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design plan

ACS_0702.JPGdid you guys catch the latest on my bff’s house on instagram this weekend? i was home in massachusetts for the holiday, and went over there for dinner sunday night. joia and T are officially moved in, and while they still have lots of updates to make, the house is already starting to feel like a home.

my favorite room in the home is their bedroom (pictured above). it’s oddly shaped, and has pitched ceilings, which makes the layout a bit tough to master, but it’s got so much potential. when i first saw the house (sans furniture), i immediately pictured this room whitewashed, like this.

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or this.

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i know it’s not exactly the same, but use your imagination for a minute here. stare at the photo below, and imagine all the walls that are currently beige painted a crisp, cool white. then pictured simple, matching side tables (like these), and lighting (like these). for bedding, i’d love to see them go a little crazy with this gorgeous, ocean-themed set from rebecca atwood. joia’s dream is to have a house by the ocean, and until she gets that, this room can serve as her seaside oasis.

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like the photoshop rendering below, where i’ve faked the white walls.

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doesn’t it INSTANTLY feel lighter and brighter?! the carpet in here is new, so chance are, they’ll keep it for now (though chances are good that there are beautiful hardwoods beneath!), but joia placed an ikea sheepskin on the side of the bed, which i think is a great solve in the interim. they have lots they want to do, design-wise, to the rest of the house, and in that sense, this room is the closest to “done.” the only big update needed in here is paint (which will likely happen in the spring at this point, unless i come home for a weekend and go rogue). everything else is simple updates: nightstands, lighting, bedding, etc. all things that can wait.

Garner Master Bedroom_Design Plan_v1.jpgthoughts? comments?! can you see it?! i can.

more on the garner cape house:

the living room design plan

my best friend bought a house! (part 1)

my best friend bought a house! (part 2)

 

 

 

 

 

as you may have read last week, my best friend joia and her husband T recently bought a house! it’s in my hometown (well, sort of–the town next to it!), about a 4 minute drive from my parents, and i’m super excited about it. it’s a 1940s cape style home that was recently renovated, but more in a “let’s flip this baby” style than a “let’s really think about design” style.

as a result, joia and T have more than a few changes they’d like to make (but over time!). i’ll be helping joia choose some of the paint colors and furniture pieces, and while the design boards below may never totally come to fruition, they’re a good starting point for helping the two of them think about the space.

i have thoughts for pretty much all the rooms (you can see part 1 and part 2 of the before tour if you’re tardy to the party), but i’m starting with one of the spaces in which they’ll spend the majority of their time: the living room.

Garner Cape_Living Room Wide Shot 2as you can see, it’s a rather big space. the wall to wall carpet was put in recently, but we’ll probably cover it up with at least one area rug. joia and T already purchased a large grey sectional, so we’ll be working with that (pillow party time!). beyond those bigger elements, my overall thinking is this: it’s a large room with good light but rather low ceilings–so we want to keep it bright and airy, paint-wise, and bring the eyes up, curtain-wise. beyond that, i’m going for a collected, cozy, homey traditional vibe. think: antique pieces with soul, but nothing too old or stuffy.

in terms of the placement of things, i’m hoping to anchor the various parts of the room with little vignettes. for example, the front right wall (right by the entrance to the kitchen/eating area) is BEGGING for a bar cart. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PUT A BAR CART IN FRONT OF ME! it says.

Garner Cape_LR_Front Right Corner_Design Notes 2next to it is the perfect wall for a big art piece. speaking of art, i’m thinking mostly vintage pieces–either ones that joia and T already have, or pieces we can find at antique stores and flea markets. again: i want the room to have soul.

anyway, back to the rest of the space. so you don’t have to scroll back up, here it is again–this time with notes!

