Shoe Storage Upgrade

In my scurry to move forward on new projects, I’ve been remiss in posting some of the nice little moments that have come together in my apartment.  One of my favorite nooks is this one by my front door.  It’s a chair + crate combo that’s nice on the eyes, and also holds and conceals my shoes.


The chair is CB2, and the wood crate is a find from Maine during a drive home from my friend Kim’s wedding.  A few of us stopped by some antique stores in Wells, and I founds this Hood Dairy crate for $28.  It dates back to…well, I’m not sure.  But it’s old.  And I was drawn to its red check pattern, and of course its crustiness.  I think this montage is a good reminder that mixing old and new is easy, as long as you can find the similarities that tie the pieces together.  In this case, the red tones do the job.  I may add wheels or sliders, TBD.


OH and my friend Silvia scored a mink that day and we got a $20 discount for paying cash and bundling our purchases.  wooo! #effectivenegotiation



Small Details, Big Impact



Ever struggled with writers’ block?  I think I have the designing equivalent.

It’s my master bedroom (sidenote: can I rename it?  Being “master” of your household feels odd when you’re the only one in it.)  This room has been feeling pretty basic since I moved in.  It’s got a nice bed, solid white bedding, and good floors.  But each time I try to accessorize it with teal, green and coral colors, they fall flat and clash with the walls that, lately, seem more khaki than the gray I was aiming for (I’m not a fan of khaki but I’m #alreadycommitted).  Enter: slate blue.  Blue isn’t in my apartment’s color palette aside from the turquoise I have sprinkled about.  To me, classic blues have always felt safe, nautical, preppy.  All great, but not the feeling my space evokes.  But slate blue seems to take on a new feeling.

With another successful trip to Housing Works, I found this wonderful pillow cover amid a stack of designer samples.  I love the embroidery and the pink accents.  As with many items I find without price tags, I played that game “what’s it worth to me?”  I came up with $15-$20, the price I’d be willing to pay once I got to the register.  If it was anything more, I walk.

Drumroll…it was $2!  Once home, I stuffed the cover with a castoff pillow I was tired of, and sure enough it did wonders to wake up my room.  The walls sang, the shams popped, and a new color palette revealed itself.  Now all I need is a span of one uninterrupted week to paint an accent wall behind the bed.  (A girl can dream…)

Curtain Contemplation

This gallery contains 3 photos.

My weekend mission: throw some weight into sprucing up the guest bedroom.   It’s funny…the smallest space in my apartment is actually the one I adore the most, with its dark walls and close quarters.  I’ve established a solid palette:  charcoal … Continue reading

Christmas Party Prep

Holiday Mantle

One of the best things about getting more space is having room for friends to visit.  I no longer need to rotate people from hallway to bathroom to dining table in the duration of an evening (I kid).  So I threw a small holiday gathering last night and it did double duty:  I got to host many friends at once and try my hand at some new appies, and it forced my butt into gear regarding much-needed design decisions.

Fresh Direct – plus the fact that the liquor store delivers – made the food and drink part manageable.  For the food, I made everything.  Catering can be nice but I happen to love prep work.  I’m one of those people who fantasizes about piping deviled egg filling from a pastry bag into perfect swirls.  (If you haven’t tried it, it’s pretty gratifying). As for decor, my biggest mission was to make sure the living room was up to snuff.  This meant furniture re-arranging, garland-hanging, and committing to a carpet.

Ahhh commitment!  If you remember, I’d been searching for the right coral-toned rug for my living room.  But over time, I saw that there’s a lot going on visually in the space, and didn’t need more pattern on the floor.  Between the bookshelves and pops of color from my chairs, something more neutral would be easier on the eyes.

