Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dining room pictures on Flickr.

All too often, people ask me "Wtf do you mean 'Hollywood and Western'?". I just direct them to the pictures of our dining room that I just put up on Flickr!

Together with the living room next to it, it's just about the best example of my weird sort of style. However, although I like the room a lot, they're still before pictures really. That bar barely looks like a piece of furniture and isn't even glued together, and I don't really know how to place that fiddle leaf fig in the corner with the curtains. I'm going to do some tweaking. And do the IKEA chairs work?

So go look at the pictures, they have lots and lots of notes about our art and liquor, and I marked one of them up with all the places I'd gotten stuff from for fun.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

En suite bathroom help needed!

I just sent an email to Apartment Therapy LA asking for help with our en suite. We were lucky with our main bathroom, which is dark red and light grey-blue (one of my favorite color combinations, as you can see!), but the en suite isn't so hot. It's terracotta and pale yellow, with off white walls. On top of that, we have a recently replaced bright white pedestal sink and toilet, which are nice, but don't totally match.

I just got white and chrome accesories when we moved in, because I didn't know what to do (we also have all the old crappy towels we don't want anyone to see in there). I really think it's best to make things you can't change work, even if that means doing something a little different from your normal style. I've been thinking and thinking about the en suite, and I think the only thing that will work is to go subtly Moroccan, in a kind of retro way. That's not my usual style, but I think it could look really nice, especially as the bedroom is a little asian in a toned down, masculine way. I was thinking about backing the red velvet door curtain with a geometric print in a mustard or orange (probably a Dwell twin sheet off ebay!), and I saw some nice white accesories in Target's Global Bazaar which were sort of the right look. They're gone now though, and I have no real idea what I'm doing or where to even look for stuff! Usually I know where to find a particular thing, but because this is the kind of style I don't usually go for, and it's so specific, I'm lost.

So I really hope they post my question and pictures, and I hope AT readers can hope me! You can see more pictures, including my cat, on my Flickr.

Speaking of marble...

I just won two of these Jonathan Adler malachite pillow covers on ebay. They're so unusual and somehow they seem like a serious grown up thing you have until they're worn away! I think they should help to tie together all the different greens in the plants in my living and dining rooms. I haven't posted any pictures of those rooms yet, have I?

Back from Vegas!

We just spent the weekend at the Rio in Vegas, and got back last night. Towards the end of last week I was crazy writing a plan for work (I hate doing computer work because I procrastinate, I'm glad I have a job where I don't have to do it much). So I guess I haven't posted in a while, never mind, no one reads this anyway!

The suite at the Rio was the most amazing hotel room I've ever really stayed in. I did go to a party in a Presidential Suite at the Omni Shoreham in Washington, DC, where I got drunk and picked up a fancy urn to find it had a sticker on the bottom saying $10.99! Other guests broke a bed post - it's a story for another day! The Rio suite had a jacuzzi that sat between the bedroom and the bathroom so you could get to it from either side, it also had a beautiful peach velvet couch that felt like silk. By the end of our stay I started to feel claustrophobic and on edge in the room though, and a little bit paranoid. I think because it felt so isolated - I've gotten used to the street noise here, and to feeling connected to the world outside and aware of what's going on. The fire warning system also went off while we were in the jacuzzi on the first night, which didn't help.

Although the suite was nice, and made me wish for a bigger place and fancier stuff, it wasn't really my style. I also find the Rio's inconsistent theming disappointing. I've been reading recently about how themed casinos are on the way out, and simple luxury (think the Wynn) is in. I think it's a bit of a shame, a well done theme is so great, and Vegas is the only place you really see that kind of creativity. I often describe Vegas as 'Disneyland for adults'.

My favorite casino hands down is Caesar's; the theme is so consistent, and well executed and luxurious. I guess it helps when your theme is also an architectural style! Sure it's tacky, but the materials are so expensive, and the attention to detail is so perfect - right down to tiny medallions set in the drive way. I think it's a work of art, and we'll try to stay there next time if we can find a deal. I'm also looking out for things made of marble now!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I love these silky gold tassels. They're curtain tiebacks, and they came from IKEA - $5 each, three different designs in the same gold thread. You would never know where they are from, they feel amazing.

I'm going to fix them on the handles of the bedroom closet, but I need to do something to shorten them first, and maybe I should use two of the same style.

"Barr's work is the visual equivalent of a David Lynch film".

Before we moved in last fall...

I'm posting a set of the pictures we took then of the empty apartment. The floors were so shiny and stinky! I have pictures of all the rooms, but I'm only posting the ones that don't have me in.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Why we came to LA!

