Bathroom Rehab

When you live in a city apartment and you have only one bathroom, taking on a renovation of that space can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Add to that a pre-war building (those were made out of concrete and require a special handyman to hang a picture). The picture, in case you are not clear, is that nothing in these types of buildings will be ripped out easily and replaced. Not without a wrecking crew, and if you are in fact planning on continuing to live there, well, you have a problem.

Me, I love a bathroom or I hate it. I want it to be a quiet sanctuary of sorts. I want to go in, close the door, block out the world, maybe turn on some nice music, having a steaming hot shower, dry off with a fluffy towel, and have the ability to turn around without hitting a towel rack, the back of the toilet or the door – you out there reading this, living in tiny places – you know what I am talking about.

While I cannot make my sister Mary Beth’s bathroom any bigger – we can make it feel like a tiny spa, and do it all without throwing the baby out with the bath water. Now some of you might balk at the thought of reglazing – this inexpensive fix will in fact transform your space. No painstaking effort to pry up the existing tile, I don’t even know how they’d get that tub out of the apartment without taking out the door, popping a window out, and have a crane take it down. If you were being bombed, this tub would be the only thing left standing, and you could happily say it served one good purpose. Reglazed – it will serve two.

Patch the tile, glaze the tub and then the tiles, add a new sink, toilet, vanity, and light fixture, and voila – you’ve performed a miracle – and it only cost you about $2500. It’s true. Take that. The last full bathroom renovation I did cost me $25,000. It was only 37sf That’s $675.67 a foot. You know what it feels like to stub your toe – that’s a huge toe stubbing cost.

Stay tuned for the after pictures. It’ll all take place over the course of a single long weekend away.

So many great options from Lumens.com Left: Saber $180. Top Right: Winton Bath Bar $219. Bottom Right: Rondelle Bath Bar $314.

Speaking of Closets…

“Every woman should have four pets in her life. A mink in her closet, a Jaguar in her garage, a tiger in her bed, and a jackass who pays for it all”. –Paris Hilton

From Team 7 Available at Divine Design Center. An Investment, but it would travel with you.

If I had a mink, and a closet, I think I would crawl in, snuggle up with that warmest of fuzzies, close the door, and pretend all that sawdust didn’t exist. I’d think about it tomorrow.

CB2 . Mirrored Glass Wardrobe $899.

At least Paris made me laugh, and I have not been laughing a lot this weekend. I’ve got one tiny, and terribly shallow closet in No. 5. I’ve got holes in the walls, I’ve got subs that won’t show, I’ve got water infiltration and mold, and cold water . I’ve got dust, and ceiling fans, and crooked stairs, and all manner of headache inducing difficulties. My scope has creeped and my schedule has slid, and the dollars are flying.

IKEA . Pax Wardrobe. $399.

I find strange comfort in a closet. It’s not just a quiet place to hide, it’s a chameleon of sorts. It can be perfectly ordered, or hide the disorder from unsuspecting guests. Surprising it can be. Even the most refined among us, can have fun with a closet. A bold interior color or wall covering, a chandelier or pretty pendant, a plush carpet, a petite stool, a bold or daring painting. If it’s your boudoir – you are allowed.

RH . Bezier Armoire $4295.

I’ve built 8 closets in 4 places. Two walk-ins, 6 custom built, 1 California Closet, 1 Cozy Closet. I’m not much for a closet system. I know people like them, and that they are economical, but the last think I want is a stiletto falling through a wire rack on a shelf. How undignified. I once built a closet whose sole purpose it was to house my shoes. Shelf after glorious shelf of shoes. Well, those shoes are all gone and so it that closet, because I left it behind when I sold No. 2.

LuxHoldups . Putting it all out there. $1300.

So now I am faced with a decision, remembering that I am getting long in the tooth, and the construction costs are stacking up on a property that was supposed to be easy breezy – should I buy an amoire instead of building fixed closets that I will be forced to leave behind yet again? There is the question of re-sale value and all of that, but I have to draw the line somewhere, and my somewhere just might be right here. My clothes need stability in their life. This moving from closet to closet is starting to take a tole.

Please advise on your most thoughtful recommendations for closet solutions and happy Sunday evening.

Reflections Of….

Is it too late to take a look back at 2018?  I have been so sick, I clear missed the end, and the new beginning.  I hate not saying a proper good-bye.  Despite so many friends and relatives saying sayonara with nothing less than gusto, I had lots for which to be grateful.

Left is Hanson Street Living Room After the Renovation. Right is before.

I like listing the accomplishments and the milestones.  I’m one of those people that adds things onto the list, just so I can cross them off.  You know the kind, don’t you?  Well sometimes I get to adding things to my list at such a dizzying rate I think my head is going to spin clear off, but them I go and get it all done, and there my head is still, so there’s not much of a case for slowing down.

