Category Archives: decor

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

Well you better be rich, or be real good at cookin’…*

*Lyrics from Lily Allen‘s Hard Out Here. This video is NSFW (and is controversial, so it would seem), but the message is pretty spot on. Anyway, I wanted to find something to listen to that would compliment this post, but instead I found something that made me want to persevere, challenge the status quo, and fight the good fight, which is just as important. Plus, it’s way catchy, and probably great to add to an exercise playlist. I always like a little ‘tough bitch’ music when I’m feeling less than that, don’t you? 

When we last left off, you saw the glorious living space that we carved out of practically nothing. Now, have a look at the kitchen/dining room.

When we last left off, you saw the glorious living space that we carved out of practically nothing. Now, have a look at the kitchen/dining room.

When we moved from the pied-à-terre to the pied-à-deux we brought our kitchen with us, like the good faux Italians we are. Our IKEA cabinets, countertop, and pendant lighting made the trek down one flight to become our new old kitchen. The only real difference between the two spaces is the color of the existing laminate countertops, and the age of the refrigerator (the old place had a brand new one, this one, not so much). We actually had the landlord move our stove down one flight, too, when we discovered (much to our chagrin) that the stove in The Deux was mostly not working (one out of four burners worked, and the oven didn’t heat up at all). Oh, and the other difference is that the upper floor unit had about 18″ more space in the dining area.

BEFORE: The prior tenants' paint choices and furniture layout just wasn't for us. AFTER: All new fresh paint, layout, and lighting make these spaces function for us.

BEFORE: The prior tenants’ paint choices and furniture layout just weren’t for us. AFTER: All new fresh paint, layout, and lighting make these spaces function for us.

read on…

Take me out of this place I’m in…*

*Lyrics from Human by Daughter off their album If You Leave. I found this on spotify (naturally) and really enjoyed their acoustic “spotify session’s” version. I recommend you check it out before you hear their original album version. The song felt appropriate for my first substantive post in a while. After all, we’re all just human, underneath it all.

I know. I know! It’s been a long, LONG time since we moved in. Since I shared anything relevant to design. I know. Let me make it up to you?

Welcome home.

So, here it is, the Pied-à-Deux: our tiny, sweet, tiny, small, cozy, small, bitty, efficient, annoyingly small living room. And it’s our entryway, and our closet, and my office, and our guest room, and part of our bedroom in that the TV sits on a dresser 2/3 full of our clothing. It’s small. It’s been tough to cope with how small it is, but we really tried to make it as beautiful and practical as possible. And we do like it very much.

BEFORE (left): Former tenant’s furniture layout didn’t feel as useful to us. AFTER (right): We reoriented the sofa/TV layout to allow for easier access to the niches.

read on…

I need to find a paradise for me…*

*Lyrics from Heaven For The Sinner by Bonobo featuring Erykah Badu. I felt like lounge music was appropriate for this post (about our outdoor lounge space), and this song is really cool sounding. Their latest album was released in March, but I was otherwise occupied at that time, so I missed it. Until now. I enjoy a good chill album from time to time, and this one is really nice. Have a listen, and find your own vision of paradise.

The roof at night is glamorously romantic thanks to inherited globe string lights.

At the start of the summer I had high hopes for our little roof deck. And by ‘little’ I mean larger than our entire apartment. We’ve estimated that the roof terrace is about 520 sf which is an unheard of luxury for a rental apartment (let alone a non-rental one). But, it’s not flat (like, at all) and it’s hampered by logistical issues – no water source (and pitiful building water pressure), small hallways in the building inhibiting bringing up any sizeable furnishings or grillware, troubling structural questions that prohibit us from putting any large pots or plants anywhere (we just don’t know if the roof could take it). So, we’ve made do with what we could do, and are doing without where we just can’t solve the issue.

When I last showed you the space we’d managed to get a pair of sofas, inherited a couple of teak lounge chairs, as well a couple of plastic IKEA chairs for dining. Since then, we’ve added a rug (IKEA, and not a proper outdoor one, but it’s polypropelene, so we figured it was good enough), a small dining table (IKEA), and a tree stump coffee table (a HomeGoods find that Jeff and I debated about for an hour before caving, and we are so happy we did, even though it’s not properly weather resistant). We couldn’t figure out pillows dedicated for just the outdoor space (and we don’t really have enough storage for extra anything) so we just bring out our indoor pillows when we want to use the space.

