Tuesday, September 14, 2010

dear Goodwill: I love you.

Oh my goodness! Mom came home today from a trip up to the country for some relaxation (and inevitable antiquing), and came back with some MAJOR scores, the clear winner of which being this AMAZING, retro office chair tht she found for 16 freaking dollars at the Westport, CT Goodwill. The thing is effing gorgeous, with black leather upholstery, heavy, artfully-aged iron hardware, and a sexy little studded detail around the seat and back. I am IN LOVE with this chair.

The only problem is that it's missing a wheel from one of it's original casters, meaning it is not really sit-in-able yet! Sad face. I assumed it would be a no-brainer to replace, but I've been trying to find a matching caster to replace it (or even just a set of 4 casters of the right size that at least vaguely fit in with the vintage aesthetic), and apparently the exact style and size I have is effing impossible to find!! Grrrr!! Has anyone out there had any luck replacing casters on vintage furniture before? Any and all advice would be much appreciated! I'll keep you posted on the progress, but in the meantime, put those thinking caps on!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

INDIA, here I come!

Ok kids, so as some of you know, my favorite yoga teacher on the PLANET, Ashley Albrand (who happens to be based back in Los Angeles - tragedy!), is leading a retreat to Goa, India this October, and ever since she announced the trip at her class back in April, I secretly vowed that I would go if I wasn't tied down to a 9-5 office-y job. And here I am, almost six months later, happily and lucratively working freelance, and I finally decided to take the plunge. I booked my plane ticket yesterday, and that's that. India, here I come!

So who has been to India before?? Is there anything that I must read/see/learn before I go?? I think my plan is to fly directly into Goa, do the week-long retreat at the gorgeous Ashiyana retreat center, and then spend the next week traveling further south with Ashley and some of her buds, and it sounds like our itinerary includes a stop in Mysore, and some exploration through the jungles of Kerala! If anyone has any advice about those regions or about my trip in general, I'd love to hear it! I kind of can't believe I'm actually doing it!! I will keep you posted as my preparations progress, and keep an eye out for some ridiculously amazing photos when I get back!

Friday, August 20, 2010

handywoman Alex

Whee, I feel so handy! I just installed the carpet in my closet and desk area... all by myself! Sounds daunting, but it sort of felt like one of my Design Fundamentals assignments back in college, which involved many hours hunched over a cutting board, hacking away at the material at hand with my utility knife, but in this case, the material at hand was FLOR carpet tiles, and the end result was not a meaningless  color wheel project, but a lovely closet and office floor! Yay.

We liked the idea of using a modular system instead of having permanent carpet custom-installed, since we wanted to use a light-ish color, but wanted to avoid the common habit with light carpets of living in constant fear of that errant mud-smudge or red-wine-spill (if you think I am not going to be drinking red wine in my closet, you clearly have never seen my closet. Just sayin'...). So the FLOR system was perfect, because if you ever get a stain on it, you can just pop out the one offending tile and replace it with a shiny new one! Fabulous. I think it turned out pretty well, if I do say so mahself.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

bathroom of glory

Oh goodness. Sorry for being so deeply MIA, things have just been crazy on the (multiple-)home front, what with shuffling back and forth between mom's cozy nest, my soon-to-be-amazing-but-not-quite-there-yet apartment, and my old boss's fabulous SoHo loft where I am intermittently house-sitting her adorable kitties... (my life is really hard, I know).

However, through all the madness, there have been some pretty awesome developments, mainly the completion of my too-amazing-for-words bathroom renovation, which I couldn't be happier with. The tile all looks gorgeous, and the new fixtures really spruced up the shower and sink. But my favorite is my Ikea-hack mirror/medicine cabinet combo - instead of going the usual medicine-cabinet-over-the-sink route, we got a little creative and got the white Ribba picture ledge from Ikea and had it cut to fit the space exactly, and then had a mirror cut at my little local glass shop to fit as well, and mounted both flush to the wall; I can't wait to get a ton of eclectic, vintage-y glass containers to make artful arrangements out of all my products!

Since the mirror/shelf situation affords pretty minimal storage, we also got the tall, skinny Godmorgon medicine cabinet in glossy white to hide away all the rest of my less-than glamorous products and mounted it less obtrusively on the side wall near the toilet. I still need to figure out how to resurface and/or regalze the tub, which is still a little janky, and I need to find a shower curtain (I'm thinking a rustic natural/"greige" linen), but overall it's almost there! Wheee!

