Around the House

November 17th, 2012 | Posted by Jill in home | instagram | limestone renovation - (2 Comments)


A few months back, I believe I may have declared war on the omnipresent list of projects in my life. “I have PLANS and I am STICKING TO THEM,” I said. Oh, Jill of five months ago. You are so precious. Look at you and your motivation. So young and naive.

In spite of my rosy-hued optimism back in June, let’s just say that at least I made an attempt. My blogs about the house and our ongoing renovation have been woefully lacking and much fewer and further between than I hoped, but at least I gave it the ol’ college try this summer. Back in May, I conspired with one of my best friends to come up with a list of things I’d like to get done on the house. Jen helped talk me through what I’d ideally like to have done first, so I could feel a big sense of accomplishment and maybe – just maybe – finish a project.

So, to start with something fairly quick for an easy win, we decided I should start by hanging up more of the mirrors and artwork that have basically been collecting dust sitting around the house for the last two years. We started with the big round CB2 mirror in the dining room above, which we had to anchor through plaster into 120 year-old brick. The blue version has since been discontinued, but they still have it in white. It’s awesome. And then, on a recent cleaning spree, a bunch of my lamps ended up moving around the house. I painted this vintage brass lamp green a few years back and I’m pretty sure the flying eagle belongs here. Easy. One project down.

Next up, artwork. Now, this project has had a little less success because I’m so indecisive. I know that furniture will ultimately move around and new art will join the family, so I’m a little hesitant to go drilling loads of big holes into our beautifully refinished plaster. Fortunately, I’ve had a ton of luck with the 3M Command hooks and strips. For whatever reason, the hooks seem to work better for my wooden frames and anything on which I’ve already installed picture hanging wire. For most of my smaller art and anything in a metal frame, the small and medium strips work. The big strips have worked well on my posters — all the way up to 18″x24″! I have kind of a silkscreen obsession, so the no-damage hanging is wonderful. I buy them in bulk on Amazon because they’re way less expensive than most stores I’ve seen them at here in NYC.

In order to tackle this project, for a few of my newer silkscreens I had to pick out frames first. I’ve had lots of friends and fellow photographers ask if I have any recommendations for custom frames, and YES. American Frame. I am in no way affiliated with them except as a supremely happy customer. Over the years I’ve ordered many, many frames from them (yep, lots of silkscreens) and always been happy. You can order completely custom sizes (lots of colors, too) and the prices are reasonable – though you do have to assemble yourself. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a cinch.

That’s a print from Jaime Derringer of Design Milk in the photo to the left, above. She had a sale on Fab.com some time ago and I just had to. The triangles are simple, but the tilt of the geometric design is AWESOME. I feel like my right leg has grown a couple inches every time I come home. In a good way. And there at the top of my stairs between the bathroom and the guest bedroom, I hung prints I’ve had several years — from Bee Things, RADROBOT, and Scott Parry. Yes, that is a smiling orange and a horse with laserbeams coming out of its eyes, turning on the hall lights. (Maybe someday I’ll take photos with something besides Instagram to do them some justice.)

I still have loads of prints and silkscreens to hang, but at least I got started. One and a half projects down.

Jen and I also decided I should focus on the master bedroom this summer. For nearly two years, Zach and I have been living without hanging storage or real closets. Folding laundry has been a nightmare, because we couldn’t really hang anything up. Suits and dress shirts were hung on hooks; the back of our doors were utterly ridiculous. It’s shameful. Everyone I’ve ever told this to raises their eyebrows in disbelief (and silently judges).

Part of the problem was just in the planning — I was pretty well decided on the PAX system from IKEA because I’ve heard great things. But there are virtually limitless options between the sizes and frame colors and doors and racks and shelves and pants hangers and on and on. Plus it was almost humorous — once I decided where we’d install the wardrobe, I realized the wall was basically a half inch short of allowing for the full six-frame configuration I’d planned. Ha, ha, ha IKEA. You get the last laugh.

28 boxes and 2 weekends of assembly later, we had our giant closet and LOADS of extra storage space. Plus, I hung another big print from Felix Waser on the wall. Another project down!

Now the view from bed is priceless. Sometimes I just lay in there pretending to read a magazine while I really just admire the new closet and dream of all the other ways we can get organized. Kind of like this guy, who just watched and napped while we were hard at work assembling the monstrosity.

And now that I look at this picture, ugh. I guess I should caulk that baseboard.

Another one for the list.

Two Years

June 24th, 2012 | Posted by Jill in home | instagram | limestone renovation - (2 Comments)

When you buy an old house, there’s really no advice in the world that can prepare you. It tests your patience, your will, your wallet, and your relationship. And if you’re planning any amount of DIY, well let me warn you first-hand. There may be loads of glossy magazines and well-curated design blogs with great tips on refinishing floors, choosing the perfect paint color, and planning the renovation of your dreams. But last I checked, there aren’t many helpful tutorials on coping with lowered expectations, disappearing motivation, and letting go of perfectionism. Those are things you have to learn for yourself. And it’s not easy. Seriously. It’s not easy.

