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As you’ve probably heard by now, Google Reader’s official date of death will be Monday, July 1st (that’s TOMORROW). What does that mean? Well, if you use Google Reader to keep up with blogs and other sites that provide RSS feeds of their content, it means you had better important all of the feeds you follow into another reader, pronto! Otherwise, you’re going to forget what blogs you read and then you’ll wind up with a ton of free time on your hands that you might use to be more productive, and nobody wants THAT.

When the news that Google Reader was going down first broke, everyone started talking about Feedly and a bunch of other alternatives. I set up a Feedly account and imported my feeds, but ultimately I wound up settling on Bloglovin’ as my feed reader of choice. It’s really easy to use, the interface is nice to look at, and, best of all, it allows you to view blog posts in their “natural environment” — i.e., on the actual site itself, making it easier to comment and generally providing a prettier viewing experience.

Both Feedly and Bloglovin’ are providing one-click transfers to migrate feeds from Google Reader. It’s totally painless.

If you’re not already following Door Sixteen with a feed reader, you can find me here:
Door Sixteen on Bloglovin’
Door Sixteen on Feedly

Of course, if you’d prefer to use a different feed reader, you can grab my RSS feed here:
Door Sixteen RSS feed

Got it? If you have any questions, ask away!

(The photo is of my landlord’s shop cat trying — and failing — to catch pigeons on the sidewalk. The pigeons aren’t even the tiniest bit afraid of the cat! They barely move when he pounces.)

When we first found out that my brother was going to be moving out of his longtime rental apartment, I scanned through my mental pictures of the place and quickly came to the conclusion that we should take it. I remembered four things about the bathroom: That it had a sliding glass shower door, a framed picture of Moomintrolls, a very nice cactus garden…and pink tiles. I was right in my memory of the first three things (though obviously the Moomins and the cacti moved out along with my brother), but pink tiles? No. That was wishful thinking.

I love a good pink bathroom. This is not one of them. This is something very different — a tan bathroom. The tiles, tub and toilet are all roughly the color of a Band-Aid. The sink and vanity are off-white, and the laminate on the latter is peeling. The floor is…the floor is WAVY, leading me to wonder what exactly is happening under those tiles, but I’m not intrepid enough to find out anytime soon.

It is what it is, and I’m totally OK with it! Much like the kitchen cabinets, none of this is what I would choose, but it’s functional and not the worst thing in the world, and who knows — maybe someday we’ll retile the entire bathroom and put in a new sink and toilet and get the tub sprayed white and angels will sing. That’s way off in the future, though, if it’s ever going to happen. This is a rental, and there are limitations (especially when you also own a house and that house has carpenter ants in the kitchen and needs a new boiler — but I digress).

Alright, now I’m just avoiding posting photos. Please be gentle! It actually looks better in person, I’m just not good at taking photos in small spaces.

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Yeah, this is as good as it gets. I decided to continue the dark gray color we’ve used on the walls in the rest of the apartment into the bathroom through furnishings (the hand towel, the shower curtain, the print, etc.) rather than painting the whole room. The ceiling in this part of the apartment is pretty low, and I don’t think dark paint would do the bathroom any favors. Dark gray and black have an interesting effect on tan, by the way — they manage to make it look more pink! My goal is to get this bathroom looking more ’50s than ’80s, but without getting too literal or kitschy about it. I just want it to feel vintage-y and not sad. I painted the walls Benjamin Moore Moonlight White (matte finish), which is the same white I used throughout my house. It’s very soft and warm, perfect for imperfect spaces.

Here’s what the bathroom looked like before we did anything at all to it…

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Two things are happening here that I absolutely cannot live with: A wood toilet seat and a sliding glass shower door. I really, really don’t understand why this type of shower door was so prevalent in American bathrooms for so long. What is the advantage over a shower curtain? The glass is a pain to keep clean, the tracks are traps for all kinds of nastiness and that bottom edge is just waiting to take a chunk out of your shin. Fortunately, they’re pretty easy to remove — take out a few screws, use a razor blade to slice through the caulk, pry off whatever needs prying, and you’re done. This was the very first thing we did on the first day in the apartment! Something tells me the landlord isn’t going to want us to put it back when we leave, but just in case, we have the entire door assembly stored in a closet.

