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!

Friday, April 8, 2011

AT's Small Cool 2011!

I have finally found an excuse to get my place totally finished and photographed - Apartment Therapy's annual "Small Cool" contest! HALLE-freakin-LUJAH, it's about time, eh?? 

So I've been keeping myself busy the last few days cleaning like a madwoman, feverishly hanging up and arranging last little photos/tchotchkes, and meticulously crafting this kickass (if I do say so myself) floor plan, which is a required part of the entry. 

I'm shooting to have my entry up by the end of the weekend, so I will definitely link my entry here so y'all can take a peek (and vote for my "small, cool" home! It is a contest, after all....), in addition to uploading some additional photos that may not make the cut for the 5 photos permitted in the entry. So keep your eyes peeled! 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

a lesson in rustic-modern

Alright kids. I have been procrastinating on my first post back, and while I still have not done my own apartment justice in the photographic documentation department, I did manage to do a pretty thorough job capturing the country house of one of my interior design idols (and pseudo-uncle), Mr. John Benjamin Hickey. I don't know how this was my first jaunt up to see the place since he upgraded from a teeny little cottage to this multi-bedroom (I believe there were four?) stunner in Lakeville, Connecticut, but now that I know what he's been hiding up there I will be sure to take any and every invitation I can get from now on. 

Mom and I went up in the fall to hit all the fabulous antique stores in the area, and while we got a few major scores, you will just have to wait to see 'em til I get some decent photos. For now, some drool-worthy images of Hickey's country hideaway are all I've got for ya... but something tells me they will do just fine :)

Late afternoon arrival...
Open, airy living room.  Love the wacky orange - Hickey is a master at picking quirky accent colors and making them fabulous

The work-in-progress sun room off the living room
Seriously. This staircase. Gimme!

Lofty kitchen,  aerial view
The wood in this house is just amazing. 
Guest room number one (a.k.a. my room)
It was impossible to go to sleep in this room, I was too busy trying to plot how to steal this chair and industrial shelving. Seriously. To DIE for.
Downstairs bathroom - amazing how he manages to make butter-yellow appliances and laminate countertops look deliberate... and even a little sexy. 
Guest bedroom number two (a.k.a. Mom's bedroom)
Love this little library nook
Master bedroom: bliss.
The view. I mean, seriously??
Hello, woodland backyard...
Mom and Lulu frolicking near Hickey's backyard pond. Tough life, eh?

Oh man. A girl can dream, huh? What a gorgeous escape. Gives me something to aspire to someday... Hope you all enjoyed the eye candy and I promise I'll get you something related to my little abode ASAP! :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Oh, hey, it's been a while...

Guys. I have totally failed on this whole blogging front. My deepest apologies to my dedicated readers... all three of you. However, it is a new year and I figure there's no better time to pull my shit together and get back on the proverbial horse, so here goes.

A quick recap on what's been going down: I've been to India and back, New York has gone from swelteringly hot to carpeted in 16 inches of snow (and the requisite brown slush), and my apartment is pretty much done, and as a result several friends have enlisted my help in decorating their OWN apartments! WAHOO!

I have also been exploring a little more deeply the local, sustainable food movement, given the fact that I have the lovely Fort Greene Farmers' Market right around the corner from me every Saturday, and have started trading some of my cooking for various services from friends, the most beneficial of which being tech tutoring from my two web-gurus, Adam and Eli.

So in the coming weeks, I intend to catch you guys up with some photos from India, some updates from my home renovation, some brainstorming for my friends' decor projects, and some tasty new recipes. So stay tuned! :)