Happy Monday, everyone! Since you were probably up late watching the Super Bowl -- and, like me, New Girl! -- (and may have overserved yourself a bit with either food or bev... or both), I thought I'd try to brighten your day with a little Before & After action.
Our apartment has what I believe would be called a "dining alcove" or "breakfast nook" by real estate professionals. When we moved in, we made an executive decision not to use the space for dining purposes because you would basically be looking straight into the dated (and inevitably always messy) kitchen, and the space also isn't large enough for the number of people we would want to seat for gatherings. We like to entertain and, before our current apartment, had never lived in an apartment large enough to allow for a big table; and we also have always liked the open layout concept (especially when you have limited space) because it can feel relaxed and like less of a production when you entertain (e.g. let's start with drinks and cheese in the living area, move over to the dining area for dinner and then back to the living area to hang out post-dinner). So we were excited to turn our new living room into a living/dining room and fulfill our dream of having a big extendable farm table at one end of it (after much searching, we ended up with the Cortona table from Pottery Barn).
Because of this, though, the "alcove" became a sort of no man's land of random storage and nothingness. We would have people over for dinner, make our dining table look awesome, and then realize as we all sat down for dinner that the alcove provided a serious eye sore that detracted from the dining experience (I'm sure our guests didn't care, but I could think of nothing else!). The alcove desperately needed an upgrade, and after two years of living with the no man's land, we finally got to give it a makeover.
The Story of Awkward to Awesome
Every room needs at least one antique or vintage piece to bring it to life. And our alcove was begging to be brought to life. My parents, as a dual graduation gift for Matt and me, offered to get us a nice piece of furniture -- specifically an antique -- for our apartment, because they thought it would be a lasting ode to what we had accomplished and also would be something that we could not afford ourselves. Obviously, this excited us very much.
When I was in Kansas City last winter, my mom brought me to our friend Scott Lindsay's phenomenally amazing townhouse in midtown Kansas City. The townhouse is in a historic district of Kansas City and is truly one of the most gorgeous homes I've ever seen. Scott is a beyond talented antiques dealer and interior designer who is that type of wonderfully gracious old school charmer who refuses to let you leave an appointment without sitting down for tea (served in gorgeous china) with delicate cookies from André's, a delicious Swiss pastry shop in Kansas City. (Photo to left is of Scott and me at my wedding - isn't he adorable? Photo credit: Isaac Alongi.)
Scott sells out of one of the apartments in his townhouse, and he spent literally hours with me walking through the space, showing me each piece and allowing me to ask every question that came to mind. I love to know the story of an antique - where did it come from, how was it made, what was it used for originally, does it have any special meaning, how did you come across it, etc. etc. If you end up getting to have it in your home, its history adds so much to the story of your home and your décor... and you.
Scott's collection is seriously museum quality, and he has impeccable taste. I left our get-together wanting basically everything I saw, but there was one piece in particular that I couldn't stop thinking about. My mom had originally wanted me to see a Provençal cherry armoire from the 1780s (you know my family and our armoires), which I did really like, but I was concerned that it would be too tall for our "barely legal" 8.8' ceilings (which are even shorter in the "alcove"). Instead I zeroed in on a Florentine buffet from the late 17th century (Scott says circa 1680-1700). It was ornate, but masculine enough that I thought Matt would like it (I was right - he loves it), with a carved crest and a carved sort of Boticelli-esque lady. It is a looming piece -- a bit oversized -- but very friendly and welcoming. It has an incredible amount of storage -- and you know I like my furniture to be useful. It is just all around cool and the kind of piece that needs its own room, so when I saw it, I could picture it instantly in our awkward alcove area.
Getting the piece from KC to NYC is something I never want to discuss. Let's just say that it involved me, in my boot, standing on the sidewalk, with a massive crate, in the rain, and that I may have verbally assaulted via phone the owner of the local UPS store (Riaz from UPS Store 5899, if you're curious) to the point that I can never ship something from there without using a fake name and address. I reserve my verbal assaults for only those that are truly deserving, so you can draw your own conclusions about Riaz from UPS Store 5899 and his inability to get the contents of said crate from the sidewalk to my apartment. But once we got the buffet up to our apartment and in its new home, our buffet felt right at home and my anger with Riaz from UPS Store 5899 melted away. I just felt bad that our 325 year old addition to the family had such a rough trip to the Big Apple. But I assure you the buffet is very happy now. I honestly feel like hugging it sometimes (and maybe I actually have), I love it so much. Its name, like many oversized things I love, is Buddy. Not terribly Italian, but he's an international fellow, you see - and anyway, Buddy is a New Yorker now. Every morning, while I'm waiting for the Keurig to make my coffee, Buddy gets a little hello and a pat.
Before & After!
We moved the books from the bookcase to the window sill to the left (as you might remember having read here), and moved the bookcase to our bedroom. I also had fun "outfitting" the top of the buffet with a mix of high and low things that mean something to us and tie the piece in with the rest of the apartment. That champagne poster was just too annoying to move (we did this when I was in a boot last summer and Matt was too busy studying for the bar to "deal" with it), so we worked with the off-centered nature of the poster (and the fact that it looks like it's sitting on the buffet) and did some layered art instead.
On the inside, we've put every piece of china and serveware imaginable that we received as wedding gifts, and then some. It's huge and perfect for storage of such things, and makes the piece feel even more meaningful.
A quick overview of what we have on top of our awesome buffet (in case you're curious). A lot of the items are things I purchased a long time ago or that we received as wedding gifts, so they're not readily available. But if there's anything you love, let me know and I can help you find something similar.
1. Anthropologie "gaggle of geese" measuring cups (no longer sold online).
2. William Yeoward decanter (wedding gift).
3. Annalisa Barelli "Lullaby Dreams" print. Annalisa is one of my best and oldest friends and an INCREDIBLE artist. She gave me this print for my 30th birthday this year, and I immediately had it framed and just ADORE it with all my heart. I will be blogging much more about her soon!
4. Poster from Allposters.com, which I bought at some point during my first post-college year. If you get a poster with extra matting, it can elevate some so-so to a bigger statement.
5. A watercolor by me! Matt had it framed for me with white matting and gilded frame. Want something like this? CONTACT ME!
6. Waylande Gregory Large Chubby Bowl, $695. We got ours at Gump's in San Francisco, but I can't find the exact one online anywhere. Here is a similar one from Michael C. Fina.
7. Pottery Barn tray. This was a wedding gift, and I can't find anything like it online right now!
8. Varga Captiva Green Wine Goblet, $230 each. These are probably the fanciest thing we own (again, a blend of wedding gifts) and I'm afraid to actually use them, but they sure are pretty to look at!
9. Waterford Decanter (wedding gift!).
And that is my Before & After of our awkward alcove made awesome! What do you think? Do you have any spaces in need of upgrades or a new "Buddy"?
Happy Monday and hope you have a fabulous week!
2/3/2014 11:22:37 am
Scott Llndsay Antiques
2/8/2014 02:40:12 pm
Kate, I think this is my favorite of your posts so far, and I've loved ALL of them. You are a genius, and you celebrate the genius in others. Love, Mimi
2/10/2014 02:18:35 pm
Mimi, thank you so much for your sweet note! I am certainly no genius, but I do love to celebrate the genius in others (which includes you)!! xoxoxo
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I am an artist/designer and former financial professional with a background in comparative literature, business and design. I live in New York with my overworked lawyer husband and my two boys Michael and Theo and spend much of my free time dreaming about how to enhance the aesthetics of our little world. I am endlessly inspired and always in search of something new. This is a blog about my search, my inspiration and things I just really, really like or want.