Small updates and paint scraping

We need to get a painter in to help us with re-painting the apartment. While my dad and J dealt with the cabinets in our kitchen I scraped paint off our kitchen window. It appears as if someone had taped the window to limit draft because they couldn’t close the window fully by hand. We could close the window fully ourselves, but first I scraped this tape off.

Gold Coast kitchen refresh / remodel
Scraping old tape off the window frame

See how I make myself useful?
Unfortunately, there are surprisingly a lot of places in this apartment where there is evidence of a really messy paint job. For example, in the hallway we thought the paint was peeling, but there was actually blue painters tape that had been painted over, left over from the original job, that we were able to peel off! Luckily all of this is very easy to fix.
We also removed a bookcase.

Gold Coast guest room design
Bookcase in the guest room

Note that the edge of the door was never painted. Or, was potentially planed down to better fit, and never re-painted. We will be fixing this when we paint.

Gold Coast guest room design
Guest room cabinet removed

The baseboard is perfectly intact and the floor underneath was also refinished. The wall underneath looks minty. We will prime over this entire room to prepare it for wallpaper. We will wallpaper this room with Brunschwig & Fils Bird and Thistle.

Brunschwig & Fils
Bird and Thistle wallpaper, Brunschwig & Fils

An alternative paper that J really liked was from a room that we have stayed in during our annual trip to Twin Farms, a Toile du Juoy print. I have not been able to find the maker.

Twin Farms Toile
Twin Farms bedroom wallpapered in Toile du Juoy

We are visiting again in February and will potentially find out more then. In the meantime I am scheduling a visit from the painter, and from Waterworks to start on these bathrooms.

Kitchen update that made a big difference

(that cost us nothing)

The kitchen of this apartment is in great condition, but feels a bit dated. That being said, so many elements of this kitchen are timeless, so I want to preserve the beautiful Bolhuis cabinets, the Sub Zero and Miele appliances and the Perrin and Rowe hardware while giving the kitchen a bit of a lift.
Here is a reminder of what the kitchen looked like:

Gold Coast kitchen refresh
Listing photo

Here is a photo of what the kitchen looked like this morning:

Gold Coast kitchen refresh / remodel
Taken on an iPhone 🙂

In person, and somewhat illustrated by the non wide-lens camera, the space is a bit cramped. The area between the hanging cabinets and the sink is only the width of a four burner stove. I want to visually open this space up by removing the hanging glass cabinets.

Gold Coast kitchen refresh / remodel
The space feels cramped (and not just because the ladder is there)

Of course my biggest mistake was not taking more “before” photos, but everything moved quickly once the work got started! My dad is helping me here! He built the house that I grew up in, laid all the floors and spun every spindle by hand.
Part of the challenge of the hanging cabinets is that they took up a lot of counter space. If you refer back to the first photograph you can see that 1/3 of the counter space was monopolized by the base of the cabinet. At the base was a hollow opening that included an electrical strip. The opening was suited for storing breads, but a microwave would not fit.

Gold Coast kitchen refresh / remodel
The first step was to remove the heavy glass cabinet doors

First, we removed all cabinet doors and shelves. Since these cabinets were more decorative, and less everyday, the hardware was in perfect shape. We will replace the more tired hardware in other areas of the kitchen with these. This will save money since each of these knobs cost $45.

Gold Coast Kitchen Refresh
The “like new” cabinet knobs and hardware will be repurposed in other areas of the kitchen

Next, my dad removed all of the small lights running through the cabinets. We tossed the lights (one already had broken glass) and kept some of the electrical elements for use on other projects.

Gold Coast Kitchen Refresh
Dad hard at work
Cabinet Doors
Cabinet doors carefully stowed away

We removed the crown molding around the center cabinet in order to drop it down. The molding was an interesting recovery for two reasons. First, it can be re-used to patch now remaining gaps from the hanging cabinets. Second, it appears as if each of these little teeth were individually nailed to the molding (wow! so much work!).

Gold Coast kitchen refresh
Recovered molding will be used to finish the gap left by the end cabinet we removed
Gold Coast kitchen remodel / refresh
It appears as if each of the teeth on the molding were applied individually (wow!)
Gold Coast kitchen refresh / remodel
Once the molding was removed and stored, we took down the cabinets

This project took almost a whole day, but it made a big difference. We successfully removed all the hanging cabinets and opened up the kitchen.

Gold Coast kitchen refresh / remodel
This made a huge difference in opening up the space!

The only thing we changed was removing the hanging cabinets, and the kitchen looks dramatically different. The work that remains includes: replacing any tired door hardware with the knobs that we retrieved from the glass cabinets, professionally re-painting the kitchen cabinets, updating the backsplash and countertops and incorporating the La Voliere chandelier so we can eat breakfast with the birds!

