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Newburgh

I know, Fritz is absurdly cute. It’s sick, really. The eyebrows, the underbite, the ruff, the fancy ankles…too much. Sigh.

I have to get some stuff done today. This is the first weekend in forever that I haven’t done any freelance work, and as nice as it was to sit around a bit yesterday, now I have to get moving!

TODAY:
Laundry
Vacuum
Clean bathrooms and kitchen
Rake leaves and clean up outside
• Goodwill (next weekend!)
Grocery shopping
• Unpack the suitcase filled with random items that’s sitting in the hallway (next weekend!)
• Measure dining room wall to plan new bookshelves

Speaking of people getting stuff done, have you been over to Daniel’s blog lately? I seriously do not understand how he manages to do all of this stuff. I mean…I know Daniel. We hang out often, and never once have I seen him wearing a cape or lifting train cars, so I’m pretty sure he’s not a superhero, but somehow he’s managed to get done in just a few months what would take me a few years. Is it just the wonder of youth that makes him so efficient? Whatever it is, it’s impressive. He’s my power animal.

Just a few snaps for the weekend. I’m still really busy (of course), but this is what my house looks like when I take a 5-minute break.

I’m really excited for October.

Hey, remember when Daniel performed a thrifting miracle and produced a Random Light seemingly out of thin air for about 85% off retail? That was almost NINE MONTHS ago, during which time said lamp has taken up a bunch of space doing absolutely nothing on the floor of the room at the back of the house (also known as Evan’s studio).

Well, no more!! It is FINALLY suspended from the ceiling and emitting light. Yay! I realize these pictures are no fun, but the room is a mess and it was dark out and honestly I was just happy to have accomplished something that wasn’t on my decidedly un-fun to-do list.

We hung the lamp kind of low directly above the desk. It’s huuuuuuuuge (too big for our living room, even with 10-foot ceilings!), and the only way it made sense to hang it was over a table. It looks really pretty against the black wallpaper.

Better photos to come once the room is fixed up a bit more! Perhaps Evan will agree to do a guest post…

TODAY:
• Work.
• Dust.
• Vacuum.
• Laundry.
• Organize.
• Work.
• Cook.
• Eat.
• Work.
• Iron.
• Work.

It’s pretty much like that these days.

This is not a happy radiator. This is a sad, rusty radiator covered with peeling paint that’s probably filled with lead. We’re constantly having to sweep up the chips so the dogs don’t eat them, and in the winter we have to wrap the whole thing in foil because it’s such a mess when the heat is on.

We’ve had two other radiators in the house sandblasted and powder-coated, and as great as the results are, it’s expensive. We have ten of these cast iron monsters, so there’s no way we can have them all done professionally, so we have to limit ourselves to the ones that are too far gone to take care of ourselves. This one in the living room is definitely on that short list.

Let’s look at some HAPPY RADIATORS instead!


Home of stylist and interior designer Jo Berryman, as seen on 1st Option

Yeah, I know, I’m not really looking at the radiator either (why is Damien Hirst following me everywhere I go?). But see it over there in the corner, all cute and black? I love how it looks in this mostly-white room—it grounds that corner really nicely. My only concern with a black radiator is that we already have black doors and a black wall in the living room, and I hesitate to add a third shade of black to the same room.


Photo by Christopher Baker for Blueprint magazine (I still miss you, Blueprint!)

YESSSSSS. I love this bright, screaming yellow. I showed this picture to my mother (I’m sure she appreciates me linking to those photos again, hah!) yesterday, and she said that my house isn’t “eclectic” enough (!!!) to have a yellow radiator. Oh, I see—it’s like THAT. Huh. No, I understand what she’s saying, but at the same time, I’m really not afraid of having a radiator be such an eye-grabber in what is otherwise a mostly-neutral room.

Like Tim Gunn says, though…it’s a lot of look.


Home of J. Abbott Miller and Ellen Lupton; see more in Lupton’s Flickr set

My mother’s suggestion was to go with red instead of yellow, but I dunno. I really like how the red looks with all of the warm grays and the floor coverings in the Lupton/Miller house, but I don’t know that red feels as nice when it’s mixed with a lot of black and white. Plus, our wood floors have such a reddish tone to them already that I worry a red radiator will just look muddy and blah in our house.


