I Love Lamp: Bathroom Upgrade Begins

The last room upstairs that I want to do a little DIY changing to is the bathroom. Nothing major-- just a paint job, maybe some new fixtures. A minor face lift that matches our style. Here's what it's been looking like for a while now, minus a few towel racks and TP holder which we removed before I took these photos:

Not terrible. Just a little cluttered and little beige. And more than a little odd that the shower curtain has to be so low because of the angle of the roof. One day I'd like to make that a standing shower with a door but that's "one day", aka not now.

So for now it's a fresh coat of white paint (surprise!) and some decluttering.

First coat went on and things look decidedly brighter. Naturally it was a total pain to paint around the fixtures but I just didn't feel quite up to removing anything that large.

While that was drying I hung a wire rack in the closet just outside the bathroom (where we store our "adventure" gear, aka tents and rock climbing gear etc):

Wow! That might be THE most fascinating photo I've ever posted, here! Hahah! Oh man. Anyway.

Next I put up the second coat and...

It was too blue. I accidentally bought the "high hiding" version of the white that I'd used in the rest of the house and it just ain't right. This photo maybe doesn't do it justice but it makes the sink, toilet and tub look like a dirty cream and it makes the brown tiles of the shower look super dark. I was a little miffed, and lied to myself for an evening pretending that I was fine with it. Watched the sun set from the bathroom window--

And decided to go back to the hardware store next week. If I'm gonna do this I'd like to do it right. Besides, it gives me some more time to find a medicine cabinet and/or mirror which will all give the room a bit more punch while solving the clutter problem.

Not a big deal, just a teeny bit annoying. But I'm willing to be patient about it because I've realized: this and my closet are the lights at the end of the upstairs tunnel, you know? Or as Steven asked me the other day, laughing, "What are you gonna do when you're done painting things?"

I don't want the answer to be "repaint things", so I'm gonna do it right!

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

Hotel Movies

Unsurprisingly, I'm a bit of a sucker for movies that take place at hotels. When Hotel Transylvania came out, I went to an 11am Tuesday showing, alone, on my day off (I was working at NU Hotel at the time) and I'm only slightly ashamed to say I quite literally laughed and cried.

And my heart went out to pour Dracula as he was trying to greet his arrivals and get folks happily checked in when in comes this human dresses as a zombie who is about to eff up his entire operation! Seriously. I was totally admiring Dracula's customer service.

When Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel was released we'd already moved out here where the nearest theater is about an hour away so I had to wait to rent it, and when that Netflix DVD appeared in our mailbox I probably squealed aloud.

I know it's no longer cool to like Wes Anderson but I don't care. That film was beautiful and funny and odd and totally fucking delightful.

I was also deeply impressed with Ralph Fienne's character's concierge abilities. I mean, he's dealing with Nazis for godsake! And the way he brings Zero Moustafa (Tony Revelori) up the ranks from Lobby Boy is just damn good management. (Plus, you know I think Tilda Swinton can do no wrong, so.)

And of course, one of the ultimate hotel movies--

No! Not The Shining! Yes I saw it, but I'm refusing to put it in this happy little round up of mine because it's terrifying. And yes, loads of people ask me if I've seen it, if it was filmed in the Catskills... Which it wasn't by the way. West Coast. Very far away. Anyway!

Lost In Translation! Which I suppose you could say is almost more of a love letter to Japan as opposed to hotels, but still. The hotel is very much a part of the film and how the characters interact with each other.

I think the last time I saw it was on a bus ride in Colombia. Because why else would we have dressed up Steven as Bill Murray in the poster at that random hotel in Colombia?

I'm realizing right now that's a lot of leg.

Onto the next film! I'd walked by the copy of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in our movie rental store back in Brooklyn many times, never quite able to convince Steven to watch it with me. Then one night he went out to the bars with some dude friends and I stayed in and watched it and... cried my eyes out.

And oh my GOD in Googling this movie poster I just realized there is in fact a SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL playing in theaters RIGHT NOW! How did I miss this??

But back to the first one-- I remember my heart going out to Sonny as he was racing to meet all the various needs of his elderly guests and sometimes failing rather spectacularly.

I also remember admiring the perfectly charming patina of the supposedly run down hotel then having to remind myself that that's a movie set.

I've been to run down hotels in India and there is nothing charming about them. Although I just took a quick peek at photos from my last trip there and while the whole thing left me feeling totally wrung out, from this distance, I can now safely admire the experience of say, taking a sunrise boat down the Ganges in Varanasi.

