Posts Tagged decorating

Report from the Domestic Homefront

Apartment Update - Living Room From the Kitchen
The new, more decorated, apartment.

Decorating projects have a way of sneaking down to the bottom of my to do list and hiding there. “Oh, I’ll get to that some day,” I’ll say, as I contemplate simple projects like hanging pictures of purchasing new throw pillows. But “some day” is never today.

Thankfully, I managed to carve out a couple days worth of time over the past few weekends to spend doing nothing but apartment things – and I’m so happy I did. Slowly but surely, the place is coming together and feeling much more like a home. It’s amazing what hanging some pictures, getting some chairs, and putting up curtains will do.

Since people wanted to know how the decorating process is going along, here is where I’m at:

Apartment Update - Livingroom

Living room. God I wish people could actually sit in that chair.

The living room, as it currently stands. I love the pictures behind the couch, I love how the curtains finish the space, and I love the way the white chairs looks – even if one of the legs is broken and you can’t actually sit in it. I hate the country-style coffee table, but at least it doubles as a step stool. I am trying to incorporate some of the orange and blue art pieces from my old bedroom into the green and brown decorating scheme of the living room. It’s still pretty green, but I actually think the blue and orange collage over the couch looks pretty nice.

Apartment Update - Pictures

A closeup of the pictures over the couch.

See, don’t they look pretty?

Apartment Update - Chair

A detail from the living room

This is actually an inexpensive folding chair from Ikea that a friend gave me –  I think the pillow makes it look quite nice. The fabric hanging on the back is actually a dishtowel from Skinny laMinx, which I want to stretch over a frame and hang as an art piece. That is one of those “some day” projects.

Apartment Upate - Bed

The gentleman on the bed is Brown Teddy.

This isn’t the greatest photo, but I seriously love my comforter – it’s one of the Dwell Studio designs for Target (and I bought it with a gift certificate that was a housewarming present from my sister. Thanks Bri!). My next project is to make some kind of headboard thing for the bed that will help ground it a bit – I’m thinking I may either use fabric and hang it over the bed, or make some kind of mobile project. Another “some day” project.

Apartment Update - Table and Chairs

"Dining Room."

My “dining room.” The picture, from The Small Stakes, is another orange/blue piece that I’ve had to incorporate into the apartment. The tablecloth, which I obviously sewed for a square table, is a bed covering from Urban Outfitters – but I’d actually like to replace it with something less busy. The table is from Craigslist, and the chairs I found on the Cleveland Park listserve (and many thanks to Elpis and Justice, who generously volunteered to pick them up with me in her car). I’d like to recover them at some point.

Apartment Update - Cards

Can you spot the pop-up cupcake card, the ruby slippers card, and the musical Harry Potter card?

My fabulous collection of Birthday cards!

Apartment Update - Plant

The succulent soldiers on.

My succulent, which is doing pretty well on my sunny windowsill. It always amazes me that it’s still alive.


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Weekly Roundup: Giant Chocolate Rabbit Edition


Because every Friday needs a giant chocolate rabbit.

Good morning! This giant chocolate rabbit was at the house where Wonk The Plank and I had a fantastic Easter dinner. Usually you only see giant chocolate rabbits in candy stores, so imagine my surprise when we were greeted by this fellow. Many thanks to the lovely Tabatha, for putting the giant-ness of the rabbit in perspective.

After eating so many cupcakes this week, I’m taking a break from baking for the next few days. This is difficult, since I’ve already seen several recipes this week that I really want to try.

Tempting recipes from the blog-o-sphere:

  • The first is from Lemmonex, who is fed up with the internets and making sugar and spice shortcake with peaches and berries to channel her frustration. Nice to know others engage in the art of stress baking.
  • I am intrigued with the Pastel De Tres Leches, over at Not Quite Nigella. It’s a Latin American cake, soaked in milk and topped with a whipped cream frosting and pomegranate seeds. Lovely.
  • I don’t want to make this, one I just want to look at it: cake porn from Rose Levy Beranbaum.