Brooklyn homes on Bergen Street and in Park Slope with interiors created by Wary Meyers

I’ve posted the photo of the gradient radiator before, but it’s too great to leave out of this post. I love love love it. Probably not right for our house (and not really suitable to powder-coating, I don’t think), but still amazing. The photo on the right wouldn’t work for us either for obvious reasons, but it’s good inspiration. We do have seven more radiators left to contend with, after all…

The rocking chair in the room at the back of the house (technically now Evan’s music studio, but it feels weird saying that) has a new buddy! We bought this mustard-colored upholstered Eames shell chair years ago for cheap. It came with a standard H-base that was rusted out and missing all of its feet. A while back I swapped in a rolling DAT base that came off of another chair, but since we really don’t have any use for a rolling chair, it’s just kind of been sitting around in a corner of the guest bedroom doing nothing since then. It has a 2-inch tear in the upholstery (due to bad packing—grrrrr), but the mustard color is so great that I don’t care.

As long as an Eames shell chair has a narrow-mount configuration on the bottom (most of the stacking shells have a wider mount—you can see the difference here), all of the different kinds of bases are interchangeable. It’s much easier to find vintage shells at good prices if you don’t care about the bases, and it’s relatively inexpensive to buy reproduction bases in whatever style you want. True, a vintage chair with a repro base isn’t worth as much as an intact original, but I really don’t care about that. I’m just happy to see a vintage shell get a new life.

I’ve bought multiple bases (including the one on the rocking chair above and the dowel bases on the chairs in the apartment kitchen) from the eBay seller Depury, but there are plenty of other sellers out there all offering roughly the same product at more or less the same price points. You can expect to pay between $75 and $125 depending on the type of base.

Whatever you do, make sure you hang on to the screws and rubber washers/shock mounts when you remove the old base. Most upholstered Eames shells have removable rubber washers and threaded holes in the fiberglass, but others (including all of the non-upholstered shells) have thick, permanent shock mounts affixed to the bottom that allow bases to be attached without the screws penetrating the shell itself. Just don’t go screwing anything to the bottom of your chair without there being some rubber involved!

We chose a wire-frame LAR/low-rod base (commonly known as the “cat’s cradle”) for this chair. Since it’s going to be sitting next to a rocker, I thought having a height difference between the two would be nice. Also, it’s low enough for the dogs to climb in! I suspect this is going to become a favorite snuggle-spot (and photo-op) in the near future.

Do you remember the video I posted a few months ago featuring some of my neighbors in the City of Newburgh* who had joined forces (and finances) to buy and restore a house? Inspiring stuff—and the house is now on the market.

* By the way, when I say “City of Newburgh”, that’s to the distinguish the place I live from the adjoining Town of Newburgh. They’re very different places (with separate governments and everything); the former being the older, historic, urban riverfront city where I make my home, and the latter being a much more recently developed suburban town.

Evan and I have a good deal of affection for this house. Before we bought our place (nearly six years ago!), we looked at 17 Courtney twice with our realtor and really considered making an offer on it. Ultimately it was just too much house for us—it needed a lot of work—but those visits also served as an introduction to the part of Newburgh that would ultimately become our home: Washington Heights, usually just referred to by locals as “the Heights”. (And yes, our little Manhattan apartment is also in a neighborhood called Washington Heights. Confusing, I know! It’s just a coincidence.)

I realize I’m biased, but I’m gonna just put this out there: The nicest neighborhood in the City of Newburgh is the Heights. Guys, we have great neighbors. Some of them are lifelong Newburghers and others—like us—are more recent transplants from New York City or other Hudson Valley towns, but in all we’re a group of people who truly care about Newburgh and love living here. That little pocket of houses on the east side of Liberty Street is particularly special given its proximity to the river (this is my view!), and every day I feel lucky that Evan and I bought such a great house on a great block.

But back to 17 Courtney! I know major renovation work isn’t for everyone, and as I mentioned, the amount of work that this house needed (new electric, new plumbing, new kitchen and bathrooms, total renovation of the woodwork, walls and floors—everything imaginable, really) was just too much for Evan and I. The fact that this work has already been done is HUGE…especially for Newburgh. I did a walk-through a few weeks ago, and I was GOBSMACKED. I wish I had photos of how the house looked six years ago so you could see the difference—it’s stunning. So much love has been put into this house, and I really, really hope it winds up becoming a home very soon. It’s been sitting vacant for a number of years now, and given that 17 Courtney overlooks our garden, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the house and wishing someone would come and take care of it.

