We are in the midst of pre-vacation madness (also stressing about airports being open, trains running, the state of the roads in Queens), but I managed to run outside and take some quick pictures of our lone Halloween decoration (a hastily carved pumpkin). We had three trick-or-treaters this year (Tigger, Pooh-bear and a Princess). Boo for living on a private road.
Oliver watched anxiously from the window. He is not a fan of the jack-o'lantern.
I spent my weekend battening down the hatches; raking up the last of the leaves, moving lawn furniture to its winter home, cutting back perennials, and generally saying goodbye to all things warm and green.
There is a storm coming, did you hear?
And, in the midst of doing battle with all the recycling that has piled up as we have been off Doing Other Things, I wondered about the storm brewing out in the Atlantic, and how small my own personal storms are in comparison. Perspective. It's a funny thing. As my mother would say, "This too shall pass." Because it will, you know?
Besides, I have an amazing trip to look forward to! Italy! in 4 days! (If JFK is not still underwater - yikes!)
Over the past several years, whenever I visited my brother in southern Connecticut, I'd coerce him to take the train into the city so I could go to my favorite store in the whole world - Uniqlo. We would spend hours in the bowels of the Soho store, combing the racks for deals (or, in his case, leaning against the front window, waiting for me to be done). I still wear a cashmere sweater I bought there a couple years ago at LEAST once a week in the winter.
Imagine my sheer delight when he emailed me today to say that they are now open ONLINE! (My husband just shook his head and smirked, "So now we have no money left, right?")
Take a look. It's pretty great stuff. And the Orla Kiely line? Swoon.
That Peter Pan collar...Stop. IT.
I may have already bought this hoodie. So cute and fall-ish!
This is the cashmere sweater I mentioned before (I have it in grey). Love, love, love this.
I'm obsessed with down. Especially now that the weather is turning cold.
Fair Isle anyone?
Who doesn't love a toggle-coat? In fact, how great would this be in red? With some camel accessories? For under $200? So great.
The Floors. They took a solid week. But so, so worth it. We found the tile for $1.79 a square foot at a discount store and snapped it up. It was what we wanted - faux-bois in a dark color, nice texture, and durable.
But, as we couldn't tile over the existing plywood (and be guaranteed a good seal), we put Durock down with lots and lots of mastic and screws.
It was not a tough job (those sheets are pretty large), and it looked much nicer and cleaner already. Plus, we had the added security of knowing the subfloor was one solid mass.
After 24 hours of drying time, everything not tied down got a coat of paint. 2 coats, actually.
Here it is, complete! Cutting in that back wall was a pain in the ass, but it looks really good. Very Tuscany-ish. In fact, whenever we found a spot where the skim-coat wasn't quite smooth, someone would shout out "STUCCO!"
And then...then we tiled. Or I should say my dad and Michael tiled. I
wasn't feeling well, so after a coat of paint on the cabinet doors, I
gathered Ollie and went home.
The trick, I am told, was getting the lines perfectly straight. The room is 24 feet long. What do you think? Straight enough?
The next day, feeling much improved, I got to participate in my favorite part of tiling: picking the spacers out. I love those damn things. It's really satisfying, because when your floor is clear, it looks somehow Real and Finished.
And they make cute abstract art.
We were a little short on tiles, so we had to make a run to the store...aaaand they were out of our tile. Of course. We bought a case of another color and called it good. Michael knew he was short the night before, and he planned it out so the space would be under the cabinets.
Chocolate ice cream? Baby poo? I think not! It is grout! Everyone's FAVORITE PART of a tile job.
Here's the thing. Grout is not super difficult, just time consuming. You have to make sure you get it right. Otherwise, you will be going over it again, and after spending so much intimate time with the floor on your hands and knees (ahem.), NOBODY wants to do that. So go over it on an angle once...
See where there is a gap? The grout caught on the edge of the tile in the direction you pushed the float.
Now bring the float back, and you have a lovely seam.
So do that for every freaking joint in your floor, and you end up with this. Perfect drying grout and nasty, hazy tiles. This haze will be the bane of your existence. You will wash the floor 3, 4, maybe 5 times.
You will steam-mop the floor 3 times. You will curse like a sailor.
Eventually, you get on your hands and knees again and buff the floor with an old towel until you think it is Good Enough because the Patriots are going to be on TV in a hour and you need to stop and get beer on the way home.
A note on the paint colors. I didn't write a post about the painting because it all happened so quickly, I didn't take any pictures. We went with Benjamin Moore...Colonial Red and Rich Cream. There is a a large brick hearth facing the kitchen, so I wanted to mirror that on the back wall of the dining room. This red was just right - brick-like without being obnoxiously red. The rich cream was a nice neutral with just the faintest hint of yellow. Perfect for creating an illusion of warmth up on cold winter mornings.
There will be a new Kitchen post tomorrow - we worked so hard this weekend, I didn't have time to edit photos! But it looks amazing; the floor is down, and what a difference some tile makes.
But for Monday morning, I thought I'd post some pictures I took this weekend while waiting for grout to set up. (Not as romantic as it might sound...) My mom's hydrangea shrub is changing color, but we had such a long summer here this year, some of the blossoms are still hanging on. It made for a beautiful palette.
A couple weeks ago, I was procrastinating some work and surfing through my local Craigslist when I happened upon IT. A hand-carved, deep-sided sleigh bed from the 18th century. This thing was perfect; solid wood, high headboard and footboard, and the sides...you had to climb into this thing. Not like the modern sleigh beds where the sides are cut down to show your (presumably) expensive duvet and throw blanket, no, no... this one was a floating ark of a bed, an antique oasis to snuggle up inside and sleep away a cold winter day.
