Friday, June 11, 2010

All Moved In!

Well, moving day has come and gone.  I finished the upholstery of the armchair and I've painted the coffee table and small chair.
Exhibit A:

Exhibit B (and C) :

 The apartment is absolutely incredible and I'm enjoying getting settled here.  Two days after I received the keys, though, I left for a five-day camping trip with my family.  I've been back for a little over a week now and things are already looking quite different.  When I moved in the living room and bedroom walls were a dish-soap green color and, thanks to some help from Mom, they are now a cool, clean gray.

Old color... not really working for me.

The gray is so much better.  Please disregard the move-in clutter.

On Monday I started a two-week printmaking course for summer school.  NDSU brings in a master printmaker every summer and each of the participants creates an edition for a portfolio exchange.  So, basically, I'll be receiving a dozen or so new lithographs!  Good thing I have lots of empty new walls.

As soon as I'm done with the class I'm going to start redoing the sofa.  The tired floral fabric is really an eyesore and everything will be much more cohesive once the sofa is wearing its new, sophisticated gray suit.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Extreme Makeover: Furniture Edition.

With the moving date only a few days away, I'm in a mad dash to get things ready to go.  No, not packing.  I haven't even thought about packing yet.  (maybe I should be?)  I need to get my furniture ready!  Almost all of my furniture is second-hand, third-hand, or more than that-hand.  About half of these pieces I picked up knowing that they'd need some elbow grease to work for my apartment.

Here are the things I have at this point.  I have nice bedroom furniture but I don't have photos, so you'll just have to be happy with the living and dining room furniture.

The Sofa
Purchased from the Dakota Boys Ranch thrift store - $50

No, buttery yellow with pink and blue flowers doesn't have a home in my design scheme.  I'm going to reupholster it in a solid, medium-gray fabric.  In the bottom corner of the photo you can see the skirt that was on the bottom of the sofa but I thought it would look more modern without it.

Dining Table & Chairs
Antique Oak Table from Fargo antique shop The Old and New Store - $95
4 Chairs from Dakota Boys Ranch - $50

The table is flawless.  Amazing, really.  It should have been much more expensive but, of course, I'm not complaining.  The chairs were absolutely filthy when I picked them up.  Even after a good scrub they are still the wrong color for the table and covered in scratches.  I plan to redo them in a white lacquered finish (to contrast the darkness of the table) and cushion and upholster the seats.

Glass, brushed steel & glass end table
Maison Jansen reproduction end table from The Old and New Store - $15
(those blue love seats went bye-bye on craigslist)

I know, right!  Fifteen bucks!  While I was buying the dining table I mentioned to the guy who runs the shop that I liked this table too.  It was originally priced at $75, marked down to $40, but he said that since I bought the one table he'd do $15 on it.  Of course I had to take it.

Antique Table
Wood table with brass feet from a garage sale - $40

I'm not sure what kind of wood this is, cherry or mahogany, but I'll leave it as it is even though it doesn't match any of the other wood items I have.  We're mixing and matching here anyway, right?

Probably from an vanity set, New Life Center thrift store - $3

I have no idea where I'm going to put it, but it has that cool, low back with the Asian detail and it was only three dollars.  I'm going to go lacquered black with this one and reupholster the seat.  The pink's not working.

Antique armchair
Amazing antique armchair from Antiques on Broadway in Fargo - $20

I found this one in the basement of the antique shop.  Apparently this was left over at an estate auction, nobody wanted it, so the guy who runs Antiques on Broadway threw it in his truck with the things he bought.  Knowing it would need to be reupholstered, he gave it to me for $20.  The funny thing is that the fabric is the same color and texture as my teddy bear growing up.  It was meant for me!  It is stuffed with horsehair and the seat is all down feathers.  It's incredibly comfortable.  I'm in the process of reupholstering it now.
Halfway done

I'm hoping I can get it finished by Tuesday or Wednesday.  With my gray/black/white scheme going on, I chose a white fabric with a very subtle textured pinstripe of the same color.  I made the mistake of choosing fabric with a bit of stretch, which has been horrible.  It was only $3.99 a yard which is ridiculously cheap for upholstery fabric, but it's not going to look as sharp as I'd like it to.  Honestly though, I'm going to have to redo it in a couple years anyway. It's white, absorptive, and I like wine.  It's really only a matter of time and you can only flip a cushion once.