And in non recipe-related news:

  • Reading story after story about “teabagging” has put me off tea for the next month.
  • Apartment Therapy DC reviews Apartment Zero, a home furnishings and all-around cool stuff store in Penn Quarter.
  • In a bizarre piece of fashion-related news (kind of), George Will unleashes a tide of hatred on blue jeans. Woah. Is someone still bitter that his jeans weren’t “cool enough” in high school or something? We Love DC thinks this is a stupid waste of ink. So do I.
  • Doing some spring cleaning and redecorating? Check out this affordable art from DesignSponge.

Happy Friday!

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Top Design Season Finale: Suprisingly Snark-Free


Nathan (left), Ondine (center), and Preston (right) face off in the Top Design Season Two Finale.

My God, so many things came to an end this week: the election, The Washington Post Cupcake Wars, the ModernDomestic Presidential Cookie Bake Off, and now Top Design. God only knows what I’ll do with myself in the next few weeks, without the plethora of competitions to command my attention (Top Chef, perhaps?).

So did anyone else think that this show was a little . . . bland, without Eddie? I have to say that, even though I hated him, I also loved to hate him. The episode was so empty without the bitching, the Martha talk, and the snide comments. Now I feel like such a hypocrite! Really, he was the only piece of casting gold on this show (Nathan is amusing, but a little too understated to command the show like Eddie did), and it’s amazing how light the program feels without his giant bitchy star.

Also, I wasn’t pleased that the designers only had four days to design an entire house. Please. Last season the two finalists got to design loft apartments (which I bet were smaller than these three bedroom houses) and they had at least a couple of months to do it in. The result? The finalists created some really great spaces, and you were able to see what they were capable of.

But, like so many of the challenges this season, the finale was much more about time management than it was about design. This became extremely evident as we watched Ondine desperately paint valances, while Preston went through his massive to-do list with a strange and robotic calm. The final designs were good, but they could have been so much better if the designers had more time. I think the season finale missed that big payoff, that big sense of “wow, this is what they can really do” that you get when you watch the runway shows on Project Runway. But enough of my soapbox . . .

Well, okay, there was a little Eddie . . .

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Happy Halloween!

Halloween Table

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween ModernDomestic readers! I hope that everyone will be out doing something to celebrate the holiday tonight. I plan on sitting outside our apartment building and handing out candy to trick-or-treaters with my coworker and Wonktheplank (later, we’ll possibly be checking out the insanity that will be Adams Morgan, mostly to see which drunk 22-year-old has the sluttiest outfit. We’ll see how we feel).

We had a couple people over last weekend to watch Rosemary’s Baby, eat cupcakes, and drink some Octoberfest brews. Wonktheplank and I had an awesome time putting together Halloween decorations for our apartment. In fact, I’m so proud of our little projects that I had to share them with you.

Wonktheplank watched about 10 minutes of Saw II last weekend on cable, and was inspired to create an elaborate torture device for my stuffed hippo out of kitchen utensils. It involved ice dripping through a strainer, which collected in a container, which rested on a see-saw, which (when it was heavy enough), flipped a trap door, which the hippo fell through and hung himself. It wasn’t even funny how much Wonktheplank enjoyed coming up with this creation, although I felt bad for my poor hippo, who never did anything to deserve such a fate.

Hippo Torture Device

Hippo awaits his doom in the Saw-inspired torture device.

More decorations (less savage than this one).

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Top Design: Apocalypse Edition

Ondine's room was my favorite. I just love that wallpaper.

This was the apocalypse episode of Top Design. Ondine rose from the dead! Nathan was crippled by the evil powers of Granny Chic! Eddie met his doom! Maybe next week Top Design will feature zombies careening out of cemeteries and taking over the earth.