I love it here so much.

Hallway pictures up now too...

Before pictures and more on my Flickr and the AT LA group pool. I actually did the hallway as my 'January Jumpstart' (and because it needed doing), but I never submitted it because I got intimidated. I love the color, and I'm certain it was the right choice, it frames the colors of the other rooms beautifully. It looks much better than in the pictures, especially in daylight (we never have the floods on full like this).

However, I'm still not sure about the rest of the room - I think I like the rug, and I like the flying duck but I'm not sure I want it there. The room just isn't coming together for me, and it's making me anxious. Is it the square mirror that's throwing it off?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bedroom photos now on Flickr!

I'm really into The Cure, but I'm having trouble doing it in order. So far I'm going crazy when I feel like it, but not doing everything I'm supposed to. I did almost finish my repairs list and sit in a corner for ten minutes though. I think my weird curing is partly inability to make myself do anything I don't really want to do, partly that we've put a lot of time and energy into our space over the last few months and it's really patchy - some parts just need a clean and some art hung, some are so messy they're making me itchy.

Last week I washed all the windows and window screens (so dirty), and randomly attacked the huge hallway closet which we use for linens and some bathroom stuff, I took before pictures of the closet, but I haven't taken afters yet. I might buy some storage containers first. Once I do I'll post them all and talk a bit about what I did and why.

And yesterday I did the bedroom, which would be my project if I were really doing the One Room Cure. It isn't done - this was sort of a first step to get it clean and clutter free, but it makes me feel a lot better about it and I think we'll sleep better and feel less dread when we go in there.

It looks a little worse in the before pictures than it really did, because I'd already started and I'd gotten a trash bag out and piled some clothes on the bed. Here's what I did:
  • Put all the clothes away.
  • Vacuumed everything, including spider eggs from the window sill!
  • Threw out clothes tags, water bottles and other random trash.
  • Cleaned cat vomit from the floor under the bed!
  • Dusted and polished all the wood furniture except the bed (Method polish smells amazing).
  • Re-did the cord for the big lamp, which was running over the mirror.
  • Snipped the pulled threads the cats made from the rug.
  • Put rug pads under the rugs.
  • Wiped and dusted everything.
  • Generally cleared clutter.
  • Moved the bed over towards the window to make more space we'll actually use.
It's made a huge difference, the cats even seem to like it better! I already changed the bed linens and washed the windows and screen last week, and everything feels clean, and more 'ours'. I'd like to get some allergy covers, and maybe an air purifier.

Still to do:
  • Have the rugs deep cleaned (the big one is nasty, the little one is delicate and important to me).
  • Cover the screen (found by the trash) with wallpaper.
  • Hide the cords better.
  • Hang art (some of it needs to be framed).
  • Hem the curtains.
  • The chairs may swap around with chairs from other rooms.
  • The card cabinet and the dresser need to be refinished in some way, they're in bad condition.
I'm open to other advice and suggestions, although probably not to full on AT style criticism! See my Flickr pictures for some more notes.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The AT book came today.

So I read the first couple of sections and we went through the interview questions together. Our answers were basically the same, except that I found it much easier to think of artists, writers and designers that I liked, and I'm not especially fond of Futurama! I think together we have a really coherent aesthetic (judge for yourself!), although I find it easier to translate that to actual design choices than she does. I like being her stylist.

Here are our answers, this is way long and more for our record than anything else... If anyone can tell me how to do a cut in blogger I will.

List your favorite...
Actress: Scarlett Johansson, Rose McGowan
Actor: Joquin Phoenix
(We were kind of blah about this question, there's no one we really follow)
Artist: Glenn Barr (I am crazy about his stuff, it's really influenced my style), Chas Ray Krider, Helmut Newton, Joel Peter Witkin
Writer: Vladimir Nabokov, Theodore Dreiser, Judith Rossner, Bret Easton Ellis
Music: Twilight Singers/Afghan Whigs/Gutter Twins (anything Greg Dulli does), The Doors, anything recent produced by Timbaland (the shame!)
Restaurant: Georgia Brown in DC, we moved too recently to have real favorites in LA yet, although I think the Dresden Room is sort of awesome
Automobile (AKA Car): Jaguar XJ8, I like older Mercedes sedans too
Television show: Sarah Silverman, Futurama, Good Eats, What Not to Wear
Clothing: Kenneth Cole, DVF, Design History, Gucci

How would you describe your style (Three words)?
We skipped this, I hate any 'pick _ words' exercise, but I guess really it's masculine, tactile, sophisticated, and borderline sleazy (or um, Hollywood and Western).

