Second Time Around: new life to tired cabinets

I’m not fanatical about the environment. I don’t come unhinged at the site of a plastic straw or a single use bag, but at the same time, I try to do my part to limit unnecessary waste. That might sound rich coming from someone who is a serial renovator, but it’s true nonetheless.

Factory Finish – nearly indestructable. No. 1

So I am guessing you are wondering what qualifies when it comes to assessing whether it stays or goes? Having good bones is essential to passing that test. I am always going to struggle with getting rid of something that is perfectly good, just because I don’t happen to like aesthetically speaking. When the bones are bad to begin with, you don’t have much of a fighting chance with me. I am unsympathetic as I load you into the landfill.

No. 2 began their life in mahogany. Re-imagined in Benjamin Moore’s Dior Gray.

I got to thinking about kitchens this past weekend. Long weekends that hint of summer beg for a BBQ in the back yard. One can’t help but be in the kitchen, opening and closing cabinets in the quest for a pretty platter or the perfect stemware in which to pour ones pale pink rose. All that opening and closing of cabinet doors brought me back to the hundreds of cabinets I have owned and sold in the kitchens that I been on my journey’s path. The first was so old it could have been in a museum. The cabinets were metal, had been painted many times over, and clipped in place to close. Ba Bye. They were replaced by a traditional white painted cabinet. Factory finished – which means they weren’t likely to chip or peel or look unsightly unless you ran a child’s bike into them. That kitchen was too small to have a child or a bike, in addition to me, so that wasn’t going to happen.

No. 2 Painted off-site in a spray room. Note – no brush strokes.

My next kitchen presented a test. It had been newly renovated. The cabinets were solid wood construction, stained to look like mahogany. They were a simple Shaker style that I quite liked, but the color – no – simply no. This was the first time I embarked on changing my existing cabinet color by painting them. They really were in excellent condition and cabinets are super expensive, so replacing them was out of the question. Now I had my builder take all the door fronts off, remove all the hardware, carefully cover and tape all the surfaces and surrounding area, and then spray the base and hanging cabinets in place. This was done after giving all the base wood a light sanding. The door fronts were taken to an auto shop and sprayed in the paint room (dust free and nail hard). It’s really difficult to sand and clean surfaces, in situ, but if you are going to attempt this on your own, you must ensure all the surface are wiped with a damp cloth to remove any particulate matter. Trust me on this one, it does in fact matter.

Painted in Benjamin Moore’s Thundercloud Gray.

No. 3’s kitchen was perfection, but No. 4 – that kitchen got the same treatment as No.2, perhaps I was influenced by the fact that they were the same unoriginal faux mahogany stain – yuck. I painted these, though this time the door fronts did not leave the site, and the quality wasn’t as good as the first time around. Not my previous warning. The color however was on trend and fabulous.

No. 4. Benjamin Moore. Palladian Blue.

This latest renovation I think even an environmentalist would have forgiven me for throwing out. They were plastic coated MDF. That violates every possible rule of good taste and sustainability, made worse for the fact that their proximity to the stove resulted in the edges melting and curling up at the edges. Just thinking about it again makes gives me the shivers.

No rose while you’re painting!

If you are going to attempt to paint the cabinets on your own – I admire your DIYourselfery, but please remember the following steps:

  • strip and stand doors and base if they have been previously stained, varnished and/or painted before,
  • apply a wood knot and resin blocking primer
  • between coats allow surface to fully dry
  • apply a primer coat and/or two coats of your chosen color allowing a minimum of four hours drying time between coats. Note that different climates and weather conditions will impact drying time.

I am all about giving second life to beautifully made things, and while I promise I am not casting any aspersions on your ability to make your cabinets beautiful in the most important way – which is of course – to your own eye, it is not an easy task. Take your time, do lots of research beforehand, and maybe even conduct a test run on something a tad less precious first. Good luck!

