Archive for the ‘Nesting’ Category

A few projects finished over the weekend have given the living room some life.  We repainted an old mirror using matte black spray paint and propped it up atop the newly remade credenza.  I hit my favorite flower shop, Fleur de Lis (close to Enoch Pratt Library’s central branch)  for a couple of stems to fill our favorite vase.  I let the florist choose and she selected stems that matched the hues in the vase’s glaze, yellow and reddish-brown.  Same principle as choosing a mat for framing art work, I suppose.  People usually make the mistake of letting the color palette in the room guide these choices.

The new cover for the butterfly chair arrived from Circa 50.  The chair is now disarmingly comfortable.  I actually fell asleep in it after I put the baby down for a nap.  The leather sling really cradles you.  It had been such a disaster, what with the ripped canvas cover which must have been way too small.  The new cover is terrific, top quality.

Amazing what a few pillows will do.  The sofa upholstery is wool so the cotton cushion covers are really a necessity and not just fluff.  The gray I am sure is here to stay.  I am not sure about the green plaid, however.  We’ll see.


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Sharing walls means sharing a lot of things you probably would rather not share.  Smells, sounds, vermin of all sorts (including your neighbor’s loud or otherwise unruly house guests).  A row house offers less of a buffer from neighbors than condo, lofts, and most apartment buildings.  Remember those college dormitory rules enforced by your quad’s resident assistants?  Those rules–no loud music after 10PM, for example–were put in place so that you could enjoy a certain quality of life.  During your college years this meant study and sleep.  As a home owners we expect a great deal more by way of comforts as well as consideration from our neighbors.  And, we should.  So, here is a refresher in living together in harmony.

Row House Rules:

1. Keep it quiet after 10PM.  Vacuuming, loud music, drunken twister, teaching your dog to bark, and movies in full cinematic surround sound  can all wait until tomorrow.

2. Try to follow your city’s trash schedule.  If you leave your trash out for a full week you’ll do nothing but invite rats.  Not everyone wants to feed the rats.

3. I like your dog, really I do, just not enough to clean his poo from the “patch of grass-where a tree used to be-before the city removed all the trees on our block” in front of my stoop.

4. Cut your grass for crying out loud.

5. Ask your guests to ring your bell or maybe even give you a quick phone call instead of honking the car horn to signal that they’ve arrived.

6. The back yard is for barbeques, picnics and parties–not the front stoop.

7. Thanks for your consideration but if I want to listen to music I’ll do so on my own.  Please, don’t play DJ and put your speakers in the window.

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The living room is coming along now that our chair is back home from the upholstery shop.  I found the linen canvas at a retailer in Williamsburg, VA that specializes in 17th to early 19th century fabrics and notions.  They cater to types who sew historic fashions.  Maybe for RenFest or Civil War re-enactments ?  Upholstery-weight linen prices can get silly, but we were able to swing $16/yd.– a very reasonable price.  I thought that William would be bummed about the switch from orange to natural.  We both like it much better with the new linen.   Before the redo we thought the old fabric was salvageable.  But, after a professional cleaning it showed plenty signs of wear and tear.

I like the idea of doing a mid-century chair, a Milo Baughman we found on ebay,  in a traditional fabric.  The linen has a lot of texture and heft but it’s nice a soft to the touch.  You can see that we’ve unpacked our Noguchi lamp.  It’s  enjoying the sunlight, just hanging out in the corner by the window.

Maurice at the House of Art in Federal Hill did a terrific job for under half the price of other quotes I received.   The entire project cost less than a new chair at would at say CB2 or Room and Board, and it’s exactly what I wanted!

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Our hairpin leg project is complete!  After spying these great hairpin legs in ReadyMade magazine we decided to use them to give our needy walnut credenza and matching walnut chest a makeover.   We bought the chest at Oakenshawe in Hamden and the owner threw in the credenza, or long dresser, for free since it was missing its base.  Here’s how we did it:

We removed the wooden frame that used to support the credenza’s missing base.   On the smaller chest we removed the base and the support.  About an inch in from the edge, we screwed the hairpin legs into the wooden under-frame that supports the drawers.  Going in an inch assures that the metal screw plate on the legs won’t be visible and keeps you from screwing into the thinner woodwork on the sides of the case.  You’ll split the wood if you do.  We repeated this on all four corners, using a level to ensure that the legs were square.