So those are some of my favorite hotel themed films. I'm sure there's more, but I should probably get back to running my own hotel, eh?

This + That: Tue, March 17th

1. Can finally see our stairs again after the big melt. / 2. Dropped a friend off for the bus in Phoenicia. / 3. Got a latte while waiting for a prescription to be filled and overheard lots of weather talk. / 4. Pooping dog juuuust out of the frame. / 5. Decided to listen to the entire "Idler Wheel" Fiona Apple album while doing nothing else but laying on the floor-- wanted to treat her lyrics like reading a book. This might have to be a new thing I enjoyed it so much. / 6. Leftover cornbread for lunch. / 7. Had some trouble getting the wood stove going. Always makes me feel incompetent. / 8. Warmer weather = cluster flies. / 9. Getting my snob on aka practicing French by reading Camus. / 10. Was interrupted by a flash in the window-- part of a box that covers some exterior pipes flew off. Struggled to get that back on in the terrible wind. / 11. So THAT's where the swing went. / 12. Took Waldo in the pine trees after swinging by the front desk to chat with our assistant Colleen. / 13. Happy hour.

(What is "This + That"? This is "This + That".)

I Love Lamp: A Dreamy Closet Begins

I am a lucky girl for a bajillion reasons. Including the fact that I have an entire ROOM for a closet...! The previous owners have 5 kids, so all of the upstairs rooms used to be bedrooms. And they had to get creative with space, hence loft beds with storage built in like our former "crazy" room I just had a go at--

But Steven and I don't have 5 children quite yet, so we've got guest rooms and closet rooms, haha!

And while I loved how much space my closet room had, it wasn't actually as efficient as I wanted it to be and had some unfinished bits that needed some loving. Here's what it was looking like pretty much since we moved in:

What I really wanted, was to get that dang loft out. It was bulky and those storage shelves went really far back but were basically unaccessible past a first row of clothing.

Enter, Steven and his tool box. (Yes, I could have used the tools too but Steven was pretty amped for some demo!)

Some parts were screwed in, like the top and some of the front boards, which was great because all we had to do was unscrew 'em and pop 'em off.

Unfortunately, some parts were nailed together. Which mean we just had to get kind of aggressive. And for that, Steven brought out his maul:

Meanwhile, I was filling the former "crazy room" room I'd JUST emptied with every single piece of clothing I own SIGH.

Steven kept at it while Waldo and I mostly got in the way.

Although then again I don't know. Because below is the exact moment he said, "This is totally a two person, one dog job."

And then TADA!

SO. MUCH. FREAKING. WOOD. It took approximately three thousand trips up and down our steep stairs to get it all out of there.

At this point we decided to quit when we were ahead and call it a day. Order some Chinese food. Oh wait, there's no take out here. So we made some instead.

The next morning I rolled out of bed and grabbed a paint brush. White, white, white, shiny and bright on the ceiling, the trim, and the walls. I only took one progress shot:

Then it was time to have a go at the floors that had taken an uneven beating over the years. The other week I did the living room floor with olive oil, white vinegar, and warm water and it looked amaaaaaazing so I did the same thing here.

Yes, the place smells a bit like a salad for a few hours but it's totally worth it!

Next up was bringing all my clothes back into this room. But in order to do that right, I needed to make a plan. Shelves? Racks? Armoires? I thiiiiink I've decided on a combination of one long rack on the right wall, a series of shoe shelves on the left, and a whole bunch of shelves in the actual closet which will have a door.

So I started bringing clothes back in, piece by piece, asking myself each time: Do I wear this? Do I love this?

I had to add the second question because here the usual "Have you worn it in the past 6 months?" strategy doesn't work because there aren't quiiiite as many opportunities in the country for, say, silk dresses as there are in the city. But does that mean I should toss them? NO EFFING WAY.

Still, I managed to eliminate an entire contractor's bag worth of clothes and oh my gosh does it feel goooooood.

So we're getting there. Bit by bit, day by day.

Hopefully I'll be able to show you photos of a finished closet in the next few weeks. And hopefully I'll be able to actually wear some of those dresses pictured above in the next few weeks too! Seems almost reasonable-- I saw my first patches of BARE GROUND today:

And to wrap it up, a little Before and nearly After for you:

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

Introducing "This + That"

Along with "So how'd you guys find this place?" and "Have you always wanted to open an inn?", the Number One question I'm asked is: "What do you guys DO out here?"

