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It’s been nearly nine months since my last kitchen tiling madness binge at the house, and it feels so, SO good to be back in the swing of things. Aside from not having bronchitis and a 102° fever this time around, it’s very encouraging to at least have a finish line in sight. Having the radiators disconnected means I can make lots of progress with the tiling and the flooring, but it also means I’m now racing to get everything finished before heating season starts.

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When I got to the house on Saturday, I was finally able to see this corner of the kitchen (next to the sink) radiator-free. The valve and supply pipe were positioned so closely to the pipe chase that the radiator actually had to be cut out by the plumbers — you can see the scorch marks on the painted wood from being in contact with a hot valve. We will not be having this radiator reconnected, since the one on the other side of the room provides sufficient heat on its own.

See how crazily sloped the wall and baseboard molding are under the window? When we bought the house, this wall was in a serious state of disrepair. Years of water seepage and ice buildup on the outside of the building had caused the mortar between the bricks to fail — you could literally push on the outside of the house and see the bricks move. There was so much water damage on the wall behind the radiator that you could see light from outdoors coming through the radiator. (I don’t think I have photos of all of this, unfortunately, but I’ll check on an old hard drive this weekend to see if I can find anything.) It was alarming, to say the least! We hired a wonderful contractor to repair the exterior of the house and stabilize the bricks and lintels — as well as dig out the foundation and waterproof the outside about 6′ below ground level — and all has been well since then, but all of the interior settling that occurred as a result remains. It is stable, though, and rather than open a can of worms trying to straighten the wall and re-set the baseboard molding, I just went with it as-is. It was kind of like tiling a ski slope, but it’s honestly not all that noticeable now that the tile is uniform and the molding has been primed. It’ll be even less apparent once I get everything grouted and caulked and make the moldings a little nicer.

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Not bad for a solid 12 hours of tiling! I feel like I should be going faster, but the unevenness of the wall means I have to do a lot of building up/tapering of thinset along the way, and it’s tedious. I really do love tiling, though — always alone, never with an assistant (though I won’t object to having my thinset mixed for me!). It’s somewhat meditative, and I’ve done enough of it at this point that I have a good system down. I always listen to NPR, I always use my Wood & Faulk pencil, I always use a certain orange plastic triangle, I always have coffee at the ready…as long as I know the necessities are there and I keep my workspace clean, I can keep going and going as long as I need to. On Saturday night I was up until 3:00am!

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My favorite corner!! Man, I love how this is looking. I’ll be grouting this area next Saturday, and I know I’m going to take at least a dozen beauty shots when I’m done. Is it weird to be this obsessed with a corner? I just want to pet it. And maybe lick it? I love you, corner.

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I keep forgetting to take pictures to show how you deal with outlets and tile. Because tile changes the distance between the surface of the wall and the electrical box, you have to move the switches and outlets forward. With single boxes you can use a box extension ring, but with double boxes like this one you can use these little plastic shims. After turning off the circuit to the box (!!!), all you need to do is loosen the screws connecting the outlet to the box and snap on as many shims as you need to move the outlet forward the same depth as your tile. Tighten the screws, and you’re all set. (These shims are great if you have a loose outlet that needs support, too.)

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THIS IS ALL I HAVE LEFT TO TILE!!! Just this little corner! I have to do some repair work to the wall first because the plaster is really lumpy where the radiator was, but I should be able to finish this in a day. Then it’s time to grout!! See that lovely new radiator valve on the bottom right? That thing is smoooooth to turn. The old one was so rusty that bits would crumble off into your hand if you tried to close the valve. We had the plumber move the valve (and the pipe in the basement that leads to it) about a foot to the right at the same time so the radiator will be centered under the window instead of being crammed into the corner. And yes, that electrical outlet will need to be moved as well.

