow. (Wall art is the main culprit.) For a break from all my musings about my own little house, here are some links that have caught my eye lately:

Living with less has gone high-fashion, with coverage in Harper's Bazaar and Vogue.

My latest blog discovery (via Remodelista): The Shingled House. 

This is a very cool tiny house (that's it above, and you can sign up for a tour).

It's not my style, but this small apartment is full of clever ideas.

A modern-day root cellar.

IKEA is now serving breakfast-in-bed.

Food52 covers cooking on a budget.

Simple rules for healthy eating. 

Cheese: the secret to a longer life and faster metabolism? I hope so!

Plus, coffee isn't bad for you, after all. 

Apartment Renovation: Decoration Inspiration

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Our decor won't change too much in our new apartment (the same old stuff came with us to Queens, of course). However, starting over fresh in a new space, definitely has me rethinking our decor a little.

Our new building was completed in 1946, so it has a little bit of a pre-war, mid-century feeling (though there is nothing architecturally interesting about it at all). Both my husband and I find ourselves feeling that some of the antique/traditional pieces we bought for our last apartment don't feel quite right for this new one. Plus, some of them just don't fit the space.

I'm also hoping to apply my aspirations to live with less to our decor. We got rid of a ton of stuff pre-move, which felt great, but I think there will be even more to go as we settle in here. Right now it feels so good to be in this space that is much less cluttered than our old one.

Here are some of the homes that are currently inspiring me:

I can't count the number of times I've turned to Remodelista editor Julie Carson's Mill Valley home (above and below) in the Remodelista book. To me, it's the perfect modern home: It's light, open and spare, yet also lived-in and full of personality.

If only I had the budget to hire Buttrick Won Architects to revamp my little 2-bedroom! One of the things I most admire in Carson's home are all the clever built-ins, which won't be something we can afford to copy. For the best tour of Carson's house, pick up a copy of the Remodelista book, and for a quick tour, check out this slideshow on Refinery29.

Another apartment that is currently inspiring me is Thom Browne's Manhattan apartment, which is as crisply tailored as his clothing designs. I love pretty much everything about it--and my husband does too. You can take a virtual tour on Architectural Digest's site.

Tom Scheerer is my hero when it comes to decor, but many of his interiors are a little more old-fashioned and preppy than I am thinking our new place will be. However, his own Manhattan apartment and office both fit the profile of the modern, urban look I am hoping to achieve. Head to the "town" section on his portfolio site, and click on Gramercy Park Apartment to see more of this lovely space.

Another inspiring home is right here in the new neighborhood! The Jackson Heights home of Jesse James and Costas Anagnopoulos is traditional, yet feels fresh. I'm erring on the side of fewer objets than you see here, but I like the feeling this apartment exudes. There's a full house tour on Remodelista, if you're curious to see more.

Want to see more inspiration? Check out my Pinterest board for the apartment's decor.

Apartment Renovation: The Envelope

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

While some of the design decisions for the apartment took time, we immediately knew what we wanted to do with the envelope of our new apartment. Here's what we were thinking and photographs of a few of the interiors that inspired our choices:

Located on the ground floor, we wanted to maximize the feeling of natural light in the apartment. So, we decided upon white walls throughout (I'm adventurous, I know). We opted for one bright, white for the walls and ceilings (Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace), and another, creamier white (Benjamin Moore, White Dove), in a high-gloss finish for the trim.

While it's hard to tell from the listing photos, the floors were not in great shape, and would need to be refinished. I have learned my lesson with past renovations: If you have even a passing thought about refinishing your floors, do them, and do them before you move in! No amount of  mopping or detailed application of specialty floor products will make your old floors look good. And for a relatively small investment, your whole place will feel fresh and new.

We decided to try a white-wash finish on our floors. I have seen it in several homes that I admire, and I thought it would add an additional feeling of lightness and brightness to the space. I also figured blending the transition from wall to floor would make the apartment feel larger.

For the doors, we decided to go with a painted  high-gloss black finish. Inspired by Thomas O'Brien's Long Island home (above and below) and other interiors, we had painted the doors in our last apartment black, and loved the results. The doors in the apartment are original to the building's mid-century construction, so they're solid wood, but not in the best shape. For now, we're sticking with the doorknobs from the previous owner, but that's an upgrade that's on my list for later on down the road.