Setting Plaster

Robert A. M. Stern’s Offices . One Park Avenue . NYC

If you think I am going to provide you with a lesson on how to set plaster – you have another thing coming. While I love a beautifully plastered wall, and believe in the fundamentals of a clean space within which to work, I happily leave the execution of that up to the experts. It’s actually the name of a paint color – a showstopper – a mon avis, but the name leaves a lot to be desired. Farrow and Ball could stand to learn from Essie’s in the naming prowess. There Rallings, Down Pipe, and Stiff Key Blue could go from marbles in the mouth to the amuse bouche (a little happy for your mouth ūüôā ) of a Touch of Sugar, Reign Check, or Tiers of Joy, but that’s neither here nor there. A rose by any other name and all that. I will not be dissuaded from my new found adoration of this hue.

One Park Avenue. NYC is the I’ve arrived of all addresses. Originally designed by York and Sawyer, it is home to Robert A. M. Stern Architects. I announced to the Receptionist, in the most uncouth way, that I needed to be shown to my room, I was moving in. Naturally she looked a bit confused, and was decidedly too polite to point out that the Ritz Carlton was down the street. After clearing up my actual reason for being there, I had a tour of this amazing space. From their lighting collection to their carpeting, hardware, tile, urns, and the recent addition of benches and bike racks for their institutional clients, RAMSA leaves nothing to chance. They are my kind of people, even if they don’t know it.

THE Office.

I joked to my colleague, that you could safely say that you were in the big leagues when you were dealing with folks that laugh at the idea of an 8″ base. This seemed to be to be excessive when I was considering it for my modest condo project two months ago. I would have happily settled for 6″ – ha. RAMSA outfitted their lobby with a base that was conservatively 21″ tall, and let me assure you, not only does it work, but I briefly considered ripping out mine and replacing it, and my paint is barely dry.

Model citizens – getting the scale right.

Ah to be in the vicinity of greatness. As I make my way quickly and efficiently through the city today, making decision after decision to accent my new space, and dare to dream, transform it into something that I like…I am ever hopeful, that some of their magic rubbed off onto me.

Towering Heights.

Finding Your Way to Calm

During these in between times I usually feel like an old teddy bear whose seams have given way and whose fluff can be found in small tufts, scattered about all the places I have visited. A pair of sparkly shoes left behind at a friends house, two socks – not of the matching variety, a pair of my nickers, folders full of important documents, and most definitively – pieces of my sanity. If I thought being knocked senseless would make room for some fresh insight, I just might let someone take a whack.

It was this bad attitude that I took with me to the hardware store to get another round of sample paints for the new place. The clock is ticking and my lack of inspiration isn’t helping. So when Susan announced herself as a color specialist that was willing to assist – I did something unprecedented for me…I said “I’d love your help”. And I meant it. And even better – she did help.

Sometimes I get to thinking that I know enough about something to just go it alone, and that under the circumstances, the circumstances being, in case you’ve forgotten, are that all that fluff is falling out of my head – how could I possibly expect to wedge anything new in there and make it stick. Them, those, that.

Bill Nye said: “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” It’s both scary and reassuring all at the same time, and Susan knew something I did not. She knew what all the designers were trending toward for the new year. She had a whole file full of greys. Can you imagine. It made me swoon with happiness. She had a tiny little piece of paper that had a diamond cut out of its middle. It was pure white and she ran it across colors to show me how they were reading. She talked about cool and warm, and how the very best designers balance the two in any space. She told me I picked colors that looked expensive and that it was a sure sign that i had gotten it right.

The beauty of a renovation: we can fix that.

Maybe all that fluff has been falling out to make room for Susan’s wisdom. My palette may have looked expensive, but it cost just the same amount it always does, and as I sit looking at the enormous sample sheets that magically appeared from her folder, I feel calm. Just like one of the paint colors we selected together.

Happy Saturday.

Shine on You Crazy Diamond: star worthy finishes

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 3.18.24 PM

Lime Wash . Skipping Stone.  Gives that traditional, relaxed feel.

For the love of the craft. ¬†Jamie and Casey Davis – ¬†brothers, and founders of Portola Paints and Glazes have an eye for architecture and for color. ¬†I think it’s cool that their Dad was a high-end builder, their appreciation for craftsmanship and artistry growing from this exposure. ¬†Each taking it in their own direction – one as a fine artist, the other a photographer, before coming together to start Portola. ¬†Even the name is cool, but I would expect nothing less from a company based in Cali.

