Monday, January 31, 2011


As promised, I've collected some of the images that inspired me most while putting together my apartment. If anyone reading also reads other design blogs you've probably seen a lot of these already.* Although this is our second apartment, it's the first where we really had the resources to do what I wanted, so there are a lot of oldies-but-goodies that have been stuck in my head for a couple years!

First, images that inspired the overall feeling of the living room, with some explanation below:

by rows, starting in upper left:
[1] A simple, uncluttered living room in neutrals with a fantastic rug by Kelly Wearstler.
[2] Nate Berkus' design for his sister's apartment. This is one of my all-time favorites (mmm, grey and gold) and a fantastic use of a small space!
[3] Deborah Needleman's apartment, another longtime favorite - actually, one of the first rooms I fell in love with after buying my first decorating purchase: the Domino book! I love the pops of color anchored by light neutrals, the way the room is divided into several areas, and the french chairs with that clean-lined sofa and coffee table. 
[4] Oh, Nate. His own living room, with a fantastic b&w rug and a big piece of typographic art...
[5] Another Domino favorite. Even though it's a bedroom, I was inspired by the lamp with its interesting silhouette, b&w rug, and the use of robin's egg blue mixed in with that bold black and white (more on that color later).
[6] From a house tour on La Dolce Vita that (I thought) had a perfect mix of girly glamour and mid-century lines.
[7] I know it's a bathroom, but I love that grey and white palette with gold and black accents. Estefanía Carrera and Alejandro Fauquié, also via La Dolce Vita.

I knew I wanted Panton S chairs, even though I already had an antique dining table, and I found plenty of backup for the combination:

[1] here via Luphia Loves and [2]: Panton S chairs with antique tables
[3] Tia Zoldan and [4] Jen Altman: I love the contrast of those solid legs in natural wood with sleek, light colored chairs

I love color, but I tend to be afraid of actually using it. I'm working on it! But in the meantime, I promised myself I wouldn't make my living room entirely neutral, and one color I unabashedly love is robin's egg blue. My love for it started, again, with the Domino book and some other blogosphere classics:

[1] Domino
[2] Domino
[3] Miles Redd
[4] Domino

Although those images are all a few years old, the color certainly hasn't gone out of favor. Pantone's color of 2010, anyone? I've been loving darker peacock and brighter turquoise shades like these:

[1] Jonathan Adler
[2] Who says bathrooms can't inspire living rooms? I love this design board by Kyle of Knight Moves.
[3] Brian Watford
[4] ? 

One of my biggest design pet peeves is the superfluity of bookshelves that have hardly any books on them. We have a lot of books. Our old apartment had seven Ikea Billy bookshelves, and they were all full. If you look closely at the images of our current bookshelves, you might notice that all the shelves actually have two rows of books on them. These bookshelves were inspiration not only because they look like they belong to people who actually read, but three of them are not built-in!

[1] ?. See, putting the sofa in front of the bookshelves isn't completely crazy...
[2] Domino, one of my favorite libraries.
[3] ?. Design magazines don't like bookshelves that don't go up to the ceiling. I mean, I understand why - but for those of us who have high ceilings, I like this look.
[4] via I Suwanee

I know that painted campaign furniture, antique chests, pagodas and sunburst mirrors aren't exactly groundbreaking anymore, but these elements stuck in my mind long before I actually found them for myself.

[1] Jenny from Little Green Notebook's painted campaign wall units – mine are the largest thing I've ever painted and I'm lucky I could just follow her instructions word for word!
[2] ?
[3] Lonny
[4] Melanie Turner

phew. And that's enough pretty pictures for the day. Bedroom inspiration tomorrow!

ot to mention a lot of zigzag rugs, foo dogs, turquoise, bus scrolls, and prominently displayed bar trays. I never claimed to be original...

Friday, January 28, 2011


... and definitely least, in terms of square footage: our teeny tiny kitchen and entryway.

