Category Archives: exterior

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.

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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.

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And I love you, I love you, I love you, like never before…*

*Lyrics from Eva Cassidy‘s Songbird. One of the saddest songs I could think of, yet somehow beautiful, and sweet, and true. I think this song has become a dreaded ‘wedding song’ so now I can ruin it for everyone by using as my ‘leaving the only home I’ve ever known’ song.

**UPDATE: Rain date for the yard sale will be June 2nd, same time, same place. Something tells me that 49 degrees and raining won’t bring the shoppers out in droves. **

FYI: LOCALS We’ll be having a yard sale/tag sale/garage sale next Saturday, June 2nd, from 9-3pm, so come with cash, and don’t be afraid to ask for a deal. Everything must go. Unless we can’t bear to part with it, in which case we’ll be making the fool-hearty decision to store it in the hopes of using in the future. So, yeah, come by and talk some sense into us.

Lilacs in full bloom, on sunshine-filled day a few weeks ago.

As the rain sprinkles down on the lush and green lawn, lilac scent still hanging deliciously in the air, I look around at the madness, clutter and chaos of our move, and sigh. We’ve spent nearly 6-1/2 years here, more than I can say I’ve ever spent in one spot – ever – and I can’t really imagine not having this spot to come back to. This house, this home, has come to represent a childhood dream realized: to have a place to call home was that dream fulfilled, and one that I am reluctant to give up.

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I’ll be home for next year, darling, I’ll be home for next year…*

*Lyrics from Next Year by Two Door Cinema Club off their newest album Beacon. I’m pretty smitten with their up-tempo songs – great for running – and their overall modern, pop, alternative vibe. It’s so exciting when a band you found that you really liked releases a new album. It’s like a fresh start. I needed that.

Our house is a very lovely house. Our house is a very fine house.

Well, sadly, I’m here to announce: we didn’t sell our house. After four months on the market, we decided to let the listing expire, and take the winter off from trying to sell. The stress of having to keep the house in museum quality condition – and that means it’s virtually impossible to do any crafting or art of any kind, since those activities always make several days of clutter and debris – was getting to be too much. Plus, with Thanksgiving only a week away, and then Christmas right behind it, we’re going to want to be free to un-stage our house to make way for guests, gifts, feasts, and celebrations. Who can do that if you have to drop everything to get the house ready for a showing? Not I.

We’re hoping to re-list the house in the spring, when, possibly, the market improves, and the weather lifts. This cold snap brings the reality of shoveling, and muddy feet (thus mopping, mopping, mopping) that would surely lengthen our preparation time for house showings. But, you can always check out our house room by room by searching for (you guessed it) ‘house tour‘ in the archives, or view a briefer tour at our house tour tab. And there’s always our house’s very own website which will stay up for now (just sans MLS#). We’re (obviously) incredibly proud of all the hard work we put into the home, and are sincerely sad to leave it (which is why we’d rather just enjoy our time here during the winter). Hopefully, a lucky family will come along who simply MUST live here, and the house will end up in the care of a dedicated and loving family. Until then, this is our reality.

Not ideal, no, but what can one do? We’re going to try to make the best of it, and do things that normal people still do to their homes: hang art, decorate for the season, possibly spruce up a wall or two (I might, or might not, have a stenciling problem). So, I’ll have more things to show you, eventually. And I’ll get around to finalizing our pied-à-terre. So much was going on simultaneously that it’s been hard to complete anything, let alone photograph it.

Well, I hope you’re all well. Disappointment is hard to cope with (as some of you know from last Tuesday’s election results), but it is a part of life. I am choosing to see this minor setback as an opportunity – to create, to play, to linger, to reassess. What do you do to cope with a disappointment?


Is this the way to live, is it wrong to want more?…*

*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?

There's the new place! We're above a new restaurant - a sausage and beer place - so quiet, it's not. But, hey, at least there'll be sausage and beer!

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.

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You and me could go on and on and on…*

*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.

Major BEFORE: Back when we bought the house (and our sweet pup was just getting to know the place that would be her forever home) this was what the porch looked like. We've since had it rebuilt, re-supported, re-re-staired (yep, twice), and now re-stained. Phew.

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.

