Going Rogue: A Story of Betrayal and Componibili.

First of all——PHEW, my first giveaway ever for Ferm Living Shop took in 734 comments! Lunacy! The winner was chosen at random and a big congratulations to Nancy M. is in order! Yay, Nancy!

Now, if you didn’t win the giveaway, maybe you are sad and bitterly disappointed? Maybe I was worried you would be sad so I had a chat with Ferm Living Shop about how sad you would be? Maybe Ferm Living Shop agreed you might be sad and a 10% off promo code was offered to soften the blow of being a poor, pathetic loser? That’s right: use the code MANHATTANNEST at checkout to get 10% off your order at Ferm Living Shop through Sunday, December 9th at 9 PM! This would be a good time to go ahead and buy that Remix Blanket you wanted before—the offer doesn’t last long!

Go ahead. You have my blessing. Treat yo’self. (just use MANHATTANNEST at check-out!)

Onto other matters. I’ll admit I had a bit more of an exciting post planned for today but——True Life: It’s Exam Week and I am Pooped. Like, more than pooped. Somewhere between dead and pooped.

So last week I was emailing back and forth with a reader named Alicia about the usual (fauxdenzas, wood, anchors, sofas) and she just had to mention that she was putting up an ad on Craigslist for two 3-tier white Kartell Componibili units for the price of one new one. They were only a couple years old, great condition——did I know anybody who might want them?

Um, hello Alicia. I want them. Duhzville. Gimme those Componibilis and we can talk fauxdenzas til my jaw detaches itself from my face.

Only problem? Convincing a certain someone who might also have an opinion on the matter. And I’m not talking about Linus, because he’d never be able to understand complex concepts like wonderful mod Italian plastic storage. He can’t even understand “sit.”

God, Linus is so stupid. But his love language is cuddles and that’s all I care about, so he’s perfect.

I’d been talking up a Componibili for the bathroom pretty much as long as we’ve lived in this apartment, and Max has always been ardently against them. He “doesn’t like plastic” (?) and doesn’t like the way they look (?) and some other hogwash that I probably would have remembered if I had been listening in the first place instead of worrying about my future?

So when this talk of Craigslist posts and Componibilis was happening, Max was at work. I tried to be considerate by sending him this series of text messages, which pretty much gives you an accurate picture of what it’s like to be in a relationship with me.

It pretty much went on like that, but you get the picture.

So I’m the devil, more or less. Whatever. True Life: I’m a Control Freak.

Obviously, the problem here is that if I had waited for a response, at least one of two things would have happened: by the time I could give the green light to the seller (a.k.a. Alicia), they’d be gone,* or Max would say no and I’d have to be both selfish and blatantly disobedient and disrespectful when I went and did it anyway.**

*maybe not that likely to happen so quickly, but work with me.
**very likely to happen very quickly.

Rock, meet Hard Place.

So, much like somebody who is mentally unbalanced and likes a good deal (not me, just somebody like that person), I think I was at the seller’s apartment in less than an hour and carrying Componibilis into our apartment like 10 minutes after Max came home from work. True Life: My Boyfriend Wanted to Kill Me.

He was not pleased, but I am pleased enough for the both of us. This thing is obviously good-looking and pretty adorable and it looks good in the bathroom. More importantly, it HOLDS THINGS. The bathroom’s ONLY storage is that big medicine cabinet. Don’t get it twisted, that thing is huge, but not huge enough to maintain this much beauty. For example, the blowdryer used to sit in the cabinet. Of course, it was too big for the cabinet, so it fell out ALL THE TIME, usually on my face, usually carrying a bunch of other stuff down with it. This went on for like a year and a half, so don’t even try to tell me I don’t know struggle.

The Componibili is great because it holds toilet paper, the blowdryer, and various other excess toiletries that used to sit in a box in our kitchen. It’s nice to have all the bathroom stuff IN the bathroom. Max is getting used to it?

FYI, the bathmat is a bamboo (I think) mat from Target. Another huge point of contention in the bathroom has been getting a bathmat——Max hates bathmats and thinks they’re dirty, vile things, and I don’t understand life without them? I’d be down for a normal bathmat, but eventually we had to settle on this wood thing and…it’s fine. I don’t really understand what function it holds, but I guess it’s nice that it’s there and that I don’t have to wash it all the time? I don’t know.

