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Home Sweet Renovation

Whoa, who are you and why are you here? Do you come here often? I, sadly do not…as you can see. Unless you have a horrible memory and keep visiting and rereading posts saying, ‘Great new post Brittany!’. Which if this is the case, thank you! Hmm, so what have I been up to? Well, I started my own *small* company back in September which has kept me busy. What else…oh and we bought a house…in Massachusetts, but we still live in Brooklyn. Ahh yes, you see, right? No? Okay I’ll start from the top.

I’m a homey person…I love being at home, I love decorating a home, I like projects yada yada. But up to this point in my 9 year relationship with my husband we’ve lived with his parents and in three small rentals in London (okay, they weren’t all small, but we lived in the largest one with no money, and then they grew smaller as our funds got larger which was sort of torture). Then we got rid of basically all of our possessions in our move to NYC where we lived with two borrowed camp chairs and a mattress on the floor for months until some of our stuff turned up and our furniture orders finally started trickling in. Meanwhile, over the course of all these years we’d been saving for that eventual grown up house and my biological house clock was stamping it’s little foot. But, as I’ve probably mentioned I’m not the biggest fan of New York so I’m not keen on giving her a buncha money for a cockroach infested (okay our place is lovely and NO cockroaches, but is also rental only) apartment where renovations and all the fun stuff would be hampered by city regulations and 9,000 neighbors. Soooo, where does that take us? Two states away. To our second home…without owning the first home.

It all started with visits to our friends at the Briarcliff Motel in the Berkshires in Western Massaschusetts. We’d visit, we’d love and then we’d drive sadly back into the city. We joked on our first visit that we should just buy a place up there where you could get a giant house with land for a third of the price on a studio apartment down the street. That very night I started a realtor.com list and that became my go-to nighttime ritual where I scoured areas I’d never even been to before. Then, the day after I left my job last September, we went up to look at 12 properties. There were 2 that really stood out, but to be honest we had other things on our mind as the next day we picked up Tilly and then the day after I started my new company with work on the table. We visited the two houses again, but things just weren’t clicking on some of the finer details regarding internet connectivity etc. so we sat on it…and sat…and made random day trip drives into Connecticut to scout some neighborhood we’d seen online. We had this amazing imaginary neighborhood in mind, but weren’t actually finding it in the flesh. We toyed with an AMAZING really expensive property for a bit and then cooled on that as well when I smelled heart palpitations on the horizon. Then in April we were having lunch at Le pain Quitodien and I got an email for a price reduction on the property we still thought about from our initial viewings…I told David (the calm and cool one to my emotionally driven being) and he said, ‘Oh, let’s just make an offer.’ Ehhh…really?!? He decided that if we could get it for price X it would be a good deal and he set off on negotiations. Three days later we had a deal and then we had 2 days to get everything in order to make our paperwork/mortgage deadlines before we went away for my 30th birthday. Needless to say we did it and we closed 30 days later!

So how does this all work? Well, the house needs love…not crazy amounts of horrible-plumbing-not-working type of work, but just updating. We bought this as a project, a place to flee to when we can’t take the city and want fresh-air and maybe further down the line as a holiday rental. It’s also an investment of sorts, but not in the way that I have to only work in a palette of creams, granite and stainless steel to appeal to everyone, but more in the way that the housing market was low, mortgage rates were low and our money wasn’t earning anything sitting in the bank. The more I open my eyes to other renovation blogs, I’m finding a lot of people like Door Sixteen and Manhattan Nest to name just two, who are also doing the two home thing–which I suppose is reassuring! We’re happy that is a blend of work and redoing every room, but totally liveable in the meantime. Some rooms are just repainting and furnishing and others..buh bye.

I’m currently brainstorming the heck out of it–which you can view just a small portion of my visual mush here. The rest is clogging up my dropbox folder just pleading to be organized nicely. The first project which involves half of the ground floor and will result in tearing out the kitchen, a bathroom and reflowing things is set to get started in a few short weeks and nothing has been ordered yet! I do feel like I’m starting to make some headway into the style though (I’m definitely guilty of having way too many styles!), so now it’s just a case of trying to get personality and style, while making sure it’s not wacky. More to come as we develop the space…In the meantime, enjoy the good, the bad and the certainly ugly  of the ‘befores’ and I’ll go dream up a colour palette that is a lot less yellow, brown and burgundy.

 
 
 

A cabin holiday preview


I recently chronicled our adventures back at the family cabin (aka my dad & stepmum’s house…sounds more glamourous saying ‘the family cabin’) for my old friends Boden. It’s up on their blog now so you can see how Matilda & I celebrated on our time off at Thanksgiving. Here are a few outtakes, but check out the full post here!

 

 
 
 

In a New York Minute

Today, August 8th, is the one year anniversary of our move to New York City from lovely London…so how does that feel? Well, to quote an LCD sound system song, ‘New York I love you, but you’re bringing me down…’ except in our case just remove the love… New York you’re okay but you’re bringing me down. Perfect.

You see I don’t mean to make a once-in-a-blue-moon appearance and then just whine…but with all the hype over new York and everyone loving it soooo much you start to feel a bit alone, when you possibly, perchance, definitely don’t agree. What am I missing? It’s dirty, it smells ( because I’m a nice person and you might be snacking while reading this, I won’t be saying what it smells like. Lilac bushes and freshly cleaned laundry it is not). There are rats, and more rats.  And the amount of people that just give you the heebie jeebies is just, well, crazy. To say it doesn’t compare to London FOR ME is the understatement of the year. But we’ve done it, and that’s gotta count for something? ‘if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere’… like an advert for the armed forces. Yay, I’m lying in a barbed wire ditch. It can only go up from here, eh?

