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.