This year I sold a house, bought a house, started a renovation, finished the biggest interiors project I had ever undertaken, built a deck, landscaped a yard, tore down a chimney, and spent an inordinate amount of time at Stonewood Products in Dennis, MA.  If you think sawdust is great you are going to love this place.  I had a “round” milestone birthday, celebrated in Mexico, and then London, visited Seaside Florida a new urbanist development that to me, is perfection, and took a ferry ride to Nantucket with my friends for a week.

Refurbished furniture for The Manse.  A little can of paint will do you.  Right side photo: Dan Cutrona @cutrona

I remembered how much I respect and admire the work of Dorothy Parker – I mean who else could possibly come up with poems as acerbic and sharp-witted as quips like:  “It serves me right for having put all my eggs into one bastard”?  Brilliant.  

I couldn’t resist.  Lawrence Street at time of purchase on the left and now….

I reaffirmed my affection for the color gray and more specifically, Ben Moore’s Mineral Ice.  It’s such a serene and calming gray.  I’m going to paint No. 5 gray too.  And there was so much more; introductions to new and amazing people like Jill Rosenwald a hip pottery maker, and Tillett Textiles – allowing you to select your pattern, and color palette, and finally find the perfect combo to go with your grandmother’s Bergere chair.  Magic.

Yes, 2018 was a pretty good year.  Hope it was for you too.

Home – LESS: Living out of a suitcase

Left:  88 Waltham St. #3 . South End – note the brick wall – recessed back from the fire place.  A perfect spot for closets.  I’d build them in – encasing the non-working fire place, hiding storage above, and building in bedside table nooks on either side of the head board.  A la , La Belle Julliette Hotel . Paris.

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Gut it and forget it.  It all has to go.  Tub to be replaced with glass shower, Duravit vanity, some beautiful tile.

Living out of a suitcase is nothing new to me.  Between most property flips, I’m stowing away my belongs, and living with whatever I can fit into 2 or 3 suitcases.  That is hard to do.  Even if you travel light as I do, it always seems as if the seasons change and I’m left without a winter coat, or my spring wardrobe.  Ugh.  Thank God for Jo-Jo’s closet where I “shop” until I’m settled into my next home.  Jo-Jo has a closet full of clothes that still have the tags on them.  She allows me to borrow and return.  She’s a big heart with exquisite taste.

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Note this particularly well done closet/beside built-in combo. You charmed me Charmonix.

As I consider how little time I am spending in my home these days – work – work – work – clients, friends, appointments, weekends on the Cape (year round), I think I could do with a lot less than I am currently making do with.  That is to say….space.

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That closet has to go.  This needs to become a dining area.  Small round table that snuggles into a banquet and serves its purpose for meals and work on the computer.  

I’ve looked at couple tiny beauties.  Bid on both, lost both, but the allure of having a 300 – 400SF space, and converting it into a luxury hotel room for the likes of little old me,  well it’s kinda cool.  They don’t come on the market every day, and they have a lot of competition – investors looking for a long-term hold, and a stable return, first time home-owners that want a toe in the market, and can actually afford a shoebox sized home, and people like me.  Living and working in the city, away on weekends – being home less makes this type of property a really great investment for me, and one that , dare I say, I would likely keep.

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This has to go too, obvi.  Don’t think that small means inexpensive.  This small means more expensive than you can imagine – if you are going to do it right.  All top of the line appliances required because you can buy them in petit sizes.

Don’t go getting crazy with protestations about not meeting my long-term goal of 10 properties.  I’ll keep at it, and this will make the process a little less sawdusty.  I think I’ve earned it.  But I’ll need all your positive energy to help me find the next one.  On that most hallowed of days I will close, and turn right around and flee the country to recuperate from the trauma of it all.  Buying and selling can be very stressful.  I’ll need four days of yogic breathing to recover.  They are tossing in art afternoons to kick-start my creativity.  It will be the perfect introduction into living more simply that will simply have to take me over the hurdles that are placed in my way on the hunt for No. 5.

 

Happy Sunday.

Sale-ing Away to a new location

 

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Sun filled living room.  tall ceilings . low floors.  painted in Benjamin Moore’s Sand Dollar.

You might have guessed with all this talk of rental properties that I had something beside a post up my sleeve.  Well I do, this is the first time that I have written about – in the moment that is – a property that I have on the market.  It went on Wednesday night.  This is a particularly stressful time for me.  I question everything – even the things, that to an outsider – are so clearly good things.  For the next two months I’ll be on pins and needles, right up until the moment my Lawyer Sarah tells me the sale has been recorded in Suffolk County Registry of Deeds.  Then I can breath again.  Two months is a long time to hold your breath, trust me, I don’t recommend it.

Han2

Custom Kitchen cabinets with brass hardware and carera countertops and backsplash.

It started out as a one bed, but has been converted to two.  Apartment living is all about proportion.  Large can feel small and small can feel expansive.  As the French say- ca depend.  Layout, ceiling heights, even the angle and the swing of the door can make a huge difference in the livability of a space.  Of course some things are entirely out of your control (like the sale of this condo and the ceiling heights you are given to work with) other things like the geometry class of a door layout which allows the bedroom doors to swing in and miss the queen size beds that lie within, are entirely within your control.  It’s this bit of genius that make the pint size unit (708SF) worth every penny of the asking price.  It’s two real bedrooms, not a bed and a half, not a bedroom for a baby with a crib, not a “bonus space” it’s a bedroom.  It’s also quite a nice feature that I refer to as the “bow of the boat”.  The doors form a point at the end of the hall, from the ceiling at that point hangs a perfect little pendant lighting the way to your state room.  Charmont, if I do say so myself.

