Category Archives: my home

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?

my pinky-pink entry

pink stripe entryI wasn’t terribly convinced by the stripes when I first painted them–they were feeling a little ho-hum and like I just discovered design blogs yesterday. Which is a completely irrational thought, let’s be honest.

Then I got around to painting my credenza (which has been red and then black in past lives), added a mirror, and bought a very fetching vintage lamp. Oh man, those things made all the difference. I still want to eventually wallpaper this space, but as an in-between design? I’m happy with it!

So now it’s firmly established that there is a pink thread woven throughout the apartment. Some people need their black; I need my pink.


happenings around the house

pink popsicle paint

Last weekend my husband was complaining about the look of the kitchen. The room was painted a very institutional semi-gloss beige and the walls looked perpetually filthy. I don’t do much cooking, so I’ve been happy to ignore the room, which is easy given that it’s a galley kitchen closed off from the rest of the house. But I was in a chipper mood that Saturday I guess, because I flipped open my Farrow & Ball paint brochure, picked out a green, and marched myself down to Benjamin Moore to get the color matched.

While I was there, I picked out a gloss paint for my entry credenza. I ended up going with Pink Popsicle, which looks quite awesome with the living room wall color and a potential wallpaper for the entry. farrow and ball arsenic

As for the kitchen, things are looking better but some details are missing. We’re switching out a light fixture and possibly the cabinet hardware, so enjoy a close-up of our dumbwaiter and freshly-stripped knobs. The room definitely looks better, but it’s nothing mind blowing.painted lamp

In the living room, another piece of the puzzle came via Etsy: a hand-painted ginger jar lamp with spot-on colors. With a bird!

a painted living room

deep caviar living roomLast month I bit the bullet and painted the living room. I was a little hesitant about using such a dark color, but I’m so happy with it!

The color is Benjamin Moore Deep Caviar, a dark brown with blue undertones. It’s the same color I’m using to (slowly) paint the doors in our house, albeit in a high gloss enamel. We have southern and western exposures, so it’s a bright room even with dark paint.

As you can see in the photo, I also moved the Expedit out of the office, swapping with the Billy bookcase that was languishing in the living room for several months. Expedits can scream Ikea, but this one is tucked in a corner, so you only see its profile when you walk in.

So here’s my running list for the living room:

  • paint
  • order slipper chairs and an armchair
  • order ottoman
  • have curtains or shades made
  • lighting – table lamps and floor lamp
  • new tv
  • paint and install french doors between dining room and living room
  • find large art

I think once the rest of the furniture arrives the room will feel a million times less in flux, and I’ll have a better sense of next steps. For instance, I have a little graveyard of end tables on the other end of the living room because I don’t know if I’ll need them or if they’ll fit with the chairs. I would very much like to be out of that phase and onto the fun stuff: accessories!

new dining room chairs

chippendale dining chairsBack in March I visited family in Florida and while I was there, swung by Circa Who in West Palm Beach to look for dining chairs. I ended up buying a set of four rattan chairs on sale, in my all-time favorite chair style: Chinese chippendale.

The cushion fabric is original, but it works for now. Someone asked me when seeing the chairs if I wanted to repaint them, since they’re chipping in some places. I actually like that about them–what do fancy people call shabbiness–patina? If they were super perfect and lacquered they’d look severe with the dining yellow dining room

We also hung silk curtains from Serena & Lily. I made a very stupid mistake though: I wanted to hang them directly on the rod to keep them a little more casual, but not thinking properly, ordered a French radius rod. That style of rod screws directly into the wall–so with the combination of not using drapery rings and that rod, I can’t get the curtains down ever without ripping out the whole installation. So I think whoever buys this apartment next will get a lovely pair of silk curtains as a gift.

Another new thing: the rug. I originally wanted a pure chunky jute rug, but after reading a lot of scary stories about pet accidents and the stains, realized that dog just wasn’t going to hunt. Instead, I ordered a chenille/jute blend rug from Pottery Barn with a porcelain blue band. According to reviews and blog posts, the blended rugs appear to hold up better to accidents, and while the rug was a bit more expensive than going with a regular jute rug, it was still affordable for an 8×10. It’s soft and definitely helps the room feel a bit more complete.

So this room almost has all of the big elements in. I want to redo the chair cushions at some point, but other than that, I really only need (want) a new chandelier and a bit of art. I have the lighting picked out; it’s just a matter of budgeting for it!