Monday, July 19, 2010

almost there..!

Remember this??
Ahh sorry to be so MIA lately! Things have been a little crazy over here, but some serious progress has been made in the past few days so I just wanted to post a little update!

There are still some finishing touches to be made on the bathroom and main living space, but the closet and kitchen are almost done and are so purty!

For the kitchen, we painted the cheesy wood-paneled cabinets, and replaced the cheap-o (and moldy!! ewww) backsplash with white subway tile and dark grey grout, and replaced the old white appliances with new stainless ones (we still haven't received the fridge yet, but it's on the way). We painted the walls with the same superpale grey that I'm using for most of the apartment, and so far it's looking pretty great! Whee!

As for the walk-in closet, I never even posted a before picture because it was basically just a white box with grungy concrete floors, as you can see to the left.

To update it, we installed a floating shelving system and a pretty little chandelier for some atmosphere, and I couldn't resist painting the walls a fun color, since everything else in the whole apartment is going to be so understated and neutral. We're going to put down some neutral cream carpets in all of the closets, so once that gets added, all the place will need is all my CRAP! And I'm thinking of throwing a cute little chair or stool in the back left corner... I'll keep you posted. Very exciting!

I believe all the rest of the structural work is going to be done this week, and then next weekend I am going to paint the main room, and then it'll be move in time! FINALLY!! Woo hoooo!

Monday, June 21, 2010

summertime, and the livin' is easy

Oh goodie, it's my favorite time of year! Although it's been hot as balls for weeks already, today marks the "official" first day of summer, and, more importantly, the arrival of the annual New York Magazine Summer Guide! NYMag always has a way of reminding me of all the reasons why I put up with the broiling heat of summer and bitter cold of winter just to live in this city, and the summer guide is a particularly compelling example.

I feel like nowhere else do people appreciate warm weather more than in New York, as evidenced by the near-unlimited daily offerings of summer-only outdoor events and concerts. So many, in fact, that The Onion spoofed the whole phenomenon itself, with an article entitled "Nation's Boyfriends Dreading 'Free Event In The Park' Season." Sure, they're talking about the country in general, but I'm convinced that New York is the most extreme example by far (so what if I'm biased?). Luckily, I have no boyfriend to drag along with me, so my single girlfriends and I are free to joyously partake in any and all cheesy summer events. Some highlights:

  • Tuesdays through July, 10-11am: free Pilates Fusion classes
  • Tuesdays through August, dusk til 9:30pm: stargazing with the Amateur Astronomers Association
  • Thursday, August 12, 6pm: Salsa on the Highline - live music and free salsa lesson

Thursday nights at Brooklyn Bridge Park through September 2. Seat-snagging and live DJ at 6pm; films begin at sundown. Highlights:
  • July 8: Annie Hall by Woody Allen
  • July 29: Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock

Prospect Park Bandshell, through August 8. Highlights:
Live outdoor concert series at PS 1; Saturdays through September 4. Highlights:
  • July 17: Ratatat DJ-ing live
  • July 29: Animal Collective DJ-ing live

Annual pig-roast and dance party at the avant-garde Brooklyn space 3rd Ward; July 18, 2-9pm

Outdoor film screenings in Bryant Park; Monday nights through August 23rd. Park opens at 5pm for seat-snagging and picnicking; films begin at sundown. Highlights:
  • July 26: Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • August 2: Rosemary's Baby by Roman Polanski
Also in Bryant Park: free yoga classes, Tuesdays 10-11am, and Thursdays 6-7pm, through September 30th

Thursday, June 10, 2010

prepping the kitchen cabinets

disassembling and sanding...


...and drying! Wheee! Keep you posted on the end result....!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

burgers and beer at Bark

Yummmm! So I've been curious about this new gourmet hot dog joint Bark, down the street from my mom's place, ever since she snail-mailed me the menu when it first opened as graphic design inspiration. I got my first hot dog there a few weeks ago, but what she continued to rave about was actually their hamburger, which was a relatively new addition to their ever-expanding menu (which now includes beer, wine and breakfast!).

