Sunday, 6 November 2011

New Blog...

To go with the new house we will be building:
Little Bright Spot 2.0
I hope you'll drop by!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Mumford & Sons

Thanks to sean, who is much more savvy with the Craigslist, we saw them last minute and they were, as somebody commented on my old blog post about them, "magnificent."  They were down-to-earth, incredibly talented and they put on a wonderful show.  Although they did compliment the Asheville Civic Center a lot... which was bizarre because it is basically an overgrown high school gymnasium... bizarre but endearing.  I'm just glad they came here before the Fox Theater in Atlanta.  Jack and I were completely bowled over and so excited to see them continue to develop... we want to buy their shiny new album (legally) whenever it comes out and commit the opening chords to heart.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

This house will make your head explode

This apartment therapy tour was so full of eclectic goodness.
I love it when you're reminded of a dream that has faded, and for a moment you remember what it was that sparked your imagination about it.  This house is like that.  I remember in college when I would drive past the fraternity houses on Milledge and imagine what it might be like to inhabit a faded southern mansion, taking out all the neon beer signs and boys' grossness and filling it with vintage finds and color.  Here it is.  I'm now sure that my house will not really be anything like this, but it's a beautiful dream, right?

Sunday, 6 March 2011

On Not Buying a House

As the title implies, we didn't buy the house.  This is not easy to say and even more difficult to accept on an emotional level.  You see, I kind of fell in love with the little house--or at least with what I thought we could make of it--and the future we could have inhabiting it.  When we were going into the process, however, Jack and I had a sort of unspoken agreement.  It had to hinge on the budget, a delicate balance of numbers Jack is very good at... and I... not so much.  So when we had estimate after estimate inching our budget way over what we felt comfortable spending, we had to make a really difficult decision.  Rather, Jack had to say there wasn't a decision and I had to come to terms with that.  He was right, of course.  The numbers were way over both our budget and the resale value.  It would have been grueling work besides.  Not only restoring windows (which I was not-so-secretly looking forward to), but digging out a crawlspace and removing the aforementioned carpet-patterned vinyl.  A lot of it would have been soul-sucking drudgery.  While the results might have made me happy, they weren't worth losing money (on top of hours of drudgery) for.  The term "emotional rollercoaster" has never been more real to me.  If I had written this post at any point in the past week, it would have been at some extreme high or low or on the stomach-churning in between.  So I've waited until things with were on an even keel and our offer on the little house was really past-tense to write this.  Strangely enough, we seem to be renewing our search with extra vigor and open eyes.  We have truly learned so much and we wish the little house (that isn't, and will never be, ours) all the best.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Today I Made a Kitchen

If only on Ikea's Kitchen Planner.  It was still gratifying.  It can be done!  A kitchen fits, amply, into a 10'x10' box.  In other news, I've been meeting with contractors and handymen to get estimates.  It's so interesting to talk about the variety of approaches and possibilities.  As of now, I have only good things to say.  Everyone seems very professional and knowledgable as well as being tolerant of my whims and DIY aspirations.  I find myself getting carried away more with each meeting.  I have to remind myself that the purpose of these estimates is to determine whether we will be able to close on the house AND do it justice afterwards. 

So here's what I made today:
 To my surprise, I found the Ikea tool was pretty easy to work with.  Just save often is my only advice, along with saving, exiting and opening again when things stop spinning around and showing the green border.  You'll know when that happens.  Actually, I would recommend this tool for planning and conceptualizing any space.  So here it is: symmetry, gas, French-door fridge and all.  The only big thing we're planning on modifying is knocking through that wall to the left below, beyond which is the dining room.  We might add a counter or something fancy like that.  Also, a couple of those neat, globe-y pendants that I will pretend not to know the name of.  Who is on a first name basis with Ikea products anyway?

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Crushing on Alexandra ANGLE Interiors

When I saw the below on Remodelista, I clicked over and went through the firm's entire portfolio.  Just incredible.  I felt my chest was aching a little, just from looking at all the creativity and the way the projects make iconic pieces look designed solely for that particular project.

 The depth of the portfolio is incredible, yet, despite different styles, there's a clear edge and inhabitability to all the space.  This is the first time I've had an actual crush on a firm's design work... but what about love?  Let's just say the guesthouse above has my heart, but I might be having a summer fling with this place on Fire Island:

Monday, 21 February 2011

The Story of Some Furniture

that came to live with us.  Specifically: an office chair, a desk, rolling side table, two lamps, and an occasional table.  They were sad and very moderately priced.  We wanted to make them happy so that they could give back to us by providing storage and light, primarily.  Also we wanted to transform them just for the joy (or heck) of it.    Before I mislead you... this is more of a fractured fairy tale.  