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 11.01.04 AM

They are so right. ¬†Bedroom, Powder Room, Front Entry – if London’s Sketch can do it – I can too.

Undoubtably these California roots fed their knowledge and respect for sustainability. ¬†Their paints, glazes, clays and washes are almost entirely green. ¬†All the acrylics are zero VOC’s though their enamels do contain low levels, ¬†out of necessity – shhh.

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 3.22.23 PM

Roman Clay Finish – the combo of dull and shiny is sexy.

They make them here in the good old USA, they hand mix them (quality control at its finest)  and even hand paint the sample decks before mailing them out to you.  From smooth to textured, pearlescent to trowel finished, they marry old world tradition with sustainable tech and innovation.  Paints that take on the appearance of patinated copper and aged iron, to the weathered lime washed wonder of the Mediterranean.

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 3.29.39 PM

Note that slightly textured finish – Sandstone…who knew.

They offer up the look of Venetian plaster in the form of their Roman Clay – though buyer be ware – this is trowel or putty knife applied, so the skill of the craftsman WILL make a difference. ¬†The last thing you want is to pay a lot of loot and have it look like porridge. ¬†Oy vey. ¬†This is for a property yet to be known to me, but it remains a happy visitor in my rich fantasy life where at the end of all this flipping I’ve become flush with cash and fame (not likely) and have the money to buy a home the size of at least three of my tiny flips put together. ¬†That Roman Clay will adorn the walls of the entry, and be the wow I’ve been waiting for.

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 3.37.42 PM

Lime Washed Moodiness.

Until then, I am intrigued, though admittedly a little nervous about their semi-gloss and sandstone finish paints. ¬†These have a slightly textured surface. ¬†They show the brushstrokes and give the impression of a silk fabric – albeit a slight one. ¬†It interests me still, particularly when I consider how it might look side-by-side with a high gloss. ¬†They carry a hybrid enamel, which I envision on a ceiling, the moldings, base and/or door, and juxtaposed against this slightly textured sandstone wall. ¬†Too much shine, too many hard surfaces, too much perfection is simply uninteresting. ¬†Appreciation grows when juxtaposed. ¬†I’m so clever with my rhyming today, don’t you think?

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 3.39.22 PM

HAND Painted.

Two final things that will have me stepping out on my boyfriend Ben (Moore that is, and not my real boyfriend) support and pride in, and for the small business owner, they really do make our world go round, and the luscious names they have assigned to their pretty little palette….El Mirage, Fountain Stone, Blue Moon, Sweet Water, Gypsy Eyes, Sayulita (a place that I’ve been and loved), Magic Potion, Show time and Simmer Down.

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 3.45.58 PM.png

These guys….hero’s of tradition.

I could just drown in those lovely names.  Happy Sunday.

Pretty Pairings: Painted wood meets natural finish

Fall Pairings 1

Wood paneling at the Parister Hotel.

I’m not sure where I first saw it, but if I had to guess I would say it was in some hip hotel. ¬†Hotel design has the luxury of being daring. ¬†Guests like to see something different than what they might put in their own home, and since they won’t be looking at it all the time, they are less likely to grow tired of it. ¬†Which begs the question – is high gloss painted wood, accented with natural wood something that I would grow tired of in my own home.

Fall Pairings 2

The most beautiful detail….nyc.

This, I think, is something I am willing to try. ¬†First of all, I won’t be there for that long, so how sick of it could I possibly get? ¬†Second, as long as the millwork is crafted by a real expert, I am likely to admire it ….. forever. ¬†There is something about the juxtaposition of these two finishes that is appealing to me.

Fall Pairings 3

perfect pairings.

In small spaces you don’t have much opportunity to make statements, and one must be careful that the statement you make isn’t over the top. ¬†This treatment would accomplish that. ¬†I particularly like the paneled wall, though I could see how paneling the ceiling might be cool too. ¬†If you have a fear of putting holes in the wall – this may not be for you. ¬†It can be hard for some to make a puncture wound in what is in essence of piece of artwork in its own right. ¬†If you have a lot of art and want to display it, taking up limited surface area might be a luxury you can’t afford.

See how the eye is drawn to those o

Fall Pairings 5.png

See how the eye is drawn to the doors.