So finally, after a busy morning of Home Depot-ing, I was finally hungry enough for a Bark burger - which involves a blend of pork jowl, beef short rip and top round, all from almost neurotically sustainable, local sources, topped off with house-made pickles, garlic mayo and Grafton cheddar. Dee-freakin-licious.

And just to round out the decadence, we got an order of fries AND onion rings, the latter of which were some of the best I've ever had - super crispy with just the right amount of batter. They still have a little tweaking to do on the fries, which were a tad soft for my taste, but really, even a mediocre deep-fried potato is pretty damn tasty with some organic ketchup and extra salt.

Once we rolled ourselves out of there, we got a little more work done on the apartment, and after we called it a day, I went to go meet the "Team Monday" crew for drinks at Brooklyn Inn in Boerum Hill, and after raving about my glorious lunch, the tipsy group decided they needed to get Bark burgers ASAP! So for the second time in one day, I made my way back to Bark.

This time we took advantage of their new booze options and got one of their cute logo-emblazoned "growlers" of Six Point Ale, and the rest of the gang got dogs, burgers, and an order of cheese fries (far superior to the naked version - lesson learned).

After we successfully drained our growler and licked our cute compostable burger-and-fry containers clean, it was official - Bark is my new neighborhood standby, for any time of day. Now all I need is to get my hands on some of those biscuits at breakfast and I'll be a true connoisseur!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It's all happening...

Ahhhhh! It's official! I did the final walk-through with my mom's broker and the building's broker today to check for any unexpected, er, presents left from the previous tenants (water damage, giant holes in the walls, etc), and with nothing major to be found, the place is now officially ours!! Woo hooooo!!

I thought I'd post a few more descriptive "before" photos, since you still haven't seen the bathroom, and it's nice to see the place without another person's furniture in it, clogging up the imagination and all...

For the bathroom, we're ripping out all the grubby tile and doing the floors in this great Cararra marble hexagon tile that we found for supercheap, and then doing simple white subway tile for the walls. Clearly we need a new light fixture, and a new medicine cabinet situation, so I'll keep you posted on developments there as well.

For the kitchen we're going to replace all the outdated appliances with newer, stainless versions, tile the backsplash (probably with some more white subway tile), and we've set out to tackle the daunting project of painting all the cheesy cabinetry bright white (for the uppers, to give them the illusion of lightness) and dark charcoal (for the lowers, to visually anchor the counters to the floor). 

Some inspiration:

I'll keep you posted on the progress... It's finally happening! Woo hoo!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

my first curbside freebie!

Ok, so let me start by explaining that I am inexplicably attracted to impractical, antiquated storage items (library card catalogs, architecture flat files, etc.), but they are always so prohibitively expensive given how essentially useless they are, so I've never bitten the bullet and invested in one. But lo and behold, on my afternoon walk with Lulu today, I stepped out of my mom's building and there on the curb, literally two feet from the front door, was a giant, steel flat file, all sad and abandoned and practically begging for a home.

So, it's about 3x4 feet, about a foot and a half high, and in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint. I was already imagining it as my coffee table, hiding away all of my artwork in its large flat drawers, until my dreams were almost crushed (literally) by the sheer weight of the thing - it must weigh a BILLION pounds!

I was trying to think of somewhere that I could rent or borrow a dolly to cart it down into the basement until I get keys to my new place, when all of the sudden some strapping young gentlemen came strolling by ... and I decided to play the damsel in distress card. Yep, it's true, the feminist gods may come strike me down, but I let some big, strong, good samaritans help me wrastle the thing down the stairs (they had brains, too - taking out the drawers made the job a thousand times easier. DUH!) They wouldn't even let me throw them any cash or buy them a slice of pizza. Ladies, don't believe what you hear - chivalry is not dead...

Now that I've got it in my possession, I'm thinking of putting it on casters to lighten it up a little and make it a little more mobile, but I'm still not sure what color to paint it! Glossy white? Metallic silver? Chalkboard paint?? I have no idea! Thoughts are very welcome. Here's a little inspiration:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

rad housewares in red hook

So today was an alternate-side parking day, so Mom and I took advantage of the whole being-in-the-car thing and took a jaunt out to Red Hook to wander wide-eyed through a few of the big-box home stores, namely Ikea and Lowe's.

