119: Living Room Re-Do


After taking the summer off from working on the house, we're ready to begin the next project.  For those who may not know, last January we bought a multi-family home and became landlords.  We live in one of the apartments in the building and rent out the other two units.  We have dreams of one day restoring the home back to its single-family glory, but for now, we're content to keep living in our one-bedroom apartment and collecting that rental income :) 

Since we purchased the house, we've painted the master bedroom; revamped the foyer and common stairwell, which included scraping away years of wallpaper and paint, demo, putting in new ceilings and painting, and installed new gardens in the front yard.  

Here's the bedroom in the very beginning stages of painting:

Here's the bedroom after two coats of Sherwin Williams Enigma: 
Here's the common stairwell during the 3-month long project.  Pure hell:

Here's the common hallway after months of hellish hard work, a few coats of Sherwin Williams Sticks & Stones, and some white trim paint: 

Here's the house with nothing but weeds in the beds:

Here's the new and improved beds, taken Memorial Day weekend.  You should see how much everything has filled in- it's wild!   Currently, you can't see the ground; it's all herbs and vegetables and flowers and total urban jungle goodness.  I would take a picture but frankly, I'm too lazy. 

So that's a little taste of what we've been up to.  More detailed pics are here, if you're interested.  When we first bought the house, we were all excited for projects and couldn't wait to dive in and get started.  Painting the bedroom was fun, mostly because it only took a weekend to complete.  The hallway project, on the other hand, took us several weeks and made us realize just how time intensive and all-encompassing these types of things are.  We thought we were just going to paint, but one thing led to another and before we knew it, we had a full blown demo and construction project on our hands.  This was tough because the weekends were our only time to work on it.  Gone were the lazy rainy weekends and spontaneous Saturday nights out, and in rolled the monotonous routine of scrapping, more scraping, and even more scrapping.  It was at least a month before we saw even the slightest improvement, and even then, it still looked like crap. 

Once we finally completed that project- well, it's not actually complete yet, we still have to deal with the floors, but it's just about done.  Anyway, once we felt done enough, we agreed to take a break from house projects and focus on other stuff.  Jay had a lot of side work to take care of, and I really enjoyed spending time in the garden.  We also wanted our summer weekends as free as possible for beach trips, spending time with family, and just not being bogged down when it was so nice out.  

Now that the "brisk" winds of autumn are blowing in (it's in the mid 80's as I write this) and we'll be spending more time indoors, we feel ready for the next project - the living room re-design!  This is my kind of project, as it's mostly cosmetic and design centric rather than construction-heavy.  Our current living room is fine, but I want a space that reflects our style and personalities a little more.  I want a room that is designed without being too design-y, you know?  Kinda eccentric, cozy, playful and relaxing is what I'm going for; a room that has style but doesn't take itself too seriously.  I want someone who has never met us to be able to walk into the room and get a total sense of who we are. 

So, all that being said, here are the colors we've chosen:  

The main color will be Sherwin Williams Alpaca, a warm grayish/tanish neutral , and the accent wall color will be Sherwin Williams Peacock Plume, a blueish/greenish beauty:

We had some difficulty deciding between a cool gray and a warm gray, but ultimately we decided to go with the lighter, warmer one (Alpaca) on the right.  Thanks to Mom, Sara, Jenny M. and Simone for their votes.  Just about everyone voted for Alpaca

I'd also like to throw in some pops of green, magenta and/or orange, if possible.  Here are a few things that I'm inspired by.  And yes, that is a cat on the pillow.  I'm inspired by her nap habits. 

Pillows with general color scheme found at Marshalls.  Cat not included.  The blue pillow is a perfect match to the accent wall color.  The green is along the lines of the "pop of green" I referred to above.  There are also pops of magenta and orange in the white pillow
40 x 28 Koi fish painting by Ben Will.  Note the pops of orange and green.  Note the awesomeness.
Letter blocks made from vintage maps of Ireland, perfect for on top of the bookshelves.
8 x 10 graphic map of Philly, comes in a variety of colors.  Did I mention I love maps?  May get a few from different cities we've visited and cluster them together.
16 x 20 print of classic Banksy gorilla graffiti.  I LOVE this; not sure that it will work in this space, but it belongs somewhere in our home. 

So that's where we are right now.  This color scheme is based loosely on what we already have, so I know certain elements will work.  I'm just so excited to put fresh color on the walls, throw up some new art with our existing stuff and hang curtains.  Right, curtains.  I haven't started looking at designs I like yet, I kind of want to paint and accessorize first, and then deal with window treatments.  Not sure if that's a good strategy... what do you think? 