Depending on the guest and how they imagine they themselves would cope living in the country, the tone can range from curious to accusatory to dreamy...

Overall, most folks who visit us from NYC have a very hard time imagining how we could possibly fill our days without office jobs, restaurants, bars, museums, concerts, and time spent on the subway.

So I figured I'd show you!

"This + That" will be a reoccurring column that shows, in photos, moments throughout a day in the country. Some beautiful, some mundane. I'll do my best to give you a little window into rural life. Sometimes we'll be working, sometimes it'll be one of our days off. You'll see, it's very much the same and yet... totally different.

First up: today!

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11th, 2015.

1. Plants I should water. / 2. A walk down Spruceton Road with the dog. / 3. And up Rusk Mountain Road because it's finally above freezing today. / 4. Forgot to wipe down Waldo's paws and close the door to the bedroom. / 5. Doing some closet organizing and dreaming of summer. / 6. A quick snuggle in front of the wood stove. / 7. Another walk down the road, this time in the opposite direction. / 8. Catching the sunset through the trees. / 9. Collecting our change piles. / 10. Having scotch and grapefruit juice while making cookie dough before dinner. / 11. Washing those muddy sheets. / 12. Watching hockey.

 

Oh, To Wear A Gown

I'm suffering from a serious case of Oh-My-God-Not-Another-Bulky-Sweater-And-Snowboots. I pretty much look like this all the time:

So I'm finding the Oscar red carpet coverage especially swoon-worthy and am drawn to what are probably the most outrageous and impractical dresses like these two:

Not exaaaaactly shoveling in the snow friendly, but a girl can dream.

(Oscar photos by Getty.)

I Love Lamp: the "Crazy" Room Redo and a DIY Meltdown

While the downstairs of our house has the kitchen and two large rooms, the upstairs is a bit more of a traditional farmhouse labyrinth with low ceilings and a door to a room just about everywhere you turn. Each one of which I've wanted to update. I've been taking it on room by room. First I did my office.

Then our bedroom.

Then the guest bedroom.

Which left two more (I know, I told you, there's like a thousand little rooms upstairs): my closet and the room we'd taken to calling "the crazy room". Yeah. It went from being a small "guest room" to a "closet" to a motherfucking "crazy room". Exhibit A:

No, your eyes don't deceive you. That's a feather boa peaking out. And a child's rocking horse. And sewing machine. And oh THAT'S where the bandaids went!

Sadly, the first step of having a go at this room meant emptying it. Which meant turning another room into total chaos. I chose the guest room, figuring that since "the crazy room" was so much smaller I could probably at least contain the madness to the bed.

Right.

But at least the little room was empty!

The pink drawers and tiny floral wallpaper weren't so much our thing, so I figured I'd paint the built-in loft glossy black (my new favorite), strip the wallpaper, and paint the rest white. It would be a new guest room/closet combo with no "crazy" to be seen. A cozy place to snuggle up with a book. A reading room if you will.

The glossy black went on easy enough. Though oh my gosh how BAD does it look with just one coat, right? If painting things white makes them feel clean, painting 'em black feels like you're making a filthy mess. Until the second coat that is.

Anyway! Next up was stripping the wallpaper.

Sadly, I'd thrown out my heavy duty wallpaper stripping formula from my go at the hallway. So I tried a homemade solution of vinegar and warm water which did about as much as if I'd simply wished it off. So I bought some more, applied it and--

...it didn't do a damn thing because much like the hallway, this wallpaper had been applied directly to drywall without any primer in between. Short of renting a power washer, I was screwed. I pulled and scraped and pinched and succeeded in two things:

1. Making it look worse than when I'd started.

2. Working myself into a bit of a fit.

At this point I took a time out to email two dear friends, Dominique and Mary, and vent, part of which I'm going to paste below because I'm of the tribe that believes some good old fashioned honesty on the Internet is a good thing: (And please excuse the excessive amount of f-bombs, I was really frustrated)

I'm just tired of working on this house right now. And so sick of it taking over my "off" time when I'm not working. Because it feels like I'm kind of working all the time then. And it's my own fault that I can't just relax in a messy/dirty place but it's just the way I am. I will literally keep thinking about the room until it's done. Then feeling guilty that I'm so annoyed by this 'white person problem' of sorts.

