Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Kitchen Mini-Fix

We rent an apartment in San Francisco. We started renting our place in 2009, it wasn't our first place in SF - I've lived here since 2002, Tony since 1997...however, we somehow assumed we would only be in this apartment for a year, two years tops...sigh...hindsight.

Fast forward to 2015, if we move anywhere, buy or rent, we're looking to pay double, at minimum of what we pay currently. We find ourselves, like many other San Franciscans, grateful for rent control, nice neighbors and a responsive landlord.

Since my business is interior design, I have asked our landlords if I could update our kitchen (keeping the vintage charm) quite often - I had one contractor offer to do the work at his cost, but the answer is always no. I guess I see the point, they don't need to because they don't have to update anything to find renters. As an aside, we are lucky because they do allow us to update our paint color.

BUT in July I finally persuaded them to allow me to update one thing in the kitchen: THE FLOOR! At my own expense but this too is something I've asked for before and they said no...I felt like this was a major win.

To keep with the vintage style but add contrast to the busy laminate countertop, I thought a black and white checkered floor would look perfect. I was contemplating turning the tiles on the diagonal, to make the kitchen look bigger - I still think design wise that would have been better but I didn't want to pay more for the labor and the material, since this is a rental.

Material Cost
Approx. $150 after shipping & tax.
4 boxes of tiles (2 white boxes, 2 black boxes)
White stick-on (sounds easy, right!?) tiles from Home Depot.
Black stick-on tiles from Home Depot.

Business has been great but as of late June, we wanted to give having a 2nd child a final shot (more on that later), so I thought I would take July and August easy, really minimize my overall workload so I could get pregnant...stress has a big impact on that apparently. I thought installing this floor would be relatively straight forward and I could get it done with a little help from my handsome hubby.

Here is a picture of our kitchen, back in July when I got approval to do redo the floor, after the tiles arrived I was so excited I had to start thinking about placement.
One option was to start the tiles at one of the sides, so you always have one straight edge. I did NOT like what that did to the center line of the cabinetry, the clear answer was to center the black tile. I chose the black over the white because at the back line I wanted more black tiles than white since the toe kick vinyl strip is black and that would minimize any wavy line distraction.

Here's the start of the installation...

No that's not my arm, nor is it my husband's arm either. This happened on Tuesday...which is in October, not August, as planned. Anyway, I wanted this floor done because the old floor was just so gross. (I really think the speckled vinyl floor has been here since 1971. I would scrub it three times and still I would get black marks on my socks - GROSS.)

Anyway, this talented arm you see is that of a handyman that I like to work with - I'm more than happy to refer him and other's on if you are looking for someone!

He did such a great job with the installation. He first found the center and then used a chalk line so he could keep that center line the whole way through. He heated each tile, before setting it into place. He didn't have a roller to use on top of each tile so he made one, on the spot, with the items he had in his truck. I can honestly say that this project was a success because of him. When we are done the labor will be under $500.

 Here is the completed floor...

Here is my new favorite addition to the kitchen - an early Christmas present from my mother-in-law: a Keurig! I've been resisting the Keurig trend for so long and after using this specific device, I was sold. Thanks Patricia!

This new floor and Keurig have made my week so great...walking into the kitchen I feel so much happier now. Ava wants to play checkers on the floor and enjoys jumping from black to black it's fun and functional!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Spring Cleaning

I'm going to start this entry by apologizing to all of the people who have been talking to me lately because I cannot stop talking about, "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing."  Sorry. However, I feel as though I must 'shout it from the roof tops' because I feel so strongly about the lessons in this book. My poor husband is taking the brunt of it. We are in mid-purge...well, I am in mid-purge and he is quickly picking up on how not to hold on to objects that don't inspire joy in his life. If I'm not careful I might fall into that list - luckily he's VERY patient.

What I find compelling about this book and particularly its relation to interior design is the dilemma I often face when meeting with Clients. I'm usually brought in because the house is no longer inspiring the Client. One of the main things the house needs: a ginormous purge. I'm all for repurposing items - but only the items that truly make the Client happy. It's also not uncommon that the Client will hire a professional organizer to help them while also working with me on the design. I really hope that all Organizers out there read this book and incorporate the method into their practice. I know that this book has changed the way I will interact with Clients going forward.

The KonMari Method that Marie Kondo introduces is key. Starting with clothing, we can work through our emotions attached with each item. It's more of a process of self-discovery and in the process you get to know yourself better and what really makes you happy, which leads to you bringing more of that joy into your life.

