dreaming big in tiny spaces

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…

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That spare ‘room’ — is it an office or a guest room?

It’s actually both. At least in a teeny NYC apartment it is. Here’s how you make it work:

  1. Find a small desk (2’x4′ is drastically smaller than anything 5′ long. And it helps not overwhelm. I love this CB2 one.
  2. Light colors furniture makes it feel bigger
  3. Not everything needs to be wood! Get some metal in there. Scared? Make it clean white.
  4. 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)
  5. 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.
  6. And a beautiful Turkish fabric pillow? That makes everything better. (ala Etsy)

Guest Room : Office

7 Things (I think) Every Home Needs

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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That’s all I’ve got. What are your “not living without” items? Share em in the comments!

 

 

 

Mathilde & Jason’s Space

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Jenna’s NEW Place

It’s been a while since my last post. Mostly because I’ve been traveling without a laptop. But even more mostly because I’ve been living out of a suitcase for four months. Just getting back, I’ve officially moved to New York, where my little one bedroom apartment is hiding in a storage unit. More on that soon. In the meantime, my friend Jenna, who’s row house mini-reno I shared with you here (or literally two posts below, oops), has moved! Typical of DC properties and rentals.  No worries though, because she found a sweet two bedroom apartment in a renovated funeral parlor. Creepy, perhaps. But whoever did the redesign left the exposed brick, old brick stains, wooden beams, and molding. I love this person.

After just recently updating her old space, Jenna was a bit bummed to move, but turns out everything we purchased and set up went even better in the new place. Check out her space,  and see how she did. I for one was incredibly impressed.

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photo 1Brilliant and so rad. The girls turned the TV stand into a glassware cabinet and liquor stand. Looks so great at the end of the bar, and I love the pop of the color surrounding the hues of brown.

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The girls didn’t actually need to buy anything, either. Jenna had this Ikea bookshelf in her room, and simply turned it into an entertainment center. Love the record display, too.

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Unfortunately, they had to get rid of the second sofa, but this set up still looks warm, inviting and heaps comfortable. Check out that BEAUTIFUL West Elm coffee table that hadn’t arrived before I left the last time. Also good to see that sofa cover has kept it’s color and shape.

Nice job, Jenna. Love seeing how we can adapt and make our furniture and belongings work wherever we live.

stenciling your floors

Remodelista posted this great piece today. Living in large urban cities, if you’re lucky, you may still have the original flooring that came with your hundred year old brownstone, row house, or apartment. If you’re really really lucky, you either own or have a super who would appreciate hippy stenciling on the wood. Just be careful not to destroy your precious wood floors as they are hard to come by, and linoleum isn’t a good fix, regardless of what your grandma believes. 

If you don’t have the option to try this (like me), it does seem like an interesting idea for an old dinner table. Reclaimed wood and barnyard tables are super in these days, here’s a way to make it your own. Cheers! 

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jenna’s space

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A friend of mine moved into a gorgeous row house about a year or two ago, and after a roommate (and furniture!) moved out, she decided it was time to get a few things to furnish and decorate her home. The row house is BEAUTIFUL. Original molding and hardwood floors. Bay windows. A dining room and living space that’s open. Exposed brick. I could keep going…

Her budget was around $1500 for round 1. She wanted to update her sofa, add some small pieces, and make the living area and dining room a bit more communal and warm. Host brunches and groups, and make the place perfect for her and her new roommates.

Here are a few before pics:

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We upgraded the green Ikea sofa by purchasing a new slipcover online. It’s now a velvet, light grey — Comfortable, neutral, but unique with its texture. We found a great overstuffed leather chair in cognac. A new updated entertainment center in teal blue. We will drill holes in the back to add all the cabled equipment. The rug was on sale at World Market, and the bench was from (ahem) Tar-get! We found a few bric-a-bracs and pillows throughout the adventure, and will continue adding pieces as we find them.

In the dining area, we found six eclectic, wooden chairs at her nearby flea market that will be washed white during round two, but for now, they’re great. The recycled wine glass candle holders were actually made by me from a previous DIY project, and some serving dishes and tea towels for the dining table were found at World Market.

Here’s how it looks

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We have a coffee table waiting to be delivered, frames and curtains that need to be hung, chairs that need to be painted… but this is an excellent start and already the space feels warmer, comfortable and cheerful.

Stay tuned for round two.

reupholstery is cake.

is that a mustache on your chartreuse chair?

is that a mustache on your chartreuse chair?

honestly, kinda an ugly chair from Ikea.

Before: Ikea could have done better. 

  1. Chair
  2. Paint – just buy a quarter gallon – indoor, with primer is lovely.
  3. Sand paper – if the chairs are already painted, get the medium grind. If they are basic unpainted food, the smoother paper is fine.
  4. A paint brush
  5. Staple fun
  6. Fabric of your choosing – make sure you buy enough. If you live in the city, I would recommend looking on Etsy for fabric… not too many places in DC. Make sure you buy enough!
  7. Scissors (cut your fabric)
  8. Hammer

First, you will want to wash and sandpaper down the chair – give it a clean, fresh feel. It will help making the paint go on smoother. At this time, if you can, unscrew the seat from the chair.