The soap pump is from West Elm and I love it. It’s soapstone, so it’s nice and substantial and the pump part is actually really nice and sturdy, which I like. I wish I felt the same way about the sink and the floor, but there isn’t a whole lot I can do about either of those.

But Componibili!! I’m so glad this dream came true and that it wasn’t the end of my relationship. You really can have your cake and eat it too, you know?

GIVEAWAY: Ferm Living Shop!

Candleholder String | Copper Tray | Spear Bowl | Squares Blanket | Wire Basket

I’m super excited today to announce my very first giveaway, from none other than the amazing folks at Ferm Living Shop! I have loved Ferm for years and years now, and spent a totally obscene, possibly shameful amount of time drooling over their housewares and wallpapers. Imagine me, sitting at home, petting my computer screen and willing these beautiful Danish bits of perfection to find a way into my life and you’ll have a pretty accurate picture of how I regard this company.

Maybe you’re like that, too? Then today is your lucky day! Ferm Living Shop is offering the lucky winning reader ANY item in the shop. Maybe you want that Candleholder String on your Christmas table? It could happen for you. Maybe you need to cuddle up under that Squares Blanket in front of a cozy fire and feel like a fancy prince or princess? You just might get the chance.

UPDATE: THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations, Kathy M.!

To Enter:

  1. Go check out Ferm Living Shop and pick your favorite item!
  2. Come back here and leave a comment with the item’s name AND how you would use it in your home! That’s it!

International entries are welcome and Ferm Living Shop will pay the shipping. However, the winner may be responsible for international duties & taxes.

This giveaway ends on Thursday, December 6th at 8 PM EST. A winner will be chosen at random and I’ll update the post with the winner’s name on Friday, December 7th! Yay!

Impromptu Thanksgiving Makeover!

For the first time in my life, I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving this year. Instead, Max and I both went to his much-adored hometown of Buffalo, the kooky city that I credit, in part, with making him the nutball that he is today.

About two days before we left, Max floated the idea of giving his childhood bedroom a “quick and easy” makeover while we were going to be there. Trying not to act too excited, I accepted the assignment with grace and class, as I had rehearsed many times whilst daydreaming about this moment. And then I assembled my emergency DIY-superhero traveling toolkit.

I have a lot of tools and bits and bobs I’ve accumulated over the past couple of years, but this is the stuff I see as essential when embarking on a quick-n-dirty DIY job. From left to right: all my assorted drill bits, two types of pliers, lightweight quick-drying spackling compound, the best screwdriver ever with a million different heads, coarse-grit sandpaper, E-Z anchors, my drill, and two spackle knives.

I need to give a serious shout-out to those E-Z anchors, by the way. They are the shit. I only really like the metal ones (they also come in plastic, but I’ve had mixed results with those), but they hold a ton of weight and are just all-around phenomenally easy to use and strong and awesome. Basically you just screw the big metal piece into the wall, then screw a screw into the metal piece. Done! No drilling, nothing. These things are seriously lifesavers for crumbly plaster walls and basically hold my entire apartment together and I trust them with my life.

Anyway.

Max is perhaps the most nostalgic, sentimental person I know, so the suggestion of even touching or moving a single thing in his largely unchanged shrine to angsty adolescence is more than a little out of character. But a combination of getting older, maturing, and—I like to think—living with the controlling lunatic nightmare that is myself, has changed his taste a little, and I think he was ready to appreciate his former bedroom as a thing preserved more in memory and photographs than something that needs to actually exist in real life. It also helps that we stay in this room when we visit, and a twin bed pretty much sucks when occupied by two boys and a 12 pound muppet named Linus.

Additionally, Max’s wonderful mother, Sue, wanted to use the space as a comfortable guest bedroom for the 49 (give or take a few) weeks a year when we’re not staying in it, but not every guest wants to be transported back to Max’s worldview circa 2000-2006.

Twin bed: check. Beaded floor pillows: check. Beaded floor lamp: check. Beaded table lamp: check. Second beaded floor lamp (out of frame): check. Tapestry thing: check. Tiny plastic busts of famous composers: check. Martha Stewart Living casually laying on the floor like it’s an accident: CHECK.