I would like to punch something. Or go somewhere that's not this fucking house. But I'm not actually violent so I won't punch something. And I can't fucking go anywhere because I have to wait for our wine distributor to deliver and for our florist who's dropping off pre-ordered Valentine's bouquets to come and the snow is so deep I literally cannot even go for a walk around the property. Where the fuck would I go out here anyway??

Plus it seems like I haven't felt my toes in weeks. No amount of Smart Wool socks can conquer this fucking winter.

Yeah. Re-doing this room brought on some pretty epic frustration and bouts of despair which my oh so empathetic and intelligent friends heard and helped me through. GOD BLESS ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION when you're living out in the country.

I felt especially better when Dominique pointed out: "Not for nothing is that famous creepy short story about a woman going mad in a room centered around wallpaper ["The Yellow Wallpaper"]... Wallpaper could drive anyone mad."

So there it was. The "crazy" room was threatening to drive me "crazy".

Continuing my fit, I decided fuck it. I'll just paint the whole thing white because even if put I up a wallpaper of some kind, I'll want an even base.

And it was SO cathartic. It felt like a cleansing of the room somehow. A brightening. And while yes, you could see uneven texture where I'd had a go at the wallpaper, or where the rolls met, it wasn't horrible. I mean, it's not like I was trying to turn this room into a royal receiving suite or something. The room could be 90% ok and that would be 100% ok.

I considered hanging lots and lots of Steven's art on the walls "salon" or "gallery" style, but I feared that would overwhelm such a small and severely angled space. And I didn't want it to look busy and compete with how busy the hallway wallpaper looks.

Several coats of white paint and a few nails later, I settled on this:

If you look closely you can see that not all of those pillows have been fully sewn yet, but it's progress! And like I told Dominique and Mary in a (much calmer) follow up email, the room makes me smile now. And really feels like it's a part of our house. And is a strange testament to Steven's and my bizarre path from Mali (where he made those paintings and where all the fabric is from) to the American woods. All of which makes me happy!

And you know what else makes me happy: side by side Before and After shots!

The view from the hallway:

The loft:

The other corner:

Yes, sadly there is still a bunch of crap piled up in the big guest room because I haven't had the time/will to put it all back in the drawers and closet yet (have I mentioned I'm supposed to be running an inn??). Besides, I'm going to put a fair chunk of that stuff in my closet once I redo that room the week after next. Mwahahahahah!

That's my evil can't-stop-won't-stop with the updating laugh. Well, it's that or the yellow wallpaper really did get to me after all.

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

P.S. We actually got to give this room a run as a guest room last night when my brother came up for a visit. We just popped the little twin mattress that's usually on the daybed near the wood stove up on the loft and bam! A guest room with a door that actually closes, where no one has to walk through to get to the bathroom. How sophisticated.

Only Lovers Left Alive

We watched "Only Lovers Left Alive" last night and it was...

...totally entrancing.

Moody, delicious music, lovely cinematography and of course Tilda Swinton can do absolutely no wrong.

I think my favorite part about the whole experience though was that it was unpredictable. Which sadly, is not a word that can be applied to most movies that make their way through Hollywood and Netflix and all that.

The most intriguing part of any vampire story to me is always the living-through-so-many-centuries aspect. What would you do with all that time? What would you learn? What would you produce? How would you keep your heart afloat after watching humans tragically repeat history so many times?

Check it out next time you're in the mood for something just a bit unusual.

I Love Lamp: the DIY Wallpaper Saga Continues

So remember how last time I had to stop wallpapering the hallway because I ran out of Encyclopedia pages? Well I got myself another one, Sarsaparilla to Sorcery! And after tossing aside a few unpleasant entries (think: Slavery) I was sure I'd have more than enough pages to finish the remaining one and half walls. And I was totally right!

BUT THEN I RAN OUT OF GLUE.

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

Goodnight Moon's Interior Design

I just came across this hilarious bit on the interior design of the bedroom in Goodnight Moon by The Ugly Volvo:

“So what color have we decided on for the upstairs child’s bedroom?”

Which child’s bedroom?”

“The enormous one.  The one with the expansive tomato-colored floor.”

“I was thinking for that room maybe a dark green?”

“Really?  Dark green?  You don’t think maybe dark green walls with a tomato-colored floor is a bit much?”

No, it’ll look amazing.  We can break up the monotony of the color with some dark green and yellow striped curtains.”