Garner Living Room_DesignNotes_1as i said above, with the lower ceilings, i think we need a bright, airy color. enter chantilly lace by benjamin moore. it’s a cooler white (blue undertones), but i think with the natural light in this room, we can totally do it. i’m worried that a warmer white will go dingy with the carpet, so blue-ish white it is!

i’m also advocating that they hang those ceilings ALL THE WAY UP, as a way to draw the eyes up, and get a large area rug to cover up some of that carpet. in a perfect world, we’d tear it up and get beautiful hardwoods (there are likely some underneath!) but that’s not in the cards right now, so we’ll make do with what we’ve got! the back corner will be the heart of the room, with the ginormous sectional that joia and T recently purchased (we’ll zhush it up with fun pillows and throws).

the biggest change (which is actually already in progress!) is tearing out that fireplace/tile surround. because, get this: it’s FAKE. like, that shiz does not work. honestly, i don’t understand people sometimes. why on earth would you tile the thing and make it a focal point when it’s not even real?? especially in new england, where MANY HOUSES have real, working fireplaces (it gets colllllldy cold in western massachusetts)?

Garner Cape_LR_Fireplace_Design Notes 3then, to the left of the fireplace, they’ve got some additional space–space that needs to be filled, either by a bookshelf, or by (my choice) a pretty vintage wood dresser like the one in the design plan below. bringing in wood elements will give the room a sense of gravitas, and best of all, can be found secondhand (without spending a fortune). the house is old and therefore, not exactly chock full of closets, so a dresser will also provide a nice home for extra table linens, china, silverware, etc. (the home doesn’t have a formal dining room).

okay, NOW FOR THE FUN PART: THE DESIGN PLAN! this is obviously just the bigger pieces, and just an idea of things–not necessarily the actual pieces.

Garner Living Room_Design Plan_v1i’m hoping that we can find a vintage rug–there’s a great dealer a few towns away that sometimes gets huge rugs for a (relative) steal (he’s where i snagged my colorful hallway runner!). we’ll need a really big one (likely a 9 by 12) to fill the space, but i’m confident we can do it. to balance out the giant sectional (which is from a big box store), i want to hunt for an overstuffed leather armchair. you know, those big snuggly ones that make you feel like you’re sitting in a british library sipping a cup of tea and smoking a giant cigar. i once found one of those on the side of the street here in new york, and stood in front of it until i could procure a man with a van on craigslist to pick it up and bring it to my apartment (worth it!).

to bring in some sparkle (because obviously), i’m eyeing a brass bar cart and brass library-style lamp (to go by the couch). the one above is a pricey one from crate & barrel, but target makes a ton of inexpensive options that i’ve seen in person and that are QUITE CUTE. the library-style lamps are pretty much everywhere these days, so it’ll be easy to find an inexpensive one.

for their coffee table, i love the idea of finding a vintage trunk–or buying the one above from CB2, which is relatively reasonable and bridges the gap between being old and too antique-y and looking big box brand spanking new. they could certainly do a wood coffee table in here, but i searched for quite some time and couldn’t find any that i really loved. ialso love the idea of a giant leather ottoman, but that may be too eclectic for their taste.

in terms of art, we’d go vintage here as well, where possible. i love the idea of finding old oil portraits (that’s def someone’s uncle up there!) for cheap, or using old botanical prints (or something similar, like the ones above) as art. we could always mix in more modern prints, but i think older pieces help give a room a layered feel.

so, now that i’ve convinced you that i’m designing a home for old people, let me say this: between their TV area (which will have built-ins for their consoles, etc.) their couch, and potential side tables (plus finishing touches like pillows, throws, tchotchkes, etc.), there will be plenty of modern elements to balance out the space. i promise!

stay tuned over the next few months for more of the garner cape house–i’ve got big plans for their master bedroom (whitewashed walls! a yoga/meditation space!) and second bedroom (BUILT-INS!).

ps: if you’ve got specific questions about the home, the design process, or anything related to the two, ask away! i’d love to structure these posts around the parts of the process you care most about.

more on the garner cape house:

my best friend bought a house (part 1)!

my best friend bought a house (part 2)!