The only thing we've actually done so far is pick and purchase the paint.  I say only as if it's simple to pick paint colors.  Nope.  It's super hard, especially when you're as indecisive as I am and as indifferent as Jay is (about the paint color).  Now that we've decided and locked in, I feel like I need a few weeks off.  I'm exhausted!  :)

I'll keep you all posted on the project as we make progress.  Here's hoping that it's a relatively easy project and that we're not opening Pandora's box again!  Hell, even if it does turn out to be a long, drawn out mess, at least we'll have this guy to entertain us.  

10/1 - Awkward & Beautiful


I'm feeling a bit awkward tonight.  The Phillies just won the first game of the National League Division Series, Jay & I just had a fun night out, and it's the weekend!  All in all, life is good and I'm riding high on both post vacation and real life goodness.  I think I may be getting sick, but other than that, I have no real concerns.  I do have sadness, though.  

One year ago today, my Dad went from actively fighting cancer to receiving a prognosis of 4-6 weeks to live.  Read more about that here.  October 1st is permanently etched in my mind as a horrible day, yet October has always been one of my favorite months, so it's left me feeling totally awkward.  On one hand, October is the gateway to autumnal bliss; the temps cool down, the landscape turns from green to vibrant shades of orange, yellow, red and brown, and there's just an undeniable feeling of comfort and change.  But on the other hand, October has come to represent a time of suffering, sadness and great loss.  

How do I reconcile these two coinciding and competing feelings?  I have no idea.  All I know is that I have to honor both; I have to love October 1st like I always have, yet I have to hate October 1st, as I now do.  It's not just the 1st, either; I'm gonna have a tough time with all of October and November.  So that's what I'll be up to for the next few weeks; simultaneously loving and hating autumn.  I'll be clinging to memories of loss as I watch dead yet beautiful leaves fall from trees, and I'll be loving it for it's transformational, awesomeness.  What a beautiful, awkward mess.

Girl's "Weekend" - San Francisco edition

Tuesday, 9/20 - To pick up from where we left off, Simone picked us up at the Emeryville station just across the bay bridge from San Francisco.  We were whisked straight away from coach class and delivered to high-rollin' deluxe classOur accommodations were posh to say the least.  We stayed with a friend of Simone's, who hooked us up with a gorgeous house complete with bridge and bay views. Check it.

We put our bags down, popped a bottle of bubbly, and watched the sun set over the Golden Gate and into the Pacific (see pic above).  I was deeply exhausted from the lack of sleep on the train, not to mention deeply grimy from the lack of showers on the train, but despite all that we decided to wash up and head out for dinner.  We went to a great place called Absinthe which, for all you Top Chef fans, is where Jamie Lauren used to cook before she moved to LA.  I ordered a cocktail called "The Agent", spicy pork meatballs, and heirloom tomato gazpacho - all delish.  The food, the booze and the laughter amongst old friends created the perfect storm of sleep-inducing goodness.  We took a cab home and had a roller coaster of a ride, complete with several "woo!"s.  That was my introduction to the crazy hills of San Francisco.  Woo!  

Wednesday, 9/21 - I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to explore.  We decided to walk around different neighborhoods, do some shopping, check out some scenic viewpoints, and just do whatever came our way.  One of the best things that came our way was PikaPika, a nothing-but-photobooths store in Japantown.  Jackpot!  We picked our booth, our backgrounds, our poses, and then got to decorate each photo with props.  Have a look at the awesomeness that is PikaPika, and the awesomeness that is Sara, Simone and I.  Take note of the little guy in the pink, in the lower left hand corner of the bathtub, as well as in several other pics.  If this Girl's Weekend had a logo, it would be that little guy, and the motto would be: "Hey Girl."


These pictures are by far the best souvenir from the trip.  So, after the hilarity that ensued as a result of these pics, I was high on silliness and friendship; I doubt there's a higher high.  Maybe not a higher feeling, but there definitely exists a higher place: Twin Peaks.  See below for breathtaking views of San Francisco, the infamous fog, and the waters that surround.  Do you see the bridge popping out of the fog in the last pic? 

After these pictures were taken and after a little more shopping, we headed home for cocktail hour with our gracious host, Stewart.  It was my first cocktail hour with a venture capitalist, and I learned a great deal about the world of wealth and venture capitalists.  I've always been drawn to that term not because it's associated with wealth but because the word "venture" sounds an awful lot like "adventure", and I'm all about having adventures.  I could take or leave wealth, but I could not do without adventure.  Anyway... I digress.  After cocktail hour, we went out for sushi (by way of a failed attempt at Burmese food) with Simone's friend Franco.  Again, the food was scrumptious, and we even got to listen to Journey on the drive home.  After a few classic Journey tunes and the Night Ranger tune "Sister Christian" thrown in for good measure, I was ready to rest my weary head and call it a night. 

