Saturday, April 12, 2014


One thing that most of America really has on New York is this concept of in-home washers and dryers.  Schlepping a bag of dirty clothes down the street just to pay to throw them in grimy industrial machines that destroy your clothes and always leave them feeling and smelling like you used blue detergent and fabric softener and bounce even though you'd never let those cancer-causing, earth destroying daemons within ten feet of your front door is close to my idea of hell. Plus, it eats up your entire Saturday morning. I avoided going so much that I wound up having to wash my underwear in the sink. Then... eureka! If I can wash my underwear in the sink, why can't I just wash all my clothes in the sink?? 
Here be my tools:

1: A sink. Pretty self-explanatory. [Pardon the cruddy lighting, my bathroom is rocking a bare fluorescent and no natural light. Also that copper pipe is leftover from the copper bench project, and ideas on what I can make with it?] 

2: Detergent and vinegar. This is by far my favorite part of the new system: I get to chose what comes into my home. I used this same detergent at the laundromat, but there was always so much residue in the machines from other people's gross detergents and fabric softeners that I could literally feel and smell it when I brought the clothes home. Read more about why you should chose a more natural detergent here. (Mrs. Meyer's is actually still pretty harmful, I have discovered, so I would recommend BioClean. I think they were our last time I went to the store or something, and this stuff lasts forever so I can't get rid of it! Plus it doesn't make me itch, which most conventional detergents do, so I consider that a good sign. All this to say: research which products you chose to bring into your home. Don't just buy something because it looks "eco-y." Research products before you buy here.) 
The vinegar is for sheets and towels; it cuts and musty smells and helps keep them bright. I also throw some in with white t-shirts. 
For delicates I either use Dr. Bronner's castile soap, or Eucalan rinse for silks, wools, etc. 

3: A drying rack. Think I got this at a tag sale. I like that it's metal; I've found that the wood ones snag or get a bit musty themselves from having damp things on them. I'll wash a sink-full of clothes at night, set this up at the foot of my bed, and they're dry by morning. Over the winter it also worked like a low-tech humidifier as the water evaporated. A big bummer of hand-washing is the lack of a spin cycle, which means things come out a lot drippier, even with a lot of wringing, but it's just water and the hardwoods dry quickly. 

I've been working with this system for a while now, and for the most part I love it. Although I would love almost anything that kept me out of the laundromat. Now that I'm committed, I feel ready to actually spend some money to make it a more pleasant experience. 

First off, I want to get this puppy. Actually washing in the sink wastes water and is very messy, and incredibly inefficient when it comes to sheets and towels. It can handle more volume than my sink, and washes it faster and more thoroughly. 

Even if I got the WunderWash however, I can only manage small loads because of my dinky drying rack. In my next apartment, I hope to be able to install either this retractable clothesline, or, my personal favorite, a Shiela Maid. See one featured in a beautiful laundry room here.   

All in all, I am saving sooooo much money and stress like this. Plus, by air-drying and hand-agitating, I'm saving buckets of electricity. It's actually fairly therapeutic to scrub a sink-full of clothes. Like doing dishes, but minus all the gross old food. I can't fully explain it, but this process just feels better, and infinitely more responsible on so many levels. And as a single person who doesn't get especially dirty, that makes it the best option for me.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

DIY for the "Hallway"

There's a spot to the right of my door/at the foot of my bed that I jokingly call "the hallway." It's really just the spot where the fake wall ends so you can get to the "bedroom,"* about the width of an average doorway. Empty, it doesn't look like much, and I couldn't fit much furniture in there without banging my hips/shins every time I pass through. But, being narrower than the space, and wanting to add some interest to the spot that was steadily collecting recycling bundles, I decided to put something there. I already have a tall dresser on the other side that I use as a landing strip, so I needed something lower and less visually heavy. When I saw this tutorial on Emily Henderson's blog (love her!!), I decided to try it. 