This apartment had the entire array of builder-grade light fixtures in effect, including this marbled number in the bathroom. We replaced it with the ALÄNG from IKEA (scroll up to the first photo to see it!). It’s fine. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money and head clearance is at a minimum, so it gets the job done. I’m keeping an eye out for an inexpensive vintage fixture to replace it with, but I’m not obsessing.

So here’s where we are now…

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1. The hardest-working $29 scavenged Componibili around continues to be super-useful. I keep my hair dryer, straightening iron and other unwieldy implement in there. The raindrop hand towel was made by Satsuki Shibuya (sadly no longer available).

You can’t really tell from the pictures, but we replaced the mirrored medicine cabinet. The old one was pretty janky, and it was the kind that’s supposed to be recessed into the wall — except it was just floating on the surface with mirrors glued to the sides (?!). We put the LILLÅNGEN from IKEA in its place, and it’s GREAT. So much more storage! $70 well spent.

2. Does anyone use those tiled-in toothbrush holders for actual toothbrushes? Mine is holding the most amazing incense from Reliquary in San Francisco (thank you, Victoria!). The soap dish is from Izola (thank you, Ilenia!).

3. I picked up the shower curtain from West Elm a couple of years ago for our old apartment, and it’s finally growing on me now. I’m still kind of thinking about replacing it with this one from Ferm, but we’ll see. It is a MASSIVE improvement over the sliding glass doors, that’s for sure.

4. Why is the toilet positioned so weirdly? Dunno, but it looks better with a black toilet seat! I work in a 1930s-era Rockefeller Center building, and the white toilets (many of which appear to be original, incredibly) have these amazing black seats that I’ve always admired (hello to any coworkers reading this who are now giving me the side-eye). Just a little vintage flavor, if you will, but you probably won’t because who wants to use the word “flavor” in reference to a bathroom? Anyway, black toilet seat! I like it.

Oh, and the very cool No Sleep Til Breuckelen print is from Pop Chart Lab.

5. Here’s the plastic bag I taped to the wall to make the bathroom look even more authentically vintage! No. It’s there because some the tiles inside the shower are coming loose and need to be removed, cleaned and replaced, and I have to do it in stages. The entire tub needs to be re-caulked, too. It’s got that perma-mildew thing going on, which I won’t show you because I’m nice.

6. Those cheap little RAST dressers sure do come in handy when you don’t have a lot of space! We used to have this one inside of a closet in our last apartment. I painted it with Benjamin Moore Deep Space (the same color I’ve been using throughout the apartment). It fits so perfectly here, and it holds a TON of stuff.

My mother gave me that sweet Plint box from Ferm for Christmas, and I must say that thing is PERFECT in this bathroom. It ties together the wall tile color and the dark grays so well that it almost looks like it was painted to match the space. Doesn’t it make the tiles look pinker?

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I just want to dwell on this clock for a minute, because I love it so much. I bought it for $1 at a stoop sale in Brooklyn about 15 years ago. It keeps perfect time, and it even has a 60-second timer built in. It was made for a kitchen, but I’ve always used it in bathrooms. It’s been in retirement/storage for a few years now, and it makes me really happy to have a place for it again.

There’s a whole website devoted to Telechron clocks! This is a 2H17 (the “Minitmaster”), manufactured in Ashland, MA, between 1945–1949. I love the internet.

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And finally, my favorite part of the bathroom! The vintage black tray was a gift from my mother years ago. My smelling-good things are Dark Wave from OLO Fragrance and Rocky Glen from Cold Spring Apothecary, which appears to be discontinued. The Tarot Deck candle is from Catbird, and it smells like “incense, Turkish rose and pencil shavings.” Yup. I like anything that smells like witches and/or my high school bedroom. The rocks — those beautiful rocks! — are our place cards (place rocks?) from Lisa and Clay’s wedding. Diana Fayt hand-painted 103 of them — you can read more about that on Lisa’s blog. (Diana has a shop for her painted rocks if you want one, too.)

