I’m a Little Bit Country

Gritty and fresh…Nashville.

Whatever your preconceived notions of Nashville are, drop them. Sure it’s a little bit country here, and a little bit rock n roll. It’s been dubbed Nash-vegas by some and Cashville by others. It’s urban and sprawling and more New Yorkers than you can shake a stick at have decided to make it their home, but try as they might, it’s still the South, and Yall – they don’t do that down here.

It’s a design mecca, this sprawling little city. Not in the way others cities are with their interiors and home stores, and art galleries, and artisanal craftspeople expressing themselves with their jaw dropping talents. It’s in the design of their restaurants, and tiny boutique shops. It’s in the gingham wrapped cups of sweet tea they hand out as you breeze across the threshold. It’s in the beat-up old camper turned cup cake shop that’s been painted in such a happy, glossy shade of yellow you can’t help but smile. It’s the gritty and brass determination to make something shine on that patch of dusty earth.

Nashville is cool. There’s no getting around it. It’s a fresh reminder that the dimentionality of design is what keeps it fresh and interesting, and oh by the way – they have a spring here – unlike Boston.

Let’s Mesh Around…and get pretty

I’ve been so consumed by my construction woes that I haven’t paid close attention to the details of the interior. And the details my friends are what makes the difference. It’s just those things that catch the eye of even the least observant of guests, and make the most – swoon, or run screaming from your home. It’s true, to the detail oriented, a gap in the molding, left by a lazy carpenter, can illicit a dull ache in the back of the head, which blossoms over the course of the hour to a full blown migrane. Getting the details right matter.

Beyond those obvious details, it’s the extra effort you take to make something in the home a little bit different than the norm, that captures the most observant visitors attention. No offense to those individuals that are clueless about design and all the wonderful details that go into it, but this isn’t for you.

Mesh, or metal screening materials have both a practical application – it allows for ventilation of things that get hot, like cable boxes, or mechanical equipment that requires air exchange, while hiding those utilitarian necessities that can distract from one’s visual pleasure. Specifically – my visual pleasure. Then comes the aesthetic application – these materials can be incredibly beautiful – for someone that loves pattern, contrast, and visual complexity – they really do the trick.

Amazon . M-B Building Products . Union Jack Metal Sheet $28.75

So you can imagine my chagrin, having awoken from the moldy fog that I’ve been in, to discover that I missed my opportunities to make my kitchen cabinets sing. That’s right – sing. Right now, they are quietly humming, but were I to add one of these amazing screens, they’d be singing like Whitney Houston belting out a ballad.

Brass Wire Mesh . Let your imagination go wild.

Now this technique can be applied after the fact, but in fact it cannot be done by someone like me. It requires removing the doors. You need saw horses and clamps, and …. wait for it …. a router. Which apparently makes retrofitting the cabinets “super easy”. That is for someone that already knows how to use a router. I’ve never really fallen into the trap of believing those DIY videos which claim “anyone can do it” – anyone that has been practicing it for decades and happens to have a video crew and an editing room to erase all the mistakes that most certainly can and do get made.

Traditional Home

The way I solve this problem is by hiring someone that knows how to do it. You should proceed in any way you feel comfortable.

s – Tile ME Pretty

Home Depot . Jeffrey Court Carrara Subway Tile . 3″ x 6″ . 8 Pack $6.98

I had no intention of installing a back splash in the kitchen, mainly because I had no intention of renovating the kitchen, or the living room, or the bedroom, laundry room, or frankly any of the rooms in what was supposed to be a “move-in” condition unit. How the naivety of it all pains me. I want to be a believer, but my natural instincts, which admittedly some find rather tiresome, are to be skeptical, to question, to doubt. What a downer. Isn’t it so much more pleasant to be around someone that spews sunshine? That’s the type of person I gravitate toward, but when it comes to money, and my money specifically, I want Glum from Gulliver’s Travels – you know – one of the Lilliputians to – “it’ll never work me” back to my senses.

