Monday, June 11, 2012

Our new (empty) apartment!

This time around, I made sure to obsessively document the “before” state of our new space. I even made a floor plan... at work (the battle of competing interests is truly a fierce one). So here are the “before” photos, working from the front door back to the patio (!!!! Yes, we have outdoor space! *dances around like a giddy freakshow*).




THE ONLY CLOSET (wah-wah):




So there you have it. The bones are really pretty fucking awesome (11’ ceilings, wood floors, clawfoot tub, ginormous windows, aforementioned dreamy outdoor space), but there are definitely some interesting design challenges to tackle.

I really should post some “in progress” shots of how the place looks at this very moment, because the space actually looks pretty perfect when there’s NOTHING IN IT, but once you try to cram all our crap in there, and end up with a bunch of cardboard boxes and errant pieces of furniture strewn about all haphazard and shit, you begin to realize that the almost complete and utter lack of ANY built-in storage whatsoever is a bit of a problem (and don’t try to say “but what about those horrible, looming wardrobe thingies?” - they are going away immediately. Let’s be real here.)

And while the ceilings are soaring and amazing, and we are so lucky to have two small rooms (i.e., a one bedroom) rather than one big one (i.e., a studio), we are essentially working with two 11’ cubes, which presents its own set of challenges (particularly with the railroad layout we’ve got going; you are either sleeping right up against the street and walk immediately into the bedroom through the front door, or you have to walk through the bedroom to get from the living room to the kitchen/bathroom/anything else).


We’ve got some ideas brewing, so I hope to post some potential furniture layout sketches, as well as some incriminating “here’s what we’re working with” in-progress shots to give y’all a little context. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

She's baaaack...

Guys! Big news! I’ve been embarrassingly quiet for almost a year (eek!) but that’s because SO many changes have been happening! In the last 8 months, I’ve:
  • been 3/4 of the way around the US on a month-long road trip with one of my best friends (chronicled in detail here)
  • moved across the country to San Francisco
  • learned how to ride a bike (!)
  • got a new job in a totally new industry
  • and moved in with my boyfriend (TWICE!)

WHEW! Needless to say, I’ve got a LOT to catch you guys up on.

The road trip was insanely amazing and challenging and invigorating and exhausting all at once, and I am SO happy we got to do it.

Honestly, I don’t really know if anything is more valuable in life than getting to explore the world around you - it truly changes your perspective on things, and instantly gives you something to be grateful for, and, oh god... I am a total cliche, aren’t I?? Whatever, it was epic, and I’d highly recommend the experience to anyone who needs a dose of reality and to learn a little bit about themselves and the world around them.

I’m slowly and steadily falling into a rhythm in my new city of San Francisco - it’s definitely been a challenging transition at times, but the city is pretty damn beautiful and the fact that it’s just teeming with a very familiar breed of smart, liberal, compost-loving, home-brewing, fixie-riding hipsters has made me feel not so very far from Brooklyn after all.

It’s also been a great comfort to finally be back in the same city as my sweet BF Danny (yep, the same one I wrote about four years ago during my semester abroad in Italy - he’s a keeper, what can I say). I did everything you’re not supposed to do: got back together with an ex (we had taken a year off), moved across the country to a new city to be with him, and immediately moved into his SHARED living situation with three other roommates. But amazingly, we’ve come out alive, and after 6 months in that house (!!), we’ve finally gotten ourselves a sweet little 1-bedroom love nest in the adorable Hayes Valley neighborhood in the heart of SF.

We’ve been at our new place for over a month now, and the fact that we still have at least 10 not-yet-unpacked boxes scattered around the apartment, no tables to speak of, and still haven’t quite figured out how to get our internet to work properly is evidence that things are going to be a bit different this time around - turns out working full-time has a way of hindering one’s ability to decorate full-time as well. I want to do both, and it is proving to be impossible. Drat. Where is my Harry Potter time-turner necklace thingie?!?

If I were doing anything else as my main job, I might just say “fuck it, I clearly want to be repurposing flea market furniture, re-arranging rooms, and coming up with wacky color combinations all day long,” and focus on finding a way to make that my career. But my work as a Code for America fellow is ALSO incredibly fulfilling, and at times I actually find myself instead saying “why the hell are you wasting so much time hunting for furniture on Craigslist and running back and forth from the hardware store 3 times per weekend when you have this amazing, limited-time opportunity to fully immerse yourself in this exciting and meaningful new field?”

My job puts me at the intersection of design, technology, and civic innovation, three spaces that I find endlessly interesting. Most of my colleagues are spending every minute of their free time attending tech meetups and conferences, learning new skills, and hacking on tech and design projects over the weekend, and as much as I want to (and feel that I should) do the same, I feel this parallel compulsion to spend every moment of my free time tearing through shelter blogs and scheming my next trip to the local salvage yard.

I do not know how or when this dichotomy will be resolved. For now, I will continue to reimagine government by day, reimagine interiors by night, and will do my darndest to better document the latter on this here blog o’ mine. I”m pretty sure I’ve made that last promise multiple times over the years, so I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me - hell, I only half-believe myself - but I figure saying it out loud (on-screen?) is at least a step in the right direction...?

