Vote for us!

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The Kitchen!

So, I realize that I haven’t posted on this thing in a while. I have every intention of getting around to it eventually because, seriously, there has been a lot going on over here. I am not, however, going to enthrall you with the story of my 8 billionth school transfer or tell you all about my graduate school adventures. At least not right now. Instead, I’m going to break my silence by telling you to get your butt over to Apartment Therapy right now and VOTE FOR MY APARTMENT in this year’s Small/Cool contest. DO IT NOW. You can do it right here.

Daniel and I (mostly entirely Daniel) have been busting our asses over the past year getting this place into tip-top shape (read all about it on Daniel’s Blog). While it’s not completely finished (will it ever be?), we’ve come a long way. Take a look at the photos in this post to see. I’d say that deserves a vote. Or five hundred. Seriously. Go. Now.

The Bedroom with Mekko

The Living Room!

Bedroom again!

Bathroom!

Bulletin board!

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A few years ago, I was flipping through what would soon be the last issue of House and Garden ever published when I came across an article on designer Thomas O’Brien’s Manhattan apartment. I was totally enamored with O’Brien’s ability to blend the upscale and the casual to make a space that was at once homey, luxurious, and beautiful. The thing that I found most incredible, though, was how he used mere magazine pages as artwork by simply tacking them in an artistic way to his walls.

Here are some of the images from the shoot (via Habitually Chic):

I had attempted something like this at my old apartment above the desk in my bedroom:

Daniel absolutely hates bulletin boards with a burning passion, so I knew that something similar was out of the question when I moved in with him. He won’t even allow us to put magnets on the refrigerator! Seriously— what kind of person doesn’t like magnets? After months of trying to convince him to at least allow a bulletin board, I finally was able to force persuade him. The deciding moment was when I presented him with the idea of not a tiny little bulletin board that hung on the wall, but an oversized one that leaned against it, almost like another wall itself. Why Daniel would be okay with this but not a smaller, less conspicuous board was beyond me (the boy’s brain works in mysterious ways), but I took what I could get.

For a material, I chose Homasote, an insulator of cork-like consistency that Martha Stewart Living often suggests for DIY bulletin boards. It can be picked up in very large quantities (you can only buy it in like 8×10 foot pieces) from the Home Depot for about $30. I ended up having the nice people at Home Depot cut mine down to about 2.5×6 feet.

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Once you have your Homasote purchased, it’s a good idea to back it up with something as it will undoubtedly bend and bow if allowed to lean against the wall itself. To do this, I had Daniel fashion some scrap wood into a sort of frame for the back of it. So handy!

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Once the board of Homasote is securely backed, it’s a good idea to cover it with something. Mostly because it’s not terribly attractive on its own, but also because it smells like a combination of feet and ass. For real, I don’t know how Martha Stewart can endorse a building material that will make your office smell like there are dead animals hiding in it. Covering it definitely helps. Also, spraying with ample amounts of Febreze. Because I am absolutely incapable when it comes to construction and power tools, I had Daniel staple a large piece of canvas (purchased in the painting section of a hardware store) around it.

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Once that was completed, all that was left to do was tack some things up! In order to do this, I used some vintage upholstery tacks that I purchased with Daniel at a junk shop months ago.

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And that’s it! All-in-all, if you have any skill whatsoever when it comes to ordering around employees at Home Depot and maneuvering a staple gun, you should have no problem assembling a lovely, oversized inspiration board like this one. It turned out pretty well! And the smell does go away!

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Evie + Victor

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A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from my friend Meredith about a photoshoot that she and her partner Spencer Richardson had planned for Spencer’s new line, Evie and Victor. (I had previously worked with Meredith and Spencer on their collaborative Powder Room line.) Feeling a bit out of the photography loop, I jumped on the opportunity. As a new upstart company, they were working on a tight budget, but were looking to collaborate with a group of different photographers and stylists for a blog series featuring “everyday” girls in their clothes. As the photographer, I had free reign in terms of location, so I decided on the wonderfully industrial Red Hook area of Brooklyn. The location fit the clothes and our amazing model fantastically. We shot in a rather desolate stretch of Columbia Ave near IKEA which, in addition to being surrounded by grain elevators, massive cargo ships, and factories, came ready with its own heroin-chic aesthetic: there were plenty of empty crack vials and syringes littered around the sidewalk. I was a little bit nervous that our group of designers and stylists might look a bit suspicious hanging around a bunch of factories, especially because we came with a giant U-Haul van, but the shoot went quite smoothly. We started around 10am and wrapped around 1. As a bit of a treat, Daniel and I headed to IKEA after for lunch and a bit of retail therapy.

