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Normann Copenhagen has been making Dropit hooks in black (and a bunch of other colors!) for several years now, but they’ve just introduced them with a natural finish. I really, really don’t need any more things in hang stuff on, but that’s not stopping me from wishing I could cover a whole wall with these happy wooden raindrops!

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The sizes of the vases in the Agnes line range from a wee 6cm to a lanky 32cm (and everything in between). I’d love have the whole set arranged on the mantel in our master bedroom. Hmmm…I’m seeing a trend here where one or two items isn’t enough and instead I need to have everything…

Question: Do you see this vases as white with black creeping down from the top, or as black with white climbing up from the bottom?

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Oh, STOP. Obviously putting the Plus duvet and sham with my Pia Wallén cross blanket would totally be overkill and not in a good way, but still…I covet. I wonder if it could work in the bedroom at the house? I’m fine loving it from a distance, too.

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Okay, I’ll be honest. I like the original Tablo tables with the wooden legs better than the new all-black and all-white ones, but this is a post about new things, and the old ones aren’t new. That said, if someone wanted to give me one of the solid color ones, I wouldn’t turn it down! Of course, if you’re going to give me a table, you might as well make it the one I really want…in which case, I’ll take the large black one with the wood legs. Thanks!!! It’s going to look so good in my living room.

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Michael and Jermaine during rehearsals for “Motown 25,” 1983 / Photo © NBC, via MJJpictures

On March 25, 1983, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever was recorded live for a TV broadcast two months later. That broadcast would mark the moment that we all saw Michael Jackson moonwalk for the first time. I was 7 years old at the time, and it was a huge, HUGE deal. There wasn’t a lot of television happening in my house back then so I didn’t see it until a few days later at a friend’s house, but the next day back at school? EVERYONE was talking about it. Everyone. I even remember my teacher saying something. In retrospect, this wasn’t Michael’s best moonwalk*, but it was such a cry of independence and a display of pure magic that it’s impossible to ignore its significance.

*In my opinion, Michael’s best moonwalk happened at the MTV awards in 1995 during this sequence. Whoa. Shivers!

I knew I had done my best and felt good, so good. But at the same time I felt disappointed in myself. I had planned to do one really long spin and to stop on my toes, suspended for a moment, but I didn’t stay on my toes as long as I wanted. I did the spin and I landed on one toe. I wanted to just stay there, just freeze there, but it didn’t work quite as I’d planned.

When I got backstage, the people back there were congratulating me. I was still disappointed about the spin. I had been concentrating so hard and I’m such a perfectionist. At the same time I knew this was one of the happiest moments of my life. I knew that for the first time my brothers had really gotten a chance to watch me and see what I was doing, how I was evolving. After the performance, each of them hugged and kissed me backstage. They had never done that before, and I felt happy for all of us. It was so wonderful when they kissed me like that. I loved it! I mean, we hug all the time. My whole family embraces a lot, except for my father. He’s the only one who doesn’t.

[...]

The day after the Motown 25 show, Fred Astaire called me on the telephone. He said – these are his exact words – “You’re a hell of a mover. Man, you really put them on their asses last night.” That’s what Fred Astaire said to me. I thanked him. Then he said, “You’re an angry dancer. I’m the same way. I used to do the same thing with my cane.”

I had met him once or twice in the past, but this was the first time he had ever called me. He went on to say, “I watched the special last night; I taped it and I watched it again this morning. You’re a hell of a mover.”

It was the greatest compliment I had ever received in my life, and the only one I had ever wanted to believe.

✚ Excerpted from Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk, 1988

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Bright green and black vintage wool blanket from Hindsvik

With any luck we’ll be heading out of wool blanket territory soon (28°F in the third week of March? Ugh!), but you know me and blankets. I really love the intense green of this vintage striped one from Hindsvik. Bright green looks so great with pale wood and black/white interiors!

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snug.abc poster from Snug Studio

The shapes that make up the alphabet in this poster from Snug Studio are based on the shape of classic building blocks—like the ones I’m playing with in this photo! The next time I know someone who’s having a kid, this is what they’re getting from me.