Even though I’ll admit to hating staying in this room, there’s something so adorable about these pictures that I feel a little nostalgic, myself. All those magazine boxes on the shelves are full of Martha Stewart Livings, the little woven basket next to it is full of knitting supplies, and the bottom shelf is occupied by about a dozen Harry Potter books—American and Canadian editions. I mean, come on. 

Up above, this weird candelabra chandelier number from IKEA hung from the ceiling, as well as an artsy photo wall of mostly naked people. There are SUNGLASSES HANGING FROM THAT CHANDELIER THING, PEOPLE. 2006 Max is so weird and cute.

The less cute side of this makeover is this wall of graffiti that Max had all of his friends contribute to with Sharpie over the years. Mostly, it is composed of penises, vaginas, things that look vaguely like penises and vaginas, angsty lines of poetry, drug references, and penises. There are also some penises.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ani DiFranco lyrics GLITTER PUFFY-PAINTED to the closet moldings, and more glitter puffy paint ON THE CEILING that has something to do with eggs and some dude named Ernie?

Interestingly, Max has never been into drugs.

I always thought that my parents allowed us to be pretty free-spirited when it came to our rooms: we got to pick all our own furniture, paint colors, layouts, and how big of a mess we lived in. But Max’s parents kind of took this to the next level and basically let tiny crazy angsty Max run wild and this is what happened. Take heed, people.

All I can say after sanding glitter puffy paint off a ceiling is that if I ever have children who try to pull shit like that, I will drown them.

As you can see in the above floor plan, this room is really tiny, which made our single-day-makeover plan seem pretty feasible on the surface. In the morning, we cleared out the entire room, then went to do a little shopping. Then I got dropped at the house to commence with the painting, while Max and his mom went to buy a mattress and a few other things we’d need to finish the space. It was some crazy Trading Spaces madness, which is how I like things. Once I get in to projects like this, I’m the sort of person who will basically forego food, sleep, water, and bathroom breaks until it’s done. I get into a zone, push through pain, and annoy every single person around me with demands that they work harder.

Imagine me as a werewolf. Then imagine that a big DIY project is a full moon. It’s like that.

So here is the paint arsenal, in case you’re curious. I started off by prepping the walls, which basically meant scraping old sticky-tack, sanding glitter puffy paint, and spackling about a thousand nail holes. In some areas, the plaster was in really rough shape, which normally I’d get all anal about and repair properly with joint compound and mesh tape and whatnot, but I had to learn to let go and just paint over everything. It was oddly liberating, and matte paint has a way of making uneven fucked up plaster look kind of awesome, anyway.

PSA: never write on your walls with Sharpie. Just don’t do it. If you do, someday your boyfriend will have to come in, paint over all of it with shellac-based primer, which is both expensive and very smelly. He will have to do it twice, all the while losing brain cells and going crazy. Sharpie bleeds through, like, ALL PAINT IN THE WORLD EVER in the most amazing/annoying way, so it really all has to be sealed in with a serious primer. The good thing about the shellac primer is that it dries REALLY fast, but it smells terrible and is super thin, so you have to be extra careful of drips and off-spray.

Max wanted a really dark black/navy color for the walls, and after seeing it both on the outside of Chezerbey and at Anna’s house, I demanded that we use Benjamin Moore’s “Soot.” We used the Aura paint in matte, which is pricey but is basically like painting with velvet and covers completely and easily in two coats. For the ceiling, we just used standard off-the-rack flat white ceiling paint, and for the trim we used off-the-rack white in pearl finish. Usually I do trim in semi-gloss, but I’ve been leaning more toward something a bit less shiny and pearl is a really beautiful, slightly more subtle alternative. All of this action happened so fast, I literally have ZERO process pictures…but really, we all just want to get to the afters, right?

BOOM. Hello super dark, super cozy, super awesome tiny bedroom that I totally love. With cute dog.

So obviously this isn’t really my normal taste, but I really do love this room. It was so much fun to wake up in on that first morning, and I actually didn’t want to leave Buffalo because I loved sleeping in it so much. Maybe it makes me want a black bedroom?