“That’s an amazing idea.  On non-matching red and yellow spearhead curtain rods?  Do you think a tiger skin rug would be overkill?”

For a young child’s room?  No.  Not at all.  ”  

“So what color do you think for the child’s bed?”

I was thinking like a tomato-ish red color?”

“You remember the floor’s a tomato-ish red color.”

Yeah.”

“You don’t think that’s a lot of red for a child’s bedroom?  We don’t want it to look like the Amityville Horror kill room or anything.”

You don’t trust me?  I’ve been decorating children’s bedrooms for almost twenty years.”

“No, I trust you, I trust you.  So you want to do all the furniture in red?”

Are you out of your f**king mind?  Of course not.  For the rest of the furniture I was thinking something sophisticated, like a mustard yellow.”

“For everything??  All the furniture?”

All the furniture.”

“Even the little toy house?”

Are you seriously asking me this?  No.  Of course not.  The little toy house should be red.”

That just CRACKED ME UP.  Especially because I know that when Steven is illustrating his kids books he's NOT thinking like that. He's all, "And I'll make the sky yellow because my mountains are blue and who gives an eff if that's not realistic."

You can check out the whole thing here.

I Love Lamp: Guest Room Upgrade

Can't stop won't stop with the painting over here! This week: the guest room. We've had to do some odd things to that room, like add a chimney for our wood stove downstairs and shorten a window so that one day we could replace the old fashioned porch that was once on the front of the house. So we've been living with some rather unsightly spackling and such for a bit:

And while these photos don't really display it, the grey was showing some pretty serious wear and tear, as happens with paint over time.

I took everything but the bed out of the room and removed the doors, which turned the hallway into a bit of a nightmare.

(It's felt like a weird game of musical chairs over here-- just constantly moving the chaos from room to room as I redo each one.)

Then I got to work painting the trim a glossy white and the ceilings and walls flat white. The process was in all honestly pretty boring, but what can ya do?

Once that was done, I was faced with dragging those ancient white bookshelves back into this pristine new room and that just didn't seem right. But where would the books go?

"On barn shelves of course!" was basically Steven's answer. But instead of using the barn wood planks (of which we don't have too many left), we decided to simply rip out the actual shelves in the barn we'd been using for tools since our longterm plan for that space is demo the heck out of the interior anyway.

(That's them in the upper left corner, shot during the summer obviously. Oh, summer.)

We opted for four and went bottom to top, lining up the bottom shelf with the height of the bed and the bathroom door. Waldo, as usual, was incredibly helpful hung around the entire time trying to eat sandpaper and whatnot.

And ta-da!

Next up for this room is getting a door, but for now I like that you can see the encyclopedia wallpaper from the bed. Not mention, any guest who comes over and needs privacy is staying in the inn anyway, haha!

As usual, let's conclude with a little side by side Before and After because they're so satisfying! Like the static version of a montage. Facing north:

And facing south:

Also, because I might be certifiably insane, I decided to repaint Steven's studio shelves right after this which I'd given a first attempt back in September. And I mean right after-- like the paint brush did not even have time to dry.

I have yet to take some good After shots, but here's a During for your enjoyment:

Steven posted this midway through to Instagram and the audience was divided as to whether or not to continue...

I'll save the After for next time...!

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

 

DIY Hallway Trim and Encyclopedia "Wallpaper"

Guys, we have been some busy DIY country mice out here! Right after updating our bedroom, we decided it was time to tackle the upstairs hallway. We'd been putting it off because we were a little stumped about how exactly to proceed. As you can see, when we bought the place, that hallway was in a transitional state-- partially wallpapered, partially trimmed:

Back in October I painted the linen closet and did a paint test on the hallway walls juuuust in case a coat or three of white could do the trick, but with all the strange layers and textures going on it looked like crap, so there went that idea:

After a few months of thinking while working on other things, we decided the most sensible, inexpensive, and we-can-do-it solution was to:

1. Mimic the existing trim with some new lumber to complete the doorways lacking it.

2. Paint all the trim a uniform, glossy white.

2. Use the pages from an old encyclopedia as "wallpaper".

Trim went up first. Steven turned his studio back into a wood shop and cut down the trim pieces we'd ordered from the local lumber spot to size.

