Tuesday, September 30, 2008

the illest bookcase ever

so i just picked up that bookcase from yesterday's post, and: the guy who owned it previously had perhaps the sketchiest house i've been inside in boston. total student squat, complete with large sketchy rug, decomposing desk, clothing thrown all over the floor, and pervasive smell of patchouli, pot and unwashed boy. the guy i bought it from came out rocking sweatpants and an undershirt, which is when i knew exactly how excellent this adventure would be. he, in blissed out fashion, proclaimed that when he saw it, he knew it would be "the illest bookcase EVER, yo," and proceeded to buy it in haste.

i'm being unnecessarily snarky because i fear that the disorder of his house may be contagious, but it really made me think about the logistics of possessions and how they change ownership. i gave him $49 (we had to kind of cobble it together because he didn't have change) and carried something out of his home. i felt like it was a mistreated dog that i was taking away to the pound (stata) for a while, until i could get it rehabilitated and reintegrated into healthy, non-filthy society.

i have managed to furnish my entire apartment for under $450. that's insane! not counting a bed, but taking into account:

- a vintage desk
- a desk chair
- a five foot long wall mounted mirror
- a six foot tall floor length mirror
- a victorian settee
- a three piece french provincial sectional.

and just like that! i will need a coffee table and an end table, and lamps, and rugs, and you know. but the big meaty bones of my home are here or waiting to be here, and they all came to me through someone else. strange thought. what kinds of lives does furniture lead? how will i be changing these pieces by bringing them into my life? hopefully i will love them better, be kinder, take more care.

along those lines, i've been doing laundry all night, which means that it is time for me to unpack all my clothing and put it into my armoire. i am going to hold off on papering the inside drawers until i decide what colors i want it to be. (that is, probably until i see papers in the orangey-pink family that inspire me to greatness.) i just need to clean it lovingly with those wonderful method wood wipes and get to stepping, organizationally speaking. when i pack away my summer clothes (soon; those dresses are taking up needless space and i am never going to wear them in the cold), i will probably take that opportunity to revamp the insides.

i am also thinking about what happens when your home has a certain degree of exposure to people online? there is an apartment up now on apartment therapy that looked awfully familiar - and then i realized it was on design*sponge a few weeks ago. i like their sneak peeks because they seem just that: secret. it is so strange to feel like you recognize the inside of a home you've never been in, all because of the internet. i don't think i like it, and i'm interested to see how that reticence and instinct towards privacy will play out in my own redecoration efforts.

i also found out that there is a fall AT cure and it starts tomorrow, for some reason. i don't know why it has to be a wednesday? i was planning on condensing the cure into six weeks and starting it this weekend, so perhaps i will just stagger things out of sync with maxwell gillingham-ryan (i love his shit, but that is a thoroughly unfortunate name. take it from a fellow hyphenate!) and the crew. we'll see!

the terrace

so i have moved in. i am very tired. this is because, although i have had a long weekend off of work, it has rained this whole time. i had adventures. i:

- woke up at 7 on saturday and lay on the floor until the bed delivery men came
- moved all my stuff with my friend tony
- bartered my firstborn child at target for $400 worth of merchandise
- lost my wallet
- panicked
- went to central square thinking i had dropped it there
- walked back (because my T pass was in my wallet)
- found it lying under some shrubbery
- dogsat
- walked easily 5 miles, in cowboy boots, in the rain
- waited for the number 1 bus for 35 minutes, then
- went to a party and stayed for half an hour.

this was saturday. sunday i had craigslist drama: one woman who wanted me to pay her $35 more for a $40 desk that i had already sent her money for; i went to watertown to get my cash back. then another guy had an amazing bookcase/wall unit for which i was going to break the $100 rule. but it goes to show that the $100 rule is genius, because then he got all "i don't want you to buy it sight unseen; why don't you take the commuter rail down to westwood, help me load it in the car, and drive an hour back to your house, alone in the car, with me?"