For those of you that don't have the time to read but spend a lot of time in your car, like myself, there is an audiobook available through iTunes and I think this was a better way to approach the book because it wasn't until the first 90 minutes had passed until the book really grabbed me - that's when I really started learning a lot. That is probably why there is a summary version available. "A 15-Minute Summary & Analysis of Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing"

Enjoy! Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Get it for Less - Chandelier!

They say imitation is the best sort of flattery...check out these two gems:

High Price: ($22k+)
  • 6'H, 46" diameter

Low Price: ($1,698)
  • 53"H, 29" diameter

(They differ from each other in size and illumination...)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Making-Do and Thriving…

 …While continuing to rent, in a Seller’s Market.

For the readers that aren’t familiar with San Francisco’s housing situation, there is something unique about living in San Francisco – primarily the lack of space and it’s an older city, similar to New York. When you’re young and single, you think, “Oh, this place is AMAZING, I have a dishwasher, a garage and the building has a washer and dryer AND a glimmer of a view and it’s only $3k/month.” Yes, that’s what it takes to have an INCREDIBLE place in SF. It’s no secret either, what you pay per month – everyone asks. (Which is very odd for those of us raised to never discuss money.)

If you are one of the lucky ones with rent control and you’ve lived here 5-10 years, you’re in a pretty good spot right now vs. the rest of the newcomers to the City. (Like this adorable family.) With the current prices of real estate, today we are seeing some of the highest home sale prices EVER in San Francisco – it is truly a Seller’s market. $1.2k/Square Foot in this neighborhood is pretty common.

Where does that leave this couple that met, fell in love, were very comfortable in their one bedroom…decided to have not one but two children, always thinking the market would swing the other way? It’s time to get creative!

When I met with Kim for the first time, I felt an instant understanding. When you’re a mom and business owner, you feel a natural kindred spirit. Kim is the Co-owner along with Cristina Serafyn (also a mother) of “Fresh Baby Bites” and Christina introduced the two of us.  In addition, Ava (my daughter) was one of their testers a few years back and loved the food. The food is great and I highly recommend it for any Mothers out there that want to feed their children organic, healthy food but simply lack the time.

Kim and Brendan had already figured out the basic programming when I met with them the first time. Their 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son were already sharing one room – the converted dining room. The son was still in the Stokke crib (on wheels, of course!) and the daughter was in a queen-sized bed. 

The biggest challenge and most clear solution was providing more perceived space on the floor level by utilizing the vertical space provided by historic San Francisco architecture. The goal was clear from the get-go, they know the two children can’t share a room forever so they had a 3-5 year ‘sustainability’ goal.  ‘Get us through the next 3-5 years, so we can figure out what to do but not be in our current uncomfortable state.’


Entry space:

Living Room/ Converted Dining Room – take note – outdoor living space: Phase 2! Key reason not to move in SF. This is a RARE treat and something truly special.


The children’s bedroom in the old dining room, which is just off of the converted dining space in the living room:

Master Bedroom:


After the initial meeting, I shared with Lindsey their story, pictures and my initial reactions and cost-effective, simple solutions for their rental situation as well as overall, big picture furniture layout and what could be repurposed and what needed to go. Lindsey did all of the heavy-duty execution: research and communication with the Kim and assembling the design board, of which I reviewed and checked all items to confirm dimensions would work. Lindsey did a phenomenal job. Together we presented our solution to the couple. 

After the design presentation, Lindsey sent a follow-up email of the items selected during the meeting for Kim to purchase on her own. This list also included the details on paint and temporary wallpaper to be purchased and installed by our handyman. (He’s not really just ours but we love him so we call him ours.)

We timed our first installation for when the really big pieces were to arrive and coordinated painting and Tempaper and lighting installation at the same time. We also had the assistance of our lovely intern, Fiona Hayley, to help us out! (We miss her, but know she's doing great back in IL.) Once the rest of the other items had arrived we came back for the final fluff with accessories to style the space and to take pictures.


Re-imagined entry:

You might have seen this beautiful piece in the kids’ room, we repurposed it for the entry!

Living Room and converted dining space: 

Kids’ Bedroom:

Master Bedroom:

The best part of the whole project was seeing how happy Kim, Brendan and their family are with their refreshed space.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Congrats! You Bought Your FIRST Home, Now What?

In the Bay Area, purchasing your first home is a HUGE deal. Not to downplay the importance in other cities around the US but when you consider that it isn't uncommon for homes to go for $1K/SF, depending upon the zip need to be 100% that you're going to like your new neighborhood and home. You're SO EXCITED to have more than 800SF and the thought of having your own garage is oftentimes a luxury...and oh if there is a dishwasher/ washer & dryer, bonus! But there are certain aspects that you don't particularly love about the home. You may not notice these details in the honeymoon phase of homeownership but this is why you seek help. 

