If only it were Black and White

I love black and white.  It feels so clean and graphic, but doesn’t necessarily scream coastal.  My challenge today is to find a way to make it feel right at home in this Cape Cod bath.  I have a few additional non-negotiables including a black countertop on the white vanity, white subway tile and a driftwood inspired ceramic tile which will comprise the floor material.

black Bath1

My inspiration

I’ve been pushing for shiplap on one of the walls in the bath.  I like the paneled look, and it feels very beachy.  I would paint this white, Benjamin Moore’s Cotton Balls or Decorator’s White.  I would be accented with black hardware from Schoolhouse Electric, and an oil painting to bring a bit of color to the space.

Left:  Shades of Light – Young House Love Dapper Sconce $75.  Right:  Wayfair Hickory Manor House Regency Convex Mirror $335.99

The vanity wall, which is very small would also be painted in the chosen Ben Moore White.  The mirror and the sconces will be black to tie into the countertop.  The mirror I have chosen is a convex Regency – nautical without being too obvious.  Sconces feel the same, like they belong in a coastal setting but not in a contrived manner.

Left:  Schoolhouse Electric Nicolai Towel Bar – True Black  $129.  Right:  Schoolhouse Electric Galley Pull – True Black $34.

To soften the overall look, I’ll fight hard to paint the ceiling in Benjamin Moore’s Nickel Gray, and add the tiniest oriental rug to keep it from being too stark.

Left:  Benjamin Moore’s Nickel  Right:  Gray grout with white subway tile – POP!

Finally, the subway tile will be oriented vertically instead of horizontally to give it a little pizazz, and finished with a gray grout to transform the overall look into something really special.

Seaside sophistication.

Let’s Get Seated: finding the “right” chair

As I look around my tiny little apartment I wonder to myself how it’s possible I could need more seating options?  After all, I’m sitting on a stool as I write this.  It’s true, it was originally intended for my outdoor deck, but I have used it as a side table in winter, and now as a perfectly good perch from which to convey my thoughts to the world.

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Bungalow5 . Taboret . in its new incarnation.

 

From this vantage point I can see 2 Louis Ghost and 2 Victoria Chairs – the iconic design by Stark for Kartell, at my dining table.  I have used those for so many purposes to date, it seems a bit crazy that I ever entertained the idea of retiring them from service.  They are light weight, easy to move, incredibly strong – supporting over 300 lbs. for all their airy, light appearance – they are lifers in my world.

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Oly Studio . Neta Benches front and center . Louis ghost and Victoria’s all around.

I’ve previously mentioned that I have a teensy stool obsession.  I don’t think I’m ready to seek counseling, but if I cave and get one or two more, I might need to admit myself.  I see two Bungalow5 Taboret Stools in the living room.  I have owned these since No. 1.  They were black when I first purchased them, but I had them repainted, in a pale peachy blush – the color in fact is ….. wait for it …. Benjamin Moore’s Salmon Berry.  How shocked you must be that I’ve referenced a Ben Moore color.  He will forever be like a new boyfriend to me, and I simply can’t resist exalting his dreamy qualities to you all.  He’s beyond.

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Benjamin Moore . Salmon Berry

Lest you think I am done, I can also see two Oly Studio Neta Benches.  Their Zebra Raw Hide upholstery is hard to miss.  These were also purchased for No. 1 at a time when I could barely rub two nickels together to make a dime.  They cost a fortune, even by my standards today.  One of them had a most unfortunate accident, which resulted in its leg being severed. I spent a good deal of time in search of a furniture doctor that could repair the damage, adding even more cost to these little stools.  Saber legs (the name given to their curved shape) are very delicate.  Just in case you were wondering.  Every time someone sits on them, I wince a little, and hope it holds.  We’ve been through to much together to part ways.

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No. 1 . The Oomph Chair front and Center.

There is the Oomph Slipper Chair, which was in No. 1 and then found a new home in the Surf Shack, but which I have borrowed until I can make the decision, which is what has brought us here today.  That was a bit exhausting, and I didn’t even mention all the other stools that have found their way to other homes over the years.  When they get adopted, I can assure you, I have done my due diligence.  They won’t be used as a stepping stool in some drafty garage.

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Souflee you’ll have to wait for another day.