What’s next in here? I’m not sure. A rug, maybe, but it would have to be just the right one. I’ve thought about adding a row of black pencil tiles to top off the tan, or maybe putting up some cool wallpaper — I think the gold Wilderness pattern from Ferm would look pretty amazing! Re-tiling the floor in a dark slate or black would go a long, long way, as would a new sink. I’ll see! It definitely needs some Moomintrolls, too…and more cacti.

Mary Meyer clothing

I’ve been on a perpetual hunt for summer-appropriate clothing for my entire adult life. I am forever the one wearing a cardigan, jeans and boots in 90° weather. I don’t have seasonal wardrobe changes — my only concessions to outdoor temperature are sandals in summer and heavier scarves in winter. I own “summer scarves.” I don’t like to show much skin, and I just don’t think I’m ever going to feel like myself in a dress or skirt (and believe me, I have tried). Wearing a regular t-shirt without anything over it is WAY too risqué for me. So. Many. Issues. I embrace them. Why fight your anxieties?

Enter Mary Meyer clothing, handmade in Brooklyn! I love, love, LOVE Mary’s stuff. So far I’ve only bought one dress, but her summer 2013 collection is so fantastic that I’m going to have to pick out a couple of things to add to my (tiny) wardrobe. I’m having a hard time narrowing down my wishlist, but my top contenders are the Beach Biggie, this Cap Dress and Sahara Pants (probably the closest I’ll ever get to wearing shorts). The dresses are actually the length I like my shirts to be, so I can pair them with skinny jeans and ankle boots, oxfords or sandals and feel totally comfortable. In the fall and winter, I can just put a cardigan on top! See? There’s no such thing as seasonal clothing in my world. Layers ahoy!

p.s. Yes, there are Mary Meyer clothes for boys, too! I’ll sneak a tee shirt for Evan into my order, too. I have a feeling he’d like this Black Ascent one.

Anna + Mary Meyer dress

And on a more personal (and highly tangential) note…

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, the only thing I could think about was that the Supreme Court was going to be ruling on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 ballot measure. It’s no secret where I stand politically, socially and ethically when it comes to equal rights, and I wanted to dress for the occasion — one I hoped would be a celebration. And so, this Mary Meyer dress covered with pink triangles was IT! (This particular print isn’t available anymore, but it’s the “Biggie” style for fit reference.)

Kind of a funny segue from a post about clothing, I suppose, but that’s alright. Whatever gets you there.

It’s been two years since I wrote this post about the New York Senate legalizing gay marriage in my state, and it feels SO good to know that my friends in California are now afforded the same rights. The death of DOMA has set the stage for the remaining 31 37 states in the US to follow us down a path of greater humanity. Let’s do this.

iced coffee + almond milk

I’ve always kind of thought that making your own almond milk is a little like making your own crackers or shoes. If you have the time to do it, cool, knock yourself out! In the mean time, I’ll be over here buying a perfectly nice carton of almond milk and a box of Triscuits. A few weeks ago, though, Evan and I were up in Kingston checking out Daniel and Max’s new house (side note: OMG!!!), and we stopped in at a super-cute antique store/café, Outdated. As usual, I was on the hunt for an iced coffee, so I checked with the girl at the counter to see if they have soy milk. She told me no, they only have almond milk — and then added (surely noticing the look of disappointment on my face, because who likes almond milk in coffee?), “But it’s homemade! It’s really good!”

And so it was. Like, really, really good.

I put my trust in Angela’s recipe for almond milk and gave it a shot. Incredibly, I already had a nut milk bag on hand and I just fixed our busted blender, so I didn’t really have any excuses. IT WAS SO EASY, GUYS. I know people like ♥ Martha Stewart ♥ like to say stuff that isn’t easy is easy just so the rest of us feel badly about our inadequacies, but making your own almond milk? EASY. Washing the blender is the hardest part, and once you quit being a baby and just wash the thing even that isn’t so bad. If you need more convincing, watch Honey LaBronx — a.k.a. The Vegan Drag Queen — make almond milk. If she and I can do it, so can you.

