29 January 2012

Bachelor Pad Inspiration: West Elm

Fell in love with this console yesterday at West Elm and purchased on the spot for my 11th Ave Bachelor Pad project. It will be used as a desk and will be placed by the window for the best view in the entire apartment! I'm sourcing a chair and accessories today but wanted to share how gorgeous I think this piece is.

This could make a great home bar as well!

24 January 2012

Planning and the Design Process


phils by courtchase on polyvore.com

The design process is often daunting and challenging for the every day person who's not as decor-crazy as the rest of us. Conceptualizing the layout of the space, its theme, and then sourcing furniture is often where people get stuck. A common question I get after I've worked with someone and we've identified furniture that they like is, "Well, is it going to look good in the room?"The answer's always yes, but a quick mock up does wonders in putting it all together.

For those of us who can't draw well, there's always programs like Polyvore. I've done many mock ups in the past on this site and find it easy to use and quick enough to throw something polished together to show a client.

Above is the mock-up of the bedroom I designed for my boyfriend's new apartment. He wanted to know if the furniture I picked out would work with his existing pieces, as well as with the paint color we picked out. A quick trip to Polyvore pulled it all together and gave me the OK to move forward with the design. It's the best "try it before you buy it" you can get and helps eliminate mistakes.

Have you used Polyfore to plan spaces? What has your experience been? 

Stay tuned in the next few weeks as we start pulling this room together!

23 January 2012

Notes on Painting a Room

This weekend, I was finally able to get some work done on 11th Ave Bachelor Pad project. The "client," aka my boyfriend, and I finally got a plan in place, so Saturday was spent buying furniture, lighting, paint, and supplies. 

Martha Stewart's Wrought Iron
We painted an accent wall (yes, don't gag. I've done two of these and they've made a great impact) in an hour and here are some of my tips: 

  • Take paint chips to the furniture store to reference while you shop. Camera phone photos are unreliable. 
  • If you're going to tape off the edges of the area you're painting, buy GOOD tape. The blue 3M tape sucks. Get Frog Tape. It does't bleed. 
  • Be generous with the amount of paint you put on your roller. If you're hearing a peeling noise when you are painting, the roller is too dry and you're making bubbles. In addition to making bubbles, you will spatter paint everywhere!
  • Beware that taping off your edges will not necessarily give you perfect edges. You will need to cut in regardless to refine any ragged edges that result in pulling up the tape. 
  • Buy a good, quality beveled brush to cut in. I prefer a 2" brush.
  • Cut off the bottom of an empty water bottle or a cup to use as a paint holder for your edge work. You'll only need an inch of paint in it at a time. The amount of paint you need to touch up is going to be minimal
  • Watch this video here on how to cut in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_uEi8ww4ZA(skip to 4:09, turn sound off) 

Stay tuned in a few weeks as this project unfolds. Do you have any painting tips, trials, or tribulations? 

22 January 2012

Happy Sunday

I just took this during my walk this morning. If you live in NYC, there are times you pick your head up and stop dead in your tracks-this city is gorgeous when you stop and look. 

Spent all day yesterday outfitting a room for the "11th Ave Bachelor Pad" and will be painting in a few hours. Made some major progress on furniture, lighting and bedding. I went to the NYC Home Depot in Chelsea yesterday for the first time. It's amazing; they sunk a Home Depot in the middle of a city block and it's bright, spacious (for the city), and organized. I was in heaven!

I will be posting pics of the project throughout the day (except when the Patriots are on!). You can follow me here on instagram: http://followgram.me/bigbeigebox

18 January 2012

Apt #13 Bed Situation

A lot of people come to the Apt #13 link on the header of my blog and ask, "Where's the bed?"

To be honest, I've been notoriously bad with bedding and I always get stuck when designing this area, so I never show it. I know as a blogger, I feel pressured to show only my best work and fear the scrutiny of other bloggers. But hey, we're not all perfect and I wanted to keep it real and show you something that's an evolving work in progress.
Right when I moved in. Yep, that's an air mattress.
Here's the bed with a duvet I sewed from two sheets. The quality was horrible, it wrinkled and pilled. I ended up throwing it out. 
The duvet hid this satin mess. 
So, I flipped it over to the matte, cotton side. It was an OK fix, but it looked cheap. 
The original comforter was part of a bed in a bag set I bought on a whim (and a gift card) at Target. In FL it was fine because the weight of the blanket was just enough.  It's COLD here in NYC and my windows are really drafty so this comforter wasn't keeping me warm. I finally realized that you really can't skimp on bedding. 

