Category Archives: my NEW apartment

arranging / rearranging

Sometimes you just wanna move stuff around.

(day THREE.)

turquoise kitchen redux

I was in love with the kitchen in our old spot: big old sink, turquoise walls, black and white checkered floor, huge windows. We put a lot of work into making it our own and I miss it dearly. The new place is a little more well-kept and the management company much more involved, so painting our new cocina turquoise was a no-no. The walls are the same gray we chose for the entire unit which, thankfully, makes a great contrasting color for my favorite shade. The first order of business was adding bits of turquoise everywhere I could. Most of this stuff had been orange in its prior life, plain wood or metal before that. I love how easy it is to update with a can of spray paint.


Shelf: $3, IKEA
Spray paint: Montana Gold Shock Turquoise, $6
Lotus bowls: .50 – $1.00, various thrift stores. I use these in almost every room of the house. I think I have around a dozen!
Mortar & pestle: gift from Papo
Yellow plastic sugar and cream containers: $3, rummage sale


Vintage shaker: $5, rummage sale
Vases: $2, thrift store
Wooden bowl: $1, thrift store
Bombay Sapphire: priceless !


Teak salt and pepper shakers: $30, A Hunted House, Washington DC
Silverware people: gift from Papo
Spice rack: $3, thrifted
Spray paint: the same Montana Gold Shock Turquoise, $6


Hook: $4 for two, Ace Hardware
Spray paint: Again, Montana Gold Shock Turquoise, $6


Coat rack: IKEA, $3
Spray paint: Of course, Montana Gold Shock Turquoise, $6
White cow: $8, thrift store
Wood art: $3-5, thrift stores


Knobs: $1.49 for SIX, IKEA

And of course, the cabinet doors came off almost immediately. The bottom doors that remained got a dose of color courtesy of the cheapest knobs ever.



When our cutlery tray proved too wide for our new drawers we were forced to improvise. These jars came from the junk store and have been used for everything: remember my mini-planter from ReadyMade? They’re perfect for spoons, forks and knives.

And that, my friends, is a turquoise-tinted kitchen. I had much better photos of the whole room put together but accidentally deleted over 150 shots from my camera. I’m hoping to find a recovery tool online lest I have to contort my body into all those weird picture-getting angles again. More of the kitchen soon…

dovetail lamp + a peek of the dining room

I haven’t had a proper dining room since we occupied the mansion back in my mid-teens. That experience as a whole didn’t go so well. Maybe this is where my ambivalence towards any kind of formal area, be it for seating or dining or really doing anything other than sleeping since you kind of need a bedroom for that (unless you’re my dad, then the living room futon does just fine), stems from. You wanna eat? Do it in the kitchen, while sitting on a counter or at the table, your choice. Or maybe you’d prefer the back porch? Or the couch? Or the bed… while reading a magazine and swatting the dog away from the bowl perched perilously on your lap? Fine by me. Just clean up after yourself.

However, I now have a dining room. A tablecloth-covered desk may be acting as a table and the two benches that used to anchor our bay windows are standing in place for chairs but it’s worked for one gathering so far.

The tablecloth is a piece of fabric my friend Kate brought back from a trip to CuraƧao a few years ago and the curtains are hold-overs from the old place. I’m sure I’ll figure out a way to update them soon. Any ideas? Maybe I could turn the tablecloth into curtains. Hmmm….

My favorite part of this room is the new lamp. It blows my $4 floor lamp out of the water both in style and price and was worth every penny thanks to a local vintage boutique. I had been out with Chernara all day looking specifically for a floor lamp for the dining room and I happened to pop into Dovetail while waiting for an order of Thai food from a neighboring restaurant. I pass the shop everyday on my way to work and loved a recent write-up of a co-owner from Time Out but this was my first time visiting. It also happened to be a day where every single item in the store was half off, making me a very happy girl.

And of course I love all of the built-ins! Perfect for the books that used to line the floor of our old abode.

So…who’s coming over to sit at the grown-up table?

Psssst… Chicago! Check out Dovetail!
1452 West Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 243-3100

cutting, ripping and idying curtains

living roomliving room

I have a curtain problem: I want nice curtains but I can’t justify spending more than $10 a panel for a piece of fabric. This is why I painted the curtains in the kitchen and why I went to town on upcycling (I’m so tired of that word but I can’t think of another one: redoing? changing? manipulating?) three tab-topped pairs from IKEA. I’ve spent more time on these curtains than they were worth if I translated that time to an hourly rate and I’m still not sure that I like them. See for yourself.

