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doorsixteen_light_bathroom

Something happened with the light this weekend. Despite the three feet of snow still piled up along the side streets in the City of Newburgh, it suddenly feels like spring is coming. The weather was beautiful yesterday, and the daylight pouring into the second floor of our house made want to do nothing but wander from room to room.

I don’t really take many pictures of the house anymore unless I’m working on a specific project, but after eight years, those projects are fewer and farther between—especially since the remaining ones are expensive and daunting, but not necessarily interesting to look at (like replacing our exterior window casings or buying a new boiler…snore + $$$ = no fun). I still love my house, though, and it still makes me happy to share it. So maybe it’s OK to just take some pictures without them being about a renovation project!

Here’s a walk through the oft-neglected second floor of the house, taken while admiring the almost-spring light.

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My fiddle-leaf fig tree is still alive! Miracles. The print is from Fieldguided—I bought it ages ago but just got around to framing it last month.

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Ah, it’s the rarely-seen east wall of the bedroom! I’m still unsure about the Heywood-Wakefield dresser. HAH. I’ve been thinking about either painting it (don’t bother with the hate mail, H-W protectionists, I already know) or getting rid of it since pretty much the day I bought it, but it’s kind of grown on me? I don’t know. It’s not hurting anyone, so it can stay for now. I promise not to paint it. Really. It is an amazingly well-built piece of furniture, I’ll say that much.

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I love you, Tom Dixon Offcut Bench. This is one of the best things I’ve ever bought. It really needs to be seen in person to be appreciated—the fluorescent orange is nearly blinding. I got a good deal on it because it was a floor model and it’s a little banged-up.

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The guest bedroom gets such nice light. It’s in the middle of the house, directly above the dining room. It’s a little shadowy, but the sun that comes in the huge window is beautifully filtered. It’s such a nice place to be. I wish we had more guests. (Sadface.)

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Frames. Everywhere. Always. I’ve been making a big effort lately to get artwork I’ve collected over the years out of storage and into frames, and, hopefully, onto the wall. It never ends! One of these days I need to sit down and make a master list of frame sizes, what I want matted, and what I can frame myself versus having to send to a shop. It’s overwhelming.

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And finally, the studio. I never get tired of this white floor—it’s the best room. It looks bright and clean even at midnight, and even when there are guitars and amps and cables all over the place. Yes, that section of molding is still missing. And yes, that’s OK—it’s good enough.

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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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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

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.

I finally took some photos of the new apartment that aren’t iPhone snapshots! We rented this place three months ago, and since then I’ve really been struggling to make it feel right and OK. Even though the building the apartment is more than 120 years old, the interior was completely gutted a year ago. It’s just such a sharp contrast to our fixer-upper Victorian house (not to mention just about every apartment I’ve rented previously), and it feels very hotel-like to me. I’ve tried to compensate by treating it like a dorm room!

I do like how the bedroom is looking, and really, even just having a separate bedroom is a wonderful improvement over our old studio. Evan and I often operate on very different schedules, so there’s no telling how many humans (or dogs) will be in the apartment or the house on a given day or night. Having a distinct area for sleeping makes everything feel a bit more normal for everyone.

Sorry all of these photos look kind of the same! The bedroom is really only about 10′x10′, which is pretty tiny. It’s hard to stand far enough away to really get good shots, but I tried my best.

The “reversed-socks” table is pretty cute, right? It’s from West Elm, but I think it’s discontinued because it was a floor sample clearance item. That awesome lamp is by Brendan Ravenhill, and the cloud pillow came from La Casita. The cross blanket, of course, is by Pia Wallén. Daniel and Valeria at Hindsvik made the big ampersand. Oh! And the bed itself is a discontinued model from IKEA.

I’m in love with that acid green-footed candlestick. I rarely go into Bo Concept, but I spied this guy through the window recently and ran in for a better look. It’s part of a whole collection. Don’t they look great all in a row? And yeah, I did try to spruce up the ugly built-in heating/air-conditioning unit with some neon washi tape. I don’t know if it’s helping, but it was a fun way to spend 30 seconds! That great print was made by my friend Lisa Congdon. I was with Lisa and Victoria when I bought that little bowl at Marimekko (the new flagship store in NYC is wonderful!). I keep my jewelry in it at night.

I keep meaning to blog about that “alarm clock.” It’s actually just a block of wood with no electronic parts! It was designed by Jonas Damon for Areaware (it comes in a bunch of colors now, too—when I bought mine this was the only option), and it’s really just an iPhone stand. You can run a cord through the back so you can charge your phone while using it like a flip clock! They have an app that you can download and everything. Very cool, especially for people like me who use already use their iPhones as alarm clocks.