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Plus Sign vinyl wall decals from UrbanWalls

I don’t really think of myself as being a wall decal person, but these guys from UrbanWalls are really appealing to me. They come in a whole bunch of color options, including GOLD! Can you imagine a bathroom covered in gold crosses on black walls? Swanky!! Or pale gray walls with white crosses? So pretty.

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✚ Hand printed Mountain leggings and Mountain pillow

I couldn’t choose between the leggings and the pillow, so I went with both. To be honest, though, I kind of want everything in the Thief & Bandit shop. (p.s. They have another shop full of amazing kids’ stuff, too!)

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Festoon ceiling light set from Raw Dezign

This is such a simple idea, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done before. This string of ceiling-mounted lights from Raw Dezign comes with hooks for hanging and a choice of 13 different colors of braided cloth cord. You can contact them directly if you’re interested in a different length, too.

What’s on your Etsy wishlist right now?

I’ve had these photos from British Standard saved in my kitchen inspiration folder for almost a year after spotting them on Remodelista, but I forgot about them until I started thinking about painting the cabinets in the kitchen of our new apartment. That’s probably not going to happen anytime soon (for starters, I’d definitely have to ask the landlord first, and I’m waiting for him to fall in love with us as tenants before I start bringing up that kind of stuff), but now I can’t get this kitchen out of my head!

British Standard cabinets from Plain English

British Standard cabinets from Plain English

LOOOOOOOOOOVE. I mean beyond the inset, flush-mount doors (you don’t see those much in contemporary kitchens!), the exposed copper piping, the door latches and the wooden countertops, how amazing is that paint job?! It’s like the entire bottom third of the room was dipped in black paint. I love that it even goes right across the upper cabinets! So, so good.

Plain English (who make incredible kitchen cabinets that I’ve coveted for ages) created their lower-priced British Standard sister line as part of an apprenticeship in building skills program for the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community. A custom-fitted Plain English line will run you at least £50,000 (gulp), but the no-frills, off-the-shelf British Standard cabinets cost about a tenth of that. They’re intended to be painted by the owner, which is good if the black-dipped thing isn’t for you for some crazy reason.

British Standard cabinets from Plain English

British Standard cabinets from Plain English

One more thing: You know I can’t resist doing a recreation of this kitchen using stuff that’s readily available in the US, right? Yeah. I’m going to leave out the sausage links, though.

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WHAT HAVE I DONE? Haha, this took forever. Geez, now I really want to do something like this in the apartment kitchen! That’s what happens when it’s 1AM and you can’t sleep…you wind up badly Photoshopping paint onto IKEA cabinets. Seriously, though, this would look pretty great. You could easily do something like this with existing cabinets, too—take down a few uppers, paint the cabinets, add new hardware. Wood paneling is really cheap and easy to work with, and it’s a nice alternative to tile in kitchens and bathrooms—just make sure to prime both sides before installing it. We used it in our downstairs bathroom (though not in the shower area, obviously), going a full 8′ up the wall instead of stopping at the usual wainscot/chair rail height.

1. EverTrue unfinished pine wall paneling
2. AKURUM/Ädel wall cabinet with glass doors, IKEA
3. AKURUM/Ädel base cabinet with drawers, IKEA
4. Rohl apron front sink
5. Rohl brass wall-mounted faucet
6. NUMERÄR birch countertop, IKEA
7. Esse Ironheart cook stove (I’ll bet this stove is a nightmare, but gosh…so pretty)
8. Factory Light No. 7 cable pendant, Schoolhouse Electric
9. Steel cabinet latch, House of Antique Hardware
10. Half moon cup pull, House of Antique Hardware
11. Coconut bristle and dust pan, West Elm
12. Fleet hot orange chair, CB2

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OK, first of all (and I know I’m always saying this), I’m sorry about the quality of these photos. I was half-asleep when I took them this morning, and I didn’t realize my camera was on the wrong setting (the unpopular “grainy and dark” setting, apparently) until I was about to jam my boots on and run out the door. I’m too impatient to wait to take new photos tomorrow morning, so I’m calling these good enough.

