amphibian house FAIL

Coaster Worthy

My coffee tables have always consisted of grouped baskets, borrowed This End Up fortresses of oak and masculinity, or a really cheap particle piece from IKEA (i.e., LACK) that is altogether too boxy and lasts five minutes until someone sets their drink on it, causing it to promptly faint and collapse.   As a result I didn’t particularly care too much about them; they were either ugly, useless, or crudely impenetrable.  I was determined to find a reasonably priced sturdy piece that would not fall away with the trends or double as a Jersey barrier.

Mid-Century Modern, a style that experienced a revival and has developed a devoted following in recent years, has always been a preference of mine.  Despite all the cliche, I appreciate the clean lines of these pieces, the multiple mediums their designers chose to design them, and their minimalist unimposing stature, leaving the flitty or whimsical aspects of decor to accessories.   I considered foraging through tag sales or estate sales in the hopes of finding something I really liked, like an Eames Elliptical Table that I could ever-lovingly restore, or buy a second-hand Isamu Noguchi Modern Coffee Table off Craigslist.  But I know myself.  I’m not that patient.  I don’t like tag sales, they don’t give me a euphoric high like treasure hunts do to dirty pirates.  And I’m certainly lazy.  So that was not an option.   

So I ferreted around CB2, West Elm, and IKEA (I know, I know, but the affordability sucks you in), drooled over Design Within Reach (ironically no, for most income levels, it’s not) and finally popped onto Overstock in the hopes of finding something that didn’t look like it once had a home at my parent’s place in 1985.  What I found was a Rae Walnut Coffee Table on sale for $169.99.  Two left, with all the “hurry hurry, buy now!” bells and whistles going off on its product page.  A little googling confirmed the piece retails a bit higher, I saw prices ranging between $500 and $900.  Do I know who the designer is? No.  But the price was right, it received great feedback, and the lines were exactly what I was looking for.  And despite my impatience, its unveiling will occur once painting in the living room is finished.  I hope I can hold out that long!  Now, off to find some fancy minimalist coasters…

Purchased off for 169.99

Rae Walnut Coffee Table

UPDATE:  I love the presence of this piece in my living room, the sturdiness of the complex leg structure and the solid walnut hardwood comprising the table top.  While no longer carries the coffee table, they still carry the Rae Walnut Desk, Console Table, and Dining Table.

Swing Swing Swing the Hammer

I hope everyone enjoyed Presidents’ Day!  This long weekend was spent repurposing the rooms in my home and starting one of many DIY projects.   With the help of my patient SO and my extremely supportive parents we moved nine pieces of large furniture from one floor to another, started a bathroom renovation, and cleaned up the mess until the To Be Continued episode planned for next weekend.  I am pleased that each room has a dedicated purpose (or two)!  Here is how the home is now laid out, top to bottom:

3rd Floor – Master Bedroom and Bath
2nd Floor Front – Guest Bedroom, Linen Closet 
2nd Floor Rear – Office, Rehearsal Studio, Craft Room
2nd Floor Bathroom – General/Guest Bathroom, Laundry
1st Floor – Living Room, Kitchen, Dining Area
Basement – Creepy Crawly Chambre, but eventual Workshop, Utility Storage,  and Beruit Table/Poker Room!

My cats are very disgruntled and restaking their claim to the repurposed rooms by marking their territory (they’re both males).  I am losing my mind keeping up with these hooligans.  One has a penchant for marking on any cardboard (“ME-OW, super absorbent surface!”) he can find, and it doesn’t help that all my clothes, linens, office supplies, paperwork and toiletries are on the floor (some of which are in cardboard boxes) until I have the time to organize everything.  The other loves nothing more than playing soccer with anything fragile, breakable or dangerous on dressers or counter tops.  He is having a ball amidst the chaos, knocking vases, random tchotkche left in temporary places, hammers, extra strength epoxy, caulk guns, and cell phones off surfaces in one fell swoop. Whoosh!  My blackberry left the safety of the countertop yesterday afternoon and hit the tiles, popping apart into multiple pieces.  Both cats are on the verge of being banished to the creep crawly basement.  

As renovated by the developer who sold me the townhouse.  The bathtub/shower is to the right, the walls are tiled with the same tiles as the floor.  Behind the door is a small recessed area.  Toiletry storage will need to go there, I am thinking of recessed shelving.

