Hooray, Heat!

There was a pretty dark period this fall during which nothing was working out and everything on the home renovation front was, generally, totally shitty. We tried to get our roof replaced and ended up with some new roof, some old roof, and a whole mess of rot and messed up box gutters. We tried to get some electrical work done (details forthcoming!), and ended up with a super disorganized electrician who took weeks to finish a few fairly simple jobs and was very non-committal and vague about when he might decide to come back. Then, there was the heat situation.

In case I haven’t established this enough: old houses are complicated. I think they’re completely worth the headaches, but the point is that there are headaches. We knew when we bought the house that we needed to address the heat system, but I had no idea that trying to get hot water running through our radiators would take the better part of two and a half months and make me want to be dead.

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A little background:

Our house was probably originally heated with wood-burning or coal-burning stoves, which were later replaced by hot water radiators (most of them are made by the American Radiator Company and are the very ornate “Rococo” design, and were probably installed around the turn of the century). Basically, a machine called a boiler has to heat all that hot water to distribute to the radiators. The hot water runs from the boiler through an elaborate system of pipes to the radiators, then through the radiators and back to the boiler to get re-heated. Hot water radiators provide really nice heat—they’re silent, extremely effective at heating up a space, and just all around very pleasant. I was told that our century-old radiators are actually more efficient than more modern baseboard radiator-style heating. I’d never consider replacing the radiators with a forced air system or anything else——I consider them a huge asset to the house, even if they aren’t 100% original.

ANYWAY. There was an existing boiler in the basement, but unfortunately it was probably from the 1930s or 40s and was super scary. It ran on oil as its fuel source, which was supplied by two enormous oil tanks that were buried in the yard. When the house went up for sale, however, the oil tanks were removed and abated (old buried oil tanks are NOT something you want to deal with as a new homeowner, so I’m glad they were gone!), leaving a lifeless ancient old boiler in the basement. While I suppose it’s possible we could have gotten a new oil tank and gotten the existing boiler up and running, there wasn’t really any point in that: oil is very expensive, and the old boiler (if it even still worked) would have been incredibly inefficient and potentially unsafe. The house was seriously overdue for an upgrade.

We’d planned all along to switch to natural gas to power the heat system, meaning some new gas lines would have to be run in the basement to a new modern boiler, all of which a plumber would have to install. Pretty straightforward, yes?

We had a gas line running into the house from the main on the street, but we’ve never actually had gas running into it. That’s partly why we switched to an electric stove when we renovated the kitchen—partially because we already had the stove, but mostly because we weren’t sure how long it would take to get gas service up and running. Additionally, because our house was split into two separate living units that we’re restoring to a single-family, the upstairs and downstairs were on two separate hot water heaters (which supply the hot water to sinks and tubs and the (broken) washing machine). There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with this setup, except that the hot water heater that supplied the second floor ran on electric and the main floor heater ran on gas…meaning no hot water in the kitchen for the first six months in the house. And of course it wasn’t like we could just turn the gas on. Because our house had been vacant, the gas meter had been removed by the utility company, meaning we’d have to request new service. And if we requested new service, they’d want to see what we were running, and our hot water heater was installed with a whole mess of code violations, so they wouldn’t have turned the gas on anyway. See how fun this stuff is?

Luckily, the utility company, Central Hudson, has been running a terrific Gas Conversion Program, which basically incentivizes homeowners to switch to natural gas for their home heating systems. Basically, they subcontract to a company who comes to the house for a free consultation, evaluates your needs, and puts together a couple of different potential packages depending on the necessary equipment. They also offer a number of financing options, which made the whole thing very appealing. We knew the approximate cost of all this stuff before we even bought the house, so we were prepared financially, but I liked the idea of financing the whole thing separately and saving our cash for other projects, so I set up an appointment.

This was at the beginning of September. The guy from the utility company came out, took one look at our existing gas line, and immediately said that Central Hudson wouldn’t give us gas for two reasons:

1. The existing gas line was too old, and no longer to code. Awesome.

2. Because the house was vacant for a while, it was more than likely that the line running into our basement had been cut at the street anyway, rendering it completely dead. Therefore, they’d need to dig up part of the street, the sidewalk, and part of our yard to run a completely new line from the gas main.