Clothing: Evie + Victor and stylist’s own.
Model: E-Money Lopez
Styling: Soukena Roussi
Hair & Makeup: Tracy Pairis
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Back to school again. Again.

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I started graduate school, or at least the orientation part of graduate school two weeks ago. Let me tell you, classes haven’t even started yet and I feel like I’m going to have a total mental and physical breakdown.

I’m attending The Bard Graduate Center for Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture. For anybody who is wondering what the hell that means, it is, as far as I can tell, a fancy way of saying “design history.” In other words: the poor man’s art history. Why, you might ask, have I decided to go back to school? Aren’t I tired of academia, especially after five years and four different academic institutions? Don’t I want a break? Isn’t my body about to disintegrate like a stack of Jenga bricks from sheer exhaustion? Yes, yes, and yes. And to answer the first question: I’m insane.

The only concrete reason that I can give for my decision to jump right back into school is that, despite all of the hair-tearing anxiety-driven meltdowns it causes, I kind of like it. I love to let my brain act like the sponge that it is and soak up new facts, images, and beautiful things. I like an excuse to buy new books. I like feeling like I know what I’m talking about. Also— having a master’s degree can’t hurt.

Anyhow— the school I’m attending seems great so far and, aside from being absolutely scared shitless, I’m pretty excited about it. Not only is it the head bitch when it comes to design history, it’s also located in a sickeningly gorgeous townhouse on the upper west side. It’s kind of like Hogwarts. If Hogwarts was in Manhattan and populated with midcentury furniture, iMacs, and anthropologists.

But, anyway– back to the mental and physical breakdown bit.

Orientation started two weeks ago and I feel like I have spent two weeks battling a pack of horny grizzly bears after taking a bottle of ambien. For the first week, it was 9-6 every day, with each hour fully accounted for in our schedule. These people want us to be seriously orientated. If I didn’t know my orientation before last week, this week I am a rock-solid butch lesbian with a rainbow tattoo.

On the first day of orientation I was nervous to the point of nearly defecating myself. I got up at the crack of dawn, determined to be the first to arrive, just so that people would be forced to introduce themselves to me and not vice versa. Once people did start arriving and the obligatory introductions began, I became even more nervous. As a person coming into a humanities graduate program after getting a BFA from an art school, I felt a little bit like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. These were serious people. These were people who knew how to write a bibliography without the aid of Citation Machine. They had jobs at The Met and degrees from Harvard and Oxford. And then there was me.

On top of all of the anxiety that comes along with meeting new [and obscenely smart] people, I had a language exam hanging over my head. Bard, like many arts-related graduate schools, requires all incoming students to take (and pass) a language exam in either French, Italian, or German. I decided on French, based solely on the fact that I had taken French I two years ago. I was absolutely certain I would fail and my fears came to fruition in the grade I received the next day:

They really don’t beat around the bush.

So, in addition to a seemingly endless stream of orientation meetings and shenanigans, I had a language class to take every evening. A long, hard, grueling language class.

Still, I don’t want it to sound like orientation has been nothing but waterboarding and torture for two weeks. I have met some very lovely, interesting people so far. Despite my first impressions, I have found that people at this school actually have kind-hearted souls beneath their intimidating experience and far-reaching intellects.

I am incredibly exhausted from these two weeks, but I’m also BEYOND EXCITED for classes to start. I’m sure they will seem like a cake walk compared to the boot camp that orientation has been. My course list is as follows: Survey of Decorative Arts, Colonial Revival, The Arts of The Baroque, and Craft and Design In The USA. Sounds like a pretty kick-ass semester!

