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Dear God,

If you're trying to temper my good fortune in, say, finding wood floors in our kitchen by clogging our pipes and causing raw sewage to push back up through our floor drain and to settle in a 3" pool in a section of our basement, and by having me hold the light while my beloved fiance kindly scoops sewage and turds from the floor, consider your mission a successful one.


Light in the kitchen.

*******Before you comment, read the post, already. A number of people have commented on the ugly second fixture. If you read the post, you will see that I am posting it as an example of what I don't want. - xoxo, The Management***

We touched on this before, but how much light do I really need?

You can see from earlier photos this kitchen is smaller than some suburban bedrooms, so consider the size if you will.

We already have one light over the stove, one over the sink, and then one in the nook area near the window. It always seems like enough (but then again, it's all the we had). I will tell you that I always turned on all 3 because 2 lights was inadequate.

So in addition to this, contractor Gary put in a box for a light in the center of the kitchen so I can hang a pendant or something. Fine. Here's the deal, though, I think I can just get any ol' single-bulb lighting fixture since in my mind, the addition of this new light and some undercounter task lights will be all the light I need. Gary thinks I need a fixture with at least 3 bulbs in it. I think this will be a monstrosity because (a) the size alone will be weird [too big] and (b) it's going to limit what I can buy and I will end up with an ugly-ass fixture. Like this:

Any thoughts would help. Also, I adore the Clemsen light from Restoration Hardware (photo at top of post), but it's the kind of light that i/you/we keep seeing everywhere. I am having a tough time finding something I like that is a bit more unique, but also not overly clever or loud. I may end up going with this light, but there is a part of me that thinks "This is the polite, safe choice you make when you have no time or patience to find something better." Oy.

Help. And please send links to great options if you have ideas.

They are like quiet shellacing ninjas.

I woke up this morning and Brett the floor guy was applying the last bits of his shiny finish/varnish whatever you call it coat to the floors. I forgot they were coming this weekend. I am sure my contractor told me this, but I think I had the days mixed up in my head. Oy. Anyway, what's done is done. The floors continue to look red in the photos but not in real life. I like they way they look. I *may* have asked them to do one more dark coat, but I like them as they are so we're happy here.

As for my pug, Rickey, what kind of guard dog is he? He didn't bark at all when the floors guys quietly let themselves in to finish the floors. That dog. I tell ya. He needs a job.


Crappy photos*, but you get the idea. They are actually a little darker than these photos (and the flash) suggests. And these aren't finished yet. In progress.

I'll be in NYC next week while some big things happen. My cabinets, which are piled high in my living room, will be installed. The lighting will go in (lighting I haven't decided on yet which drives me nuts. I need to figure that out tomorrow.) and the room will also be painted. So, except for my counters and the faucet, it will be pretty much done.

I know someone was scolding me in comments a post or so ago, "Floors last! Floors last! Do everything else first and do your floors last!" Look. The floors are already in progress, so no scolding. And why would I put my cabinets in on top of the shitty old non-sanded wood and THEN finish the floors at the end... and stain them? Wouldn't it get on my cabinets? I don't get it. I understand it would be nice to not having "contractors" stomping all over them, but I plan to stomp all over them soon enough anyway. With HEELS on, no less. Plus, look how tiny my kitchen is. Barely two people fit in at any given time, so it's not like a small army of contractors will be treading on the floors. This is modest project and a modest room, as I am sure you can tell from the photos.

I have to pick out some marble tomorrow. What a fucking racket that whole business is. I went to Pental to shop marble, took photos and notes. Called back to basically say, this is what I want what will is cost? And then they told me I can't buy directly from them, I need to buy from a fabricator. Ok, fine. I get it. It's like telling me I need to buy fabric from a decorator. That whole model of selling is so old and broken. I don't understand why they wouldn't just arrange and broker the whole installation and take a cut of that. Seems like a lost service/profit opportunity, but maybe I am missing something. What a hassle. Anyway, I am picking out marble, for fuck's sake, so I really should quit my bitching.

(*And speaking of crappy photos, if you would like to take non-crappy ones, HERE are tips from Paul Costello on taking better photos of interiors.)


So, frequent fliers here know that I am fixing up my kitchen. And that once they pulled up the icky vinyl tile, we found hardwoods, which I happily reported on this blog, a declaration lovingly mocked by my pal Mamacita (frequent smart-ass commenter) and which was clarified for the general public by another commenter as:

The way I read Mamacita's comment was something like...decorno has a hottie contractor, has found hardwoods, is now getting a disposal, found a bag of cash buried in the wall, a diamond mine under the house, and the fumes from the remodel mysteriously made her boobs increase two sizes. You bitch. I hate you, how wonderful for you.

