the hallway

pink hall runnerWhen we bought our co-op, we received a list of house rules. Some were relics of the 1920s, like the rule forbidding packages or groceries being taken up the stairs (dumbwaiter only!). Others were more relevant, like the rule for 80 percent of the floors being covered with rugs.

While we’re on the top floor of this building, we have been on lower floors in the past, and know how irritating stompy neighbors can be. And we have pets, pets that love running down this hallway together. A runner was a necessity.

Finding a runner long and narrow enough, however, was hard. So instead I ordered Flor carpet tiles. They’re definitely pricier than buying a regular runner, but I love them. They stay put and can be replaced individually, and better yet, they perfectly fit in the hallway.

For lighting, I used the tole chandelier from our last apartment. The chandelier combined with the pink runner makes what is a bleak hallway a bit more cheerful.

I still have plans to wallpaper the entry, and I think I’d like to extend that wallpaper down the hall as well. The long blank wall drives me batty, and I don’t think any amount of art alone would fix it. But in the grand scheme of things, I no longer have a hole in the hall ceiling and all of the doors are painted, so I’ll survive with an annoyingly blank wall for a while.

kitchen renovation notebook: linoleum

After much budget crunching, wine drinking, and Pinterest stalking, we’ve decided to go ahead with our kitchen remodel this year. We’re going to attempt to do as much as we can ourselves (with the help of my electrician dad), and then fill in with the pros where needed. We’ll be on a tight schedule with my dad, so the goal over the next few months is to make design decisions, start working on orders with long lead times, and basically try to have everything on site at the start of the project. (You can cackle at my naivete now).

I have a clear idea for the cabinets, counters, and the backsplash. Floors, however, leave me a bit stumped. Currently we have ceramic tile, which can be a hard thing to stand on for long periods. Not to mention the fact the tile is at least an inch higher than the rest of the apartment floors. New thing I learned: old homes typically have hardwood subfloors, except in the kitchens, where it’s probably plywood. So you need thin flooring if you want everything flush. Not tile.

That leaves us with vinyl or… linoleum.

Yes, linoleum. Period-appropriate, durable, eco-friendly, and affordable. I always associated linoleum with vinyl flooring, but I’ve learned they are two vastly different categories. Linoleum is made from renewable resources, is biodegradable, and it’s been in use in homes since the late 19th century. A sheet of plastic, it is not.

The cool thing about linoleum is it comes in planks, squares, and sheets. With that kind of flexibility, you can create graphic patterns or just do a mega-dose of solid color, like the orange linoleum in the above room of a working horse ranch, no doubt meant to remind you of Hermes orange.

For our utilitarian galley kitchen, linoleum makes a fairly compelling case. Any other linoleum lovers out there, or at least linoleum-curious?

just one gift guide

gift guide 2014
This is my one and only gift guide for the year and really, not much of a gift guide. More like: Things I have asked for and things I may ultimately purchase for myself. I have simple needs.

Josie Maran Argan Balm – Sephora / Madeleine Plaques Pan – Williams Sonoma / Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – Amazon / Topshop Earmuffs – Nordstrom / Heattech Knit Pants – Uniqlo / Kate Spade Green Painterly Cheetah AgendaMetallic Shearling Scuffs – J.Crew / Tory Burch Lucia Initial Charm BraceletWonderful Needlepoint Pillow – Furbish

blue and white dining hutch

blue and white dining hutchI’ve sort of, kind of settled on a blue and white scheme for the dining room, with a single hit of yellow from the bench. I fully expect that to go out the window after I inevitably find some amazingly colorful fabric for the dining chairs, but at the moment, this is my plan.

The dining hutch has been looking rather bleak ever since I painted the walls white. Its lacquer finish had yellowed to a cream, and next to the bright white trim and chairs, the hutch just wasn’t working. So using the same paint I used for trim, I painted it white. Which was pretty boring. I didn’t want to paint the whole piece a crazy color because of the hutch’s proximity to the entry, where my pink credenza hangs out. Painting just the back, though, would add the contrast I needed for my mostly white dishes, while not being completely in your face.

I ended up getting two paint samples: Ewing Blue and Prussian Blue. Ewing, while pretty, didn’t add enough contrast for this project, but I want to use the color somewhere else eventually. Maybe in a high gloss on the french doors we’ll eventually add between the living and dining rooms. So I went with Prussian Blue, which is described as being inspired by Chinese pottery (perfect!).

Painting just the back of the hutch, while quick in theory, was tedious. The backing has a basketweave texture, so taping would’ve been ineffective–getting a seal was impossible. I had to freehand all of the edges, which slowed progress quite a bit. Prying the backing off might have been a possibility, and I’d suggest trying that if you’re attempting a similar project. You’d only need to staple it back when you finished painting.

I’m turning my attention to the living room next. We had the ottoman delivered this week, so all of the big elements are in there now. Time for layering!

a simple skirted table and other things

white skirted tableIt’s always a wee bit awkward coming back from a break. I didn’t plan to take a month off. Nothing dramatic happened; just one of those times where life and interest went in a different direction for a while. I haven’t had any great visual updates for our apartment, and felt a little lame popping in to post a round-up or something else that felt insubstantial.

A skirted table (that I desperately need to steam) is pretty insubstantial in the way of things, but I have a complex about writing long missives without a halfway decent lead-in photo. So there it is, a fairly inexpensive round table from Ballard, doing the trick in a long-neglected corner of the living room.

As for other house things, our kitchen difficulties are kind of resolved. There’s still a hole in the ceiling, but the gas line was sealed and tested. Our gas was turned back on, but the question still remains whether or not the pipes are actually to code. In another week my dad will be here, replacing our electrical box, and investigating whether we can have more power brought into the apartment. If we can, we’ll start thinking about running a dedicated line for an induction stove, which would nip any code violations in the bud.

Elsewhere in the house, I’ve been making progress again with some trim and door painting. I can’t really stand those two projects for some reason–it all feels horribly tedious, even though I’ve been noticing it doesn’t actually take that long to paint a door or do a length of trim. But it’s annoying work, and so I avoid it a bit more than I should, dragging out a task that really could be done by now. I told myself this week it was too warm for the paint; now it’s cooled down considerably and I’ve been thoroughly shamed into finishing.

Then there’s the matter of the living room ottoman. I put in the order in July, coinciding with a sale. I opted for COM fabric: a really lovely floral from Lee Jofa that is also absurdly expensive. With the low yardage needed for an ottoman, I rationalized the splurge with the fact that all together, the ottoman with the fancy fabric costs no more than the store’s leather ottomans. But then I failed to factor in my fabric’s enormous repeat size. While the ottoman could be upholstered with 3 yards of a solid fabric, to properly match my giant pattern and manage with the fabric’s slightly smaller-than-average width, the upholsterer would need 8 yards. Not only 8 yards, but in a new continuous roll. So I have 3 yards of very expensive fabric coming back to me (and a husband glaring at me to figure out a useful purpose for said fabric), and I’ve just ordered 4 yards of a humble Duralee buffalo check that will definitely be adequate for the job, and cost less all together than 1 yard of the other stuff. I guess some floral pillows are in order now.

Next on the list? Painting ceilings. I’m really ready to hang up the roller.