Category Archives: Life


For those of us in the Northeast it’s a been a turbulent weather week! We had two days with over six inches of snowfall and another day of snow is on the way. In any other part of the country weather like that wouldn’t be cause for concern but when even an inch of sweet New Hampshire cocaine falls in Manhattan the entire city completely shuts down. Buses stop running, the subway reduces to a crawl and taxis disappear leaving most of us–if you’re fortunate enough, like me, to have an empathic boss–to take a snow day and work from home. I LOVE working from home. It gives me a chance to catch up on emails, return phones calls, prepare for meetings or the option to not do any of that garbage and just nap all day, which is what I am usually want to do. I imagine a snow day here is equal to a regular Tuesday in Europe. Sorry, Spain, but maybe your country wouldn’t have collapsed financially if every once in awhile someone over there pulled a 10-hour day. That’s right. I said it!

The weekend forecast is calling for yet another storm this Sunday so I’m gearing up for a third day of laying around like a slob and gorging on whatever I can find streaming online. Just like the two snow days before, my poly-cotton blend sweats will be tucked into my wool socks and I will be at a loss for fucks to give so there’s no point in trying to make me feel about my choices, Internet. Like a pig in shit I’m rolling in it!

Here’s my dance card for the next 72 hours. Come Monday I think the title of my soon-to-be-released autobiography will be ‘Death By Netflix: The Unbound Slovenliness of A Man & His Dog; Bed Sores or Bed Scores?’


Netflix-Sundance-MITT-DocI actually watched this on Snow Day 1. When I read Netflix snapped up this documentary about a behind-the-scenes look of Mitt Romney’s two failed presidential campaigns I rolled my eyes so hard Janeane Garofalo got a pair of wings. I thought to myself: Self (ha!), no one needs to see a story about a man who lost the Republican nomination in ’08 after he funded his campaign WITH HIS OWN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS only to do it all again four years later and still fail to see beyond the end of his nose. Like, the guy swung for the fences and came up short. OK, that’s a bummer but he was jockeying to be the most powerful man in the world, not trying find a source for clean drinking water or defend human rights in India, so while his effort should be commended that doesn’t mean I need to watch a documentary about it and it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t think he needs to just go away and take his 11 robot sons with him (Evan, calm down!) but apparently I like the sound of the screams in my own head because I did see it and while I’m not totally wrong about the banality of watching a rich man struggling to connect with the people from whom he’s asking to give him power there were some redeeming/revealing moments that made me feel I didn’t totally squander two hours of my life on what is ostensibly a cinematic bowl of whip cream and white privilege. ::Deep, relaxing breath:: Anyway, see it or don’t see it or do see it and then write me an angry email afterward, but if you do you’ll be thankful for every time Ann is on screen. I don’t know how I forgot about her MS diagnosis, but to hear her talk about it in the same breath as her treatment (therapeutic horseback riding) is heartbreaking and hilarious all at the same time.


Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 4.45.52 PMOn Snow Day 2 I started hacking away at my Hulu queue, which is really just a pile of all the stuff that makes me snort-laugh but which is probably actually rotting my brain from the inside out, like how a microwave leaves a nugget of ice in the center of a burrito: The Mindy Project, New Girl, Family Guy, SNL, The Only Way is Essex. Sometimes SNL doesn’t always deliver (which is devastating when people like Diane Keaton sings Woody Allen a famous children’s song at the Golden Globes and they don’t rake her over the coals for it) but they took on the Michael Grimm scandal to hilarious effect with Melissa McCarthy as former Middle Delaware State basketball coach Sheila Kelly. Watching her hijack a squad car and shoot out security cameras was the best apology television could’ve made to my eyes since watching the Grammys, so I’m very thankful for this episode and will most definitely rewatch it over the weekend.


