Archive for: July, 2011

Home Improvement for Nudists.

If you’re not in New York, you might not know that it’s been hotter than hell outside, especially over last weekend. If you are in New York and you didn’t know that, you need to see a doctor.

Obviously, this seemed like the opportune moment to take on the disaster that was my bedroom full force. And so, I apologize if this is TMI, but I have something to share: I have become a nudist. Not, like, a full-fledged junk-flopping-around-freely-in-the-wind-nudist, but for several days underwear and deodorant has been my official work uniform. I’ve spent enough time in it that putting on a t-shirt last night felt like I was being strangled by the crew neck and attacked by itchy fibers.

So I’m here to tell you, when it’s too damn hot and you have shit to do, strip off those clothes and get down to business. You’ll be so much happier. This is how I recommend doing most housework now, actually.

My bedroom had undergone some serious aesthetic and, frankly, hygienic lapses over the years, and it really showed. Not unlike my naked body. I will stop making reference to my body now. Picture me as a brain, in a jar. With arms that can paint things.

To quote my mother, the bedroom felt like being in a bowl full of mouthwash. Trust, it looks way better in pictures. Not only was the color bad but the paint job was a damn mess. The walls were in rough shape from various things that had been hung from them over the years and all the trim work was super grimy (even after extensive cleaning/vacuuming after I moved in).

The ceiling wasn’t in horrible shape except it had been patched at some point and repainted just in that spot a totally different color. It also had this 3 inch long piece of black tape directly over the bed. Why? I don’t know. But I do know that it mocked me for a month and a half, every morning, every evening, until I finally climbed on a ladder and tore it down. It may or may not have been the most gratifying part of this whole ordeal.

In what I’m sure is a massive shock to all who have paid any attention to this blog, I opted for white. Now, last time I painted an apartment, I just ripped off Anna at Door Sixteen‘s paint colors, because she has flawless taste and they were beautiful. “Moonlight White” for the walls and “Simply White” for the trim. I loved it, but I wanted to do something different here. I recognize that sounds ridiculous because they are both white paint, after all, but I swear it feels different. In any case, this white paint was chosen through a very long, very anxiety-inducing process that looked kind of like this:

So very stressful. Eventually I chose “White Dove” in matte by Benjamin Moore. It’s like slightly brighter and leaning a bit more into grey than Moonlight, but it’s still very warm on the walls, especially under artificial light. I really love it.

I wasn’t totally sure if I was going to repaint the ceiling (for laziness reasons, mostly), but I went for it and I’m so glad I did. Next to the blue it actually looked white, but the contrast was pretty serious once Benjamin Moore’s off-the-shelf “White” in eggshell was painted. The old ceiling was also painted with semi-gloss, but I like the flatter finish so much more.

The molding was grimy. I made it not-grimy.

The trim is all off-the-shelf Benjamin Moore “Super White” in semi-gloss. I like.

I also hung up the bubble lamp to replace the very old, very gross, very exposed-CFL-chic business that was there originally. Oh, and I know that little Westinghouse ceiling medallion looks bad in pictures, but that’s only because it looks bad it real life. I intend to swap it out at some point, but for now I’m moving on to more pressing issues.

I even put in a new dimming light switch to celebrate. I mention this only because I usually get pretty wary of dealing with electrical stuff and have never changed a light switch before, but it was SO SO EASY, I promise. Just remember to flip the breakers so you don’t kill yourself. Especially if you’re not wearing clothes, because that might not be how you want your dead  body discovered by your neighbors or pet.

The old wood venetian blind was pretty fug and so, so dusty, so I hung up one of the IKEA ENJE shades from the old apartment. These blinds have been discontinued and I mourn for them daily. This one is a little too narrow and hanging sort of weird, so that’s also on the list of things to fix. Good enough for now though.

The room is currently doorless and the hall has been turned into a construction supply holding zone. God, that hallway. It makes me weep, it is so ugly and neglected. Soon, hallway, soon.

The bedroom still has a long, long way to go, but I can’t describe how good it feels to have the painting taken care of, since now things can really start to happen (big plans, people, big plans). I’m pretty sure it’s about to get awesome.