I’m sorry for the low-quality pictures, by the way. The one thing I didn’t pack in my emergency DIY-superhero traveling toolkit was a decent camera, so unfortunately I had to document with my iPhone. This room gets basically no natural light, so a very dark space combined with very dark paint combined with an iPhone camera makes for some subpar photos. Sorry!

Part of the fun of creating this room was reusing things that were already around in the house, including this lamp, the bedside table, the rug, the bed, the flag, and that amazing vintage Hudson Bay blanket. The bed belonged to Max’s mom’s parents (also known as Max’s grandparents), and I believe was a wedding gift in the late 40s-early 50s. It’s mahogany colonial-revival, which is usually not my thing, but I love it for this space. It was sitting in the attic, broken in a few joints, but I was able to repair the whole thing in about half an hour with some J-B Wood Weld, which is an amazing epoxy that cures really quickly and is SUPER strong and awesome. Max’s mom was really excited to see the bed all put back together and looking amazing, which was really fun for me. Aside from repairing the bed, we also got new pieces of 1 x 4 cut at Home Depot to replace the old slats (we got ten new slats for under the mattress, which was perfect).

Also, the flag is pretty amazing. Normally, I’m not a fan of using American flags in home decor, but this flag is old (it only has 48 stars!) and has just the right amount of wear to be super cool and perfectly vintage without straying into hit-you-over-the-head-patriotic territory. It’s being held up by E-Z anchors. Duh.

The vintage Hudson Bay blanket is also from Max’s mom’s parents, and it totally makes the room. I mean, of course it does. I’m a huge sucker for a point blanket.

One of the other projects I really loved in this room was the curtain, which I just made out of a canvas drop-cloth that was inexplicably sitting in the trunk of my car. I hung the curtain rod (this cheap-o one from Target) about 7″ from the ceiling, and made the curtain all the way to the floor, using iron-on hem tape for the side and top (I used existing hems for the side facing the room and the bottom). The iron-on tape worked surprisingly well, and the canvas was a perfect warm neutral color and texture to balance out the bright whites in the room and was also FREE. Free is always good. The curtain rod is hanging with E-Z anchors.

Another HUGE, HUGE improvement in this room was finding and re-hanging the closet door! The closet just had a curtain hanging on a tension rod before, but Max and I managed to find the original door hiding in the attic (it had been removed at some point, I have no idea why), harvest a black porcelain knob from another outcast door in the basement, and hang and repaint the thing like it never left the room. Love me an old door with a couple fresh coats of paint.

Again, normally I’d get a bit more detail-crazy and strip all the old hardware, but there was no time for that. Instead, I just coated everything with a fresh coat of white, and guess what? Nobody died, which makes me question my entire worldview, basically. Sometimes its OK to just take the easy route. Huh.

Along the wall between the entry door and the closet, I hung three plain cheap brass hooks (also held up by—you guessed it!—E-Z anchors), which might be my favorite thing about this room, oddly. Hooks are perfect for small spaces, and we used them for everything from bags to shirts to our jeans at the end of the day. The hooks keep clutter off the small amount of floor space, and the little bits of brass make a really nice complement to the deep blue paint color. And the E-Z anchors mean they have no trouble holding a ton of weight.

One thing we didn’t do anything about was the floor (except scrub it). It’s the only original wood floor in the house, which I think is oak but was painted a rusty red at some point. About half of the old paint has worn off and the wood is in really rough shape, which I’m pretty sure means it needs to just be painted white? I’m looking at you, Christmas break…

OK, I take it back about the dumb hooks because my favorite thing about the room is definitely this amazing art deco pendant light that we picked up at The Antique Man. It was kind of a steal at $75 and is just…so beautiful. There’s no electrical in the ceiling in this room, so I converted it into a plug-in fixture, which is pretty easy to do with the teeniest, tiniest bit of electrical know-how or advice from that old guy at the hardware store who knows what’s up. Basically you can just cut the end of an extension cord off, wire it into the original socket, and it’s a plug-in light. One of the electrical outlets in the room is circuited to a light switch, so we just ran the cord down to the outlet as neatly as possible and now it turns on and off like a real light and everything. This room was in dire need of a good main light source (with no real natural light, a few little lamps just don’t cut it sometimes!), and I can’t really think of a better-looking solution than this sexy vintage 20s thang.