eagleheartIf Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson had a baby and that baby was delivered stillborn it would be Eagleheart. I only recently learned about it from Julie Klausner’s podcast and I can’t get enough of it. In it Chris Elliott plays a US Marshal and if you can picture Chris Elliott as a US Marshal then I’m not sure why you’re even still reading this because somewhere out there Chris Elliott is pretending to be a US Marshall and that’s better than anything you can find on this blog. The last four episodes of season 3 are up on Adult Swim and you can stream the rest of the series at Streamallthis.


metropolisI haven’t seen Metropolis since I was a kid but on Snow Day 2 I found Netflix is streaming it and if a dark, dystopian, German expressionistic sci-fi film doesn’t call out to you on a cold day when you’re bundled in bed with your pooch on one side and a bag of Lay’s Sriracha flavored potato chips (AKA heaven in a sack) on the other then, friends, I don’t know what will. Of course total class warfare lunacy is not what I need to watch when I’m stuck inside and grappling with cabin fever but I also don’t need to spend hours online agonizing over the Louis Poulsen pendant I can’t afford, so watching Metrolpolis will be the better of two evils. Somewhere Fritz Lang is rolling over in his grave.


Picture 5I’m so behind! I think I’m somewhere around episode 6 of season 3 and now that season 4 is nearly finished trying to avoid any accidental spoilers is like playing Russian roulette with my heart each time I open my computer. (PS If anyone–ANYONE–emails me a spoiler may God have mercy on your soul because I will hunt you down and wear your undercarriage like a mink stole. A mink. Stole.) You know what? I’ve changed my mind. I’m not watching anything else but Downton Abbey this weekend. Lady Mary is Public Enemy No. 1 for me come Sunday.


Picture 6Yes, I was that person you heard cackling obnoxiously on the train last year while you were quietly and politely making your way to work. You probably looked over and thought, ‘How did Phyllis Diller resurrect herself and find her way into the bowels of the New York City subway system? What? That’s not Phyllis Diller? Really. Who? Evan who? Just some asshole reading Bossy Pants and having zero respect for anyone else around him? Oh, ok.’ and then went about your day. I know this film got absolutely skewered when it came out but it just went up on HBO Go so, you know, there goes my Sunday night, lost to Tina Fey and her chin scar. How did I not know this film was about a woman forced to come to terms with her life when a man ambushes her with the child she gave up in college and uses her secret baby against her to get him accepted into Princeton? Oh that’s right because it was marketed as a rom-com since Hollywood’s archaic, warped gender politics can’t comprehend a complicated–layered? nuanced? How about unconventional–female-driven story without reverting to stereotypes. Whatever the case may be from the synopsis alone it sounds like Tina Fey may well be on her way to starring in Lars Von Trier’s next film and I am all in!


Picture 2A big THANK YOU to Hana Alberts and Jessica Dailey, the two fiercely talented Senior Editors/Vixens of New York Real Estate, over at Curbed New York for picking up a story about This Is Not A House that appeared on Apartment Therapy this week! They didn’t have to add their own lovely little write-up but they did and I’m so grateful to these ladies for their kindness and for the great work they do over at their site, which allows all of us New Yorkers the opportunity to sit back with a 12-pack of Diet Coke and pour over the dirty bits of other people’s apartments from the privacy of our own. Curbed is one of those rare sites, along with Street Easy, that offers an equally morbid (It Came From Craigslist) and delicious (Real Estate Death Match) glimpse into warts-and-all city living.

Also it seems I received a nomination for the Microdwelling Hall of Fame which Finn would like to accept on my behalf because he’s into that kind of attention whoring and spotlight pillaging.

If you haven’t already please go check out Curbed now, as well as their other amazing titles Eater (food) and Racked (CLOTHES). You won’t regret it. Unless you believe Carrie Bradshaw actually lived in that fucking brownstone then, sure, you may regret reading and you may start drinking pink wine from a bag and you most definitely will start telling everyone about that time you almost made homecoming court.

PS: I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for their lovely posts and emails the last few days. It’s all too easy to leave a nasty comment when it is in an anonymous forum but it takes real effort and courage to write something kind and of value. So…thank you…and just know I have a fuzzy feeling in my chest even though I’ll probably deny it if you confront me about it because I’m a guy and I have trouble acknowledging my feelings.