And it was $200.
I emailed my husband, he agreed it was do-able, and then, ridiculously, INEXPLICABLY...I waited. That evening, when I got home, and looked again, it was gone.
The sleigh bed that got away haunts my dreams...so, as penance, I now check the List on a regular basis, and if I find something I like, something that is the right price? You can be sure I'm buying it.
Here are some recent finds (with a color scheme...funny, I didn't know I was into brown and orange).
These are so rad. I assume they are from a smoking lounge in an old hotel where people sat, drinking copious amounts of scotch and discussing F. Scott Fitzgerald. The wood could use some refinishing, maybe in a darker shade. And yes, the leather appears more orange than brown, but if you can embrace the for what they are, I think a few of these could be a great addition to a home library. You can always re-list the ones you don't want.
This is exactly the kind of piece you'd see Sarah Richardson snap up and refinish to be completely fabulous. The hardware is heinous, but easily replaceable. I'd do a pale green or blue with some sparkly glass knobs on the top and side drawers, and maybe some chrome pulls on the middle and bottom ones. If you wanted to keep them, here's a great post on refinishing hardware.
BONUS - this comes with a mirror (I'd use it elsewhere), and a 3-drawer nightstand that (once refinished) would be a great accent table.
This little guy is such a gem! I'm sure he had a great mid-century modern life in someone's den, but he is in need of some help! He's over-finished, his shelf and legs look gummy, his leather top is dinged, and he is in desperate need of a strip down, re-stain and polish. And boy, is he a BARGAIN!
These are so dainty and refined and match without being match-y. The marble is nice and thick and seems in good shape. They would be great occasional tables in a formal sitting room, or bedside tables in a cramped bedroom.
So you know all those Crosley radios you buy because they are Cool and Vintage and Hip and make your Black Keys albums sound so much better? Here's the real deal. And it works. And somebody probably listened to Fireside Chats on it.
These came out of an old auditorium in Bangor, Maine. Sure, the toile is a little tired and dated, but how fabulous would these be painted white and recovered in a fun fabric like this?
They could be a wonderful entry-way addition - one always needs a place to shed layers and take off shoes. Small storage baskets could go underneath and maybe a row of hooks on the wall above? Super-cute!
I love the rivets and metal-work on this. A little light sanding on the water stains (or not) and it could maybe be a coffee table? You find similar styles in Restoration Hardware for about a million bucks.
And the piece-de-la-resistance...how flipping crazy-awesome is this dresser?! Yes the knobs need some help, but picture some antique brass hardware on there and boom! Insta-style! It's curvy AND masculine, heavy without being overbearing. If it were a character in Beauty and the Beast, it would be that bookseller in the village after he did P90X and shopped in Tim Gunn's closet.
Day number 3 at the house saw us painting and sheetrocking. A lot. The kitchen walls needed boarding and we installed cementboard where there will eventually be backsplash. The old dining room walls needed a skimcoat. Or a thick-coat, as it turned out. And the cabinet hardware needed some intervention.
Here's the old hardware - big scrolly colonial-looking things went on the drawers, and knobs went on everything else. I thought about reusing them, but here's the thing about knobs. They need to be comfortable. These knobs had hollow backs, so every time you put your grubby little paws around them, the edges sank into your fingers. Great if you want some aversive pain stimulus to thwart your midnight snacking, not-so-great if you just want to freaking open a cupboard already.
The hinges, however...the hinges we will reuse. Hinges are MAD expensive!
After a couple light coats of Rustoleum Oil-Rubbed Bronze, they are not bad. They have a kind of French Country look to them, right? Yes?
So here is it. Old, strange-colored brass hardware out, matte oil-rubbed bronze in.
Next up, painting cabinets. I am ridiculously anal about painting things, and wanted these to have a shiny-smooth factory finish. We used Behr Porch and Patio paint in a high-gloss finish and went with a warm white (billowing clouds) to brighten things up while not making things seems too stark. I wanted to spray them, but the paint was too thick and kept gumming up the sprayers, so I bought a plain old foam roller and went for it. I rolled the whole door and then went over it in very light, even strokes before setting it aside to dry.
A note to any future cabinet-painters. Don't forget to paint the bottoms of your uppers. We remembered this at the very end of Day 3, and thank god we did, because Michelangelo I am not, and painting them in place would have SUCKED.
Meanwhile, back inside, my dad and his friend were installing the new can lights. The old kitchen was so dark, we wanted as much light as possible, so this was an easy solution.
Once the sheetrock was up, we could really see the difference. And by the way. The new, 'ultralight' sheetrock? The one emblazoned with text about how light it is and how you can check out the difference at theweighthasbeenlifted.com? Still heavy as hell. (I didn't check out their website - if anyone does, let me know. I anticipate it is all sorts of Amazing and Awesome.)
But. There always seems to be a 'but' with sheetrock, doesn't there? But. There were some unavoidable butt-end seams, one on the ceiling, and two on the walls where the edges met the old dining room walls. These seams were to be the bane of my dad's and Michael's existence for the next week. Much, much joint compound was used in the crafting of these walls.
Here she is, all boarded and compounded, and set out to dry.
It begins to look like a real, live room.
(I'm also playing around with a watermark for the blog. Not sure how I feel about it yet, but there you go.)