Monthly Archives: February 2014

So with my best, my very best, I set you free…*

*Lyrics from I Wish You Love as sung by Frank Sinatra (though the National Youth Jazz Orchestra performance is cheerful and delightful, and certainly worth watching on a day like today). I considered an alternate title – “I wish you shelter from the storm, a cozy fire to keep you warm” – especially because the entire Eastern portion of the US is being battered by yet another bracing, snow-filled, ice-capped, rained upon bit of winter goodness, but I thought the above excerpt was more fitting. I heard this song ages ago and jotted it down to use at the end of something. Today’s weather makes the timing even more apt. 

Le sigh. It’s over. This is the last installment of the Project W AFTER Tour (catch up here: master bedroom, kids’ rooms, main floor part one, and main floor part two). I am so proud and grateful that I got to have a hand in the complete transformation of this now gorgeous home. So, now, pictures! (Get ready, this is a long one…)

Bright, open, airy, efficient, classic. Hello, new kitchen.

Bright, open, airy, efficient, classic. Hello, new kitchen.

Boom. Project W kitchen. Do you remember it when it looked like this?

BEFORE: Dated is a kind way of putting what this kitchen looked like. AFTER: Better space planning really took this kitchen into a new world.

BEFORE: Dated is a kind way of putting what this kitchen looked like. AFTER: Better space planning really took this kitchen into a new world, and a new era.

Sort of major, right? When we toured the space, there was a giant spiral staircase – de rigueur in 1982 – that cut right through what I saw as perfectly usable kitchen real estate. When we first met, the clients – craving brightness, space, and fluidity – wanted to open up the wall between the kitchen and dining room, but I felt that they would lose too much storage space. The kitchen was a galley and, while efficient and completely appropriate to the home, it didn’t exactly ooze storage space. With a tween, a teen, and a big, hungry dog, I knew that losing those uppers would be a risk. read on…

Well I got no place to go, I got no other life I know…*

*Lyrics from Take It As It Comes by J Roddy Walston and The Business from their album Essential Tremors. I heard this song on Conan the other night, and I reluctantly liked it (I resist grasping at my youth in unflattering ways, like with music that is clearly meant for younger people). I have yet to check out their whole album. It borders on alt-pop for me, but I did enjoy the singer’s voice, and the overall vibe. Check it out, and let me know how you like it.

Using the Glaze App to distort a nighttime view of the Empire State Building, et al.

Using the Glaze App to distort a nighttime view of the Empire State Building, et al.

During a recent walk-and-talk with the husband, discussing all the ups, downs, and turn-me-all-arounds of our sluggish house hunt, I got to thinking about death. Not death, exactly, but more like the stages of grief, and how similar they are to our search. As we began our process by first leaving our too-big-for-us house in search of a just-right apartment, we had high hopes for finding just enough space to live comfortably in the neighborhood in which we had already gotten a foothold. Well, it’s becoming evident that that desire is impossible, and that we can hope for maybe more than we have in our Pied, but not even close to what we had hoped for initially. At least not here (in the ‘hood, and surrounding ‘hoods). So if not here, where?

One of my dream streets, one of my dream homes. Completely unattainable.

One of my dream streets, one of my dream homes. Completely unattainable.

read on…

Careful what you say, oh dear, it’s too late now…*

*Lyrics from Careful What You Say by Class Actress from their EP Journal of Ardency. This song resonated with me for this post because during the process of building/designing this home (and perhaps especially these last spaces), my relationship with my friend (the builder) was, to say it politely, strained. It’s inevitable to quarrel with those closest to you, and likely to happen again with someone else during my career/life. I’m sure it’s happened to you – with your spouse/partner, your client, your family – and I’m sure you hated it as much as I did. I loved this job, and was so completely grateful to have been able to be a part of it, but it took an emotional toll. And I guess I’m feeling a little nostalgic for the good times. (This winter feels really, really long this year.) Cheers to the happy times, to the promise of a new season, and of the hope for smoothing the scuffs and scratches that will just add patina to what I hope is a lifelong friendship.

BEFORE: Linoleum, dingy paint, bad lighting. AFTER: Classic grey tile with modern rectangle shape, transitional fixtures, neutral walls.

BEFORE: Linoleum, dingy paint, bad lighting. AFTER: Classic grey tile with modern rectangle shape, transitional fixtures, neutral walls.

And the AFTER tour continues… When we last met, I shared with you most of the main floor living spaces for Project W. Today I’m going to share the dining room, foyer, and powder room. When I first walked through the house with Mrs W, we both had the same vision for the foyer: gray, almost concrete-looking rectangular tile that would feel modern, not too dark, yet be easy to care for with two kids and a sweet, but sloppy dog. It took some doing, and some negotiating, and some pretty strong-willed moments (high five, Mrs W!), but we found our tile, and were able to achieve the exact look we imagined. Sometimes less is more, but sometimes you have to invest in a bit more to get more. At any rate, we ended up with a wonderful update to this formerly vinyl-floored space.