PPS: You all are very inspiring so let’s keep on keeping on!


I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Recently a friend of mine rather astutely (or shrewdly) told me he thought the whole business of design and renovation said less about how a person lives and more about how they don’t. Specifically he was referring to me and my resistance to process a failed relationship and how it had manifested itself in my apartment.

I said it was a shrewd observation, right?

I once dated someone who was really into astrology. He believed that, although we are all unique in our own different ways, our behaviors are ultimately determined by our signs. He used his apartment as an example. That thing–WOOF!–was styled within an inch of its life. He was a Cancer–the crab of the zodiac–and like a crab, with its soft, delicate abdomen, he thought of his apartment as his shell, the contents of which were the salvaged bits he assembled to protect himself against outside harm.

Now, to me, that kind of logic is one cat-skeleton-under-your-sofa away from appearing on Hoarders: Buried Alive but it was the first time I began to think about design as symptomatic of something greater than just an affection for pretty fabrics and Eames chairs. [By the way, this was not the relationship in question but I thank you, OK Cupid, for your devilish sense of humor.]

I don’t disagree with my friend. In fact I think he’s actually right, even if what he said made me want to curl into a ball and listen to Bon Iver in the dark. Why else do we jump through all the hoops of making an interior hospitable if not for the perception of an inhospitable exterior? Is that too big of a leap to make? Maybe. Do I care? No. I’m feeling very introspective today, so lay back and enjoy this metaphorical Slip ‘N Slide with me. I think a lot of it has to do with control (or the illusion of having it), which I totally admit about myself. Designing my space, designing other people’s spaces: a lot of it is about gaining control and eliminating chaos and feeling like choosing to place a plant here or put a lamp there is a way of coping with the pressures and emotional stresses in life and oh God I’m venturing into teen cutting territory what is wrong with me I should stop before I admit I dumpster dive to feel alive…

[Isn’t it fantastic how I can start off talking about design and bring it around to wrist cutters? Don’t you find that just CHARMING about me? No? Yea, me neither.]

I’m still not sure what design really is but I don’t think it needs to be only one thing, nor does it need to say only one thing about me or how I feel about myself. It says a lot about who I am! I use design to insulate myself from harmful things but I also use it to satisfy aesthetics. And I’m OK with that.

Now enough with the heavy stuff. Here’s a picture of Finn dressed as a sassy devil:



What a thrill it is to be featured on Apartment Therapy today!


Finn being a diva PER USUAL

I have long been a fan of everything on AT so it’s a real honor and privilege to even be mentioned alongside their content and profiles of other spaces!

This had been in the works for some time, but because I know you all hate spoilers I kept things on the QT. The same cannot be said however for the season finales of Homeland or Downton Abbey so your Spoiler Alert Threat Level Warnings should be set to TANGERINE from here on out, are we clear?

Now, if you’ve linked to this blog from AT’s article and are experiencing it for the first time welcome! As regular readers of This Is Not A House can attest, we do things a little differently around these parts. In the course of writing about rental renovations and affordable DIYs I often ramble and get lost on tangents. There may be times when I equate getting over a past relationship to refinishing a hardwood floor, or mention Target Lady when talking about regrouting your tub, but rest assured I’ve got a steady hand and know where I’m going with this. It takes awhile to get my point across but I guarantee the journey will have been worth it.

So please enjoy! And whether you’re a seasoned pro or an aspiring DIYer please please please let me and everyone else know what you’re doing! I’ve put my contact email in the sidebar and comments are enable on each post. I think the best thing about being a part of this community is sharing our ideas. (hashtag sentimental moment hashtag tear hashtag LUV U GUYZ)

Last but certainly not least, a very special thank you must be given to the brilliant Andrea Sparacio and her wonderful editor, Nancy Mitchell, for their generosity and kind words. Ladies, your tennis bracelets are in the mail.