thaaaanks but no thanks. i kept on craigslist and instead i am buying this:

for $50 from a seller who is in mission hill. it looks kind of janked, but it has atomic mid century legs and i will be painting the body of it a pale minty turquoise and leaving the drawer and cabinet doors woodgrain. i think it will be nice.

sunday i also took a nice drive to norwood with my friend nic; there was no stress and no chance of late fees, which is lovely (day rentals are the only way zipcar doesn't stress me out). we picked up the kent coffey desk that the lovely keyse thoughtfully sent to me earlier in the week. i got relentlessly made fun of by my friends when i told them i was planning to buy two desks and then decide which one i liked better, but that desk was ten dollars and i liked it better than the $40 one, so i figured it couldn't hurt.

when i got there, i saw that it was a stamped kent coffey original.

i can't find an exact replica of the desk i have, but i LOVE it. it is such a great find; thanks, keyse! i will post pictures of it in a little bit - when i've gotten the router i apparently need for my computer to have wireless internet access, and that comcast entirely failed to mention. (bastards.) my desk is not in the ideal spot right now, because the ideal spot would involve stretching cords all the way across my living room; as it is they are already blocking the kitchen door. i am very much looking forward to clipping them all around the various doorways and painting them the color of the walls and then forgetting they exist!

today i was ineffectual until nightfall. i mainly lay around; my internet was installed. but after dark i went to get my bike, had a great capoeira practice, moved my bed to the opposite wall (where, counterintuitively because this is the wall where the radiator is and the closet door opens, i like it better), started deep cleaning my apartment (got through: desk, closet, outside of refrigerator, all non-floor surfaces in bathroom, windowsills everywhere but bedroom, etc), organized closets and started bringing things out of bags and boxes. i went to paper source earlier in the day, so now that the inside of my desk is clean, i can start laying down liner paper tomorrow night.

i am tired and i have spent more money than i would've liked. the zipcar and my student loan payment, which i forgot, along with $130 towards my credit card (which has been sadly abused of late) total about $350, and add $100 of groceries to that and i definitely only had $550 for moving expenses from the financial shot in the arm my mom graciously gave me. now consider that easily $400 of that went to target on the first day i went there (and i went back yesterday! spent much less, but still), and it all starts to make sense. it's good to see it like that, actually; i was feeling very frivolous and horrible for going through that much money in such a short time. but my house is turning into a home, slowly slowly.

my next priority is to finish my couches and find a soft, fluffy 6' round area rug in a light color for $100 or less. i know i can do it... i just need to watch overstock.com and keep my eyes peeled on other various sites.

i am sick of picking up and moving furniture. i am considering scrapping the handmade coffee table idea and just buying this; the seller delivers!

but silly, stubborn me - i want something warm and lovely that i can look at and feel pride that i made with my own hands. so thursday i am going to rockler woodworking to see a man about a burl.

i have to go to bed now; i am at the point of collapse. but cleaning tonight (with my new favorite favorite products, almond scented method wood cleaner and aloe and green tea scented all purpose cleaner by j.r. watkins), i felt these incredible, slow-releasing bursts of energy and purpose. i cleared up my house. i have a lot to do this week, between stripping the couches and painting the bookcase and all the stuff i have to do here. this weekend will be for buying pots, casseroles, possibly a pegboard, better sheets, some winter clothes, and couch fabric. i will be affixing fabric to couches this weekend.

i feel... harried, but healthy. i walk through my house and i see all the things i'm going to do to make it better. i can't wait until it feels warm and lived in and alive. we're getting there (dare i say it?), twig by twig.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

apartment therapy: for the cure

last week was a bad week for this project; it kind of foundered a bit. my fabric was thrown away, i was having a very hard time finding furniture and making it work, and during my trip to dc i lost out on a heywood wakefield sidetable on chop chop (worth roughly $850) for $19. pain, drama and pain.

