Moving In

Friday, December 29, 2006

For some reason, I had imagined that work would be slow this week and that I would get a million things done in my apartment in the evenings. As it turned out, work has been nuts, friends descended on the city to distract me, and I still have lots to move from Manhattan out to Brooklyn. Hopefully I’ll make a big dent this weekend and I’ll start to feel like the new house is my home.

I’ve slept in the new apartment three nights now, and I love it. There are so many things that I want to do to the apartment. I had forgotten what it feels like to have this whole huge project on the horizon. It’s both exciting and daunting at the same time, and you always imagine you’ll be faster and more diligent with it than you ever are. For now, a good scrubbing in the bathroom and kitchen have been the only steps towards fixing this place up. Baby steps.

I’m also head over heels for the neighborhood. It makes me happy knowing I can take almost any subway to get home. I loved it when I ran into not one but two of my neighborhood friends on my first night in the neighborhood. I like it that it’s quiet on my street and there aren’t any teenage boy prostitutes lurking on the corner (there were droves of them in the West Village.) Most of all, I am just excited to have a new neighborhood to explore. New restaurants and bars to try, new blocks to wander down, a new park to ramble through — new everything.

The New Little House

Friday, December 22, 2006

So, I closed last week, and I am now oficially the owner of two New York City apartments. Updates on the new place will come when I get back from my holiday travels. Happy holidays everyone.

John Derian

Friday, December 15, 2006

On a late afternoon stroll yesterday, my boyfriend and I passed through John Derian’s shop on East 2nd Street. Of all the shops in the city, John Derian is certainly one of the nicest. I am just crazy for his signature decoupage pieces, and all the other items in the store have been chosen with a expert eye. As we were in the store, I noticed that the walls were painted a nice shade of pale green, though a little more lime-colored than I aim for in the new apartment. I happened to have my Benjamin Moore paint chip in my notebook, so I pulled it out for a quick comparison. Judging by the side by side of the walls in the shop and the chip, I’m going to opt for the lighter of the two shades I had been debating.

*Photograph originally appeared in The New York Times Style Magazine (Fall 2005)

Butterfly chair

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I’ve had my butterfly chair since I lived in my very first apartment down on Elizabeth Street. The folding chair is a classic design, and it’s also pretty comfortable to sit in. My chair’s cover is about to need replacing, which has made me start to wonder if I should keep it at all. I can’t decide if the wire-framed seat makes me think of some sleek mid-century interior or a dorm room. Maybe it’s just my personal association of my chair with my 19-year-old self? (While Knoll originally manufactured the chair, today it is available everywhere, including Target, where it is categorized as dorm furniture, ahem.) What do you think? Is it a 'do' or a 'don’t' for a (mostly) grown-up apartment?


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I have a closing date. My lawyer says 2:00 on December 19th. We still need the lawyer for the bank to agree, but I am hoping against hope this is the actual date. The extension of my mortgage rate runs out on the 25th, so we HAVE to close next week. Come hello or high water, as they say. So, everyone please cross your fingers for me in the meantime.

Judy Ross Sale

A couple weeks ago DesignSponge posted about the upcoming Judy Ross sample sale, and now it's just around the corner. The sale runs December 14th - 16th at Union Square, click through to DesignSponge for the full details. While these babies are still out of my budget, they are truly beautiful pieces and at 60% off they're fairly reasonably priced. It's hard to see what so special about these textiles online, but the colors, texture and designs are just beautiful.

Tea Kettle: Part 2

Monday, December 11, 2006

In case you were wondering, I won the kettle on eBay. Hooray! Tea time in Brooklyn coming soon...

Plank yoga mat

Every time I think I'm sick of faux bois, something comes along to re-whet my appetite for wood grain goods. I just saw this post on SwissMiss about a yoga mat available at UncommonGoods, and I found myself falling for faux bois all over again. Isn't it just a hoot? It almost makes you want to do yoga.

With wood grain on the brain, I remembered this tool I bought two years ago. It's a rubber-stamp like object that you drag across painted surfaces to creat a wood-like pattern (it's usually used in the theater for sets.) I keep meaning to figure out some clever way to put it to use in a DIY or decoarting project. Maybe in the new apartment? (For the record, I blame Martha Stewart for my fake wood obsession.)

