DO IT YOURSELF

Is something I say to others – as in “Do it yourself – I’m up to my eyeballs in my own projects.”  When it comes to doing it myself – well…I can haul things, drag things, move things, lift heavy things – but you are unlikely to come to me,  asking me to whip up a few  curtain panels or a couple of pillows for you, and while I’ve painted a time or two in a pinch, no one is complimenting me on a job artfully executed.

Desk 1

Found at Bungalow. Chatham. MA for $195.

I’m more of a project manager than a DIY’er, and yet The Manse has forced me to resort to just that.  Attempting to furnish a home from top to bottom is EXPENSIVE.  But that is exactly what I am attempting to do.  The Manse had become The Land of Misfit Toys – in a manner of speaking.  In her rundown state, the bric-a-brac that had collected within her walls was fitting, but now that she’s the proud lady on the block, she’s demanding a whole new wardrobe.  People are coming for tea and she wants to be ready to receive them.

I’m doing my best on behalf of the old lady, but some things are indeed going to receive a light sanding and a coat or two of paint – in a coordinating color of course.  I feel like I’ve been on the hunt all over the northeast for tables of all sorts, side, bed, coffee, dining – for dressers, and bar carts and shelves  – for things that started out as one thing and will end up being something else entirely.

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The Caning feels very Cape Cod.

All this hunting and sleuthing has resulted in my very first DIY project.  Aided by a couple of 50 degree days, I singlehandedly dragged a desk out onto the deck, found one of my Father’s 4 – yes you heard me correctly – 4 sanders, I know not what makes one better than the other, but I am certain their is a reason to have that many.  Maybe they are like shoes?  If that IS the case, than I certainly cannot argue with having four – in fact I might ask – why not more?

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Ta Da!  What do you think?

At any rate.  I sanded and cleaned and painted, and repainted and low and behold, I did it.  I think it looks pretty good, and I hope you do too, because I have a set of $10. bedside tables that need to be done – a real find!  I have an old ice box that I am going to use as a linen closet, and a coffee table that would have been perfectly perfect, if it has only been gray.  It will be when I am done with it.  If you are worry, I would say that it may not be misplaced.  Fingers crossed.

Pedicure: paint a little happy under toe

The Manse just had beautiful Hickory hardwood installed in the downstairs, and the hallway of the upstairs.  The hardwood that is original to the home in the two upstairs bedrooms it was determined, would remain.  Having never been refinished, they are substantial enough to withstand a serious sanding, and could then be refinished, but I think that after a good buffing, and the right shade of paint, they will look pretty spectacular.

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Hoxton Hotel . Paris

I am a fan of painting floors.  I’ve painted on new hardwood that I just had installed, and on floors that have seen better days.  There is something that feels coastal about a painted floor – though distressed and casual is not the look I am going for in this instance.  I’ll ask for the finish to be high gloss.  This small upstairs bedroom, with it’s twin beds, deserves to have a little drama.

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Benjamin Moore . Bridal Rose

The walls are going to be painted in Benjamin Moore’s Bridal Rose – a color that I am fond of, and which made an appearance in No. 2 in my bedroom.  It’s so subtle most people don’t see that it’s pink.  It’s sophisticated, not girly and that suits me too.

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A little worn, but they’ll be good as new.

I want to pair it with a hue that resembles this seating area in The Hoxton Hotel in Paris. It’s dark and a bit muddy or moody and that appeals.  If you happen to know the name and maker, please do tell.  I plan to email the hotel and inquire.  There will be no moldings in the house, so I will plan to paint the floor, the base and the interior doors in the hue.

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A slick and sophisticated look.

Think preppy, but all grown up.  Fingers crossed I get the approval I am looking for.  I’ve been told I can do a single room – anyway I want.  I am hoping that wasn’t followed by a …. as long as I love it too.  I think in the end, it will meet the approval of the Owner.

Happy Sunday.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark: Painting with bold hues

Dark 1 . Domino

Little King . Brooklyn . NY – Photograph by @cainite_via Instagram

I’m a rule follower.  I always have been.  I like the structure of a rule.  I feel that following them has kept me out of a good deal of trouble over the course of my life.  I’ve liked them, I’ve hated them (while still begrudgingly holding true to the line), and apathetic to them too.  So why is it then that this “so called rule” bugs me so much?

Waltham Living

No. 3 Waltham Street . Benjamin Moore’s Deep Royal

Article ,after article, I read about the cardinal sin of painting a small space in a dark hue. “Don’t even think about it” some warn.  “Turn you eye toward the barely there pigments” others instruct.  To that I simply proclaim – “What the “f#!x?

Left:  Keepsmilinghome.blogspot  Right:  No. 2 in Benjamin Moore’s Peacock Feathers and Cole and Sons Wallpaper

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “This rule should be broken”.  It should be broken frequently, and with a bold disregard to the prevailing authority.  Sometimes rules simply must be cast aside as ridiculous and archaic.  I’m not saying it to be a rebel, I’m simply disagreeing with the premise entirely.  I’ve lived my life in small spaces.  I’ve colored them dark, and light, and cozy.  We humans like a cozy spot to call home, and wrapping yourself in the warmth of a rich, deep, hue really is all the to-do.  Am I expected to live my life in white because I live small?  I think not.

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billielourd.org

As we turn back, and enter the dark days of winter, I encourage you to embrace colors that have a little personality.  Start slow if you must.  The interior of a closet, a powder room, a small mud room or laundry room.  Test it out if you don’t trust me yet – I won’t be offended, but be prepared to begin an affair with your bad side….and I mean that in the best possible way…of course you know that.

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.

souffle-chair

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

duke_bg

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.

big-talk

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!