Category Archives: before pictures

Something has got to, got to, got to give, ’cause I can’t keep waiting to live…*

*Lyrics from Sara BareillisMany the MIles from her 2007 album Little Voice. This song was playing on Pandora, and then got stuck in my head (especially the ‘how far do I have to go to get to you?’) as we walked the little-over-a-mile from our current place to our new place, so it seemed fitting. One of the things I had on my wish list was a place to see the sunset from home, and now I’ll have that. And there are “too many sunsets I haven’t seen…”

BEFORE: The living/dining room, now with light! And a breeze! (The adjacent kitchen was too full of weird cleaning supplies to photograph.)

BEFORE: The living/dining room, now with light! And a breeze! (The adjacent kitchen was too full of weird cleaning supplies to photograph.)

If you’ll recall, when we originally moved to Brooklyn, it was into a very small flat that we affectionately called a pied-à-terre. At that time we still had our big house, and were actually using The Pied as a mini-home base, mostly so Jeff could work with his office mates in person, and go to meetings easily (and begin the transition of his work life). Once we sold our house, and needed to be down here full-time – and after we moved down one flight so that we could expand our living space to include a huge roof deck – we jokingly called the next flat the pied-à-deux (even though we know full well that’s not at all proper French). It was our second move in Brooklyn, and it seemed like the right way to describe our tiny 350sf (I had previously estimated it at 320sf, but it seems I may have left out the measurement of the bathtub, my office nook, and tiny kitchen closet) domicile that really wasn’t fit to house two adults for very long. Now that we’re leaving our mini-empire, I can’t help but want to name the next place our pied-à-trois.

Please, French people of the world (and Francophiles), don’t hate us for playing with the language. I am, in fact, beginning to learn French (slowly – je ne parle pas francaise très bien) and our new neighbors are from France (like, actual Parisians! I’ll get to practice my language lessons! gulp), so I have nothing but love for the French. Still, allow me to introduce you to our newest residence in our little string, the Pied-À-Trois. read on…

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

And maybe after, when I return, I get what I miss…*

*Lyrics from I Miss Your Bones by Hospitality. This is a single, but they have a new album coming out in January. I think I’ll wait to order it (not pre-order it) until I can hear it all. I struggled to find a song for this post – sometimes finding these lyrical inspirations isn’t as easy as it should be – but this one felt just right (plus, their new album is called Trouble, which is fitting here). Especially since this part of the Project W house tour is all about good bones. House bones. Bones. If you say it too many times it starts to sound silly. Anyway, moving on.

Remember my beloved Project W? Want to see some more?

BEFORE: Flooring was in rough shape, original knotty pine panelling, pretty dated feel. AFTER: Brightened up paneling in Repose Gray, refinished flooring, new tile, updated entry.

BEFORE: Flooring was in rough shape, original knotty pine panelling, pretty dated feel. AFTER: Brightened up paneling in Repose Gray, refinished flooring, updated entry.

The next part of the Project W renovation (the AFTER tour) that I want to share with you is the main floor: specifically the library, sun room, and game room. (Now, a small disclaimer: it is virtually impossible to show you only portions of the main floor without sneaking peeks at other room/areas which I will share in greater depth at a later date. Otherwise this post would be 80+ pictures long, and ain’t nobody got time for that. Consider your interest piqued.) This is really where each family member got to carve out space for just themselves.

BEFORE: This was the first area you would see upon entering from the main entrance. AFTER: Durable tile (I'll get to that in a later post), original flooring refreshed, fresh color scheme. Welcome.

BEFORE: This was the first area you would see upon entering from the main entrance. AFTER: Durable tile (I’ll get to that in a later post), original flooring refreshed, fresh color scheme. Welcome. (Kitchen and mudroom/entry sneak peek!)

Mr W got half of the library as an office, and Mr and Mrs W will share a cozy seating area by the working fireplace.