Last night I pretty much bolted home after work in order to beat the sunset and get this light wired up while I still had some daylight left. All of the lights and outlets in the apartment are on the same circuit, so when I kill the power it’s pretty much everything…unless I leave the refrigerator open and rely on that to see by, but that seems like a bad idea somehow. Anyway, I managed to take the subway back to Brooklyn, stop in at the hardware store for some masonry bits and pick up a vegan pork banh mi sandwich from Hanco’s (my fourth in four days, OMG…but that’s a whole other post) in time to make it to the apartment with an hour of daylight left. YES!

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I knew as soon as we moved into this apartment that I was going to want a Nelson Bubble lamp either in the bedroom or the living room. I’ve always liked them, but I couldn’t find the right place for one in our narrow house. The apartment is much wider and more open, though.

We did our usual jaunt to the DWR Annex to see if we could get one in less-than-perfect condition for a discount, and we lucked out! They had several in stock and marked down considerably. This one was actually in perfect condition—according to the shipping label on the carton, it was returned by someone named Eileen in Rye, NY, who must have decided she didn’t want it after all before so much as taking it out of the box. Suit yourself, Eileen! Your indecision, my gain.

(This is the Nelson Ball pendant in medium, by the way, in case you’re trying to get a sense of scale. It’s about 19″ in diameter.)

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Perrrrrrrfect. I hate saying stuff like this because it sounds so cheesy, but it really ties the whole room together. I’m not a huge fan of stuff that looks super-retro-y or “atomic” or whatever, but I’ve always thought the Nelson lamps transcend that look and stop on the right side of gimmicky. They really kind of do go with everything, too.

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I couldn’t bring myself to put these photos higher up in the post, but why don’t we do a quick look back at the atrocity that this lamp is replacing? That thing on the left…oh man. I took it down and put it in storage last week, and it even worse up close that it is in a photo. I think the “metal” parts might actually be plastic? I’m not sure, but I’m glad I don’t have to see it anymore. Well, except for the matched pair that’s still hanging in the living room, haha.

As you can see from the photo on the right, I had to do a pretty hasty swag-and-coil in order to hang the new lamp in the visual center of the room next to the skylight. I still haven’t painted the ceiling, but when I do I’ll obviously repair the area around the canopy. This morning while I was in the shower I had a really good idea about how to make the swagging look better (I’ll cut the cord to the right length once I’m positive about the height, too), but you’ll have to wait and see! Unless it doesn’t work, in which case I’ll never mention it again.

And finally, here’s the indoor full moon lit up in the bedroom last night…

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With all the attention I’ve been giving the new apartment, I feel like my house (remember my house?) is taking a back seat! Admittedly I’ve been putting a lot of house projects on the back burner while we get the apartment side of living in order, but this past weekend I dove head first back into the ongoing kitchen renovation and made some major progress. Witness…SHELVING:

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YUP. No more dishes stacked up on the floor in the corner of the kitchen, cuz I’ve got SHELVES. I planned out and ordered custom Shenandoah shelving from Blake Avenue back in January, and I’ve been desperately trying to find time to hang them ever since. Daniel was kind enough to come to Newburgh and lend a hand on Saturday, and we had them up in no time. I’m so glad I took a chance and asked Joe at Blake Avenue to quote me a price, because they were much more affordable than I assumed they’d be—even with shipping factored in. I initially considered just ordering the brackets and sourcing reclaimed lumber locally, but in the end convenience won out.

Here are a couple of redundant photos of my shelves, because I love them so much.

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Detail shot! The industrial iron brackets are really nicely made and SUPER strong. They attach to the wall individually, which is great if you (like me) have an old house with uneven walls that would otherwise require lots of shimming in order to hang a shelving unit this long. The wood is reclaimed Douglas fir. I coated it with mineral oil before hanging. Even though I really liked the way the unfinished light wood looked, in a kitchen I think you want a little more protection from heat and humidity.

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I’m also in love with the swing-arm Otis lamp from onefortythree. The photos on the website seriously do not do Logan’s work justice. This a beautifully-made lamp, with all of the right attention to detail—from the square switch to the perfectly bent steel arm to the cloth-covered, twisted cord. I’m really impressed.