So my new pink rug I just picked up at ABC (and would love to use in another space) is, unfortunately, out:

Pink Carpet by Madeline Weinrib

And this new gem from West Elm is IN:

Jute Rug in Platinum, by West Elm

I love it!   It lends a neutral backdrop yet still imparts some visual interest given its nubby texture and slight sheen.  And it feels surprisingly soft to the touch despite being made from jute.  And I have to say, West Elm has redeemed itself as a favorite retailer since my wobbly-full-bed-frame-purchase-of-2007.  Here are some more pics of the living room, pre-party.  I’ll refrain from showing any from the day after… : )


I labeled the platters with Post-it notes about a minute after taking this pic.  (Yes, it’s extremely type-A.  My Aunt Jo would be so proud!)


On a Mission: Carpeting

One of the lessons I’ve picked up about design schemes is to start with the floors, and work your way up from there to create a cohesive space.  Ie, find a good carpet that you love, and pull from it, letting it dictate the color palette and style of the room.

I was set on finding a coral carpet, the perfect shade of bright, “off red” that would complement my accessories and breathe life into the living room.  I had my heart set on the below Brooke pattern from Madeline Weinrib in Pink, but not only is it overpriced, the 8×10′ has been out of stock for awhile (probably a sign):

Brooke Carpet in Pink

So I just Zipcar-ed it out to the ABC Carpet & Home Warehouse this weekend in the Bronx and was blown away.  What a place.  It’s spilling with cast-offs from the pricier flagship store in the Flatiron, and there’s a full floor devoted to rugs.  Here are three frontrunners I pulled:


They’re all close to what I’m looking for, but not close enough.  But they say those with an open mind are rewarded!  I found a cute lamp (on the floor, above) that’s already made its way onto a bookshelf:

ABC Lamp

…and a new coffee table as well.  A mirror-topped neoclassical shape that brings a strong masculinity to my space:

Coffee Table

You’ll notice it’s resting on my current carpet.  Babysteps..

Dining Decisions


Nothing would make me happier than rolling up my sleeves, donning some protective eye wear and constructing a wood farm table out of raw materials.  But I’ve come to terms with the fact that this won’t happen anytime soon.  Luckily there are great dining table choices out there , from the handmade variety on Etsy to the big box retailers.  I decided on something in between and chose this number from Restoration Hardware, the Flatiron Table with rust legs.  It’s made from a reclaimed elm door so it has a nice wear to it.

table and chairs

Kitchen table

When choosing my chair arrangement, I decided on a mix of old + new.   The bright powder-coated steel chairs are from CB2, and they pack a punch of color inside, and double as extra seating outside.  I’ve had the wood chairs with me for 7+ years.  They’re original finds from Housing Works that I stained and reupholstered in a simple printed fabric from Calico Corners.

My advice here:  don’t be afraid of mixing genres or styles, as long as there’s something that ties them together.  For me, the coral was an extension of a prevalent color theme I’d already established.  And the green chairs felt organic, pulling color from the plants inside and outside.  And I love both equally.  When you love an item, it will always work in your space.

I’m now a few steps closer to hosting Thanksgiving this year, and no longer fear having enough seating.  What I do fear is having a big eater make himself comfortable in one of my dainty wood chairs… #homeownsersinsurance  #thirdhelpings

Painting the Bedrooms: Before & After

BR before

Master Bedroom (before)

Master bedroom (during)

Let me caveat this by saying that the word “after” isn’t accurate, as this is really just the beginning.  Design for me these days is a work-in-progress.  I had painters tackle the two bedrooms and the bathroom (I drew the line at those bookshelves, and my back thanks me).  They did an awesome job ( and left me with a nice canvas of neutral.  The grey in the master bedroom is taupe-ier than I expected (Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore), but it works.  More putty, less pewter.

