Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Decor

The tree went up last weekend and as much as I love the uniqueness of having a white tree, it's lacking. I need to relax a bit and and throw many more ornaments on and perhaps introduce more colors. I will admit after the kids helped me decorate it and they headed to bed, there was some rearranging done to even it out- but I'm sure the most laid-back folks do this as well. Right?

Speaking of relaxing when it comes to decor: I'm so proud of myself. I let loose this year and allowed the kids to set up their Christmas miniatures on the credenza. Breathe. They loved spreading out the trees, the club house, and the many village people. Willy-nilly, no design plan. Breathe. Beckett even toppled over some trees to resemble hurricane Sandy damage. Why does that boy torment me? I have yet to touch it. Teeth clenched. Hives. 
God bless 'em.

By the way, the gold holly leaf wall hangings I scooped up at a roadside garage sale upstate in Cairo with Whitney & John for a mere 2 bucks. They totally caught my eye as something my Grandma would have hung for Christmas. They are stamped 1954. I have yet to spray the branch (recycled from Halloween decor) with fake snow.

I asked friends to send a quick pic of their holiday wreaths hoping, like dogs, they would somehow resemble the owners. What do you think? 

 The Pillsbury-Clarke's: S. Orange, NJ
Vibrant, modern and fun!

 The Holmes's: Martha's Vineyard, MA
Woodsy, earthy, textured.

The Bennett's: New York, NY
Classic. The tartan bow screams tradition.

 Maggie Pennoyer: Bridgeport, CT
Jazzy, bright, bold. (Handmade by her 14 year old niece!)

 The Trexler's: Malta, NY
Orderly, even, and everyone represented fairly.

Justin Nawrocki: Kyoto, Japan
Justin has limited wreath making supplies in Kyoto, so he fashioned a wall hanging using this tree-print fabric and hand sewed seed beads onto the branches. Craf-T!

The Beatman's: Norwalk, CT
hmmm, monochromatic, simple, minimal.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

More Furnishings Found

We have been trying to slowly furnish the house with age-appropriate pieces. Obviously we would love to purchase original furniture circa 1952, but it's a lot of work. Looking on Ebay, 1st Dibs, scrounging flea markets and estate sales takes a part-time job. Luckily there are so many reproduction companies out there, we can have the great design, but in great condition and it arrives at your door. Still, nothing beats the thrill of finding an original hidden in the piles of a warehouse in Bridgeport. Here are two examples of recent purchases: one found by scrounging and the other by one-click shopping.
Worth the Hunt:

Last spring we found a place in Bridgeport that carries MCM everything. They actually rent out their cool finds for movie props. It's called Marquis Modern and the owners, Clay & Karen are snow-birds that are passionate and extremely knowledgeable about the designers of the era. They are the ones we bought our credenza from. They offered free delivery in exchange for a house tour. Their own  MCM house burned down years ago and since then they live vicariously through their clients. Anyway, we snagged a set of original Hardoy chairs (butterfly chairs) by Jorge Ferrari-Hardoy for only $80. each. The difference between the originals and knock-offs is that these are made from one continuous piece of steel and many new ones fold. We ordered custom covers from Circa 50 in off-white canvas for under $200 total. We'll put them outside when the warm weather comes around again. The little black nubs you see half way up the legs are the original protectors that have since traveled up the legs and have been repainted in new positions.

These were worth the hunt especially since we have the architect's original 1952 advertisement for our home and the illustration featured a man relaxing on his deck in a butterfly chair (smoking a pipe and sipping a cocktail, of course).

One-Click Shopping:

We had been looking for a fun fixture for our entry. We were tempted to go with a George Nelson bubble, but they are very popular and expected for a house of this vintage, plus we wanted some color. We came across this FL/Y Suspension Lamp at Design Within Reach . It's was designed by Ferruccio Laviani in 2002, so not a piece from the 1950's, but we thought the shape, color and plastic material works well. They custom ordered it for us in orange since they only carry limited colors, I worked out a 15% discount and got it for $265. Super deal! It spans about 22 inches wide. Josh's Dad graciously installed it last weekend and we love it. I just wish the previous owners had installed the electric plate on the ceiling. They installed it directly on the wood beam and it is wider than the wood. None of the rooms have ceiling light fixtures aside from the living room, so they had to improvise. Since I have zero electrical skill, I'm just happy it is up and turns on. Major drawback: the clear acrylic surface is a crazy static source and collects every bit of dust, both inside and out. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween Decor

Thought I'd share some of my Halloween decor Beckett & Petra are thrilled to display. They start asking about it in early September and finally in early October, I'll lug the bins out. It's a slow process, but eventually there's a little Halloween all over the house. The credenza is now the holiday-displace-surface I have been missing. We're still adding...

This year we added a few things:
We found these great spider transfers from Martha Stewart at Party City. Sheet of 32 for $3.00. 
They worked great and are easily applied like a temporary tattoo. 

We grabbed this fun 'snow globe' from Homegoods and some other spooky props from Party City. My faves are these old-time portraits that change as you walk by:

This is a little sculpture I got from Josh's college dorm room 23 years ago when we first met. His father has a bunch of sculptor friends and this was in his Dad's collection, passed down to him. Lots of little skeletons & bird skulls stuck onto a wire armature in the shape of a house. I've always loved it. I'll add a photo of the cemetery Beckett set up in the front. I have to set up the tripod and take it at night. It's lit with candles and pretty spooky.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Closet Quick Fix

Asking the kids to put their shoes in the entry-way closet has become a hog pile of stinky shoes. They were also unable to hang up their coats and backpacks since the rod was too high, so those were flung on the floor or over the stair railing. Instead of waiting for an over-designed and costly solution, I ran to Bed Bath & Beyond yesterday. 