TIP: If you want a super-black finish, opt for the straight-out-of-the-can, pre-mixed black. It will always be a much truer and deeper black than one that is custom mixed for you. Don't forget to have the paint store agitate the can in their shaking machine--it really helps the paint re-emulsify.

Finally, we decided to unify the baseboard trim throughout the apartment with a very simple, low-profile molding. Previously, the apartment had different trim in almost every room, including a rather over-the-top choice that was added in the dining room/small bedroom. Changing the molding didn't increase our costs significantly and it helps unify the look of the apartment.

The Little House in Jackson Heights

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Back in December, I suggested that my husband and I go take a look at a few apartments in Jackson Heights. After selling our apartment more than two years ago, we had continued to look at apartments in Brooklyn neighborhoods while we rented in Clinton Hill, and never could bring ourselves to commit to anything we saw. We even started looking in Manhattan, figuring, if we were going to pay as much as we were expecting to pay for Brooklyn real estate, we may as well have the convenience of Manhattan.

 An afternoon of looking in Queens quickly convinced us to swap boroughs. One apartment in particular caught our eye. It was listed as a one-bedroom, but it had a dining area that could easily be considered a second bedroom (albeit a small one with no closet). And at less than half the price of a similarly-sized apartment in our Brooklyn neighborhood with a very low maintenance fee, it was an easy decision to make an offer. Our offer was accepted, and we moved forward with the purchase.

While we loved the layout (see floorplan above) and the location, there were some things we knew we needed to do before we moved in. The walls needed painting and the floors needed refinishing, but we were undecided about the kitchen and bathroom. Both rooms were in good shape, but were badly designed and total eyesores. On the one hand, we could certainly live with the ugly tile, but on the other hand, any improvements we made would probably earn themselves back if we choose to sell in the future. Having lived through a bathroom and kitchen renovation while inhabiting an apartment, I was very keen on the idea of getting it done before we moved in, which was ultimately what we decided to do. 

Now we’re moved in and we just have a few more fixes to make. I’ll be posting more about the renovation process, the before and afters, and everything we’ve learned along the way in the coming weeks. For now, this is a sneak peek at what the apartment looked like when we bought it.

Post-Move Apartment Tour

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Well, we moved last weekend, and we're officially Queens residents now. Before we packed up the old apartment, I snapped a few photos to document the place we have called home for the last two years--and I realized I haven't shown much (if any) of that space here on the blog.

So, better late than never, here's our place in Clinton Hill:

Our bedroom, including my trusty captain's storage bed (a hand-me-down from my mom). The painting above the bed is by my great-aunt, artist Mary Harris. The bedding is an old DwellStudio pattern that I was sorry to see discontinued. That large wardrobe came with us to Jackson Heights, but it may need to find its way to Craiglist soon.

Early in our tenure in Clinton Hill, my husband painted all the cheap, hollow core doors with a high-gloss black, which really improved the look of them; if your landlord will let you, I totally recommend this affordable and easy upgrade.

Another view of the bedroom, including a few of my favorite second-hand finds: A $25 marble-top dresser, an ogee mirror bought on a trip to Maine, and two little alabaster lamps that I got got $6 at a yard sale on the North Fork. The pair of prints is from the flea market in Paris, the lady portrait on the right was dug out of someone's trash in the West Village in the late 90s by yours truly.

My teeny desk sat in another corner of the bedroom, and my husband had a whole room for his office behind that door (you'll note I didn't take a photo of it). In the new place my mini filing cabinet and filing boxes will all live in a closet.

The living room side of the main living space featured a large gallery wall of prints, photos and paintings. Our Jasper sofa from Room & Board is still going strong nearly five years after I bit the bullet and invested in a real couch. We were lucky to get those John Robshaw pillows at a thrift store for a few dollars. The coffee table was purchase at Design Research in the last 60s by my mother, who worked there at the time.

The kitchen in all its unstyled glory was open onto the living/dining room (if I'd been more motivated, I should have tried to make it look like its more attractive twin). As you can see, we were eeking out every inch of storage that we could, including the space above the cabinets. The counter and the bar stools were both purchases second hand and we've already sold them off because there's no need for them in the new place.

The dining area was just next to both the kitchen and the sitting area. The bentwood chairs were a score from an estate sale last fall--we have a half dozen in total, including two arm chairs. The pedestal table is another yard sale find (one of these days I'm going to make a leaf for it).
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