 

 

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the swan inn in the cotswolds, england. source: the neotrad

hi, friends! i’m back at it with some exciting news! in my first true gig as an interior designer (and honestly, i hesitate to even use that term), a friend’s sister has asked me to help her design a summer house up on the coast of maine.

i’ll pause for the excited gasps of “oooh!” “a summer house!” “i love maine!” “so beautiful!” yes, i feel all those feelings too, and yes, i reacted the same way when she came over for dinner and said she’d like my help.

see, i’ve been designing a country house in my mind for years now. like, to the point that whenever i go antiquing, i look at things (and sometimes, buy them) and say, “this would look GREAT in my country house.” this tends to annoy the people around me, especially my mother, who is fond of reminding me that i do not have a country house. she’s not wrong. but what’s to stop a girl from dreaming?! perhaps someday, i will, and when that time comes, I SHALL BE READY.

in the meantime, though, i’m thrilled to be helping my client (omg, can i even call her that?!) design the one of HER dreams.

soon,i’ll be sharing some “before” pictures of the space, but suffice it to say it has REALLY good bones. we’re talking beamed ceilings, amazing exposed birchwood walls, fireplaces and exposed brick…i died and went to country house heaven when she sent them over.

as of now, all she’s done is picked paint colors (which she did entirely on her own–i just helped with sheen and gave the thumbs up), which means we’ve got lots of fun ahead of us! this home will serve as a second home for their family (they live on the west coast, but both are east coasters originally!), and may also become a vacation rental in the future.

ANYWHO, enough about the background. let’s get to the good stuff: inspiration! my goal for this home is for it to be light and airy, but still cozy with a hint of traditional new england charm. this isn’t nantucket, so the goal is less blue and white preppy, and more homey, lived-in neutrals. the kind of space where you step through the front door and immediately, your shoulders relax and your head feels less heavy and all is right in the world.

you know the kind i’m talking about, right?

something kind of like this.

or this.

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a home that’s a mix of soft white linens and old wood pieces that either have been (or look like they could have been!) in the family for decades.

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source: jersey ice cream co. (again. i love them!)

a place where flea market finds are just as at home as newly purchased pieces. where built-ins meet sink-into-me leather sofas, where eclectic textiles meet beautiful wallpaper. a place where comfort and fun reign, where the beauty is in the details.

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ahhh, built-ins!

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we’ll bring in some cool textiles to up the ante

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isn’t this kitchen to die for?

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i love this antique wardrobe

i’m thrilled that my client is taking a chance on me, and while she’s in no rush to decorate the space, i hope to have lots to share with you soon (if not soon, definitely this summer!). wish me luck!

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i love everything about this bathroom – it’s a dream.

that is the question, my friends. as you may have seen on ye olde instagram (are you following me yet?), i recently purchased a glass shelf from rejuvenation for my bathroom to add some MUCH NEEDED storage, and starting thinking about where, exactly to hang it. this sparked a whole conversation on instagram about where to hang it–on the tile?! on the wall above the tile?–before i realized i was jumping the gun.

see, i’ve been toying with the idea of wallpapering the bathroom for quite some time. some days, i love that it’s bright white. it’s fresh, it’s clean, on certain summer mornings when the light is juuuust right it practically glitters. but a lot of time, it just feels like it’s missing a certain something.

recently, ahead of my apartment therapy photoshoot, i got my ass in order and hung some art on the back wall. that helped, certainly, to give it a pop of color. but i still feel like something’s missing.

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my bathroom, current state

before you ask: yes, i could paint. of course i could paint. but the whole “tiny painted bathroom” thing feels claustrophobic to me. wallpaper, for some odd reason, does not. on the contrary, my tiny bathroom feels like the perfect place to take a risk. to go a wee bit crazy. to think outside the box.

now, if i lived in a real house with more than one bathroom, i’d keep the “master” simple and go crazy in the powder room. but here in NYC, you’re basically a queen if you get more than one bathroom. so my options are, well, quite limited. it’s either wallpaper the one bathroom i’ve got, or forever hold my peace.

logically, i know that wallpaper (especially something a bit funkier) might be a tough sell if and when i go to list the grand apartment. but let’s be real: i’m single AF, i’m likely not going anywhere ANYTIME soon, so why not make my home MY HOME aka exactly the way i want it to be!? in which case, WALLPAPER IT IS, friends.

i don’t plan on doing this right away (maybe early in the new year?), so i’m taking my time looking at inspiration photos, and sourcing various wallpaper samples to see what strikes my fancy.

here are a few shots i’ve liked so far.

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a bit too english granny for NYC. filing away for my someday country home.

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a wee bit cray, but i like it. 

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this ellie cashman paper is too bold for my tiny space, but i love it.