This latest episode of Top Design (the creatively named “House Challenge”) started off, again, with Eddie bitching about how he doesn’t like Preston. My god, so what else is new? I’ve asked this question before, but it bears repeating: what is so awful about Preston? And why must they harp on this week after week? Sure, the guy seems a little reserved, but is he really deserving of such scorn?

After the obligatory Preston bitch-fest, we move to Eddie’s birthday celebration, which is the night before their final challenge. After Eddie eats his cake and opens his immaculately wrapped (we’re talking a Martha Stewart wrapping job here) gifts, he, Ondine, and Nathan hang out and drink margaritas, while Preston shuffles off to bed. The producers use this little episode to illustrate how isolated Preston is, but I think he’s probably just exhausted. Aren’t they all sleep deprived? If I were there I’d be trying to get as much sleep as possible.

While Preston sleeps, the rest of them drink a whole bunch, and Nathan gets the brilliant idea to do an impersonation of a “Japanese Top Design” Host, all decked out in what I presume is Ondine’s clothing. I can’t really describe his impersonation because it made no sense. I’m sure it was really funny to the three of them because they were drunk. However, like much drunk humor, it’s merely awkward and confusing for the sober.

Next it’s time to find out their challenge—and, guess what, it actually involves designing rooms! My God, three challenges in a row that are more about design that gimmicks! For the grand finale, the three final contestants will get to make over an entire house. So for this challenge, the contestants will make over one room in the finale house.

Is Eddie breaking down? Or just yawning?

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Top Design: Bedrooms on Acid, Martha Stewart Showroom Frenzy, and Product Placements Galore!

The winning room. Could it possibly be a (gasp) hotel lobby?

I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you. I actually found last night’s Top Design pretty entertaining (gasp of astonishment). I mean, it wasn’t Project Runway or The Real (crazy) Housewives of New York City entertaining, but it was on par with a mediocre episode of Top Chef. And for Top Design, that’s saying a lot.

Yes, there was bitching, but there was also design! The designers designed rooms that didn’t look like crap! There was an Eddie smackdown! The Pop Design was actually interesting! This is not the Top Design I’ve come to know and . . . kind of like.

In week’s challenge (“Light It Up”), the contestants had to design rooms around chandeliers. Really, really fancy, Swarovski crystal chandeliers, which no one would ever actually own because high-end stuff like this looks ridiculous anywhere other than a fancy hotel bar. I think chandeliers like these masquerade as high-end design objects, but in reality they’ve been created to subconsciously make you buy a whole lot of overpriced cocktails.

The episode started off with more of Andrea’s whining— yes, was more whining than last week. Part of me feels bad for her, because the competition has killed her confidence and I know what that feels like. But the other, meaner, part of me wants her to either stop whining and get her act together, or go home. I mean, it’s reality TV. Hasn’t she seen an episode of Top Chef? Reality TV shows judges aren’t chosen because they hand out tea and cookies to contestants.

As if Andrea’s wet-dishrag act wasn’t enough, we also have to listen to Eddie bitching about how Preston doesn’t know how to do the dishes. Um, I don’t get it. Apparently Preston’s big offense is that he put soap in the dishwasher and then turned it on. Huh? Maybe Eddie could come to DC and do my dishes for me, since apparently I too do not know the “real” way to run my dishwasher.

An actually interesting challenge! Who knew it could happen on Top Design?

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Top Design: Space Age Rooms Evoke Yawns, Heart Attacks

The winning room. Maybe it's polished, but that doesn't make it interesting.

Wednesday on Top Design, the challenge was to design “The Room of the Future.” True to the title, the designers created rooms for the year 2108, proving once again that the Magical Elves production team isn’t exactly pushing the envelope on Top Design.

Seriously, this would have been an “innovative” challenge at the 1939 World’s Fair. Even Disney Land’s “House of the Future” closed in 1967 people! Is this really the best they could come up with?