So here’s what I am considering.  It’s no secret that I want the Kelly Wearstler, Pouf Chair, with it’s gold metal legs that defy gravity, but I am not getting it.  It’s simply too expensive.  Sorry Kelly.  Instead, I have been contemplating swivel chairs.  There is something so enticing about being in motion, and being hypnotized into relaxation, all at the same time.  It’s just the trick I need in order to let go.  It’s two swivels and an acrylic from which we must choose.  How did I land on an acrylic in the mix you ask?  First, it’s beautiful.  Second, the versatility of acrylic in small spaces is undeniable, and therefore should always be part of the conversation.  You don’t have to choose it, but don’t exclude it.

No. 1:

Bernhardt Interiors:  Hastings Swivel Chair . $1420. Overall: 30″ w x 34-1/2″ d x 35″ h

Bernhard

Bernhardt. boxy but crisply tailored.

No. 2:

Ballard Design:  Larkin Swivel Glider . starting at $899.  Overall: 33 1/2″H X 29 1/2″W X 36″D

Ballard Larkin

Ballard . pretty lines . a little messy.

No. 3:

Worlds Away:  Duke BG Acrylic Klismos Chair . $1437.50 Overall: 21.5″W X 31″H X 19.5″D

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Worlds Away . Duke . undeniable versatility.

Please weigh in – don’t make me decide on my own!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mom’s out there.

Big Talk: starting the year out…

My year feels big already.  As I look around my apartment at open cupboards and stacked boxes, the reality that I am moving again sinks in.  I’ve moved 8 times since May of 2015.  When I move this month it will be nine.  Remarkably, that is not daunting to me, but other things are.

moving

As I think about this new year it is hard not to look to others.  How do they begin?  I’ve noted that some look to trends in fashion, the market, real estate, color.  Some pick a single goal, and map out many achievable steps along the way, while others pick many in the hopes that one will stick.  Some revisit old lists and friends, while some vow to make new.  Some pick a word that they believe will help define their year.  Others pick one that they decide will no longer define who they are.  Resolve.  It’s a powerful thing.

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Karina Silverman and the Big Talk Movement

My good friend Julie Brown introduced me to the Big Talk Movement.  This movement was what I call – unintentional by a young girl named Kalina Silverman who was clearly intent of figuring out how to give her own life meaning.  Big Talk instead of small.  To ask and to answer is to quickly give meaning to, and understand your life and the life of others.  People fascinate, and sometimes dismay me.  Sometime you get just a few moments with someone that will leave an indelible imprint, while I recognize that I’ve known others for years, without really knowing them at all.

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Here are 5 of my favorite Big Talk Questions…

What gives you goose bumps?

Where would you like to wake up tomorrow?

What are the first things you notice when meeting someone?

What is your next great adventure?

What is the kindest thing someone has ever done for you?

bm-the-blush

My color for the year is blush.  It feels young and fresh, and full of possibility.  My word is ascend.  As I step firmly out of three and up to four I get goosebumps thinking about getting closer to my goal of ten.  I would love to wake up tomorrow in my new room, having forgone the remainder of the packing!  I notice if someone looks you in the eyes, and wonder what they see.  My next great adventure is either No. 5, or something I haven’t yet conceived of.  Kindness…in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life, it feels pretty special when someone takes the time to hold a door.  Happy New Year.

 

Work in Progress: me and everything I do

There’s something so reassuring about knowing I am not finished.  I understand many people like closure.  I know they want some defined moment that says, “I’ve arrived” or “I’m done…finally”.  Life rarely presents perfect moments, so for me, knowing that I can get better, do better, learn something that I’ll apply the next time, is both gratifying, and comforting.  I don’t have to beat myself up for falling short, for not having the right words just when I needed them, for not knowing the sequence, the consequences, the heartbreak.  Oh we type A’s can be tough on ourselves.

A good decision.  Installation of an original South End door…Perfect.

I attempt to preemptively prepare for this – I do it with varying degrees of success.  Today, I know that I got some things wrong.  We boarded before we had the electrician wire – mistake.  We painted the kitchen cabinets before we ripped out the countertops –  mistake.  We are still in the process of negotiating AC, and will have to enclose before we have approval – delay – additional cost.  I’ve spent hundreds of dollars sampling colors for the new place.  If anything is certain, despite my best efforts, one or more of the colors I select, will not turn out the way I intended.