As promised, some pictures. First, the entry:

As you can see, the door swings inward. The clearance when the door is open is only about 12 inches, so any sane person would not have tried to put a piece of furniture in this space. I, however, had my heart set on a skirted table with pretty fabric (I'm going to post some of my inspiration images for the apartment over the next few days, including some of my favorite skirted entry tables). We ended up actually building a little table structure underneath with some 2x4s, brackets, and a shelf; the only tools we needed, after a trip to Home Depot where they cut the wood for us, were a drill and a screwdriver. The fabric is of course the fabulous Vintage Plumes pattern in Jade from the Dwell Studio for Robert Allen line. When I decided to use this fabric in early September, this was the only online retailer that was carrying it. It was by far the most expensive fabric I've bought, it's absolutely perfect - it looks great with all the colors in the living room, and also incorporates the color of the bedroom walls. Fortunately, I only needed a yard.

The weird little raised thing with two black buttons is our (terribly awkardly placed) buzzer. This is what it looked like when we moved in:

It stuck out like a sore thumb, but I obviously couldn't cover it entirely with a mirror or frame. The solution: I cut a small piece of white duckcloth I had left over from an old project and used fabric painting medium to paint it to match the wall. Then I unscrewed the buzzer frame from the wall, cut little holes in the fabric for the buttons, and wrapped the fabric over the metal. I screwed it back into the wall, and now it's completely useable - the buttons work and we can hear through the fabric - and blends in a bit better.

Other sources:
paint: same as the living room - Martha Stewart's "dolphin" color-matched to Behr Premium Plus Ultra paint
rug: Urban Outfitters, $18
mirror: West Elm via craigslist, $15
lamps: Target, $7 each
jewelry box: Marshall's, $20
key dish: thrifted, >$1
skirt: my lousy sewing skills

Pink bathroom aside, you might be wondering how people who are poor enough that they have to buy all their furniture from craigslist can afford a mostly-gut-renovated apartment with a nice big living room and an enormous, beautiful working fireplace. The answer is this kitchen:

This is the smallest kitchen I have ever seen that is used daily and actually contains a stove, sink and refrigerator (those NYC kitchens owned by people who store their shoes in the minifridge and eat out every night don't count). "A place for everything and everything in its place" was our quickly-adopted motto. Ikea's Grundtal kitchen organizing system came to the rescue with a space-saving way to organize our pots and pans. There's even a drying rack on the lowest rail!

The only thing in the kitchen that could be considered "decoration" is the rug, which I got on sale at Anthro to cover the nasty floor and to tie in the colors of the living room. The black and white floral wallpaper (actually contact paper, I think) was actually put in by a previous tenant. I'm not completely in love with it, but I don't mind it, either. 

Like I said, organization was the top priority and everything has a place. Pots and pans live on the wall; foodand dishes fit in the cupboards; a wine rack and paper towel holder are under the upper cupboards, and appliances are on the countertop:

It's not ideal, but it's certainly liveable. And, as I mentioned last week, hopefully only temporary - fingers crossed!

[the rest of the apartment: living room, bathroom, and bedroom]

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Yes - recovering, not reupholstering. The ottoman that's currently lending itself to a cozy little seating area in our bedroom used to look like this:

And now looks like this (see the whole bedroom here):

It didn't take a trip to the upholsterer's. In fact, the transformation cost less than $40. These were the materials:

fabric bought here

Pretty simple. The methodology, on the other hand... well, remember when I said that I tend to make up weird solutions to get around my lack of real DIY skills? This is one of those times.

The process went something like this. First, I knew I didn't want it to be plaid. (Note: I LOVE plaid. But it's not the easiest to decorate around, and since I only have two rooms I didn't want to be obligated to decorate one of them around dark green plaid.) I didn't want to destroy it, though; it's a nice quality (thrifted) Ethan Allen piece. Most of all, I didn't want to lose the tufts. I love that deep tufting! Unfortunately, actual reupholstering was out of the question: there was no budget to have it professionally done, and reupolstering it myself would definitely count as "destroying." 

So I new I wanted to figure out a way to cover it with new fabric while conserving the tufting. How I managed to do that is not easy to explain and was nearly impossible to take pictures of, so here's a little diagram to help me explain:

that second sketch looks like some sort of strange flower diagram...