Not only is it easy, it’s also DELICIOUS. Wayyyyyy better than any store-bought almond milk. The nicest part is that you can control how much liquid you use, so you can make a thicker, creamier milk if you want. This could be the end of buying boxed soy creamer for me, which would be a huge plus given the price of that stuff — not to mention the iffy ingredients in some brands. I drink stupid amounts of iced coffee when it’s hot out, so anything I can do to make that a cheaper, healthier and more delicious experience is worth it.

Speaking of iced coffee, YES, I still use my Bodum iced coffee press, and YES, I still love it.

(I just went over to Oh She Glows to get the almond milk recipe link, and I see that Angela is also writing about homemade almond milk with cold-brewed iced coffee. Hah! See that? I’m not lying — it’s so good!)

Now I want to try making other nut milks. Cashew milk, definitely! Hazelnut milk?? Hmmm. What other nut milks should I try?

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My last post about our back garden was 8 months ago, and something unfamiliar and weird seems to have happened: We’re finished. I mean, nothing is ever really DONE, of course, and it’s a garden so (hopefully) everything will continue to grow and change and need to be maintained, but I’m calling this a complete project. WOW. Clocking in at 7+ years, the world’s longest landscaping project involving a tiny plot of land has come to a close. The garden is now officially a nice space where we can hang out and have guests over and not apologize for dirt mountains or dangerous holes waiting to break ankles or swallow Chihuahuas.

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We finally got some plants into the recessed planters we built last summer (each is just four boards stained black and screwed together at the corners). I had some ideas about the types of plants I wanted to use based on Susan Welti’s garden design for Carin Goldberg and Jim Biber, but I let my eyes and my wallet be my guide when it came time to buy. Fortunately, our local garden center was running a big sale on ornamental grasses, so we were able to pick up four large dwarf maiden grass plants at a good price. We also bought four variegated Solomon’s seal plants, which we’ll have to be patient with and allow a couple of years to fill out.

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Check out those HUGE spirea bushes in the mega-planters!! They were so teensy when I planted them a couple of years ago. Everyone said they would die during the winter if we put them in planters, but my mother thought they’d be fine, so I went ahead and took a chance. I love them. I’ll probably fill in the planter a little more with some annuals next spring, because the garden could really use a little color to break up all the green.

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I wound up having to take down my homemade Woolly Pocket-style planter (I don’t think I ever blogged about it, but you can kinda see it in these photos) because some industrious squirrels decided to turn the felt into nesting material. Oh well! I really liked having plants on the fence, though, so I ordered four of the new hard plastic Woolly Pocket planters to put to use in the spring! I could put them up now, I guess, but plants are expensive and I want to get a full season out of them.

And now for the time-lapse progress shots…

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Photo by Lönngren/Widell for Lovelylife

Last weekend we had another plumber come to the house to take a look at the work we need done in the kitchen — removal of two steam radiators, re-routing of steam pipes and, eventually, re-installation of one of radiators (we’re putting the other one in storage for now). While we’re waiting for his quote to come in, we’re trying to make a list of everything we need to get done once the radiators have been removed. It looks a little like this so far:

▶ Frantically tile the last two walls
▶ Frantically refinish one of the radiators
▶ Frantically pull up the existing VCT floor tiles
▶ Frantically remove the plywood subfloor, which was at some point used as a large snack for carpenter ants
▶ Frantically assess the condition of the original pine subfloor that’s underneath the plywood
▶ Frantically do something so that there’s a floor in place when the plumber comes back to re-route the steam pipes and re-install one of the radiators

But let me back up a little. A few months ago, amid all of the tiling chaos going on in the kitchen, I happened to notice that a few of our VCT floor tiles had come loose. One of them actually felt…squishy? Knowing that squishy floors are generally a bad thing (I learned that from watching This Old House), I peeked underneath the tile to see what was going on. ANTS! ANTS! ANTS!!!!! Yes, a swarming mass of carpenter ants. Ugh. The carpenter ants have since been eradicated (I may have a vegan diet, but, well, let’s just say I did NOT rehabilitate, foster, and re-home each individual ant), but the plywood subfloor is looking pretty terrible. It has to go. We definitely weren’t planning on replacing our floor — we installed it dirt cheap years ago (pre-blog), and I’ve always been happy with it — but it seems to be unavoidable.