Oh, and PS - somebody help me come up with a new blog name! Surely I can’t continue to write about living in San Francisco with the title “Another Brooklyn Blog”.... can I? Thoughts welcome.


Friday, August 12, 2011

before & after: flat file

So all of the fun questions I've gotten in the comments of my studio's Apartment Therapy debut have inspired me to ACTUALLY sit down and post some Before & Afters and How-Tos for some of my favorite elements in my place, since Mom and I really managed to achieve a lot on a pretty teeny budget by getting creative with materials, tweaking cheapie Ikea purchases and vintage finds, and just generally getting our hands dirty.

So to start, perhaps my greatest triumph: THE FLAT FILE!

You may remember it from my first post about it a BAJILLION years ago when I first found it abandoned on the curb, but just to refresh your memory, this is what the sucker looked like when I first laid eyes on it:

TONS of potential, don't get me wrong... but definitely a little shabby.  I knew I needed to paint it, but HOW? Spray-paint seemed the most logical, but where would I find a large enough workspace? If I painted it with a brush to avoid the whole potential-asphyxiation dilemma, what kind of paint would I use so there wouldn't be distracting brush strokes everywhere? Where would I leave it to dry between coats? These questions would probably have seemed less daunting if I wasn't already in the middle of painting all of my kitchen cabinets, installing carpet myself in the closet and office area, and just generally feeling DIY-overload from moving into my new place.

So I turned to Craigslist.

 The "Creative Gigs" section on Craigslist is an overwhelmed DIY-er's best friend. I figured since I spent ZERO dollars on the piece itself, I was willing to throw down a little bit of cash to make sure the painting was done right.

I got a lot of responses from shady-sounding auto body shops in the outer-reaches of NYC (think Staten Island, Queens, N. Bronx, etc.), but the very first response I got turned out to be the right one: a sweet gal in Clinton Hill (the next neighborhood over from me) who was a painting major at Pratt, and had a studio in her apartment, was happy to do the job for $100. She told me the best kind of paint to buy (self-leveling SIGN paint, which I would have NEVER come up with on my own), and after a *hilarious* Lucy-and-Ethel-style scene of me and her lugging that enormous thing up a ridiculously narrow, CURVED flight of stairs (she forgot to mention she was in a second-story walk-up), it was in her studio, ready for its makeover.

Two days later I picked it up and brought it back to my apartment (with the indispensible help of a burly man-friend whom I bought lunch afterwards), and it was GORGEOUS!

... but still not finished (I am a perfectionist; so sue me).

I still wanted to put it on casters so that I could move it around, and to keep it from looking too heavy. Utilizing a highly-scientific ratio of J-B Weld metal glue, power tools, and an odd number of nuts and bolts to secure the suckers to the super-thin sheet metal, we managed to get the casters securely (well, securely ENOUGH) in place.

We totally failed to document the process adequately, mainly because we were too focused on keeping all of our fingers, toes and eyeballs intact, but if you have any specific questions about exactly how we did it, feel free to leave questions in the comments.

I also had a piece of glass cut to fit the top of it, since the sign paint scratches easily, so for about $150 total, I now have a ridiculously gorgeous, functional, conversation-starting piece that I will keep forever. Woo hoo!!!

Ok, we DID lose a drawer-handle along the way. One day I will replace all of them with less-cheap versions. Emphasis on ONE DAY.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Apartment Therapy shout out!

So I may have gotten snubbed during the Small Cool contest, but Apartment Therapy DID give me a House Call feature on Friday - woot woot!

They didn't even notify me, either - I found out when my old friend from college randomly texted me the next day saying, "Alex Pandel! Is it possible that I am reading about your place on Apartment Therapy? It looks amazing and there are 46 comments with questions for you!" WTF!?! And sure enough, there it was!

Definitely feeling some totally superficial, Sally-Field-style validation right now... "They like me! They really LIKE ME!" Haha. But anyway, check out AT's post here!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

read this every day.

Just found this great quote today on one of my favorite blogs, Elements of Style. So poignant.

Reminds me of that amazing essay written for the Chicago Tribune by Mary Schmich in 1997, "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young," which she said would be the commencement speech she would give were she ever asked to give one. Most memorably released as a music single by Baz Luhrmann:

Helps put your head back on straight when you start fretting about small, insignificant things, eh?

Oh, and Happy Easter! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bum, bum BUM..... !

MY apartment!!! In photos!! FINALLY!!

So I am utterly frustrated, I submitted my entry last Thursday for the Small Cool Contest that I mentioned in my last post and here I am, a week later, and they STILL haven't posted it! Grrrr...

But I did stage a lovely photo shoot of my apartment, so I figure, might as well post them here, since lord knows I've kept you guys waiting long enough to see the (more or less) finished product! So here goes - the official Alex Pandel house tour! Come on in...


The entryway landing strip - a repainted and moderately-hacked IKEA Lack

The entryway - the farther door on the right leads to the bathroom, the closer one to the walk-in closet


Love this cute little table I scored antiquing upstate... and my medicine cabinet that holds more than you could even imagine!





View from the bed

View from the office/entryway


Whew!! Hope y'all like!