Yawn-evoking concept aside, I liked that the designers worked separately in this challenge, so we really got to see what they were capable of. And because everyone was working separately, the drama factor was definitely down, which was a nice respite from last week’s bitch-fest. After all, watching crazy people scream at each other for little to no reason is what The Real Housewives of Atlanta is for.

Granted, Ondine ran around like a chicken with her head cut off during most of the episode, but I would do that too if I lost my shopping list in Ikea. In the final frantic minutes of the challenge Ondine also spilled varnish on Eddie’s white couch, which the previews tried to portray as “sabotage,” but it was obviously an accident. And in the end, the judges didn’t care about it at all.

The Good, the Bad, and the Dull

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HGTV’s Top Three Worst Design Trends

If you too are tired of hearing how drapes “soften” a room, or hearing your coworkers go on and on about their design “inspiration objects,” then I suggest you check out this New York Times essay on how  TV-decorating mania has spawned an overabundance of home decor terms.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m interested in decorating as much as the next homemaking-minded gal, and I’m generally a fan of HGTV. Even if I too find the constant talk of “focal points” wearying, I like that HGTV encourages us to use our imaginations and really pay attention to our living spaces. (Side note: I also think HGTV fueled problems in the housing market by encouraging people to view their houses as investments rather than homes, but that’s a subject for a whole other post).

Still, this article reminded me that the world would be better off without some decorating concepts embedded in HGTV dogma.

The Top Three Worst HGTV Decorating Trends

1. Water Features. I’ve never understood HGTV’s obsession with water features. According to HGTV, water features belong in every room of the house. But why would I want a fountain in my bedroom where it will get the rug wet? Or in the living room where guests could knock it over? I’m not against a tasteful fountain in the backyard, and I have very fond memories of my grandmother’s goldfish pond, but I swear to God every HGTV room has some kind of cheap fountain that looks like it would be a pain to keep clean. I’m sorry, but I don’t want an ugly fountain taking up space in my home, especially if it serves no discernible purpose.

2. Outdoor Rooms. Perhaps it’s because I’m originally from the Pacific Northwest, where it rains nine months out of the year, but I find the whole idea of creating an elaborate “outdoor room,” complete with furniture, drapes, and nick-knacks, ridiculous. In the real world, I don’t want to leave a bunch of fabric-covered items sitting outside through summer thunderstorms. And even if I live in a dry climate, outdoor furnishings are still going to gather dust, dirt, bugs, and God knows what else. Plus, where are you supposed to store all the furniture in your “outdoor room” come winter time? I think it’s fine to get some nice lawn furniture if you think you’ll use it, but creating an entire outdoor space is just excessive to me.

3. Anything Can Be Art. Now, I’m not against making your own art; in fact, I absolutely love doing amateur art projects, and many of my creations are hanging in our living room. But I dislike that the designers on so many HGTV shows grab random objects (coasters, tea cozies, trivets), nail them to painted boards, and call them “art.” I know that those shows are under huge time and budget constraints, but for real people, it’s better to wait and collect (or create) pieces that you really like. If you get a bunch of random crap and throw it up on the wall because you have space to fill, you’ll be sick of it in two months. For those of you interested in learning more about affordable art, check out this Apartment Therapy post on affordable art. I’m also a big fan of the indie band posters over at The Small Stakes, which run about $25 and are hauntingly lovely.

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Top Design, Episode Five: Backstabbing, Smokeathalons, and Alientastic Hair

Wisit Garden

Wisit's room could be a set piece for Daddy Warbuck's mansion!

This week’s Top Design was the “Triathlon of Decorating,” where designers had to perform a bunch of different tasks (and by “a bunch” I mean “three”) that put their design skills to the test: re-upholstering/refinishing a chair, creating a table setting (I refuse to call it a “tablescape”), and designing a garden room for an Elle Decor photo shoot.

