*Lyrics from Beck‘s Say Goodbye from his (their?) latest album Morning Phase. It’s a great album, very mellow and sophisticated. Really a nice offering. Check it out – if you liked Sea Change you’ll like this one.
So, remember how, regarding our house hunt, I was all ‘we’re just going to stay put, and be for now?’ Yeah,that lasted about three weeks. I mean, we’re ok here, we really are, but the selling season was in full swing, and it’s really hard to not look when you have an easy-to-use real estate app on your phone. At any rate, we both kept looking, and we both kept seeing things, debating things, and discussing our future (ad nauseum).
We bid on another apartment (that’s the third one, if you’ve been keeping track), and got pretty far into the process. We were one of the top three offers – a change from earlier situations where we were merely told we were in the middle of at least 10 offers – and we really thought we could get it. Until our competition decided to waive any bank appraisal or mortgage approval contingency from their offer. That meant that they were promising to pay a particular sum of money no matter what a bank said it was worth, and no matter how much money the bank would agree to lend them. That’s insane, by the way. And it’s the new NY normal.
*Lyrics reluctantly from a Taylor Swift song, Never Grow Up. Reason one: the younger of the two Project W kids, and the one who was most interested in the whole design process, LOVES her, or at least did the last I heard. Reason two: the song I really wanted to use was, well, a bit of a downer, and not at all representative of the beautiful and loving family that I was honored to work with. But, in my defense, the lyrics I was going to pick out from the rejected song (Jeff thought I should leave it out of the post entirely) were the (sweetly, sad, yet) positive bits: “Kid, have your say, ’cause I still love you, even if I don’t see you again.” So, instead I give you vapid tweenie-bop music. You may choose to listen as your mood dictates, but know that the second, deeper one by Neko Case is brutally beautiful, and will probably make you cry. (The first one might make your ears bleed. You have been warned.)
Now it’s time for another installment of Project W: The AFTER tour! When we last left off, we were sneaking around the master bedroom and bath, basking in the improved flow and potential for timeless style. Let’s move into the kids’ wing of the upper floor, shall we?
Just off the area where the spiral staircase used to be (we nixed it in an effort to gain more usable space in the kitchen), is the kids’ wing. It’s private, away from the parents’ master suite, and has its own family bathroom (still to be renovated). While the hallway boasts the same color as all of the transitional spaces in the home – foyer, mudroom, hallways, stairwell all in Toque White (early on my builder asked me to choose only Sherwin Williams colors) – the kids’ rooms depart from the main thrust of the home to reveal individual and personality-based spaces perfect for the rejuvenation of young minds.
*Lyrics from Mean Streets by Tennis from their new EP Small Sounds. It’s no secret that I love this band, but this mini album is excellent. I dare you not to get this song in your head for several happy days.
I know you’re all still geeking out over the amazing, awesome, inspiring transformations from the One Room Challenge, but do you remember me teasing that I’d soon have pictures to share from my clients’ Project W house? Well, first room, here you go. This is a major BEFORE & AFTER post. Get ready.
It seems like so long ago that I first met with my clients on Project W, and first glimpsed at their terrible, wonderful, overwhelmingly dated raw material of a house that was to become their dream home. It seems like another life ago, not only because so much time has passed (and so much has happened), but because their home has completely transformed. You know those makeover shows where people don’t recognize a loved one, or think they’re in someone else’s home? Yeah, their house is kind of like that.
*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?
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.
*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?
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.
*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 Feist‘s Undiscovered First from her ablum Metals. The video I picked was from the Black Cab Sessions recording, and I chose it for a few reasons: (1) because I always like to showcase an alternate recording to the album version when I can; (2) because they all look like they had tons of fun working in a moving vehicle (and bonus points for it being in an English cab); and, (3) because if Feist can not only perform, but also shine in a tiny, teeny space, then I have no excuse, have I?
The first thing you do when you downsize – and in this case we not only downsized, but also downgraded – is to compare what you had with what you now have. In our case, we’re going from a home that we spent the last few years lovingly renovating to a state of comfort and luxury, to a rental unit that has seen its fair share of occupants (and coats of glossy, pale yellow-ish paint) over the years. The contrast, to put it mildly, is stark.
*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 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.