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a simple, pretty paper. bathroom design by studio mcgee.

i’d love to know: what are your thoughts on wallpapering bathrooms? for the record: i don’t take long showers, so i’m not as worried about the paper peeling (and i’ve heard with a good wallpaperer, you don’t have to be all that worried, period).

and perhaps more importantly: have you seen any really beautiful wallpapers lately? the kind that makes you stop and stare? if so, please send them my way! the hunt begins!

 

 

 

IMG_2538“so, is your apartment, like, done?”

this is a question i’ve been hearing a lot of lately. it’s the question people ask me when they haven’t seen me in a while, or when i’m a friend of a friend, or when they’re generally not sure WTF else to ask me about (hey, at least it’s not my love life).

it’s also a question i’m not exactly sure how to answer, because while my home is “done” in the sense that there are no more breakfast bars to build, no more brick walls to seal, no more huge projects to take on, design is never really done. and there are about 10 things that, in an ideal world, i’d redo or do differently.

this is not, of course, what i say to friends of friends. i say, nicely, “it’s done, yes. mostly!”

and then the conversation sort of trails off, because lord knows the average bro doesn’t exactly care to chat about the ceiling medallions i never got around to installing, or how i don’t think my kitchen lights are quiiite bright enough.

then again, lord knows the average bro probably doesn’t want to talk about much of anything. and that’s why i write this blog not for them, but for YOU, my dear readers–the tiny little group of internet friends who could talk about tile for days on end.

so, let’s talk, shall we? i thought it might be fun to run through my “to do” list, and discuss what’s next.

5 things i’d still like to do in the grand apartment: 

  1. figure out my kitchen lighting situation. the lights i bought are pretty, but not perfect. and i want perfect, goddammit! i have a feeling that my solution lies in purchasing new pendants and getting around to installing the under cabinet lights i bought from ikea, oh, six months ago (#slacking). it was a big mistake not to go for under cabinet lighting originally, but sadly, i can’t go back in time, so ikea it is. IMG_2483
  2. get a cushion made for the entryway bench. though i own a sewing machine, my skills are below average, and i am most certainly not good enough to make the piped cushion of my dreams. when i designed the storage unit, i had visions of this super chic bench that was cozy and cushy and outfitted in an indigo or suzani or some other uber cool fabric. and while i have multiple indigo cloths sitting on a shelf just waiting to be made into pretty things, i have yet to make a move. as a side note, i have checked on taskrabbit for seamstresses, and haven’t found any. if you know one, please send them my way! Grand Apartment Entryway
  3. install my ceiling medallions. back when i was in hardcore renovation mode, i got really into the idea of pairing antique-looking ceiling medallions with my modern light fixtures. i even went so far as to order them, and order the glue/caulk to go with them. and then i shoved them in the bottom drawer of my dresser, and they’ve sat there ever since. of all the projects on this list, this is most likely the easiest one to DIY (i ordered precut medallions, so i literally just need to stand up there and glue them on), but for some reason, i just can’t seem to motivate myself to do it.
  4. figure out the bathroom walls. you may recall that for a hot second, i thought about painting my bathroom black. this nearly gave my mother a heart attack, so i took a step back. here the thing: in all the pretty design photos i see online, white on white on white looks bright and beautiful, but in real life, white grout quickly looks yellow, and white tile on white paint just looks a little…dingy. i am VERY clean, so it’s not so much about actual dirt as it is the way that the two whites (tile + paint) play against one another. i thought about doing wallpaper (i LOVE my wallpapered entry), but worry about the lack of a ventilation in the bathroom ruining it. i’ve considered going full on hoarder gallery wall (and have collected some art for this purpose), but haven’t taken the plunge. and then of course, there’s the option of painting: black? grey? some other obscure color (i am obsessed with the wall color at catbird in williamsburg but haven’t been able to identify it…)?
  5. solve the bedroom lighting sitch. when i decided to build out a rather large closet in my bedroom, i knew it would mean cutting down on the amount of space i’d have for bed, nightstands, etc. but i didn’t think about how it would affect the lighting in the room. as of now, i have a table lamp on my dresser, and sconces on either side of the bed (i chose a ceiling fan over an overhead light, which i don’t regret). ideally, i’d also have some sort of floor lamp to cast extra light into the room, but i haven’t found the piece or the place for it. i’ve toyed with the idea of getting rid of my nightstand and getting a larger console-like piece for that side of the bed (i could stick another table lamp on the other end of it…), or getting matching nightstands with table lamps instead of sconces, but i have yet to nail anything down. IMG_2664

so, there you have it: 5 things i still need to do (admittedly without a ton of resolution around HOW/WHEN to do them). tell me: would you be interested in seeing more drawn out posts around these “design dilemmas” and my thought process on solving them? or are you more in the camp of, THIS SHIZ IS BORING, NEXXXXXT?