Well guess what? IT IS like I found a bag of cash! I mean, seriously, look at the sorry-ass floors in photos here...

...and then look at what some patching of massive holes (I was not delighted to know that I had these holes under my refrigerator, but whatevs) and a some sanding did. It's like magic.

I am trying to mourn the loss of Domino, but I am too fucking excited about my new old floors.

The first two coats of stain go on tomorrow, and then we take a look-see and if needed, the third coat will go on Friday and then that's that.

The cabinets were delivered today. They were made by Builder's Showroom. So far, we have had a great experience working with Lisa (co-owner) and Paul (designer). So, if you are in the Seattle area and considering a similar project, visit them. I was told inset cabinets would cost me 30% more, but the final quote to get exactly what we wanted AND inset was better than quotes from lesser versions at Lowe's and Home Depot. So, so far, so good.

And the happiest part today was reviewing the new itemized quote/bill which actually came down from the original estimate thanks to eliminating the cost of tile and labor to install it - - even though he's had to add in other unexpected work. Love that part. See Mamacita? It IS like I found a bag of cash in my house.

On another note, having a male contractor is like having a temporary second husband. We had very, I dunno, marital discussions about lighting today. You know... where he played the role of a know-it-all (in a sweet way) declaring things like, "Well, yeah, I am putting in black canned lights because it will soak up some light and cause less glare. Function over form, you know." To which I had to say whatever polite version of "Like hell you will..." that I could muster. And then I find out he worked in the lighting business for 25 years and felt a little defeated. But I am the chick with the design blog and 90 pounds of back issues of old magazines, so I know what I want dammit, and he's just going to have to ixnay his black ights-lay and find me a solution that is less... gross.

But I am growing to love Gary. He never really says no. He gave me homework (figuring out my lighting situation, naturally, because he tells me my picks won't give enough light). And after we went rounds on the lighting situation I looked around my house quietly.... scheming.

"Can you build a mantle?"


"Can you build a built-in bench in the kitchen.. with storage?"


"Can you give me electrical outlets in the backyard so I can string party lights in that tree?"


I sat for a moment thinking of everything else on my list.

"We're going to have a lot of work for you."

And he just laughed. Because he already knew that.

My fiance on hardwood floors:

Look at those glossy dark floors. Yay.

We were emailing back and forth discussing what color to stain the hardwoods that we just discovered under crappy vinyl tile in our kitchen, and this was his declaration:

"I’m for darker. And then a little darker than that."

Sigh. This is why I love him.

HERE'S a rerun on my love for dark floors. Yum.

Domino magazine is no more.

HERE. The March issue will be the last, according to news reports.

More HERE.

Domino magazine will cease publication, it was announced today by Charles H. Townsend, President and CEO of Condé Nast. The final issue will be published in March 2009.

“This decision to cease publication of the magazine and its website is driven entirely by the economy,” Mr. Townsend said. “Although readership and advertising response was encouraging in the early years, we have concluded that this economic market will not support our business expectations.”

Domino was launched in April 2005. The magazine’s current ratebase is 800,000.

Condé Nast, a unit of Advance Publications, includes twenty-three consumer magazines, Condé Nast Digital, the Fairchild Fashion Group, Parade, the Condé Nast Media Group, and the Shared Services Centers.


What is this fabric?

And where can I get it?

From HERE.

Day Five: Still life of piles of shit.

My house, which is sort of always a disaster, is much more of one these days. The refrigerator is in the middle of the dining room. The dining table is shoved into a corner of the same room with piles of things we need handy (paper plates, silverware, 2 coffee mugs, napkins, etc.).

I spent time yesterday trying to re-arrange the piles and make the whole dining room/temporary kitchen more usable, but that was a wasted effort. It's all such a mess. There is only one nice thing to look at: a bowl of fruit. Of course the piles of everything else surrounding it just make the whole scheme a still life of piles of shit.

The guts of our lives - everything in the cabinets - is simply not a pretty thing, is it? It's a wonder how people live with open shelving and glass-door refrigerators. I would be forever tidying up if I had them.

Thank god I don't. And won't.

Old phone.

Oh man, I miss old phones. I remember the wall phone we had growing up with the rotary dial and specifically remember that groaning noise it made when it would reset between each number.

And like the phone in the picture, I remember a beige-y pink version of it in my mom's room. That's where I'd go when real gossip or boy-talk was to be conducted. The receiver was the perfect size to stick in the crook of my neck while I lay there talking to Jessie Smith wondering if he would want to be my boyfriend.