My favorite compromise is to paint the exterior casings and moldings of a built in, leaving the shelves and interior in the natural wood.  It feels sublimely refined.  So for No. 5, I plan to find a way to incorporate this detail into the mix.

Fall Pairings 7.jpg

By bringing the natural stained wood to cap the banister columns and accent the base the stair is made that much more interesting.

Perfect Picks for People Like You and Like Me

Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 9.29.44 PM

Zara Home . Golden Sphere Coffee Table $199.

Take three parts obsession, mix with two parts curiosity, and one part spending problem and you’ve found someone – ME – ¬†that finds a lot of things. ¬†Things that I fall for, quickly, like a crush. ¬†I know it’s just as likely to be a passing fancy. ¬†Two primary reasons for that are money, and space. ¬†It’s true that some of those obsessions keep me up at night. ¬†Some find their way into my dreams, and skip along into my waking hours. ¬†These I know will likely not leave me alone until I find a way to make them my own. ¬†Least you think I get whatever I want, I’ve been doggedly hanging onto the idea of the Jean de Merry sea urchin chandelier in wrought iron. ¬†This I spied for the first time in 2007, eleven years ago. ¬†I want it nearly as badly as I wanted it that first time I walked into BG on the 8th Floor of Bergdorf Goodman.

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 6.03.26 PM

Zara Home . Rattan Cage Coffee Table. $199.

Sometimes the anticipation is nearly as good as the actual getting of the thing. ¬†Sometimes…but other times I just want it immediately. ¬†This week I came across a few gems I thought I’d share. ¬†First, Zara Home has put out a collection that is really affordable and super cute. ¬†The Golden Sphere Coffee Table, and second the Rattan Cage Coffee Table, both $199.

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 2.40.04 PM

Seraphina Velvet Bed . CB2  $1099.

CB2 has a simply angelic, tufted bed called the Seraphina Velvet Bed, in a soft off-white that will send you into pillowy clouds of heavenly sleep.

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 2.20.55 PM

Voila Custom Seating . The Wing . NYC.

And last but not least…Voila – a contract design and furniture fabrication shop. ¬†Voila in deed. ¬†If you can imagine it, which I do ALL the time – they can build it for you. ¬†How cool is that. ¬†The Belgian founder, Katrien Van der Schueren first brought her skills procuring and framing prints to the LA in 2008, and later added staging, furniture design, and events to the line-up. ¬†I wonder if she has plans to open on the East Coast? ¬†While I feel entirely worthy of the pieces, the price of shipping these days is a killer.

Some day – until then, I’ll dream a little dream.

Pretty in Pink

 

Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 8.23.03 AM

The Company Store . Heart Felt . $24.00

I was ridiculed for considering writing about love, and for relating it to one of my very favorite palette’s – PINK. ¬†Ridiculed until I erased all reference to it. ¬†How inconsiderate of me to write about a subject, a feeling that other’s might not have …. but while the aggrieved party isn’t paying any attention, I am in fact going to write about it. ¬†Who doesn’t love the innocent hue that is pale pink, a simple heart, a cheerful pouf, a garland that hangs from an otherwise dull cabinet or lonely hearth. ¬†Who could possibly object to loving things that are lovely?

Left:  CB2 Simone Blush Chair $499.  Right:  Quince Branch

Sometimes I even love things that are not lovely. ¬†I call them “good ugly”, but today’s post is about the truly pretty. ¬†It’s about hearts and flowers in the form of furnishings and fabrics that make me happy, and if love is worth its salt – it will make you happy.

Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 9.12.20 AM

Cole and Sons . Magnolia Lavender – Lee Jofa

It often starts by shopping in the baby section, it sometimes makes it way into kids. ¬†By Preteen it’s too cool to be represented. ¬†It makes an appearance now and again in the world of adult decor, but is often relegated to a single small space – a powder room, a guest bed, a walk in closet where one dresses. ¬†Why when the color makes me so happy should it be delivered in such small doses?

Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 8.35.58 AM

The Rug Company . Harrington . From $3740.

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day – almost – so I am going to celebrate this warm in the cheeks hue as if I were a kid again. ¬†Here are some of my happiest petal pink, and blushy brights for you to view.