Habitats: Charles Busch

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I found myself having a real fondness for Charles Busch, the homeowner featured in The New York Times ‘Habitats’ column today. Not only is his apartment pretty fantastic looking (that bedroom!), but his sensibility just struck a note with me. When the reporter revealed that this past summer’s Dorothy Draper exhibit had influenced him in his design, I immediately sympathized. (It was a great exhibition. In particular, a Draper-designed dressing table and the various pieces of paper ephemera knocked my socks off.) I also love, love, loved the last quote from Mr. Busch about his outrageous purple lamp. It made me want to make sure I offer my new neighborhood “a bit of street theater,” though I am not sure what exactly that might entail. If I ever get the chance, I think I’d like to take Mr. Busch out for a drink in the neighborhood — preferrably something bubbly and pink.

Tea Kettle

I've been stalking eBay for enamel tea kettles lately. (My kettle died about a month ago.) The vintage Dansk and Copco models have the look and feel that I want. I think this baby blue Copco pot might be just the ticket for my new kitchen. Fingers crossed that I win the auction.

Something to look forward to...

Friday, December 08, 2006

My lovely friend Valerie wrote me just now to alert me to something to look forward to in Fort Greene (Valerie lives a mere block and a half from my new pad):
This morning, I stopped at my normal deli by the Atlantic subway station. Anyway, it's just a very mixed-crowd, blue and white collar place, but the counter guys are all really nice. and today, they had like 13 liquor bottles lined up along the sandwich counter and little plastic cups, with a sign about how much they appreciate their loyal customers and to have a drink on them! This was 9am. I'd never seen anything like it.
Valerie also noted that a coffee and a muffin were only $2 and that the very friendly gentlemen behind the counter always remember how she liked her coffee. Sounds like my kind of place.

Rope-wrapped Pipe

What a great idea from Apartment Therapy. I've seen heating pipes/poles wrapped in rope before (Tia Pol, one of my favorite little restaurants, has poles wrapped exactly like this). I have always wondered if it would be an easy DIY project. According to the folks at AT, it is! Take a look at the slideshow for the process.

Clean House: Kaboom

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Kaboom Ultra Scrub is one fantastic product. It’s a cleaning cream with tiny granules that bares a somewhat alarming similarity to the Neutrogena Pore Refining Scrub that I use on my face. This stuff is one of the only products I have found that tackles my most difficult house-keeping challenge: my bathtub/shower stall. My particular tub has a no-slip texture built into the base of the tub to keep grannies (and hungover twenty-somethings) from taking a spill in the shower. When I moved in I tackled these rough patches that had gone grey with an old toothbrush and about a dozen different bleach-based products. None of them returned my tub’s base to a perfect pearly white except for Kaboom. (The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser also does the trick, but I end up using a whole eraser on one tub cleaning, which is not economical.) To top it off Kaboom smells good, actually it smells great — I’d wear it as a perfume in the summer, if it was available as an eau de toilet.

Closing Time

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I *think* that a closing date will be set today, god willing. My lawyer has returned from his cruise (his 19th one, he tells me), and he is working on finding a date that will work for everyone involved. So, my fingers are crossed: this might all be over next week and I will have the keys to my new home.

Holiday Gift Guides

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Core77 wins hands down for the best holiday gift guide I've seen so far this year. The tagline for the guide is 77 gifts under $77, and it really is PACKED with good ideas. Check it out, if you're looking for something a little out of the ordinary this will be a good place to look Domino and Lucky also pulled together some respectable guides in their print magazines, though both hit some high pricepoints for an average Jane like myself, but worth a look nonetheless.

The Bathroom: Before

I am not sure that this photomontage does the bathroom true justice. It is a downright hideous bathroom. (The freaky gold shower curtain doesn't help either.) The tile is a fleshy-beige color, as is the tub and the toilet. There are even delightful tile towel bar, soap and toilet paper holders cast in coordinating ceramic tile. Best of all, there is an occasional tile in the mix that is emblazoned with a charming floral motif. So, long term, the plan is just to start over in here completely.

Short term, I am going to live with it — to a certain extent. I think a nice coat of crisp white paint to replace the lackluster off-white walls will help. A white shower curtain and white towels will also help to cover some of the blah brown. Maybe I will install some additional mirrors or cabinets? The light fixture above the sink is one of those vanity-style fixtures with exposed bulbs, so I’ll spring for decent light bulbs to fill the sockets there, as well. Light switch and outlet plates will get swapped out for nice chrome ones. A door with a frosted glass panel might also be nice. Hopefully all these little surface fixes will make it attractive enough for me to be happy bathing in there every day.