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-04-07Then, you’re going to want to start painting. Make sure you shake and stir your paint to make it even. I recommend doing one basic coat, let it dry for 20 – 30 minutes, and then add another. I wanted a really bright, fun, summer color. Obviously throw-up green chartreuse was the answer. 

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-04-16After your first coat, let the chair dry, and begin working on the reupholstery of the seat. As I mentioned, I purchased fabric from Etsy. Make sure  your order enough to go around the top, and underneath where there needs to be enough to staple that baby down.

IMAG0335Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-03-17The key is to pull the fabric firmly around each side, to ensure there are no kinks or wrinkles in the fabric. The corners are tricky, I recommend treating it as if you are wrapping a present. Now, if you’re terrible at wrapping gifts, try something else. 🙂 If you don’t have a staple gun, you can always nail in small hanging nails… but do consider buying a gun at Ace Hardware, they’re only like $30 and last forever. If not all of the staples go in completely (they can sometimes be a sucker), use a hammer to smooth them out.

Here you go! Mustaches!

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-03-46After the first coat is dry, work on your second paint coat. Touch ups can always be done the next day, too. I recommend waiting 1-2 days after painting to ensure the paint is 100% dry before reattaching your seat.

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honey & nutmeg mask

A friend of mine passed along seriously the best face mask recipe I’ve ever used. I’m in heaven. It makes your face smooth, your pores small, and can be used as an exfoliator. Yes, this is definitely not a beauty tips blog, but I couldn’t resist sharing. Here’s what you need:

  1.  Fresh nutmeg – just about a tablespoon grated. 
  2. Raw, natural honey. Not that bear stuff.

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Before making it, I prefer taking a shower. the steam opens your pores and preps your skin. Once ready, grate the nutmeg, about a teaspoon. Mix it with about a tablespoon of the honey. Rub it lightly on your face. If you have sensitive skin, don’t rub too hard as it will rough your face up a bit. Then, wait thirty minutes. Wash it off with warm water. And then I’d recommend blotting your face with some sort of toner, I use witch hazel ( like my sweet great grandmother used to do). 

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One very important sidenote: when first moving in with your boyfriend (or girlfriend. Or hell, anyone), I would recommend not putting this on and then sitting in the living room, waiting for the thirty minutes to pass. You will freak out said person. If it’s a male companion, he will remember why he was told at an early age that women are insane.

Last sidenote: place a paper towel around your neck. Honey drips. Enjoy!

dazzle you with my lip balm

So many blogs and posts – DIY this season! Make your own gifts! First off, I don’t have time to print out every Instagram photo and make coasters. Nor do I have time to try and crochet a scarf again this year. (I can never remember how to start.) However, I figured I would try to make lip balm. Simple enough. You can make a bunch in a short amount of time, and awesome. You have lip balm that’s cheaper than $4 a tube at Target.. You can buy everything you need at Amazon.com and Whole Foods. Again, Amazon prime this, and you’ll be ready the next day.

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First – buy some tins. Or plastic containers. Whatever you want to put the balm in. You’ll also need:

1. Beeswax! I bought the small pellets – it’s easier to melt, and cheap!

2. Oil – I made two batches, the clear one has coconut oil, the rose tinted has a mix of olive and vegetable oil

3. Raw honey

4. Essential oils – for the clear one, I used rosemary, lavender and peppermint. Ha – kind of a weird mix, but it worked out well. For the rose tinted balm, I used rose essential oil and peppermint. About 40 drops of each

5. Pipettes! You can buy 100 for $5 on Amazon – They make pouring the liquid balm into the tins a whole lot easier.

6. I also took a couple Vitamin A liquid pills, sliced em open, and added them to the mix. Good for your skin. I added Vitamin E, but naturally forgot to photograph. These were just in my medicine cabinet – as were the oils.

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Next you’ll want to use a double boiler. Since I don’t have one, I used a frying pan, and then put a glass pie dish on top. Pour water into the pan, and let it start to boil. While waiting, in the pie dish, add all of the ingredients. Depending on how much you want, you will want a 3:1 ratio of oil:beeswax. A tablespoon or so of honey. And 30-40 drops of each essential oil. If you want to add color, buy a tube of natural lipstick, and add half of it to your mix. When the water is boiling, put the pie dish on top, and let everything melt. No sense in starting to stir, because everything will just stick to your spoon. So wait, and use the time to remove all the tops to the tins.

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When all of the ingredients are melted, take the pie dish off the burner, and use a spoon to stir everything together. Then, use the pipette to put the liquid mix into each tin. About three squeezes per tin.

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The mix cools and solidifies super quick, so if it hardens before you finish, just put the pie dish over the boiling water/pan and let it melt again. And there you go! I am going to give the balms away in pairs – it will be a nice little gift. Everything total – and I still have more than half of what I originally purchased – cost under $75. And I made 50 tins of balm. Boom.

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