Antiquing in Calistoga (and I bought a mirror)

Some of my best friends threw me the most beautiful bachelorette in Calistoga, California this weekend and we had the best time! We got to spend a full half day antiquing in downtown Calistoga and had some very good finds between the group of us.


It was love at first sight when I saw this gorgeous mirror hanging in the back room of Lincoln Street Market in downtown Calistoga. The mirror is approximately 4 feet in diameter (our guess) and beautifully carved with flowers and leaves.


The origin of the mirror was unknown, but it was on consignment and marked down from $275 to $175 (!!). The price was unbeatable and I bought it on the spot. It will be shipped (yes, come to find out, the shipping did cost more than the mirror for everyone who may be wondering). We took a closer look at the mirror off the wall and it is in great condition.



The mirror is painted and glazed and may actually be made of plaster, or a light wood, but in either case it is going to look great in this pre-war apartment and $175 is tough to beat for a mirror of this size. I can either hang the mirror above the fireplace in the living room or the dining room. The pictures here are the listing photos of the apartment.



If it isn’t the right size for these spots, I am sure I can find the perfect home for it. If not, I will list it for sale on Chairish.

Choosing paint with Julie

Julie Diorio specializes in light, space and the nuance of color and is very good at her job.

I spent weeks visualizing color schemes and finalizing a plan for this space, and only one hour with Julie refining it – It was a great use of time. Before I met Julie, this was the rough plan for paint and wallpaper:

Floorplan 2
Original plan for paint and wallpaper

After spending an hour with Julie, my plan was refined. We selected the color of white that we will use across all of our white spaces to maintain a beautiful and traditional look. We chose Wimborne White by Farrow & Ball. We selected a beautiful putty color for the kitchen, Skimming Stones by Farrow & Ball, and a couple of paint choices to consider for the den. The wallpaper choice in the entry will be a “moment” that will influence the choice of color on the hallway ceiling, the back console and the dining room. Since the entry console is curved, it is not a good place to showcase large artwork and a large pattern may get lost between the five doorways that line the space. I am already working on wallpaper for the entry, back console and guest.

Floorplan
Post working with Julie

Julie and I talked a lot about WHITE and the various tones of white, and the “whiteness” of white. But seriously, we discussed in detail how paint quality impacts the quality of the results, the depth and richness of higher quality paints and the appropriate tones of paint to pair with the tone of the natural light in a space, based on the orientation of the room and the time of day. We talked about the flow and story of a space, told with color.

IMG_8436
Our selected white, Wimborne White, Farrow & Ball

The prior homeowner put a lot of work into the renovation of this apartment and the restoration of the beautiful molding and doors. I am planning on carrying all of this hard work forward and maintaining the historical details and natural wood finishes, like the pocket doors.

The “before” photos

the listing photos

I have saved all of the listing photos of this unit so I never forget where this project started. The apartment is beautiful and the prior owner kept this apartment so clean and took such impecable care of it.

astor entry
Circular entryway with Scalamandre Ming Circus wallpaper
Kitchen with double height cabinets
Double living room with wood burning fireplace

I have a lot of ideas to breathe some new life into this place and am excited to start. The goal is to make smart updates that have big impact. The plan is to paint the majority of the rooms, selectively introducing wallpaper for the guest, front entry and back console. While gray has been a very popular color, I don’t care for it now and am excited to shift to neutral white and cream to showcase artwork.

astor dining
Dining room with second fireplace
astor den 2
What will be a den, with third fireplace
astor bedroom, kids
Guest room
astor hall 1
Main hallway
astor bedroom 2
Master Bedroom

First I will work with my favorite paint expert to select Farrow & Ball colors and get to work on carefully painting and stripping this wallpaper.

Floorplan 1.0

Chicago gold coast condo

After living in Manhattan for the last 13 years, we grew accustomed to not having a car, being centrally located and walking to our favorite spots. For us, the latter two items were ultimate must-haves so location was very important in our search and we kept coming back to the Gold Coast for its convenience and proximity to the lake. The Gold Coast has beautiful tree-lined streets and lovely architecture. It is currently beautifully decorated for the holidays and we love to take walks in the neighborhood. For all of these reasons and more, we are excited to move into our new pre-war apartment, built in the late 1890’s. The Gold Coast neighborhood does not require a car, and all of our favorite restaurants from Somerset to Velvet Taco, to Lou Malnati’s, are only a few minutes walk.

We love the space and will “live in every room” as our real estate agent Debbie encouraged us to do.

Floorplan
Floorplan of our new home

I’m looking forward to the decorating projects ahead and for sharing them here!

Bathroom tiles

I’m getting ready to update two bathrooms simultaneously. I have turned my back on gray walls but there are still so many tiles and finishes in this gray and white style since it has been so popular for the last 5 years+ and continues to be, but not for me.

I love the brass legs on this sink in the Waterworks showroom. The slab is thin and airy and the shelf is off the floor. I think this piece, as a single sink, would look great in a smaller bathroom.