I do know that the original pine plank subfloor is hiding under the plywood subfloor (which was already here when we bought the house — it was in decent shape, so we patched it up and tiled over it rather than replacing it for no reason), but I don’t know what kind of condition it’s in. In theory it’s the same as the floor in Evan’s studio (unfinished, dirty and rough, but mostly OK), but in reality it might have a lot of water damage, weird sections cut out of it from when the walls were reconfigured 50+ years ago, or any number of unknowns that might make it unsuitable to be exposed.

However it turns out, I know I want a painted wood floor in the kitchen. Tile just isn’t in the budget, and love painted wood floors anyway — especially in kitchens. If we luck out and the existing pine is usable, I’ll follow the same steps I did upstairs when painting them (probably black, but we’ll see). If they’re a total wreck, then we’ll install inexpensive pine on top. We used the lowest-quality cheap pine flooring available on the walls in our upstairs bathroom, and it was CHEAP — like $1/square foot or something crazy like that. Once it’s patched and painted, the knots and holes and stuff don’t matter.

Anyway, here are some inspiration photos of painted kitchen floors that I’ve been squirreling away for when the time came to make decisions about the kitchen floor, and that time is officially HERE! Assuming the plumber’s quote isn’t totally insane, this is all going to start happening really soon and really fast. GULP.

What floor color would be best in the kitchen? Stick with black? I do love black floors. Would white be too crazy-bright in there? The same gray color as the walls??

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Photo by Paul Massey

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Interior by B-Arch Studio / via Remodelista

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(L) Photo by Birgitta Wolfgang Drejer for Bolig / (R) Photo via Corcoran

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Photo from InsideOut

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Interior styling by Lotta Agaton

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Thanks to a retweet from Kate, I just discovered the beautiful home goods store Cotton & Flax. Run out of Los Angeles by artist/textile designer Erin Dollar, Cotton & Flax has a product line that is pretty much demanding to climb into a box and fly across the country to my house. I just spent about half an hour clicking through the shop, and I think I may have marked every single item as a favorite.

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Clockwise from top left:
 ♡ Black Diamonds Tea Towel
 ♡ Confetti-Patterned Wool Felt Coasters
 ♡ White Plus Tea Towel
 ♡ Linen Brushstrokes Pillow

Erin also writes a Cotton & Flax blog, where she shares some of her own favorite handmade goods, as well as behind-the-scenes peeks at her studio. PLUS!! She also shares freebies for download, like these insanely cute patterned iPhone wallpapers. I don’t know about you, but I like to try to match my phone to my tea towels.

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EEEEEE! Postcards!! I used to send postcards out all the time because they’re so low-hassle: Cheap stamp, no envelope, small space = fast writing, not to mention the fact that anyone can and will read the back keeps me from saying anything too dumb. I don’t know why I stopped, but I need to order a couple of packs — because who doesn’t like to get a little real mail every now and then? Especially if it’s neon pink.

All photos © Cotton & Flax

wheat

When I was getting this post draft together in WordPress and entering the keyword tags that go at the bottom, the word “goals” auto-completed as “goats.” I almost didn’t correct it, because frankly, this post might as well be about goats. I think about adorable, bleating farm animals far more often than I do my life ambitions, after all. Right now, though, I do have a goal: Write a post about why I’m not a goal-oriented person.

OK, that’s not entirely true. I do have lots of bite-sized, short-term goals. Stuff like “take a shower” and “repair the porch roof.” (I guess those are called to-do lists. I love to-do lists.) What I don’t have — or have any desire to have — are the long-term vision-y kind of goals, like life lists and that kind of stuff. Honestly, my life list kind of looks like this:

1. See And Also The Trees live, but not if it requires traveling outside of NYC.
2. More Chihuahuas!
3. Conquer adult acne.
4. Don’t go skydiving or engage in any other “thrill-seeking” activities.
5. Don’t sleep outdoors.
6. Be a decent person.
7. …?