The great thing about the Gas Conversion Program is that getting this new line run is basically free——you pay a $500 deposit up front, which gets returned to you once your equipment is installed and activated. Without this program, that type of job would easily run about $5,000, so that was the good news. The bad news was that getting the new line run would take 3-4 weeks, meaning we wouldn’t even be able to install a new boiler until probably early October. The other semi-bad news was that in the caveat of taking advantage of the financing options was that we’d need to use a plumber supplied by Central Hudson, not our own plumber. Having worked with our plumber a couple of times for other stuff, I felt a little bit badly about taking the business away from him, but to pay off the new boiler over 7 years? Seemed worth it.

So I wrote my $500 check and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

4 weeks turned into more like 8 weeks, at which point the gas company engineer finally came out to the house and decided that there actually wasn’t anything wrong with our existing service—meaning the last 8 weeks (which brought us to early November, when things were getting very cold) had been a total waste of time. In that time, we also weren’t approved for the financing, so we were back to square one. At that point, I decided to just forge ahead with the gas company’s plumber, since that seemed like the easier route than backtracking and dealing with our own plumber, who’d still have to deal with the gas company to get the service turned on once everything was installed. The gas company said they could schedule me for the big install within the next week or so, so things seemed to be looking up.

And then they didn’t schedule me. And one week turned into two. And I was so frustrated and so sad. And the roof stuff was going on. And we were freezing. And everything was terrible.

On the eve of the weather going below freezing for the first time, I was very nervous. We had a couple of space-heaters running and had left the taps on a very slow drip, but I was starting to descend into a fit of paranoia about our pipes freezing and bursting and all being lost. Why was this so hard? Why couldn’t I seem to give these people thousands of dollars to fulfill my simple request of not freezing to death in my home?

Then, out of nowhere, my plumber texted me. Not the one who we’d hired through the gas company, but our plumber. It was maybe the best text message I’ve ever received. Turned out, he was worried about us. I guess I hadn’t effectively communicated that he wasn’t doing the job, so he’d already ordered the equipment and was ready to pick it up at the suppliers. He could come at 9 a.m. the next morning. My heart swelled with hope. It was beautiful.

Early the next morning I called to cancel the other plumber (dick move, I guess, but they still hadn’t managed to schedule me and sometimes you have to do what you have to do!), and called my guy to report that we were a-go.

You guys. He WERKED. IT. OUT. I love my plumber.

plumbers

What I had been told by the gas company was a simple one-day ordeal was actually a four-day, four-person exhausting saga of crazy plumbing insanity. Even just getting the old system disconnected from the ancient boiler was an enormous undertaking. The image above is three large men with a 4-foot pipe wrench (and a large section of cast-iron pipe slipped over the end for extra leverage) yanking on century-old cast iron pipe joints. Each joint had to be blow-torched for 5 minutes before it could be forcibly loosened by these hulking gentlemen and prepared to be tied into new plumbing. I can’t even describe how crazy it was to watch all of this unfolding, but trust…it was intense. Particularly since it was taking place in my very scary basement.

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BUT OMG, LOOK AT ALL THAT GORGEOUSNESS. I mean, can you even? I can’t.

That right there is a very incredible high-efficiency gas boiler. We had a choice between a regular-efficiency boiler and high-efficiency, and we chose high-efficiency for a number of reasons. Even though high-efficiency equipment is more expensive up front, it’s obviously more environmentally friendly and is less expensive to operate over time. Additionally, high-efficiency boilers can vent directly through the side of the house, whereas regular-efficiency boilers have to vent through the roof. Since our only available means of venting was an old unlined chimney, the added cost of lining the chimney wasn’t worth it anyway.

This thing is incredible. First of all, it’s tiny (replacing something roughly the size of a Buick). Second of all, it’s suuuuuper quiet——you can really only hear it running if you’re in the basement. Third of all, it turned out that we couldn’t get the old gas hot water heater up to code, but this thing is so cool that not only does it run our entire heat system, it can also act as a tankless hot water heater. And because of the crazy ordeal of getting this all up and running, combined with our customer loyalty, our terrific plumber tied all of the water lines to the boiler, allowing us to do away with both of our inefficient/inoperable hot water heaters. For free. So all at once we had a working heat system and hot water on both floors of our house.

hotwaterheaters

So yeah, that itty-bitty thing replaced both of these massive hot water tanks AND a huge ancient boiler. Technology, man. So cool.

I know I might be the only person who’s at all excited about this, but looking at that fancy new system all set up makes me really happy. The first time I felt our radiators all toasty and doing their jobs, I cried. Nay, I sobbed. Literally. For nearly an hour. It was pathetic.