The red thread in the closeup is the heavy-duty thread mentioned earlier. It's tucked under the button; this is the hard part, because the tufts are SO deep, but once it's under there, it definitely stays. It's threaded through the new fabric and then pulled taut, obviously (I made it look loose in the diagram for the sake of clarity), and used to attach the new button. 

Envisioning the method was easy; putting it into practice was, as you might expect, a pain in the butt. You can see from this picture that some of my tufts are deeper than others:

The next step, of course, was to turn it upside down, bust out my faithful staple gun, and attach the fabric to the underside of the ottoman. Lastly, I trimmed all the edges of the fabric so there wasn't any excess hanging down. 

Admittedly not the simplest or most logical of before-and-afters, but I'm really happy with how it turned out!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Just a quick tip for all the rest of you stuck in this disgusting Northeast winter. Hunter boots seem to be the current winter footwear of choice, but I didn't particularly want to spend upwards of $100 for rubber boots (especially considering that I've never even spent that much on any of my leather boots). So I looked around the internet and bought these a couple weeks ago:

Dafna Winner rubber riding boots.
Yup, like for riding horses.

Rubber riding boots. They're great quality, look almost like leather, are totally waterproof, and – miracle of miracles – are narrow enough to not look ridiculous on my super-skinny calves. They are a little too tall for me, but at least that ensures that snow doesn't find its way in. More chic than Hunters and $25 here!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I'm reminded that I'm a terribly predictable person whenever I browse Netflix. Inevitably, their "rows based on my taste preferences" are something to the effect of "romantic period pieces with a strong female lead" or "visually striking dramas based on classic literature." It shouldn't be too surprising, then, when I say that two movies that have me excited lately are The King's Speech and the upcoming version of Jane Eyre
The former is one of those rare movies that my boyfriend and I both love. Although he's getting his PhD in economics, he minored in Linguistics in college (and had a lisp when he was little) so I didn't have a very hard time dragging him to watch a movie about a speech therapist - which he ended up dubbing a "period bromance". 

The King's Speech Poster

Not only does it have a fantastic cast starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter (not acting insane), it is indeed visually striking, as Apartment Therapy has already pointed out. The dark, layered, slightly threadbare interior of Lionel Logue's office is all the more intriguing once you notice the amazing architectural detail of the space. Not only is the set design lovely to look at, it's successful because they've so precisely managed to capture the essence of the two main characters and the tension they feel crossing into one another's social spheres. This Guardian article details the filmmakers' attention to historical accuracy and alerts us to a few surprising details - for instance, that Logue's office and Bertie's home were in fact filmed in the same building!

all images, The Weinstein Company

Since the latter movie I mentioned, Jane Eyre, hasn't actually come out yet, I suppose I should in all fairness withhold judgment. However, having spent a few days last fall watching disappointing film adaptations of Jane Eyre, a book that topped my list of favorite books for most of my growing-up, I have to say that I have high hopes. The 1983 BBC version is thought by many to be the best. It's not bad, but Zelah Clarke really doesn't do it for me as Jane, and despite Timothy Dalton's fabulous Rochester, low production values really spoil the experience. On the other hand, it certainly beats Masterpiece Theatre's 2006 version, which dumbs down the script and sexualizes the whole thing so much it made me feel embarrassed on behalf of the "modern viewer" that the filmmakers were so inelegantly trying to attract. I found myself fervently wishing that someone would see the need for an adaptation that actually captures Brontë's vision – not Hollywood-izing it but not making it look like it was shot by film students, either. And then I went to see the King's Speech and saw this preview:

Great actors who are just funny-looking enough to make it work? check. Adherence to original text? check. Beautiful production design and historical accuracy? check. Visually striking romantic period piece based on classic literature with a strong female lead? check. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Without further ado, some pictures of my living room:

As in the bedroom, I had to work with a lot of things we already had from our old apartment. After making some careful choices of what to buy when we moved, I like the direction it's taken. It obviously needs some more color, and a couple placeholders need to be replaced (the white chair, the brown lampshades, the white pillows on the couch - only still there because the pillows I was waiting on finally came and, sadly, don't work)

And now for the source details. As always, almost everything was craigslisted.

antique table: my favorite central NY flea market, $75
antique dresser: ditto, $100?
[faux] Panton chairs: craigslist (in NY, of course. this is the sort of thing you NEVER find on Boston's craigslist), $250 for all 4
rug: Milliken Vibe rug from Rugs USA (found via the ever-resourceful Copy Cat Chic), about $250 with a 20% off coupon
brass nesting tables: craigslist, $35
antique trunk: same flea market as above, $30
white chair: craigslist, painted and recovered by me
end tables: same flea market again, $20 each
couch: Room and Board via craigslist, $400
campaign wall units: Drexel Heritage via craigslist, $125 for all 3, painted white by me, following Jenny's fantastic instructions

print: "Spotted Tail," original proof by Leonard Baskin, 1993, gift from the artist
fork and spoon drawing: drawn by me in a college class, obviously free
weird stacked chrome ball lamp: $13 with the shade at Salvation Army in NY
bar tray: West Elm, $35 floor sample
glasses and other bar accoutrements: HomeGoods and Fish's Eddy
plates and napkin rings: West Elm
chargers: Target, $5 for 4
candlesticks: CB2, $3-$5
white ceramic pagodas (on windowsill): Z Gallerie, $5 each
tray (on trunk): HomeGoods, $10
apothecary jar, HomeGoods, $10
candle holder (near fireplace): Gilt, $15 with credit
hourglasses: Elle Decor for Kohl's, $17 for both (no idea why they're now more expensive)
box: John Derian for Target, $20?
pillow on chair: West Elm, $10
velvet pillow: Urban Outfitters, $20
lamps: West Elm via Craigslist, $30 for both
faux bus scroll: acrylic paint on canvas painstakingly copied by me from Restoration Hardware's insanely expensive version, $20? for supplies
turquoise foo dogs: HomeGoods, $15
throw on couch (knockoff of Osborne and Little's Minaret pattern): HomeGoods, $25

Tomorrow I'll post the mockup I made with my first plans for the room along with some of the images I used as inspiration. Also coming soon: the kitchen and entry, the last un-documented bits of our apartment!

Friday, January 21, 2011


Current most exciting thing in my life: my landlord is going to update the bathroom and kitchen!

I was under the impression that there was actually someone involved who really loved the pink bathroom and brown stove. In reality, the unit just wasn't empty long enough to renovate them. 

And, the best part: he said that I can help pick the finishes. 

Since it's a rental, I can't exactly go crazy here. Which is fine. I may or may not already have an image in my head of what my ideal bathroom looks like, and it may or may not look something like this:


floor tile, $9.90 per sq. ft. here
mirror, $100 here
sconces, $139 each here
faucet, $120 here
sink, $572 here

He showed me the apartment directly upstairs, whose bathroom actually *is* renovated. It has wainscoting, which isn't something I would normally gravitate toward, but in the context I actually really liked it. 

I don't know whether a console sink like that would be landlord-approved, since it lacks storage space (then again, the one we have currently does too – or did, before I added a skirt). And I clearly don't know what the budget will be, but I think that most of the sources I found are relatively inexpensive. Even carrera marble could be doable, considering how little floor there actually is. 

I obviously have no idea what I'm doing here apart from fantasizing, having never actually owned or renovated anything in my life, but I think this is the sort of neutral backdrop that future generations of tenants wouldn't hate (I'm talking to you, 60's person who chose the pink tiles). A coat of paint on the walls above the wainscoting could instantly transform it, if they get bored of so much white. What would you hope for a rental bathroom to look like?