And that’s about it. I’m sure there are ambitious, accomplished people reading this who have life lists of their own — real life lists, like the kind that come up when you Google “life list.” Looking at those lists always makes me feel tired, overwhelmed, a little bit scared and a whole lot like I really don’t belong. Just to be totally clear, I don’t have anything against people for whom life lists are beneficial. I don’t think it’s a silly exercise to make one if you feel compelled to do so and it it’s helpful in your life, I’m just here to speak up on behalf of the non-life listers, the non-goal-oriented among us. HELLO, FELLOW LOSERS!!! Just kidding, we’re not losers. We’re just feel like we are sometimes.

The word “perfectionist” gets tossed around a lot, usually as a humblebrag (“My worst trait is that I’m a perfectionist! Tee hee!”), and the truth is that it’s a trait that really carries a lot of negative weight. Since I went to the Wikipedia School of Psychology for my internet doctorate degree, I’ll quote from their article on the subject:

Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards. It is best conceptualized as a multidimensional characteristic, as psychologists agree that there are many positive and negative aspects. In its maladaptive form, perfectionism drives people to attempt to achieve an unattainable ideal, and their adaptive perfectionism can sometimes motivate them to reach their goals. In the end, they derive pleasure from doing so. When perfectionists do not reach their goals, they often fall into depression.

Yeah. That. Except in my experience, that whole adaptive perfectionism/motivational stuff really only plays out when it comes to short-term/immediate goals (see: to-do lists), and the long-term goals/”way of living” kind of things are the ones that lead to a whole lot of personal disappointment…and that other D-word, too.

Beyond the defective brain stuff (and I say that as someone with a defective brain and as a lover of other defective brains), I tend to want to live in the moment when it comes to making plans. I don’t know if what I think I feel like doing today is the same thing I’m going to want to do next week, let alone five years from now! That doesn’t mean I’m incapable of making confident decisions. In fact, I think I’m pretty good at making up my mind to do things when the time comes, and I’m good at following through. If I decide on Wednesday that I’m going to tile the kitchen on Sunday, I’m not going to let a 102° fever and a bronchial infection stand in my way! Stupid? Yeah, a little, but the kitchen looks great.

There’s an upside to this lack of planning and goal-setting, I swear. I think it’s my lack of career ambition that’s allowed me to feel satisfied in the same job (I have been promoted several times, but I’m still a book cover cover designer at the same publishing company that hired me right out of art school) for 15 years. Maybe that sounds really dismal, but it’s not. The fact that I don’t feel like I need to constantly be looking for something “better” or more prestigious means that I’ve been able to become emotionally connected to my workplace in addition to having a professional connection. I’ve been working with the same core group of people for a decade and a half, and that’s a great feeling. It’s a little old-fashioned, I think, right? When I was a kid, my friends’ parents had worked for the same companies for years. That’s definitely not the norm (at least in NYC) for my generation, and I know very, very few people who have had the same job for more than four or five years.

Anyway, all I’m getting at here is this: You don’t have to constantly be working toward something you think will be bigger or better. You don’t have to sell your first house to buy a bigger one. (You don’t even have to buy a house in the first place.) You don’t have to visualize your life as you want it to be. It’s OK to be happy where you are right now, and to find contentment in the mundane. You can live in the same city for your entire life and still be a well-rounded, fulfilled person. Reading a book you found by chance on a park bench can be every bit as thrilling as going skydiving. It’s OK. Leave yourself open to opportunities you could never have thought of in the first place. You don’t have to be that person who’s constantly planning for the next amazing thing. That doesn’t make you boring or a loser or a failure. Everyone everywhere feels disappointed in themselves at times, and none of us are ever really living up to our true potential. That’s alright. We don’t have to be perfectly realized humans living carefully mapped-out lives. If your only goal in life is to be a decent person, that’s already a lot to think about and work toward. Human decency is an ongoing process that requires constant introspection as well as observation of those around us. That’s a pretty huge goal.

I know this post isn’t going to resonate with most of the people who read it, but I’m hoping there are one or two of you out there who will understand what I’m talking about. Cheers to us, the realists and the dreamless and the non-life listers! May we always find as much happiness in petting goats as others do with setting goals.

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Yeah, I could live there is a not-so-new, occasional D16 feature wherein I post pictures of homes I want to break into, kick out the inhabitants and move in. Today we’re traveling to 47 Park Avenue and the Edwardian-style home of Michael and Jonathan (and their dogs, Jacob Crackers, Oscar Wilde and Charlie Buckets) in Yorkshire, England.