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And then, we can, do anything, we want…*

*Lyrics from something Anything We Want by Fiona Apple off her latest album. Only her fourth album in 16 years, I think it’s worth a listen. She’s an actual musical artist (unlike so many in the business of making and selling music), and you might like her work. Or you might not. I do. 

BEFORE: Recently, we took some exterior photos while the peonies were still in bloom. The side fence was then just raw, untreated wood left in its natural, weathered state.

Months ago, when we had our side porch and rear porch stairs redone it was too cold outside to finish coating the decking and new railings with exterior paint and stain. So we waited for the weather to warm up. Which it did. But then it rained. Like, a lot. For weeks and weeks, every time it would just about get dry enough to do something outside it would rain again. For enough days to warrant a dry-out period. So we waited. And waited some more.

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you think you can simply press rewind?…*

*Lyrics from You Must Be Out Of Your Mind by The Magnetic Fields from their 2010 album Realism. I’ve been spotifying again. I like it. Reminds me I’m overdue for a blog song mix post. Hmmm… first things first.

BEFORE: Embarrassed doesn't even begin to cover how I felt when I opened the garage. Frustrated, overwhelmed, annoyed, guilty, you name it.

May I just say what a relief it is to NOT have to look at that (above) anymore? As many of you may recall, we completed our major home makeover in the fall of 2010. And, as many of you also know, we ended up slowly redo-ing our family bath beginning in the winter (January) of 2011. And I trust that you know we redid our basement not that long ago. What you may not know is how hard it is to wrangle, corral, and otherwise lasso construction debris after so many major projects.

Here’s how it starts out: At first you think, ‘Hey, I’ll just move this stuff into the basement, you know, just to get it out of the way for now.’ Then, after you realize that you can’t keep whatever junk you have stored in the basement down there forever, you say, ‘Hey, let’s move that junk to the garage so it’ll be easier to get rid of it.’ Eventually, you forget about said stuff (or can ignore it easier), or you need to add new stuff to the ever-growing pile. What starts as a few sheets of plywood, some scraps of salvaged trim and old solid wood doors (saved aside because surely someone can use them) turns into a cast-iron bathtub filled with empty paint cans, unusable scraps of wood, and a heap of carpeting as big as your car. I’m actually not exaggerating – we had a tub, toilet, 800 sqft of carpet AND padding, a rusted old gas grill, so much wood debris I can’t even name it all, in addition to used furniture and leftover trash from construction, from moving (my mom) and from painting and masonry. Our garage was a total mess (for those of you who don’t mind the odd adult-rated curseword, it was a shithole).

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I want to show you what love’s all about…*

*Lyrics from Hungry Eyes from the movie Dirty Dancing. Partly this song is inspired by my previous post about the tree we planted for Bec, where I used another song from Dirty Dancing. Partly it works because I wish both she and Patrick Swayze were still here with us. Partly I couldn’t think of another song that could accompany a post about compost. Can you?

At the risk of boring you all to death with pictures of the yard, I have another update to share with you. And it’s even more boring: it’s the compost area. Ugh, I know, who cares? But, you might care since it looks so nice.

AFTER: There's now about an inch or two of crushed bluestone over most of the area 5' x 15' area.

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I’ve learned my lesson, it left a scar, now I see how you really are…*

*Lyrics from You’re No Good, as sung by Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers. Their van sessions have been making their way around the interwebs, and for good reason. They’re good. I expect we’ll be seeing/hearing more from them in the not too distant future.

With this kind you really only need to trim off the dead heads. The plants are less mysterious. No growth = not gonna grow there. You just have to be patient and wait for them to begin to grow.

Every year, around this time, I start the process of waking up the yard from its long winter’s slumber. Now, this particular winter has been unusually mild, so the cleaning up post-winter, post-nothing has been mostly effortless (I should reveal that we have our lawn cared for by our local organic yard care guru, so we don’t have to seed, fertilize, aerate, de-thatch or de-grub). The only real task at hand was to cut back the dead bits of hydrangea to make way for the new blooms. I’ve read many a conflicting report about when to do this – some say fall pruning is best, after the summer blooms have faded, while others say never to prune them – but I’ve found that the two-fold benefits of pruning in early spring, just after the leaves begin to sprout, works best for me. The fact that I can remove dead stems, dead heads and give the plant fewer areas to focus its energy on (and therefore send all its energy to producing blooms and leaves) is a win-win in my book.

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