We’re going big with this tiny studio. It’s maybe, maybe, 300 sqft? It’s in Cobble Hill in Brooklyn, and simply put, this spot my friend Tyler found is, perfect. I won’t even start with how great a deal all these items cost us. Here’s a sneak peak. Until more…
They’re charming. They’re horribly painted, with maybe marble here or there. They’re a free shelf. A fake bed frame. Character. Pretend or real. Maybe 120 years old. In any case, they’re here to stay, and you gotta figure out what to do with it. Here’s what we did with ours. Print is from the National Gallery of Australia. Bottles are from a flea market + and an old kale juice pressed. Salmon pot from Target. Books, sadly, and most likely, Amazon. Ooh lala.
It’s actually both. At least in a teeny NYC apartment it is. Here’s how you make it work:
- Find a small desk (2’x4′ is drastically smaller than anything 5′ long. And it helps not overwhelm. I love this CB2 one.
- Light colors furniture makes it feel bigger
- Not everything needs to be wood! Get some metal in there. Scared? Make it clean white.
- Mirrors make everything feel bigger! And clear glass is clean and spacious. (Urban Outfitters has a relatively fair priced living section where you can find one)
- A beautiful day bed also serves as a sofa, takes up less space, and no longer has to be a weird trundle. (Though yeah, those are pretty great, too). I’m loving this West Elm bed in walnut.
- And a beautiful Turkish fabric pillow? That makes everything better. (ala Etsy)
I got married! And it was the coolest thing ever! (and yes, I’ll write some more on that soon!)
But now, the sad part, is even the honeymoon is over. After months of planning, rearranging table settings, writing vows, and choosing flowers, glasses have been cheers’d, rings have been exchanged, and a killer honeymoon has been taken.
Ok, so it’s not really over. Our life together has just begun, ya ya ya…. but what about the decor?!!!
Between the wedding weekend and our honeymoon, we had an in-between day that allowed us to do laundry and re-pack bags. We traveled from the wedding (in San Diego), back to Brooklyn, washed clothes, repacked swimsuits, and quickly prepped … yes, in order to relax But before we went, I hung up a few of the wedding flowers from our ceremony site in the closet to see if I could get them to dry nicely.
The flowers were from our beautiful, perfect, alter (thank you Organic Elements!) Mixing the culture of my – husband!- and I, we incorporated succulents from southern California and Arizona, and proteas, gum nuts, and kangaroo paw from beautiful Australia. Organic Elements made the ceremony site uniquely us. And I wanted a way to keep that with us.
So we tried our luck with drying, and I hung the flowers from a hanger in our closet (maybe it’s an old wive’s tale, but I think that’s how you do it!:
That was four days ago. We just got home, and before unpacking, I checked on them to see how it went. I then proceeded to grab a couple nails, a hammer, the leftover twine and gold spray painted mini clothes pins we used at the wedding (stay tuned!), and here’s how it turned out. Now, we have memories from our wedding that we can look at each day we wake up. I’m one lucky lady.
Every once in a while, it’s nice to do something crafty. And it doesn’t have to be 100% unique or handmade. Sometimes, it’s nice to just rip out the cuts a store bought project has factory made, build some flowers, and call it a day.
We went to Paper Source this afternoon for a birthday card, and for an extra $25, I came out with this. Ok, we bought a couple other things, too. Man I love that store.
I began writing this on the first day of spring. It was snowing. Which means that for the majority of the last — FOUR MONTHS — I’ve stayed inside, hiding from the hideous winter elements. Which is hilarious because that means that 1/3 of the year I’m staying inside a tiny space while living in a huge, ridiculously amazing city. So, I can’t be Carrie and keep my shoes in the oven. I can’t live in an ugly box that I pay too much for, only to be outside and enjoying the world every day. It means I need a space that’s warm, organized, comfortable – home.
So here’s my first list. If I were to move ANYWHERE, especially in a city, these are the items I know I couldn’t live without. Maybe because of how they look, mostly because of their practicality (even if just for my mental health), take a look, and let me know what you think.
1. Speakers! Even if you can hear your cell phone on vibrate in each part of your house, that doesn’t mean you don’t need speakers. Music sounds better with them. Bravo TV arguments will intensify. And, no, silent discos weren’t invented for single dance parties at home. I have these Harman Kardon ones, and they’ve lasted forever. A bit pricey, but for $170 they look nice, are clean, won’t add clutter, and sound great.
2. LIGHTING. Even if your apartment has ceiling lamps (lucky), you still should find some table and floor lamps, or more overhead lights to create a warm space that can help define areas, corners, and cubbies. I found this great floor lamp at the Brooklyn Flea (the best!) that I use as a reading light in our living room. The table lamp was also a favorite find from Eastern Market in DC. Helpful hint: Buy a good lightbulb. It WILL pay off. I prefer the softer lighting bulbs like the GE White Hybrid Halogen. They’re energy smart and eco friendly! $12 each but they really do last forever.