But for those of you afflicted with hopeless romanticism and a love of historic architecture, there is good news. Renovating an old house can also be one of the most beautiful experiences, once you get over yourself. Today marks my two-year anniversary of being a homeowner — and I’ve learned so much. Looking back on this past year, I see so many projects that haven’t quite made it out of my head and into my home yet. But through photographs, I do see that we’ve made lots of progress and for that I am thankful. Some weeks, it’s just enough to get the house cleaned and the laundry ready before a marathon of work or travel. Quite frankly, it took a hurricane to slow me down enough to paint a wall in my dining room.

Fortunately, my house is wayyyy more patient than I am.


I’m hoping this summer will change things. This is the summer of lists, and of getting things done. I will pick up a paintbrush and I will finish projects. I’m looking at you, master bedroom and kitchen. You are so going down (and getting pretty). I have PLANS and I am STICKING TO THEM.

This is the summer we will finally have a closet suitable for clothes storage, instead of pathetic hanging hooks everywhere. This is the summer we finally install door hardware on the bathroom door so our guests don’t think we’re lunatics. This is the summer that we cut down our backyard jungle.


Get ready, House. Year Three is coming.

come on over to the dark side

August 30th, 2011 | Posted by Jill in limestone renovation - (5 Comments)

Last week after the earthquake, Jen and I decided we needed to spend more time together before another natural disaster hit, so we made plans to spend a girls’ night in on Friday. Little did we know that a hurricane had other ideas for the weekend.

I convinced Jen to come over and drink wine motivate me while I finally took the plunge and cracked open the cans of paint waiting patiently in my basement (since April, cough). As you might’ve seen on Twitter, I shared a highly flattering picture of Jen’s taping skills to prove her hands-on participation. Thanks to Jen for the thrill. And all my straight lines because I hate taping.

I’ve been wanting to paint a wall charcoal ever since I saw how beautiful it was at D16 and SFGIRLBYBAY. But it takes some courage to commit to a black wall like that. It’s intimidating. I know, I know – I painted the bathroom black. And the front door (eventually) hot pink black. And our kitchen cabinets black. I might be slightly obsessed. Whatever.

One Hurricane Irene and approximately 27 hours of bad tv later, two coats of charcoal paint had gone up, plus trim and cove ceiling. The scary wind and rain couldn’t stop me!

the dining room got a coat of paint

Oh, yeah. And did I mention I picked up a set of vintage Bertoia chairs on eBay? They came all the way from New Orleans. I’m pretty sure the furniture designer who powdercoated them for me thought I was nuts when I asked him if they made hot pink powder. But — hoooo boy. I think he was just as psyched as me. Is it wrong to daydream about chairs?

(Pssst – he has more chairs. Leave a comment or tweet me and I’ll put you in touch!)

dining room makeoverdining room makeover

The teak sideboard, table, and chairs take on so much more of a reddish hue and seem so much warmer with the high-contrast paint. I really need to follow The Brick House’s wood restoring tutorial and not be lazy. But that would take some effort. Hmm…

dining room makeover

I haven’t hung any art or mirrors yet, but I’m making plans. Strictly monotone or bright and colorful? I have to decide. Either way, I’m already in love with the high-contrast look, so I can’t wait to finish the room. By day, the colors seem more dramatic and by night it’s cozier and warmer. Another +1 for black paint!

For those interested in the specifics, the paint is BM “Wrought Iron,” in eggshell Natura. Trim is BM “Simply White,” in satin. And those are zinnias from my garden. I love them.

dining room makeover

Today is an exciting day: it marks the one-year anniversary that I became a homeowner!

I vividly remember trekking to Midtown from DUMBO, the anxious trip to the bank, that crazy feeling of writing the biggest check of my life. Heading to the closing office, meeting the daughter of the former owners and talking with her attorney about how the ol’ neighborhood used to be. Signing a million documents. Sipping an iced coffee to calm my nerves. Hugging my attorney after it was all over because she was amazing and patient and helped answer all my questions through the process. And finally getting those keys!

Looking back, it’s so surreal. I still pinch myself sometimes when I walk in the front door. I feel so blessed to have found a house that I truly love, with beautiful bones and a lovely family history. And I am so thankful for all the amazing renovation and design bloggers that have provided so much inspiration and confidence through my most wide-eyed and panicky moments. The internet totally, totally rules.

So today, I wanted to share a few of my recent Instagram photos of day-to-day life at the house, and raise this year’s iced coffee to toast the best (and scariest) year of my life… so far!