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The kitchen floor is still a huge unknown, but I’m holding onto hope that the original pine subfloor will be salvageable enough to paint. We know that they unfortunately have a lot of water damage, and I have to admit that the condition of the exposed planks in this corner is not encouraging. We’ll see how it goes, though. I doubt we’ll be able to start demo work on the floor next weekend (I still have to finish getting the rest of the tile up and then grout and caulk everything, plus if the weather is good I want to refinish the radiator outside), but hopefully the weekend after that. Fingers crossed that the floor will be alright with a little Bondo and a lot of paint!

For the past six months or so, we’ve been trying to get a plumber to our house to disconnect the kitchen radiators and do some related pipe work in the basement that goes beyond what we’re capable of doing ourselves. You’d think it would be easy to, you know, give someone a bunch of money to do the work they’re trained to do, but contractors are a special bunch. Long story short, we’ve had three enthusiastic and friendly plumbers come to our house to assess the situation and prepare a quote, but after five months of phone calls/voicemail messages (from us), we had yet to see even a single quote from any of them.

You know things aren’t going well when you can’t even get a quote.

So now we’re back with the plumber who worked on our upstairs bathroom in 2008 and our downstairs bathroom a year later. It took yet another month to get a quote from him (and then a couple more weeks to schedule the work), but…IT HAS FINALLY HAPPENED. Evan and I both had to be in the city so we haven’t seen it in person yet, but my friend Ilenia was wonderful enough to both let the guys in and sneak a few iPhone snaps while they worked. This is SO exciting!!!

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EWWWWWWW!! Gross. I’m guessing this part of the room hasn’t seen the light of day in the better part of a century. I cannot even express how much I am looking forward to CLEANING that baseboard molding (and painting it!!) and repairing the wall above. There was zero clearance behind and under the kitchen radiators, so it’s impossible to clean and maintain properly. This is going to be soooooooo very satisfying.

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The radiator next to the sink was removed, too, and I’ll bet it’s even grosser back there. We’re actually not going to replace that one. We had the plumber cap the steam pipe at basement level. We’ve been getting by just fine heat-wise with only a single functioning radiator in the kitchen, so we’re going to put this one in storage (in case we ever want to reconnect it).

The other radiator was in a really weird spot before, so we also had the plumber move the steam supply pipe over about a foot so that it can be centered under the window when it’s reinstalled. The photo on the right is the new position — it’s not connected yet, they were just figuring out where to drill a new hole in the floor.

Hmmm…I think this also means we’re going to have to move an electrical outlet. Hmmm.

Now that the radiators are OUT, here’s what’s on my kitchen to-do list for the next couple of months:

▶ 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 reinstall one of the radiators

I feel a little sick thinking about it because I’ve been SUPER busy with work lately, but between summer hours (I get every other Friday off) and a few vacation days Evan and I have both scheduled, I think we can make it happen before heating season starts. The floor is just a huge unknown because we have no idea what’s happening under the plywood, but at least now we can actually start doing the demo work.

I’m just going to try not to think about the fact that we also need a major repair done to our boiler. Sigh. This is why our renovation projects drag on for years — there’s always something urgent to deal with that sucks up our entire budget. House stuff is expensive. All of it. Even the stuff that’s not expensive is expensive. I am mystified by blogs that document entire home renovations that take less than a year. We’re going on eight years of renovation with no end in sight. Is this normal? Sorry, I’m digressing too much. Ignore me…

On the agenda for this weekend: TILING. And more tiling. And tiling some more. It’s going to be total tiling madness. I can’t wait!!

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As of this morning, I think I need to add a new question to my FAQ: “Have you seen this Smiths/Peanuts tumblr?” I’ve received close to 40 emails (!!!) and about a dozen tweets since yesterday about it, leading me to believe that I have indeed accomplished my primary mission in life, which of course is to be someone who comes to mind when subjects involving Morrissey and/or Charlie Brown arise. They’re two of my most favorite guys, forever and always.