but this week i feel re-energized. i picked up my keys on monday and the space feels so, so good. it may be because there is no clutter in it yet. (i dropped off my first piece of furniture yesterday - the armoire! it looks lovely.) but i get so blissed out when i walk in the door. it feels so good and it feels so mine and i love it. and i realized that i want to stay really true to the spirit of this project; i don't want to bring any trash, weight, or even unnecessary packaging into that space. it's too lovely.

so tonight and tomorrow night as i pack, i will be really culling everything i own, taking it out of bags, unwrapping it from plastic, throwing away unnecessary papers and receipts, and dealing with the clutter that i've managed to amass in just three short months in boston. i will also be getting rid of clothing that i hate, don't wear or have no use for; i think it will be good to start clean and pure, and go from there.

i am also reading the apartment therapy 8-step cure book, and so far it feels wonderful, almost savory. i am taking it very slowly because i want to absorb it all. the prose is very gentle, soothing, like a hot hot bath on a cold and tiring day. it feels like being back in massage school - not for the parts with the drama, but when we would discuss the flow of energy, getting emotionally stuck, and a thousand other hippie-friendly topics. i was probably the most skeptical one there, but some things really resonated with me as fundamental truths about life and what it means to be human.

since then, though, i've felt largely disconnected from that kind of deep knowing - until i started reading this book. i got to a line in the introduction about how the amount of things we hold onto and the heavier, not lighter, we travel is a direct representation of how little we trust the world, and others, to provide or simply to be there for us. i started crying in an instant. which was unexpected, but it's true: i hold onto things: people, slights, sadness, sometimes anger. and a lot of the time it's all out of fear. this project was conceived in part to help me move past that.

it's not going to happen overnight, but i am excited to go through all of my things and lighten my load, so that when i move it is with exactly what i need to have - no more, no less, perfect. i am so removed from the massage world right now, and i'm not seeing anyone (in terms of both dating and mental health professionals); i kind of feel like my life is a little devoid of both love and balance. so i want to try and change that. i want to make this home restorative for me. i want to make the whole thing a love letter to myself. i want to curate it and cultivate it and keep it wonderful. i'm energized; i feel renewed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

i will survive.

i've had some time to mourn the loss of what would have made my life MUCH MUCH (MUUUUUCH) easier, and this week i will be returning to the conundrum of the couch. things have calmed down a little. i have secured an amazing armoire, a great desk (hopefully), and i am about to call about a side table and a bookshelf.

if i get those two things, the only items i will lack are a coffee table and two bedside tables. (then we get into wall decor, which is a whole other can of worms. and i want to start making things as well, notably my own tufted headboard and my own coffee table.)

[update: the side table sold and the bookcase is $200. way too much! so, craigslist, i am back on the prowl, moving like a shark, seeking a mid-century hutch for under $100.]

i am going back up to boston tonight (i'm in dc right now). it has been a really lovely visit, and, as sometimes happens when i travel, it's given me the mental space to face things about my life, rather than having to push them aside to get other, travelly things taken care of. there are some changes i need to make in my life, and it could be the case that this whole moving thing, instead of being a painful scary transition, is the perfect place to start. (a little mini-reset to life in boston, no?)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


someone threw away the fabric that i painstakingly removed nails from, separated and saved so that i could make a pattern from it.

thought one: thank god i measured it and took pictures of it fully laid out.

thought two: what the fuck am i going to do now?

Monday, September 15, 2008


Re: 25 Irving Terrace

Hi Adwoa,

Ralph and Dotty tell me you apartment is ready and if you will put the utilities in your name your welcome to move in early at no charge. Let me know you would like to do this.