Of course, since I’m a jerk and decided to open the box pre-coffee, I immediately broke the tubular Edison bulb that was included. I put a chrome-tipped globe in for now, but I’ll replace the tubular bulb as soon as I can get to a bulb store. The globe just looks too bulky to me.

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I know, I know, too many photos! I can’t help it. I’m still obsessed with this corner. I can’t wait until spring so we can take the radiators out and finish tiling the last wall and a half. In the mean time, I’ll just keep petting this corner and feeling proud of myself for making those trim pieces work.

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Even though I’ve written about these mugs before, I’m including them again here because my coffeestagrams always seem to draw inquiries about their origins. They’re Bono mugs, designed by Catharina Kippel for Design House Stockholm—also available without a handle, if you prefer. They are lovely to hold, and are still chip-free after five years, which is how long the date on this post tells me it’s been since I bought them.

Also they look really nice on the new shelves. That’s the other reason I’m including a picture of them. OK?

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Soooo…I did it again. As if my bathroom trash can wasn’t “controversial” (or whatever) enough, I went ahead and bought another Vipp. This time, though, I got it for a super bargain! My scavenger guardian angel, Daniel, found a floor model for sale at the DWR Annex and picked it up for me. Yayyyyyy. (Remember when Daniel found me a Random Light at a thrift store? I’m still not over it.) I love my bathroom Vipp, and I’m sure I’ll love my kitchen Vipp just as much. It feels really good to know that I’ll probably never have to buy another trash can, I’ll tell you that much. And yes, these things matter to me.

Let’s end this with some Instagrams of scarves, friends, puppies and shattered dreams…

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Have you seen the new collection from Ferm Living? I’m almost as much in love with it as I was with their fall/winter 2012 collection. As far as I’m concerned, the highlight are all of the Half Moon-patterned things—a perfect storage basket, a laundry bag, cylinder/bolster cushions in neon (!) and black, and my favorite piece in the whole collection…the shower curtain!! I wonder if it would be too much in my tiny downstairs bathroom?

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The Half Moon wallpaper is also on my wish list. I’m kind of running out of walls to put wallpaper on, but maybe inside of a closet? Hmmm…there’s no wallpaper in the guest bedroom yet. Maybe on the walls to the left and right of the fireplace?

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Excuse the terrible Photoshopping, but I had to see how cute it could look! The answer is very cute. Hmmm. HMMMMM.

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The bedroom in the new apartment is coming together much faster than I thought it would, and it’s looking pretty cute. Well, at least I think so. I haven’t hung anything on the walls yet because I still have to paint over the existing glossy white paint with a softer, flat white, but it’s definitely getting there.

The only new thing we’ve bought for this bedroom is the dresser in the corner. It’s the gloss tall chest from CB2, and I’m super happy with it. The cutout pulls (which are actually backed with a recessed metal panel, though that’s hard to tell from these photos) and proportion are reminiscent of Asplund’s classic “Snow” dresser, but with a much glossier finish and a much lower price tag. This is the first thing I’ve bought from CB2 that required assembly and has movable parts, and it’s made a good impression. The quality is much better than I’d expected it to be.

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Also, can I say how nice it is to have proper clothing storage? We have a really nice setup at the house (Holy cow, that’s an OLD photo! The dressing room looks like this now, but you can’t see the PAX wardrobes—I guess I should do an updated dressing room post…), but in the apartments we’ve alternated between stuffing our clothes into a fauxdenza in the old studio, and stuffing our clothes into a couple of tiny RAST chests inside of our closet since there was no space for a real dresser in the bedroom at the last place. Wow, that was a long sentence. Shorter version: YAY DRESSER! YAY SPACE!

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Check it out, there’s a SOFA in our BEDROOM! I can’t get over how huge this room is. Our last two apartments have been pretty tiny, so we’ve been using a small KARLSTAD loveseat from IKEA in lieu of a full-size sofa. It’s perfectly fine, but two people plus two dogs on a loveseat gets a little too cozy after a while! Now that we have a bigger living room (pictures to come, I promise), we decided to put the loveseat in the cavernous bedroom instead. I’m not sure how likely we are to actually sit there, but it looks nice and the dogs are always excited to have another place to nap. Bruno sometimes gets annoyed by how much space Evan, Fritz and I take up in bed at night (I know, how dare we!), so now he can walk off in a dramatic huff to sleep on the sofa without even having to leave the room.

