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.

guest room additions

daybed and sconceWhen my brother came to housesit for us in May, we rushed out to Ikea to buy a daybed and mattress. Now with everything going on with our electrical, my parents are coming out in September to help us with those projects, and now I’m starting to give the guest room/office some side eye. The only real creature comfort here for guests is a sconce, since we can’t use a nightstand with the trundle. Otherwise, I have pancake-flat pillows and not much else.

I do love the bedding though. It’s a Carleton Varney quilt set from HSN (sadly sold out now). I have been obsessed with this particular print for years, so when I saw it, I bought it without really thinking. This room has some major primary color vibes now, breaking almost every rule about guest rooms.

ysl love postcards

Fortunately for me, I do have a little plan to class up the joint. When I was in Morocco, I bought a bunch of these postcards at Jardin Majorelle. Yves Saint Laurent sent out these designs as a New Years’ greeting every year; I just liked the colors. The top card was hitting all the right notes for me in terms of a color palette, so I poked around online to see if there are any reproduction posters I could use as art in here. There weren’t, but I did find a pretty great magazine cover.

So goals for this room before September: buy fluffy new pillows and hang up some art. Wildly ambitious stuff!

the pendant light saga

light interruptedAt the beginning of the month, I ordered a single pendant light from West Elm for the kitchen. The current light is one of those flushmounts you can buy at Home Depot for $40–fine, whatever, but there are a little more interesting light choices to be had, even in the $100 range. So I ordered a globe pendant, expecting a simple swap.

Is it ever simple? Easy? Straight forward? No. No, ma’am.

My husband took down the old light and started to unscrew a piece that the light was anchored to. There was hissing. And the unmistakeable smell of gas.

Folks, we have a live gas line in our ceiling. For old-timey gas lights. Because of course that is a thing. Not only that, but someone thought it was a dynamite idea to anchor a light from it.

We called the gas company. They turned off the gas, and slapped us with a hazardous condition sticker. A pipe fitter came out to seal the line but wouldn’t touch it because of the electrical. Then the electricians couldn’t come for a week. This is the saga.

Yesterday the electricians finally came to move the junction box, and since we were already paying them gobs of money to do that, we had another light put in. I think we did that to feel like we had some semblance of control over this situation, and not spending a considerable amount of money on baseline very-important-but-boring safety stuff because I wanted to get rid of a $40 Home Depot light.

The sad thing is my dad’s an electrician. Not an electrician in the typical sense–he used to head a crew that maintained the electrical systems of a functioning steel plant and now controls and purchases the power used by said steel plant. He is a fancy electrician who we refer to as “Mr. Fun.” So christened because of his penchant to suck the life out of everything by insisting on every safety precaution possible, no doubt the effect of working in an extremely dangerous work environment his whole life. So I have the benefit of being instilled with a healthy fear of questionable electrical work without the benefit of my father’s proximity to do this work for free. It’s an expensive affliction.

The Saga Continues

Once the electrical work was done, we again called back the pipe fitter to get the gas line sealed. But he was being a little shifty about providing a quote, so we called another one. This one started asking us about the permit, mentioning the Department of Buildings. Uh, what permit?

We’re told that someone will call us back. The phone rings and my husband takes the call. In the span of a few minutes the color drains from his face. He puts the call on speaker.

“I can bring a crew of two out to do the pressure test for $700, but never in my career has anyone with 1920 pipes passed it. You should get an electric stove. They’re nice now.”

We live on the fourth floor. Our risers go through three other apartments. They cannot be brought up to code without accessing those pipes through our neighbor’s walls. In short, it is an expensive, impossible job. And our utility won’t certify the work and turn on our gas without this job.

And Gets Worse

Have I mentioned the shoddy electrical in our apartment? Everything in our kitchen shares a single breaker. An electric stove needs a dedicated line. So we can’t simply swap out a stove (as if that is an inexpensive fix), we have to redo the electrical. Which means doing a fair amount of demo to the kitchen.

We have essentially been backed into a kitchen renovation we aren’t ready to do yet. All because I wanted a slightly nicer light.

What’s your favorite initially-inexpensive home improvement project that hemorrhaged a lot of cash?