Master BR - after 1

Master Bedroom (after, accessorized)

I brought some life into the room but I know I’ll have more tweaks to make, by bringing more texture and layers.  For now, I’m going with a green/brown/natural theme because, well, I had a green blanket handy.   I had planned on pulling teals and reds in from my living room, but once I started to set up shop, the room had other plans.  It’s funny how that happens.  The green from the trees outside fought to come in.  So hunter green + warm accessories = my new palette!  Who knew.  And let’s not forget my new #biggirlbed that arrived  this weekend.  Huge change for me considering I’ve been sleeping in the little bedroom on a full bed for months.  I guess you could say I’m comfortable in small spaces…

Speaking of, the dark paint in Bedroom #2 did wonders:  Days’ End by Benjamin Moore.  Out with the orange, in with a rich palette that moves from navy to gray to black depending on what time of day it is.


Second bedroom (before)

Second bedroom (after)

Second bedroom (after)

Many people think painting a dark color in a small space will only make the room look smaller.  I think the opposite is true, and I’m loving the results:  the dark walls bring some drama and play nicely with the white trim and walnut floors.

Housing Works Hustle

One of the challenges of moving from a studio apartment into something a bit larger is “filling in” the space.  And doing it in a way that feels organic versus rushing to accumulate lots of accessories at once.   The biggest project will filling up my shelves.  What once seemed like a respectable book collection now looks pretty darn paltry on the open white space that’s swallowed them up. I’ve collected some special accessories over the years (hello favorite seltzer bottles!) but it’s time to hunt for more.


Luckily, I love the hunt.  And I’ve never been one to rush things.  (You’re welcome to apply this analysis to my love life. I certainly have).  Anyway, rather than scooping up an “instant”  accessory spread at a West Elm or elsewhere, I’d rather build an arrangement over time to add a patina that matches the age and character of my place.

I’ve always loved scavenging through stores like Housing Works and Vintage Thrift for good finds, but it’s hard not to pick up too much “junk” for someone like me who both loves a good deal and refurbishing random stuff.  I’m trying hard to be ruthlessness in my editing; if I don’t absolutely love something, it doesn’t make it through my front door.  I got lucky today at Housing Works in Chelsea and found the pieces above, all at what I’d consider a bargain ($47 total).  Yahhtzzee!



The candlesticks I’ve incorporated onto the mantle, and the trash bin I’ve repurposed as an umbrella holder by my front door.

Painting Prep

If any of you know how decisive I am (I’m not), you’ll know how easy picking paint colors is for me (it’s not).  So I did what any gun-shy homeowner would do: put up an array of colors and stared at them obsessively for a few weeks.  (OK…months).  In my defense, I was trying hard to enjoy summer here without the burden of a big project and commitment.
But it’s almost fall, the humidity is fading, and it’s time to breathe some new life into these walls and permanently tone down the bright colors I’ve lived with since moving in (see pumpkin orange, below).
For my bedroom, I played around with a few grays and opted for Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore (upper left):
Gray Paint Swatches
It’s a warm gray thats a bit deeper than my living room.  I’m thinking of doing a hand-painted accent wall behind my headboard at some point.
For bedroom #2, I wanted to go dark, with pops of color, brass and white.  An informal survey of approximately everyone who’s been to my apartment has about 1% of them supporting me in this decision.  So naturally, I’m even more excited for the project.  I’m going with Day’s End by Benjamin Moore (not shown)  Will it be a nice jewel box or a dark goth cave?  We’ll see!  I love a good challenge.

Refurbished Wood Frames

Wall Art before


I bought these two frames a few years ago at Housing Works, one of my favorite second-hand stores in my old Gramercy neighborhood.  Their frames were clad (ironically) in wood-patterned Contact paper.  But otherwise they were in good shape and well-priced at $25 a piece, and I had to take them. Wall Art step 2

I stripped them using some wood thinner and good old elbow grease, and repainted the mats a bright white, then ordered two photographs from Etsy.  I gravitated to both of them not just because of their seaside motifs, but because of the red and teal colors.  There’s something nostalgic about them:  a crusty old ferris wheel, an old-fashion lifeguard stand.  . It wasn’t until I was playing around with dark gray paint samples for my bedroom that I found a good shade for the frames:  Days’ End by Benjamin Moore.  The frames are now taking on a new life and pack more punch, hung over my living room mantle.