Thursday, 9/22 - We woke up and decided to escape the fog and head to Marin county for the day.  The fog followed us to Muir Beach, so we continued further onward to Muir Woods.  We had stopped and picked up lunch along the way, and had the intention of picnicking in or around the park.  Once we arrived, we realized that the parking lot was the best bet for a picnic (no picnics allowed within the actual park), so we set up shop atop a mound of hay in the parking lot and enjoyed our salads and Sofia Coppola bubbly cans. 

Once inside the park, we were under the meditative spell of the redwoods.  The woods were lovely, dark and deep, and left me feeling like I had their secrets to keep.  Alright already, I'll share one secret: "In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." ~ John Muir

After the woods, we drove through some quaint Marin towns and wound up at Scoop in Fairfax, where we indulged in freshly-made coconut, strawberry, lavender vanilla honey, and chocolate ice creamI could have died a happy and fulfilled woman after my ice cream cone, but something told me there was even more delicious food to be had in my near future, so I held on, and forged ahead.   Such a trooper I am.  

On the way back into San Francisco, we made a quick stop at the Marin Headlands, which is another gorgeous overlook that offers spectacular views of the bridge and the city... or the fog.  Because the Headlands sit right on the border between SF and Marin (basically on the fog-line), it offers a unique perspective on the interplay between the two different micro-climates.  Look behind you and you see sunny blue skies; look ahead of you and you see a wall of white on the move.  It's an excellent place to experience the fog not as something lurking in the distance but as something that is alive and active and in constant motion.  I could literally see the fog swooshing over the hills and blanketing the bridge; there one minute and gone the next.  And the wind- oh my goodness it was so incredibly windy!  I thought my sunglasses were going to ripped from my face.  Because of the fog, it was the first time I felt like I could see wind.  Fascinating stuff.

After the Headlands, we crossed the bridge back into the city and slipped back into the fog.  Later that night, we succeeded in our mission to have Burmese food at Burma Superstar.   All I'm gonna says is this: pork belly.  I'll also say this: food coma.  

Friday, 9/23 - I forget to mention this above, but when we arrived at the house on Tuesday, there was a basket of goodies at the foot of our bed, courtesy of Simone.  Inside the basket was an array of bath and shower goodies, including homemade lavender vanilla salt and sugar scrub, shampoo and conditioner, shower gel, body lotion, bath robes, cozy slippers, chocolate, and a little mini wallet/business card holder type thing.  Inside the mini wallet/business card holder thing was... drumroll please ................................
............a gift certificate for a massage!  Not a five minute massage, not a chair massage, but a full body, full hour massage.  I felt like I had won the showcase showdown on The Price is Right!  Seriously, what an incredible treat, especially after days of uncomfortable sleeping (or not sleeping) in a chair on the train.  

So anyway, we woke up Friday morning and went to the spa for our appointments at 11:00am.  I knew my body would be jacked from the train experience, but I didn't anticipate just how tight it was, or how difficult it would be for my body to release that tension.  The massage felt pretty damn good; I could feel some of the tension in my upper back and shoulders melt away as my therapist worked it out.  It wasn't until the post-massage lunch cocktails, however, that I truly felt all of the tension leave my body ;)

After the massage and the cocktails and the lunch (what a fabulous life!), we spent the rest of the day running some errands and taking care of loose ends.  We wound up over at Simone's house that night for a cookout with Simon, Franco, and Franco's parents John and Sue, who were in visiting from New York.  We wound up having way too much fun (shocking!) and could not drive ourselves back to the posh pad.  So, we just kept on having fun until the wee hours.  I think we got maybe 3 hours of sleep at Simone's before we had to return to the posh pad so I could pick up my bags and hop on my flight home.  

Getting out of the car and saying goodbye to my best friends at the airport was hard.  Not because I love them and didn't want to leave, but because we were all hungover and any type of movement hurt.  I kid.  It was hard because I love these two girls so much, and despite the number of years we've been apart and the number of miles between us, we always have a blast together.  Always.  We've grown from kids to adults- well, that's debatable, but we just fit perfectly together.  So it's hard to walk away from that, not knowing when the next get together will be.  

Also, boarding that plane and heading home signaled the end of this latest and greatest adventure.  Travel changes you; it awakens you and opens new chambers within yourself that you never knew existed.  I think the challenge, for me anyway, is fitting this new self and perspective into my existing world.  Going back to work was the biggest challenge, by far.  But it's okay, it's been a week and I'm starting to feel settled.  Mostly though, I just feel so grateful that I had the opportunity to experience this adventure in the first place, especially with people whom I love.  I can think of nothing better.  

Thanks for reading these lengthy recaps, friends.  If anything, I hope they've planted a seed for you :)