Coffee Table
Asian-inspired coffee table from New Life Center thrift store - $5

Although this isn't what I ultimately want for a coffee table, It's going to work in the meantime.  When I do finally find the right one, this will receive a tufted, upholstered top and become a bench which will probably reside at the foot of my bed.  

There was a large gauge on the top and nail holes on the sides (I took off ugly '70s brass decorations) so I filled them with wood putty today so it can be sanded tomorrow.  When they are both sanded and ready, the little chair and this table are getting their shiny black lacquered coats.  I'm hoping the paint I got looks good but ,worst-case scenario, I have to throw both pieces away and I lose $8.  $12 if you count the can of spray paint.  

So, hopefully I can get as much of that painting and reupholstering done as possible before moving.  You know, so as to not trash my new apartment as soon as I get there.  I'm excited!  Can you tell?

Friday, April 23, 2010

I'm a Visual Creature

From art, to fashion, to architecture, all of the things I love are very well designed and quite easy on the eyes.  I'm a visual creature, and my idea of happiness is to be surrounded by beautiful, well designed things.  It should come as no surprise that I'm obsessing over the interior design of my apartment.  To be honest, this blog is going to be mostly about putting together my apartment on a very tiny budget.  It's going to be great though.

A few months ago, while at work, I stumbled across a design style called Hollywood Regency which has actually been around since the golden age of Hollywood.  The description fits perfectly into what I want for my apartment.  Here's something I am directly quoting from another website.

"The Hollywood Regency style was characterized by high glamour and glitz and emerged through the work of interior designers, such as Dorothy Draper, Elsie de Wolfe, and William (Billy) Haines, who decorated the homes of film luminaries in Hollywood’s Golden Age of the 1930s.
Furnishings combined clean lines with fancy detailing and shiny finishes to transform homes into luxurious showpieces fit for celebrities and the fashionable lifestyles they led under the glare of publicity. Reflective surfaces achieved with lacquer and chrome and mirrors were prominent along with shiny architectural hardware, velvet drapes, silk lampshades, glimmering chandeliers, thickly sculpted rugs, and faux fur accents. The pieces, sophisticated and gemlike in their appeal, were scaled to let the stars that used them stand out from their surroundings. They reinforced the prominence of the room’s occupants, fueling social interaction and an elegant, upbeat atmosphere conducive to entertainment and escapism. An offshoot of the Art Deco style, the forms incorporated sensuous curves, geometric pattern and a high degree of artisanship resulting in luxe textures. The palette revolved around whites and creams and blacks. Today’s interpretations of the style, reacting to the minimalism and neutral palettes of modernism, incorporate a variety of influences, from Art Deco and mid-century to neoclassical and opulent glam; the lustrous wares are decorative and often wear coats of brilliant color. Like any great movie, Hollywood Regency is a style that will continue to be revisited and remade."

I'd quote what site I took that from if I could remember where I got it.  Sorry (author), I didn't mean to steal.

Basically the style is non-matching in style, but matching in scale and proportion.  I can mix and match my favorite pieces of furniture together and it works.  I'm a little ADD, so anything shiny always catches my eye, mirrors are a former-model's best friend, and anything Art Deco works for me.  The style also celebrated Asian-influenced pieces (chinoiserie) and graphic prints.  This is all right up my alley.

Here are some of the photos that I've found most inspirational for my apartment:

This one is probably the 'go-to' photo for me.  I'm going to try to get the same sophisticated gray color for my walls.  I've had troubles matching paint in the past, but hopefully I'll get this one right. I want this graphic black and white rug so much.  I can't find a good rug anywhere.