3. Plants. Please don’t say you can’t because you just kill them. That’s why succulents and cacti were created. Plants keep your space bright, beautiful, feeling clean… and some even clean your air (yes, fact). Add a couple, take them to your new home, and they’ll make any space look good. It’s genuinely the easiest, cheapest way to decorate. I love this Target Home find, a cement planter that could easily (stupidly) sell for $50, but was $13. Not everything needs to be a Pinterest DIY, where your supplies cost an obscene amount of money.
4. Extra Seating! I love having extra chairs around the house to make sure that if we do have a lot of guests around, everyone has somewhere to sit. We have a wood folding one that I stash behind the closet, a couple cute side chairs… Small chairs are super easy store and move apartments with. They can have a pattern, texture, unique wood… It’s a simple way to add decor to a space without feeling too “done”, and they don’t clutter. I love our West Elm John Vogel chair in charcoal. The second one I bought from a previous tenant at an apartment I used to live in.
5. A good (electric) tea kettle. This seems random, but after living with an Australian, I’ve learned the power and beauty of a good tea kettle. Beyond making a cup of tea, an electric tea kettle will boil water for your pasta, french press coffee, rice, potatoes… EVERYTHING. It’s so much quicker than a stove top kettle, and I literally use it every day. I love this Capresso clear glass kettle. Buy it from Bed Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon, and it’s $50. Yes, you can get a cheap plastic one, but I prefer glass because you’re not ingesting toxins every time you heat the plastic, it’s much nicer to look at, and easier to clean because the kettle is separate from the electric plug. It’s also a good, small size that won’t take up too much space in your teeny kitchen.
6. A magic bullet. If you have a teeny apartment, this is a LIFE SAVER. Beyond making that delicious kale juice we all pretend to love, you can also blend soups, yogurts, even use it as a food processor. It’s SO easy to clean, and is much smaller than a blender. I love our Nutri Bullet especially because I do think it breaks food down better than the other brands. Again, use a 20% coupon ala Bed, Bath & Beyond and buy it. The steel design also makes for a nicer looking appliance.
7. STORAGE. I mean, obviously, right? That is the dream. But you can do storage right, and then you can do storage wrong. For example, do you need your winter coat in your closet, taking up space all year long? No. In fact, it doesn’t need to ever be in your closet. Get a hook, hang it by your door for four months (this also allows it to dry properly). Done. And when you don’t use it, buy these ridiculously smart (and REUSABLE) Ziploc vacuum hanging bags, put your stuff in it, and then either store them in the back of your closet or better yet, under your bed. They keep stuff clean, won’t ruin the filling of your coat, and pro tip: You don’t need a vaccuum to suck out the air. You can literally sit on em, and push out the air (like rolling a sleeping bag), until all the air is out. Fact. (No personal picture because sadly we are still using our coats. :P)
In addition, because we really no longer need DVD players, DVDs, or really any TV equipment beyond a ChromeCast stick, use your “entertainment center” for other things! Serving dishes? A “linen closet”? A mini hardware tool box with your tools, extra lightbulbs and batteries? This is such an easy way to keep organized and clean. (You’ll never know what’s in our “entertainment center”. Another Eastern Market find:
That’s all I’ve got. What are your “not living without” items? Share em in the comments!
TVs, ceiling lamps, hanging plants are DAUNTING. If not hung properly, they’ll crash and break and probably hurt someone in the process. I’m not denying I’ve learned this from experience. So, there’s limited space in our new apartment, which is why we (I) decided to follow the trend and hang a couple plants! I found this cool (and cheap!) $10 planter at Ikea. It’s simply, clean… and when I have time I may just paint some fun stripes on it.
To hang it, here’s what I bought:
1. Instead of a rope or rod, I liked the idea of hanging the planter from a gold chain. So for $2, I bought 2 feet of silver chain from our local lighting store. Then, I sprayed painted it gold You can also sometimes find already sprayed gold chains. Use a set of pliers to make it the length you prefer by removing excess links. I wanted out planter lower than usual so I could see the flowers better, water them easier, give them good sun, and break up some of the empty space.
2. a proper SWAG hook kit — you can get these at your local hardware store for $1.50 — Ace Hardware! ( I bought a gold one to match) Make sure it includes a spring toggle wing and screw bolt. They usually come in two packs.
3. You’ll need a drill to make a hole to push the toggle and screw into the ceiling. Make sure the drill bit used is the same size as the bolt. The one I bought required a 3/16 in. bit. Also, know the material you are drilling into – if it’s cement or brick you’ll need a different type of drill bit. Check with your hardware store if you’re unsure.
How to Hang it
1. Drill a hole into the desired spot. Again, make sure you are using the correct bit, it matches the material you’re drilling into, and it’s the same size as the bolt.