And let me start by saying, I know I snobbishly swore off Ikea for my new place in an effort to move away from the temporary, generic feeling of college decor, but I take it allll back - Ikea is a GOLD MINE if you just look past those few painfully ubiquitous pieces (please, for the love of god, no more locker furniture, "birch veneer", or Ektorp!!). They have so much cool new stuff that feels really understated and stylish: their Docksta table is a pretty decent knockoff of the $2000+ Saarinen tulip table, AND since it's such a cheapie, I can afford to just use the base and replace the top with pretty much anything I want (marble slab anyone?) to fit my space, since the basic Docksta top is a little too big for my breakfast nook.

I LOVE the Kulla lamp, with an opaque, glossy metal shade (I like white, but it also comes in black and red), which comes in a tabletop size and a full upright size.

I can't WAIT to raid the Whole Foods bulk bins and put everything in the cute little glass containers that come in the funky Forhoja. A coat of VOC-free paint would make the wooden frame even more unique.

And I couldn't help but love this hilariously random moose coat hook - perfect for my narrow entryway. A coat of spray paint in something other than "Ikea red" would make it feel a little more unique and less out of place in my apartment.

I unfortunately don't get to start actually buying stuff, because I just got the bad news that the previous tenants have changed their minds, and instead of cutting their lease short and moving out at the end of April, they're now staying through May, until the end of their lease. Boo. Oh well, that just means more time to get inspired!

We went to Lowe's more for some basic hardware stuff, but ended up looking around and finding some pretty cool stuff there too! I've been on the lookout for some sort of pretty little crystal chandelier for the closet, and while I'm hoping for a cheap and unique Craigslist find, I actually found a pretty nice option at Lowe's for a little over $100, which would be a decent back-up if my dream antique version doesn't reveal itself by the time I'm all moved in.

We're also thinking of doing a wall-mounted closet system for my walk-in rather than a bulky, prohibitively expensive custom built-in, and we actually found a couple of pretty classy versions here. The photos are not so appealing, but I promise they're nice in person.

Very exciting. Now I just need these damn tenants to get their asses OUT so I can get started already!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

burgers on a Brooklyn balcony

I'm baaackkk!! It is so good to be back in the city. I've been pretty swamped with design work so I haven't had the chance to do quite as much frolicking-gleefully-through-the-city as I would have liked, but I did finally get the chance to visit the apartment of our great friends, the culinary masterminds behind Cocktail Buzz, Paul and Steve. They've been in Prospect Heights for years and I always hear about their legendary balcony from Mom, and I finally got to see it in the flesh - and damn, it was gorgeous. Near-360ยบ views of Brooklyn and the Manhattan skyline, tons of space to lounge and sip cocktails - I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty damn jealous, considering my new place has not a scrap of outdoor space. A girl can dream...

But it's not just the outdoor space that's amazing - the interior of the apartment is pretty awesome as well. Being master mixologists, their bar is totally drool-worthy, stocked with crazy obscurities such as Creme de Violette (the fragrant elixir that colored my cocktail at Emeril's that lovely lavender shade), as well as an impressive number of homemade flavored gins and vodkas. Rhubarb bitters, anyone? How about some tarragon-infused vodka? So enviable.

I am also kind of obsessed with their creative storage solution for their borderline-excessive spice collection. So clever! And all inexpensive to assemble, nice and uniform, and quite cute. I totally want to steal the idea, but I'm a big fan of shaking my spices into soups and sauces with wild abandon, so the fact that those quaint little Ikea spice jars don't come with any sort of perforated cap is kind of a bummer, since I'm not a big measurer, and I tend to be a menace with shaker-less spice jars (just the other day I accidentally dumped my mom's entire shaker-less bottle of Penzey's basil into my bolognese... oops). Anyone know of somewhere to get some sort of shaker insert to fit those Ikea jars? Or know of any other cute, inexpensive spice jars that come with that fabled scrap of perforated plastic? Whoever finds a viable solution wins a spice jar full of my famous chai tea mix :)

In addition to the killer balcony, awe-inspiring bar, and crazy spice collection, they have this AMAZING neon cloud sign, which is just so fabulous. I want one!!

The boys fed us delicious burgers and classic margaritas, which we sipped on their glorious balcony, watching the sunset over our beautiful Brooklyn.