*One day, I hope to live somewhere where I don't have to put air quotes around the names of rooms when I talk about them. Dream big! 

Tada!! I followed her directions exactly, just with different dimensions, so go to her blog for details. It's so pretty though, right? 

The basic idea is that you first make a frame out of copper pipe and fittings. Copper pipe comes in ten foot lengths, and I only wound up using one and a half of them. You can cut copper pipe with a special tool that scores it over and over in a circle, but the very friendly and helpful guys at the Home Depot did it for me so I could avoid carrying ten foot copper poles around Manhattan. I'm not super sure they're supposed to do that, but I'm super friendly and also I think they took pity on me/were afraid I would impale someone on the subway. Anyways... I took that home and assembled it, comme ├ža. (It is very important to watch old holiday episodes of Psych while doing this, FYI)

Then, you weave strips of leather over the top, attaching them to the pipe with little grommets. Here's where I messed up a little. I bought pleather instead of real leather because I went to the wrong store and their remnants bin was terrible. The garment district is confusing, okay?? This made it way easier to cut, but it's soooo stretchy that I can't put anything heavy on the table. The grommets also didn't have enough fabric to go through, and there's a ton of stress on them now, meaning anything heavy on the top could make them pop off. 

It works fine for what I need though, and I just put a book under anything heavy to disperse the weight. It makes it so you don't see the weaving as well, but the edges are my favorite detail anyways. 

Right now I have it styled with gerber daisy plant from Whole Foods(living a freakishly long time), a beautiful Indian tapestry/blanket/tablecloth thing folded up for a splash of color, and the Madewell spring catalogue (the whole apartment is basically my closet, so I keep inspiration close). I also stuck this fabulous snake plant next to it. It's super weird and spiky and balances out the fiddle leaf fig in the other corner really well.

And that's how you turn a two-foot wide lack-of-wall into a hallway! I'm thinking about adding hooks above it to hang jackets on, but part of me likes the empty space. Part of me also doesn't want to put that much effort into a space I'm hopefully leaving in a few months. We'll see! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Evolution of a Bed

This is what my bedroom looked like when I first moved in. Okay "bedroom" might be a bit of a strong word. The painter's tape outline on the floor shows the dimensions of my full-sized bed. Technically I think the apartment is a "1 bedroom/studio" or a "junior 1 bedroom." Because that would have to be a real wall if it were to be an actual bedroom. But if that were a real wall the whole apartment would be pitch dark so I'm fine with it. 

When I first moved in it was about 100 degrees out so I jast threw this beautiful thin cotton blanket from India on top of the sheets and called it a day. That blanket turned out to be the inspiration for the whole room, which is shocking to me as a devout orange-hater. I think it was just so steamy that a hot color like that felt right. Plus, the texture of the fabric and the variations in the natural dye keep it from feeling garrish. 

I call this stage 1. It was light, easy, and made the space comfortable while i got my bearings. After a few months however, I (as well as the impending sweater weather) was ready to add some more layers.  I had used the pintuck duvet cover from West Elm at my old apartment, but was seriously ready for a change. I must be the only person who's not obsessed with it (I see it everywhere), but I found the pintucks can un-sewn very easily and the "natural" color soooo doesn't work for me. Besides, I think it's better for people who don't like to make their beds--it looks best rumpled and pulled back some.

I knew I still wanted something textured, though, largely because textured duvets don't show wrinkles and are easier to properly "fluff." Also texture in general is a sure fire way way to add dimension to a neutral color palette and keep a space from feeling flat. 

I went for West Elm again (10% student discount and regular sales, plus an awesome organic cotton textile collection), and after some searching picked up their Organic Braided Matelesse duvet cover in stone white. I paired it with the Braided Quilt euro shams in plaster: they have the same braided pattern, but on a larger scale and in a different color to add more texture and dimension without feeling chaotic. 

