*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 from Hold On by Róisín O from their 2012 album, The Secret Life of Blue. I heard this song (easily the best from the album) in an Irish independent movie called The O’Briens, but I can’t recall if the movie was worth watching (watch at your own risk, but I recall thinking it was sweet, if predictable). At any rate, her voice is very pretty. And, for serious, the song lyrics are kind of right fucking on. This MIGHT be your life. Or, rather, my life.
Ok, well, sigh.
Here’s the thing: we’re no closer to finding an apartment to call our own than we were a year ago. The Brooklyn housing market, as I mentioned before, is crazy, but not regular crazy… it’s the kind of crazy that get articles written about it, that confounds (and, alternately delights) seasoned real estate professionals, and that create a sellers’ market of the sellers’ dreams (ten offers per apartment, please!). At any rate, over the past several weeks we did put in offers on a couple of places, and were promptly overbid. Like, by a lot. The price-per-square-foot is outrageous (some of that is city sticker shock) and steadily rising, but add that to the feeding frenzy of record low inventory, and you get bidding wars that are taking the prices anywhere from 4% to upwards of 13% over asking (asking price means very little right now). All of this is to say, we’re not comfortable buying (or attempting to buy) at the top of what we perceive as a real estate bubble (not to mention that we don’t have the buying power that many of our competitors seemingly have).
If the market subsides (which all indications say it won’t for some time), we’ll reconsider our position, but for now, we’re tabling the issue. Which really sucks. We might consider trying to find a larger rental apartment, but with summer on the horizon, we’re reluctant to give up our (very rare and private) roof access when there isn’t much public green space/park space to enjoy in the neighborhood. Our location is great for lots of reasons – proximity to Jeff’s office, restaurants, parking, etc – so, for now, we’re going to stay put. read on…
*Lyrics from Hang On Little Tomato by Pink Martini off their second album. I heard this while cooking, or washing up, and it completely cheered me up. It’s a sweet little song about remaining optimistic. Lately that has felt difficult, likely in part due to the lack of sunlight (and never ending days of being trapped in our tiny home). But I’m hanging in there, not like a kitten on a branch, but like a little tomato on the vine, waiting until I’m fully ripened before I burst forth with heirloom flavor (I’m certainly NOT a regular tomato – probably I’m one of those weird colored heirloom ones that look awful but are the best tomatoes you’ve ever eaten). How long until summer again?
When we moved back to the city full-time, I had to lose my office. My glorious, large, occasional guest room, sunlit, breezy, private office. Enter one of my daily mantras: it’s only temporary, it’s only temporary. But, while we’re hunting for a more permanent place to settle, we’re still trying to make this one work for us as best it can.
Once we decided to take the pied-à-deux, we had some furniture rearranging to consider. The previous living room layout included a nearly 5′ long niche to the right of what was clearly an old chimney breast. In our prior space, this little nook happily housed our TV and assorted media accoutrements. In our current space, however, that single niche layout was replaced by two niches flanking the chimney breast: on the left, one about 20″ wide, and on the right, one just shy of 32″. Yeah, so, no TV nook here.
Since there is no proper closet in the apartment (it’s technically a studio apartment), and the giant storage unit in the kitchen was removed so we could re-install our dining room nook, we decided to turn one of the niches into a closet of sorts. It’s pretty basic: a rod, a hamper, and some not-so-glamorous odds and ends tucked and stacked behind a chair, but when you’ve got 320-ish sf to work with, you make do. We considered making the other niche, the larger one, into a closet, too, but then we realized that it was just big enough to house a tiny desk, and could therefore serve as my office.
Not the enormous roughly 12′ x 14′ room that I had to myself before, but the 24″ x 31.5″ (that’s right, INCHES) space seems to be just big enough to store my computer, a lamp, some art supplies and books. Just the essentials, but a hell of a lot better than having to throw (or gently place) the laptop on the floor when we want to eat dinner at our table at night. Jeff had a leftover IKEA desk from a temporary employee at his office, so we just took it home one night and tried it out. It fit perfectly. Even fit with a little space leftover that is just big enough to hold a canvas so I can work on art projects at my own pace. What more could I want?
To make the space really work for us, we installed a few shelves made from some simple boards and brackets from Lowe’s. I wanted the space to recede, visually, since it’s really just a corner of the living room, so we painted the shelves the same color as the walls, and chose black brackets. The effect is especially helpful at night, when the dark corner just expands, and the room feels bigger than it really is.