Home Depot . Hex . Ceramic Tile in Greecian White . 12″ x 12″ . $9.98

Because sense my friends is just what you need when you’re talking about your cents, and your sanity. Both of which have been tested for me these last few months. I’ve thrown money at the electrical challenges and the infrastructure. In case you didn’t know, infrastructure is a French word describing the underlying framework of a system. See the underlying in the previous sentence in BOLD? Yes, those are shouty caps. The wires are not supposed to be snaking their way around the periphery of the living room floor waiting to ensnarl some unsuspecting guest, as if they were on a trek through the jungle. If I have yet to be clear here – they are meant to be hidden, not in a PVC pipe, but behind the wall.

Home Depot . Royal Herringbone Winter . 12″ x 12″ . $20.67

Now that I’ve started, the onslaught must continue. Water is meant to live in the pipes, or the tub, sink, toilet, or happily in a puddle on the exterior of the home. It seems so friendly and harmless when it falls from the sky in tiny droplets, but anyone that’s hurled themselves into the pool cannonball style landing smack on their back, can attest to the brutality of water. It is wile – E! It can travel untold distances from the point of entry, tricking you into believing you know exactly where it came from, when you in fact may never know. Hiding your head in the sand will do no good. You must rip and tear like Bill Murray tracking that devious goffer in Caddy Shack. You better find it or it will haunt you forever.

So that’s a long way of saying that I need to pick out a back splash tile and do it fast. Normally, I love tile, and while that hasn’t changed, the amount I can spend on it has. If I could incorporate a sad face emogi here, I would. Still, I think one of these will be lovely. Please weigh in. Your opinion matters to me, and it will make me so very happy.

About a Boy: Part II

So the jury has returned from deliberations. Look No. 2 which can be seen below was selected. It’s a pretty good look. I should have known he would have gone for the platform – it’s cool. A disadvantage of this bed is the lack of storage space underneath, but the up side is that snacks can’t sneak under it. A pretty big upside if you ask me.

So now that a bed, side table, and desk have been selected, the elements that will really bring the space to life have to be factored into the equation. Color is so important to the overall feel of the space, but so is storage. We have to deal with the aforementioned sneaker collection, and these aren’t small feet we’re talking about. Size 13’s take up some space. There is a large closet in the room – with no door on it – don’t ask. If I build out the guts of the closet with plenty of shelves and a small hanging area it should do the trick.

As for which color we should paint it. I am recommending one of these three Benjamin Moore Colors: Sunrise, Ice Cubed Silver, or Hunter Green. In this last instance I would paint the baseboard interior door and casings in the color and the wall in Super White. Give it a really crisp bright feel.

Finally, I’d resort to my old favorites for finishing touches. Home Goods, Home Goods, and maybe a few local favorites like Oceana and Bungalow. Stay posted for the final reveal. Happy Sunday.

Left: Benjamin Moore’s Hunter Green. Right: Benjamin Moore’s Super White

About a Boy: beyond the basics

For the last few days I’ve been considering how to design a space for someone that is no longer a boy – though he certainly has attributes of one – in the best possible way, and not quite a man either. To say he is an adolescent feels totally wrong, and disrespectful. He’s “becoming”, moving from one thing to the next, discovering what he likes and doesn’t, and who he is going to be. Aren’t we all? I certainly hope I am not done. A lot of work left for me to become who I am going to be.

Option 1: Neutral Palette: Bed: West elm Mod Upholstered Platform Bed in Twill Stone . $824.25. Pier One . 3 Drawer Dresser $219.99. PB. Teen . Bean Bag $183.00

Part of that discovery is, well discovering that you have a style at all. Who knew. While you might not quite know what it is, I bet you know what it isn’t. So the exploration begins. My task is to map out some possibilities – economical ones are a priority. His tastes are likely to change, as they should, and this baby’s work isn’t going to get tossed out with the bath water. I hope it’s going to get handed down to the next boy, but that little one has very particular ideas about style, so I better make it good. He notices every detail. Note to self – be on your best behavior around Lukie.