This is the library, the area that Mr and Mrs W will use as a primarily adult space. It's handsome, yet bright and airy. I hope it gets cold enough for a fire soon.

This is the library, the area that Mr and Mrs W will use as a primarily adult space. It’s handsome, yet bright and airy. I hope it gets cold enough for a fire soon.

You see, when the house was originally built, before the giant addition in the early 80s, the library was the only living room (and we think the desk area was a 3-season porch), the sunroom was non-existent, and the game room was the former dining room. In fact, the powder room, and hallway connecting the (now tiled) side entry to the front entry (and beyond) was the original kitchen. All that is to say that the house pretty much doubled in size in 1982, and this family of four didn’t quite know what to do with so much glorious space.

BEFORE: This room was the formal living space once upon a time. AFTER: Now a cozy office and library, the Ws can tuck in with a fire, a sip of adult elixir, and enjoy the reinvented space.

BEFORE: This room was the formal living space once upon a time. AFTER: Now a cozy office and library, the Ws can tuck in with a fire, a sip of adult elixir, and enjoy the reinvented space. (Dining room sneak peek!)

The corner houses a bar, indicating fully that the kids should steer clear of this area. Adults only, please.

This corner houses a bar, indicating fully that the kids should steer clear of this area. Adults only, please.

With plenty of room to spread out, yet lots of zones for family interaction my clients got the best of both worlds: the connection of open plan living with the necessary privacy of homes that were planned with appropriate separations. I firmly believe that in the future, all of these Great-Room-styled homes will fall away, and there will be a return to separate rooms. Anyone who has ever lived with, or been a part of a large family knows that as much as you can love each other, getting away from each other is as equally precious. I think I was able to help the homeowners delineate spaces for specific family activities so that there is plenty of togetherness as well as comfortable, and much required, distance.

Mr W's former office was dark and cut off from the rest of the house. In the new home, he can enjoy a great view, while being centrally located. Now he can be properly distracted by all the lovely things and people around him. Wall color: Comfort Gray.

Mr W’s former office was dark and cut off from the rest of the house. In the new home, he can enjoy a great view, while being centrally located. Now he can be properly distracted by all the lovely things and people around him. Wall color: Comfort Gray. Trim color: Repose Gray.

Mrs W got the sunroom – a media-free zone – for reading, entertaining and relaxing, while the kids got a section of the same room for homework, and quiet projects.

BEFORE: You can see the lights that inspired the master bathroom design hanging here. Waste not, want not, as we New Englanders say. AFTER: This room is for quiet studying, reading, entertaining sans electronics, and just generally enjoying three walls of windows with dappled sunlight streaming through. It's pretty great.

BEFORE: You can see the lights that inspired the master bathroom design hanging here. Waste not, want not, as we New Englanders say. AFTER: This room is for quiet studying, reading, entertaining sans electronics, and just generally enjoying three walls of windows with dappled sunlight streaming through. It’s pretty great.

I mean, just look at the sunlight. And the actual light hanging above the kids' study table. Wall color: Sea Salt.

I mean, just look at the sunlight. And the actual light hanging above the kids’ study table. Wall color: Sea Salt.

The kids also got an entire room just for their video game console, but in fairness it is the smallest room in the house, and has no doors, which means lots of parental supervision (much to their chagrin).

BEFORE: The not original (and not wood) panelling hid what was once an exterior wall. The accordion doors were also not original and were pretty gross. AFTER: By narrowing the entry way between the kids' game room (former dining room) and the sun room (former exterior) we left room for future addition of French doors. Then this sun room can double as a guest room when the kids are grown and visit with their own offspring (don't cry Mrs W, they'll always be your babies).

BEFORE: The not original (and not wood) panelling hid what was once an exterior wall. The accordion doors were also not original and were pretty gross. AFTER: By narrowing the entry way between the kids’ game room (former dining room) and the sun room (former exterior) we left room for future addition of French doors. Then this sun room can double as a guest room when the kids are grown and visit with their own offspring (don’t cry Mrs W, they’ll always be your babies).