The answer, obviously, is YES, I have seen it — I first saw it on the NPR Music blog, courtesy of Jen’s husband. Thanks, Jim! Never before has so much self-awareness and sensitivity been presented in such a heartwarming way. I think the Peppermint Patty & Marcie ones are my favorites. Sheila take a bow, indeed!

For the three remaining people on the planet have not yet seen this brilliant combination of Peanuts comic strips and Smiths lyrics, I hope you enjoy This Charming Charlie as much as I do. Lauren LoPrete is obviously a genius, and I’m truly sorry that I’m not the one who thought to do this. Thank you for making it happen, Lauren! You really made my day/week/life.

And also: Thank you, Charles Schulz. Thank you, Morrissey.

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As I’ve mentioned (but haven’t really shown), the last set of stairs in our 4th-story walkup is entirely inside of our apartment. I’ve already done a lot of work on the entry area at the top of the stairs, but I’ve really been ignoring the stairs themselves completely. I had a burst of energy late Saturday night, though, so I decided to take a look and see what could be done.

The first thing I should note is that these stairs are not cute. There is no decorative molding, the wood is builder-grade, everything is totally crooked, and despite being structurally sound, the entire staircase is in generally terrible condition cosmetically.

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Oof. The first thing I did was pull those gross little carpet treads off. They were REALLY grimy and worn down to the point of actually making the stairs more slippery than bare wood. I held my breath and yanked. They came off more easily than I expected them to — each one was held in place with 4-6 nails and some carpet tape here and there. The wood underneath was filthy, but an hour spent with a bucket of hot water and Murphy’s Oil Soap cleaned them up reasonably well. They’re still spattered with paint and full of nail holes and deep gouges, of course, but at least I’m not afraid to walk on them with bare feet now.

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Next step, priming! On first glance you might think that the stair risers were painted in the same Deep Space color I’ve been using on the walls elsewhere in the apartment, but it was actually a kind of “dead” dark gray, a single coat of which appeared to have been applied with a scrap of burlap. Priming was a must. I went back and forth on whether to leave the stairs unpainted, and I’m still not totally sure where I stand on that. My hesitation isn’t because I think the wood is in any way worth preserving (it’s not, really), but because there’s so much unpainted wood elsewhere in the apartment that I think the stairs might look out of place if they’re painted!

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Photos by Thoroughly Modern Medusa (L); Jake Curtis for House and Home (R)

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The staircase at my house

By the time the primer was done, it was about 2:00 in the morning and I was fading fast. I got into bed and tried to plan out what I wanted to do with the stairs the next day. I looked at a post I wrote about staircases four years ago. My thought process went like this:

1. What about bright orange? What about a bright orange painted runner? I’ve been obsessing over Orla Kiely’s painted orange runner for years. Or maybe shades of gradated orange?
2. No, that’s silly. Maybe I should just go with white risers and dark treads like I have at the house. Just do what I know I like. But the more I think about it, the reason that combination looks good in the house is because the stairs and banister are so beautiful.
3. Maybe I should just leave the treads bare and paint everything else with Deep Space. The walls, too. Yeah, I’ll do that. When dealing with an ugly space, the best move is to go totally dark or totally light or totally crazy. No in-betweens.
4. ZZZZZzzzzzzzzz…

But then when I woke up couldn’t stop thinking about bright orange…

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I found a good match for my favorite lipstick, MAC Lady Danger (I’m still using the same tube three years later) — Benjamin Moore Salsa. It’s a really bright hot orange-red. I picked up a quart of that along with a quart of Deep Space in satin finish (I really love orange and gray together), and headed back to the apartment to get to work.

This is where things went horribly wrong.

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NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE. Yeah. This is some hideousness right here, I know. It’s even worse than when I thought it might be a good idea to paint my entire hallway PURPLE — this was pre-blog, thankfully. It’s the kind of thing you know is just going to look terrible the second you stick the brush in the paint, but you do it anyway because you really think the outcome might somehow manage to match that vision you had in your head at 2:00 in the morning when you were passing out from exhaustion and primer fumes. NEVER DO THAT.