I’m really, really happy with this shelving. We only keep a handful of books at the apartment at any given time (the big “library” lives at the house), but I was getting tired of having little stacks of books and DVDs gathering dust on the floor. The shelves are comprised of two sets of steel EXBY OXIE brackets from IKEA ($20 for two) and six EKBY TRYGGVE pine shelves ($3 each). Grand total? $58 for a pretty substantial amount of shelving that looks good and doesn’t take up most space. The brackets are so great. I’m sure IKEA will discontinue them soon since they’re one of those “sleeper” items that doesn’t get much notice, so I might have to stock up on a few more sets just in case.

And yes, the Morrissey poster! I bought it exactly 20 years ago at Rhino Records in New Paltz. It’s been hanging on my wall in the vicinity of my bed ever since. Much like the Smiths poster on the dining room mantel at the house, it’s a constant. I loved these things when I was 16 years old, and I love them now at 36. I think teenagers have an inherently good sense of what makes you feel good in your own space, and I’ve tried not to lose that as I’ve gotten older. Too often grown-ups get sucked into the idea that their homes need to look “adult” or sophisticated or whatever. Not me! I say bring on the giant Morrissey heads, the over-sized ampersands, and the stuffed cloud pillows.

Yes, I redesigned! It’s been more than a year since the last D16 makeover, which much longer than I like to leave things alone. I’m a bad client, though—I kind of want everything to stay the same at the same as I want it to change. Kind of like how I feel about my house, my clothes, my food…

I’m sure there are going to be some bugs (I’m way less fastidious about cross-browser happiness when it comes to my own stuff than I am with other people’s sites), so if you happen to discover anything weird, please do let me know what operating system and browser/version you’re using so I can address the problem! Oh, and there’s a new FAQ page. The link page is taking a nap right now, but it’ll be back soon enough.

On to more important things…

IT’S THE BLANKET!!! IN MY HOUSE AND ON MY BED!!! YAYYYYYY!!!!!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you know I am completely obsessed with Pia Wallén’s Crux blanket. I dream about it. I refer to it for proportional guidance when painting medicine cabinets and cord cozies. Basically, I talk about the Crux blanket incessantly to anyone who will listen.

About six months ago, I found out that the original wool version of the Crux blanket is no longer being produced—once the current stock is gone, it’s gone. Despite the fact that the wool blanket is prohibitively expensive (the price being the sole reason I haven’t upholstered my entire house with them), I did get a little mopey…until I learned that it had been replaced by a far more affordable (but still spendy, let’s be real here) cotton flannel version.

Blah, blah, blah, months of waiting and pondering and bribing of toothy Chihuahuas…and then I thought the blanket sure would be a nice birthday present from Evan (he agreed)…followed by more months of me agonizing over committing to the actual purchase. A couple of weeks ago, though, I finally went ahead and ordered my very own Crux blanket from the superfabulous Juli and John at Mjölk in Toronto. Their service could not have been faster or kinder, and they even tweeted a photo of my blanket being packed for shipping!

And yes, I do realize I’m talking about a blanket here. Humor me, OK? It’s just sooooo soft and thick and luxe and perfect…and it’s reversible, so it’s really like two blankets in one. And did I mention it’s soft? As much as I would have loved to have put it on the living room sofa and made it available for snuggling at all times, I am all too aware of Fritz’s reputation when it comes to blankets, so the bedroom it is. Totally fine with me.

!!!!BLANKET!!!! !!!!BLOG!!!!

I’ve had a Tord Boontje Garland light (this is the black chrome finish) for several years, but for the most part it’s just been sitting in a tangled clump in a box since we moved into the house. The standard way to hang it is on a bare bulb suspended by a cord, but with our high ceilings, the proportions wind up looking really skimpy and just too dangly.

After spending a solid hour detangling the thing last night, I decided to try wrapping it directly around the bulb on a flush-mount fixture in the bedroom. This is the white porcelain Benedict light from Schoolhouse Electric. The glass socket is really beautiful, so I wrapped the Garland just low enough that it’s still visible.

I’m really happy with the result, and I can’t wait for it to get dark enough to check out the shadows it casts on the ceiling! I used an Edison Double Loop bulb for added effect (the light cast by Edison bulbs is very warm, dim and soft, and the bulbs themselves are beautiful—they’re perfect for mood-lighting in fixtures that have visible bulbs). The Garland itself is quite affordable, and I think it’s worth upgrading the light source to something more elegant than the standard plastic cord set that comes with it—in fact, you can even order the Garlands by themselves ($76 with cord/$64 without); you’re not obligated to order the cord set. If you want the effect of a hanging pendant, the Lewis fixture from Schoolhouse Electric (with a cloth cord!) would look fantastic.

By the way, “arranging” a Garland light so that it looks like the product photos is a total nightmare. It takes FOR-EV-ERRR. This post (which I found in a fit of frustrated Googling) sums up the experience quite accurately!

EDIT: Oooooh, nighttime shots! I’m in love. The shadow effect is so dramatic with the Garland this close to the ceiling! The moth-to-flame feeling of this light is perfect for summer nights, isn’t it?