BEFORE: This room was the original dining room of the house, and even still had the built-in china hutch. AFTER: We kept the hutch (duh) but painted out the vertical strapping on the walls to make the room feel a bit more modern. The four doorways/passageways in this room a perfect spot for the kids' gaming system. Parental supervision ensured.

BEFORE: This room was the original dining room of the house, and even still had the built-in china hutch. AFTER: We kept the hutch (duh) but painted out the vertical strapping on the walls to make the room feel a bit more modern. The four doorways/passageways in this room a perfect spot for the kids’ gaming system. Parental supervision ensured. (Mud room/side entry sneak peek!)

BEFORE: A view to the sunroom through the former dining room. AFTER: Now a sunlit and welcoming spot for homework, and a welcoming spot for playing video games for the kids. After the homework is done, naturally.

BEFORE: A view to the sunroom through the former dining room. AFTER: Now a sunlit and welcoming spot for homework, and a welcoming spot for playing video games for the kids. After the homework is done, naturally.

BEFORE: You can see a better angle of the accordion door and cheap paneling (added in the 80s with the addition). AFTER: Now the room has more of a room-like proportion, and is just big enough to seat some gaming teens and tweens.

BEFORE: You can see a better angle of the accordion door and cheap paneling (added in the 80s with the addition). AFTER: By reducing the opening, the space has more of a room-like proportion, and is just big enough to seat some gaming teens and tweens. Wall color: Repose Gray.

This home really had a great set of bones. All I had to do was help the clients choose colors, fixtures, plan out how to place their furnishings and lay out their zones, and they did the rest, injecting so much home into this house that it felt inviting from day one. Eventually they’ll get to the window dressing part (which we all know costs a small fortune), but for now they get uninterrupted views of a gorgeous neighborhood, dappled sunlight from hundred year-old trees, and lots of space to call home.

BEFORE: This room was in rough shape, with a leak that had dripped through the ceiling, and some not so thoughtful decor decisions. AFTER: Now this is the room to beat, bright, welcoming, and soothing. I just know there will be love, life and laughter in here for years to come.

BEFORE: This room was in rough shape, with a leak that had dripped through the ceiling, and some not so thoughtful decor decisions. AFTER: Now this is the room to beat, bright, welcoming, and soothing. I just know there will be love, life and laughter in here for years to come.

xoxo

You’ve got to give it what you got now…*

*Lyrics from Mean Streets by Tennis from their new EP Small Sounds. It’s no secret that I love this band, but this mini album is excellent. I dare you not to get this song in your head for several happy days.

I know you’re all still geeking out over the amazing, awesome, inspiring transformations from the One Room Challenge, but do you remember me teasing that I’d soon have pictures to share from my clients’ Project W house? Well, first room, here you go. This is a major BEFORE & AFTER post. Get ready.

BEFORE: Some serious alterations needed to be made. AFTER: A more architecturally appropriate bathroom emerged.

BEFORE: Some serious alterations needed to be made. AFTER: A more architecturally appropriate bathroom emerged.

It seems like so long ago that I first met with my clients on Project W, and first glimpsed at their terrible, wonderful, overwhelmingly dated raw material of a house that was to become their dream home. It seems like another life ago, not only because so much time has passed (and so much has happened), but because their home has completely transformed. You know those makeover shows where people don’t recognize a loved one, or think they’re in someone else’s home? Yeah, their house is kind of like that.

BEFORE: You had to walk underneath that eave to get into the master bathroom. AFTER: We repositioned the entrance to the bathroom, converted the awkward former entry into a large closet, while maintaining a period-appropriate vibe.