You've managed to come up with (magically and with a lot of hard work) that hefty downpayment and now you have furnishings for an 800SF apartment...but you STILL have to furnish this new home, which is substantially larger than your apartment. AND you don't want to mess up. 

One economical way to approach your first home is to phase your project. What I mean by that is, choose the spaces that are most important to you and focus on making those as 'right' as they can be for this current phase of your life.

For this adorable, young family, we had the pleasure of installing Part 1, of Phase 1 of their FIRST home. Since this project will take a while until we're completely finished, a blog post will quell my desire to get the photographer in there can wait.

Photos of the dining space, just off the entry.
Photos of the entry table, just off the side of the door of the library...really excited about the plans for that space!!! While the homeowners have a closet just around the corner, an entry table is essential for keys, mail, etc. Everyone needs a space to just 'drop' stuff. Unfortunately what you can't see yet is the great little bench that is opposite this table.
This home was built during that time period where people thought it was a good idea to plant things in their home...the 70's? I have a definite Bohemian side so I get it but for those that don't have a green thumb, it just doesn't work. Another thing that was challenging here was that the home has been remodeled no less than three times and each time they didn't try to marry the different parts of the home.

Here we focused on adding drama to those spaces that were quirky, architecturally, and making them meaningful...finding a way to make you pause as you move through the space. What was the planter, became a space for shoes, in the entry. Above, the AMAZING twig art was done by Paul Schick I had the pleasure of being introduced to his art by a previous colleague of mine and serendipitously received an email from him just as I was wondering what we would do for this space. It all clicked!
The Master progress...
I LOVE wallpaper...however, I DON'T love wallpaper from the 70's/80's/90's that looks like the before pic. Removing the WP and once we stain the bar in back, to match the deep stain on the stairs: beauty. The client decided to close-in the stairs for child safety reasons and it was a great call! The dark stain here looks gorgeous. Really excited for how the rest of the phases will progress!!!!
AND OF COURSE, I could not do any of this without my amazing team!! Lindsey Krystofiak, thank you and my secret weapon on my install crew who's name shall remain anonymous. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lindsey’s “Project Wallpaper: Part II”

As promised, here is my story of Project Wallpaper:  Part II, Master Suite.

There weren’t as many laughs this time around but I love the outcome and the wallpaper!  Serena &Lily had just launched a new line of wall coverings and it was there that I found this bright white and beige herringbone/chevron print. 
It is graphic and organic, exactly what I was looking for in that space.  Bold but subtle enough that it didn’t scream at you in a place of tranquility.

BEFORE: (Ladder already in-place.)
The only difference between this round and the last one was EVERYTHING!  The wallpaper was much thinner, the area to cover was much larger and the most important difference…no mom to help!  So be it, I thought.  I can do this.

I laid out all the tools and prepped the room.  I thought I’d get a good start on it while my husband was still home before leaving me alone with Charli, our daughter, for a Niners game.  Good thing I noticed there was a major shortage of glue.  I ran up to Home Depot and was back in no time.
Using the last of the old glue, I started strip #1.  I cut the strip, applied the paste and stuck it on the wall only to see bumps everywhere!  After 20 minutes of trying to smooth it out, I decided to rip it down and start over.  After all, I did have 5 rolls for a project that only needed 4 rolls.  Plenty of paper to spare. 
After another failed attempt, I decided to switch glue.  It seemed a little stickier and thicker than the last project.  Pouring out the new glue was like night and day and a huge relief. I thought to myself, “I am not this bad, it was the old glue’s fault!”  The third strip was perfection and it only took 1 entire roll to achieve one strip...
My husband was now gone and my daughter eagerly wanted to help.  I was now a Nervous Nelly seeing how much more I had to do and thinking I was in over my head…with a 2 year old on my heels.  Quickly, I cut the next strip, applied the new, silky smooth glue and climbed the ladder to press the strip.  I had forgotten to align the pattern before cutting.  I thought, “SERIOUSLY??!!“ Once I aligned it to the pattern on the first strip it was a few inches too short.  Another strip crumbled and in the garbage.  I was now sweating.  How could I be so careless?

Luckily the next 6 strips were flawless and I finished with 1 roll untouched.  The sweat, however, never ceased.  It took me about 9 hours and 3 days worth of energy.  I was spent. 

I wouldn’t say that I’ll never do it again, but perhaps next time I’ll make sure my mom is around to help instead of my 2 year old, bless her heart. J