This is where I’m at now: I don’t want to have a super-dark stairwell that gets zero natural light, because the artificial light reflects off of it in a really depressing way. It’s just sad-looking. I also don’t want to mess around with trying to combine orange-hued polyurethane-coated wood with bright orange paint (I do have to give Evan credit for pointing out that there might be some clashing issues, but I was too blinded by MY VISION at that point to do anything but dismiss him — sorry, Evan!).

I do kinda want to revisit the gradient stairs idea, though, and this is also what my interior decorating idols Linda and John Meyers suggested when I asked them, “WWWMD — What would Wary Meyers do?” (They also suggested that I could do something typographic on the stairs with the Frankfurter font, but I am just not on that level of cool. Alas.) Wary Meyers have been my gradient-painting heroes since I spotted this awesome radiator way back in 2007, so I trust their suggestions.

So…how about THIS?

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Photos by Stacey Bode

That’s really nice, right? The fact that Stacey’s stairs are a lot like mine (totally un-fancy, kinda beat-up wood treads, solid walls on both sides, no banister, etc.) gives me extra confidence that this could look good in my stairwell, too. I think with some careful planning and experimental paint-mixing (Deep Space + Simply White in varying ratios, satin finish), I can make this happen. First I have to re-prime everything I already painted (ARGH!), but I’m not in a huge rush. I should probably also suck it up and sand the treads down a little, because they really do look awful.

I’ll have to find some other place to use that Salsa paint, though. I do LOVE the color. Maybe the entry door to the apartment? I’ll figure something out!

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I’ve been taking quick peeks here and there over the past week at H&M’s home collection, which until now was unavailable to the US market. I can’t figure out whether they’re planning to eventually offer home goods for sale in stores here as well, but the online shop is up and running! (You can buy H&M clothing online now as well, by the way, though I doubt I’d ever need to order clothes online from them — there are now 11 H&M stores and counting in Manhattan alone, which is just bananas.) Anyway, this morning I finally took some time to really look at the entire collection, and I’m surprised by how much of it I like. A lot of it does tend to run the more gimmicky route — like all of the fake-old-timey NYC subway-themed things, which I’m really not a fan of — but much like digging through the clothes in H&M stores, there’s good stuff mixed in with the t-shirts that say DO IT LIKE THE ’90s (what does that even mean?!). And, of course, the prices are crazy-low.

The wide jacquard-weave cushion cover in the photo above is probably my favorite item, which I’m sure is really shocking (hah). For $18 plus a $7 FJÄDRAR insert from IKEA, you’d have a pretty sweet dog bed with a removable, washable cover. Nice! I do wonder what happens if you put an IKEA pillow inside of an H&M cover, though. Is the Swedishness exponential? Actually, I just realized H&M sells inserts, too. So there you go.

Here are some more of my favorites…

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Canvas cushion cover in cerise / Jacquard-weave cushion cover / Velvet cushion cover in pink
Cat cushion cover / Copper candle holder / Dotted blanket
Jacquard-weave blanket / Velvet cushion cover in orange / Velvet cushion cover in charcoal

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And finally, who can resist a burlap storage tote (larger size, too)? Not me! Yeah, I do kind of wish it didn’t say STORAGE on the front, but I bet the back is blank — and even if it’s not, it’s still cute and it has a wire-framed top, which is nice.

OK, I’m going to go and try to order a few things before they all sell out, because they’ve literally been disappearing while I write this post. I’ve been snoozing, and now I’m losing!

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Top to bottom, left to right…

✚ I’ve been meeting my father for weekly lunches when time permits. We have great conversations, mostly about art and design theory. I do a lot of listening and try to learn as much I can. I walk away from every lunch thinking about something in a way I’d never considered before. A side bonus of our lunches is that I’ve started walking to parts of Manhattan I don’t usually have any reason to go to. I love 7th Ave above 50th St.