Working Through Your Decorating Differences

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This morning, when I probably should have been doing something work-related, I was instead browsing Amazon.com. I was doing a general perusal of design books when I stumbled upon one entitled Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life: How to live creatively with collections, clutter, work, kids, pets, art, etc… and stop worrying about everything being perfectly in its place. The book’s title is nearly as long-winded and cluttered as many of the spaces depicted within it. Written and photographed by Ralph Lauren’s vice president for advertising, Mary Randolph Carter, the book appears to brim over with her self-professed “junker” style. Now, I might not define myself as a “junker” per se— many of the images depicted in the book show a level of disarray that my obsession-riddled brain would simply not tolerate— but I have been sympathetic to the junker cause as of late. This is mostly because I have moved in with my significant other and his style veers toward the opposite end of the clutter-lover spectrum. While clutter irks me just as much as any other uptight gay with a so-called “eye for design,” perfectly curated clutter (to quote Anna Dorfman) does not. I love collections. I love mismatched art hung in a jumbled grid on a wallpapered surface. I love “pops” and even retina-assaulting explosions of color. I’ll be the first to admit that my personal style seems like it’s been ripped out of a hipster’s wet dream (or an Urban Outfitters catalogue, but those are one and the same). And guess what? I love it!

Still, Daniel does not. And I respect that. Daniel’s style is cultured, modern, and refined. He likes neatly tucked edges, sober white walls, and furniture that looks like it’s been curated from a design history textbook. If I were to encapsulate Daniel’s design sense into a tiny pixelated circle, it would look like this:

On the other hand, if my design sense were similarly condensed, it would probably resemble something like this:

There’s loud color! There’s turquoise! There’s a bird on it! It looks like Pier 1 ate too much wicker and shit all over fifth avenue! My style tends to follow a no-rules approach (for examples, see my old living room and bedroom). I blame this aesthetic preference on my sheer inability to wait for anything. You know that expression that it’s like waiting for paint to dry? That’s how EVERYTHING is for me (even waiting for paint to dry). Although I like a sensibly decorated, perfectly feng shuied, zen living space as much as everybody else, my total lack of patience has led me to adapt this somewhat zany approach which, in an attempt to rationalize it, I labeled as some kind of mutant hybrid between shabby chic and postmodern/retro/throwback. It worked for me.

Not everybody can tolerate a drug-free acid trip every time they step over the threshold of a room, though, and that is perfectly understandable. Luckily for Daniel, I have been more than cooperative with eradicating most of my so-called “twee” knickknacks from our new apartment. (You know, aside from my vintage bottle collection, an abnormal amount of non-functioning clocks, a few paintings of animals, and a giant metal letter “X.”) I’ve always tried to be somebody who can adapt easily and Daniel, with his impeccable (albeit obsessively stubborn) tastes, has made the transition especially easy. I’ve been officially banned from helping to paint the new place (Daniel did not like my no-rules approach when it came to painting my last apartment), but this has so far not been a problem.

The only problem that I foresee is losing my sense of self, something that Apartment Therapy’s guide to moving in together warned strongly against. This is why, despite my kind, loving, wonderful, and unparalleled level of tolerance for Daniel’s dictatorial design approach, I tried to keep at least a part of my foot in the door. When I saw Mary Randolph Carter’s book on Amazon, I immediately placed it in my cart and pressed purchase.

Bookplates!

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So, if you read Daniel’s blog, you probably already know that we moved in together. The decision was made quickly, with all the requisite naiveté of people our age, and I don’t think we could be happier about it. From day one, Daniel and I had been pretty much living together anyway, just without the legitimacy of a name on the lease and a rent check. It seemed only a matter of time before this insane step took place. Although we shacked up relatively quickly (faster than a pair of lesbians, as a lesbian friend of mine noted), we tried to come at the situation with the proper amount of level-headedness. We discussed various ways in which we might instate some kind of insurance policy, just in case one of us turned out to be a closeted ax murderer or rabid Justin Bieber fan (whoops, too late!). We ultimately rejected the more sane route of me subletting my apartment and opted instead for something much more satisfying. BOOKPLATES!

Daniel has an impressive collection of books and I have an even more impressive, bordering on hoarder-level, collection of books. With our sometimes overlapping tastes, many of these books overlap as well. We decided that, short of drafting some sort of non-marriage prenuptial agreement, the only responsible thing to do was to make cute little bookplates.