 

 

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yes, friends, you read that right. the title of this post is exposed brick and THE BUGS THAT COME CRAWLING OUT OF IT

because one did, about a month ago. one GI-FREAKING-NORMOUS centipede came crawling out of my exposed brick wall at 10pm, and proceeded to turn me into a full on crazy woman (think oprah when she’s knee deep in “YOU GET A CAR!” mode). but before we get into that story, let’s take a bit of a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

when i first purchased the grand apartment, the living room looked like this.

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and the back wall, in particular, looked like this.

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looking at those “before” shots is kind of a trip, if i’m being honest. it looks so much smaller, doesn’t it? it’s amazing how much larger a room looks once there’s actual furniture in it (yes, i’m throwing shade at the dorm style fixture above).

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exposed brick (see exhibit A, above) was high on my initial “must have” list, but most NYC apartments blessed with it (especially those in the east village/lower east side) are MUY TINY and MUY DARK. like, you would not believe how tiny and dark some of the units i looked at were. what are we, mole people?

so when we first toured the grand apartment, and there was no exposed brick in sight, i took it for what it was: a relatively large (by NYC standards) lower manhattan 1 bedroom that i could afford, and more importantly, that i could make my own.

it wasn’t until my electrician started chipping away at the walls to bring the outlets up to code that we noticed anything amiss. and by we, i mean me, because no one–not the electrician, not the construction workers, not my contractor–noticed it but me.

one muggy august morning (god bless you, new york summer), i rode down to the grand apartment to check on the electrical progress before work, and there it was, peeking out from behind the plaster: a little hint of reddish brown.

i knelt down amongst the debris, and peered into the small spot no longer covered by plaster.

“hey shmulik,” i called to my contractor, “can you come look at this?”

he, too, knelt down amongst the debris.

“is that brick? that looks like brick.”

he shrugged.

“looks like it. a lot of these old buildings have brick behind the plaster.”

pitter patter went my heart.

“is there–could there be–do you think there’s brick behind this entire wall?”

“could be,” he answered nonchalantly.

NONCHALANTLY. AS THOUGH A GIANT WALL OF ORIGINAL 1920s BRICK WAS NO BIG DEAL.

i stood up, and dusted myself off.

“how much extra to open up the entire wall?”

he stared at me. behind him, a worker chipped away at the plaster, piece by piece, with a small hammer-like object.

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finally, he spoke. “it’s a lot of work.”

“how much work?”

“a few days extra, at least.”

a few days, i could live with. for original 1920s brick, i could live with just about anything. i told him to move forward, and we’d deal with making up the time later.

and the rest, as they say, was history.

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a little over a week later, the wall looked like this.

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after move in, it looked like this.

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magical, isn’t it? that wall is, by far, the best thing that happened to me during this renovation. for all the bullshit and the things that went wrong, my exposed brick wall is my miracle baby.

at least, it was, until i realized that exposed brick that’s, well, not meant to be exposed causes a few problems:

  1. so much dust
  2. BUGS. REALLY F’ING BIG ONES.

now that we’ve looped back to the present day, i’ll remind you of what came crawling out that beautiful brick one night.

