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?

reader redesign: studio sanctuary

reader redesign hague blue studioOccasionally I get emails requesting a decorating consult. I tried e-decorating for a bit before, but then I got a full-time job and stopped taking any clients. So now I’m trying a different tack this time: putting the decorating boards on the blog, so everyone can get some ideas, with the understanding these are not comprehensive decorating plans, just starting points.

So today’s reader redesign involves a Manhattan studio with about 270 square feet of living space. Sounds small, but isn’t that bad for the city. The budget is $6,000.

Plan

The only existing thing the reader wanted to keep is her rug. So using that as a starting point, I’d paint the walls Hague Blue for a cozy, unified room.

For the sleeping area, the reader already has a good headboard, so just I’d switch her bedding to something simpler, like Biscuit Home’s chartreuse duvet and shams. To free up space on her nightstands, I’d a install a pair of simple sconces. I’d also look for small chest of drawers on Craigslist to use as nightstands, just to maximize storage. The splurge item is a lovely armoire that’s not only statement-making, but super functional storage.

In the living area, a narrow console in shocking citron works well as an entry table, and can double as a small dining table when entertaining. Tuck a garden stool or two underneath it for extra seating. For the sofa, I chose a velvet that is close to the wall color to minimize its size. Look for a pair of small vintage tables to use in lieu of a coffee table, or bust the budget with this pair.

Resources

Total: $6,025

Interested in a redesign? Email me a few photos of your room, your budget, and a brief note about what you’re looking for in a room. Please include “reader redesign” in the subject of your email.