I got so misty for an old phone recently that in a wine-induced Ebay moment, I ordered one for myself. I'll probably just put it in the bedroom, but instead of calling Jessie Smith, maybe I will just call my man's cell phone downstairs and order him up for a 7th-grade-style make-out session.

From HER Flickr set.

All the single ladies...


From here:

Story HERE.
Slideshow HERE.

Day Two: "Can we do that?"

Contractor Gary called early this am.

"Did you want a disposal?"


"Well, it's not in my bid."

"Um, ok. I know we want one."

So we spoke about that and I learned that in order to re-plumb the area to get the disposal to connect to my sink, it will add an extra $250 to the job. Plus the cost of the disposal. Oy.

I've never had a disposal. I have always lived my adult life in vintage apartment buildings, and in this older home. So I am not sure I understand the magic of it. But I asked my friend at work, and she cried out, "You don't have one?! You HAVE to have one!" Ok. I get that it grinds up the little bits of food from dinner, but I am not sure what the magic is. My better half and I decided that it seems like something a "modern home" has - - like soft-close drawers and, say, an electrical outlet in the bathroom (the only outlet we have in ours I can't reach. Go figure.) - - so we decided to get a disposal. I mean, if Karine is right, we need it.

But seriously. What is the magic? Please tell me.

Unrelated to the disposal business we had an interesting discovery yesterday, which I am still thinking through today:

Underneath the weird, gross, 12" x 12" plastic-y "tile" that the previous homeowner applied to the kitchen floor, Contractor Gary revealed.... hardwoods.

"So, are they.... good?" I asked him.

"Yeah. I mean. You'd need to refinish them."

"Can we do that?"

"Anything is possible. It'll just cost you more."

Which pretty much sounds like the unwritten rule of all matters related to home improvement.

So I know when discussing the floor everyone was hot on hardwoods. So maybe I will do that. I only have until tomorrow to decide. I better get a good night's sleep.

*UPDATE* Oh! And I forgot to add:
When he called me today, he had a question about the sink I ordered. And I told him, "Actually, if you look over on such and such, you will see a BINDER I have with everything related to the project so far... your bid, all my receipts, installation instructions for the sink, specs for the microwave, etc." I think he liked this.

When I returned home tonight, I noticed he left it open. He made notes in it. I love that part. He's actually using it.

Organization pays. (I can't believe my unorganized ass just typed that.)

Photo above? Not Contractor Gary.

Oscar noms are out today.

I remember telling my fiance as we left the theater that I didn't really like Benjamin Buttons. I thought the movie was a little too Forest Gump-y. I was right.

I cannot believe it was nominated for 13 Academy Awards.

You can read the lists of nominated films and actors HERE.

My fingers are crossed the little miss Anne Hathaway collects some hardware. If you haven't seen RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, see it before Oscar night. I never thought much about that Disney princess until I saw her in that movie. Wow.

Day One: The point of no return.

This morning, I had a sink. A crappy one, but still.

My favorite part today was just a few minutes ago when I was surveying the damage and chatting with the contractor about progress, to-dos, etc. He was telling me about work he will need to add. I just said, fine, can you tell me along the way what we are adding to the bill? He said, "Oh sure, but I will need to have [my fiance] sign for it since he's the homeowner.


We both own it and the remodel is being funded with money I have been saving. Needless to say, the little lady of this house FELT STABBY. I let him know the situation and told him that he can just have me sign for everything, thank you.

Which reminds me, we had dinner with some people a few weeks ago and when they realized we'd been in the house 4 years, they asked, "What have you been doing this whole time?" Again, STABBY. Well, we've been saving for renovations, among other things. No loan, no interest, no funny money, no line of credit. Just cash. We lived nearly all that time with a faucet that shot water in your face if you moved it too far to the right because we just figured we'd make all the repairs at once... and once we could really afford it. Maybe that's old fashioned, but oh well.

Nevertheless, that all sounds so negative, but the truth is, I like our contractor. He's efficient, a little bossy when he needs to be, he's clear about letting me know when decision time is coming to an end for certain parts of the job that I am still deciding on (materials, etc.). So we are thrilled that work is beginning. We're glad the day has come, you know?

Plus, for the next 6 - 8 weeks, I have a perfectly good excuse for not cooking dinner and to have it delivered instead. What's not to love about that? Pagliacci is on speed dial.

Movable walls.


Gary Chang, a Hong Kong architect, lives in a tiny apartment, but thanks to accordion-like wall units, he can create at least 24 different room configurations.

Photo: Marcel Lam for The New York Times

More HERE.

They look dashing.

Dress by Isabel Toledo.