[original bathroom post here]

Friday, January 14, 2011


I have a vision that, eventually, this will be a by-request sort of thing. As in, hypothetical readers will send me hypothetical requests to use their city's craigslist. Until then, expect a lot of Boston-based craigs hunting.
This week I decided to do fewer rooms – just two – but to base them on inspiration images from my files. First off, a slightly-shabby but quite chic parlor starring an adorable pink (!) tufted sofa.

left, ?. right, J. Crew

The sofa immediately reminded me of the one in the J. Crew ad. I never like pale pink things because of their color – only despite it – and in this case I think it's that cluttered, vintagey English-countryside feel that makes me like these images. In my craigslisted take on the idea, I paired it with a textured rug and a perfectly beaten-up printer's cabinet to balance out the glitter of the elegant lamp and the sofa's prim and proper girliness*.

Next up, a larger living room with some punchy pattern and color. 

The inspiration:

left, ?. right, Little Green Notebook

chair by Spruce Home on Etsy (no longer available)

And the reality:

The polka dot wing chair pictured above has been saved to my files for ages, and this rug appears to be its long-lost twin. In the fun, eclectic spirit of the chair and the above rooms, I pulled together a mix of cheap accents anchored by a beautiful couch (an extinct Room and Board product that looks like a non-tufted version of the Hutton, whose picture I used here). The orange chair offers a nice burst of color against the rug, and the "oversized" mirror will love great above the couch. Although the lamps don't come with shades, they're inexpensive enough to be worth a trip to Target for some cheap drum shades. And I saved my favorite for last: the ($35!) set of brass bamboo** nesting tables, which I implore you not to buy; I'm in the process of convincing the boyfriend that a certain corner of our living room is not complete without them!

*Design blogging seems to have made me a terrible writer. I used three words in this paragraph alone that don't actually exist.
**See here for more on my love of brass bamboo everything.
***I seem to have gone a little Garance Doré on you with my footnotes tonight. On that note, take a peek at her guilt-ridden take on ABC Carpet and Home vs. Sit Down NY. Which brings me back to Craigslist: for those of us who can't even afford the knock-offs.

For previous craigslist decorating installments, see here and here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Christmas may be over, but it's definitely still winter here in Boston. I had the day off work because of the big (lovely!) blizzard that hit today. It's a winter wonderland outside, but after being out for about two minutes we were quite happy to go right back in and cuddle in blankets and robes for the rest of the day. Although our flannel sheets are pretty cozy, I can't help but wish that I were nestled in one of these spaces. White doesn't usually bring to mind warmth, but these predominantly white & neutral spaces all look like warm, cozy places to spend a winter's day...

Tomorrow - I promise! - I will start really posting again.

Monday, January 3, 2011


In case anyone was wondering.

I'm currently exhausted from a misguided day of DIY philanthropy. (I stupidly offered to paint my friend's apartment and furniture. Enter Murphy's law, and she now temporarily lives in an apartment with a lot of half-painted walls and objects.) However, I have a bit of energy to review what happened during my uncalled-for holiday absence. Friends? Family? Joy and good cheer? Yes, yes. 
And a lot of pretty new things.


the big one. nicer pictures of our apartment, coming right up!

Tracy Reese coat from Anthro – on sale for ~$85 down from $288 right before Christmas.
Technically I bought this, but the boyfriend wrapped it and called it a Christmas present.

the salad plates and the napkin holders

msoft echo touch glove
Touch glove from Echo
(you can keep them on while using your smartphone)

velvet pillow from Urban Outfitters

bow necklace from CuteAbility on Etsy

why yes, I am a dork.

And, inevitably, reckless after-christmas sale shopping:

Dress from Zara with an adorable print of women walking dogs

J. Crew bronzed leopard shirt, $10. Waaaay prettier in person.

Simrin Optic Linen Napkins from Burke Decor (to make into pillow covers)

Including, as always, some killer finds at Last Chance:

three dots dress (but in purple), $13

Rebecca Taylor dress, $13

Alice boots by Tracy Reese, $50

Now that I feel utterly spoiled, overindulgent, and guilty, I promise that (a) the family time and holiday cheer was by far more important and enjoyable than the presents, I was just being sarcastic; (b) my next post, which will NOT take two weeks to appear, will have actual content, like possibly some "after" pictures of my aforementioned friend's bedroom.