2. Attach the hook on one side of the bolt. On the other side, screw the bolt into the hole between each side of the spring toggle. Make sure the toggle isn’t screwed on too far, as it needs to be able to close completely to get through the drilled hole.
3. After drilling the hole, you need to push the entire device into the hole — to the other side of the wall — except, of course, the hook. Once you do this, the spring toggle will pop back open – SUCCESS!
4. Once you’ve popped it in, pull down snuggly on the hook, and begin to turn the hook clockwise. This will screw the spring toggle closer to the hook (from inside the wall) so that all that is between the hook and the toggle is the wall – this will prevent the entire hook from falling out and ripping the ceiling on the way down. Whoop!
5. Then, hang yo shit and make it look good. (Who needs Task Rabbit anymore?) Daffodils and lavender purchased at Trader Joes! $5 each, what a deal. (Our local nursery is still closed for winter — on the first day of spring — and yes it’s about to snow. ugh).
Protip: Where’s all the water gonna drain? Below the plants, I placed a bunch of pebbles to help hold drained water. This will prevent your flowers from drowning. You can even buy pebbles at Ikea for like a buck.
There’s nothing better than fresh herbs, pasta and baby artichokes. Besides being delicious, it also means spring has sprung, and all those root vegetables, roasts and stews are bye-bye til next winter.
What you’ll need:
1. baby artichokes. For two mouths and some leftovers, I buy five
2. Pasta. I’m loving the fresh pasta from Union Market in Brooklyn right now. Especially the spinach fettuccine. (Sidenote: yes, it will never be as cheap as dried pasta, but it’s a fair and easy amount, around $4.)
3. a couple lemons
4. a handful of each: mint, basil, parsley
5. a shallot and a few cloves of garlic
6. some white wine – maybe around 1/2 cup?
7. a cup or so of veggie broth
8. olive oil, salt, red pepper chili flakes
9. parmesan — just for the top
1. Start boiling water in your electric hot water boiler. In a large pot, start cooking some large chunks of garlic in a splash of olive oil. Then add the juice of 1 1/2 lemons, add the lemons, then add the boiled water. Refill your electric boiler, let it boil, and add that to the pot, too.
2. While the lemon, garlic and olive oil begin to boil, cut off the stalk part of the artichokes. Then add the artichokes to the boiling water.
3. The artichokes will take around 16 -20 minutes to cook. You want them to be soft, by not smooshy. Gross. (This is ahead of the game, but please don’t throw out that water! when the chokes finish cooking, you’ll see why).
4. While the artis cook, dice up your shallots, another couple large garlic cloves. When the artichokes finish cooking (KEEP THE WATER, just use tongs to remove the chokes), fry up the shallots and garlic in a separate frying pan, along with a little bit of olive oil, around 1 tablespoon. Then add the white wine and veggie broth. Let it simmer.
5. 1/4 cut the artichokes and add them to the fry pan. Then add chili pepper flakes and a little bit of salt, to your tasting… those flakes will give you a bang, so don’t go crazy, just enough for some good heat. While this cooks a bit, chop up your fresh herbs — basil, parsley and mint.
6. Now with the water you did not pour out, it should still be boiling, add your pasta. Let it cook in the delicious lemon, garlic, artichoke, olive oil water you have made. Yum. Let the pasta soak up the flavor. It depends on the pasta, but for fresh pasta, it only needs around 3 minutes to cook. Oh my gosh, so damn good.
7. Pour the pasta out, then poor out the water. Combine the pasta and artichoke-wine sauce. Top it off with the fresh herbs, add some parmesan. You are a winner. Your meat eating counterparts won’t even ask where’s the beef. (that was a horrible joke).
The walls in our apartment are all clean white. There’s original molding and glass, simply, they’re beautiful. Growing up in a house where the walls were always changing colors, and even the ceiling was a “white lime” color, I’ve learned to appreciate the spaciousness that white creates, especially in a small New York apartment. That said, you can take the girl out of the eccentric home, but you can’t take the eccentric home out of the girl.
More so, I wanted to see what we plausibly could get away with in regards to rental rights. Because after moving in two sofas, we’re never leaving.
Our bathroom has a great sunlight, but other than that, it’s small. It’s mixed in white tiles where over time old ones must have broken off. There’s layers and layers of old paint, grey and white cements covering the tiles in illogical and messy ways. There’s also mold. A lot of mold. To top it off, the most recent paint job was one layer of white, so poorly painted you could see the lilac purple underneath.
I mean, it’s gross.
Originally I wanted to paint it a dark slate grey/blue. But who wants to poo in not only a small room, but a dark and small room? So we nixed that, and I went to, obviously, my favorite color in the world — chartreuse.
Adding a lick of paint to your walls not only brightens the space, it cleans it up, makes things feel fresh, and is an inexpensive way to redecorate.
