quick post: bettering the boudoir

My blog pal Chloe over at littlehousebigcity.com recently proclaimed that getting a real bed made her a real grown-up. Well, kids, here’s a peek at what’s goin’ on Chez Sharon:

 

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Yep, I just knocked off one of my longest standing “to-do” items. Been on the list since about 2006, give or take. (Not kidding.) Naturally, Scout was anxious to be the first to test it out. More deets on the long search and amazing deal I got as the bedroom comes back together.

Ya’ll up to anything exciting in the bedroom? Remember, comments are moderated!  ;)

forcing spring a little early

Anybody out there NOT salivating for spring? New York got a tease Saturday a week ago, but that’s all. By Sunday it was chilly and cold again. Yet I wasn’t  to be thwarted. My Spring Green Thumb was twitching and I just HAD to dig in some dirt. Even if it meant getting dirty in the living room!

You might remember in my House Tour post that I mentioned the bedroom feeling a little “half-baked,” like this:

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The large window sill, about five feet long and two feet deep, had been neglected of late. Sometimes it has looked charming, like this:

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But I often like to rearrange things and nowadays the fountain is in the living room. And the terracotta pots seen here:

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looked a lot better with the bedroom’s formerly yellow walls than with the current bottom-of-the-ocean blue (otherwise known as Benjamin Moore’s Fiji).

My current apartment inspiration is a little Jonathan Adler: Bright, happy, fully of color. And what better way to bring some spring a little ahead of warm weather than with some bright happy pots and a few new house plants?  So here we go, yo!
I told you I’d be making a mess in the living room!

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A couple of little tips about planting:
1) NEVER use a pot or other container without drainage.  If you’re absolutely determined, at least fill the bottom with an inch or more of gravel or small stones.

2) Use a stone or piece of broken terracotta just atop the drainage hole. It will allow water to escape, but not flow straight from the top of the pot through to the bottom without pausing long enough to benefit the roots. It should look something like this:

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3) Pay attention to the type of soil your plant may prefer: sandy soil will keep the roots more dry, while more dense soil (with a higher clay content) will hold moisture longer.

4) Different plants may prefer to be “root bound,” a condition in which their roots wind around the outside of their soil up against the interior of the pot. Jade plants are an example. Other plants need plenty wiggle room for their roots.

5) This should be obvious, but read the care instructions on any plant before you buy it. A low-light plant such as a fern truly will burn in a south-facing window, while anything that needs bright sun will grow weak and spindly facing north. Simply Googling “good plants for dim light” or “good houseplants for bright light” will give you plenty of options.

So here’s what an afternoon of replanting yielded:

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It turns out I made three trips to the plant store. First to buy pots. Second for some sand to amend the soil for a huge Aloe Vera I replanted in the living room. And third because I decided my “half-baked” bedroom needed a couple of bright additions. All in all I’m very happy with the results. The flowering orange addition below is a traditional begonia, while the white flowering baby is an “eyelash begonia,” something I’ve never seen before, but I hope will thrive!

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So how about y’all? Anything springing up yet?

almost spring house tour 2014

Welcome to the 550-Square-Foot Castle

Happy spring cleaning! Ok, so it was 19 degrees this morning in Manhattan. It’s not even remotely spring. But hey, what better excuse to clean like a madwoman than a three-day weekend and the opportunity to introduce ya’ll to my abode?  So without further ado:
THE LIVING ROOM

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Welcome to version 7.0, roughly speaking. See that green wall? That color changes every time my life does. So far it’s been peach (the truly hideous color it was when I moved in, circa 1998); muted green (a long- forgotten Martha Stewart color that always had more gray in it than I would have liked); honey dew green (loved it, but it had to go after a painful breakup necessitated disassociating the living room from memories of the ex); Pepto-Bismal pink (a girlie reaction to the breakup that only lasted one weekend); ice blue; deep red, then deeper red (new boyfriend’s choice. It went with a more rustic look that accommodated some of his belongings); and now spring green (harkening to the afore-mentioned honey dew. It was always my fave and now enough time has passed that I no longer associate it with the ex.)

The couch is from Room & Board in “Cloud” velvet. Etager and cocktail table from Crate & Barrel. The yellow chair was my first adult furniture purchase: $13, plus about $300 to recover it whenever the whim strikes. Footstool from Home Goods. Built-ins under the window to conceal the AC, radiator and litter box designed by moi and Euro Tom 3000. Concrete window ledge, Art in Construction. (Both the built-ins and window ledge were big bonus-season splurges in 2012.)

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Pivoting left, you’ll find last year’s bonus splurge: tree branch shelf brackets from West Elm; custom-cut Carrera marble shelves; “Eleanor” wallpaper in Moonbeam on Cream from Walnut Wallpapers; and a laquer console from CB2 that added a ton of much-needed concealed storage. Soon I’m planning to wall-mount the TV and hide the cable box in the console using one of those small electronic eyes to send the signal from the remote control to the box. Stay tuned for a major media makeover!

THE DINING AREA

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One of the best things about this apartment is the separate dining area. The 42-inch oak pedestal table expands to hold two leaves and comfortably seats six, but can squeeze eight. It’s also a great place to work on the laptop, wrap presents or work on other projects. But this little nook has been a real challenge to decorate. It’s oddly shaped and always felt cold in contrast to the bright wall in the living room. I toyed with the idea of wallpaper here, but ultimately chose to put that behind the TV. The wooden cabinet added some nice texture and the Jonathan Adler light was a great addition. I like the $100 painting there for height (I picked it up in Hudson, NY several years ago.) The plates on the right wall were part of my great grandmother’s china service. They’re Lemoge from I’d guess about 1920 or so. I love the idea of dining plates from my ancestors adorning my dining area today.

The chairs in this space are Stickley “re-issues” as opposed to reproductions. They come from the company’s original plans and are made using the same craftsmanship of the originals. The seat covers are newish, and I’ll tell y’all all about how I made them in a future post.

THE KITCHEN

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This is the highlight of my little home, a big investment made to renovate back in 2002. The space used to be fully enclosed, but an architect in the building who lived in an apartment identical to mine inspired me to take down the walls. He designed the hanging cabinet too, but his version would have cost a whopping $15K to build! I came up with this design working with my contractor for about $2,500. It features Ikea cabinets and lights. The metal components lashing them together and hanging them were custom made in the restaurant supply district down by the Bowery. The cabinets are red oak and I mixed the stain and finished them myself because I couldn’t find a pre-mixed color I liked. The countertops are concrete, again by Art in Construction, the company that made my window sill in the living room.

THE BEDROOM

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This room is still very much a work in progress. I grew up with a beautiful antique bed my grandmother bought me when I was 6 years old. I loved it. Alas, it was a full-size, rather than queen and really doesn’t fit two people very comfortably, so it’s on long-term loan to my God daughter, Chloe, in Pennsylvania. I spent real dough on a good queen-sized mattress, but haven’t found a bed that’s as special as the one I grew up with. I’m thinking of an upholstered headboard with something of a curve to it, but that may not be permanent. I’m also about to replace the tattered lampshades that came with these vintage lamps with some that are a little more fun, maybe something from the lighting collection of my favorite bloggers over at www.younghouselove.com. The window sill feels very bare, but I do love the art in this room. The grand painted screen above the bed was a gift from my father when he lived in Taiwan about 15 years ago. (Thanks, Daddy!)

Some other shots:

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So that’s my little home introduction. Check back here for evolving projects, inspiration and I’m sure a few decorating mistakes.

Thanks for reading!