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I love this little arrangement. That neon pink-toppped vase from ¿adónde? has been on my wishlist for a while now, but for $250…I just couldn’t do it. I hit the jackpot at the DWR Annex last week, though, and brought one home for $50. Yay! That little black vase is from CB2 (discontinued), the little “Fire” candle holder (a gift from my mother) is by Iittala, the perpetual calendar (also a DWR Annex score) is by Massimo Vignelli, and the cross vase is the most awesome thing I’ve ever found at the Goodwill for $3. I love that thing.

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The last bit of bedroom updates is the addition of bookshelves. We don’t keep many books at the apartment (I SWEAR I HAVE MORE THAN 20 BOOKS! They’re all at the house!), but inevitably a few do wind up not making the journey to Newburgh. This is really all the space we need for that kind of thing. When I mounted these shelves in the last apartment, I predicted IKEA would discontinue the wonderful steel EKBY OXIE brackets, but it appears they still carry them! I still think I should stock up. They’re good-looking, strong and cheap. Like me! No, not like me. I’m just cheap.

Still on the apartment bedroom to-do list:
✚ Replace that horrible light fixture we’ve agreed to not discuss
✚ Paint the white walls and ceiling BM Moonlight White
✚ Hang art
✚ Make the closets nice inside (FLOR tiles?)
✚ Figure out if I want some kind of window covering
✚ Obsess over finding the right rug

Birthday Bruno

Last month it was Fritz’s 5th birthday, and today is another big day: Bruno is TEN years old! I guess ten is considered a “senior” age for dogs, but Bruno is still every bit a puppy as he was when we first brought him home. In fact, that’s Bruno’s most-used nickname: Puppy. Puppy! Baby Puppy. Our little Bruno.

It’s hard for me to write anything at all about Bruno without getting super emotional, because he really is the best thing that’s every happened to me and Evan. I know everyone says their dog is the greatest dog, but I’ll go ahead and say it about Bruno anyway. He truly is the absolute best. Bruno is the most gentle dog you could ever meet, so emotional and loving and super-sensitive and in need of attention (and happy to give that attention back, too). He’s so special. He’s never been a chewer or difficult or anything like that, and it’s certainly not because of anything Evan and I did when he was a puppy—he’s just wired that way.

I’ve never written about this before (and I rarely talk about it privately), but the story of how Bruno came to live with us ten years ago is more than a little bit shameful. He comes from a pet store in Brooklyn, and before he was in that pet store, he was born at a puppy mill in Wisconsin. Yeah. And we paid money to the pet store, perpetuating a terrible cycle of animal abuse all in the name of an impulse buy. And we knew better. I had spent years doing rat and ferret rescue work, and I was well aware of the horrors of puppy mills and of the pet store industry. It’s a terrible, terrible business. I knew that then, and I know that now.

But there we were, in that pet store, not even planning to bring home a dog…and there he was, all fluffy and black-nosed and roly-poly. We picked him up, pet him, put him back, and started to leave. And then someone else picked him up, and we froze. That was our dog. Not theirs. It was immediate and desperate and impulsive, but we plunked down a credit card and walked out of the store with a tiny, whiny Chichon: A long-haired Chihuahua crossed with a Bichon Frise, eight weeks old and three pounds soaking wet. Our dog.

I’m long over feeling guilty. We’ve spent a decade with Bruno sleeping in our bed and licking our faces and begging for treats, and we love him more than anything. I’ll never buy a dog from a pet store again, but I don’t regret buying Bruno—not for a single second. After all, he’s the best dog in the entire world.

These are my favorite Bruno snaps from the past year…

Brunostagrams

Birthday Bruno

BRUNO FACTS: He’s a dirty dog, always. Except when he’s fresh out of the bath, which he hates with a passion. He despises being groomed, but loves all the attention he gets when he’s nice and clean. He’ll eat anything. If it’s edible, he wants it. Even lettuce. The only tricks (if you can even call them that) he knows are “circus puppy” and “go show Mommy/Daddy.” He has perfectly straight teeth. Rod Stewart is his haircut idol. His favorite songs are “Baby Elephant Walk” and “Alley Cat.” He loves old-fashioned car horns and Justin Bieber.