What You’ll Need (to clean, caulk, and paint your poo room) —
1. a flat head screw driver
2. paint. our bathroom is teeny tiny, and the tiles cover a lot of the walls, so we only needed 1/4 gallon. I recommend making sure the paint is mold proof and bathroom friendly. We used a satin finish — not shiny, but not chalky-matte.
3. a couple paint brushes. I used a 1″ one that I already had, as well as the brush I swear by, the shur line paint edger — it’s smooth, and helps with painting corners and edges.
4. painter’s tape.
5. something to place the paint in. Incidentally, the plastic cover to a container of Swiffer mops works quite well (just make sure you don’t need to use it again!)
6. maybe a ladder, or you can do the little dance I did while painting on the edge of the tub.
7. brush or vacuum and cleaning all-purpose spray. I like Method.
8. Spatula and wall putty – in case you have old holes in the walls. Maybe some light sand paper.
Before you paint, clean up the space. wash the walls down — there’s definitely a layer of grime and water from showering, which also means gross bacteria that you don’t want under a new coat of paint. Wash down everything including all the tiles with a cleaning spay.
For us, there were holes all over the walls. And awkwardly placed HUGE screws, that of course were painted over from before. We patched them up, too. Once dried, I sanded them down just a bit with a light sandpaper to make sure the walls were smooth.
The bathroom tiles had old layers of paint and cement and caulk EVERYWHERE. Use a flat head screw driver to pull and scrape it up and off. Be careful to not make a hole into the wall. In addition, this is a great time to recaulk your tub. Where the caulk was once white and water proof, it’s now black (mold) and gross. Use the flat head to scrape out the mold. Once you’ve scraped out everything nasty, make sure it’s clean and dry, and then use the caulk tube, and slowly squeeze out the paste. It will need 24 hours to dry, so don’t do this right after working out (note to self).
Before the paint pic, check out this beauty. After pic of recaulking the tub. Hallelujah, I’m not getting some weird growth on my feet!
After you finish cleaning up the walls, removing old paint from the tiles, tape up where the wall meets the ceiling and the tiles. Oh yeah, remove the switch plates
Then, start painting. If you choose a bright color like we (ok, I) did, you’re gonna need to paint two layers. Use the edge brush to get the main bits, then use the smaller 1″ one to finish the corners or hard to reach areas.
Between coats, spend your time getting crazy with spray paint. Just ask, would Beyoncé had a gold switch plate? Probably. (Make sure to spray by layer).
Then, after painting your second coat wait like 30 mins, and remove the painters tape. Waiting too long can sometimes pull up the paint if it’s dried on top of the tape.
Not only is our bathroom brighter, it’s cleaner, the tiles aren’t covered in decades of paint, and it’s mold free!
Next up, the kitchen!
My friend Mathilde lives in a gorgeous home in Williamsburg. She and her husband have the top two floors — the upper level being used as a massive office and spare room. Their living room has so much potential – beautiful wide panel flooring, a maintained brick wall, bright, big windows. The space is great, and allows for a dining area and living room.
Like so many of us, Mathilde is on a budget! So most of her furniture came from Craig’s List, Housing Works, and the likes. She also has a great collection of art work, but isn’t sure exactly how to present it.
While we didn’t get a before pic (of course!), the space felt a little backwards – their large dining table was in front of the windows, and the sofa and red chaise were spread out. Because of the office upstairs, it was important that we make her living room feel private and spacious, and utilize the sunlight to the best of our ability. So we rearranged a bit. With a $500 budget (we only spent $450!), we went to Target and bought a couple basics — a foot rest, a couple lamps, a side table, an entertainment center (actually, the same one we used in Jenna’s space), light bulbs, and a hammer and nails. We also went to the nearby hardware store and nursery and bought — you know it — succulents! And some cute, eclectic pots. Check out what we did. A quick revamp, space changer, and now it totally feels personal, private, bright, and uses the space perfectly!
Can you BELIEVE that side table is from Target? What a deal, and it’s quite good quality for the price we paid! I personally like that the top moves up and down, which made matching it to fit the sofa height quite easy. Same with the lamp — great lamp, neutral but authentic feeling. For those of us that don’t have a massive budget, Target is SO great, especially their Threshold brand.
Mathilde had this great large wood coffee table, and topped it with a bright and cheerful teal cloth. It was a perfect pop of color, and I loved the square shape of the table… breaks up the monotony of everything being rectangular in a space.
And how great is this buffet/book shelf? We rearranged the books and photos, and tidied it up. Doing this changed the piece from a tool that organized books into a piece of decor — that’s high functioning.
For next steps, we’re looking for a neutral, perhaps lightly patterned, rug. We think that’ll pull it all together. In addition, we’re working on the dining space (not shown), and a bar station Mathilde has envisioned. Until then!