Welcome home.

read on…

When they walked in the room we didn’t know what to do…*

*Lyrics from another song, Givin’ Em What They Love, from Janelle Monáe‘s new album The Electric Lady (deluxe album via Target, regular iTunes album here). This song features Prince, and is one of those songs I’m sure could turn into a 20 minute set at a concert. At least I hope. Great song, great album, great way to usher us across that early September doldrum into autumnal sexiness. Perfect for a post about our bed, right? Too much information?

Some pressure treated posts cut into pieces were the best, cheapest solution for much needed under-bed storage.

While we may not have a full-on bedroom at The Pied – what we have is technically a ‘sleeping area’ since there is no closet, no door, no window, no means of escape – we do have enough space for a queen sized bed. I should say mattress, not bed. Even though we were lucky enough to carve out enough room for a dresser, some shelves, a mattress, and side tables, we can’t exactly devote any more space to the extra inches that a true bed frame would need. The mattress on the floor option was the cheapest bed solution, but the dramatically unlevel floors (I would roll toward the edge of the bed during the night, often waking gripping the side of the mattress for stability), combined with our need to have more options for under-the-bed storage made it necessary for us to think about getting yet another this’ll-do-for-now bed. The simplest (read: next cheapest) solution we could think up involved a split box spring, some form of risers, and a whole lot of screws.

read on…

Stop wastin’ time, make up your mind…*

*Lyrics from Etta JamesI Prefer You. I heard this on Pandora while unpacking and thought it was particularly appropriate for this next post. That said, I could really use some help in deciding what I prefer.

Taken in early May, this is basically our view of Manhattan from Brooklyn. I mean, from the river, on a boat, with no one in our way. It's pretty spectacular.

It’s official: we’re New Yorkers now. There are no more papers to sign, no more last minute projects, no more ‘oh, wait, where’s that going to go?’ We’re here, and we’ve got to make this little place our home. However, there’s still the matter of finding homes for all that stuff that made the journey from our (in retrospect) giant 1,926 sf house to our teeny, tiny, little Pied-à-deux.

I’m working on it, slowly but surely, tinkering, and rearranging things. Things that may still move some more, things that felt important enough to pack up and haul all the way to Brooklyn from Massachusetts, things that suddenly seem completely unimportant. Moves do that to you: you numb yourself to the disruptive and mind-altering power of a huge life shift, and just mechanically get through the process until it’s over. Well, that’s how I do it. Maybe that’s normal, too.

read on…

Some will win, some will lose, some are gonna sing the blues…*

*Alright, this one’s for the locals… you know who you are. Lyrics from Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey. Journey (with Steve Perry) is my quintessential Massachusetts classic rock band. Go to karaoke here, go witness an entire bar full of people getting hoarse singing (badly in my case) along with whomever is brave and talented enough to cover this song. You will feel joy. You will be in Western Mass.

**UPDATE: We’ve added a credit/debit capability to our sale, so if you don’t have cash or checks, no problem! We’ll have a Square card reader with secure payment options – leave it to my savvy husband to sort that one out. Also, we’re going to be selling our grill (added to the big ticket items below). Hope to see you tomorrow!**

It's a mess now, but I promise there's good stuff in here.

Whether you want to call it a yard sale, a tag sale, or a garage sale, we’re having one this Saturday. Forecast so far is good – hot, but good – so on we will press.

A smattering of the goods that will be available:

kitchen goods, linens, craft supplies, holiday ornaments, sporting equipment, lamps, side tables, sofa tables, indoor/outdoor tables, coffee table, bookcases, Haier mini-fridge, yard maintenance tools, vases, baskets, curtains, area rug, rug pads, fans, ladies’ shoes (size 8), suitcases, bathroom supplies, towels, bedding, art, movies, books, speaker stands, fireplace accoutrements, and the odd un-burned CD. (I’m certain I’m leaving somethings out, but you get the general idea.)

Big ticket items are as follows (I will update this list if anything sells via craigslist before Saturday):

  • lawnmower – asking $75 or best offer (brand: Toro, gas powered)
  • snowblower – 520E Ariens – asking $275 or best offer (originally retailed for $689 in 2008 or 2009)
  • antique teak dining table/desk – asking $1000 firm
  • solid walnut round coffee table – asking $700 firm – in good condition, retails new for $999
  • media/TV cabinet – asking $650 or best offer
  • treadmill – asking $750 or best offer
  • grill, gas, Weber Genesis series (it’s the S-320, but it appears to be discontinued), stainless steel, with two propane tanks, and assorted accessories – $400 or best offer (this one hurts a little, it’s a great grill, but we just can’t bring it along)

If you’re interested in anything listed on craigslist, best to contact us through that route as Jeff is managing that part of the sale. Or just show up sometime on Saturday and fight it out with the rest of them.