Hog Pile:

I grabbed 2 of these shoe racks that mount over the bar with velcro. Real Simple has a whole line of organizers now and they are really well made. I paid $24. each and there's still room for more pairs. 

I also grabbed 2 ready-made hook racks for $20. each and installed to the far left of closet for coats & bags. Now the kids can reach easily. Just thought I'd share since simple jobs like this thrill me. 

 Fire starter paper:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Trexler's Living Room Makeover

from That 70's Show to...

Modern Family:

Tuscan Yellow walls & boring red brick became...

Moonshine Grey and fresh white:

(a new fireplace door will be inserted and will overlap fireplace opening about 4 inches. It will cover the light creosote stain you can see a bit in these photos)

 I just spent the long weekend upstate at my sister Michelle's house to help makeover her living room. It's so funny- before the idea of the makeover, her living room was one of the most comforting places I've ever visited. I never really stopped and looked around at the dated brick and dreary wall color. The rest of her first floor rooms have slowly been updated and this was the last to go down. It is open to the kitchen, so we wanted to choose colors that could flow together. Michelle tends to choose warm tones, but I convinced her to go cool grey. It does change as the light in the room changes, as do most wall colors. But in the end we loved the light grey's calming effect.

Her amazing husband, Jim joined us for a kid-free paint fest all day Saturday. Prior to my arrival, they removed an old dingy brass set of fireplace doors that Burt Reynolds may have posed in front of. It was painfully slow prep: removing children, removing furniture, spackling, sanding, taping, drop-clothing, and finally cutting in the corners. We each tackled a portion of the room: Michelle on brick & mantle, Jim on ceiling & walls and I was on window trim and entry door. We agreed to quit by 6:30 pm and see where we stood. Needless to say, Sunday we were right back at it with a quick trip to Homegoods for some accessories. The few accessories seen on hearth and driftwood inside are meant for mantle, but it was too wet. We were still doing a few touch-ups today before I had to drive back to CT. It was a blast and so gratifying to see the room transform and to work with my sweet sister and brother-in-law. I can't wait to sit in front of a roaring fire sipping a glass of wine with them this winter. Hope this is inspiring for those wondering how to update a blah, dated room with overbearing brick. XO

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Petra has been throwing a royal fit at drop off each morning. It does not matter who brings her to school, she even fights with the neighbor when she tries to get her out of her car seat. Crying, screaming, clenching her fists around the car seat straps she digs her heels in deep. Once she is left there, her tears shut off, she begins to play right away with friends and she has a great day. We all conferred (Josh, neighbor, teacher & myself) and decided some type of reward system needed to be instilled.

I took Petra to the bead store where she was able to choose 6 charms. She could earn the charms if she had good drop offs for 3 days in a row. So far, so good. One more day to go to the horse charm.

This feels very familiar. I'm sure we've all tried these reward charts. Beckett had one next to the toilet to earn Match Box cars and Scout has a bowl of treats for each time she pees & poos outside. This time, I kept it simple, no Excel spreadsheet with rows and rows of dates to check. I'm realizing my kids work better in small increments of time and so do I.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Credenza Project

We finally found a credenza. It was a good size, style and price. I wasn't sure about so many drawers, but it could work. The biggest appeal was that is was to be hung from the wall. I loved the idea of it hovering over the floor. Installation day: we realized we would need to find many studs to attach it to. It weighs a ton. Problem was, we were installing it on a wall that  housed a pocket door- we found no studs. I jumped online & quickly found mid-century style legs, available in many lengths. They even installed the machine screws & and sold me the hardware needed for bottom of credenza- total cost of $68. See staining process below:

I set each leg upside-down on hunks of Play-Doh.

The stain was color and varnish all-in-one. I needed 2 coats.

Machine screws were already inserted.

Hardware installed & waiting for legs.

All set.

Friday, September 21, 2012

J.A., For Me? You Didn't!

Jonathan Adler came out with the sweetest collection of stickers and labels. Just for me I assume. I snatched the book up today for a mere $10.50. It made my day.

Many of you are aware of my love of anything Jonathan Adler. I wish I could decorate my entire world with his wares. Surpassing my love for anything J.A., is my deep, long relationship with stickers. We go way back. The major sticker heist of second grade defined my unhealthy urge to possess mass amount of them. Confession: I emptied my teacher's entire filing cabinet of carefully filed-by-occasion stickers into my Stayin' Alive back back. I was caught red handed, returned them to Ms. Thompson, head held very low. 

That incident increased my desire for anything sticker related: gift tags, label makers, wall decals. My parents could not afford to buy nonsense like stickers, so I set out to acquire them with any money I earned from babysitting. At the height of the craze, I was in 5th grade. My collection grew, but was never up to speed with the gals I like to call "The Gottesman Group". They know who they are. They would lug around overstuffed photo albums filled with sheets of stickers to trade at recess. Puffies, goggly eyes, Smurfs, metallic rainbows, scratch-n-sniff, Hello Kitty, all very desirable and expensive. You remember:

I would do just fine with my little clique who had similar sticker books of Halmark brand Thanksgiving turkeys, Easter bunnies, and incentive stickers peeled from homework "Great Job! Excellent!" I even collected the free stickers sent in the mail from The Wildlife Fund. They were cute. Can't forget the 2 bumper stickers that never got traded: "I heart NY" and "Keep on Truckin" I kept those towards the back of the book. I think my Grandma gave them to me thinking they were amazing jumbo stickers. Very sweet of her. 

Oh well, nothing makes me happier than finding something affordable, stylish and memory evoking. Thank you very much, J.A. these far surpass any sticker I could buy back in 5th grade and they are not for trade. I only wish they were scratch-n-sniff.