Category Archives: interiors

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?

behind the scenes with ruthie sommers

Do you remember this colorful home in House Beautiful, designed by Ruthie Sommers? I started following Ruthie on Pinterest, where I then discovered she started a blog. She recently posted about the above living room and its origins, and I was so very excited to get some of the behind-the-scenes details. I particularly loved her description of the design:

Lets make this feel like a preppy 80′s house that Mark Hampton may have designed so we never have to decorate again and we smile when we walk in the rooms.

Isn’t that wonderful? I also just love hearing designers and decorators talk. Sometimes seeing rooms in print, you get this distinct feeling that decorators are a little self-serious. But honestly, after making rounds at the Kips Bay show house this year, the overwhelming impression left by designers is they just really, really love this stuff. I mean, when I interviewed Miles Redd he talked about his Frydaddy. Decorators, they’re just like us with deep-frying mishaps and a love for good preppy houses.

As far as news around these parts goes, I have things to share–dining chairs came! living room painted! the purchase of a pair of slipper chairs! curtains!–just lacking the wherewithal to write it all up. I have a feeling once I buy my first bouquet of the season (don’t judge: my neighborhood seriously lacks good flower selection!), I’ll take a bunch of photos and be basically obligated to blog them. It’s some sort of blogger commandment, I think.

6 cottage entry essentials

cottage console

Original image by Paul Whicheloe

I’ve been looking for entry inspiration, especially anything with storage that doesn’t amount to pre-school cubbies. So when I found Janet Gregg’s home in Cottage Living, I took note of this vignette. Lots of clever containers with laid-back style.

Jaeva Table Lamp – Lulu & Georgia / Atlantis Clam Shell – Z Gallerie / Mandarin Altar Table – Home Decorators / Elephant Hamper – Home Decorators / Java Tribal Ikat Pillow – Society Social / Tortoise Bamboo Chair – Maison Midi

a colorful ruthie sommers project

green and pink living room

All photos by Simon Watson

I’m beginning to think Ruthie Sommers is my dream decorator. Her interiors never shy from color or pattern, and this Lake Forest home, featured in House Beautiful, is no exception.

There are those decorators whose rooms are lovely, but I –wisely or not– think I could pull off the same thing with the 100k budget of their clients. But then I look at a home like this, and know, no, I could not do this. Between the striped bathroom and the gorgeously colorful dining room, I bow down.
pink sofa green and yellow room blue dining room striped bathroom floral bedroomgreen bedroom

an original pre-war bathroom

prewar tile prewar sink
I would like to first note this is not our bathroom (though a sick, project-hungry part of me wish it were)! This is from the unit across the hall from us, currently on the market. It’s a one bedroom with several of the original details in place, including this bathroom.

I love seeing pictures like this because I’m obsessed with research. Even though I have no intention of going full-hog 1920s, I like to see what things looked like then. So many of the elements in this bathroom are still very much relevant today–a swap of hardware and fittings along with repaired tiles and a gorgeous shower curtain, this would be a perfectly lovely bathroom. And as much as some people like to declare subway tile “over,” it’s a classic.

I wish I had snapped a picture of the kitchen sink. We went into the unit originally to look at the french doors; we’re trying to figure out if we should go the Home Depot route there or if it’s really worth finding salvage doors that fit. I wanted to see if the original doors had the wavy glass or not (they did not), and ended up touring the rest of the apartment. The kitchen! Giant, giant farmhouse sink. The rest of the kitchen was essentially nonexistent, but that sink!

We’re really hoping whoever buys the apartment doesn’t intend to throw out all these goodies, or destroy the floor plan. The unit definitely needs work, but could be such a gem with the right vision! I tried talking my parents into buying it but I don’t think fourth floor walk-up living appeals to them, for some reason.

If we ever get around to re-doing our bath, I’m keeping these images in mind.