Our living room, as of a few weeks ago. Notice the tension rods holding up some sad white Wilma curtains, $12.99 for a pair. I hated walking the dog past our apartment and looking at the tabs from outside. They were just messy. So I tried to sew down the tabs. That was a disaster. I studied them closely after my failed attempt and noticed a little pocket attaching the tabs to the body of the curtains: it was the perfect size for some thin rods I had also picked up at IKEA.

I used a seam ripper to pull off the stitches holding the pocket together. My neck hurt from looking down afterwards but it was worth it. No more tabs!

This should be fun #idye

Still not satisfied, I picked up a couple of packages of iDye while in LA and dyed the curtains in our apartment building’s washing machine. It couldn’t have been easier, minus the staining my hand received when I reached into the washer to agitate the fabric. Don’t make that mistake or you will have tinted cuticles for days. The color, to me, is much more blue than gray and this is probably due to the short washing cycle of our crappy shared machine. If I had a machine that allowed a longer wash/soak cycle I believe the color would have been richer.

living room

I don’t love them. I don’t hate them. They will do until the perfect set of affordable curtains come my way.

living room

Here are some questions for you.

1. Should they be hemmed?
2. Aren’t they more blue than gray?
3. Should I have mounted the rods on the inside of the window well to show off the woodwork?
4. Isn’t our coffee table too big for this living room?
5. What do you think of our new Kattrup rug?


paint stamped curtains

When we lived in Palo Alto I took an art class with this amazing abstract painter. I had to have been the only one who left each period with yellow and purple hair, paint embedded into my fingernails, paint streaking my jeans. I have no problem making a big old mess of myself.

I do, however, have a problem with plain white tab-topped curtains. And mini-blinds. The problem was that I had both: blinds in the kitchen and boring curtains in the Room Where Things Go To Die. I woke up on Sunday feeling exceptionally aggressive after a disastrous post-Thanksgiving dinner with my immediate family and needed to channel my energy into something. Anything! The curtains were screaming for attention, the mini-blinds were assaulting my otherwise coming-together kitchen and I had some blue paint and a red Solo cup.

So I tested a few stamps on some crappy stained white fabric. I liked it. Then I took my tab-topped curtains, ironed down the hems, and stitched a small seam so they wouldn’t be visible on a rod.

Next came newspapering my kitchen floor and laying my freshly ironed curtain down. And stamping. Stamping and stamping. I didn’t have much of a pattern in mind and thought I would do the whole thing until my wrist got tired and I realized how little paint I had.

I finished one and snapped a photo of it so I could check the pattern while stamping the second. Then I stared at it. Where in the hell was this thing going to sit to dry while I worked on the second piece? I left to buy– the horror– some tension rods and prayed it would be dry when I got back (Chicagoans, that K-Mart on Ashland and Milwaukee? Instant depression, stay away). It wasn’t. Where was it gonna go?

Onto the stove. I know this was probably dangerous, right? I couldn’t believe The Mister walked in without chastising me.

After three hours of drying, the first curtain was finally ready to be hung. It was too long. I half-heartedly measured before I started and I guess I got it way wrong.

So, I cut and hemmed. And wanted to cry a little.

Not many circles made it to the bottom. One of these days I’ll take them down to re-stamp. Why did I make it so short? My plants need sun, folks!

This is what they looked like around 5:30 in the morning on Tuesday. Don’t ask.

And there they are at night. Why the one on the left is leaning forward all weird is beyond me, I need to go adjust it. Also, flatware people: they’re up!

Overall, I’m satisfied. Not in love, but glad to not have to look at the mini-blinds. The tension rods pose the biggest problem but I don’t quite feel like drilling hardware into these walls just yet. We’ll see if I can stand them for a bit.

Sorry for the iPhone photos. My SLR isn’t behaving these days and I really just felt like blogging without waiting for some time to shoot the curtains in the daylight.

PS I took the cabinet doors off! The kitchen is my favorite room in the house these days.

saturday, done: new bedroom in the new apartment

Hello, Sunday. You delicious day of rest, you.

I spent all day yesterday working on the apartment. Our previous unit, as you know, required a crazy amount of TLC and all we have to do here is pop stuff on walls and arrange tschotskes. It almost seems unfair and will surely give me less to blog about.