How do some people refinish wood so well? That's my question, because I clearly don't.  The chair was first.  To cut a long story short, I mangled the Don Draper of office chairs.  Bad.  I stripped (with Eco gel!) and sanded, and huffed and puffed and Danish waxed.  I think where I really went wrong was in assuming that my skills would be superior enough to pull off a natural finish.  In reality the nature that shines through is pretty defaced.  I thought I was sanding with the grain.  Whatever.

The results thus far have been discouraging enough for me to lose all momentum.  This means that my front porch is covered with an assortment of thrifted furniture.  It all looks exactly the way it did when I brought it home, except for the chair.  I have a naked chair on my porch for all the world to see.  It's embarrassing.  I finally picked myself up and drove back to the hardware store, spent an obscene amount of money on supplies and plan on getting back to Don Draper tomorrow with some fresh sandpaper (not to mention Minwax stain and some (water based!) poly.  Yes; I do realize that calling it "poly" makes me sound like a wise, old furniture-refinishing guru, but I feel I deserve at least this much.  Let me call it poly, much as I refer to perfume as "EDT" or "EDP" (despite the fact that I own three bottles of "juice" and my sister says it makes me sound like a sales associate who has been at Sephora too long).  Sometimes it's about the length of the journey and not the destination.  If I had to make a motivational poster to illustrate this point at the moment, you would see a naked, old chair in all it's roughed up glory, vinyl flapping in the breeze, waiting for the process that ends in poly.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Before: A Tour of the LittleHouse "As Is"

This is what the house looks like now.  I wasn't planning on putting these up so soon.  I thought I could wait until things were official, maybe even until we had made some progress and could post these alongside some Afters.  As it so happens, I don't have that kind of patience.  I just hope I do have the kind of patience to painstakingly restore windows.  For now, here is an overview of what the house looks like:
1) The Exterior (front):  Here it is, collapsing porch and all.  We think it's really something special, and look forward to restoring it.

 2) The Exterior (back):  We have some pretty big plans for this little porch, plans that include windows, doors and the washing machine/dryer currently hulking in the middle of the kitchen.  Then there's the back and side yards of dreams.  We want a little garden, maybe a couple of chickens and definitely a patio of sorts.

3) The Itsy Front Room, looking into the dining room (featuring me):  At the moment, the whole house has a little bit of a '70s theme, especially the carpeting and wall colors.  Also observe the towering space heater.  Through the second doorway is the kitchen.  Right now, the washer dryer are blocking off a fair bit of it.  

4) The Front Room (cont.):  From here, you can see the front door, a door leading into what we have decided will be an office/sitting room and the fireplace.  Notice how the mantel wraps around the corner.  Jack HATES it.  It will not be functioning (and is only deep enough to burn coal).  I'm still undecided, and probably will be until a few coats of white paint.
 5) The Dining Room (featuring our realtor):  Here the kitchen is behind you and a bank of three windows is on the left.  To the right you can see the door way to a little hallway that connects to the office/sitting room, bathroom and bedroom.

 6)  The Kitchen:  Here is a huge dilemma in my scheming.  The kitchen sink is one big, metal unit including the cabinet below.  It's probably original.  I want to love it.  I really do.  In reality I find it a little icky.  We will probably try to salvage some of the cabinetry, but that remains to be seen.

7)  The Kitchen (cont.)  Here is a hint of the back door and some appliance footage.  The appliances are ok.  Actually, the inside of the refrigerator isn't really.  The scale of them, furthermore, is completely uncalled for.  We'll try to scale down, budget permitting.  Also, the wallpaper on the side wall appears to be contact paper.  We wonder what's underneath.

8)  The Bathroom:  Is very pink and has the original tub, sink and toilet!  I am ecstatic about this, especially because they seem to be in excellent shape.  We'll definitely fit the tub with a shower.  On the floor is vinyl patterned to look like carpet!  Where will the carpet mania end?!  I'm also thinking of setting up some kind of vanity area on the left.

