Thursday, March 19, 2009


Home projects naturally beget other home projects. For example, when you remove old cabinets with the singular intention of replacing them and them alone, sometimes ancient, sticky vinyl floor is revealed. And while my credit card is beginning to hemorrhage from my recent kitchen pilgrimage to IKEA, it doesn't make sense to install the kitchen cabinets without laying new floor. Fortunately, there isn't much square footage to cover.

I have tried to make green choices with every home purchase large and small over the past few years. I chose sustainably grown bamboo blinds, zero VOC paint, and an organic mattress and bedding...

I know: Green for Dummies. But hey, you've got to start somewhere!

Where flooring is concerned, the choices have become less intuitive.

I love hardwood floors, and intend to eventually replace my living room carpet with wood (neighbors permitting.) Not all hardwood is sustainable though...and despite it's recent popularity, I don't get the whole "hardwood in the kitchen" thing. I don't know about you, but I am a messy, messy chef and therefore hard on my floors. Not to mention that all it takes is one leaky dishwasher to ruin thousands of dollars of hardwood. Don't even get me started on what happens to laminate flooring in a flood.

So what to do? Tile? Love it, but can't do it. One mishap with a heavy kitchen utensil and I've got a huge ding on my hands. Plus, according to the Great Book of House Rules, I have to get my downstairs neighbors' permission to change to a "new flooring style." I'd rather bide my time and present them with the big hardwood living room floor proposal after I've plied them with wine and free babysitting.

So go with vinyl? Meh.

Some good eco-conscious options are bamboo, cork, and rubber. But they cost a bloody fortune. Next!

I happened upon "Marmoleum" which is a composite material made of linseed oil, jute, limestone and other natural ingredients. I also happen to think it's kinda pretty in a mid-century way, and it's a heck of a lot cheaper than the other eco-conscious alternatives.

I'm taking the plunge tomorrow. Pics to follow.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's the small things that amuse me...

I have to make a really, really stupid funny about something. It's this little device called a Stud Finder. Stud Finders help you locate wood studs in your wall so that you may hang a 150 pound mirror without later being crushed beneath it during an ominously overdue earthquake.

Stud Finder: Not *just* the world's premiere manly playmate network anymore.

Okay. Got it out of my system.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Benjamin Moore Pigeon Gray

I have a complicated relationship with color. I'm ashamed to admit that it isn't unheard of for me to paint a room 2-3 times before I'm satisfied.

I've finally reached a point, however, where I'm pretty much over the whole taping, tarping, and painting thing. I just want the room to be perfect on the first that too much to ask? ;)

One lesson I have learned is that I like walls to be relatively neutral so that they can handle bold patterns and accent colors in my furniture and art.

So, that leaves me with whites, grays, and more beige tones than you can shake a stick at. I'm generally not a fan of beige as a dominant neutral. Although it can provide warmth to a sterile room, from the moment I throw it up on my wall it just looks too much like face foundation. Kinda dirty-like. Fecal-like in some cases. Also (and please forgive me for sounding a little snotty) it just seems a teensy bit pedestrian. While I have seen it work in the right context, I'm not nearly the decorating genius I would need to be to sex it up.

Warm whites are lovely on walls, (especially Benjamin Moore "Mayonnaise." Curious choice of name...AWESOME color.) However, I just bought two Expedits from IKEA which are bright white. I really really want to avoid a sea o' white in my living space...and to me, two shades of white that look only slightly dissimilar read as a mistake.

My favorite new neutral is gray. Depending on the light and the particular tone you choose, gray can be both warm and soothing. As a neutral, I consider gray to be a cut above in terms of sophistication, and pairs beautifully with my fugly beige carpet.

I went with Benjamin Moore "Pigeon Gray." This is a medium gray with a slightly bluish undertone. Because my living room receives abundant light, the walls can handle a more saturated color. I still only painted two of my living room walls, because the condo has an open floor plan and all of the rooms have to "agree."

Speaking of agreement, I love the way gray looks with yellow! I used "Sparkling Sunshine" in my kitchen. Sorry about the poor-quality photos c/o my cell phone...

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Blues, homeowner style...

Yes, I'm happy.
Yes, I'm excited.
Yes, being a homeowner is a dream come true, etc etc..

That is, of course, when it isn't sucking. These days, the suck factor is substantially higher. This is not the fault of my sweet little condo. It's my fault; I don't have enough time to commit to renovations, so I'm not yet there.

Have you tried living with your parents in adulthood? Even temporarily? Although I am eternally grateful to them for sheltering me during this transition, I have been eyeballing those Emeryville corporate apartments on 580 with envy. There comes a time when being privy to your parents' squabbles and senseless routines is difficult to bear.

Actual conversation:

Mom: (knocking on my door as I chat with my friend on the phone.) Your sister is here. She needs you to try on your bridesmaid's dress.

Me: I'll be out in 5 minutes.


Me: MO-OM!!! Dammit! I'll be out in a second!

Mom: No need to shout.

Sound familiar? Lifetime Movie Network called. They want their after school special back.

Just call me 1994.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Random assorted moving day thoughts....

After all of that hoo-ha, I'm still not living in my new space. That's okay, because I'm learning to cultivate patience. Yes, patience.

Despite my occasional biting cynicism, I'm fundamentally an optimist. Proof? I always think that my home renovation projects are going to take about half of the time that they truly require. Call it a strange brain hiccup: Show me a room that needs paint, baseboard, and window treatments, and I'll think "Half day. One day, tops." Maybe it's because of all those home design shows I used to watch back when I had cable. Somebody's funky love shack of a wood-paneled den would be transformed into a tasteful zen retreat in a single day.

Of course, those rooms were aided by a team of five, including a swarthy, tousle-haired carpenter. And they benefit from that kind of sped-up camera work that makes disassembling furniture and taping trim look like a piece of cake.

Truth is that I really enjoy picking up a paint roller and spreading a little sunshine yellow over my kitchen walls, even if it is time-consuming. I don't mind that it takes me a week instead of 3 days to complete a single room.

Which is great, because my popcorn ceiling came down, revealing some ripped and pitted sheetrock beneath. I had somebody resurface the ceiling and throw on new texture. That whole process took about 4 days, which meant that moving my furniture in was impossible until this weekend. My place was still draped in heavy plastic and smelling like a factory until yesterday.

My new neighbors have been extremely kind so far...several people offered to help as me and my little moving day posse tried in vain to fit my gigantic couch into the elevator. They all had the knowing looks on their faces of people who had brought their heavier furniture up to their units via the stairs, but were still rooting for me to succeed.

My couch didn't even make the stair cut, sadly.

Moving is quite an emotional process...because the physical exhaustion eclipses whatever mental machinations that you're going through to adjust to a new environment. Then one day you wake up in your bedroom and before you open your eyes, you forget that you're living in Apartment X and City Y and are...startled.

Spaces have personalities, even nooks within spaces have specific personalities...and I always feel like I have to tread lightly to acquaint myself with a new home. Can't wait to break it in with a little ceremony.