Everything MUST go, so make us an offer. Hopefully we can’t refuse.

See you this Saturday, June 1st, from 9am to 3pm on Princeton Street in Holyoke, MA for our last hurrah. And let’s hope for good weather, shall we?

xoxo

 

After everything…*

*Lyrics from Heavy Feet by Local Natives. I listened to their newest album, Hummingbird, on repeat for three days straight, and then I took a break so I wouldn’t ruin it for myself. You all know I love them. This song is why. Plus, read on, and you’ll see why these words resonated for this post.

Our eclectic vibe, inspired in part by a gift from my sister.

You see, a few Christmases ago, my younger sister gave me a print of a Kandinsky painting she spied that reminded her of my love for blurry dots. I actually and sincerely love that side-effect of having poor distance vision, that blurring of all the edges and background that happens in movies, the way that light turns into semi-transparent glowing orbs that sparkle and move when you blink. It’s really just poor vision, but I find it beautiful (and one of the reasons I don’t want Lasik). It took us years – quite literally two actual years – to muster up the effort to go and have it professionally framed. It was an odd size, and also a really high quality print – no cheap frame would do. But, once we did have it framed, we decided it would be the major inspiration point for our color scheme and vibe at The Pied.

Custom framed with a coupon at Michael's, this bit of art is the center of our design direction.

read on…

In five years time, you might just prove me wrong…*

*Lyrics from Five Years Time by Noah & The Whale. I don’t really know why I chose this song for today – I had a note about using it for this reveal in my phone. Maybe it’s because I don’t expect to be living here in 5 years’ time, nor do I expect to like all the same things that I do now. Hell, I don’t even think I’d recognize my former self from 5 or 10 years ago. Let’s just say I’m a transition-er, in transition, with transitory leanings, and eagerness to roll along. Shall we?

The view from the dining area in the kitchen.

One glance around our pied-a-terre and you’d think we were the vainest bunch around. There are mirrors in every room, including an additional mirror in the bathroom (that means there are two in there), and a mirrored end table that makes the idea of drinking martinis in this space seem that much more glamorous. But, the mirrors aren’t all about looking at ourselves (though that extra one in the bathroom certainly is). They’re about bouncing light around, and making this teeny space feel bigger, brighter, and by extension, more livable for longer.

You see, when we first approached the paint options for the space, we knew we needed to eradicate the pale cream/dirty yellow completely (or as completely as we could – the kitchen still sports that soul-killing color, but we distract ourselves with delicious foods and tantalizing wines). So, we chose a deep tealy-blue – Gentleman’s Gray by BM – for one wall in the living room. (The other walls in the living room are Coventry Gray also by BM. Funnily enough we had chosen another gray, but the clerk made a mistake. We didn’t notice until after we had begun to paint, so we just went with it. Happy accident? Ok, sure.) We wanted the room to feel cozy, but not small, and to highlight the architectural details that were worth noticing – the crisp white painted tin ceiling and crown, the high baseboard moldings – while minimizing the ones that were more awkward – the chimney breast bump out, and the strange little locker storage areas next to it. We wanted to expand the wall to make it feel broad, tall, and rich. Though naturally all that depth came at a price, and that price was light.

read on…

I love you madly, you’ve really got a hold on me…*

*Lyrics from You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me as sung by Me’Shell N’degeOcello. I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz on Pandora lately and this soulful version just delighted me. If you dig her voice, perhaps you’ll like her latest offering, Pour une âme souveraine – A Dedication to Nina Simone.

Beauty shot: Bam. Tulips. In your face.

So, the change of season has begun. I know we just had a major blizzard in the Northeast just a few weeks ago, and more snow and cold weather are on the forecast, but the sun is shining longer every day, and I am starting to notice the change – the spring fever – amongst my fellow man. The other day, the temperature reached the low 50s here in NYC, so I was able to run outside. Delightful. On my way back from the run, meandering through throngs of sunshine- and warmth-starved Brooklynites, the streets were buzzing with street vendors selling their wares, with t-shirt and shorts clad hipsters, and flower markets bursting with post-Valentine’s Day overflow stock. Naturally, I was eager to get mine, to capture just a breath of spring, so I put in a request with the husband for a mass of cheerful flowers.

He brought me three bunches of yellow tulips. read on…

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