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!
It's Day Three of Kate's Favorite Things (and likely the final day... but who knows, there might be more)! I had high hopes of doing many days of this (it is seriously fun to log all of my favorite things), but I'm getting foot surgery tomorrow and will need to take a little hiatus from the blogosphere. I had hoped to cover clothing gifts at some point (amongst many, many other things!), but I just haven't gotten my act together. Forgive me, please? I promise when I'm back to blog all about my favorite fashion picks! In the meantime, I'll give you a tip: Whether you're shopping for a guy or a gal, just go to J.Crew and call it a day. Cashmere sweaters and accessories. Plaid shirts. 30% off. Done. Everyone loves themselves some cashmere sweaters, cozy accessories and wintery plaid shirts come December, and I'm sure that whatever you choose will look ravishing on the recipient and envelop them in your friendly, loving gesture.
But if you don't necessarily want to give clothes... read on! Today's topic is HOME, and I am super excited about everything on this list. Prices range from $10 to $160, and you can't go wrong with any of these items. Enjoy!
Kate's Favorite Things - Home Edition!
Crate & Barrel Camille 23 oz. Red Wine Glass, $10.36 each (on sale from $12.95), from Crate & Barrel
Are you a Scandal watcher? I thought so. I'll bet you've noticed that Olivia Pope likes to relax at the end of the day with a ginormous glass of wine. I'll bet you like the glasses she drinks out of. Who wouldn't? They're awesome.
THIS THE GLASS SHE DRINKS OUT OF. Unfortunately, I'm not the only person who figured this out, and the rest of the world has placed an order and drained C&B's supply, so they're backordered until March. But I have hope that they'll ship sooner. If you've got a real Scandal fan (and a fan of elegantly ginormous wine glasses), I'll bet they're willing to wait a few months to get their hot little hands on these bad boys so that they too can relax at the end of a hard day of crisis control and totally inappropriate affairs whilst wearing the white hat.
Crate & Barrel also has a smaller 13 oz. white wine glass that's a little less cool and isn't quite what Olivia owns, but it has the bonus of being available for consumption now and also isn't so comically large.
Compagnie de Provence Olive Lavender Perfume Diffuser, $25.00, from Compagnie de Provence
I recently tested every lavender scented diffuser that the Gracious Home store had to offer. I bought two, this one (which I'm raving about now) and this one (beautiful and smells amazing up very close, but it overall packs very little punch - also beware that if it drips on a wood surface, it will eat away the finish). The Compagnie de Provence Olive Lavande diffuser is far and away the most incredible scent I've ever smelled. You know by now that I love lavender... but I never would have thought that mixing it with olive would produce such an intensely delightful experience. It smells like fresh air and Provence. It's refreshing, relaxing and just generally amazing. I put ours in the bedroom and plan to place a few more throughout the apartment. Give this to any Francophile or lover of things that smell amazing. And trust me: buy one for yourself.
One note: The company claims that this will last 8-10 weeks. I don't know how that is possible. Mine lasted almost exactly a month (I distinctly remember buying it on Veterans' Day), and the oil has been aggressively wicked away to the last drop. I don't know if I had particularly thirsty reeds or if all of the diffusers are like this, but it's worth mentioning. And perhaps that's why it makes a room smell so darn phenomenal (the other diffuser that I bought has barely budged, but you also barely notice the scent). I am not a fan of how quickly this diffuser must be replaced, but it certainly hasn't stopped me from placing another order (and I just learned that they sell a refill, though it's out of stock). Once you smell this scent, you won't be able to live without it.
Venturi Wine Aerator, $29.95 (on sale from $39.95), from Williams Sonoma
This little thing is just awesome, and everyone should have one in their home. It's a little wine aerator and it works magic by frothily aerating your wine as you pour it into your glass. It makes a very bizarre and distinct sucking/gurgling sound that you'll come to associate with the delightful experience. Give it to everyone on your list who likes wine; buy one for yourself too.
Mariposa Individual Pearled Wavy Bowl, $48.00, from Mariposa
My obsession with Mariposa began in 2010 when my friend Stephanie gave us this bowl as a shower gift. The undulating lines paired with the pearl trim are just gorgeous, and the silver is beautiful. It's a great piece to have in the living room. I like to leave it empty, but it would also beautifully display nuts or candies for a party.
Jo Malone™ 'English Pear & Freesia' Scented Home Candle, $65 from Norstrom.com
Jo Malone is just synonymous with luxury. I've been giving the Lime, Basil & Mandarin candle as a gift for years whenever I want to give something extra special, but I actually did not get to have the privilege of owning one of my very own until last year, when my friend Emily gave me the English Pear & Freesia version. OMG is it incredible. I actually squealed with glee when I got the package -- the package comes just bursting with beautiful scent (I think they spray the box down so it's extra scentsational) and triggers instant euphoria, and as you tear into it, the scent just gets more magnificent, decadent and all-consuming. Emily also gave me the Lime, Basil & Mandarin body crème, $75, which I am pretty certain is heaven in a jar.
Waylande Gregory Green Leopard Print Coasters, $90, from Zhush.com
I'm moderately obsessed with Waylande Gregory pottery and home goods. I learned of him for the first time when Matt and I were in California over the summer, and now I am hooked. Waylande Gregory (1905-1971) was an artist and art deco sculptor from Kansas (yes!) credited with revolutionizing art deco ceramics sculpture. Now his name lives on with Waylande Gregory Studios after the great-grandnephew discovered "a treasure trove" of Waylande's work. Everything from the collection is fantastic -- I seriously cannot pick a favorite, as you'll see below -- but these coasters are a nice price point, super useful (we all need coasters and never think to buy them for ourselves) and that emeraldy green color is just incredible. As is the fabulous leopard. I'm obsessed.
Simon Pearce Woodbury Bowl - S, $95.00, from Simon Pearce
Everything about this piece is beautiful and elegant and would fit into any home. Our Aunt Susan gave this to us as an engagement gift, and I've just loved it ever since. Simon Pearce is a sure bet for holiday gift giving.
Waylande Gregory Small Tiger Gray Bullet Bowl, $135, from Orange and Pear
These little bullet bowls are adorable and a nice little size (4.5" across) to add a pop to your side table. They're also great for holding little things like earrings or rings next to your bed. There are a lot of different options, but I like this tiger. Its lines are very elegant and feminine, but the coloring is masculine, so the overall look of the bowl is not overtly girly. This brown leopard version is also really great.
Note, the bowl is a little bit elevated (1.5") and tapered on the bottom. It's hard to see in the photo, but it's an elegant touch and helps the bowl look a bit more dainty.
Waylande Gregory Gold and Orange Small Square Elephant Tray, $160, from Zhush.com
I'm just obsessed with every aspect of this dish, for reasons you can probably guess based on my previous posts: elephants, orange, gold, whimsy, and a touch of practicality. I love when whimsy and practicality meet! This dish is just the shizz. We happened upon it when we were in San Francisco and bought it as a wedding gift -- and liked it so much that we bought an extra one for ourselves... it's a tad embarrassing to admit, but having this dish in my living room is totally worth the shame.
I'm sure I will be back in a few days, but if not, I hope you have the happiest of holidays!! Let me know what you give as gifts!
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.