So, I went on Amazon and bought a synthetic down comforter. It is awesome. And I only paid $70! After sleeping one night with this, I can say that it is a definite value; generously filled and has a high thread count. 
My bed with the new duvet. Look closely in the hallway and you'll see Higgins. 

Here it is with my faux fur throw at the end of the bed. The throw definitely looks better crumpled up, as you can't see how cheesy the pattern is printed on there. However, I need to stretch it to protect the bed from Mr. Higgins' fur.

How do people with pets do it? I love an all white bed, but his black fur is everywhere! Plus, since he's also white, there's white hair on dark fabrics. I love the little guy but it's NOT cute.

17 January 2012

Bedroom Ruminations for Apt #13

I need to complete my room so I can photograph it and show it to you as well as feel officially 'moved in.' Since my lease is up in June, I'm vowing to keep it simple and work what I already have. One of those things is my faux fur blanket. Here's what's been inspiring me lately-the coziness of the fur blanket, coupled with the simple linens.

I've got a new duvet comforter coming in this afternoon (I love Amazon!) and I plan to get a really simple, maybe white, cover for it so the fur throw can take center stage. What do you think?

15 January 2012

13 January 2012

BBB Travel: Mountains, Sea, and Sky in South Africa

                                                         Source: dumirocks.wordpress.com via Courtney @bigbeigebox on Pinterest

Cape Town has SO much to offer between its gorgeous mountains, beautiful beaches, and attractions. Here is a summary of the rest of the activities on my trip.

Skydiving (Sorry, Dad!)

Given the recent news of a bungee jump gone awry in South Africa, it's a good thing we didn't go the Bloukrans Bridge jump. Instead, five of us woke up early to skydive with Skydive Capetown. This company provides excellent tandem jumps and provided a very laid-back atmosphere for my very first jump. I'm officially addicted!

Hike Lion's Head at Sunset
Lion's Head peak (far right of the top pic) is part of Table Mountain and is situated between Clifton Beach and Bantry Bay. The hike is moderately challenging and can be a great workout if you hustle up there (we got there in 29 mins). There is ample parking at the base of the hill and people hike up night and day. My recommendation is to go there for sunrise or sunset to watch Table Mountain and the beaches below light up picture perfectly. 

Wine Country with African Blue Tours
Our group hired owner, David Smith, to bring us through the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek regions. The itinerary was based from info I gleaned from the Lanalou Style blog's recommendations for the area.  This activity was, surprisingly, a big highlight for the group. We had a party of 11 (only 3 ladies) and the guys really loved the tour. I cannot say enough about how great David was in accompanying our group. Check out our review of his services here on Trip Advisior

Now, onto the wine. 
Anthonij Rupert Winery
Highlights: Terra Del Campo Arne
The Rupert estate is the home of the L'Ormains range. The winery is situated on 100 hectares and additionally boasts a horse farm and classic car museum with over 100 cars. The highlight wine was the Terra Del Campo Arne, which is named in homage to Diana Ross' deceased husband who was an avid mountain climber. He passed away as a result of an climbing accident on the estate and the wine is in dedication to his memory.

Thelema Mountain Vineyard
Highlights: Sauvignon Blanc 2011,  Riesling 2010, Merlot Reserve 2010
Thelema was the group favorite. It had a more modern, casual feel and the white wines were absolute stunning. The main tasting building had a Dwell-esque feel and was bright and airy. We bought several bottles of the Merlot Reserve 2010. Even if you hate Merlot, buy this!
Tokara Vineyard
Highlights: Tokara Restaurant & Reserve Collection Noble Late Harvest 2009
Tokara was our stop for lunch and our last wine tasting. The Deli (highly recommended by Lanalou Style) was closed that Friday, so we booked lunch in the Tokara Restaurant. It. Was. Stunning. The entire grounds and building are a visual feast for the designophile. You will swoon from the dining room, to the vistas, to the art, and food. 
photo c/o Tokara Restaurant website
Abseil Table Mountain

We booked a guided hike and abseil (aka rappelling) with Abseil Africa another morning to get the adrenaline pumping again following the wine tour. The 1.5 hr guided hike was followed by a 100 meter (300ft) abseil  down from the top of Table Mountain. The descent was like nothing I've ever done and I highly recommend this for the daredevil who loves a good view. After the abseil, you have to hike back to the top in order to take the cable car back down the mountain.

That's my 12 day Cape Town excursion in a nut shell! Please feel free to comment with any questions. I had so much fun and would love to share any tips I can.