✚ Oh, Bruno. This guy has a super-short haircut right now, and he looks über cute. (That pillow is made by Nell & Mary in Portland. It was a gift from Jen.)

✚ Did you know Van Leeuwen has coconut/cocoa butter-based VEGAN ice cream now? Yup. Bourbon & Tahitian Vanilla and Michel Cluizel Chocolate…and they’re working on more flavors. Their Brooklyn location is right outside my subway stop, so I have to resist getting a cone every single day!

✚ My walk to the subway in the morning usually takes me down Bergen Street. When I was making this same walk ten years ago, the block between Court and Smith didn’t have much going on. Now there’s 61 Local, The Invisible Dog (pictured), Recession Art, RAD’s Beam Center

✚ I don’t need this t-shirt, but maybe you do? It’s at Aritzia. You’re welcome.

✚ I cut my bangs at an angle again. It’s always the late, sleepless nights when I start cutting my own hair. I should do it more often. (That cocoon is from RVCA, and it’s super-comfy. Too warm for this time of the year, but I’m not letting that stop me.)

✚ My dear friend Roger is in town! One of the nicest things about living in New York is that all of your friends (well, almost all of them) wind up visiting eventually.

✚ I forgot how much I love Schiller’s Liquor Bar. I know it’s fake-old and manufactured romance, but it’s beautiful all the same. Even the bathroom is perfection. They make a mean Pimm’s cup, too. (Fellow vegan-eaters, don’t be put off by the menu! Order the roasted cauliflower with a side of broccoli rabe, and maybe also a side of fries for good measure. They know what they’re doing!)

✚ I don’t drive, but if I did, I’d like to drive this. My parents had a VW Microbus when I was kid, and I’ve always thought old VW are really cool-looking. This orange one is parked outside of these two wood-frame houses on Dean Street that I’m always ogling. I know vines are bad for houses, but they sure do make for a pretty picture.

Have a great weekend, everyone!!

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For as long as we’ve owned this house, I’ve been lamenting the weird, dead corner space to the left of the stove. My decision years ago to use pre-fab, freestanding IKEA kitchen units rather than fitted cabinets meant hoping for the best in terms of maximizing the usable space in the room. I got really lucky on the sink side of the stove, which just happens to be exactly 1/2″ wider than a single UDDEN unit, but the 42″ space on the left has just been a waste all this time. I did have a cart there for a long time, but the position was awkward and it really didn’t get much use.

Looking back on this post from January (THAT WAS EIGHT MONTHS AGO, UGH!) you can see that I planned to put a piece of butcherblock there to fill the whole space. Time passed, seasons changed and we never managed to figure out how to wrangle a giant slab of IKEA butcherblock into the car, so we just kept putting it off.

And then…

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HEYYYY. Who’s that fine young thing in the tank top sanding down what looks like a 42″ piece of wood countertop? Why, it’s Daniel! When Daniel told me he was planning to make his own countertops out of fir framing lumber, I hopped on that bandwagon real quick. I dropped a few subtle hints like, “gosh, I really wish someone loved me enough to make me a piece of countertop,” and the next thing I knew, there it was!

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I had absolutely nothing to do with the making of the countertop at all, but Daniel has written up a great post explaining exactly how he did it using nothing more than a circular saw, a Kreg jig, screws and good looks. (His own kitchen is looking totally amazing, by the way, and uses much of the same materials, finishes and colors as my kitchen, but in different ways. I’m so impressed!) (Have I mentioned how great it is to have Daniel and Max and Mekko and Linus as neighbors not only in Brooklyn but now also in the Hudson Valley? So great.)

