Category Archives: after pictures

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…

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…

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.

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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…

Since you’ve been gone, I can breathe for the first time…*

*Lyrics from Kelly Clarkson‘s 2004 song Since U Been Gone (yes, she spelled it like that). This song has been looping in my head ever since we landed yesterday from a brief trip to Utah for a family holiday. The air quality was extremely poor (read this article if you like), and it was my first time at altitude. Add that to my recently discovered exercise induced asthma (and the warm weather scent that fills our pied-à-terre air), and you could say that breathing easily is a luxury I won’t soon take for granted.

Original kitchen bits on the left, our addition on the right. IKEA was our friend in here, except for the vintage/antique table we're using as our eat-in spot.

Sausages. I’m not really a huge fan. But it’s all I can smell from out my new window since the new restaurant opened up on the ground level. (Lucky for me, it’s winter, and thusly the windows are mostly shut. Mostly.) Now, there are worse, far, far worse smells that I could have been inundated with. (This IS New York City we’re talking about here.) Worse scents that could rise up and hit me in the face, fill my nostrils and linger there like an unwanted houseguest, or a particularly chatty colleague. No, instead, I am faced with sausages.

A friend on facebook recently wrote about her discomfort at the fishmonger’s counter of her local market. The subsequent ‘clobbering’ (I believe that’s how she put it) and decapitating of three fish made her, as a buddhist, very (and painfully) aware of the fact that not only was a life about to be over, that it was also being taken, by force. Pretty heavy stuff. That’s sort of what that sausage smell does to me. Reminds me of my place in the world, of my own ambivalence about eating animals, of the highs and lows that come with living in a world with so many inhabitants, of so many various ways of living. Makes me think simultaneously of pigs and fat, of warm, delicious sauces, and of blood, and makes me feel hungry and mildly off-put at the same time.

Which brings me to my point: our kitchen! 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…