The house is a mess.

The sink has arrived. The faucet is here. The tile is on hold, ready for pick up. The cabinets (we think) are here in a week. The contractor *might* show up on Wednesday, so we had to pull everything out of all the kitchen cabinets to get ready to have him tear them out. It's a mess. Not a fine mess. A fucking mess.

I am soothing myself by blasting Beanie Segal singing, "Rock the Mic." I tried to You Tube it up for everyone, but Beanie's record label seems to have a problem with sharing.

But on a happier note, this is the end:

Goodbye, George.

Outtake from conversation with kitchen contractor:

Actual conversation.

Contractor: Are the cabinets going to be there on the 28th? If not, and if you can't confirm by tomorrow, then I'm gonna keep fishing this week.

Me: I'll confirm that for you.

Contractor: I mean, we gotta get going, because my house closes soon and I would rather work on my own place.

Me: I see. Well let me find out about those cabinets because we would like you to start earning the deposit we just paid you.

Contractors. They exemplify the new customer service, don't they?

In other news, there is nothing new to report in the world of decor.

I went to Banya5 last night (stupid name, admittedly). It's a kind of modern Russian bath located in the South Lake Union area of Seattle. You've got your sauna, your steam room, your cold plunge (properly named Really Fucking Cold Plunge), your hot tub, and your salt-water body-temp soaking pool. I am pretty sure that I steamed/soaked/beat every last bit of 2008 toxins from my body. I feel like a new person. If you're in the Seattle area, I highly recommend it.

The only problem was last night, there were tons of dudes. More than usual. The good news is that only the guys do platza, which is the art of beating the crap out of one another in the sauna with water-soaked oak leaves (called venik). And since there were so many guys, there was a lot of free entertainment there. The process is supposed to rejuvenate you and rid the body of toxins. I just think it's really a way for straight dudes to work out their sexual issues in a safe way, but that's just me. It's a good show. The added benefit is that the process of flapping the oak leaves in the air brings down all the heat from the top of the sauna, so everybody wins.

The other bad thing was the Loud Talker who seemed to be on the same circuit of steam/soak/sauna/plunge as me, and he couldn't shut up about the economy and how BAAAAAD it is. Dude, you just paid $35 to get the crap beaten out of you for two hours, how bad can it be? I would like all conversation about the economy to stop. Just wake me when it's over.

That is all. Enjoy your Monday. Happy MLK day. The dream is alive. (Except for Chinamen on walls n' stuff.)

Last Night's Party.

It's like The Selby meets NY Social Diary.


Should be a good night...

knowing that the tequila will be served here, and the karaoke bar we will be visiting across the street is described as:

"You know that weird bar in "Star Wars?" Wikipedia tells me it is the "Mos Eisley Cantina." Anyway, there's a bunch of weird-looking aliens sitting around and odd music playing? Ok. So, that's this place, except substitute transsexuals in shiny clothing for aliens... and Billy Joel karaoke for odd alien music.

These acquisitions won't help me pay for the kitchen.

...but I had to have them.

This will require a boob-ectomy or an 800-calorie diet, but whatever. I *will* look cute in this, dammit.

This is part of the Angelina Jolie costume I am trying to put together. Now I just need to figure out what tattoo to get...

Looks better on, trust me.

The collar. I mean, please. Pure love.

I am pretty sure I will look like shimmy sausage in this, but it's a PARTY dress, which means as soon as I am loaded up with vodka, I really won't care about arm wiggle, will I?

Carrie - I think we need to institute Un-Casual Friday at work. What do you think? (Although, you always dress for work, so maybe there is no novelty in this idea for you...)


"Knowing when to splurge is an art. There are just two rules: Splurge on the most classic item in the world. You will have it forever. Splurge on the most insane thing in the world. You will have it and cherish it forever." - Isaac Mizrahi

What's your insane thing?

Regarding page 76 of this month's domino magazine: friend emailed me this:

"Some examples of chinoiserie are borderline racist, and I did feel pain for any Asian reader seeing that. It's got an "Uncle Tom" quality....It looked like something executed in tempera paints on a day care center wall.

Honestly, I think I will let my subscription to domino lapse when it expires. Whenever I read it, I feel like the tired old uncle, babysitting the 7-year-old nieces as  they run around shrieking and hitting each other with My Little Ponys."

And then there was THIS post over at Style Noir about Sheila Bridges "Harlem Toile de Juoy" wallpaper.

So, here are the questions today, kids:

1) What do you think of Mary McDonald's room with the parasol-toting Asian figures painted on the wall?

2) Is Sheila's "Harlem Toile" wallpaper bad news?
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