It winds up being fairly subtle on the duvet, but more intense on the smaller space of the euros, which I love. And yes, that is a stuffed monkey, and yes, he matches my color palette. If put him (and my computer) away off the bed, but there's not much space for storage in this "room"

Those sconces are actually the first thing I bought specifically for the apartment, and it only took me like six months to hang them. Sucess! They're actually from Urban Outfitters, and for 20 bucks (they were on sale, they're more than that now), they're shockingly nice quality. Obviously they would look nicer if I could hide the wires, but so goes renting. The paper above the bed is from the Rubin museum's gift shop, I think it's handmade in India. Really beautiful, highly saturated color. I need to frame it though, it's just tacked up there now and looks a touch sad. 

Just recently, I threw that blanket (I got it at a tag sale in high school, but they're also available in head shops across America) over the Shaker-inspired (Ikea!) headboard for some extra softness and I think it's really "made" the space. There's a lot more color in here now than I would have ever thought I'd like in a bedroom, but I think it works, mostly because of the very neutral background. I do think I need to swap out that chartreuse pillow though, maybe for a subtle indigo block print? Or something super textured? And the paper might get moved elsewhere and replaced by something calmer and taller. 

I like designing this way, over ridiculously long amounts of time. It helps spaces feel layered and collected, because not everyhting comes from te same source. It also takes off the pressure of having to have "finished" spaces within a month of living somewhere, and then having to do full-haul makeovers whenever I get bored. I can't devote the money and time to do that, and when I thought it was the only way to design (my last apartment) I got frustrated that everything took so long, made bad choices and was afraid to fix them because I hadn't even finished the room the first time yet! It was mentally exhausting and left me with a space that never felt right. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Victorian

Oh, I loved this apartment! It was strange, in a lot of ways, and I don't think I appreciated it until I moved into a "real," "normal" (boring, square) apartment. I tried to draw the floor plan on the computer once and couldn't, because not only walls weeeeird lengths (8 ft, 7.13 inches, for example, I don't think tape measures had actually been invented in 1900, maybe they were still measuring with their feet?) but not one corner was at a right angle.

It was essentially the back of the ground floor of a family home, in a Real House in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. And by Real House I'm talking garden, front porch, back deck, a yard... Not something you think exists inside city limits. The upstairs, where the (seriously fantastic) family lived, had been renovated by the previous owner, an architect, and was amazing. Their daughter's room was literally hidden behind built-in bookshelves under the stairs. They also had chickens who lived outside my bedroom window. Maybe one day I'll do a post about it if they give me permission. 

I accessed my apartment through this alley, around a shockingly uneven twisty staircase that I hit my head on every time I wore heels. It made moving super fun. 
Oh look! Moving day! (All photos courtesy of an iphone 3GS, thankyouverymuch) 

Did I mention that this was a preschool before I moved in? I was still finding crayons under everything a year later Also that I didn't own any furniture and slept on a deflating air mattress for about a month? Also that that air conditioner left as soon as I started paying for electricity? In August? Good times. 

But look! A porch swing! Totally worth it. 

So I bought some furniture and planned out a color scheme...

Let us, for a moment, note some terrible decisions. One: not doing something wider for the bookshelf. (maybe a console?) Totally could have enhanced the drama of the arch instead of making it all awkward. Two: that terrible rug purchase. Seriously I think it was like $60 for a 5x8. Balding polyester in a terrible pattern. Made my feet itch and impossible to clean. Whaaaat was I thinking, you ask? No idea. Horribly embarrassed that I waited until the day I moved to stick it on the curb. 

 The bike was nice, but being able to access my cabinets was nicer so it went into storage (aka my parents' basement) This is mainly to show the gorgeous custom radiator covers that my landlords made, turning the generally annoying things into usable, console-like surfaces.

 Look! I have a bed! And a truly impressive amount of pillows. Don't worry, I didn't actually style it like this. Not that crazy.

 This sweet little window got so much light, I filled it with plants the moment I moved in.