Then nailed them in place with finishing nails:

Hammered the nails in in deeper with a nail set:

Then filled the holes with puddy:

The top part of the trim around our house has a small shim detail that we included to match. Not particularly difficult to do but looks all that much nicer:

The trickiest doorway was the one at the end of the hallway where there were some gaping holes and crazy warped walls. After measuring at key points up the frame, Steven just went for it and hand milled the trim to best match the wobble with a circular saw.

SERIOUSLY IMPRESSIVE STUFF FOR A NOVICE CARPENTER GUYS.

When we put 'em up we saw there were a few dark spots created by the shadows of the teeny gaps so we nailed some scrap wood in behind the trim to best cover it and I gave it all a quick coat of white paint.

Meanwhile, I was having a go at the 1947 Encyclopedia Britannica that I'd ordered from eBay for eleven bucks. With an exacto knife, I carefully cut out all 700 plus pages (which yes, were so thin I could do many at a time).

Vase to Zygote contains lots of crazy and fun sounding terms and places and what not. It also contains several topics I didn't want to plaster on my walls and walk by everyday. From all of World War I and II to these:

Still, even though that eliminated a fair chunk of the book from use, I figured I'd have plenty to work with. I mean, it's a goddamn encyclopedia.

As Steven put the baseboard trim up, I taped up some of the pages that didn't make the cut to see if I wanted to paste them in an orderly grid or layer them.

Because I kind of value my sanity, I opted for the more organic look if you will: the layers. But before I could go about pasting those up with wallpaper glue, I had to prime and paint all the new trim Steven had just finished, as well as prime over the inconsistent coloring of the walls. And oh yes, I'd have to paint the ceiling too because we wouldn't want to have to do that later and drip all over the new wallpaper.

Just a few things.

At least I love the process of white paint going up. It feels so CLEAN (even if you're just glopping over spider webs).

Somewhere in the middle of all this Steven went out of town to visit his college buddies for a night, I listened to "Shake It Off" approximately 9,000 times, and in the middle of scolding a barking a dog I stepped off my chair DIRECTLY INTO a bucket of paint.

Oh my god, it was like a bad cartoon-- the barking, and the paint splattering everywhere, all while I hysterically laughed at myself. Here's the calm right after the storm:

Still having fun though:

Next up was a wallpaper test patch to see if I needed to be careful about keeping the glue off the front of the pages, and to see if when I layered them you could see through them in an unpleasing matter etc.

In the end it was clear I could go pretty nuts with the glue brush which was great because while the hallway doesn't seem that big, this was clearly gonna take a fair deal of time. Which by the way is something you NEVER calculate accurately when entering a DIY project. Because otherwise you'd never do it.

Up went the pages, day after day, with breaks in between naturally. I do have an inn to run after all! And finally, FINALLY, I finished last night.

Well, "finished" meaning I ran out of encyclopedia pages about 3/4s of the way. But I chose a purposeful ending point so as I wait for my next encyclopedia to be delivered I won't feel like I'm walking through a construction zone. BUT LOOK!

Sorry for the strange lighting-- this hallway is surprisingly hard to photograph. But you get the idea. Pages upon pages of weird information carefully layered as wallpaper, successfully covering the odd textures and colors of the wall underneath. Tada!

I went the extra mile and used a paper cutter to cut the pages that touch the ceiling and trim so that the random stacking would exist all the way up and down the wall. It's as if the pages are emerging from the ceiling and baseboards and that the doors were cut out after the fact. Time consuming but worth it.

In the process I learned quite a bit about Welsh Literature, X-Ray Crystals, and Zoology. And I plan to learn much more, each time I pass through the hallway!

I realize that until we redo the bathroom downstairs, everyone who comes over and needs to use the restroom will take awkwardly long and return full of facts about Western Australia and George Washington. But I'm totally cool with that.

So while I still have a bit more to do I can see the light at the end of that particular tunnel. And in the mean time I'm having fun sprucing up other details in the house. Like this birch stairwell handrail we installed:

Just a fallen birch snag from around here and basic stainless steel handrail hardware.

And this built-in nook in our living room I decided to paint the night before we left for a quick trip to Montreal with our buddies who run Brushland Eating House.

Again, like the hallway, kind of hard to photograph but trust me, it feels luxurious.

We were totally inspired to do that by those same friends, Sarah and Soheil, who run a delicious and beautiful spot wonderfully slathered in good glossy black paint.

(This photo by Escape Brooklyn.)

So yeah. We're still going strong over here on the home renovation front!

To wrap it up, here's a few side by side Before/After shots because those are always oh so satisfying!