I have toyed with the idea of replacing the toilet and the sink vanity as a temporary fix before a full renovation. My parents have an extra pedestal sink in their garage that I could install and a decent toilet can be had for less than $200. Both of those things would make a dent in the all-consuming ugliness of the space. However, my plan is to move in, live with it, and see how much it bothers me. If it doesn’t drive me crazy, I might as well save my pennies and wait until I can afford the big overhaul.

On the plus side, the bathroom is a decent size, and all the existing tile and fixtures seem to be in pretty good shape. It also has a window, which in New York is a real treat (although this one does look out onto the garbage area of my building). There’s also a nice little tiled nook on the right side of the shower stall to rest things on. I’m sure it’ll work out just fine until I rustle up the dough for major renovations.

Walton Ford

Monday, December 04, 2006

This weekend I went out to the Brooklyn Museum for their monthly free first Saturday of the month night (thank you, Target). Annie Liebowitz and Ron Muek were both worth a peak, but the star of the museum’s current offerings by far is Walton Ford. Ford paints these huge watercolors that recall Audubon’s birds or some other 19th century naturalist painter. However, as the museum’s description of the exhibit notes, his work is like Audubon “but with a significant twist. While beautiful, Ford's paintings often portray scenes of violence and offer a wry critique of colonialism, the naturalist tradition, and the relationship between man and animal.” This exhibit is definitely worth the trip out to Brooklyn and the price of admission. Now, if only Mr. Ford's paintings were in my decorating budget.

The Red Stapler

Chances are the stapler, tape dispenser and scissors at your desk are crafted from black or tan plastic. And even more likely, they came with your cube on day one of your job. I’d like to make an argument for elevating your workspace with this classic design: the 747 Swingline stapler. After a cameo in Office Space, the red version of this classic stapler is practically a pop-cultural icon. For those who err towards a more neutral palette the 747 also comes in polished chrome, white and black. My swish Swingline is a pro at punching paper and it gives my desktop a much needed punch of good design.

Clever Solution

I was green with envy looking at the pictures of this loft in the weekend New York Times. So much space! I loved the white bean bag chair in the living room, though I bet its cover needs constant cleaning. I also thought the bookshelf at the foot of the bed in this photo was a great idea. I wonder if there are standard-size bookcases that would work or if you'd need ot build or order a custom shelf.

The Rhythm Review

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I only discovered the Rhythm Review in the last year, and I curse myself for all the years I didn’t know about it. The Rhythm Review is Felix Hernandez’s a four hour radio program that airs on Saturdays on 88.3 WBGO-FM 10am - 2pm and then on Sundays on 98.7 KISS-FM 12pm - 4pm in the New York area. It’s rhythm and blues at its best. Here’s a description from (its more than 10 years old, but it’s still accurate):
His rhythm-and-blues broadcast from WGBO, Newark. This is no stale oldies show; it's a chance to hear the classic soul music otherwise neglected both by public and commercial radio. It's Edwin Starr, Jackie Wilson, Archie Bell and the Drells, and the Emperors. It's Stevie Wonder's first recording, the original versions of "Satisfaction," and two versions of "Since I Fell for You" by Fontella Bass and Roy Hamilton.
If you’re in the New York/New Jersey are tune in. I promise Felix will make your afternoon. He makes me smile every time I tune in, and the show gives me an excuse to stay in my apartment lazing about.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Yesterday's New York Times's House & Home section showcased these cotton sail room dividers by dVider. It's a cute idea, but at $626 to $1,279 per panel, I think I'll think of them as inspiration rather than a product to go out and buy. I bet it would be pretty easy to rig a similar set-up in your home.

Art School

One regular feature on this site that won’t have to do with the renovation of the apartment in Brooklyn will be called 'Art School.' All these posts will be great ideas that I have come across for wall art. To kick things off here are two unconventional twists on a salon wall.

I love this idea from the December/January issue of Metropolitan Home. The owner of the home that this wall is in was inspired by Graham & Brown’s Frames wallpaper, which was not available stateside at the time. So instead she just used a marker to draw frames directly onto her wall. The article notes, “Many of the photos were blown up to fit the unconventional frames and mix nicely with wrapping paper scraps and the children’s artwork, all of which were stuck to the all and sealed with gloss medium (available at any art supplier.)” Love, love, love it.

I’m also crazy for this clever framing project featured in the December issue of Living Etc. (which is my absolute favorite magazine, by the way). All the frames have been painted to match the wall for a unique look. What a great way to make a collection of mismatched, inexpensive frames into a dynamic display, no?

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