*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 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 All I Do Is Dream of You from Singin’ in the Rain. Easily my favorite musical, and my go-to for an enjoyable bit of movie watching (especially when recuperating from several minor ailments). Plus, the lyrics can easily go non-romantic when you think about painting. Which I constantly do.
A few weeks ago, I was absolutely out of my mind, bonkers, needing to paint something. Anything. I was like Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain running around yelling, ‘Gotta paint!’ Seriously, it was becoming a problem. So I pulled out a small canvas I’d gotten on sale ages ago at Michael’s, and just went for it. We had limited time – had to get the house ready for a showing, and had to prepare to head back to the pied-à-terre – so I just barreled through. Crashed through my burning desire to build something, to witness that change, and to have something (besides muffins, brownies, or cookies) to show for it.
Rough draft. I think that’s what I’ll call it. 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 Wild Women Do as performed by Natalie Cole from the hit 1990 movie Pretty Woman. Those of you too young to know, the late 1980’s were a time of great sexual empowerment of women (note the sarcasm dripping from these words – there was no other empowerment allowed), and a time of great artistic achievement in music video technology where incorporating the film that the song was written for in the background (and sometimes foreground) of the video was the height of sophistication. Also, Pretty Woman has been in rotation on cable, most likely for the parallels between Richard Gere’s character and Mitt Romney’s stint as a ruthless businessman who bought companies only to chop them up and sell them during that same time period. It was de rigueur for the time, I guess, just like terrible perms, lip liner, and super-tight spandex everything. But I digress.
So, okay, so the house hasn’t sold yet. Which is to be expected, I suppose (summer is slow, historically, for selling houses). I’ve never sold a house before, and every market is different, and every home is different (just like every buyer), so, well, we’re waiting. Turns out impatiently waiting. So we decided to go ahead and rent a small apartment – may we call it a pied-à-terre? mais oui! – in Brooklyn, in the neighborhood where we’re aiming to eventually move to permanently. Or at least as permanently as can be.
Shocked? I am, and I was part of the decision-making process! We’re going forward with the next phase of our life, despite the obvious obstacle of having not sold our home yet, and not knowing how long it will take to do so. Clearly, we have the most beautiful home on earth (duh), but clearly we are waiting for just the right person(s) to claim this home in the name of their god and country (ok, or just their family).
*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?
*Lyrics from Coeur D’Alene by The Head and the Heart from their self-titled album. I found these guys tripping through the Related Artists category on Spotify. I love finding other artists that might match my mood on a particular day. This one fit me today: upbeat, friendly and decidedly happy.
Have you ever had a project that you always wished you could do, but weren’t sure you could actually do it? That’s how I’ve felt about making curtains. I have always thought to myself, ‘hey, how hard could it be?’, while secretly knowing that it wasn’t exactly easy. Understanding fabric, learning how to successfully operate a sewing machine, measuring said fabric and cutting it straight – these are all things that have sat in my mind as road blocks, convincing me that maybe I should enlist some help before I start on my project. Of course, none of that stopped me from buying fabric, measuring (incorrectly) for panels, and letting all those materials sit, unused, in the house for over a year. That’s right, over a year waiting for me to get up the nerve to actually just do it already.