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

NYE Letter To Yourself

You know how every NYE I write a letter to myself that I open the next NYE? Well I forced it on all my guests this year, mwahahahaha!

Ok, maybe not quite forced it. More like, put some paper and envelopes and such in all of the rooms with a little explanation of the tradition and said that if folks wanted to write themselves one, I'd happily mail it to them next year.

I was super touch by how many people took me up on it!

Happy New Year to all of you out there!

Barn Wood Bar Booth

I love, love, LOVE the barn wood bar that Steven built for the Inn. It's handsome and sturdy and very much suits the surroundings.

I'm just realizing that I never actually made a post on how he built it. Hmm.... Here's the quick photo montage:

And DONE! Haha! Well actually it nearly happened that fast. Design*Sponge confirmed that they were gonna come up and do a feature and we were like, "Cool, there's literally nothing in the rooms right now but that's fine. We'll TOTALLY be able to stage two room types and build a bar in three days".

And while it was kind of insane, we did it.

We kept a lot of the bar the same for the first few months, moving and/or adding things here or there depending on how we'd seen guests use the space.

But as time has gone on, I've found myself feeling not entirely in love with this corner:

The orange chairs and low white stools are in the rooms and I love them there--

But for whatever reason they just weren't doing it for me in the bar. They somehow felt a little... dainty all together.

So one afternoon sitting behind the bar I asked myself, "If you could have anything there, what would it be?" and immediately I was like, "Duh, a big barn wood booth."

So I asked my carpenter-man and he said, "No problem" and spent the next few weeks thinking and planning, solving questions of weight and support and how to do this with as little lumber as possible. I'd wake up to the alarm ringing and roll over to find him open eyed, already talking. "I think I figured out a way we can get the kick space to yada yada carpenter talk early in the morning..."

We've been on a crazy project binge recently, finishing the wood trim in the hallway and "wallpapering" it with old encyclopedia pages and--

I'll do another post on that once it's finished up, but there's a sneak peek for ya.

So basically we've be on such a roll that we figured fuck it, let's keep going! Yesterday (yes, on Christmas Day, after opening presents), Steven turned his studio into a woodshop and built the booth's skeleton out of new lumber:

And luckily today it was sunny for the first time in weeks and all the snow had melted and our guests weren't arriving til the late afternoon so...

We dragged the interior frames into the bar and set up camp in there. And by "we" I mean "he". I mostly ran around with the dog, did some springtime-esque yard work, and wheelbarrowed over lots of wood for our bar's fire pit.

I occasionally bopped in to hold pieces in place, press here, pass me that etc. And to take pictures of course! Of Steven drilling from the underside so you won't be able to see screw heads on the bench seat:

Of the fronts with kick-spaces going on:

Of myself at the bar:

Of Steven head butting his shadow's butt back supports going up:

Of two stacks of planks for the backs of the booth:

And of the finished product!

If the carpenter looks a little more dazed than pleased as hell with his work, that's because he's consumed only half a Cliff bar and a Coke all day. And it's 4:15pm. And he just dragged that stump in to be a temporary table.

But YAY! Isn't he good?! Doesn't it suit the bar so well?!

Here's Before and After right next to each other:

Next up making a low table to set drinks on. And re-hanging the art and maps so they suit the new set up. And finding a new place for the toaster oven in the mornings. And making a pillow or five so guests can get cozy with their Nordic glögg and boyfriend and whatnot.

Woohoo! Thank you Steven! I love it. I love, love, LOVE it.

UPDATE 12/28:

He used the bases of those Ikea stools and made custom wood tops. BAM!

And I moved some pillows and dried wildflowers in here to soften it up. Ba-BAM!

But I didn't use a real camera to photograph it. BAM! I mean, sorry.

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

Judge That Book By Its Cover

Yes, I know, EVERYONE makes that title joke. But aaaaanyway-- there's lots of round-ups of the best book design going around right now. 'Tis the season of lists. I couldn't resist, here's a few of my faves:

So far I've only read The Bees (which was totally bizarre and enjoyable). Next I REALLY want to dig into Here by Richard McGuire. It's a graphic novel that takes place at a single location over vastly different points in time-- the 1980s, the mid 1600s, even B.C. something or other! And Steven went nuts for The Martian. I'm not that biggest outer space gal, but I'm thinking I might have to give a try.

Wishing you a book-filled holiday season!