All photos by Courtney of the BBB otherwise noted. 

11 January 2012

BBB Travel: Surfing South Africa With Stoked School of Surf

Cape Town is an adventurer's dream- its gorgeous terrain and infallible weather lend to the most picturesque vistas that serve as the back drop of some amazing activities. My friends were of the daredevil variety so most of my trip consisted of climbing mountains, surfing, and jumping off very high places. 

My #1 recommendation of things to do in Cape Town is to book a surf lesson with Stoked School of Surf.  

Stoked is a mobile surf school and surf tour operator owned by local Michelle Davy. She and sister, Sarah-Jayne, provide top-notch equipment and quality instruction that enables all levels to enjoy a successful day of surfing. 
Sarah-Jayne leads our group in Lesson #1 at Big Bay. Table Mountain is in the background.
Photo c/o Stoked's Facebook Page
Lessons with Stoked are meticulously informative and thorough. The first 20 minutes of your lesson comprises of a break down on the mechanics of surfing, emphasizing balance, control, and form. The instructors then join you in the water for  hands-on instruction, tips, and to take pictures of you ripping it up. I grew up surfing and still learned things in one lesson that I never gleaned in a lifetime of surfing.
Me, riding the "foamies" after a 5 yr surf hiatus.
c/o Stoked
Lessons start at R280 (approx. $35US) for a 2 hour lesson if you have your own transportation (there is also an option for the girls to pick you up). You will not get a better deal anywhere else in the world for this level of instruction and the quality of their boards and wetsuits.

My friends and I booked three lessons throughout our trip, which I highly recommend. Stoked has plenty of equipment and was able to accomodate our group of 11 people plus a few more! Book your first lessons for the morning, when the surf is the cleanest. Windy conditions make surf choppy and rough. After you've got a few AM sessions under your belt, be sure to book at least one sunset surf in your subsequent lessons. There is nothing more peaceful and inspiring to catch a wave as the sun sets on this amazing city!
The boys heading back out for one last wave on our last lesson in Big Bay.
c/o Stoked
I've had girlfriends in the past say that they'd never try surfing because it's too hard or that they're not strong enough. I will tell you that women (and smaller people in general) are at an advantage in a sport like surfing. You have a lower center of gravity, float easily, and usually have better balance. Michelle and Sarah-Jayne WILL get you on your first wave-I promise!

Excited yet? This was just a warm-up! Stop by tomorrow where I'll be highlighting our death-defying feats of skydiving, shark cage diving, and abseiling off Table Mountain!

10 January 2012

BBB Travel: Packing for a 2 wk trip in a carry-on

Packing for a vacation can be stressful because it's hard to pack ahead of time accounting for the weather and the various places your plans may take you. I wanted to share what I packed for my 12 day trip over the Christmas and New Year's holidays to Cape Town, South Africa. Because I CARRIED ON my luggage. You can do this, and I can help.

Let's start by outlining your supplies.
BBB Packing Essentials

BBB Packing Essentials by courtchase featuring tote handbags

1. I am a huge fan of Hideo Wakamatsu's Feather 20" carry on. I bought this for my boyfriend last Christmas and he uses it at least 1-2 times per month for business. Its frame-less, soft bag body allows you to stuff this to the max and still pass as a carry-on. It has compression straps on the side to keep its shape and prevent your things from shifting in the bag. I've been stealing this bag for my trips but since we were traveling together, I bought one for myself. Trust me, if a 6'3" man can put two week's worth of clothes and shoes in this bag any lady will find that this provides enough room for a lot of clothes.

2. You will need another bag for your toiletries and other items you need in-flight. I recommend a backpack. Yes, I said it. It's not glamorous but necessary when traveling across the planet with multiple stops. I brought a messenger bag and I HATED it. I overstuffed the bag and the strap (which  was so long it had to be knotted to prevent the bag from hitting me behind the knees) put so much stress on my neck and back. Do yourself a favor and get a good backpack. You will need it for your trips into town or for any hiking you do.

3. Also, pack a canvas tote. I folded mine up and packed it in my suitcase. It was my go-to bag for our trips into town, to the beach, or the grocery store. They charge you a nominal fee in Cape Town for using plastic bags so we often used my tote to go green and also avoid fees.

4. In-flight entertainment is essential on a 16 hour flight from JFK to Johannesburg. I made the mistake of taking multiple magazines and books on the flight, adding more weight to my miserable messenger bag. Do yourself a favor and download books, mags, and movies to your ipad. They hold a 10hr+ charge and will get you through your flight. Sometimes the in-flight entertainment goes on the fritz and you're going to want your ipad if the tv in front of your seat goes out (about 30% of passengers on my flight had this problem).