The bedroom was super dark, largely because this was the view. (The chickens lived to the right of this window, for reference.) It was also huge, but I never found a layout that maximized the space, and didn't like to spend time in there because it's so dark. 

It got really nice morning light through the closet though, so I never put a door on even through the closet was originally a mud-room addition and not insulated. (who cares, walk in closet!!! So worth having chilly clothes.) Also, check out those old floors! So pretty, so hard to clean. 

The living room on an especially un-styled day. Here's the story behind that sofa. It was $75 off craigslist. I picked it up out of some lady's barn in Western Mass and it is literally the most comfortable piece of furniture on earth. Over 100 years old, all-down. Re-upholstered (and re-stuffed) in the 1950s. I have had plans to re-upholster it in a warm grey linen for about a year and a half now but am largely terrified and not that confident in my sewing skills. So it still looks like that. But it's like snuggling with a cloud so I'm really not complaining.  

And that mirror! It was HUGE. Floor to ceiling, original to the house as far as I know. I actually found this super old wallpaper behind it when I was cleaning, so maybe it used to be installed elsewhere?
I had to put the sofa in front of it, so every morning I would stand on my coffee table to see my outfit. It I was wearing heels, my hair would get stuck in the crystal chandelier. 

What? Your apartment doesn't have one? Weird. 

Yes, the ceiling leaked and the bathroom had weird blue tile and the commute was horribly unpredictable (evil Q train) and one confused hen liked to cock-a-doodle-doo in the mornings, and the floors weren't even and the dishwasher sounded like a freight train... all things I liked to complain about while I lived there. But the light, and the architectural detail, and the neighborhood (I'll write more about it soon), and the garden and the wonderful family who owned the house and lived upstairs more than made up for it. Despite my rash of poor design choices (and generally terrible photography), I feel so lucky to have had the unique experience of living in this wonderful, historical place for over a year. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Hello Again

Welp, I'm baaack! Possibly. We'll see if it sticks this time.

What has happened in the past two years? Well I moved, twice, and hopefully will be moving again soon. After 18 years in the same house apparently I now get bored easily. That or New York City rents increase crazy fast so I can't afford any neighborhoods for more than a year. Likely both.

I am double-majoring in history and economics, still at the New School. That's a picture of our fancy new building. Seriously so fancy, I can't even handle it. Like I've been inside once (I guess none of my classes are fancy enough for the fancy new building) and kept saying "it's like a real college or something." Real-ness of the school aside, I love studying what I'm studying but have come to realise I don't want to be an historian or economist (and it's the New School so LOL no it's not like I'll work at a bank for so many reasons). I just don't want to be an academic, it feels so artificial for me. I need to work with something more physical. Besides, the more I learn about economics, the more I want to remove myself from the system and go live on a commune. So that's promising.

Anywho, I have all these (non-academic) thoughts racing through my head and Pinterest can no longer contain them. Hopefully this time the blog will have more original content, especially surrounding interiors and design. I don't want to simply re-post other peoples' ideas, I want to show them in the context of my own life and tastes (there's nothing truly original, so shooting for Totally Original Content would be a joke. But, you know, more pictures of my own place and stuff). I have some major DIY projects planned for the next six months and want to be able to document my progress and share ideas.

[I matched IKEA in a moment of serious DIY glory]
Coming up, musings about apartment last year and all it's glory, and some recaps of recent projects. Or not, who knooooows???

[new building pic via, others via my iphone]

Monday, March 12, 2012

Breakfast Cookies

I'm always looking for breakfast foods that can be eaten while running (to class, not as exercise!) but they always tend to be super unhealthy, and after a while they really start to put a dent in my budget. These "cookies" from Blueberry Girl are basically like solid oatmeal... they look perfect!
Find the recipe here. I also love that they're sugar free so you don't crash halfway through the morning if you forget to continuously caffinate. I can't wait to try them!

Friday, March 9, 2012