Category Archives: mini makeover

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…

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…

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…

The light is long, but it’s not long before it’s gone…

*Lyrics from A Simple Answer off Grizzly Bear‘s latest offering, Shields. I’m a fan of their music, and it grows on me the more I listen to it. Feels new and old at once, and familiar and fresh together. And emotional (and we all know I love emotional). And I always think of London when I hear them – posters promoting their then latest album, Veckatimest, were plastered all over the tube stations when I visited England for the first time ever. So, yeah, I’m a fan. Hope you are, too.

BEFORE: About 12" across, this little tray seemed perfect as a layering piece for the wall.

Have you every wanted to polish something silver-ish, but weren’t sure how, or even if it’d work? As a fan of finding thrift, antique-ish pieces to use as accessories (and even furniture, gasp!), I’m always coming across things that look like they could be silver, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t (the sale tag usually clues me in to that fact). Recently, I spotted a sweet little silver tray that I thought could be used as a mirror-esque item to hang on the wall in the pied-à-terre. (We all know the power of bouncing light around in tiny spaces.) For about $12, I thought, good shape, good size, reflective, textural, I’ll take it! (Jeff said, that’s old, and I hate old anything. I said, too bad, trust me, it’ll be great!)

So, I brought home the little gem, figuring that its character, intricate pattern, and patina would only act as another transitional item that might help visually blend our new things with the entirely old and crumbly existing architecture of the apartment. Only I had no idea how to clean it. So I decided to take a chance on a silver polishing product called NEVR-DULL (yes, that’s right, nevr). Found it at the hardware store that’s directly across from the flat. How convenient is that?

read on…

You and me could go on and on and on…*

*Lyrics from Eleanor Friedberger‘s I Won’t Fall Apart On You Tonight from her album Last Summer. I haven’t decided as yet if I’ll purchase this one – it’s one of those albums I enjoy, but not sure if it’s because it’s in the background of the other things I’m doing. Anywho, check her/it out as you see fit. Carry on.

Major BEFORE: Back when we bought the house (and our sweet pup was just getting to know the place that would be her forever home) this was what the porch looked like. We've since had it rebuilt, re-supported, re-re-staired (yep, twice), and now re-stained. Phew.

So, just when you thought we were done improving our current house, well, we took a hard look at the calendar, the side porch, and realized (much to our collective chagrin) that it needed a fresh coat of stain before the winter season. Ugh. First, ugh for having to think about winter already! Second, ugh for having to do another labor-intensive project during a time when our house is meant to stay show-ready. Last, ugh for the onslaught of back-breaking projects that we had to undertake in the span of days. Ugh, then blerg.

read on…

Keep your old and wasted words…*

*Lyrics from Lights Out, Words Gone by Bombay Bicycle Club from their album A Different Kind of Fix. I searched for artists that were similar to Local Natives (my fave), and this was one of the recommendations. I think I like them. Gotta keep listening to make sure.

BEFORE: Soot and smokey residue had collected after years of having an improperly lined chimney, and the mantle just looked tired.

No matter how many times I say it, it’s still true: new paint makes all the difference. When we had the floors in the house redone (during the Great Renovation), we were forced to freshen every inch of trim in the entire first floor with new paint. The only spot that I avoided – for at that time I was afraid of making a mistake – was the fireplace mantle. It had some smokey residue (from before we had the chimney rebuilt), and the old paint was yellower than the brand new, fresh, just-painted trim of the rest of the first read on…

you think you can simply press rewind?…*

*Lyrics from You Must Be Out Of Your Mind by The Magnetic Fields from their 2010 album Realism. I’ve been spotifying again. I like it. Reminds me I’m overdue for a blog song mix post. Hmmm… first things first.

BEFORE: Embarrassed doesn't even begin to cover how I felt when I opened the garage. Frustrated, overwhelmed, annoyed, guilty, you name it.

May I just say what a relief it is to NOT have to look at that (above) anymore? As many of you may recall, we completed our major home makeover in the fall of 2010. And, as many of you also know, we ended up slowly redo-ing our family bath beginning in the winter (January) of 2011. And I trust that you know we redid our basement not that long ago. What you may not know is how hard it is to wrangle, corral, and otherwise lasso construction debris after so many major projects.

Here’s how it starts out: At first you think, ‘Hey, I’ll just move this stuff into the basement, you know, just to get it out of the way for now.’ Then, after you realize that you can’t keep whatever junk you have stored in the basement down there forever, you say, ‘Hey, let’s move that junk to the garage so it’ll be easier to get rid of it.’ Eventually, you forget about said stuff (or can ignore it easier), or you need to add new stuff to the ever-growing pile. What starts as a few sheets of plywood, some scraps of salvaged trim and old solid wood doors (saved aside because surely someone can use them) turns into a cast-iron bathtub filled with empty paint cans, unusable scraps of wood, and a heap of carpeting as big as your car. I’m actually not exaggerating – we had a tub, toilet, 800 sqft of carpet AND padding, a rusted old gas grill, so much wood debris I can’t even name it all, in addition to used furniture and leftover trash from construction, from moving (my mom) and from painting and masonry. Our garage was a total mess (for those of you who don’t mind the odd adult-rated curseword, it was a shithole).

read on…

I want to show you what love’s all about…*

*Lyrics from Hungry Eyes from the movie Dirty Dancing. Partly this song is inspired by my previous post about the tree we planted for Bec, where I used another song from Dirty Dancing. Partly it works because I wish both she and Patrick Swayze were still here with us. Partly I couldn’t think of another song that could accompany a post about compost. Can you?

At the risk of boring you all to death with pictures of the yard, I have another update to share with you. And it’s even more boring: it’s the compost area. Ugh, I know, who cares? But, you might care since it looks so nice.

AFTER: There's now about an inch or two of crushed bluestone over most of the area 5' x 15' area.

read on…

And all the nobody people, and all the somebody people…*

*Lyrics from Five Years by David Bowie. I already used this song for the other master closet renovation, but thought that since this closet is really an extension of that one, well, it fit to use it twice. Plus, I mean, it’s Bowie. 

AFTER: I shot this looking into a full-length mirror we hung (which is why the bathroom is on the right and not the left). The stencil is in metallic silver (like I used in the family bath for the stripes).

Ok, so, closets. Who knew they were so important? Obviously having recently finished the last touches on our master closet renovation we’ve been eager to tidy our bedroom into a livable state. Of course then we took a mini-break to NYC and have had travel bags and suitcases strewn about the room looking for a home (previously stored in either the basement or the white room closet which is now our second master closet – confused? me, too). So it was time to finally tackle the other closet in the master bedroom.

read on…

All day today the sun was out, the winter stayed inside the shade…*

*Lyrics from All Day Today by Hospitality. I’m attempting to seek out new artists, new sounds, new experiences for my ears. Check it out, if you like. And feel free to recommend some ear-sounds for me.

I love impromptu house projects. I really, actually do. What I don’t love are the crazy deadlines that accompany them. But the spontaneous impetus to make something better than it was before? Yeah, love. So, last weekend when we were continuing to deal with the state of the basement…

The basement! It's a total work-in-progress filled with cast-off furnishings, DIY supplies and other remnants of our life that got boxed up during the renovation but never got unboxed.

…we began by clearing out the laundry room. Before we began our mini-makeover the following things were issues: the folding area wasn’t working as well as it could; the floors were grungy to look at; and, there was unused space that could have been better utilized for household storage (to get it OUT of the basement once and for all!). All of these things were fixable by a little elbow grease (and a thorough vacuuming), paint, reorganization (and imagination) and some thrifty re-purposing.

read on…

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