House Centipede, Scutigera coleoptrata

is that not the most TERRIFYING BUG YOU HAVE EVER SEEN?! literally, i have chills just looking at it. WHY SO MANY LEGS?! WHY WOULD ANYONE EVER NEED THAT MANY LEGS? like, what else are you doing with your legs at any given time beyond walking on them? TWO WOULD SUFFICE. FOUR WOULD BE FINE. THIS MANY IS JUST ATROCIOUS. 

the above, my friends, is a sight you can’t unsee. which is why, after dealing with the dust for months and telling myself i’d “get around” to sealing the brick wall eventually, a single centipede propelled me into action. and by propelled me into action i mean lit my ass on fire.

after almost 10 years in new york, i consider myself to be pretty good at this whole “alone” thing. i’ve learned to not just accept, but to embrace independence. that said, there is nothing – NOTHING, I TELL YOU! – that makes you feel the full force of your singledom like a giant centipede. especially one with that runs so fast you can’t possibly catch it.

suffice it to say that even after penny managed to get the centipede down off the wall and theoretically ended things, i stripped my bed clean of all blankets and pillows before climbing into it, and checked the inside of my toilet bowl before i sat down to pee (can you even IMAGINE one of those crawling into your butt?! i can’t). that night, i barely slept, and by morning, i had made it my mission to SEAL THAT BRICK. ASAP.

but that, friends, is a story for a different day. because as it turns out, like every other renovation task, sealing a brick wall is no small feat. that said, it’s a feat that i accomplished (with a little help from my fam), and i intend to show you how you can accomplish it too.

 

 

 

 

IMG_1949there are many things i think i did wrong in this renovation. but hey, it was my first time on the job, and let’s be real: there was a slight case of amateur hour going on in these parts. i did my best, certainly, but there are many small things that i’d change if i could go back and do them again.

one of those small things, as it turns out, i can still change! and that’s my kitchen lighting. see, before i embarked on this renovation, my mindset was more, “ooh, pretty lights!” and less, “i need an actual lighting plan.” in fact, i didn’t even know a lighting plan was a thing. no one tells you these things, you know? you only hear about them while you’re listening to the chris loves julia podcast and it’s too late to make a change!

{sidenote: i am obsessed with the chris loves julia podcast, and you should be too}

anywho, suffice it to say, when the contractor and electrician told me two flushmount lights would suffice for kitchen lighting (and told me i really didn’t need under cabinet lights and that they would be way more expensive), i listened. and they were wrong. turns out, i could have used a lot more lighting in my kitchen. i should have coughed up the extra dough for under cabinet lights.

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i should have added more task lighting, and more specifically, i wish i’d added library sconces above my shelves, like the kitchen below (i also wouldn’t say no to that gorgeous simple gold pendant above the sink).

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i DEFINITELY should have gone for three flushmounts instead of two. and most importantly, i shouldn’t have gone with exposed bulbs in the kitchen. exhibit A, folks (my kitchen):

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as i pretty quickly learned, those sort of cool exposed bulb flushmounts are all well and good–when you don’t really need them to cast off a lot of light. they’re hip, yes. they look cool, yes. but functional? not exactly. i’ve tried a large variety of different bulbs in these babies (if you’re curious, they’re these from the young house love for shades of light line), and unfortunately, they simply don’t cast off enough light for a busy kitchen bee like myself. additionally, because there’s no glass shade for the light to bounce off of, they tend to be a little bit harsh when they’re on. NO BUENO.

but as my girl carrie bradshaw says, COULDA SHOULDA WOULDA. i didn’t know what i didn’t know, and so i made some mistakes. luckily, the one above–the type of flushmounts i bought–can be fixed. YIPPEE! i’ve been living in the grand apartment for almost 5 months now, so i think it’s safe to say i’m somewhat settled. and being settled for that amount of time has given me lots of moments to ponder what type of lighting i should do next. as of now, i’ve landed on doing a traditional schoolhouse style. i know, i know, so predictable. but i think they’ll work, height-wise, and for the most part, they’ll allow for a higher wattage than the ones i have now (which are limited to 75 watts).

i have my eye on something like this:

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two of them, obviously – but you get the idea. as of now, i’m not leaning towards brass (the kitchen is black and chrome, finish-wise, and i think adding brass might be a bit too much).

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i sort of had my heart on the above style (which you can find at schoolhouse electric), but with the black and white striped shade (i’m thinking the stripes will play nicely off the my floors), but it seems schoolhouse is no longer making that colorway. SADSIES.

which has led me to go back to the drawing board, and scope out a few other schoolhouse style options.

 

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too blah?

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still too harsh, what with the clear glass?

as you can see, i’m having quite a bit of trouble deciding. thoughts from the peanut gallery?! help!