The bookplates, which I designed in Photoshop are 2.5×3 inches and were printed on lovely, cream-colored label sheets from Paper Source. I got the vintage woodcut images from this Flickr stream. Paper Source provides pretty simple Word/Pages/InDesign templates on their website, so it was a simple matter of cutting, pasting, and printing the labels and then putting them into our massive library of books. I feel so adult!

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Governor’s Island Houses

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During our big day of adventures in Governor’s Island, Rachel and I explored some of the houses that were open. One of the homes had a gallery of paintings on the first floor. Nobody was around, so we quickly bolted upstairs to check out what was there. In terms of actual objects, not much was there, but the empty hallways and pre-war rooms had a romantic and haunting quality to them.
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Max and Rachel’s New York City Adventure!

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In my post-grad, pre-summer-employment phase that I’m going through right now, I’ve had a little bit of time on my hands. In addition to filling this time with vegging out in front of the TV, reading celebrity gossip, and sleeping, I’ve actually been doing some nice cultural things. On Saturday, I went to the Met to see the Room With A View exhibit which was quite lovely. Then, yesterday, Rachel and I decided to go on an epic biking adventure through New York City. This is everything we did over the course of seven hours:

1) Biked from my apartment to Choice Market where we enjoyed delicious panini sandwiches and cookies.

2) Went over the Williamsburg Bridge and onto the East River bike path.

3) Went through the financial district to the Governor’s Island Ferry.

4) Got on the Governor’s Island Ferry. Went to Governor’s Island. (I had never been before and this place is INSANE. It’s like visiting a picturesque college town in the middle of the city.)

5) Explored the island, checked out the old fort, ventured into some of the old houses, ate some popsicles, went on the ferry back to Brooklyn.

6) Got back to Brooklyn, decided we were thirsty, went to the lovely and oh-so-hipster Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain.

7) Went to the bike shop and then to a nice outdoor dinner at Pequeña. I had chicken tacos!

8) Met up with a bunch of friends for trivia night at a nearby bar.

INSANE, right? So much biking! So much sweating! I’m glad I packed three towels, because it was HOT out. I’m also sporting a nice sunburn that will no doubt turn into a pretty awesome farmer’s tan.
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Oh, I also graduated!

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Last week, my family came to town to see me FINALLY graduate from college. After five years and FOUR different schools, I finally did it! On Sunday the 15th, I worked my last hours at my job in the Art History department, setting up and decorating for our department graduation reception. It was a bitter sweet ending to my time at Pratt and the office. I was able to introduce my family to all of my professors and have a nice sense of closure. I’m really going to miss it. Here are some of my decorations:
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It’s starting to feel like summer

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A few years ago, I experienced what I would categorize as The Semester From Hell. This past semester, my last one as an undergrad at Pratt Institute, wouldn’t exactly constitute one from Hell. It was more like The Semester From Purgatory. The semester that absolutely refused to end and enjoyed killing me softly with its avalanche of minor annoyances. There were some amazing things about the past six months, but very few of them had to do with my educational pursuits. Needless to say, it is with a massive sigh of relief that I welcome the summer season.

For the past few days, Daniel and I have been canvassing the island of Manhattan (and bits of Brooklyn) in search of the perfect apartment for him. After meeting with a handful of brokers and viewing an exhausting amount of hole-in-the-wall spaces, we learned that despite this so-called recession we’re in, the market has drastically changed over the past few years. This means that if your budget is under, oh, $5,000, finding a place that is even remotely inhabitable is near impossible. I’m thanking my lucky stars that I live off the G train and found my place almost four years ago. After days of searching, we finally stumbled upon a fantastic apartment in an idyllic Brooklyn neighborhood that is smack in the middle of everything. As we looked around the relatively large one bedroom, I practically begged Daniel to just take it. After a good amount of coercion and peer pressure, he agreed that it was just too beautiful to pass up.

To celebrate the end to the apartment hunt, we trolled around the new neighborhood, ducking into cute antique shops, furniture stores, and restaurants. It was the sunniest weather the city has seen this month and it seemed like a good sign as we sat in a quiet garden patio for a well-deserved lunch.