Hi guys, well I’ve been meaning to blog for a while now and while I plan to talk about other things that more or less frivolous than home decorating, it seems a good place to start!

I’ve been in this apartment for a little over 3 years now, since I was separated and had to leave my beloved Craftsman bungalow with its big backyard, towering Pin Oak and graceful American Elm.  The interior was full of woodwork lovingly crafted by the original owner, and lent itself easily to a vintage decorating style.  It was a heartache to leave the space–on the last day, I secretly kissed the mahogany woodwork, rounded and smoothed by years of use, in the precious little butler’s pantry (that was almost certainly ripped out by the new owners to make room for a ‘proper’ modern kitchen).

When I moved into this apartment in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, I purposefully threw away, gave away, or put into storage anything that I associated with my old life, the habits I’d formed in my suburban young adulthood, things that I loved but didn’t want to dwell on.  I got rid of most of my vintage clothing and my art supplies, carefully packed away my favorite decorative items and most of my 1000+ books, and moved in with just the bare essentials and three books: Writings and Drawings by Bob Dylan, Ray Bradbury’s Death is a Lonely Business, and my favorite childhood book, Over and Over.

It wasn’t that any of the hobbies or things I’d acquired during my marriage were necessarily bad, it was just that I wanted to zero out everything, not rely on routine or habit, start with nothing and see what returned to me, what didn’t, and what new things would gather, like a local yeast in the air invisibly working to raise your sourdough starter, to lend its own particular flavor.  I didn’t want to be stuck in the past: neither my own past or the throwback world of purist vintage decor and fashion.  I traveled less than 30 miles from my idyllic suburban village to Brooklyn, but it was also a journey in time–into the present, from the 20th to the 21st century.

Dreadful “before” picture and more after the jump!

I told you it was a dreadful picture.  It’s dark and out-of-focus and was taken by my phone, and I pledge to replace it once I’ve cleaned up the room again, but it gives you an idea of how drab and makeshift my living space is.  I do love the ottoman in the foreground, which I bought for $35 at a used furniture store nearby and could easily pass for a mid-century designerish piece.  I hate the love seat, which graced my ex-in-laws’ early 90s condo before being scratched to hell by our vindictive cat in the bungalow.  It’s pretty comfy which is why it’s still around, but it’s just minuscule and that leads to turf wars when you try to share it with another human.  The room is enormous by NYC standards, 12′ x 16′, and there’s plennnty of room for furniture that isn’t dollhouse-sized.

The curtains are okay–they’re a pale green cotton with tab tops.  The problem is we don’t get a lot of light here and the green cast makes it feel even gloomier.  Then there’s the lamp in the corner.  A Frankenlamp that doesn’t take a regular lampshade, so the upside-down configuration you see there was rigged up by a long-ago houseguest, and it’s stayed that way ever since.

The bookshelf is cheap ($20 new at ikea?!) but serviceable and it will stay.  The coffeetable, unfortunately, is a fake Stickley Craftsman style.  It’s heavy and sturdy, and the shelf underneath is super-useful for menus, library books, and photo albums, though it’s a bit damaged.  The main problem is the style, though–it would be hard to alter it enough so it fits in with a more eclectic decor and doesn’t scream “cheap Stickley knockoff.”  I’ve got a few ideas though so stay tuned.

So that’s what I’ve got to work with so far.  Some will stay and most will happily be curbed.  There’s a few items that aren’t in the pic that I’ll feature later on and you can vote on whether to keep or toss!

Also, this just in: I had asked my landlord if there were any other 1-bedrooms in the building that were going to be available, because I’m just not in love with this unit.  Mostly because of the light, but also the layout is very sterile and blocky, with everything right there when you come in and one room bam after another.  I crave a light-filled space with cute nooks and crannies and a cozier but still roomy feel.  So yesterday I was dragging furniture in from the street (I’ll show you what I do with it later) and a woman asked me if I needed any other furniture as she was moving out.  Well, I went up to look at her couch and fell in love with her apartment.  So fingers crossed, I may be moving from apartment 1C to 6B, leaving behind hopefully most of the roaches, my next door neighbor with the blasting music and the horrendously untrained dogs, lack of light, view of the alleyway–but also this friend:

I’m sure that 6B will come with its own challenges and surprises too, but walking into it yesterday I immediately had that home feeling.  It has a vintage yellow-and-black kitchen floor unlike my blah modern vinyl, the bathroom is all yellow-and-black as well and has a more vintagey charming tub/shower, and there are two TINY fire escapes for me to clamber out onto and potentially enjoy an evening beverage in the throes of vertigo overlooking treetops and a semi-glimpse of the Verrazano at night, or grow some herbs in pots for a few weeks before I forget to water them.  I am massively craving an apartment with some outdoor space–I’d really like to find a great one and buy it now that the market is in a slump, but this year I’m just not in the financial position to do that.  So, moving up in the world from the 1st to the 6th floor and decorating it on the cheap with things that make me happy is what’s in store for now!

Depending on what goes down, my “before” pictures may be of my current apartment and my “after” pictures in the new one, but as far as the living room goes, it’s basically the same other than the amount of natural light.  I think all apartments in Bay Ridge have the same lumpy stucco and Moorish kitsch cutout archways (love those!) in the living rooms.

Also, you can keep me honest with my budget.  I am so impulsive when I shop that by the end, I will have no idea how much I’ve spent on what.  So I’m going to do my best to tell you every penny I spend even if I’m embarrassed about buying something that seemed a good idea at the time.  Which happens.  A lot.

Hope you enjoy taking this trip with me.  Next time, I’ll show you what’s inspiring me, a few things I’ve bought and made so far, and the thrift store items I was foolish enough to let go!  Bah!

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