BEFORE: You had to walk underneath that eave to get into the master bathroom. AFTER: We repositioned the entrance to the bathroom, converted the awkward former entry into a large closet, while maintaining a period-appropriate vibe.

read on…

So how’s about spendin’ half a day, underneath a tree losin’ leaves?…*

*Lyrics from The Nerve off the 2008 album Keep Color by The Republic Tigers. I followed the Spotify suggestions and found this band to be intriguing. I struggled to find an appropriate song for this post – perhaps my tentative reaction to the band is akin to my tentative approach to the roof deck. So maybe I got it right after all. Either way, both the band and the outdoor spaces should prove even more interesting in the future.

AFTER: This is how it's been looking for the past few weeks - pretty bare, and pretty untouched, save for the lush greenery that's grown happily around us.

I thought it only fitting that I finally share with you some pictures of our outside space here at the Pied, you know, seeing as how we’re officially in the height of summer. It’s been tropical in NYC for the last few weeks, and, I must admit, our valiant attempts to be out there every day, to enjoy the space no matter what, have been thwarted by intense thunderstorms, incessant humidity, mosquitoes, and general hotness. Also, we haven’t really gotten very far with the decorating. Yet.

Naturally, the decorating (and unpacking) inside the flat has taken precedence, and beyond ordering a sofa combo for lounging al fresco, we haven’t been able to make many decisions. We can’t seem to choose an outdoor rug, an outdoor dining table, or an outdoor coffee table, so our time out there is relegated to deep lounging (sans pillows, because we can’t decide on those either). Hunching over our laps to eat isn’t exactly pleasant (plus, we get enough of that inside, thank you very much), and we haven’t been able to properly carve out a little comfy zone for all the things we like to do outdoors. But, I will say, the lounging part I think we’ve nailed.

read on…

All my hopes they stay curled in between these four walls…*

*Lyrics from 6am off Fitz and the Tantrums‘ new album More Than Just a Dream. I wanted to find something upbeat – I’m so tired of being in the doldrums – and was so happy to learn that they’d come out with a new album (plus, any band that can play this well live is worth listening to). I truly enjoyed their first offering, and hope to get to know this one on Spotify before purchasing. Though, based on the few songs I’ve heard so far, I expect this album will be coming to my virtual home soon.

BEFORE: This was how the apartment looked when we got ahold of it. Believe it or not, that accent wall is grey, not blue. Well, you'll see.

Next only to a thorough cleaning in creating a feeling of home is painting. When we took the pied-à-deux we asked for permission to paint (again – we had permission for the upstairs flat, too). Our landlord graciously allowed us to paint since that mean he didn’t have to. Win-win. So we decided to go a bit further with our selections, pushing ourselves into a slightly more bold direction. And, while the prior tenants had done a nice job choosing paints – a neutral grey with a charcoal accent – we wanted to put our own stamp on it. Plus, we had those hand sewn curtains to contend with, as well as all our other furniture and things skewing toward an established scheme.

At first, I was scared of doing the whole living room in a dark color. The ceilings in the pied-à-deux are much lower than they were in the original Pied, and we get less direct sunlight (due to the position of the surrounding buildings, and the fact that we’re on a lower floor). Both of those things mean that it’s darker to begin with, so choosing a deeply saturated hue was a risk (and, frankly, one that I’m still coming to terms with on some days). But, hanging art, mirrors, curtains, and shelves (I’ll show you all that soon, I hope!) has really helped to make the place feel brighter when it needs to, yet stay cozy and handsome. All in all, the color scheme is working for us, even if it still pushes me on some days.

read on…

A little bit of all you got, can never bring you down…*

*Lyrics from You’re The Best (Around!) from THE Karate Kid (1984). I probably should have used ‘INSPIRING GUITAR SOLO‘ as my lyrics, but these words were slightly more accurate. I urge you to watch the video, at work, and loudly, preferably, and then do the crane kick at everyone you see for a whole day. Do it. I dare you.

Yep, karate training (slash cleaning) sucks. I feel you, Ralph.