But it’s not like we haven’t made it– we have, there are positives. David and I both have good jobs, a beautiful apartment and for the past few months have found a place to call home that makes us feel happier. We’ve made DUMBO, Brooklyn our home, which is fantabulous on it’s name alone. Who doesn’t want to live in world of hat-wearing baby elephants?! But in actuality it stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. This also means that we are few short blocks from the Brooklyn bridge, from the water and from glorious views of the city. I know, you probably don’t believe that after the last little rant, but honestly the city is pretty from afar, with the statue of liberty waving her little flashlight in the distance, the sun setting behind the Financial district, the Empire state building and Chrysler building peeking out of the skyline and saying ‘hello!’. Whew, I feel a bit calmer already. I’ll detail DUMBO a bit more in the future, but it’s very creative, great industrial buildings and a regeneration with some serious love behind it.

 

And lastly, the thing making me avoid Pillar Box Post for months. A bit of sad news…our little Olive Juice, the french bulldog life and rumpled-faced-soul, of our little family is no longer with us. In April we had an emergency visit to the vet and sadly our little girl had to stay there to go to sleep. It was in connection with her back issues we first had a year ago, right after we moved to New York. It’s been seriously hard for David and I to get over not having her around…and we still miss her every. Day. When you aren’t satisfied with other areas of life, sweet puppy breath and kisses on your face is always an instant soother. Sigh. There I got that out, not that most of you don’t know that already..it was some how a mental struggle to come out with that on here. She was quite the star of PillarBoxPost…so here are some of her best bits… biking around Kensington Gardens , relaxing around the house , travelling in England , visiting Rye England , and her introduction.

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A quick list of  where and what we’ve been up to this past year, as per the photos above.
Starting in the Top, going left to right…

——— FIRST SET ———

ROW 1: 1. Two weeks after arriving in New York we ‘survived’ an earthquake and a hurricane hitting NYC. Yay for crazy Northeast weather! | 2. Our second flat on the upper west side. | 3. Oh Olive, and your crazy outfits…silly girl

Row 2: 1. Christmas tree hunting, on a real life tree farm…yay for being back in Central PA. | 2. Family photo, frenchie fur babies and all! | 3. All ready for the ‘First Annual Forest Friends Christmas Eve Feeding’ which consisted of taking the deer and other cute animals of the forest a lovely christmas dinner of carrots, corn etc. at midnight on Christmas Eve

Row 3: 1. Taking Olive out for our annual New Years walk, but bag style. | 2. Gondolas…indoors…waaaaitaminute? This must be crazy-vegas. | 3. Out at the Grand Canyon, right before the hail blizzard started.

Row 4: 1. Yep, that hail blizzard has now started…very impressive my face doesn’t look like swiss cheese after that encounter! | 2. Zion National Park, yes that IS a real photo. Places like this DO exist. Wow. | 3. And yep, these little sheepy guys do too. Right next to the road! Saw a roadrunner after this, it was like Wild animal Bingo.

——— SECOND SET ———

Row 1: 1. Brooklyn Bridge with the lovely Clare. | 2. David and Olive…oh she’s. so. happy. Can’t you tell? | 3. We fled for some winter sun down to the Riveria Maya, Mexico. Beautiful eco resort full of canalways, crocodiles and other potentially less dangerous things. This is the view of our casita, aka adorable little building, on the canal, taken from our nature boat tour.

Row 2: 1. Lunchtime at work–fabulous view of the Empire State building. | 2. Our UWS flat, or one corner of it, at least. | 3. My 29th birthday at the Standard Grill, where I made a pact with myself to make a penny floor in my imaginary house.

Row 3: 1. Drinks after work…palm trees and that same pesky little Empire State building. It’s everywhere. | 2. ….like right here…in between the arches, do you see it, yep it’s piercing the Manhattan bridge in DUMBO | 3. View of DUMBO and the Brooklyn Bridge from a Manhattan rooftop.

Row 4: 1. Finally had our first trip back to England for a few days…just in time to catch some beautiful summer fields | 2. …and take some random pictures of ourselves on said train | 3. and catch the London Olympics site, sadly just 2 weeks too early.

 
 
 

Mix.Match.Wrap.

P

Perhaps this is out of season, but just came across this selection of double sided wrapping papers from Turnstyle Studio and had to bookmark them. I’m such a sucker for clashing/coordinated wrappings like this. Bit of mix and match never hurt anyone…unless of course they were mixing and matching violent weapons. Then not so much. When in doubt stick with illustrated birds, pinecones and a dashing of patterns and textures!

thanks to the dieline

 
 
 

Panda-monium

Sorry for the absence lately…I’ve been feeling under the weather  (as is everybody around us at the moment!). Not a whole lot has been making me cheery other than this excellent news story from China that ran a few weeks ago. In an attempt to limit the exposure that Panda bears have with humans— their caretakers and doctors are dressing up in giant panda bear suits! It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen these photos I can’t help smiling! It reminds me of this great commercial for John West Salmon that we watched in advertising class in university. I’m hoping that if my cold forces me to visit a doctor this week that they are dressed up either as me…or perhaps just some other random animal…perhaps a giraffe? It would certainly make me feel better!

thanks to the telegraph for the images/article/laughter

 
 
 

Time for fall…



I’m a wee bit confused. Back in January I posted about art of a typographic nature…and about it being created by a company called Curb. But now I found Anna Garforths site and it looks like the credit is owed to her for being the creative behind the amazing moss typography on the side of buildings. I still haven’t quite figured out who did/what/where why BUT I love her work. Enough said. And I’m thinking on guerilla leafing Kensington Garden Gates this weekend, who’s with me?