Top Secret

The world is a small, weird little place. My recent evidence for this involves the “Top Secret” note I mentioned leaving for the new tenants at the original Manhattan Nest apartment a couple weeks ago. Mostly I thought—if these people were anything like me—they’d have fun stumbling upon some covert correspondence from the previous occupant of their new home. Like a midnight visit from a ghost or receiving an email from a wealthy Nigerian prince in desperate need of an overseas bank account, something about it would make them feel special. Chosen.

So, while sitting on the subway from Brooklyn during my final commute to my old apartment, I scribed such a letter. It divulged information about the blog, about me, a few helpful hints about the neighborhood (you know, where to buy wine and tools, the important stuff). Things like that. Then Vincenzo was all up in my space when I got there, and I panicked. Could I actually leave this note, single-handedly planting such self-incriminating evidence? What if it fell into the wrong hands? Maybe it would never make it past Vincenzo’s final cleaning, if he performed one, and they’d never even know? Or even if they did find it, would they care? Maybe they would think I was crazy? Maybe I am crazy?

Eventually, I decided the potential benefits (funsies!) outweighed the potential risks (loss of security deposit, intense, lasting shame), took a deep breath and stashed it in the bottom the wardrobe, pressed up against the back, where you’d have to be down on the floor and practically have your face planted to the ground to ever notice it there. It looked like this, because I never mastered block lettering in 3rd grade.

Then, just a week or so later, I got this in my e-mail. And oh did I get excited.


So, while trying to cram everything I own into one very tall yet not all that efficient closet I found your “Top Secret” letter.  I must say this was a very welcome surprise, as was reading your blog, since I had many unanswered questions & I was about to embark on a journey to seek you out.  That may sound strange so let me explain…

As I’m sure you know my roommate found your apartment on craigslist & we were the first people to view it a mere 24 hours after it hit the market.  She fell in love immediately and put in an application before I was able to return from Boston to see the place.  She assured me it was everything I’d ever wanted in an apartment, the perfect combination of pre-war character and modern aesthetics.  I’ll admit I was a touch wary.  She’s in finance and has a passion for saving money while I’m a designer who has a love affair with all things shiny, pretty & aesthetic pleasing…and naturally a flair for spending ridiculous amounts of money on said “pretty things.”  But I was at the end of my rope with apartment searching (I was traumatized when a bird that flew directly into my face at our last apartment viewing) and decided the hell with it, jumped back on the bus to NYC and hightailed it to the Upper East Side to see this “dream apartment.”

You had me at the orange glow light. 

The bright kitchen paired with that orange glow blinded me; did I see the outdated appliances? Nope.  Was I fazed by the lack of a dishwasher, the Formica cabinets or the odd coloring to the kitchen counter? No. No. No. I was indeed blinded by love at first light.

And then on to the bathroom…ohhh the bathroom! That tile floor & that navy paint, and my god… that shower head! Again… did I see the peachy tinted tile on the wall? Nope. Was I bothered by the fact that you step out of the shower and on to the toilet where toweling off becomes an exercise in body contortion? Absolutely not.

This apartment was everything our Stuytown apartment wasn’t and we hadn’t even made it to the living room yet.  The lighting! The windows! The doors! OH MY! My roommate was right! This place was a dream come true. Except that’s where the fairy tale ends…

Alas! Where did my orange glow light go!? (Okay, okay I’ll admit I knew the lighting was too good to be true..but a girl can dream can’t she!?) Where are the blinds!? Ohhh and the beautiful coverings on the glass doors… what is this!? Where am I! Those beautiful windows… did they always look out over brick buildings and neighbors bedrooms?! This cannot be the apartment I saw before; everything I’d fallen In love with is gone! Ripped from my grasp in one fell swoop.

I cried… I mourned… I tried to apply window film.  And then I found your “top secret note” and finally all was right in the world again (well not quiet. but I knew things were at least turning around).  I had in my sweaty, sticky hands (window film is indeed a bitch) the guide to (re)creating my dream apartment & also the story to where that damn showerhead went. Not only should Vincenzo pay you for single-handedly creating a masterpiece out of a mediocre apartment and renting it out in less than 24 hours flat, he should also pay me for all the work that I have to do to recreate what you accomplished. Who knew such a little tiny Italian man could destroy a masterpiece in a matter of a month? Had I known, I would have intervened…at very least petitioned to save the coverings on the door (to everyone who asked about our new apartment I said… “Ohh! Just wait till you see the doors!”).