I like the mix of black and white furniture and, again, the gray color on the walls.  You can see some Asian influences in the white chairs and the black mirror on the left.  Bamboo definitely works for this style.  Seriously, how cool is the chandelier?
I want to recreate this almost exactly in my new apartment.  There is a wall next to the front door that this situation would be perfect for.  Walk in, set your mail and keys on the table, pull out a stool, sit down and untie your shoes.  Perfect, right?  Then the stools could be used for extra seating during parties.  I love the contrast between the simple, clean lines of the table and the intricate mirror.

Here's another take on the same table/stool situation. 
I want that giant giraffe!

This room is getting closer to the colors I'm interested in.  Here it's all black and white with red accents, but I want to do a color palette based on menswear fabrics, so black, white, and gray with maybe a little color.
Like green possibly?  I like the furniture arrangement in this photo a lot.  Perfect for conversation and cocktails, right?
For the bedroom, I want something that looks like a very expensive hotel.  I have black bedroom furniture with gold pulls, so this photo could be something that would work.

Or something like this?  I'm sure I'll come up with something cool.

So, basically that's the feel I'm trying to manifest in the space where I live.  Hope you like!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Come one in, have a seat, and let me tell you about what I'm trying to do here.  I'll try to keep it brief, I promise.

Basically, the idea here is that I'm living in Fargo and I'm trying to recreate my amazing urban lifestyle from NYC.  Fargo is such a suburban city, all big-box retailers and SUVs from identical vinyl-sided tract housing.  Fortunately the downtown area is blossoming with independent boutiques, unique restaurants and bars, and quite the emerging art scene.  This is the part of Fargo that I want to immerse myself in.

This idea has shifted into top gear this week, since I just found out that my application was accepted on an amazing apartment in the perfect location downtown.  One block from work, half a block from NDSU's Architecture School where I have studio.  It's on the third floor of a commercial building that houses a frame shop and an espresso parlor.  The building was built in 1905 as a blacksmith shop and the apartments upstairs all have 10+ foot ceilings, hardwood floors, and lots of character.  They were recently renovated and my unit has new appliances and cabinets.  I can paint too.  No more rental-white walls!  Yeah, it's all pretty incredible.  

Now that I will have this apartment (June 1st) I can finally start realizing my plans.  Of course, being a poor college student with only a part-time job, my champagne tastes come with a beer budget.  I don't think this means that I need to sacrifice any of the style or excitement, just that I need to be creative about how I do it.  Here's how:

#1:  Furniture
Currently I'm obsessed with furnishing my apartment.  For cheap.  Real cheap.  BUT it has to look very expensive.  I've been trolling the area antique shops and thrift stores, picking up pieces here and there.  Nearly all of them need to be redone, but they are sturdy pieces with good bones.  I can work with the cosmetics.  There are very, very big plans here.  More to follow.  (Inspirational photos, etc.)

#2:  Social Life
I miss the busy social schedule I had in NYC and before I left Fargo.  It seems that I find myself in the sunset of my early twenties and most of my friends are less interested in going out three nights a week.  As unacceptable as I find this to be, it is something that I'll need to work around.  Since the scene seems to be slowing down, I have to take it upon myself to get things going.  Once I have my smart, swanky pad downtown I plan to have friends over all the time.  Not just for dinner (provided I learn how to cook without poisoning anyone), but also for drinks and hors d'oeuvres before we head out downtown... conveniently located outside my front door.  Wine and cheese anyone?

#3:  The Apartment
As soon as I get the keys to this new apartment everything will be better.  Located right where I need it, this is going to be a whole shift in lifestyle.  It's going to be just like New York:  I can exit my front door and find myself in the best part of the city where I can walk less than three blocks to the best restaurants, bars, galleries, and shops, not to mention of my job and school.  I have a nice bike, and I'll probably hardly ever use my car unless I'm getting groceries or something.  The kicker?  I can get onto the roof of this apartment!  I used to sit up on the roof of my apartment building in NYC all the time and I can finally do that again.  I love to be up high like that.

So, I'm in just the right place right now to develop the chic, stylish, and exciting urban lifestyle that I want.