Tim Moore


(update: problem. i don't have very much furniture, any soft goods, any utensils, pots or pans, or a bed. crap. things i absolutely must buy sooner than soon:

- a good mid century desk
- a bed
- a funky mid century dresser

stat! craigslist, i am looking at you.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

why it pays to be scrappy

because: when you see a mirror and you fall in love with it, and it's on craigslist boston but it actually lives IN KINGSTON, which is treacherously an hour away, and you call the seller and she won't deliver unless she receives advance payment....

if you are scrappy, you are still thinking about it the next day, and you call her back again and ask if she has paypal or if you can mail a check and generally make it clear that you are pretty much obsessed, and then she will drive it up once your check arrives on tuesday!

in short: the scrappy bird gets the worm, especially when the annelid in question is fabulous.


i just took a little design quiz that helped me pinpoint my style and what i automatically gravitate towards. "what?" you cry. "but when have you ever needed help forming an opinion?"

well played. but while i can appreciate a lot of things, what i GRAVITATE towards when the options are unlimited is something else entirely. what it told me about my palette was nothing i didn't know before, but looking at the home i created on this random little website has given me food for thought with regards to the home i'll be creating on irving terrace in a couple of weeks. it was incredibly strong and united, and NOT necessarily the direction i was going in with my new apartment before.

things i move instinctively towards:

- pale turquoise
- ferny green
- faded orange as an accenting pop of color
- bright, vibrant blues
- extreme wood tones: rich, mahogany, blonde, ash
- natural colors: i am endlessly fascinated by white, off white, ivory, bone, muslin and ecru
- texture texture texture! the more undyed, the better - yarn, felt, burlap, ceramics
- sleek, matter of fact plants in unexpected places
- old gold in unnecessary places
- quirky bits of nature: antlers, twigs, shells, all in places you don't expect them.

the bedroom, bathroom, and now living room were all falling in line with this. but my kitchen may be dangerously out of whack... the color of the settee is now in doubt. i don't know that i necessarily want a saffron couch or a moroccan kitchen. i do want all white or off-white dishes and cutlery, though, so the kitchen needs a big exciting pop of color somewhere, some way. what color DO i want? navy? teal, since the other couch will be blue? a neutral? it will stain pretty badly though! grey? i need to think about this carefully... while i do that, wander on over here and check out your style profile. it might stop you before you staple.

kitchen couch

this time i brought out the hazard team.

my couch didn't stand a chance.

i am kind of endlessly fascinated by the insides of things. taking it down to the springs, coiled and held in tight, made and makes me feel like the kind of craftsperson who would know what to do with a bellows or a last or a strop or some other manner of old school mechanism that no one uses anymore. elderly metal and burlap and twine - now that the horsehair, funky padding, and straw are gone, i am passionately, burningly in love with this couch.

when i was younger, i took everything apart. everything. pens, calculators, cameras, etc. i think if i had been a boy, i would have been encouraged to take apart things like cars, bikes, radios - the sorts of things that have a ton more moving pieces, that you need precision and memory and skill to put back together and make functional. instead, i went the cooking/sewing/bookbinding route. i won't say that couches aren't fundamentally seen as women's work, but i love finding out the secrets of construction too much to care.

besides, while it would really help me to learn how a bike goes back together (a LOT, actually, as my own bike crapped out as i was riding down mass ave today), i don't own a car and i don't care much for radios. this is what engages me; women's work or not, it's too cool for me to get offended. i am also hoping to learn some woodworking; perhaps i will give up and make my own midcentury-inspired coffee table. (craigslist is disappointing me.) what about kidney shaped butcher block?

i almost want to let the bones breathe for a while; they are so beautiful. that is what i will be going back to on monday; my coworker will help me with the wood, and then i'll diagram out the way the couch needs to go back together, do it, and that will be that. i meant to do that tonight, but i am pretty sleepy. i took pictures at every stage, though, and it's pretty self-explanatory, so i'm not too afraid anymore.

it is amazingly empowering to know that you can take something like this apart and understand it. granted, i haven't put it back together YET, so i should probably zip the lip on this. but i have an incredible sense of accomplishment right now. and i'll enjoy this couch so much more because i haven't cut any corners, because i'm doing it the right way, and because i fully understand what's going into everything that i am doing. if i needed to, i could restring those springs. i maybe couldn't intuit the shape and tension necessary to build the wooden frame yet - but maybe that's the direction i'll go in next. anything to have this kind of raw beauty, to work it with my hands.

