Good mornings are coffee and the sun and reading and hanging out with Moses and probably painting the flowers before they die.
You guys, after living here almost a whole year we finally got a dresser. After a botched trip to the Brimfield antique market (that bummer of a blog post will be for another day) where I thought I would find my dream dresser, I just went on Craigslist and picked one. But, it was meant to be: the owner’s sister happened to be moving one block from us that day, and dropped it off within the hour. AND, she and her boyfriend had just moved here from California so we chatted a lot about the CA to NYC transition and told them what’s good in Bushwick. PLUS, no more clothes all over the floor.
Our bedroom is pretty much a long narrow closet that also has to have our bed it in, so it was tricky to figure out what to put in it that would keep our clothes and shoes out of the way and actually look good. Some hideous metal and plastic Container Store storage system was not an option, and I guess I’m okay with the mismatched vintage shoe shelf/cabinet/dresser combo. And then throwing trinkets and art everywhere helps. My most recent favorite things are these vintage Paint by Numbers cat paintings that I found on Etsy. I love thinking about how how someone earnestly painted them long ago, and I’m so glad they made my way into my room instead of being buried buried in a garage or thrift store somewhere.
Aaand, Dylan topped it all off with new matching all-wood hangers and a huge David Hockney print from the thrift store (bought this for $10 after we learned on Art.sy that we couldn’t afford an original).
Moses is 7 months old today! He’s been with us for about 5 months now and we couldn’t love a little furry thing more. I snapped a few photos of him looking like a big adult cat on the window sill the other day. He’s still only about 7 lbs though, baby’s hopefully gonna stay little forever.
I also found a roll of film we forgot about with this photo of him in the same spot a couple months ago. I move plants and trinkets around a lot, clearly.
A couple film snaps from my favorite part of the house. The grain of the film seems a little more honest, like we didn’t clean up for the photos or edit out the awkward parts. We’ve done a couple posts on the kitchen here and here but it seems to have changed so much since February. It’s strange looking back at old photos and seeing how much my plants have grown; they’re all old friends now. Dylan built shelves into the window to help disguise the burglar bars – definitely the biggest improvement since our last post. At one point we even had bean stalks growing up and around them.
It’s been almost 3 months since I installed the shelves and transformed the studio into an actual appropriate workspace. So, we decided it was high time to give you an update on what’s been going on around here.
First of all, FLATFILES. Check that off the list. We scored a pretty good deal on two sets of five-drawer flatfiles on Craigslist from this nice man in Long Island who actually delivered them to me and helped me get them up the stairs. After moving them all around, we decided on putting them perpendicular to the wall allowing for the sewing table to butt up against them. Even though they stick out into the room a bit, it actually creates more space and makes it feel like a real office (plus you can put magnets and cool stuff on the side of them).
Now enter the Eames Hang-It-All. Yes, I know everyone’s got one but so what. We have a pretty great primary color/strong graphic thing happening on that wall with our prints by Damien Correll, paintings by Tuesday Bassen and Mia Christopher, and the poster by Chris Silas Neal. Come on, the Hang-It-All was practically a necessity. Plus, now we can hang stuff on it.
With the addition of the flatfiles, the love seat was forced between our desks. At first I was opposed to this, but it has since become a perfect place to watch YouTube videos with Baby Moses.
Also, the flatfiles allowed us to empty out and get rid of the shabby black cabinet and the red Ikea locker (if any one in Brooklyn wants to take them from us, by all means we need to get rid of them, there’s pictures here)
Some other additions include a new laptop, a subscription to rdio and a little FM Radio my mom got me for emergencies (now we pretty much just listen to Drake and Hot97′s “Throwback at Noon”).
I almost forgot the best part – We bought a used AC from a friend and it makes our studio THE PLACE TO BE in the summer. We only venture from our cool little box to get soft-serve cones with rainbow sprinkles when we hear the ice cream truck coming down our street.
My friend Mia Christopher recently sent me an amazing package full of all sorts of things she makes — stickers, postcards, cat earrings, and this beautiful wood panel painting. I’ve been wearing the earrings nonstop, and they can be found in her Etsy shop along with an assortment of other handmade earrings.
The little people have found a temporary home over the love seat in the office. Eventually I’ll move the painting somewhere smaller where it fits better and is easier to look at. We’ve updated this corner a bit more since we first posted about the studio last month. We have few new plants (including one in this Geo Planter I’ve been wanting forever), and the Modkat litter box for Moses (that yellow thing in the bottom left, so pretty you probably didn’t know it was a litter box).
Before. Heaps of displaced stuff, only one desk, ugly wall shelving (these were here when we moved in and were the only place for our clothes until I built the shelving/clothes rack in the bedroom), etc.
I’d been putting off painting the studio for about 5 months, and it was the last room in the apartment that needed it. Now that it’s finished, it feels so good to have a nice clean work space! If you work at home like us, you know first hand that having a positive place to work makes the biggest difference in mood, productivity , and even hygiene (for me at least!). It’s the deciding factor in the daily question, “Am I going to shower, get dressed and get to work like a normal human, or am I going to work on the couch in my pajamas until the sun goes down?”