Now, your packing strategy.
BBB Travel: Packing for 12 Day Trip

1. 1 Black Blazer: Wear this at night to shelter you from the high nightly winds in Cape Town.  Layering this over a maxi takes you from the beach to the restaurant at night and also serves as a smart topper to your cocktail dress on New Year's Eve.  You can also use this to dress up your day ensemble of jeans and a tank for casual dining.

2. 3 Dresses: 1 colorful Maxi, 1 beige cocktail, 1 black mini.

A maxi is the chameleon of dresses. You can wear it to and from the beach, out to dinner, or on the down and you will look sexy, down to earth, and put together....all at the same time. Top the maxi with a blazer for dinners out, or pair it with the circle scarf when it gets chilly at a late afternoon braai (barbecue).

The nude/beige cocktail dress fits any occasion. Dress it down with sandals for day shopping and vamp it up at night with bright heels and accessories.

The black mini racerback dress takes you from the beach (just pop it over your head and pair with a statement necklace) or a night with killer heels and a blazer. Instant, effortless sexy.

3. 1 white jean: This is your chance, ladies, to whip out your white jeans in the dead of winter. Pair with  simple tanks and tees during the day (Cape Town is breezy enough that you're not sweating bullets in jeans during the day). Top with blazer and statement necklace (don't forget the heels!!) at night.

4. 2 bikinis: 1 sexy, 1 practical (not pictured). We spent a lot of time surfing and went shark cage diving this trip so I relied heavily on my old standby sporty brazilian bikini. Reef and O'Neal make excellent ones. Also, check out Mikoh for amazingly hot bikinis. They're made with flat seams so there's never a pinch, bulge, or muffin top. And while I'm at it, buy a brazilian bikini. Let it all hang out, ladies, a cheeky bottom never hurt anyone.

5. 1 men's chambray: wear with shorts and flats for day trips or as a beach cover up.

6. 4 pairs of shoes: Yup, I said it. The only shoes not pictured were my running shoes that I wore on the plane. You CAN do this! Flats, sandals/flops, killer bright heels. There's not need for anything else. Get creative.

7. Accessories: This is the lifeblood of your wardrobe. Bring in color and interest with scarves (double as blankets on the plane), statement necklaces (brings those beach coverups straight into the club or dinner), and bracelets. Make sure you wear a watch so you can program it to local time. We had no cell phones so in order to know what day and time it was, I relied on my watch.

8. 3 Tanks, 3 Tees: Pack white, black, grey. Your jewelry will be your color and interest so it's best to rely on these basics as your base layer for all outfits.

9. Not pictured: work out clothes, sweatshirt. You will see in the next week that my trip to Cape Town was very athletically driven. I LIVED in a bikini or work out clothes during the day. Pack 2 sports bras, 3 pairs of socks, and 1 capri tight. The sweatshirt is a must, as the temps cool even during the day when you're mountain climbing. I took a crappy one and regretted it. Bring something functional AND stylish like this one from Lululemon. That way you can be warm on the mountain and look good when you hike down to lunch.

So that's it. I PROMISE you, there will be enough clothes for your entire trip. We had access to laundry and did the wash twice to get the essentials (tees, tanks, socks) clean. I'd highly advise doing laundry if you can, or send it out at your hotel. We opted to NOT check bags (BTW, bags are free on South African Airways) because they would not transfer them from our first leg to Johannesburg to our Cape Town flight 12 hours later. We killed time during the layover at the hotel spa at the airport so it was essential to have access to fresh clothes and toiletries (highly recommended!).

Stay tuned tomorrow where I recap our surfing lessons with Stoked School of Surf!

09 January 2012

A Huge THANK YOU to Get It Girl Style!

Over my December Holiday, I was lucky enough to be the "Featured Blogger" on the Get It Girl Style blog. Tam has been so supportive of my efforts on the BBB and exemplifies what it means to build a community online. 

Please stop by and give Tam a shout. She's got some great, new projects showcased that will inspire you!

05 January 2012

I'm back from SA!

Eat your heart out, Christian Chaize.....here's a sneak peek of the view of Clifton 1 from my (former) vacation apartment.

I'm finally back in NYC, downloading and editing all of the pics and film from my 12-day adventure of a lifetime. Please bear with me-I'll be posting for probably the next two weeks on the finer details of the trip.

Hope your Holiday and New Year breaks were fantastic. xo c
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