I had a hard time getting a good shot of the underside, but hopefully you can tell what’s going on there. Ideally the counter would be bracketed to the walls for support, but because I don’t want to drill into the tile (I want to have the option of changing this kitchen around in the future, which is why I tiled all the way down to the baseboard moldings), I opted to use four adjustable VIKA KAJ legs from IKEA. They extend to a maximum height of 34″ and have a 165lb weight limit per leg, so they’re perfect for this kind of use. Three of the legs are set at the corners of the countertop, and the fourth leg is positioned back about 20″ so that the front right corner (next to the stove) appears to float. The legs really aren’t visible unless you’re looking for them, but I might spray paint them black at some point just so they blend in even more.

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When it came to finishing the countertop, my first thought was to stain it black with India ink (!) and then apply a marine varnish for protection, but once it was in place I really liked having more wood tones in the room. My favorite kitchens are ones that look like they’ve come to where they are over a long period of time rather than being a brand-new matched set of parts, so the less uniformity of natural materials the better. Bring on the knots and wood grain!

If I’d had any mineral oil on hand I probably would have just used that, but I used it all up when I was refinishing the giant island. I’ve read good things about Watco Butcher Block Oil (basically tung oil and solvents) on woodworking forums, so decided to give it a shot. A pint-sized can was about $15, which seemed kind of steep, but because of the solvents it’s nowhere near as viscous as straight oil — it goes a long, long way. I’ve only gone through about 1/8 of the can. Also unlike mineral oil, this stuff is flammable, so you do have to be careful about disposing of your rags (I used cheesecloth). The other thing to be aware of with products like this is that they need to cure for a full 72 hours before the surface is considered food-safe. I don’t plan to use this countertop like a cutting board because fir is too soft, but it’s still something to be conscious of.

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So far, I’ve done three coats (waiting six hours and sanding lightly between coats) of Butcher Block Oil, and the finish looks great. There’s a slight sheen to it, but it’s definitely not SHINY. I don’t like shiny wood in kitchens. I poured a little water on to test its durability, and after 30 minutes it was still beaded up on the surface. Good sign! I’ll probably do a couple more coats just to be on the safe side, and then maintain the finish periodically with mineral oil going forward.

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I’m so happy about this combination of materials. Stainless steel gets a bad rap for being “clinical,” but I actually think it can look very warm — it’s all about how you use the material and what you combine it with. See how great it looks paired with natural wood and white tiles? The thing with stainless countertops is that you have to stop caring about scratches and other visible wear and just let it do what it’s going to do. The first few scratches we got on the counters looked terrible, but now that we’ve been using them for seven years and the steel has developed an overall patina, I don’t worry about damage at all. Stainless countertops are pretty indestructible.

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It’s no small thing to have counter space on BOTH sides of the stove now, let me tell you! Being able to use one side for chopping and another for keeping spices and oils handy while I’m cooking (plus the island behind me for organizing ingredients) makes a huge difference. It’s great. I can’t believe I went for so many years without anything on the left side of the stove! It looks so much more visually complete, too.

Speaking of things being complete, the kitchen still is not. We’ve had a very difficult time trying to get a plumber in to disconnect the radiators (that might sound like an easy job, but the steam pipes need to be cut, re-threaded, capped at basement-level and eventually extended and re-routed, which is beyond our level of DIY-ness), but we FINALLY have a plumber booked for next Wednesday. YAY!!! Once he takes out the radiators, I can resume tiling the remaining two walls and ripping up the floor. It’s going to be a VERY busy August! Evan and I have both taken vacation days, and we’re determined to get all of the work done before temperatures drop…otherwise we’re going to be without heat in the kitchen during the winter, which wouldn’t be good news for our feet or our pipes. Time to get moving!!

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Yes, the lighting is completely different, no, I didn’t shoot from the exact same angle, yes, I still have more work to do so that’s not really an “after”…but you get the idea. It’s funny, this apartment could not be more different from my house and I would never have chose any of this if I were building the kitchen from scratch, but I feel very much at home here. I like being in this kitchen. I like how cozy and sort of library-like it looks. I’m happy about the challenges that this apartment and its weird layout, giant rooms and awful orange wood trim have presented.

