*Lyrics from My Better Self by Tennis from their album Young & Old. I’ve listened to this song at least a hundred times (probably the entire album that many times) and I’m not sick of it, nor did I – until today, reading the lyrics as I sung along – even understand what I was saying. Which is ironic, given what the lyrics for the full song are. So, do this: listen to it WHILE you’re reading the lyrics, then read the lyrics (I noticed that some of the lyrics were not written down correctly – for instance, ‘what is it made?’ is really ‘what is innate?’ – I couldn’t find the official lyrics, so, sorry about that). I feel dumb for not getting it before. “Only the value given shows, that meaning comes and goes.”
Happenings are happening all around me. My brother just got a job in Los Angeles – he found out on a Wednesday, and his gig started the next Monday – and he left NYC for 5 months. All three of my sisters are currently in temporary digs (and in various states of disarray) – though my younger one is more settled, in a way, than the others – and we just moved from our old pied-à-terre to our new one. Let’s call it the Pied-à-deux. Whew, it’s been a bit of a lot. I know that’s horrible English, but it’s true.
And, mere days after we moved our things down one flight I got a call to return to land of the Big House for a meeting with a new client. And three weeks went by before I could return to Brooklyn, and to my overworked, and overtired husband. See? A great big bit of a lot.
*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…
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.
*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 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 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 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?
*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.
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…