So where did the money go in this space? Here’s how it broke down:

Mattress/comforter/duvet/sheets/pillows: $676
Bed repair/new slats: $56
Paint/paint supplies: $215
Light Fixture/new wire: $78
Curtain Rod: $10
Hooks: $15

TOTAL: $1,050

Realistically, we probably spent about $50 or so more than that on various supplies and little things that aren’t springing to mind, but in any case—an entire top-to-bottom  room makeover for right around $1,000 including a new mattress? Not bad.

As Mekko clearly demonstrates, this room is super comfortable and a great place for guests (and us!) to stay. Aside from getting to enjoy the final product, I can honestly say that this was one of the most fun, satisfying vacations I’ve ever had, which is pretty much all you need to know to understand that I’m sick in the head and need professional help and guidance.

A big thanks to Max’s mom for letting us have our way with this space. I hope you love it, Sue!

Ducks in a Row

As I alluded to a couple of months ago now, I’m now accepting some sponsorship on this blog. It’s been an exciting couple of months of figuring stuff out, getting a lot of advice from a lot of people, and getting all the details hammered into place – all of it with an even bigger learning curve than I was anticipating. The good news is, now I really feel like I have my ducks in a row to get this thing going for real!

If you want to get the word out about your amazing shop, business, goods, services, and anything else, you can go ahead and purchase and upload an ad right now at a few different positions, sizes, and prices on my sponsorship page. There’s even a very cool budget option. The whole thing is simple, easy, and super duper fun. Just ask one of the few AWESOME, AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL, and VERY SEXY sponsors who have already taken the leap (look to your right!). Better yet, check them out — they’re really great folks. Maybe you want to be an awesome, amazing, beautiful, very sexy, really great folk, too? Well, you know where it’s at. The sponsor page, that’s where.

All the incoming ads have to be approved by me, so I can’t promise your ad will get placed on the site (if it doesn’t, any money is refunded immediately). If you need help designing your flashy amazing earth-shaking sidebar ad, drop me a line and I’ll help you out.

I’m excited about this. I’m excited to be introduced to brands, to connect those brands to readers, and make Manhattan Nest just an all-around awesome place to be. My basic motto for myself moving forward is this: don’t be a doofus. I’m not going to say anything I wouldn’t say otherwise and I will always do everything with an eye toward transparency and honesty. Promise.

So anyway. Christmas is just around the corner. Treat yo’self to a sidebar ad.

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Hallway: Part 2

As we have previously established:

1. We have a ridiculously long and narrow hallway in our apartment. It has many weird twists, turns, and angles.
2. This hallway was very ugly and very smelly and kind of falling apart when we moved in.
3. I made the front “entry” section look pretty good, added some storage, and generally beautified. Success!
4. Refer to this post if you need to review any of the above.

This is what you saw when turning that corner at the end of the first long section. Crazy square action continues, plus a nice shot of the cork square motif in action. If this picture doesn’t make your eyes bleed and your heart hurt, you’re probably not human and/or should see a doctor.

That window—UGH, that window. It’s one of two original (or old and wood, at least) windows in the apartment, and it’s a mess. The panes are super grimy and disgusting, the top part is all painted over (WHY WOULD SOMEONE DO THAT??), and the bottom sash is rotting and I’m pretty sure the panes are going to fall out. Oh also there are mysteriously (cat pee/water damage) stained floors and a generally very scary amount of grime and sadness. Did I miss anything?

Much better, right? Amazing what a coat of matte white paint can do for some old plaster walls. Since the rest of the hallway is so narrow, I decided that the best course of action would be to just treat it as kind of a gallery space instead of trying to force any more storage into it. This keeps it from feeling completely like the walls are closing in, which is a nice thing to feel? Additionally, it makes for a very good repository for some of the art I hoard.

I’ve had that little Eames wire chair for like a year and a half now, from the wonderful Maya. I STILL haven’t gotten around to having the broken wires spot-welded, which makes me feel like a dipshit every time I walk past it. But it’s also so cute and pretty? I really need to do right by this chair at some point.

The rug on the floor is the one I brought back from Jordan, which turned out to be the perfect dimensions for this section.