 9)  The Bedroom:  There's an intrusive, sheetrock closet featuring an unreal amount of nails haphazardly angled in the frame.  In fact the whole house is covered in nails.  What can this mean?  The door to the left of the doorway actually leads to the boiler and the ladder to the attic is above.  We might rethink all this.
10)  The office/sitting room:  Last, but not least here's the room I think is a real diamond in the rough.  It gets ridiculous light and just has a really good feel to it.  It's also sad because of some water damage and violent, red carpeting.  We want to make it happy again.

So there it is.  We love it and it needs all the love we can give it.  Many dramatic improvements are in the works.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

LittleHouse Inspiration: The Big Picture

For some reason instead of planning for the hundreds of projects, both major and minor, that we will be taking on with the house, I have been trying to narrow down my inspiration.  It makes sense a little, at least to me.  If I know what I want the house to feel like, that should inform my decisions going forward.  So here are the images I have selected because they speak to my hopes for the house:

Second Row: Janet Kimber (r), House and Home (l)
Bottom: Jessica Helgerson (l), The Marion House Book (r)
Seeing all these together helps me focus on how to approach this project.  Overall I want to create a space that celebrates the LittleHouse's 1920 roots while bringing in clean modern touches and a more toned-down palette.  Now down to the details and puzzling over how to get there.

Monday, 31 January 2011

How Romantic is this Wedding?

Very.  We are now in the dreary heart of winter.  Today there's no crisp fresh snow or warm sun.  But there's beauty in that, too.  Or at least there could be.  This image is a reminder.  

Found in 100 Layer Cake , originally from here (warning: music).

Friday, 28 January 2011

Inspection Day

The inspector came out to the bungalow and we are pleased with the results.  We weren't expecting it to pass with flying colors or anything (the front porch is visibly falling off), but everything else that looks bad is apparently just cosmetic.  The front porch, of course, will need to be rebuilt, and he recommended the same for the back porch, but it could have been much worse.  So we're celebrating and starting to scheme a little bit about our plans for the place.  We realized we've been holding back a little and waiting for the inspection.  It just feels so much more ours now than it did this morning.  Somehow thinking about all the work we will have to do makes us feel better about it all as well.  We will definitely be earning the space and putting a lot into it.

Now the fun of thinking about owning is that we will be able to really make it ours.  Almost every day since we first saw the bungalow, I have had one of the rooms in mind, but I think I was afraid to share in case the offer fell apart.  I keep thinking about the potential and inspiration for materials and design.  The room-of-the-day today is: the bathroom.  It's one of my favorites in the house.  Right now it's a bold pink and has the original fixtures: a small sink, a toilet with a detached bowl and a clawfoot tub.  I love them all and would really like to give the room a bold, monochromatic look.  Here are the two inspirations I have in mind:

 1)  Door Sixteen's upstairs bathroom:  It's amazing how lovely and light the end result is in Anna from D16's bathroom.  I love the way that the crisp, graphic floral of the wallpaper complements the more organic shading of the marble hexagon tiles on the floor.  I also love the crisp, eggshell finish on the bead board that mimics the porcelain fixtures.  This is all especially inspiring given that the current flooring in the bungalow bathroom is vinyl patterned to look like a carpet.
2.  The Marion House Book bathroom :  Emma of the Marion House Book has such a great eye for proportion and giving rooms natural, but modern details.  She also really embraces the drama of a dark palette, especially here.  I love how the sooty black contrasts with the porcelain and the Nelson pendant looks wonderful in such an unexpected location.

Two altogether different, but beautiful and modern, ways to work with the original (or original-style) features.  I hope to incorporate a little of both...

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Why White

So.  I realize that I left off the best part of my Breakdown in a Big Box Retailer story.  That's the part where I show up at the register with an armful of white linens and a big grin.  Why?  Because those white linens are my blank canvas and I have every intention of adding to it.  I intend to add, furthermore, things that I truly, deeply love or practical items, preferably both.

You see, when I moved to Spain about two and a half years ago, fresh out of college, I sold all my stuff out on my front yard.  I made about $370.  It was heady and exciting, slightly depressing when I realized that all my worldly possessions amounted to about what I would spend on coffee in a semester.  In hindsight I'm so thankful that I'm not deciding whether to live with a certain beer koozie or my gaudy costume jewelry collection.  (I'm also grateful to, and intrigued by, the mysterious man in fatigues that showed up on my front porch and bought both.)  Now that Spain is behind me, I'm ready to feel less liberated and have more.  Starting out with not much has been exciting, but there is a certain amount of pressure, and budget juggling, that goes along with it.  Here are some wonderful blog entries that are inspiring my new take on possessions:

1.  Simple Lovely's "Honor Your Stuff:" "I believe when you buy only the things that you really love, things that are made with integrity, things that are high-quality, beautiful and will have them for a very, very long time. I believe these types of things are worthy of display"

2. Holley and Gil's "Commmitment issues:"  A collection of spaces and styles that inspires me to stay true to my style.

3. Two Ellie's "An Organized Life: Being Transparent:"  This roundup of ideas about how to live simply is so inspiring to me.  For example, she highlights Emerson Made's statement: "keep only what you need, and keep it in plain sight. No hidden junk". 