Once the legs were secure and level we applied felt pads to very ends to protect our wooden floors.  Keep in mind, the legs didn’t come supplied with screws.  Use your judgement and/or help from the staff at your local hardware store to purchase the appropriate screws for your project.

The old knobs on both the chest and credenza were plastic painted to look like metal.  I searched and searched for just the right replacements and am glad that I waited  it out.  I ended up  finding new cast metal drawer pulls on ebay, 18 for $10.  The  new pulls are contemporary but look vintage and I’ve yet to see anything like them elsewhere.  We had a hard time finding a match for the raw steel legs…a deep matte gray.  Installing them was easy, thankfully.  The old hardware and the new pulls both had a 3 and 3/4 inch spread from center to center.   Only the top drawers, which had single knobs, required newly drilled holes.  All-in-all the project took less than an hour to complete.

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needy chest of drawers

Sometimes a great deal can turn out to be not such a great deal.  This past summer we picked up a very needy walnut chest of drawers with plans to make it over.  The base is missing and the cheesy plastic goldtone knobs and pulls drive me crazy. Six months later, we’ve yet to agree on hardware and supports.   “How about walnut caster? … a salvaged utility dolly?… maybe we can build legs or a plank?  All dead in the water options.  Then I happened upon these hairpin legs while looking over a spread on Jacqueline & George Schmidt of Screech Owl Design  in the Feb./March issue of ReadyMade magazine.

raw steel hairpin legs

They are available online at hairpinlegs.com and come in raw or stainless steel.  I thought the iron would look best and ordered eight ten inch legs on sale for $10 each.  We also have a taller chest in the room that will get the same legs.  To think we were just about to break down and order custom Portica or Parsons bases from Room and Board.  Whew!  Good save, ReadyMade.   With the new legs the chest will sit at 32″, good height for use as a credenza.

iron oriental cabinet handle

I’m leaning toward these ring pulls I found at whitechapel-ltd.   We both like them, but I’m still a bit unsure, though.  They are way too expensive and I have not been able to find a good sub.  The legs have shipped and I’ll have my hands on them this week, hopefully.   I’ll decide on the pulls then.  Can’t wait.

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Square One

view of our living room from front door

Welcome.  When my husband William purchased our 1900 Baltimore rowhouse ten years ago, it was a dump.  He began work back then, all by himself, intending to rent the house out.  Things changed.  We got married  and now we have baby Maxwell. We decided to make this place a home instead of a rental property.  William has done an unbelievable job of renovating the space.  He refinished the heart pine floors, exposed the brick, knocked out walls, put up walls, rebuilt the staircase, salvaged the cast iron tub in the bathroom, ripped out the vestibule…the list goes on and on.  With a good deal of the bones set in place (I’ve been reading Apartment Therapy) we are now working on making the space comfortable.  We’ll  start with the living room.


a view from the front window

So here we are at square one.   Everything in here is second-hand, save the hemp and leather rag rug.  All of the upholstered pieces are in good condition which means I have to find a way to work with the orange wool hopsack on the chair.   The butterfly chair, a birthday present from William, has a canvas cover that has seen better days.  It didn’t fare well in the washing machine.

this butterfly chair has seen better days

That Abraham Rattner artist proof of “Boy and Turtle”  in the background, another birthday present,  is really inspiring me. William loves color.  I think we’ll have to rely on an abundance of color to modernize the 70’s color scheme we’ve got going on now.

walnut chest holds "vintage" stereo equipment and woodblock prints

"vintage" stereo equipment

William’s “vintage” stereo equipment is not going anywhere.  It sounds great.  I love my woodblock prints.  Hopefully when we’ve finished, the living room will be stimulating and fun for baby Maxwell.  It should be a cozy place for  grown-ups to relax, read and listen to music.   The room is about 17 feet by 13 feet, with lots of odd space hogging angles and other limitations.

hemp and leather rag rug

exposed brick and wool upholstery

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