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Ahhh, new lights! Goodbye, horrible plastic fluorescent cloud lights. We installed the new-ish VANADIN ceiling lights from IKEA. They’re made of white, mouth-blown glass, and they have a vintage look to them that reminds me of milk glass. I did have to say goodbye to the HEKTAR pendant I’d previously installed. I love the way it looks, but the ceiling is just way too low to have anything hanging. As soon as we got seating for the kitchen island and started eating our meals there, we were pretty much constantly hitting our heads on the light.

The rest of the glass VANADIN line is really cool as well, by the way. There’s a pendant and a table lamp (also available in black and hot pink!). IKEA often gets lighting wrong, but when they get it right, it’s so so right.

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Next up, stools! Actually no, let’s just talk about how adorable Fritz is. This is a dog who shivers and crawls under a pile of blankets if the temperature drops below 75°, so as far as he’s concerned, this apartment is the best place in the world. We get a crazy amount of sunlight all day long, and he just lies there and roasts in it. I really have to commend my landlord for deciding to put floor-to-ceiling windows on the south side of the apartment and a huge skylight in the bedroom, which faces north. Floor-through apartments in attached buildings are often very dark, and since this apartment is an attic extension it really could have been a total sad-zone.

But back to Fritz! Man, I love that dog. His new thing is sleeping on the kitchen island in the evenings. Yes, ON the counter. I sit there when I work at night, and he doesn’t like that he can’t sit next to me. I tried holding him on my lap, but that’s not comfortable for either of us. The obvious solution was to put a blanket on the counter and just let him lie there. He loves it. Good thing I’m OK with dog germs…

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So yes, stools! It took us way too long to get some seating going in this kitchen. We’re really trying to not eat meals on the sofa, and I needed a place to sit and work — my lower back just can’t handle sitting with my computer on my lap for too long. I considered getting a couple of the DALFRED stools from IKEA, but they’re perpetually out of stock at the Brooklyn store. A couple of weeks ago we were at Target doing our usual run for toilet paper and allergy pills, and I noticed out of the corner of my eye that they’re now selling a range Tolix-like (Tolisque?) Marais-style stools in various heights and colors. The first thing I thought of when I saw the name Carlisle on the box was Belinda Carlisle, whose voice I absolutely cannot stand. I managed to push past that when I saw that the counter-height stools were priced at $95 for TWO (!).

Are they as nice as real Tolix stools? Well, the construction seems to be very good and the proportions are pretty much the same, but the finish on the “distressed metal” (that’s the color I bought) Carlisle stools is kind of crappy-looking up close. Well, not crappy, but not as nice as vintage Tolix Marais stool, which is obviously what they were going for. You can see in the close-up above that the finish is a little too shiny, and the “distressing” is the work of a wire brush and oxidizing paint. Paying $95 instead of $570, though…yeah. Tough to say no, even with the whole issue of knock-offs (albeit legal in this case) and so forth.

Short story: I bought the stools, and now they’re in my apartment and I like them a lot.

doorsixteen_aptkitchen_shelf1

Yes, it’s ANOTHER SHELF. So many shelves. This area on the back of the island was kind of dead space before, and it becoming nothing more than a spot to collect plants on the floor. I wanted to tidy things up, but still keep it all low to the ground and kind of out of sight. I like low shelves — this one is only about 16″ off of the floor. The wood is a TRYGGVE shelf from IKEA that I painted the same color as the wall (Benjamin Moore Deep Space). You can’t really see them, but I used a couple of EKBY VALTER brackets also painted to match.

Now the plants are happy and off the floor, our phones have a dedicated spot for charging and my cookbooks are easily accessible. Both of the paintings are by Lisa Golightly of Kiki & Polly.