Paralysis in the Aisles of Bed Bath and Freaking Beyond

We took approximately an hour (an HOUR) to pick out the following: a sheet set and some towels.  They were all a seafoam color that, after much deliberation, I thought was my favorite.  Then when we were approaching the register something got to me.  I don't know if it was the artificial lighting, or the music, or the sheer amount of stuff, or the effort of maneuvering a shopping cart through the very narrow aisles (to be fair, Jack did most of that), but I LOST IT.  Completely.  "Do I even like seafoam?"  I asked Jack as real, grown-woman-tears, welled up in my eyes.  Jack tried not to show excessive irritation or make a scene, but there was no hiding that I was a blubbering mess.  Over the color of a fitted sheet.  A fitted sheet that we had taken approximately forty-five minutes to pick out.  After some deep breaths and some "No, I can't wipe my eyes with that because we're absolutely not buying it,"  I ran back to the respective sections and switched out seafoam for some plain, old, bleach-able white.  (To be fair, I say switched out, but this was another half-hour of complex comparison).
Do you know what the most ridiculous part of all this was?  We weren't even paying for it, technically.  We had several generous BB&B gift certificates from Grandma.  Moreover, we had a dozen BB&B 20% off certificates from my mother.  Basically we couldn't go wrong, or so I thought.

Then crippling indecision struck.  I have been waiting, plotting and dreaming of putting together a nest with Jack for so long that it's making this pretty impossible.  I am naive enough to think there is a perfect "x" (in this case substitute "fitted sheet") out there for us and that, with some careful shopping it can be ours.  At the same time I am practical enough to know that if we do not get perfect "x" if we settle, then we won't go back and replace it, bar a major disaster befalling imperfect "x."  You see we are make-do types, and possibly cheap-os to boot.  So.  Here we are.  I want to fall in love with every single thing we bring into our new home and Jack wants to get through this process quickly and sanely.  I don't blame him and he gets an extra badge for yesterday, especially after promising to go back with me.

In conclusion:  Jack is a lovely man, BB&B is an experience, and, yes, I still love seafoam.  I just have commitment issues and ran off with bland white.  Also I am eternally grateful to my family for all their help with this. (Above: Seafoam used artfully, via Domino)

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


So there are two pairs of pictures that have been on my desktop the past couple days.  I keep opening them and staring at them, side by side, because I can.  They don't really fit into any of my folders.  At least, they fit into very different folders.  Tonight I file them with a heavy heart.  Which means I will no longer be able to gaze at them together easily off my desktop.  That was a problem, previously.  Then it occurred to me... why not just post them here?  Together? So I'm going to do just that, much like the "This/That" feature on Oh Joy! Here they are:


Monday, 24 January 2011

Meet a Special Bungalow

They accepted our offer! They accepted our offer! Fingers are firmly crossed that inspections reveal nothing too serious and that we get to renovate, love and live in this little bungalow: 
More pictures to come! The above gem is straight from Trulia.

In the meantime, here is a wonderful renovation blog about a house of a similar size/period that's wonderful inspiration:

Chezerby: "a blog about the adventures of two young architects and their 1910 fixer-upper."

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Keeping Occupied

We did something pretty crazy last week.  We put an offer on a house.  It's a definite fixer, but in an ideal location near downtown and it was, to our surprise, within our grasp price-wise.  So we did it.  Then somebody else also put in an offer.  There have been counter offers and counter-counter offers.  We didn't, however, want to get into a bidding war so we put in our final offer and now we wait.  I'm trying to stay busy, or zen, but it's not easy.  How do you prepare yourself for your future home sliding through your fingers?  How do you prepare, for that matter, for a house becoming your future home?  We're trying to do both. Simultaneously. Tomorrow afternoon needs to hurry itself up already.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Meet Our Furniture