I also basically decided to just hang an ENJE shade in front of the window and indefinitely postpone the task of fixing it. Would it be nice to have the window open more than about two inches? Yes and hell yes. Would it be nice for it not to be rotting and totally falling apart? Also yes. But…work. Ugh. So for now I just made it really easy to ignore, which has turned out to be a winning strategy that’s working out great. And by great I mean not so great.

The art was made by Max in college—black and white digital photomontages that are fun and fierce and stuff. I found them hiding under his bed in a bunch of broken frames back in Buffalo, so we took six of my favorites back to New York, reframed them in IKEA RIBBA frames, and put them up as a series. Since the frames themselves are $20 a piece, the project ended up adding up (to the tune of about $130, including tax), but I think that’s totally worth it. I love walking past them everyday.

Looking back from the other side, this wall was the perfect size to plop a huge, glorious HOVET mirror from IKEA. I’d been wanting a HOVET for a long time and was determined to put one in this apartment somewhere, and let me tell you—this thing does not disappoint. It is super huge and super awesome and a good price for the magnificent size (which is about 2.5′ x 6.5′). I’ve never lived with a full-length mirror before and I can basically report that owning one is simultaneously awesome and wildly upsetting and depressing, depending on your mood, but at least you always know more or less what you look like. Which apparently is a good thing, even if it just means knowing with certainty that you look a mess instead of just suspecting it.

Not that I would know anything about that.

Also, somehow people ALWAYS miss that there’s an enormous mirror when they’re walking into the apartment, and then are totally horrified by the shock of their reflection when they go to leave. Which is always fun to witness.

Extra points if you spotted the dog, by the way. Linus is SUCH an attention-whore.

Before, there was this mess…the door on the right is the door to the bedroom, and the open door on the left is the bathroom door. The squares never end, much like my lingering PTSD about removing them.

I moved those two prints from this Etsy store out of the kitchen and put them here. I’m always moving the art around and it drives Max C R A Z Y.

Looking back down the hall, I also moved Matt Uebbing‘s painting into the hallway (meaning it’s to the left of the bathroom door).

From the kitchen, things look like this. Bedroom door on the left, bathroom on the right. I hope this isn’t all horribly disorienting.

That fun weaving I got in Sweden is hanging up between the door to the bedroom and the doorway to the living room, which I love. I gotta get my fiber art in there somewhere.

The lighting, by the way, is the same cheap and easy DIY I did in the bathroom, except with different wire. All I needed were 4 ceramic sockets ($3.50 each), 4 plain black canopies ($7 each), and about 6 feet of cobalt blue cloth-covered wire (about $10). All the items were bought at a couple different lighting stores in Soho and Chinatown, not because they’re hard to find, just because I’m disorganized.

All it took was about 20 minutes to get from the supplies to the final product, and maybe an hour to hang them all and get everything working all proper like.

Maybe I should do a tutorial for these at some point, but they’re so easy. Like seriously beyond simple. I don’t know, I’m scared to do DIY’s on the blog involving electrical crap because everybody will always scream “FIRE!!!!” but these have been hanging for a while and nobody’s dead, so…just saying.

The easiest, simplest pendant light ever, and I love my little bright blue cords (though if I call them “pops of color,” brutally stab me 47 times and throw my corpse off the Brooklyn Bridge). The bulbs are just 100-watt incandescent bulbs, which I’m realizing is a problem now that they aren’t legal in the States and are becoming next to impossible to find in hardware stores. Basically the last thing I want is an exposed CFL, and I really wish they just made these same bulbs as halogens or something, since now I’ll inevitably be forced to reevaluate my lighting decisions. I was considering replacing them with Plumen bulbs, but I keep hearing very mixed things about the amount of brightness/quality of light they actually give off, and I really don’t want a dim hallway. I should really just buy one and test it out already, but I am so cheap.

I guess I’d be OK with replacing the fixtures altogether at some point down the line, but I really do want them all to match and finding FOUR matching pendant lights that are very beautiful and very cheap is basically impossible.

Anyway, I’ll enjoy these cheap suckers while they last. They have served admirably and hopefully will continue to do so at least until I come up with a plan.

So that’s the hallway.

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