This area was formerly the original kitchen (!), but had been adapted to include a powder room as well as transitions to the rest of the house. So we treated it as a mudroom.

This area (left) was formerly the original kitchen (!), but had been adapted to include a powder room as well as transitions to the rest of the house. So we treated the entire space as an extended mudroom.

The powder room got another black and white mosaic tile, and the ceramic grey tile provides a low-maintanence transition point for the wood floors, tile, and exterior. (Sneak peek of the kitchen, still to come!)

The powder room got a black and white mosaic tile, and the ceramic grey tile provides a low-maintanence transition point for the wood floors, tile, and exterior. (Sneak peek of the kitchen, still to come!)

Just off the side entry – the mudroom area – is a powder room. Now, this space used to house the original kitchen; in fact, the old house stopped along the wall separating the new kitchen and dining room from the game room and entry hall. So the bathroom that was put in was decidedly from its time (1982).

BEFORE: Tired vanity, wallpaper that had no appeal, and more linoleum. Yuck. AFTER: Pedestal sink and mosaic tile speak the home's origins, while making the small and slightly awkward space feel more spacious. We also moved in one of the crystalline lights from and adjacent room to add some glamour. No reason a small room can't be fabulous, and work within a budget.

BEFORE: Tired vanity, wallpaper that had no appeal, and more linoleum. Yuck. AFTER: Pedestal sink and mosaic tile speak the home’s origins, while making the small and slightly awkward space feel more spacious. We also moved in one of the crystalline lights from and adjacent room to add some glamour. No reason a small room can’t be fabulous, and work within a budget.

I wanted to reclaim the character as we did with the master bathroom design, but knew that we couldn’t really spend too much to do so. We had to work with the space as it was for the budget’s sake, and we had to use materials that could withstand lots of traffic. We ended up finding a really reasonably priced ceramic mosaic tile that picked up on the black and white theme we used in the master (I love it when spaces in antique homes, like kitchens and baths, seem like they could have been installed during the house’s original build), which really helped to reinforce that 1920s feel we were after.

BEFORE: Ugh, I mean, really. AFTER: Much, much better. Ahhh.

BEFORE: Ugh, I mean, really. AFTER: Much, much better. Ahhh.

Details: The faucet and sink have a square shape that references the mosaic tile. There was an original mirror (square) that I had planned to hang here, but, well, let's hope Mr W doesn't really get 7 years' bad luck.

Details: The faucet and sink have a square shape that references the mosaic tile. There had been an original mirror (square) hanging here that I had planned to rehang, but, well, let’s hope Mr W doesn’t really get 7 years’ bad luck.

Details: The mudroom/hallway as it transitions into the game room; the game room looking into the dining room (which is where the 'new' addition begins).

Details: The mudroom/hallway as it transitions into the game room; the game room looking into the dining room (which is where the ‘new’ addition begins).

Having connected the powder room to the house’s architecture, I wanted to let the dining room really connect to the homeowners’ love of mid-century design. I knew they had some cherry and rosewood pieces that would look really nice atop their newly finished oak hardwoods, but that they needed a wall color that could support all of that rich, warm wood. Probably the most contentious battle with regard to the color palette happened regarding the dining room walls – SW Hazel – which virtually every woman loved and every man loathed. In the end, though, my clients agreed that the initial scheme was what they loved, and they stuck with my suggestion. I love the color. This room floods with light in the afternoon, and can really stand a rich hue on the wall. They are also avid art collectors, and I knew that an art wall would eventually really sing atop this rich but modern hue.

BEFORE: This room was bright, but had no personality. AFTER: A modern wall color mixes well with the homeowners' warm wood mid-century and mission style furnishings.

BEFORE: This room was bright, but had no personality. AFTER: A modern wall color mixes well with the homeowners’ warm wood mid-century and mission style furnishings.

This wall color (Hazel by SW) was hotly contested. Every single male hated it, while every single female loved it. Weird. Color is totally personal.

This wall color (Hazel by SW) was hotly contested. Almost every single male hated it, while every single female loved it. Weird. Color is totally, I mean completely, personal.

Details: Mrs W let me rummage around her accessories to find sweet trinkets to display. The light fixture is a budget-friendly Pottery Barn find - another hotly contested search - and the cabinet in the background is antique.

Details: Mrs W let me rummage around her accessories to find sweet trinkets to display. The light fixture is a budget-friendly Pottery Barn find – another hotly contested search – and the cabinet in the background is antique.

The entire first floor connects visually from room to room, zone to zone, and I think we really created a soft, watery, and flowing palette that is peaceful and soothing. I know that the clients’ soft furnishings, curtains, pillows, rugs, etc., will shift as time goes on, but the harder, more permanent things – tile, flooring, lighting – will enhance whatever additions they make.