After so many months of things going really slowly or really badly and feeling generally like garbage, this finally felt like we’d done something really, truly good for this house. This is a huge, huge improvement and step toward bringing this place into the 21st century——preserving the original character but with a modern, safe, and effective infrastructure behind it. It might sound cheesy, but feeling those radiators come to life (and, miraculously, all in perfect working order) and the house heating to a comfortable temperature really felt like feeling the house come to life for the first time. Magic.

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We splurged a little and went for the Nest thermostat, which has also been amazing. Since we aren’t at the house all the time, it’s great to be able to set the temperature much lower when we’re not there, and even tell it to heat up when we’re en route to Kingston. I feel like it’ll pay for itself over time with energy savings, and it’s also just really fucking cool. Zero complaints.

Here’s some potentially helpful hints if you’re looking at old houses or are looking at replacing a heat system:

1. Always find out what the existing heat system is. If it runs on oil, find out when the boiler or furnace and oil tanks were last replaced. Insist on having the oil tanks inspected. If they are leaking, the seller should have them removed and abated and have documentation to prove it. EPA regulations around this stuff are intense, and you don’t want to mess around.

2. If you do need a new system, get written estimates for the job before you close. This is a costly upgrade, so you’ll need to have an accurate picture of the projected cost to plan your financing accordingly.

3. If you want to switch to natural gas for your home heating system, it’s worthwhile to see if your utility company offers a similar program to Central Hudson’s Gas Conversion Program. I really don’t know enough about whether other utility companies are doing stuff like this, but I’m guessing they are.

4. Some banks and credit unions are offering home heating loans specifically for this at low interest rates. If you’re interested in upgrading your system but don’t have the cash up front, this might be a great option, even if your utility company doesn’t have a program in place.

5. If you’re in the Hudson Valley and need a great plumber, feel free to email me.

Thanksgiving + Ferm Winner + Discount!

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Even though Max and I campaigned hard to get everyone to come to Kingston for Thanksgiving this year (which, admittedly, might have been a little crazy given the current state of the house!), that didn’t happen. Instead, we all ended up convening at my parents’ house in northern Virginia, which, come Monday, will belong to someone else.

thankgiving

When I tell people that my parents just sold the home we grew up in, they tend to get this look of deep sympathy and sadness, as if somebody died. But it isn’t really like that. More than anything, it’s just sort of disorienting seeing the house so undone. It’s weird to walk into empty rooms that I’m used to seeing full of furniture and things. It’s weird to open closets or cabinets that have always been packed with stuff, or to be unable to locate a tube of toothpaste. Not sad, just…odd.

I don’t think I’ll miss this house—the actual bricks and mortar structure of it, that is. Like so many other similar houses in this area, it was built in the 90s in that strangely conservative style that I’ll never totally understand the mass appeal of (I think it was described by the builder as “French Colonial”). As we were the first occupants, the house was a blank canvas when we moved in—nothing to fix or undo. As I slowly understand more and more of the unique challenges that old houses present, I’ll admit that there’s something sort of nice about that——a complete set of double-glazed windows, modern electrical and heating systems, walls that can be simply painted without being entirely reconstructed first, that sort of thing——but I still can’t say it’s something I’d choose for myself.

Still, I’m thankful for this house. There isn’t really anything I can say that’s more cliché than this, but I’m thankful for the memories my family made here. I’m thankful for the bedroom that my parents let me fill with whatever would fit (unless it was a TV). I’m thankful for the backyard where we buried deceased pets, and for the long summers that I spent gardening carefully around their graves. I’m thankful that this was a place where we were encouraged to become the sorts of people we wanted to become, and I’m thankful that this was a place where we could comfortably, safely, and confidently bring home the people we love.

My parents are headed to a cool, super modern new condo right in the heart of Washington, DC, and I’m so excited for them. They’ve lived in this area for about 30 years at this point, but they’ve never actually lived in the city, and I think it’ll be a great change for them. So I’m thankful for that, too. I’m thankful that they have the good sense to move on, downsize, and let somebody else enjoy this place now. It’s time.

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I’m thankful for so much this year that I guess I should just say that I’m thankful that I have too many things to be thankful for to list them here. If you’re reading this post, though, you’re on that list! Thank you for being here, and I hope you have a terrific Thanksgiving (and if you’re not in the States, I hope you just have a great day!).

FERMDISCOUNT

ALSO——judging from the oodles of entries to the giveaway, I guess I’m not alone in loving Ferm Living Shop! Even though there could only be one winner (congratulations, Shauna!), we can all enjoy this handy discount code. Yay!