The landlord painted in our color of choice before we moved in–if you’re looking for a true gray paint, Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore is absolutely perfect– and since painting and repainting and spackling and stripping was one of the things that took up huge chunks of time in the old place, not having to do anything with the walls here is awesome.

The big project yesterday was hemming a pair of IKEA curtains I initially bought to replace our ugly kitchen blinds. I found them too dark for the only room in the house that gets really great light and decided to use them in the bedroom instead. Hesitant to use the IKEA iron-on hemming thingie, I’d put the project off for a month but finally decided to tackle it. They turned out perfect and even though I’m comfortable enough with my sewing machine to sew a hem, this was much easier and didn’t require me actually finding my sewing machine pedal in one of the boxes we’ve yet to unpack.

As with most old-school Chicago apartments, our bedroom is crazy small. This is the left side of the room, a print of The Mister’s from Nigeria above the bed in lieu of a proper headboard. I’m on the hunt for something that will work in such a small space but not holding my breath. The lamp is from my mother-in-law and I wish the photograph showed it in all it’s glory. The top is paper and the bottom wood. Speaking of wood, I love all of the woodwork in this unit; it’s rare to find it not painted over these days.

And here we have the opposite side of the room. The dresser extends all the way to the wall on the right side and next to that is a closet without a door. Tiny, huh? Since moving back to Chicago from California I almost prefer small bedrooms. They feel cave-like and cozy.

The only thing I’m not keen on in this room is the side table. I contemplated spray painting it the way I did the dresser but thought it would look a little too fun house-y. Add side table to my hunting list. Happily, everything in the room, save for the bed and bedding and curtains, was thrifted or Craigslisted. I’m sure I’ll happen upon a table in the same way.

So what do you think of the bedroom so far? Side table suggestions? A shape I should be on the lookout for that would compliment the dresser?

PS Wonky internet. The story of this apartment’s life and what I am blaming, at least partially, my lack of blogging on lately. For some reason the wireless signal doesn’t hold up well on the back porch and that is where I like to sit and type, especially on November nights like tonight, over sixty degrees with gusts of tropical-feeling Windy City winds. But I can barely get my email to load out here. We’ll work on a fix for that this week ’cause I miss my little corner of the internet. How I only have two bars less than twenty feet from my Airport is beyond me.

hello there, part 2

Hung these hooks today. Took way longer than it should have.

New hooks! They’re hung! There’s two sharp screw bottoms peeking out of our bathroom door! They are a hazard! Don’t come to my house and trip and fall into them and bust your eye. Seriously, why did I not think about my long screws and my thin door? Ah. I will just hang art with them. Cause I am definitely not re-hanging these bad boys.

Waiting on @okjey. Coffee time on the porch.

Can you tell I have been drinking lots and lots and lots of coffee lately? I have. Because life is busy! It’s so busy! Between work being insane, new house nonsense, yoga once a week, being knee-deep in baby shower planning, plus dressing and feeding and clothing myself and the occasional night out with friends, I am just at a loss. Is fall always this crazy? I think it is. I think you come off the calm and lushness and loveliness and humidness and hot-time-summer-in-the-cityness of August into this psychotic season of apples and pumpkins and everyone moving fast and wanting things from you and the dog needs to be walked even though it is cold and dark outside and you have to go from a freezing bus stop onto a hot and crowded bus and your head hurts and your new boots don’t feel right and that stupid sweater that looked so cute in the dressing room is all itchy now and you come home and all you want to do is read a book under the covers and hibernate until May.

Waiting not so patiently for his dinner

Needs. This guy has needs. Like dinner. And bathroom time. Why does everyone need something from me?

Because it is fall now, not summer. And let me tell you: it is going to get worse because by the looks of my local thrift store, Christmas is right around the damn corner and that means I will be breaking out the sewing machine for it’s annual month week of use so I can be looked at adoringly by my friends and family after presenting them with something all cute and homemade that they will never use. Needs. Those gifts they will never even remove from the trunk they stowed them in before the drive home from the Christmas party are needs.

Little red Wisconsin barn #midwestisbest

Oh, calm down already. There is a barn for you to gaze upon. In Wisconsin. Where people move slower and drive old trucks down quiet lanes.

PS I got a really neat houseplant today, it is huge.