24 April 2012

Cape Town Real Estate Stalking

South Africa continues to haunt me--in a good way. I found this beauty on the Desire to Inspire site tonight and I'm pretty sure I drove by this on my vacation. Can you imagine living here? Cape Town is heaven on Earth.

20 April 2012

Apartment Living: Window Treatments Make the Difference

There are several limitations and challenges that apartment living poses for renters. This "Apartment Living" series aims to solve these dilemmas and show my readers tips that will assist in making their big, beige box a real home. 
Apartments, especially here in NYC, come in all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, so do their windows. My bedroom in my current apartment (#13) here in NYC has two different windows that make the room look very unbalanced. The easiest way to create balance in this situation is through the window treatments. 

My general rule of thumb is to mount curtains as high as you can to create an illusion of height, especially in cases where you don't have high ceilings. I know what you're thinking: "But shouldn't  I just mount the curtains above the top of the window? There's going to be a gap in between the curtain rod and the window if I follow your advice..." 

My answer is YES! The gap is completely OK-check out Pinterest or any shelter mag. Nobody cares. If the gap really bothers you, mount a roman shade directly below the rod to cover the gap and add another layer to your window treatment. 
Boom! Here's the quick fix after of my current bedroom. I mounted these faux silk dupioni (similar here) curtain panels from JCPenney at the ceiling. They hit the floor perfectly. I do not like to tailor anything if I can help it and have found that JCPenney is an amazing resource for budget-friendly, high quality curtains that come in long lenths!! 

The mounting these curtains at the ceiling and allowing them to fall to the floor equalized the different sized windows and have even helped minimize the AC unit under the right-hand side window. These set the tone for my room and the project cost under $200, which is what most companies charge for a single panel! 

I've also used this trick numerous times. My bedroom in Apt #11 had a tiny window that I hid by using curtain panels that spanned the entire wall!
See anything familiar? I lost the before picture, but the window is only as wide as the white sheers. I bought an extra-long rod and added black panels to create the illusion of a large window. This treatment created a focal point for the room that highlighted the 10 foot ceilings of the apartment, as well as the proper scale to offset the low bed and huge lamps. 

The lesson? Mount your curtains HIGH! You won't be disappointed!

18 April 2012

DIY Shower Curtain (because most are straight up ugly)

Seems like change is in the air because I have two girlfriends who are moving into new apartments on May 1st. My girl called me today with the age-old question that plagues all decorators:

"Why are all shower curtains butt-ugly!?!?

I honestly don't have the slightest idea why of all the Bed Baths, JCPenneys, Targets, etc out there is there an acceptable and affordable shower curtain option. Trust me, I've searched long and hard for this for myself and many a client.

In the past, I've made my own shower curtains (actually, twice). It's easy and you get exactly what you want if you find a panel you like. I did the following project way back in Jan 2010 for Apartment #10. 
What I did was take a curtain panel from Zgallerie and used a grommet kit from Joann's to finish the holes for the curtain rings. Very easy. 
 The grommets quickly instal with a little hammering and be sure that your shower curtain rings fit through them prior to purchasing. The 54"W by 84"L length was the perfect length for my extra-wide shower stall.

I would do this project over in a heartbeat should the need come up again. Here's some of the awesome panels they're offering now at Zgallerie for around $50.

Some tips on hanging your shower curtain:
A shower curtain I made by sewing a rod pocket on an Urban Outfitters tapestry for Apartment #11. 

1. I've always found that HIGHER is BETTER! If you have the option of adjusting the height of your shower curtain rod, make sure you mount it at least 6 inches below the ceiling. This will provide enough clearance for steam to exit the shower as well as EMPHASIZE the HEIGHT of your room. Most bathrooms are teeny-tiny so this is an easy tip to fake height in the room.

2. MORE IS MORE!! If you have the option of using multiple curtain panels, do it! I faked a bigger shower in My Apartment #10 in Scottsdale by mounting a shower curtain rod in front of the existing shower doors to hide how hideous they were! I was able to use three IKEA curtain sheers across the whole thing and the draping (I wish I had a pic!) that multiple panels offered looked so lush and luxurious!

3. Spend the money on a good liner. Overtstock and Amazon are great sources for heavy-duty shower curtain liners. This is a must. Don't cheap out. I did once and it looked awful.

Have you made your own shower curtain? Please share!

17 April 2012

Summer's here early-akward prop styling

Rescued an old friend from Newport this weekend in efforts to keep up my surfing this summer. As I was pulling her out of my father's garage, I was talking myself into how awesome she'd look in my room--part of the decor, you know? There are so many pics of interiors with surfboards as art or a statement piece. Why wouldn't mine look badass amongst my Hollywood Regency/Nior/ish room???

I was conjuring up visions of gorgeous and shiny epoxied boards blending seamlessly amongst the decor like so...

I was hoping my surfboard would be a nonchalant and cool styling prop for my super-glam and girly bedroom. You know, like: "Aha! You didn't expect that, did you?? There's more to me than meets the brass/mirrored/velvety/trellis patterned facade you see here!" 

Here's the reality. Surfboards (if you actually plan on using them), are covered in wax, which basically looks like old snot, but it's essential in keeping your feet planted firmly on the board. Additionally, they yellow as they age. It may look cool in a bach pad or a duderoom, but here in my room, it's just out of place.
The 80* temps in NYC yesterday got me fired up for Summer and I've committed to myself that I'm surfing MORE this year. More as in, "more than every 5 years I'll go surfing." I grew up on the water in Newport as a kid and (attempted to) surfed each year along side my father and guy friends. Perhaps I'm regressing back to high school because I'm also itching to buy a skateboard.