So sorry for this longwinded note but I thought you should know how much we adored your apartment, so much so that we were blinded by all the fabulous things you did to it that we didn’t really see much else, such as the need for insane amounts of storage due to the lack of closets.

We will be using MANY of your tutorials to update our new space (it’s like a dummies guide to our apartment, how cool is that) and we’ll also be doing some DIY projects of our own… starting with an oversized mirror that we’re turning into a chalkboard for the kitchen.

So thanks again for the note, it was such a fun surprise & I’m already obsessed with the blog & will be following all of your amazing adventures in Brooklyn!

If you’re interested I’ll shoot you some photos of the progress we make!

Good luck with your new digs! (the details in the place are to DIE for, can’t wait to see what you do with that insane hallway!!)


Ps. Thanks for the stuff that you did & were able to leave! I love that the blog showed me what the place was like before you moved in… the work you did on the doors & the cabinets is just fabulous.

Isn’t that just, like, SO COOL?! Not only did they find the note, exactly as I hoped, but my apartment now belongs to a totally awesome and sweet designer (check her out over here!) who’s going to take great care of the place.

Allie and I have emailed back and forth a bit and we agreed that this whole thing is just too much fun not to share on the ole bloggy, so hopefully every once in a while I’ll be able to post a little update on what’s happening over at the original apartment we all know and love. I’m totally psyched to see what somebody else with completely different taste will do with the same space, and I’m so glad my old home is in such great hands!

Settling In

In the last month and a half, I have been to:

1. Las Vegas
2. Chicago
3. Washington, D.C.
4. Buffalo
5. Washington, D.C. (again)
6. Pittsburgh

Oh yeah, I also moved. As you well know. And I’ve also had an abnormally heavy stream of house guests. And I’m getting on another plane tomorrow.

It’s been busy times around here, folks, what with all the planes, trains, and automobiles. All of these little jaunts have been fun, really, but between them all getting this apartment in order has been slow-goings at best.

First, this place had to go through an extensive cleansing process—to say that it was dirty would really be doing my hard work a disservice. Think filth. Think grime. Think… this monstrosity lurking beneath the stove.

When time is tight and the days are short, you switch into survival mode. The goal becomes not one of beautification, but instead a strained task, geared towards minimizing your houseguests’ impression that you’re a squatter.

Which is all to explain that not much has been done here. And everything’s looking a little crappy. Every room is bursting at the seams. There is so much to be done that my head spins, and yet nary a paint brush has hit the walls. It’s kind of intimidating, but really just annoying that I’ve technically been here a month and things still look like this. Let’s do a run-down, shall we?

This is my hot mess of a bedroom. The desk is covered in miscellany, I hung up the Calder litho on an existing screw left in the wall, and the upholstery on my bed needs some repairs after it had to be taken apart in the move.

This is the sorry state of the bathroom. The walls are still lavender. The medicine cabinet is packed. I had to move two existing shelves from the bedroom into the bathroom to replace that tiny ledge. Trust, all this is temporary.

The kitchen. Oh, the poor kitchen. It’s packed to the gills and crying out for more storage. I haven’t been able to get the oven to work, the refrigerator leaks, something’s wrong with the window. And it’s still super fug.

The living room looks the most moderately-okay. Taking down those weird little shelves between the windows and the horrifically dusty venetian blinds went a long way towards making me feel better, but the red paint and the stacks of art and the half-assed vignetting are making me crazy.

The only thing I’ve really accomplished are these milk-crate bookshelves, which I think we can all agree is a good example of what happens when DIY goes awry.In the right space, executed well, I can actually see some version of this looking pretty good. Not here. A coffee shop around the corner gives these crates away for free, so in a fit of omg-what-do-I-do-with-all-these-books, I grabbed nine of them (including the three in the kitchen) …

…and drilled some holes around the edges and stitched them together with kitchen twine.

Yeah, they’re glamorous. No, they’re not staying any longer than they have to.

I know I’m a whining, complaining disaster, but I’m actually loving living here—when I’ve actually been here. The neighborhood is great and the apartment has so much potential. I can’t wait to really get going.

For those of you wondering, I got my security deposit from my old apartment yesterday. They knocked off $100. I’m okay with that. 

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