I finally had a plan to build wall-to-wall shelves above our desks, but first the walls needed to be patched, sanded, and painted. And, we needed to move all the shit out of the room first. We had JUST enough paint left over for the studio, and I’m so glad we didn’t have to make another trip to Home Depot for more. Prepping and painting the room took longer than I thought, though. I had hoped to finish in two days, but it ended up taking three. The first two days for patching and painting, and the last for building the shelves. Luckily, the shelves were easier than I thought they would be to install.
The boards for the shelving were really beat up, really cheap, 10 foot scaffolding planks that I scored for six bucks each at the lumber yard near our apartment. I had to cut them down and wire-brush the splinters off and give a good sanding to all 20 feet worth of dirty boards. It was hard and dusty, but after I oiled them up with some teak oil they started looking really good.
I was a little apprehensive at first because in order to hang the shelves I had to anchor into drywall-covered brick, but the guys at Oriental Lumber (of which is my only NYC Foursquare mayorship) were super helpful in recommending the right hardware and drill bit.
I ended up anchoring 1×1 blocks to the wall for the planks to sit on, and it worked out really well. They’re solid. Also, I think it looks a lot better this way rather than having installed ‘L’ brackets. All in all, it was a pretty cheap project – about $12 for the wood and maybe $40 for hardware, 1x1s, sandpaper and spackle.
Voila, that’s our studio.
Still on the list:
• Plants! As many as possible.
• Frame & hang more art
• Flat files
• Bulletin board(s)
• Stendig wall calendar
• Wide-format printer
Quiet moments around the house: plants, and my seashell collection from Miami. I just love that the little cactus has a new baby leaf.
We’re certainly careful with our purchases (as Grace always says, only buy things you love) which makes the furnishing and decorating process frustratingly slow. But, after months of collecting things we like, the bedroom is finally starting to perk up. We found the leather shag rug at the Chelsea Antique Market and picked up the black sideboards at the Meeker Avenue Flea Market.
The little vase is my favorite recent purchase. It’s a beautiful piece from the ’60s illustrated by Danish artist and designer Bjørn Wiinblad. I’m also so happy to finally have art framed and hung! The drawing on the left is by Aidan Koch and the little bow tie man is a screen print by my friend Rachel Levit. I love Rachel’s work so much. You can see more of it on her blog, and she has a handful of pieces for sale in her Etsy shop. I also have this 2-layer screen print she did that I can’t wait to hang!
Now, onto the iffier parts of the room. Our bedroom (and entire apartment) came with a no-closet handicap we have to work with. Dylan installed clothing racks using basic wood planks, brackets, and pipes from the hardware store.
I’m generally happy with how it turned out, although the room is basically a windowless walk-in closet, and it’s still a little bleak in there. We need a nicer lamp, more art on the walls, more trinkets, perhaps a fun quilt…the search for things we love continues.
Last September, I was minding my business in San Diego, doing San Diego things with my San Diego friends, when I received a text message from Leah. She sent me a picture, of what was essentially trash in the rain on a curb, along with the text, “You like these kinds of chairs right?” Intermingled with 4 black trash bags, I could make out some pieces of wood sticking out that resembled some kind of Danish-mod lounge chair. Turns out, there was a chair and a matching two seater bench abandoned on the curb.
Leah texted back “they’re pretty broken…” but I didn’t care, I insisted that she drag them home four blocks back to her old apartment in Williamsburg. She kept them for a month and then she moved them to our new place where they sat, broken in the living room, until I finally made the move to New York in mid-November.
“I’ll just fix them,” I fantasized, “I’ll just read some web tutorials and clean them up and then Leah can sew the cushions and we’ll have a lovely living room set for nearly free!”
Yeah, right. When I finally laid eyes on these things I realized what I had gotten myself into. These chairs were rotten and broken beyond anything I could ever dream of repairing.
So, in the next few weeks, I set out on foot searching for an antique furniture repair shop in my new neighborhood. Finally, I met Abraham and Al at Family Fine Furniture in Maspeth, Queens (a surprisingly short walk from where we live in Bushwick). And voilà…
Pretty nice right?
Leah and I picked out the perfect linen fabric at Leah’s favorite fabric shop, Belraf Fabrics, in the Lower East Side. The man who works there is the nicest guy and he has some really interesting fabrics. I think we made the right decision, I love the geometric pattern.
The chairs have no tags or marks, but as soon as I saw them I could tell they must be American-made, probably from the mid ’60s. I did some research and figured out they were designed by Theodore Baumritter and produced in the ’60s for Baumritter’s “Viko” line of furniture. Fun fact: Baumritter Furniture Co. later became Ethan Allen. Of course this is all uncited internet research so if anyone has the scoop on these chairs, please share.
Sure, my fantasy of nearly free midcentury chairs for the living room didn’t quite pan out. In reality, we spent some hard-earned cash on these pretty things. But I feel good about it, I feel like we spent a little bit of money to rehabilitate some sick orphaned chairs that would have never seen the light of day again if it weren’t for us. And just look at them now, I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out.
Our living room is by no means livable yet – we are just beginning to hang some art and figure out what the hell we may want to sit around in the there for. My favorite place to sit/eat/read/ etc is still at the dining room table, so until we get a credenza or some shelves or a coffee table or something else going on in the living room I can’t foresee much living going on in there for a while.