So who here thinks that Eddie is going to win this competition? The judges seem to think his designs are from God on High, and even if he doesn’t win all the time he comes darn close. I’m actually rooting for Nathan – I like his subdued and modern style, and I think he has a sense of refinement that really comes through when he’s working on his own. But I just don’t see the judges fawning over him the way they do over Eddie. I wasn’t a fan of Eddie’s neon-yellow and silver chair, which was just too out there for my taste, but boy-oh-boy did the judges eat it up. Their Eddie preference was very obvious in the garden challenge, because they didn’t tear apart the weird black lines on his walls, even though they just looked awful and didn’t really make any sense.

Eddie Garden

What's up with the weird black lines on Eddie's walls?

It looks like Eddie fatigue is setting in among the other designers, mostly because he can be a teensy-weensy bit vicious to the other contestants. Andrea was unnerved at the way Eddie tells other designers they’re “fabulous” and that he “loves” their work, only to completely trash them behind their backs. He was especially catty with Theresa in this episode, saying that he “loved” the tobacco colored walls of her garden room, only to say behind her back that her design gave him “smokers cough.” Rwar.

Next, Garden Rooms and Alien Hair

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Top Design Episode Four: Can Eddie Get the Ladies To Drop Their Panties Through The Sheer Power of Decoupage?

This week on Top Design: grab your febreeze and your heavy-duty laundry detergent, the Top Designers are designing for bachelors!

So this week’s episode, “Bachelor Pads,” had a whole lot more drama than last week, due single-handedly to Shazia’s whining (astronauts could hear her whining from space). Sensing that the sharks were circling in the water (she was in the bottom two on the last few episodes) Shazia tried to have the design “reflect” more of her style this week. Unfortunately, this meant complaining a lot and bugging the hell out of her teammates, Preston and Nathan, and choosing to do projects for no other reason than that she suggested it. Excuse me, but when cornice boards are supposed to be your “design statement,” I think there’s a problem.

Of course, I felt a little bad for Shaz, I really did. Because she was in the bottom, it was obvious that no one wanted to work with her, and no one wanted to listen to her ideas for fear that she may pull a Wisit. I’ve been in that situation and it really, really sucks. Unfortunately, once you’ve lost your credibility with a group of people you can’t really restore it in the course of one 48 hour project. And whining, swearing, and stamping your foot a lot won’t help.

The project split the designers up into teams of three, each of which had to design a room for a bachelor. Natalie, Eddie and Ondine designed for a 23-year-old law student who looked like he had just left the womb of a frat house; Andrea, Teresa and Wisit designed for a very cute producer who looked like, with minimal effort, he could land his own Bravo dating show; and Preston, Nathan and Shazia designed for a cool-as-a-cucumber investment banker.

The funniest thing about the whole episode was that even though all the bachelors were pretty different, their apartments were in the same state of disaray. At best, they maybe owned couple of chairs, a sectional, and a huge flat-screen TV. My favorite part was the investment banker, who had a huge shoe rack dominating his living room. I’m sure the smell was just lovely.

Even though the designers had two days, $10,000, a team of painters, wallpaperers, seamstresses and carpenters for this challenge, a lot of the rooms still looked “meh” to me. Perhaps this was because we didn’t really get to see the rooms that much? I think the camera crew needs to watch a whole bunch of HGTV to really get a sense of how the “reveal” works. All they’d need is to do is watch, oh, like 12 hours of the channel, and they would have seen all the “reveals” they’d ever need. Hell, I feel like I could film a “reveal” after watching a couple episodes of Designed to Sell, and I’ve never picked up a camera.

Andrea, Wisit and Ondine’s design for the producer bachelor won the episode, but I didn’t think it was so much better than the other team’s rooms to merit all the praise it received. I will say that their design felt the most pulled-together of the three teams. I like the use of the LeCorbusier chairs and the dark table in the living room; the piece’s dark colors complemented the warm brown tones in the couch and the walls. But it also felt like a hotel room. In fact, all of the rooms on this episode felt like hotel rooms.

More winning and losing designs.

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