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Finding my way….Galbraith & Paul Fabric and Farrow and Ball Lotus Wallpaper with Benjamin Moore Paint Samples

C’est la vie.  Note to self, don’t do that again.  There will be another opportunity.  While I will surely make new errors in judgement, and come across situations I hadn’t been faced with before, they will be new, and I will learn from them too.  Sometimes these lessons feel like a black eye, and sometimes they feel like a gift.

Left:  Dove White  – Right:  Cloud White, Benjamin Moore

This tiny little Hanson Street property feel like a gift, even if I do have dark circle under my eyes.  It is going to be a petite bijou – a little jewel, and what gal doesn’t love jewelry?  No gal, I know.  My charming little bedrooms are going to be havens – the corridor leading you to the a perfectly aligned point, each door installed at an angle.  My not so subtle reference to the bow of a boat.  My need to express my coastal upbringing ever-present in my design.

“To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality.”  John Ruskin

Left:  Lavender Blue.  Right Top:  Violet Mist.  Right Bottom:  Whirlpool – all Benjamin Moore…it’s the best!

Cheers to vitality.  Apparently I have a lot of it!

Kitchen Confidential:spaces that are pleasing to the palette

While I might want to believe my intentions are good, I feel a touch of guilt over my somewhat unsustainable leanings.  One of the very first impressions that my new little home will make once you walk through that door – which also must go, so I am sending up prayers to the Gods of the Trustees … of the condominium that is – that they approve its replacement.  It simply won’t do for the first, first real impression.  But what of the second, once that door opens, you look directly into the kitchen.  A kitchen that has black granite counter tops flecked with mauve.  You can’t make this up.  Followed by shaker cabinets, stained in an orange hue, and sunshine yellow walls.  “Perfect” says my Father and building advisor – “I’d move right in”.  Oh how we disagree.

Left:  Hanson Door . Not to be mistaken for a handsome door. Right:  Original South End Brownstone Door – reclaimed from an earlier project – how sustainable!

When it comes to matters of the heart I have been told I’m too picky.  Discerning perhaps, and since the kitchen is the heart of the home, I plan to keep an eye on it.  My eye is telling me that the cabinets must be changed, the countertops must go, and my heart is telling me to do the right thing where our environment is concerned.  Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t present a pickle for me.  I’m going to keep those cabinets and paint them.  If you know me at all – the countertops are no longer welcome.  If the suit makes the man, the countertops dress the kitchen, and you wouldn’t put that bird on your Thanksgiving table without dressing it, would you?  Don’t answer.

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Simply divine.  Painted cabinetry done right.

Ensuring the coat that will hang over that suit, suits your longing for quality craftsmanship, I recommend getting a professional.  While it’s not impossible to engage in a DIY painting party, cabinets are tricky.  They are finished with, well a protective finish designed to allow you to scrub the dirt and oil that is right at home in one’s kitchen.  Cleaning thoroughly with a TSP Solution, sanding, cleaning again, filling any gauges or grooves, and then painting is a tricky endeavor. Dust likes to get in every nock and crannie. Unless you are planning on erecting Zip Lock Barriers, Installing Hepa Filters, and  constructing a clean room for spraying the fronts, the quality you are likely to get will be sub-par.  If you find yourself tempted to google any of the terminology I used in this paragraph, just skip it, and look for a Pro.  Trust me, the money you spend will be worth it.

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Devon Kitchens . my cabinetry crush.

Even my own builder doesn’t like to paint the cabinets.  He says it makes him nervous.  Whenever anyone says something can’t be done, I simply remind them about the Pyramids.  Of course money was no object for the Egyptians, and it most definitely is for me.  Still, I’ve painted a picture of how I see this culinary hot spot, and so it will be.

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Benjamin Moore . Catalina Blue.  Did I get it right?

Happy Sunday.