BEFORE: Beautiful light, and access to the exterior were this room's best features. AFTER: Sliders lead out to a breakfast patio (which will get updated eventually), but who would want to dine al fresco when it's so pleasant indoors? The doorway from the kitchen was widened to mimic the generous opening on the game room side of the space to make it feel as if there might have been french doors at one point.

BEFORE: Beautiful light, and access to the exterior were this room’s best features. AFTER: Sliders lead out to a breakfast patio (which will get updated eventually), but who would want to dine al fresco when it’s so pleasant indoors? The doorway from the kitchen was widened to mimic the generous opening on the game room side of the space to make it feel as if there might have been french doors at one point.

BEFORE: This little soffit created an awkward bump out. AFTER: That nook created a perfect spot for Mrs W's china cabinet, and created an opportunity for an art nook. Eventually these walls will be covered in art, as the homeowners' have tons of beautiful pieces. Who wouldn't want to be invited over for a lingering dinner?

BEFORE: This little soffit created an awkward bump out. AFTER: That nook created a perfect spot for Mrs W’s china cabinet, and created an opportunity for an art nook. Eventually these walls will be covered in art, as the homeowners have tons of beautiful pieces. Who wouldn’t want to be invited over for a lingering dinner?

I still have one last space to share with you. Stay tuned!

xoxo

 

Now I’m walking again to the beat of a drum…*

*Lyrics from the Hey Now (Don’t Dream It’s Over) remake as sung by Lolo (aka: Lauren Pritchard). I heard this song in the movie I Give It A Year (the movie is NOT worth seeing, btw) and really liked the quality that her voice gave to this older song. I can’t find the song available for purchase, but it’s listenable on last fm. Her voice is really something special.

The office: a mix of chic accessories, industrial touches, modern amenities, and limited space.

The office: a mix of chic accessories, industrial touches, modern amenities, and limited space.

So, a short while ago, my sister’s non-profit company found some office space to rent. They had been without a dedicated space for much of the holiday season, and had been on a desperate hunt for a better situation. The move means shorter commute times for my sister, and a more centrally located spot for her and her boss, and it’s located in a more bustling area of the city. The only problem/challenge is that it’s a shared space, and their co-tentant is already in place.

Luckily, the co-tenant, an event planner, is very open to sharing (it’s a reality in NYC for many small businesses), and was very happy to have some input from someone (me) who might just have a few ideas on how to best meet everyone’s needs, while maintaining a stylish and affordable office. Easy, right?

Enter: IKEA. Seriously, despite all of the misses that they make, and the hassle/effort of having to build things yourself, this is one of the best resources for cheap, durable and attractive office furniture. (That is, if you’re willing to think about everything they make as office appropriate. Don’t overlook dining tables as desk spaces, bedroom armoires as storage units, and kitchenware as office supply caddies.) With an eye toward spending as little as possible — non-profit + self-employed small business owner = budget? what budget? — and with a nod to the things they already had (including plenty of chic accessories), I whipped up a little moodboard for them to get inspired by.

Inspiration via Pinterest (see board: dual office), and via IKEA, Target, and Overstock.

Inspiration via Pinterest (see board: dual office), and via IKEA, Target, and Overstock.

I also sketched up some potential floor plans (with some expert help from my computer savvy husband). Objectives: desk space for three; meeting space for clients for both the event/wedding planning AND volunteer training; seating area (existing) for clients or staff alike; and, visual harmony/limited clutter. While I know they would all love it if they had more money to spend, or more space to use, they’re all happy to make the best of bright, sunlit, clean office that even sports a herringbone floor.

 

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This floor plan intended to save the most on the budget, and use the existing items to their best advantage.

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This floor plan focuses on the need for chic meeting space, and creates a more open layout.

I included two options for them to mull over. Each plan tries to make the best use of the space they have, while allowing for things to serve as double-duty. Since meeting with non-staff/clients will be a minimal event (several times per month, but not necessarily daily), I focused on making sure they had space for their day-to-day items, while allowing them access to any files/paperwork they might need. And, since I know my sister pretty well, I tried to anticipate her need to have tidiness as an option. Everyone appreciates a clean work surface, so having spaces for messes (read: piles) to go is a must. And, I know the space will evolve with time, so I tried not to fill up the entire room with stuff. Air, and light is important which is why I fought for the seating area to stay (one of the three didn’t think it was necessary, and I’ll let you have one guess as to who it was {it might have been the only male who will be using the space}).

In the end, I think we have a solid plan. I hope to help them ‘install’ the space over the next few weeks, perhaps with a few runs to Target and HomeGoods to round out the accessories, lighting, and soft touches. Once we get a finished look, I’ll share the transformation.

My first real “job” in NYC, and it feels so good to start to make some connections. Woo hoo!

xoxo

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