I’ve actually been meaning to post about Michael and Jonathan’s houses (they have another one in London) for many months now, but I’ve had such a hard time narrowing down what pictures to share! Their homes are both so gorgeous and inspiring and perfectly renovated that it’s impossible to write about either without using 600 photos. Fortunately for all of us, Michael blogs about both houses himself! I discovered his blog through Jonathan’s location agency, Shoot Factory (a veritable trove of inspiration in itself — I’ve spent many hours clicking through all of those lovely London homes and fantasizing about all of my alternate lives).

So how about just one part of one house, then? The room I keep coming back to whenever I think about their Yorkshire home is the small bedroom they converted into a dressing room for Michael (Jonathan has his own dressing room, which is also lovely!). Oh, it is FABULOUS. Check out this side-by-side:

47 Park Ave, before/after

WOWZA. The room on the left looks like every sad, musty bed and breakfast, and the room on the right looks like…um, I don’t have a good comparison. It looks like a really, really nice dressing room belonging to a person with good taste and fancy clothes. (I’m such an observant and talented writer, I know.) Michael started working on his dressing room in summer 2011, and he’s still putting finishing touches on it — fortunately for those of us who like that sort of thing, he takes loads of progress shots along the way!

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The decision to leave the window casings and sashes bare wood while painting the baseboards, doors and floor makes me so happy. It also makes me want to strip off the 50 layers of paint on my own windows! I’m supremely envious of Michael’s ability to keep his clothes and shoes looking so nice on full display. If I put my own clothes and shoes in the exact same room, it would not look like that. Nobody wants to put old, scuffed-up Swedish clogs in a glass cabinet, you know?

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About a year into the project, the dressing room reached its first stage of being “done.” And it looked fantastic! An antique marble-topped mahogany dental cabinet at the center of the room, scaffolding poles for hanging clothes, a vintage Scolari chandelier, a super-duper-fancy glass cabinet for shoes…how can you possibly improve on that?!

The answer to that question is one I’d never have come up with for a dressing room, but it’s exactly right: TILE. Specifically, subway tile with dark grout. Ohhhh yeah. I don’t need to tell you how I feel about that (I feel like maybe my kitchen and Michael’s dressing room could be friends, no?).

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SO GOOD. I want to tile everything now. And how nice is that angled wall where the entry door is? The dark grout really brings out that wall and the slanted ceiling — it just looks so much more architecturally interesting, and, contrary to what a lot of people think about subway tile, the room now feels so much warmer and cozier. I really love it.

Thank you so much for allowing me to share your home, Michael and Jonathan! I’ll keep following your renovation progress at your blog (eagerly awaiting the shop, too!) and all of the beautiful locations at Shoot Factory.

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All photos courtesy of and © 47 Park Avenue

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When I was in San Francisco, I visited the new Little Paper Planes storefront, run by my friend Kelly Lynn Jones. Kelly has such a good eye for art and design, and I’ve been a fan of her online shop for ages — it was so cool to see it all come to life in one beautifully curated space.

I must have touched/admired at least two dozen objects while I was in there, but the ones I was drawn to immediately were the pieces by Brooklyn-based Small Spells, created by ceramist Rachel Howe. I picked up a crescent moon cup as a thank you gift for a friend, and made a mental note to check out Small Spells online later in the day. I’m so glad I did, because Rachel’s work is really up my alley — that perfect combination of bold geometry and soft, organic shapes and muted (yet rich) colors. I want everything in her shop!

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These planters are so sweet. I’m a notoriously black-thumbed when it comes to indoor plants, but lately I’ve been trying to practice by caring for a few smaller plants at once instead of one giant, potted creature that’s basically like having a pet. These little pots are perfect for putting on a windowsill or a small ledge in the kitchen, and I’m going to need to get a hanging planter for our bathroom. I love that wee cactus peeking out of the top!

And finally, a few pictures from the Small Spells Instagram! The mudcloth-inspired cup on the top loft is from a new series Rachel is working on. I can’t wait to see more! I’m feeling a Small Spells collection coming on…

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