I can’t really do any hand drafting in this mini-office, nor can I really go crazy with painting/drawing. But I can have a little space to call my own, and that ain’t bad.
*Lyrics from Lily Allen‘s Hard Out Here. This video is NSFW (and is controversial, so it would seem), but the message is pretty spot on. Anyway, I wanted to find something to listen to that would compliment this post, but instead I found something that made me want to persevere, challenge the status quo, and fight the good fight, which is just as important. Plus, it’s way catchy, and probably great to add to an exercise playlist. I always like a little ‘tough bitch’ music when I’m feeling less than that, don’t you?
When we moved from the pied-à-terre to the pied-à-deux we brought our kitchen with us, like the good faux Italians we are. Our IKEA cabinets, countertop, and pendant lighting made the trek down one flight to become our new old kitchen. The only real difference between the two spaces is the color of the existing laminate countertops, and the age of the refrigerator (the old place had a brand new one, this one, not so much). We actually had the landlord move our stove down one flight, too, when we discovered (much to our chagrin) that the stove in The Deux was mostly not working (one out of four burners worked, and the oven didn’t heat up at all). Oh, and the other difference is that the upper floor unit had about 18″ more space in the dining area.
*Lyrics from Human by Daughter off their album If You Leave. I found this on spotify (naturally) and really enjoyed their acoustic “spotify session’s” version. I recommend you check it out before you hear their original album version. The song felt appropriate for my first substantive post in a while. After all, we’re all just human, underneath it all.
I know. I know! It’s been a long, LONG time since we moved in. Since I shared anything relevant to design. I know. Let me make it up to you?
So, here it is, the Pied-à-Deux: our tiny, sweet, tiny, small, cozy, small, bitty, efficient, annoyingly small living room. And it’s our entryway, and our closet, and my office, and our guest room, and part of our bedroom in that the TV sits on a dresser 2/3 full of our clothing. It’s small. It’s been tough to cope with how small it is, but we really tried to make it as beautiful and practical as possible. And we do like it very much.
*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.
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.
*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 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.
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.
*Lyrics from 6am off Fitz and the Tantrums‘ new album More Than Just a Dream. I wanted to find something upbeat – I’m so tired of being in the doldrums – and was so happy to learn that they’d come out with a new album (plus, any band that can play this well live is worth listening to). I truly enjoyed their first offering, and hope to get to know this one on Spotify before purchasing. Though, based on the few songs I’ve heard so far, I expect this album will be coming to my virtual home soon.
Next only to a thorough cleaning in creating a feeling of home is painting. When we took the pied-à-deux we asked for permission to paint (again – we had permission for the upstairs flat, too). Our landlord graciously allowed us to paint since that mean he didn’t have to. Win-win. So we decided to go a bit further with our selections, pushing ourselves into a slightly more bold direction. And, while the prior tenants had done a nice job choosing paints – a neutral grey with a charcoal accent – we wanted to put our own stamp on it. Plus, we had those hand sewn curtains to contend with, as well as all our other furniture and things skewing toward an established scheme.
At first, I was scared of doing the whole living room in a dark color. The ceilings in the pied-à-deux are much lower than they were in the original Pied, and we get less direct sunlight (due to the position of the surrounding buildings, and the fact that we’re on a lower floor). Both of those things mean that it’s darker to begin with, so choosing a deeply saturated hue was a risk (and, frankly, one that I’m still coming to terms with on some days). But, hanging art, mirrors, curtains, and shelves (I’ll show you all that soon, I hope!) has really helped to make the place feel brighter when it needs to, yet stay cozy and handsome. All in all, the color scheme is working for us, even if it still pushes me on some days.
*Lyrics from You’re The Best (Around!) from THE Karate Kid (1984). I probably should have used ‘INSPIRING GUITAR SOLO‘ as my lyrics, but these words were slightly more accurate. I urge you to watch the video, at work, and loudly, preferably, and then do the crane kick at everyone you see for a whole day. Do it. I dare you.
So, yesterday I saw a dude who walks like Ralph Macchio. Jeff claims to not know what that means, but I ask you this: if you’ve seen The Karate Kid as many times as we (of my generation, you young’ns) have, don’t you instinctively know what I mean? I dare say he could pick Daniel-sun out of a walking line-up. Maybe it was a girl thing to notice. But, I digress. Ralph Macchio was likely on my mind because of the one-day Miyagi-style boot camp I held for myself yesterday.