I’ve always wanted one of those VÅGÖ chairs, but I don’t have anywhere to put it. This little yellow reproduction is perfect, though! I went to an IKEA event a few weeks ago, and they gave away these sets of dollhouse furniture. Fritz has taken to carrying around the miniature heart pillow and falling asleep with it in his mouth (and between his paws), which is super adorable. I need to find a use for the tiny STOCKHOLM rug. Maybe a dog cape?

SEE ALSO → All of the apartment kitchen progress posts!

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The ladies at A Beautiful Mess recently invited me to participate in their “At Home With…” series, and rather than submit a bunch of my own I-only-shoot-in-automatic-mode-with-a-point-and-shoot-camera-style snapshots, I asked my friend Ilenia Martini to shoot some photos of my house. Ilenia is such a great photographer (she also took my bio photo, and you may have seen her work recently on sfgirlbybay), and I knew she’d be able to show my house in way that I’m not capable of. The result is really beyond what I could have dreamed! A bunch of the photos she took are now up over at A Beautiful Mess, as well as an interview with me that gets into my feelings about owning a home in the City of Newburgh — and my feelings about home renovation in general.

My only regret is that Ilenia didn’t shoot the entire house! We were mid-heatwave, and I asked her to sneakily avoid getting any air conditioners (and piles of tools and construction debris…) in the pictures. I’ll have to lure her back with iced coffee and bagel sandwiches and get her to shoot the rest in the fall!

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My house also made an appearance on the Dwell website last week in their feature on where design bloggers work. It always makes me happy to see my father’s old drawing table make the rounds; it’s very special to me. If you look closely at the screen of my laptop, you can make out what I was working on that day — the logo for Evan’s new band, Thermite.

If you have the September print issue of Dwell, you can find a few blurbs from me about products I love and my own trend forecasts (which is something I don’t actually like to do, but when my favorite magazine asks a question, I’ll answer it). I didn’t get a cool illustration of my face like the other bloggers who participated, but I’m too excited to see Daniel in there to care!! It’s a great issue all around, though, and I’m always happy to be asked.

It has been a LONG time since I posted a mixtape! I’ve had this one in the works for a while now as a follow-up to 2011′s original Summertime Jams mix, but between the too-hot-to-think weather we had in July and all movies I’ve been going to see, I just hadn’t been feeling it. Something happened last week, though — we started having the best summer weather here in New York, the kind you fantasize about during the winter. Cool breezes in the evenings, great sunsets, people out and about at night, hanging out on their stoops and eating late dinners at sidewalk cafés…perfect.

Anyway, I’m in love with this mix, and I hope you like it too. If the Bar-Kays alone don’t make you feel like summertime, then your funky might be broken. Enjoy!! And if you need more music…
Here are all of my previous music mixes!

I guess it’s a little silly to make a weekend to-do list on a Saturday afternoon, but I’m feeling a bit panicked at the moment about not getting done everything that needs to get done. We have guests coming to stay at our house for a long visit, and I want to make sure everything is comfortable for them. Hail the productivity a good to-do list can inspire!

Do this stuff before tomorrow afternoon:
Laundry, including hand-washables
Clean bathrooms
Vacuum
Fresh linens in guest bedroom
✚ Set up closet in guest bedroom; empty drawers/install hanging rack
Clean exterior dryer lint trap
✚ Move stuff in the basement so the plumber doesn’t hate us
Bring excess recyclables to Mommy’s house
Make list of local restaurants/shops for guests
WEED FRONT GARDEN, trim plants
Finish installing butcherblock in kitchen
Oil treatments for butcherblock x3
Make iced coffee

I’m cutting myself off there. I can think of a dozen other things I wish I could get done this weekend, but this is what absolutely HAS to happen.

p.s. GOOD NEWS: We finally got a quote from plumber #3 for removing and re-piping/moving our kitchen radiators at the house. Now we just have to schedule him in here for a day, and then I can FINALLY finish tiling the last two kitchen walls…and we can rip up the carpenter-ant-ravaged subfloor and see what’s going on underneath. I am very anxious to get back to work on the kitchen, so YAYYYY.