So, yesterday I saw a dude who walks like Ralph Macchio. Jeff claims to not know what that means, but I ask you this: if you’ve seen The Karate Kid as many times as we (of my generation, you young’ns) have, don’t you instinctively know what I mean? I dare say he could pick Daniel-sun out of a walking line-up. Maybe it was a girl thing to notice. But, I digress. Ralph Macchio was likely on my mind because of the one-day Miyagi-style boot camp I held for myself yesterday.

read on…

I’m feelin’ so bad, won’t you make the music easy and sad…*

*Lyrics from Frank Sinatra’s One For My Baby (And One More For The Road). This song pretty much epitomizes my feelings for these past weeks. Plus, who doesn’t have random Frank Sinatra songs rolling through their head, late at night, after a few too many glasses of wine? Lucky for me, I have a patient, understanding, and sympathetic husband who will play me songs while I weep in the middle of the night.

Last look: the foyer. Many things - from finding out about Heath Ledger's passing, to inventing a new nick-name (Bern) for my brother (Ben) - happened here. Cheers to the good times.

I’ve been remiss in filling you in on the progress at the Big House, and The Pied. I’ve been busy. I’ve been deeply sad. I’ve been just trying to get through it. I’m alive, so there’s that. And our house is no longer ours. There’s that, too.

read on…

And after 1986 what else could be new…*

*Lyrics from Modern Woman by Billy Joel. I know this song from Ruthless People, one of the funniest movies of my childhood (and to be honest, it still holds up today – if you haven’t watched it, or even haven’t seen it in a while, DO, you won’t regret it). Anyway, I had a note to myself that this song should be used for the blog, and I couldn’t think of a better moment to use it than now. Plus, I’m in a total nostalgia place these days, so a bit of youthful indulgence in 80s song fare can’t be bad, right? Besides, the video I found is pretty amusing. Completely the opposite of modern in every way. 

BEFORE: The chairs were upholstered in some sort of silk-ish chantung fabric in a 70s chartreuse. In other words, disgusting.

So, do you recall that a short time ago I said that I had to let go of fixing up my mom’s condo? I had been slowly purchasing her things that I thought she would like, and that I liked, so that she could have her dream home. But, a few weeks ago I discovered that the two tufted, swivel barrel chairs that I bought (pounced on, I think is a more accurate term) for her from craigslist were not holding up so well. A combination of an unsupervised child and a pair of apathetic adults led to one of the chairs being cut into, with scissors, ON PURPOSE, for experimental amusement. Needless to say I was not amused.

read on…

It’s not a perfect plan, but it’s the one we’ve got…*

*Lyrics from St. Vincent‘s Champagne Year from the Strange Mercy album. I still really adore this album, and this song really just felt appropriate for this post. I don’t think I’ve used it before, but I apologize if I have. Plus, we at the new job were all discussing that we felt that this coming year was going to be good. Perhaps not a champagne year, but, well, we could all use a bit of a respite from doom, couldn’t we?

DURING: Exterior, mid-new roof. I neglected to do before shots of the exterior because the place was surrounded by snow every time we saw it until we started.

So, I’ve been pretty absent from the blog lately, and, well, that’s because I’ve been pretty busy in real life. We got the pied-à-deux livable, and then had to immediately return to life in the Big House, in part because I was asked to help some clients design a whole house remodel. You heard that right: they found a fixer in an incredible neighborhood (on a coveted street) and wanted to just go for it. And they requested me. (Picture a small tear of gratitude welling in my eye.)

Having seen Dave’s craftsmanship and my design work in this kitchen and bath, as well as my entire house, they asked to have us come through the house and toss out a few ideas. You can’t imagine how overwhelming it is to meet new people, have brokers, builders, and other subs there, and to try to get to know someone’s taste/aesthetic/vibe right away. As we walked through the house, I got a feeling right away for what it should look like. For how it should be changed to meet the needs of a modern family. I felt like I could do a good job. And I was scared shitless.

read on…

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