 

Tone Deaf: neutrals that sing pretty

Neutral isn’t exactly a melodic word.  I’m afraid for many it elicits feelings of the lukewarm, of the refined, of the boring.  However will I scale that steep hill of prejudice and ensure that my new space is happily sophisticated?

bm-neutrals

White, cream, tan, brown, grey, and black are all essential neutrals.  They are not necessarily quiet, as is evidenced by black and white combinations, or dark chocolate and a cool stark white, but they can be.  Warm creams, paired with tan or taupie grays, and whites that incorporate trace amounts of the primary colors – Red, Yellow, and Blue, and your secondaries – Green, Orange, and Purple, create the subtlest undertones.  I know this, and I know which neutrals sing the prettiest tunes to me, so why am I denying myself the sweet sound of gray?  I love it.  I am hypnotized by it.  This is not poetic license to sell a point.  I literally become entranced, and am calmed by gray spaces.  For me it is the perfect cool compress to a heated day.

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Amir Khamneipur’s Manhattan Apartment . House Beautiful.            Heaven to me! 

The reason is simple.  When I started this quest, I promised myself that every nest would be different.  Now I suppose I could have sold a book about ten gray, one bedroom condos, but even writing it sounds a little boring to me.  So number four is going to be cream and white in the living area, some variation of sage green or slate blue in the kitchen.  The bedrooms are still to be determined.

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I would be lying if I said this palette didn’t make my chest tighten a bit.  My breathing become a little shallower.  Who would have guessed that something so bland could initiate a panic attack?  Don’t worry, I won’t pass out.  With my new Stephanie Shank Painting as my point of focus, with all its beautiful peaches, and sea foams, sky blues, and purple hues, I can feel the rosiness returning to my cheeks.  I’ll get through this, and I know just how I’ll do it.

Benjamin Moore’s:  Left . Paisley Pink.  Right Top . Tissue Pink . Right Bottom . Wild Aster.

Accent colors will play an important role in this new home.  In keeping with the soft whistle of a tune I am creating, the shades will be pastel.  Pinks, violets, pale blues, and greens are all getting serious consideration at this stage.  To give it a little edgy interest I will throw metals in the mix, perhaps a brass legged coffee table, brass hardware throughout, fabrics of varying textures for those that feel the need to touch everything…like me.  Ah ha, it’s feeling more interesting by the moment.

Left . Oly Studio’s Diego Cocktail Table . Right Top . Schumacher’s Najang . Right Bottom . Knoll’s Boucle Classic Fabric in Cream.

Painted Into a Corner

Ever feel like that?  Wondering to yourself how it was possible you didn’t see where this thing was going?  Seven minutes, a floor plan no one can, or will verify, an inadequate video, and a few pictures cribbed from the on-line posting.  That’s what I have to go on by way of making my design decisions.  Oh – it’s ill advised to do it this way.  Mistakes will be made, unnecessary expense paid.  Why wasn’t I born with that patience gene?

Option 1:  An asymmetrical built-in in the living room which would house my enormous television or a decorative plaster wall.

These are questions I often ask myself and clearly I am unwilling to change.  I will be designing it before I have the keys and can sit quietly in the middle of the living room and figure out why the space feels so small when it’s got such great volume.  12 foot ceilings are pretty grand.  Is it the size of the windows, the standard doors which are a little too wide and not quite tall enough, or are there simply not enough squares in my corner?  I’ve lived in spaces far smaller than 708 feet.  In my experience these questions get answered in dramatic aha moments when you are finally given time to be in the new home.

Option 2:  Keep it clean and simple.  Left:  Benjamin Moore – Chantilly Lace (cool)  Right:  Benjamin Moore – Swiss Coffee (warm).

These moments are sustaining.  This gal can’t be expected to only experience the type of aha that comes along with an unforeseen conditions report, followed by a change order, a schedule delay, and if you are me, tears of frustration.  Some of it has to be good, and much of it is.  That’s the news I would like to share today.  Remember, paint is cheap.  If you do find yourself in that corner, as I often have, just sit tight.  Let it dry, walk right over that problem, and start again.  It’s not finding yourself in the corner that presents the challenge.  It’s not exercising the muscle that let’s you find your way out.

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Farrow and Ball . Lotus

Option 3:  Paint and select accent wall for the use of this sophisticated wall covering.

You see what I just did there?  Gave myself permission to make lots of mistakes.  It’s Sunday.  Absolution abounds – if you are prone to similar mishaps, just remember, some corners are cozy.