Option 2: Bed. Wayfair . Aristocles Platform by Mercury Row . $286.99. Wayfair . George Oliver Bugg 2 Drawer $183.99. West Elm . Mid Century Mini Desk $399. Kartel . Louis Ghost Chair – Pair – Wayfair $773.50

I grew up in a household of girls. My Dad was strong but gentle. Ironically I was always the one that he shouted “don’t slam the door of the Jaguar”, be gentle Jack. This being with all boys – and very rough ones at that – is new to me. They’ll tear a cabinet right off the hinges to get to a cheeze-it. A dish has no chance of survival in this home, and the hallways look like the inside of the local recreation center. Slowly we are instituting Wilson and Kelling’s Broken Window Theory to bring civility to the household. They break something, I painstakingly repair it. They litter the yard, I clean it up, they toss Cheerios around the living, and bedrooms like confetti on New Year’s Eve – I get out the cleaning supplies and get to work at restoring order. I hope that pride of place, investment, and caring for one’s things will result. I know the subject of this post has it in him. I’ve seen how he handles his extensive sneaker collection – I know it’s in him.

World Market Headboard . Gray Rattan Dimitra $350.
Wayfair . Williston Forge Cifueyes $204.99
Target

What I am not sure of, is his style. So I am proposing here three options. His room in its current state is much like a dorm room. It’s got a TV, a fridge, a sofa, a bed, a dresser. It is subject to the full living experience – it’s his domain. He should be the king of his space, so I will attempt to account for all of those things while creating a perfectly tight hospital corner of a visual. Don’t worry – he’s plenty strong enough to loosen it up.

The Bathroom Reveal

Now I know at least one of my readers has been poised on the edge of their seat awaiting what I promised was going to be a two week bathroom redo. If you want this to be an article about schedule slide it could be, but we’d never make it to this amazing transformation. Suffice it to say, the delay had to do with a nervous home owner and the decision to let the floor “cure” before scrubba, dub, dubbing in the space. It was likely a sound decision, that this impatient person would never have made.

While delaying gratification isn’t a strong point of mine, I am in full support of the home owner’s (also known as my sister) decision to re-glaze instead of replace the tile in their NYC apartment’s only bath. The downtime, the cost, the mess, all make this decision a smart one.

Hvar . Croatia – the inspiration for the bath.

While it may look like the ice in the rink at Rockefeller Center, it is in fact paint, and I would not recommend gliding around on it in anything other than a slipper. Just to be safe of course.

Kohler Poplin Vanity.

From deco, gray, dingy, and damaged to bright white and beautiful. A potted plant pops against the stark white wall, and a photograph in the spirit of Slim Arrons, taken on a family holiday in Croatia, acts as the inspiration for the bath’s design. Note additional touches like the Muji toothbrush holders, and the CB2 glass shelves keep the space from feeling overcrowded. Vanity is available at Home Depot – Kohler Poplin 24″ Vanity. Sink is also Kohler. Walls are in Benjamin Moore’s Super White, and don’t forget that the reglazing was done by: Supreme Bath Reglazing.

Take it on the Run: carpet vs. runners

A stair can really make a statement. Whether the stair is old and beat up or brand new, it can look cool. A fresh coat of high gloss can turn tired and worn, into glitzy and glam – yes a stair can be a headliner. The question that I am grappling with is – do I want it to be? When I removed the stained and dirty carpet from the stair in my “new” Philly Duplex (that’s a floor and a half inside a brownstone) it revealed not just a worn stair, but one that rather looked as if it had been gnawed on by a rat. What to do with that?

If this Paul Smith for The Rug Company Carpet entitled “Carnival” does say let’s get this party started, I’m not sure you should receive an invitation.

After the whole thing was rebuilt it looked a lot better. It’ll get a spit shine and polish too, which made me think it might be slippery when it’s all said and done. Runners present an elegant solution to that challenge – believe me there are inelegant solutions that can be applied to the problem too. I’m not even going to discuss them because I don’t want to give you any ideas.

Runners can be quite expensive. I mean, you wouldn’t got to the Oscars in a dress meant for a barn dance would you? Likewise, if you want to be a showstopper of a stair, you have to give them something to stare at now don’t you? I picked a few I thought would draw that kind of attention. While I certainly don’t want to go careening from top to bottom every other day as if I am on some ride at the water park, I also don’t love leaving my money behind for the next owner who may or may not have an appreciation for the Oscars – if you know what I mean.

With this in mind, it may be better to buy an area carpet that I can lovingly roll up, bag and wear to the next ball. There are five more after all. I can dress it up with a new Harry Winston and no one will even know I recycled it.

The Rug Company . Paul Smith . Overlay Runner.