BEFORE - photo taken during final inspection, December 2007

And of course I have home improvement ADHD, wanting to work on everything at the same time, which is inefficient and a bad thing for budgets and time management.  So I am taking the top – down approach, starting with the master bathroom.  Yesterday we removed the dated medicine cabinet and light fixture above the vanity. 

Fun, we found out the contractors who renovated my townhouse dug a huge gaping hole 3″wx12″h in the dry wall looking for the studs and forgot to repair it, covering it with the light fixture and the medicine cabinet snug up against it.  Not surprising, their handiwork has marred many places in my home (I have a enough horror stories to draft a separate blog post).  We temporarily installed the new light fixture, a West Elm White Metal Triple Sconce, and the new mirror, an IKEA Grundtal.  It looks better already. 

Once the dry wall is repaired I will paint the bathroom, likely a very light aqua-blue, like C2’s Salty Brine.  This may be paired with a coral red, since I already have red towels and accesories (see color combo inspiration). I have to go through some of the old Potterybarn and Williams-Sonoma catalogs, I remember seeing coral somewhere.  I think it was Williams-Sonoma but they paired the coral with light yellow.  Since this is such a cramped bathroom I thought of installing an open recessed medicine cabinet painted semi-gloss white for toiletry storage between the studs on the narrow wall to the left of the mirror and vanity.  We’ll probably have to make it ourselves, so that should be interesting. 

So….tah-tah for now, looking forward to getting my camera repaired so you can enjoy the ‘AFTER’ aesthetics!

Transition from a Vacuous State

Voila!  Welcome to my living room as it was in the late Winter/early Spring of 2008.  As soon as the last box was offloaded from the moving truck I was determined to make it immediately my own.  I needed to walk into my front door after work and have something that resembled a home, even if the second floor hallway was cluttered with moving boxes and completly impassable.  This was the best I could muster.  I was broke after counting my pennies to pay for the closing costs so decorating was done on a shoestring.

My eye has always been drawn to warm neutrals and blues on the green end of the spectrum, so this was an ideal synergy.  Warm browns and creams with a shocking flash of sea glass blue.   And as much as I lust over the craftmanship of Eames chairs and rifle through Room and Board or West Elm while soaking in the tub earmarking all the beautiful pieces I would gladly place in a spot of honor in my home, I cannot turn a blind eye to the reasonable prices and practicality of IKEA furniture.  The two Klippan couches my significant other and I purchased to furnish our last apartment fit perfectly into the small living room.   

The zebra-inspired rug was a Christmas gift purchased and delivered with as much love and patience as one’s significant other can demonstrate while purchasing a zebra-print rug at the risk of having his man card revoked and driving 50 miles with the end of a zebra-print rug squeezing him against the driver side door.

The sideboard is an estate sale find from 2003.  This lovely piece was discovered in the basement, dusty and neglected and bearing the weight of a rusty irreparable typewriter and boxes of junk.  I rescued it for $50 and after a thorough cleaning it was good to go.  There are scratches on the surface but it was the ideal piece to bring into my home and use as an entertainment unit.  In my second iteration of my living room design this piece remains, though it has been moved, and given a makeover of sorts 😉  It’s a durable classic piece that will outlive all the IKEA pieces in my home combined.

While I am on the topic, what have I learned about IKEA furniture?  Be ruthless.  When at the store test the floor models.  If a table is bolted to the floor suspect something.  Inspect the package when picking it up in the warehouse section of the store to make sure there is no visible damage or no holes where essential hardware may have fallen out.  When assembling, if a piece does not fit together with perfect snugness take it back.  I made the mistake of sympathizing with the $40 Lack coffee table (pictured) only for its wobbly legs to buckle tragically after only the lightest of roughousing between male houseguests.  Accept no imperfections from IKEA furniture, they only become glaringly obvious over time.  As to the behavior of your houseguests however, decide whether your living room will be used for afternoon bridge or WWE smackdowns, then invite accordingly.

Coming Soon: Living Room Transformations

See the living room of 1300 sq. foot townhouse transform from a new bare space, to a modern west-elm inspired neutral sitting room, to a cozy cheerful yet spacious living room.