Life
Tagged:

GIVEAWAY: Ferm Living Shop!

fermgiveaway

Treasure DiamondTea Pot |Brass Hexagon Pot | A Week of Dish Cloths | Advent Calendar | Marble Silk Pillow | Dots Pillow | Twin Triangle PillowMint Wire BasketCones Stuffed Ornaments | Happy Flags

Confession: I want to live in Ferm Living Shop. I’ve been afflicted with this fantasy ever since the moment I found Ferm years ago, and it hasn’t exactly let up—what with the passing of each new collection bringing more beautiful Danish things into the world. When it comes to making super nice, super adorable, and super Danish housewares, wallpapers, and textiles, nobody does it better than Ferm! All the stuff in that round-up above is just a slice of the new fall/winter collection and the holiday collection, and it’s all so beautiful. And YES, in case you were wondering, even if this Jew is still a little unclear on what exactly an advent calendar is, I still want that one because it’s so damn cute. SO THERE.

Maybe you also want to get in on that action? I thought so. It’s giveaway time, folks! Not just any giveaway, but my favorite kind of giveaway, because the magical unicorns at Ferm Living Shop agreed to give away ANY ITEM IN THE SHOP to one of you lucky, terrific Manhattan Nest readers. Yeah. For real.

TO ENTER:

Step 1: Go over to Ferm Living Shop, poke around, and find your favorite item! I have no idea how you’ll choose, but good luck…

Step 2: Come back here and leave a comment telling me what your favorite item is and how you’d use it! In your home? Holiday gift for special someone? You decide!

Step 3: For an extra entry, go follow Christiana’s Ferm Living Shop board on Pinterest! Then pin your favorite item with the hashtag #ManhattanNestFest, and leave a second comment here telling me you did so!

International entries are welcome and Ferm Living Shop will pay the shipping, however the winner may be responsible for international duties & taxes. Please note that wire baskets and special order items cannot be shipped internationally. 

This giveaway ends TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 26 at 9 PM. A winner will be chosen at random and announced Wednesday!

Get to it!

This post is in partnership with Ferm Living Shop.

You’re so Fine, and You’re Mine.

orange-lady

When I was little, there were two semi-weekly activities that I engaged in with each of my parents. With my dad, I played on a soccer team that he coached. Begrudgingly, and with my feet dragging, I’d go out to the fields week after week (except on the frequent occasions when I pretended to be ill and got away with it) to take part in something that I generally regarded as a waste of my time. Apart from the sliced oranges and bottomless cooler of Capri Sun, soccer combined a lot of things that I just couldn’t get behind: what with all the running around, the focus on teamwork with other boys, the outdoors, the unsightly footwear. I strove to play as little as possible, and when I did play, to do as little as possible——up to and including planting my butt on the field during play and weaving delicate tiaras out of grass for myself to wear at halftime. Hopped up on orange slices, Fruit Roll-Ups, Gushers, and Capri Sun, sometimes we’d go to Subway afterward and I’d be allowed to get a sandwich filled with nothing but ham and a truly appalling slathering of mayonnaise on white bread, which made the whole ordeal moderately worthwhile in my eyes. This was the 90s, and nobody cared too much one way or the other what kids ate so long as the product could reasonably be branded as food.

On Sundays, though, there was a weekly antiques fair in a strip mall parking lot near our house that I went to with my mother, which suited me much better. Here, you were expected to move at a pace slower than a walk, which appealed to me, and you could wear whatever you wanted to. Further, my people were there, which is to say kooky old people who wanted to get chatty about even older stuff. Because I was as much a novelty to them as they were to me, we developed a nice sort of symbiosis——I got to study adults that normally might have ignored me, and they got the pleasure of my youthful company and, sometimes, a hug. I developed a series of collections——first there were dog figurines, then there were wooden boxes, then milk bottles——that I’d keep my eyes out for, and I was great at using my childhood innocence to win me good bargains. It’s hard to say no to a little gay boy with bad hair who just can’t live without a porcelain dachshund, even if he only has three dollars to offer. I was a champion, and I knew it.

Like my athletically-inclined siblings, I was a competitive child, and I think my parents always hoped they’d find a way to parlay this into the sort of passion required on a soccer field (or, for a brief period, in a hockey rink). But it never came to pass. We all have our strengths, and buying old stuff instead of playing sports is mine.