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Dining nook with custom table in grasscloth and Farrow and Ball Lotus Wallpaper.

It’s in the Eight Streets, a prized neighborhood within the South End neighborhood for it’s proximity to some of the best restaurants the SE has to offer.  Snuggled between Tremont and Shawmut Avenues, there is only one street within the eight that extends beyond these two streets and acts as a thoroughfare – that’s Waltham – lived there in case you are wondering.  Why would anyone care about this you ask?  Quiet.  It’s a quiet street, across from the park, a street that might make you think your in the suburbs, and that my friends is worth gold.  Some of which I am asking you to part with for the privilege of living here.

Other selling points include the design – why trouble yourself over it when you can just move right in and start entertaining.  Everything is for sale and no one said you couldn’t, or shouldn’t buy a refined living environment, most certainly not me.  Then there is the fact that it’s parlor level, just three steps up into the building.  It’s across the street from the Ringold Park where the sounds of children’s laughter and the gentle splash of water from the fountain make their way with the breeze into your living room.  There’s the shared garden oasis tucked away in the back for bbq’ing, sipping coffee and reading the paper, or a glass of wine by the fire after a long day at work.  City living…this could be you.

Han8

Tucked away behind the building you wouldn’t even know you were in a city.

Come for a visit:  3 Hanson Street, Apt. 1, Boston – Buy and stay for as long as you like.

Less is More: getting a design underway

Details, details, they can get in the way of one’s creativity – don’t you think?  I love a project where I’m not given too many perimeters.  The type of space, the materials needed, and their purpose is enough.  A general color way direction doesn’t hurt either.  If it isn’t explicitly stated, I’m going gray.  My perfect neutral with its full compliment of emotions, and ability to accommodate any gender, any age, and stage of your life.

Wexler Office Sample Board

We’ve got your blue grays, and your violet, your sage, and your putty, your clean and your smutty.  We’ve got sophisticated, and silly, whimsical and worldly, we have a splash through a tidal pool gray, and a bruised purple gray of the sky as it turns to night.  You  get the picture, I hope, because I am not supposed to be talking about gray at all, this blog is about a corporate office color palette.  It’s true that most of what I selected for the original round, did in fact include gray, but ironically the Client went with a sandy beach of an option.  Who could blame him, the 4th is right around the corner, and if you don’t get a little sand in your shoes now, you blink and miss it.

Wexler Office Sample Board v2

Like a writer facing a blank page, some Clients are simply better in the editors role.  Ask them what they want, and they may honestly say – “for it to be done”.  Others stare off into the distance hoping a mirage will appear on the horizon, a perfect glistening representation of their space to be.  I feel that way about math so I understand entirely the sentiment.  When it comes to design however, I like the freedom of creating something well – that I would like.  What’s wrong with that?

I would be thrilled to come to work in this pretty little office space, if it were just a tad closer to my home.  I hope that Lee Wex will have no trouble executing the design he saw fit to pick.

That Girl: Keeping it from coming undone

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Decisions . Decisions.

My brother-in-law refers to me as “The Girl”.  You know, the help that’s hired to make things happen, the one in the background, who has no name.  That’s me.  I know I am someone that can get things done. I’ve always been a doer, a producer.  Nonetheless I prefer to be thought of more as “That Girl”, rather than “The Girl”.  Marlo Thomas was so quirky and cute and like Mary Tyler Moore, she was making it on her own.  True one lived in NYC and the other in Minneapolis, and I live in Boston, but still….I’m going to make this thing happen on my own.

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Laying it all out helps to pick a balance of high and low.

This thing of course is The Manse, and like the middle of any good TV show it looks more like disaster is about to strike than it’s ready for the flash bulbs to start popping, but I’m confident.  Sort of…Oh I have a million decisions to make still.  Bed sets to buy.  Dining chairs, lounge chairs, desk chairs, occasional, and every day.  I’ve got furniture to paint, miles to go before I sleep.

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“Chair”ish this time because once you’ve bought it, there’s no going back.

If money were no object.  I wonder if I would have no creativity at all.  It’s a possibility.  Not to worry, right now, I am being forced to get seriously creative, because I have spent WAY too much, and here I thought I was doing well.  By that I mean, maintaining a budget that I never wrote down, but had a rough idea in my mind I was willing to spend. No – that ship has sailed, so now my living room looks like a grade school art project.  All the surfaces are covered with cut outs of furniture, lighting, linens, and all the items I need to complete this place before 28 April.

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Struggling with the right mix of coastal and comfortable.

That Girl will pull it together, and she’ll do it in style.  You just keep the faith.