Anyway, this baby is here to stay during the summer and it sticks out like a sore thumb amongst my glamma glamma decor. 

14 April 2012

Happy Weekend!

Higgins and I are off to the homeland this weekend. Follow me @bigbeigebox on Instagram to get the play by play of Newport, RI. 

Meanwhile, local newsstands and your big box book stores have the new Domino magazine. I took a field trip yesterday with Nicole of Sketch42 to take a look. What a disappointment; it was a big Domino yearbook of old material. I didn't even bother buying it for the $11 price tag, as I have all the issues at home. Nicole will be reviewing it in depth soon. 

10 April 2012

James Nares: Still my favorite

When I get stuck in a rut or caught in a hard spot in life, I turn to art as inspiration to keep my thoughts moving forward. Aritist James Nares does just that for me. I've been meditating on this painting for a while because it is fluid, complex, but not too serious all at once. I can get lost in staring at the details which helps calm me when I'm nervy. It's always been my quirky habit to rush right up to a painting to see the details. I want to see exactly how each brush stroke was achieved. Sometimes, I get lost in this observation for a long time (museum docents love me! no!).  Then I take a step back.

When I taking a step back to take in the entire painting, it reminds me to stay in the moment and not get ahead of myself. I think this is a great metaphor for my life as I often do this and get lost in speculating. Observing a painting from several vantage points--up close--pulled back--moving farther away--helps me appreciate every bit of the process.

These paintings are done in a single swoop (you should see his technique!) and there's only once chance to get it right.

Despite this, the paintings come off as relaxed to me. It tells me to relax and trust the process. Each artist has a groove they get into that guides them through completing a painting. We've seen Nicole talk at length about this.

I just love these paintings. For me, they are all about fluidity and the twists and turns life throws at you. Some are planned, others unexpected, but if you take a step back to see the whole picture they're part of something bigger and beautiful.

By the way, how awesome does designer Kara Mann rock the shit out of this interior with that one painting?

09 April 2012

NYC: On the Street- Mima Building

Spent Easter on the terrace of this amazing apartment building! The MiMa building is part of the real estate movement that's bringing people west of 9th Avenue. It boasts over 40 floors, has AMAZING shared space terraces that boast an outdoor movie theatre, sun deck, and multiple grilling stations. My friends and I BBQ'd (Braai'd for our South African readers!) for Easter and enjoyed the great, warm NYC weather. Did I mention that there's also a doggy daycare and an Equinox gym on site for residents???? Unreal. 

04 April 2012

Your house soul mate

Do you ever wonder where you'll be in a few years and the physical structure that houses the life you've made for yourself?

At the beginning of 2011, I did an exercise spurred from Lululemon's goal setting worksheets that prompt you to visualize your life in the next 5-10 years in great detail. Naturally, the stream of conscious narrative I wrote was literally housed inside how I envisioned my home.  To me, the home encapsulates your life. It houses its contents, shelters you from the outside world, and welcomes friends and family inside to create awesome memories. It was only fitting that my 5 year vision incorporated my home.

I wrote how my home would be decorated, but not too precious....lived in and comfortable....surrounded by the artefacts of the life that I built together with my husband....to remind ourselves and our kids of the story of how we all got there. There's nothing more romantic to me than going into a family's home to see all of the little things tucked away that have been building for years. It creates a sense of history, especially for kids. I remember pouring through old photo albums of my parents' courtship as a child and it helped me understand the story behind our family.

My bookshelves would be lined with pictures, trinkets, and keepsakes from traveling abroad. Portraits of family and friends taken throughout the years....something that the average visitor could piece together our story upon observing its contents. The bookshelves would call to people to pick things up, read them, interpret them, and learn a little more about what we hold dear.

Bed rooms would be cozy and inviting. A safe haven at the end of the day and a wonderful place to wake up in the morning.  Not too done up-a comfortable retreat from the word.

The kitchen would be the home's center. I imagine children doing homework at the table, friends lingering late night after dinner parties telling raucous stories of crazy and younger times, and a place to laze over the paper on the weekend.

This is what I picture. There's no husband, children, or downpayment on the line at this point, but I am a firm believer of daring to dream and knowing exactly what you want. My homes/apartments have been what encompass certain eras and development in my life and I look back fondly on each one (especially the most recent #11-13). What's great about Pinterest is that it gives you the visual and helps flesh out that vision. I highly recommend trying it (have you see my Beachhouse board!?!?!)

What about you? How sacred are the images you pin/blog/download? What do they mean to you? When you set goals or envision your life, does your home come into play as well? 

03 April 2012

March came in like a lamb and out like a lion.

Lots of change happening lately, which has sapped most of my creative energy and drive. Since I've been nicely nudged back on to blogging, I'll share some of my Instagram snaps from this month (@bigbeigebox). 
 This *may* be a possibility for the entry of my apartment provided we resign the lease in June.
 This snap made it into Casa Sugar's "Lovely Little Vignettes."
 My sanity and constant companion.
 Eagerly waiting for the return of Domino.
I think I'm officially done putting together IKEA furniture. This is probably my 1,000th MALM dresser.
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