The first floor has an extra-wide entry hall (that wainscoting is embossed leather!), a massive living room and dining room, a walk-through butler’s pantry, a huge kitchen that opens into the garden, and a bathroom. With the exception of the light fixtures and radiators, everything you see in these photos is original to the house. (Isn’t it incredible that something can be 120 years old and still look this good?)

Oh, and the wood fireplace in the living room? It has dragons carved into it. Yeah, that’s right. DRAGONS!!

The second floor (three huge bedrooms/two bathrooms) is just insanely beautiful. When Evan and I looked at this house six years ago, there was paneling everywhere—even on the doors!—and the floors were covered wall to wall with linoleum tiles. Seeing the original pine plank floors uncovered and restored makes me get teary-eyed. I’m just so glad that this awesome house was saved, and that it’s in my little neighborhood.

17 COURTNEY AVE, NEWBURGH NY:
Total Rooms: 7 / Bedrooms: 3 / Full Baths: 3 / Sq. Ft.: 2470 / Built: 1890
$225,000

To see even more photos (including the kitchen and bathrooms!) and get additional details, visit broker Chris Hanson’s website, Historic Newburgh Homes. If you can’t get enough of the Heights of Newburgh, this amazing house is also in my neighborhood.

I love Newburgh! I love 17 Courtney. And I love my neighbors.

I’m working on an awesome freelance project—which you’ll get to see very soon!—at home for the next few days, and that means I’m camped out on the sofa with an iced coffee (and a couple of cute puppies) at my side. Here are the four views I have from my “desk”. I like the last one best, of course.

Summertime in the Hudson Valley means more than just green mountains, winding rivers, antique fairs and crickets—it also means groundhogs, also known as woodchucks.

Among famous groundhogs of the northeastern United States, most everyone already knows Punxsutawney Phil and Staten Island Chuck (full name Charles G. Hogg), but I’d like to introduce you to a lesser-known celebrity groundhog: Newburgh Haggis.

First spotted by Evan in the summer of 2008, Haggis has made a very nice home for himself (herself? I’m not going to check) in our garden, devouring numerous vegetable and herb plants straight down to the root. He’s raised children under the deck, created a tunnel system to rival the NYC subway, and dutifully “relocated” (i.e. dug up and left for dead) several plants according to his own landscaping sensibilities.

In other words, he’s a member of the family. Sometimes he has friends Scarface and Fatback over, but mostly he’s a solo ‘hog. We’ve accepted the path of destruction he leaves in his wake, and we welcome his arrival every year.

Moments after the photo above was taken, the sweet potato plants pictured were reduced to tiny stumps, of course, but at least Haggis got a nice meal out of it, right? Sure, he’s trouble. But he has such a cute face.

You know that room at the back of our house? The one I painted white? Yeah, that one. I’d been using it as an office for a while, but after we relocated the iMac to the apartment (and if I’m being honest, I’m usually just working on the sofa with my laptop, anyway), it kind of just turned into dead space—a place to put things. Which is lame, you know? Because then it gets cluttered and forgotten and you never want to go in there.

Happily, though, Evan is going to turn the room into a little music studio for himself! He’s already moved in some of his guitars and pedals and…um, whatever all of that other stuff is (my musical knowledge is limited strictly to listening, and I like it that way), and he’s been working in there quite comfortably.

We’d like to build some sort of rack or stand for guitars, and hang some hooks for cables and straps and stuff, too. We definitely need a rug (I’m trying to convince Daniel to sell me this one), and YES…we need to hang the Random Light already! (Woah, can you believe I’ve had that thing sitting around for five months now?!)

And then we need to clean up the messy piles of stuff sitting all around the room and on the desk.

I’ve been trying to convince Evan to start blogging, by the way. I think he’d be really good at it because he’s smart and cute and funny, and I’d like to see more stylish man-blogs (or as I prefer to call them, “mlogs”) out there. No luck yet (though he is on Twitter), but I’m working on it!