We now have our first pieces of together, real-life furniture.  We spent *several* days scouring the vintage emporiums for upholstered furniture.  No luck in our budget/DIY skill sets.  So we drove an hour up the road and we'll be bringing these home to our new place in February:

The Louisa and Mona, both from the Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams outlet, both an additional 20% off.  The actual fabrics/legs are slightly different, and match better.  We also got a couple pillows, in the same fabric as the chair, to put on the sofa and tie it all together.  You know.  As we wandered around the showroom Jack exclaimed, "I've fallen in love!" about the sofa.  I had a similar feeling about the chair.  Anyway, we're feeling pretty pleased with ourselves and happy to find a compromise between retro/modern/traditional that will hopefully go well with other styles and pieces.  Now we just have to wait to bring them home and stretch out our thigh muscles, which are still aching from the excessive amount of sitting down and standing up that we did yesterday.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Babies Eating Lemons for the First Time

I know this has been around... but I find it hilarious and strangely moving.  I was a lemon eating baby, so I probably would have been among the happier reactions...

Monday, 17 January 2011

How perfect is this hat?

With this skirt and on this girl?  Pretty much.  Could I pull it off?  Never.  Does this make me less attracted to it and the becoming way it complements the stripe on the skirt?  Not at all.  (From the ASOS lookbook via Bluebird )

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Simple Inspiration from Claire Morris

I saved these images from the Design Sponge Sneak Peak of Claire Morris's home in Australia .  The white and natural wood work together to create a space that's fresh and airy.  I love white and blue stripes.  This kind of luminous simplicity is where I want to live. Seeing it all put together is helping me focus and regroup after an overwhelming, but marvelous, trip to antique furniture mecca.  I'm trying to commit to only buying secondhand stuff this time, within reason.  It will be good for my budget, good for the environment and hopefully we will end up with unique, aesthetically pleasing and durable pieces.  These pictures show a space that is well curated and interesting.  I imagine everything you see is well-loved and handpicked, which is as it should be.  Wish me happy hunting and if you have ideas about good, green and reasonable mattresses...

Friday, 14 January 2011

Asheville in Bohemian Color

We have driven and walked around a lot recently, soaking in the atmosphere of Asheville's neighborhoods and the mountain views.  It's amazing how much character each street and house has.  We're especially impressed by the bungalows and the bright colors they wear.  The little staid houses of the '20s have discovered some hippie flair and it suits them.
It's been alternately freezing and balmy, despite the fact that there's still snow on the ground.  We walked around one particular neighborhood when the weather was up near the 40s.  Children were sledding down a hill and guitar riffs were echoing between the houses.  We could just imagine that same neighborhood in the early spring and the lazy days of summer.  We didn't know it then, but a couple days later we would be signing a lease for a townhouse around the corner.  Today we've got the contract tucked in a folder and couldn't be happier about our new home.  We have until February first, however, until we get to move in.  This would be frustrating, but because we're starting from scratch, it means we've got some time to hunt for furniture.  In the interim we're staying in a "Swiss chalet."  I kid you not.
  The above reminded me of Asheville's particular style.  I wish I knew where I found it.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Falling Deep in Love with Asheville

We arrived in this small, mountain city and think we have found "the one."  Jack and I have been driving around giggling with excitement at how beautiful everything looks and the life we could build here.  So now there is a lot of hoping and dreaming going on as we race from property appointment to property appointment, trying to find a rental that suits us.  For now we are based in an extended stay hotel.  Only Lyle appears to be a little morose and confused.  He was just courting the miniature poodle that lives next door to my mom when we left.  Now he sits in the middle of the room, looking like a weary subject posing in a motel in middle America for a fine art photographer.
I can't wait to do more exploring and to unpack the wonderful homewares that Mom has passed down to us to start out.  I am always, always in nesting overdrive so I could not be happier about all this.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Times

We did it.  We moved.  We left snow on the ground in Paris to fly into what family said was one of the most dramatic blizzards of the decade in Boston.  Now we're at my mother's house, biding our time until we make a move.  What was once familiar is slowly becoming familiar again.  It feels so right to have made this transition, but that doesn't make it less bittersweet.  The beginning of 2011 marked the beginning of this new chapter in our life and it only remains to be seen where we will be next year at this time.  So now we are doing lots of administration tasks and dreaming.  We'll be moving on soon and I have a certain city in mind, so hopefully I can begin blogging about making a new life there.  For now, however, I expect it will be a little quiet.  Wishing you all joy and peace in the new year.