*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.)
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…
*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.
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?
*Lyrics from I Am An Ape from the collaboration album Love This Giant by David Byrne and St. Vincent. I think this album is challenging, but interesting, and quirky, and catchy, and absolutely worth a serious listen. I don’t always need music to be easy, and when I respect the artists involved, well, it’s kind of like music, to my ears at least. Hope you give it a try, and let me know how you like it.
House Tour: Living Quarters
Despite our choice to now live a
bi-polar dual-homed existence, our home is still actually for sale. And, though my focus is on making the new spot as homey as possible, I thought you might like to see a re-cap of our living space – or, living quarters as I’m calling them. The architecture of this home, built in 1920, provides for a connected-ness that most modern families crave, while at the same time allowing for some privacy, and some division of activities. For example, many people love the look/feel of a so-called ‘open plan’ space, where the kitchen, dining and living rooms are one Great Room. Not me, and apparently not builders in the 1920s. I prefer the kitchen to be its own space – after all, sharp, hot, and time-sensitive duties (i.e., people rushing around with sharp and hot things) are performed there, which can make a mess, which can be unsightly to guests and other family members alike. But, even though I treat the kitchen as a work-zone (which, if you’re like me, it most certainly is), the living room and dining room feel like fluid extensions of one another. The builders in 1920 agreed with me there, too.
*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.
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.
*Lyrics from Good Intent by Kimbra from her album Vows. I was doing as I was told, by spotify, and checking out the latest pop albums. Must do what told. Spotify rules me. Ok, and it’s a catchy album, good voice, interesting melodies and instrumentation. So, there.
House Tour: Master Suite
How many houses from the 1920s can boast a master suite? Ok, probably quite a few at this point, but we think it’s pretty special to have our own private bathroom off our bedroom. It’s almost like its own apartment.
When we first bought the house, the bathroom adjacent was really the former maid’s bath. The sink was about 28″ off the floor (in other words, back-breakingly low), and the toilet was awkwardly placed next to the smallest shower on earth (I think it was 24″ square). Of course, I never took any before pictures of it (back then it didn’t occur to me to photograph ugly things!). Needless to say, we’ve renovated all of it: the bathroom is 100% new, including heated marble floors, recessed lighting, Starphire glass shower enclosure, and a custom trim package that matches the original 1920s woodwork.
*Lyrics from Love Is Greed by Passion Pit from their newly released album Gossamer. I first heard Passion Pit in Boston, during my summer of art, and therefore I will always associate them with my darling roommate, the light and happy mood of summer vacations, and creativity and joy. Good on them for releasing another album in the summer, especially when I’m feeling particularly vacation-y and creative. It’s as if they planned it that way.
House Tour: Family Bath
To continue with the grand tour of the home, let’s take a rest in the restroom. At least, the main one on the second floor. This room has been the trickiest one to photograph since all of the corners are occupied with things like, oh, bathtubs, toilets and cabinetry. But it’s efficient, and feels luxurious even if it isn’t ginormous like modern bathrooms tend to be (I mean, how much room does one really need to get ‘er done?). It’s one of my favorite rooms in the entire house, partly because I put in so much sweat equity into it, and partly because we worked with what we had, and took it from blech to beautiful. read on…
*Lyrics from You Won’t Let Me by Rachael Yamagata from her album Chesapeake. Every time I hear her voice, I ‘like’ her, or I click the little ‘thumbs up’ button on Pandora. The song is a little sad, and perhaps that’s how I feel about this process of letting our house go. But, make no mistake, we’re on the market and ready to entrust this lovely spot to another deserving family. Doesn’t make me love it less, or wish I could pick the whole house up and put it in my pocket. For now, more room tours to make you love it as much as we do…
House Tour: Offices
When we first started out looking for homes, fourscore and 7 years ago (I think that’s actually about accurate!), we thought we’d want at least three bedrooms: one for us, one for guests, and one for an office. Jeff has worked from home for almost the entire time I’ve known him – starting out as a freelancer and working his way to co-owning his own thriving business – so having a space that was dedicated to his work was essential in our home search. We ended up finding this 4 bedroom house, which worked out because at one time my brother lived with us (and at another time my mom lived with us), and we had guests for most major holidays and many a weekend in between, so we had plenty of room to share and spread out. After my brother (and mom) moved on (and out) to other situations, I ended up with the opportunity to get a dedicated office/craft/design studio of my own. And, even though my artistic career is in its infancy, having a whole room (with a fireplace!) to spread out and work on projects (like the desk, or the paintings, or the art), as well as work on design drawings for client projects, has been amazing.
*Lyrics from Temporary Love by Missy Higgins off her newest album The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle. I just heard her for the first time this week – her album art totally drew me in – but I like her. Reminds me of Sia, whom I adore. Hey, it can’t all be waxed handlebar mustaches, right? … So, I thought I’d introduce some of the rooms that have had lesser status on the blog, and show you around some more of the spaces of the house that make us love it so much, and will hopefully make you love it, too.
House Tour: Guest Bedroom
Remember when I sewed curtains for the foyer and landing, even though I’d never even done it before? And remember how I alluded to the fact that I also made a lined pair for the guest room, and teased that I’d share with you the result someday? Well, today is someday. Not only did I have the fabric for those curtains for over two years (I honestly can’t remember if I got the fabric before or after the Great Renovation), but I also had a vision for that space since finding the fabric.
It was a woven faux bois, on sale, in what seemed to be a medium-weight, cottony material in cream and beige (I may have sewn the panels, but a fabric maven I am not). I thought it was perfect for the guest space that I’d been dreaming of: soft lilac walls (flattering to any skin tone), complimented with chocolate browns and beiges, lavenders, peaches and pinks as accents, and plenty of soft white to offset the natural wood tones and textures. I had a vision of a bed-and-breakfast style set-up – what with the sleeping porch just off the room – where weekend visitors could have fresh squeezed orange juice, tea or an individual french press of coffee on a bistro table just outside their bedroom door. The room faces north-east, so morning time activities were the inspiration, and I wanted a space that felt refreshing, peaceful, and welcoming for long slumbers, or early morning starts.
*Lyrics from Petition by Tennis from their album Young & Old. I found them, on (you guessed it!) spotify when looking for similar artists to Hospitality. However, be forewarned, there are two bands called Tennis. This one is NOT the hip-hop one, but rather the indie pop one that’s interesting and St. Vincent-esque. They also have an interesting story behind their music. Have a listen or a read and let me know what you think.
Between all the chores we’ve been tackling to get the house ready to be on the market – finishing out the exterior with a freshened up side porch, replaced stairs off the porch, fresh paint and stain on just about everything, new storm doors and lighting – we’ve had barely any time to do anything fun. Just for pleasure. And my body seems permanently crunched into a semi-bent position, complete with crooked hand just waiting to hold a paint brush. Despite needing to complete yet more chores that involved painting (chiefly, interior trim and door painting), I snuck in a few moments here and there to finally complete my very first painting. You know, with paint. Colors. And canvas. Just for fun. Just for me. (Well, ok, for us.)
For the past few weeks we’ve been trying to finish up every lingering project around here so that we can actually relax and enjoy our home (until we sell it, of course). It’s summer, after all, and we need to have some hammock time. And badminton tournaments. Which are really just exercises in several-minute-long volleys, no points awarded, just laughing, and trying not to twist our ankles. But we realized that we should also complete some of the things we’ve been tinkering on that were just for beauty’s sake, and not for some practical consideration.
*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.
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?