It wasn’t until nearly two decades later, though, that I’ve finally found a way to combine all the fun and excitement of shopping in the company of weird old people with all of the high-stakes, fast-moving competition of a sport. Auctions, y’all. It’s what I was born to do.

Sure, I’ve played the whole eBay game a time or two in my day, but the real thing is approximately 4,000 times better. I’ve only been to two auctions, but allow me to break it down anyway like I know anything:

1. Auctions take forEVER, which I personally enjoy. It starts off a little boring, but then you get to know people in the audience. There’s that guy who will always bid on a box of costume jewelry, or that lady who will buy anything so long as it’s rusty and serves no evident function. There are the gaggles of old ladies who go solely for the entertainment. It becomes a kind of game, anticipating how much a given item will sell for and who in the room will bid on it. You begin to ask yourself a series of questions——who are these people? what brought us all into this room? what makes you interested in spending money on that garbage?——which lets your imagination really soar about the lives of your comrades. They’re questions without answers, but they’re fun to chew over nonetheless.

2. Auctions are educational. It’s fun to learn things about antiques and what they’re worth, but way more fun to do it in the rapid-fire environment of an auction house than by reading books, surfing the Internet, or watching Antiques Roadshow on TV.

3. Snacks on snacks on snacks. I did NOT know that there was food at auctions. Because they’re so long and people love to eat, there tends to be a lot of food available for purchase, ranging from junky to——hands down——the best slice of carrot cake I’ve ever eaten.

4. Of course, finally getting to bid on your item is, like, the most exciting. There’s a whole strategy to it, but there’s also the exhilarating moment of actually getting to do something that could have real repercussions. This is where the competition side comes in. In a way, you’re always a winner: either you win something at a semi-reasonable price that’s a little higher than where you pledged to stop bidding, OR, if things get really out of hand, you still have the opportunity to bid it up, out of spite, to the point where it’s no longer a good deal and then let your competition take it. It’s a little immature, maybe, but I did this to a set of six outdoor chairs and I don’t regret it for a minute. Those bastards can take them, and I can sleep easy knowing I made them pay too much.

5. Sometimes, there’s something totally crazy that comes up that wasn’t listed in the previews, and it’s fun to see people react to it while you also consider maybe buying it. The first auction I went to, between a Victorian chair and a platter of assorted glassware, they sold LAND. Like acres and acres of woodsy land with a creek and a modest waterfall. The other information about it——exactly where it was located, whether or not it had municipal water, the projected property taxes, whether it was cursed——these things never really came up, but it was still fun to think about. It ended up selling for only a couple thousand dollars. Where else can you buy your own waterfall for that, I mean really?

In short, I love auctions. I need to stay away from them due to the state of my bank account, but I also love them.

This is how the elegant painting in the photo above came into my life. I spotted her during previews——a period before the auction begins, in which attendees are encouraged to view the available items face to face. She immediately attracted my attention, an object nestled in that fun space between pretty and ugly, between uniquely beautiful and incredibly tacky. In an auction filled mostly with Hudson Valley antiques, the audience let out an audible laugh when the auctioneer read aloud the provenance: Russian, painted in 1997. Bidding started at $100, as usual, but quickly dropped to $10 and worked its way back up once the first interested party lifted their card. But it was I who eventually won out somewhere around the $60 mark, a price that elicited several eye-rolls and chuckles from onlookers.

But just LOOK at her. She’s like a Matisse, but without the talent, originality, or vintage. I love her gaudy frame. I love her vacant eyes. I love her perfectly round bosom and the inescapable fact of her garish, Snooki-level orangeness. I love that she traveled across continents and ended up with me. Sometimes I buy questionable things and immediately regret them, but we’re a few weeks into our relationship and I still treasure her presence in my home. She’s everything I never knew I wanted, but could not live without.

New Wallpapers = Plan for the Tiny Office!

hyggeandwestandlaundry

If you felt a sudden shift in the air yesterday while you were hopefully doing something more fun than I was doing (eating falafel from a food truck on the side of the road under the JMZ in north Brooklyn, just trying to get home, my subway card as empty as my stomach…dark times.), you were most likely feeling the latest collaboration from one of my favorite wallpaper manufacturers, Hygge & West, being released into the world! This time, the wallpaper magicians at Hygge & West teamed up with Portland-based Laundry to create 6 new patterns (each of which comes in a few different colorways!) inspired by traditional Mexican designs. If “inspired by traditional Mexican designs” doesn’t sound exactly like my usual jam, you may be correct, but I love these! Each pattern is so pretty and the colors and metallics are SO good. I kind of want to design rooms around all of them and then make those rooms happen in my house and other people’s houses and just all the houses. Everyone deserves a little wallpaper.