Where have you lived?
Where you were born: Little Rock, AR (Her). Enfield in London, UK (Me).
Where you grew up: Duncanville and Desoto, TX (Her). Enfield in London, UK (Me).
As an adult: Norman, OK, (Her). Hackney and Stratford in London, UK, (Me). Alexandria, VA and Los Angeles, CA (Both of us).

Whom would you consider a role model (list three adjectives...)?
We skipped this too, neither of us have ever really had a 'role model', but we agreed that Greg Dulli is pretty hot.

What is the problem with your apartment (three words)?
1) Crowded
2) Confused
3) Too work centered

If your apartment could speak...?
'Halp! There's lots of stuff in me, and lots of it doesn't have a physical place, and some of it might not have a design place! You're not using my full potential because I'm hard work. I'm also scared that my look isn't quite coming together - I'm on edge trying to get something tricky just right. I feel under pressure in every way, and I just want everything to be easier!'

What would you like to do or do more of...?
We'd like to have more genuinely relaxing time together without stressful distractions.

Eight weeks from now how would you like friends to describe your home?
1) Cleverly put-together
2) Very 'us'
3) Sexy

I think we'd like people to feel that every area of the home is well thought out and well used - that the living room is easy and well appointed to sit down and talk in, that the entertainment system works flawlessly, that the guest room is cozy and considerately furnished. I'd like people to see the thought we've put into the home and I'd like individual pieces to stand out as unique. I was hurt when a friend said that our place was nicer than hers because we 'thought nothing of dropping $1,000 at Ikea'! There are actually very few major ikea pieces in our place now, and I certainly don't think it has that look at all (our old place, maybe!).

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Why I'm doing 'The Cure'...

We've been in our apartment less than four months, and we moved in quickly. Everyone who sees it is amazed that we've been here such a short time. I'm surprised that they're suprised, but then, this is the fourth time I've set up home (the second with my wife). I find it easy to imagine spaces, and I think a lot about what works where. We have furniture here that came with me from London four years ago, and lots more that came with us from Washington, DC five months ago. Each time we move we edit and keep the best pieces - this time we left behind almost all the Ikea chipboard we bought when we had very little money.

So when we moved in we bought a fair amount of stuff very quickly, we'd left behind some major things like a guest bed, and this place is bigger than our last. It was hard for me not to want to complete things; the move was planned and happy, but it was also stressful and I needed to feel 'at home' fast. Getting set up has been almost all-consuming for the last couple of months and I've had to slow down and consider if I really need something else new - if I decide we need a clock I'm restless until we have the right one. I find it hard to spend a lot of money on one thing, but it has all added up. However, I'm very happy with almost everything, I'm confident about my taste, and I don't think it looks 'matchy' at all, most of it isn't new or from the same places.

But now I need to stop buying stuff. I have several unfinished projects (chairs that need repair, a mirrored bar left unpainted), and equally bad, our home isn't really clean! It had been cleaned before we moved in (not all that well) and while I planned to deep clean, it just didn't happen. Since then we've entertained a lot and done what needed to be done to make the place look good, and we've cleaned up the mess from each week on Saturday or Sunday, but it's all been superficial. We have an en-suite that's never really been cleaned (no one sees it), windows that have never been washed, kitchen cabinets that have never been cleaned out.

On top of that, our many built in cupboards are a mess. One of the main reasons we chose this place was the amazing original storage in every room - huge closets everywhere! The closets aren't full (we purged when we moved out of our DC place, and again when we moved in here), but they are barely organized at all, we didn't plan what would go where, and it just kind of evolved. We keep buying duplicate toiletries because I can't see what we have. And I like to rotate things like lamps, art, and small pieces of furniture in and out, so I need real, organized storage for them, as well as to get rid of the ones I'm never going to rotate out again.

So my cure is going to be about deep cleaning, organizing storage, another purge, and finally feeling really at home. I'm skeptical about some of the fluffier elements of 'The Cure' (warm and cool rooms?), I'm not really trying to define my style, and I'm going to try to buy hardly anything, but I still think it'll be useful for us to follow a structured program. I'm also going to use the cure to think about why home and style stuff is as important to me as it is, and to start blogging. I hope the blog will allow me to share and appreciate new stuff I find without having to buy it, and I hope it will get me writing and taking pictures again - two things I rarely do now that I have a wife who is much better at them than me!

So we'll see how this goes...