Category Archives: furniture

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…

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…

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…

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…

And it was all yellow…*

*Lyrics from Coldplay‘s first single, Yellow, off their first album, Parachutes. Don’t you miss old Coldplay? Don’t get me wrong, I still love Chris Martin’s voice, and they’re clearly talented, but, well, maybe I shouldn’t like the same band that my 9 year-old niece thinks is great (‘OMG, I LOVE them!’). Maybe I’ll just remember when…

BEFORE: Mustard velvet upholstery, while in excellent shape, wasn't our bag, baby. Plus, there was a squeaky spring in the seat that was mildly annoying.

Speaking of ‘remembering when,’ remember when I moved into my pied-à-terre and I was all ‘we’re going to do this fast because we must’? Yeah, well, turns out, not so fast. Some things went really quickly – e.g., choosing and applying paint colors, buying a sofa and mattress, getting some cabinetry for the kitchen – while other things moved much slower – e.g., accessorizing, figuring out where to put things, getting a table for the TV, hanging art. All along, however, there was the dream to reupholster a little vintage chair I had originally purchased for my tiny mom (the chair felt a little lower than today’s chairs, and she’s shrimpy short) and move it to the apartment. We have limited floor space, and limited doorway and hallway space (see: the bed debacle), and this petite chair that wasn’t going to work for my mom seemed perfect. All we had to do was choose a fabric.

Chirp, chirp, chirp. Choosing a fabric. One would think it would be easy. As it turns out, not easy at all. It took months. And months. As a matter of fact, when the upholsterer finally came to pick up the chair (they pick up!) and get started on it, the whole process only took about a week. He had a slot open up in his schedule, and just powered through it. So, we were the hold-up on this one. No one else to blame but ourselves.

read on…

In a New York minute, everything can change…*

*Lyrics from Don Henley‘s ‘adult contemporary hit’ from 1989 called New York Minute. It was literally playing in my head immediately as we encountered just how small our pied-a-terre really was. And as we learned the hard way just how quick your brain must be to survive rapid and abrupt changes in plans. (And how quickly we learned that crap songs from the late 80s will stay in your brain for.ev.er. whether you like it or not.)

The dreaded hallway. This has changed many a design plan, let me tell you.

So, remember way back when (I’m sure you won’t) to when I mentioned that I was hunting for a new bed? That was years ago, and I never stopped looking, just never found one worth writing about. The bed we’ve been, erm, enjoying for lo’ these past nearly 7 years is in fine shape, and totally decent. Not broken, not rickety, not smashed up or damaged in any way. It’s just not, well, sexy, or scintillating, or luxurious. I guess you’d say it’s more of a handsome bed – which is all well and good – but I was craving more than just handsome. So I kept on looking.

Then we semi-moved to NYC to our little pied-à-terre, and everything changed. We put our house on the market, we downsized to a just-barely-big-enough space, and the bed hunting, well, it just fell by the wayside. That is, until I spied the Vanguard Brea bed on sale from Horchow. Don’t ask me how I first saw it – likely Pinterest or some such place – but when I did, I knew it had all the properties I was looking for. Upholstered and tufted? Check. Nailhead trim? Check (even though this was not in the list of needs for Jeff). Neutral enough to live through several bedroom designs (we’re not looking for a short-term piece of furniture here), headboard tall and elegant enough to make the bed feel like a nest and a respite from daily life woes, and sturdy enough to last many, many years. It had it all. And it was on sale. We jumped at it, and in an attempt to be efficient we thought we should have the bed delivered to The Pied rather than the house. We figured we’d save on having to haul the bed back and forth , plus it would give us a touch of richness in our bare bones apartment. We thought we were geniuses.

We were so very wrong. read on…

The suffering, the struggling, I did it for you, I did it for me…*

*Lyrics from Cubism Dream by Local Natives. It’s no secret that I love this group, even though Jeff warns me not to look at them if I ever see them live – apparently they’re hipsters with a capital H. Little does he know, I don’t care (bring on the waxed, handle-bar mustaches!). I love that album, and love it still every time I hear it. This song feels like love and sadness and nostalgia and tenderness mixed together, which is pretty much what touching love feels like. Which is pretty much what I feel for my little niece, touching love.

BEFORE: Color notwithstanding, I could see the cuteness in the piece. Plus, it was smaller than an adult sized desk, as many older pieces are. Perfect for my 9-year old niece.

Last year, driving innocently by a yard sale (that I swear I didn’t know was going to be there) I spotted a weird but cute vanity/desk in a gross shade of green. I kept driving, but thought about it for the rest of the afternoon. Later on, I convinced Jeff to drive by with me, just to see if it was still there. If it was, I told him, I’m buying it. He said, what for? I said, not for me, for [my niece]! She needs a desk! He said, okay. So I got it, for $20. Not bad, eh?

read on…

Honey, I’ve been really struggling to see this thing through to the end…*

*Lyrics from Camera Obscura‘s Careless Love off their album My Maudlin Career. I just discovered (read: found, I certainly did NOT discover anyone) them the other day and I really enjoyed this album. Have a listen – it’s nice.

Additonal living space mood board. Full furniture credits available on olioboard - see the link toward the end of the post for more info.

So, recently my oldest friends in the world – who I don’t get to see very often due to schedules, locations and our own family commitments – let on that they had been making over their kitchen and main floor of their house for the past six months. By themselves. Gulp. You got that right. Holy crap! Now, these are not un-busy people – two kids, demanding jobs, lots of family spread out around the entirety of New England, you name it, they’re doing it. I was flabbergasted, impressed and nervous for them all at once. I would have loved to help them in the planning stages, but it was one of those things… first the sink needed to be replaced, and, well, if we’re going to have to hire a plumber anyway… and we want to add some outlets eventually, and the walls have to be opened up… and we could really use some more counter space, plus these counters will never survive the new sinkthese floors are really not working anymore, and this carpeting has to go… you get the idea. Snowball effect. I’ve lived through it, but not the DIY version. It’s hard enough with seasoned pros at your side, let alone tackling it yourself on weekends. With small children. For six months! Phew.

read on…

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