Friday, September 12, 2008

kitchen couch - the saga begins

oh man. so, i finally started to take my couch apart. it is a beautiful, gorgeous, sweeping and stunning piece - and it is going to be SO. MUCH. WORK!

after taking a moment to gaze upon it and admire its beauty (faded, but more poignant because i didn't have to do anything to make it one whole piece), i get into it and i start taking it apart, diving in with the tools my awesome coworker ron scrounged up for me. when he handed them over, i was very blase, thinking i wouldn't need them. after all, it was before staples, right? i would just pull them out by hand. what could possible have been used to tack it down that was so very bad?


those are wicked, possibly rusted but definitely very old, nails or pins of some scary metal variety. the types of metal-borne diseases i could have contracted doing that by hand (and the shots i would need to make sure i didn't die from that) are legion.

so i kept digging down and down and down. note to self: next time, start unhooking the fabric from the bottom. otherwise you will have an ungodly mess as the fabric starts to collapse on you since the top pieces are already unsecured:

not the way.

i finally got it stripped down all the way in the back:

or at least, as far as i thought i was going to go. but then i got around to the front and made an unpleasant discovery:

ladies and gentlemen, we have horsehair.

i thought i could just leave the basic parts of the couch intact, but the fact is that i've opened that shit up, now. i KNOW what's inside - and it's disgusting. i won't be able to sit on it happily unless i know that what i'm sitting on is not incubating hundred year old parasites, and the only way to be sure of that is to buy it new and do it myself. so i stripped out all the padding, and i'm going to have to take out all the burlap, all the muslin, all the webbing, and start again fresh: new foam, new padding, new couch, essentially.

chicago's "only the beginning" is playing perkily in my head. i'll be back in to work tomorrow to rip out everything else, clean it up, and hopefully start cutting patterns.

also, my friend alisa and i had a brainstorming session and i decided (for you purists) that i am not painting the wood. i am reupholstering the couch in saffron yellow velvet, which should be rich and ridiculous enough to offset the dark brown wood. after this, bright blue couch with old gold wood and, possibly, bright obnoxious buttons.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


the reupholstery begins saturday! thursday is for fabric shopping and wondering what i've gotten myself into. will report back!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

new bike and eager eyes

i am now officially an urban cyclist! i bought an old raleigh marathon; it's beautiful and probably from the 80s. wouldn't it be lovely if my bike and i were the same age? i will do more research on it tomorrow at work.

as for furniture, i am on the prowl. i've made a list of things i want by the time i move in, and have been trolling. craigslist seems to be going on an up and down swing, but recently there is a ton of stuff i LOVE - and almost nothing i can afford! see exhibits a, b and c:

incredible tables that i want for my bedside:

i actually went to see these and was underwhelmed. they were in the cambridge antique market, where i picked up my bike.

then there is this couch, which is the PERFECT counterfoil to my sectional:

i am in love with it. but i called the seller to ask if she would be willing to sell the couch separately, and she said i needed to find two friends who wanted the couches. sigh.

and, finally, the perfect desk, although luckily i think it is too big for my space so i can cease to pine:

now: i am a craigslist purist. i find it mildly insulting to sell things on the website for more than, say, $300, except for MAYBE cars. (maybe.) it's not a highbrow site; this is not the place. however, collectors are now posting shit on the site, as are consigners, people are doing the research and finding out that they have a vintage heywood wakefield coffee table, and prices are soaring. where has the deal gone? i ask you.

in other news: how hard do you think this would be to make?

because i love it. show me a person who doesn't need a tufted velvet headboard, and i will show you a person who is not living life to the fullest of its wonder.

also, in the works for this site: redesign. (or rather, first design.) coming hopefully soon! i need to brush up on my code, and design programs generally. but i think it will be fun.

p.s. managing the stress a little better. i made my lists, i toned it down on the weekends, i rocked this long weekend, and here it is almost the end of the week and things have gone fabulously without my really paying attention. i finally repotted that begonia, and (insofar as this is a possibility for a flower trying to hold it down under fluorescent lighting) it looks fly.