Even though the tiny office space is currently a grotesque disaster of horror and despair, that is not going to stop me from planning what I want it to be. I tend to shy away from wallpaper in really large applications for myself (a personal shortcoming I can’t explain), but I LOVE to wallpaper little tiny spaces. It’s like a little special unexpected something to make those often-neglected spaces feel totally special and awesome. I’ve always been planning to wallpaper up one wall in the little office, but I didn’t know which wallpaper…UNTIL NOW.

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BLAM, office plan. I’m into it.

1. HYGGE & WEST: I’m going to wallpaper the long wall opposite the door with the new Diamante pattern in black/gold. GOLD, YOU GUYS. It’s going to be amazing. The pattern is so pretty and intricate, and…GOLD. It’s really important to me to add more warm-tone metallics to my life, because it is not brassy/goldy/coppery enough as it is.

2. DWR: Max and I found this Era Round Armchair at the Design Within Reach Annex store for something like $75 because the arms are a little scuffed up. I think it’ll make a nice simple desk chair——it’s comfortable but also really visually light, which will help keep the space from feeling crowded.

3. FERM LIVING SHOP: I’ve wanted one of these wire baskets FOREVER but never really had a worthy place. I think this might be the worthy place…

4. White floor! White floor! White floor! As soon as I set foot in this room for the first time, I’ve wanted to paint the old tongue and groove floor white. I’m planning to follow the same steps that Anna did here, except for the sanding part since mine is already painted and the paint probably contains lead and I don’t want to play that. I know people get all weird about white floors, but I think it’ll be OK. No shoes in the office!

5. I think I want to make a simple floating desktop out of pine boards…cheap and un-fancy. I’m not sure how much I’ll like the pine with the wallpaper, though, so I think I might whitewash it with something or stain it black or…I don’t know! I’ll have to see how things are coming together…

6. IKEA: For storage of office paraphernalia, I think I might finally buy one of those ALEX drawer units from IKEA. It’ll hold a ton and slip under the desktop pretty inconspicuously. I might switch out the casters with something less…plastic.

7. I know, a whole lounge chair! I want to be realistic about myself and my work habits, and I know I often get tired of sitting at a desk, but I don’t want to be tempted to leave the room if I need to get stuff done. I found one of these Wegner-style folding lounge chairs a couple of months ago in Brooklyn for $20. The webbing is totally torn and needs to be completely replaced, but since it was so cheap and it’s already ruined, I think I might replace it all with some simple canvas (or leather??) slings. In my head this will take no more than 20 minutes and look perfect? I guess I’ll need something to prop my feet on (any chair is comfy if you can put your feet up, right?), so maybe I’ll get a pouf or something.

8. IKEA: What with the white floor and wallpaper and that chair, this room is just going to need a sheepskin. That is all.

9. SCHOOLHOUSE ELECTRIC: Right now there isn’t an overhead light in the room, which is a little bit annoying/dark. Since we have to add lights to a couple of other rooms in the upstairs anyway, I’d like to just bite the bullet and get one put in here, too, since they might have to make holes in the walls and I’d rather have that done NOW than after the room is all nice and pretty. I think this little Thunderbird light from Schoolhouse Electric is so cute. The quality of Schoolhouse’s fixtures is really amazing and they’re well-priced, too.

10. LAURE JOLIET STUDIO: I don’t even really know how my friend Laure and I started talking online, but she’s a totally hilarious and awesome person who also just happens to be an extremely talented and accomplished photographer. She recently opened up an online shop to sell a modest collection of prints——they’re all black and white and HUGE (3′ x 4′!) and cheap, and I love them! I already got this one (taken at a natural history/hunting museum in Paris, I gather…) and I’m pretty excited to hang it up. I think the whole ensemble of this room might lean a little feminine, so obviously I need some French taxidermy and guns to manly it up.

11. CLARK + KENSINGTON: I still have some leftover paint from the kitchen, and I think it’s enough to paint the rest of the walls and moldings in this little room! Since the wallpaper is so bold and dark, I just want to rest of the walls to be a simple grey-white with white moldings. Nothing crazy!

That’s my big plan! Office by Christmas? Is it possible?

This post is in partnership with Hygge & West.

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