It’s not the best photo because digital cameras kind of sucked back then, but this is Bruno on the day he came home with us. We still have his pig.

Baby Bruno

Benjamin Moore Deep Space

It’s been just over a week since we moved into the new apartment, and I can tell you two things with certainty: We’re going to be holding onto this place for a good, long time, and we’re also going to be working on fixing it up for a good, long time. Both of these things make me happy.

Now that all of the deep-cleaning is done, I’ve started in on painting the bedroom. I knew I wanted to use a dark charcoal gray with a little blue in it, and after spending a while looking at paint chips in natural and artificial light, I went with a color I’ve had in the back of my mind for a long while: Benjamin Moore Deep Space (matte finish). I think I first saw it in this sneak peek…or it might have been this one. I really like how soft it looks, and that it reads as a true charcoal in daylight. It’s definitely not black, but it doesn’t go green or brown or anything, either. It’s just right.

before and during

Yes, the bedroom is enormous—about 500 square feet. Seriously! It’s bigger than our last apartment was in its entirety. It’s stupidly large, and it’s kind of a weird space. I dig it. The apartment is a converted attic, and that jog in the front wall is where the original building façade ends. The clerestory windows are part of the vertical extension of the attic, and are not original to the building. (Does that make sense?) Also: SKYLIGHT. Yes. Love.

One of the biggest challenges I’m up against is an enormous amount of wood. Shiny, orange-toned, unpainted, stained and varnished WOOD. Wood floors (no complaints there), wood baseboard moldings, wood windows, wood window casings, wood cabinets and lots and lots of wood doors. Sigh. At least the moldings are wide and the doors are solid.

Now, if I had my druthers, I’d be painting all of that wood (OK, maybe not the floors) white in a hot second. I don’t own this apartment, though, and as much as I believe in doing what you need to do to make a rental your home, I also believe in respecting other people’s property. There’s a fine line between improvement and destruction depending on your point of view. I’ve rented a lot of apartments over the years, and I take pride in the fact that I’ve left every one of them in better condition than I found it in—by anyone’s standards. No landlord in his or her right mind is going to complain about me stripping the paint off of old door hardware, tiling a backsplash or recaulking a bathtub, but painting unpainted woodwork is another story.

In other words, once we’ve been living here for a while, I’ll ask the landlord if he minds if I paint the woodwork. Haha. In the mean time, this deep charcoal paint really does a good job of taking the edge off of all that wood by making it way less high-contrast.

painted bedroom walls

Pretty nice, yeah? Scroll up to that before picture again to compare. It’s like night and day! Har, har. Jokes aside, the dark paint makes a HUGE difference. I really couldn’t be happier. Isn’t it amazing what a $50 can of paint can do? I wasn’t sure how much of the room I wanted to make dark, so I just took it one wall at a time. Once the window wall was done, I realized I had to paint the side walls in order to de-emphasize the jog, so I kept going right up to the side of the chimney. I’m 95% sure I’m stopping there.

I still need to paint the remaining white walls and the ceiling in my favorite white (Benjamin Moore Moonlight White), so please ignore the harsh white semigloss that’s there now! It’s awful.

Speaking of awful, ASKJALKSJFLKSDJFLKS LIGHT FIXTURE NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. It’s bad. So bad. I know. Trust me, once it comes down it’ll go in a bag in the closet and stay there, untouched, until the day I leave. Let’s never talk about it again, OK?

Yes, we need a dresser and we need to put things away and that desk looks too tiny and we’re going to put a sofa in there and NO I am NOT planning to leave all of my tchotchkes on the window ledge like an old lady.

wood overload

In case you thought I was kidding about the wood overload, take a look at this! Oh boy. I mean, the upside is that we have 20′ of closet space along that wall (!!!), so that’s great, but wow. That is a lot of shiny, orange wood. New, non-brass doorknobs will help, as will going over the damaged areas of the wood with Restor-A-Finish. And averting my eyes.