I experienced a tragedy recently over the Christmas break. This is not unique, nor is it entirely as dramatic as I’m about to make it, but let’s just say Santa took away as much as gave this year.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take it back and set the scene:



EVAN, 29, is taking his dog on his morning walk. He is in sweatpants and a hoodie, hair akimbo. He is handsome but not conventionally handsome. Handsome in the way Spencer Tracey would’ve referred to Barbara Stanwyck as handsome. He has sleep in his eyes. He walks slowly though deliberately, as if trying to finish a race with as little enthusiasm as possible. FINN, his dog, SNIFFS the ground as they walk.

Suddenly there is a large CRASH. Evan whips around and sees a potted FIDDLE LEAF FIG strewn about the sidewalk, innards splayed on the curb, and a WOMAN wiping off her hands and retreating back into her brownstone. Evan rushes over, reaches down and cradles the plant’s trunks .



What have they done to you my sweet precious child?

With the strength of two underdeveloped six year-olds Evan whisks the fiddle leaf fig up and rushes it back to his apartment. SHRIEKING can be heard. It is faint but high-pitched and definite.


Evan pours soil into an empty planter.


Breathe, dammit! BREATHE!

At this point he realizes he’s probably Faye Dunaway-ing this whole scene but he continues anyway. He lifts a watering can and out pours a nourishing stream over the soil and onto the plant’s roots.


(in his best Gene Wilder)



image_2END SCENE.

Woo boy, that was an extremely histrionic way of saying I found a plant on the street one morning, picked it up and put it in a pot. La-di-da, right?

I will say this though: That fiddle leaf fig was a fucking BE-YOOT. Gorgeous! Even more so since I saw a woman chuck it on the street the morning of garbage day here in New York. After all it had been through I really considered the fact that it lasted all of spring, into summer, well past fall and onto winter an act of Jesus taking the proverbial wheel.

Then winter break came and shattered my great fortune like one of those lollipop hammers in Candy Crush:

image_1It was going so strong! Sure my apartment doesn’t get a lot of DIRECT SUNLIGHT but the only people in Manhattan who get DIRECT SUNLIGHT is (in this order) 1) Donald Trump 2) Sarah Jessica Parker 3) Richard Kind (I know, weird, right?) 4) DeBlasio and 5) Gloria Steinem. THAT’S IT. NO ONE GETS DIRECT SUNLIGHT. And, yes, I was gone for a week but I had a neighbor come in a water it while I was gone. I did everything I was supposed to do! The fact that I was able to keep a fiddle leaf fig–an orphaned fig no less–alive for this long had to have meant something, right?

It meant something alright. It meant my thermostat hadn’t kicked in yet:

imageAlas, the silent killer of the house plant is a slow and steady hiss: The radiator. The bastard! It had gotten so cold while I was gone for Christmas the steam heat in my apartment completely obliterated my precious fig.

I let it go for awhile; its rotting corpse withering before me. I tired to be okay with it, really I did, but the only thing more depressing than a dead house plant is knowing we gave Tom Hanks an Oscar for Forrest Gump, so I took some action and had it replaced:

photoNot what you expected? Well, neither did I, but the local florist on my block had palms in stock and it was palms I got. I could’ve been precious. I could’ve been demanding. I could’ve broken the bank getting a designer house plant that was a littler more trendy, but instead I went for what was cheap and in season. Because you know why? Daddy’s on a budget and these are the realities of life. YES, it makes my apartment look a bit like the safari section of a Ralph Lauren department store and, YES, I’m in danger of some nasty paper cuts, but in the end I have a live, vibrant, green, living, live and LIVING thing in my apartment and it is a sight to behold.

I guess the lesson is this: do what makes you happy as long as it’s within your budget. Fiddle leaf figs, although ‘of the moment’ (hello, Elle Decor, there are other shrubs out there), are also pricey, and if you can’t afford what Richard Mishaan is using in his interiors then don’t sweat it, my friend. A little green can go a long way, no matter what kind of green it may be.

Bring some life into your space and don’t be deterred when it dies. It will be worth the experience and brighten up your day.

BTW: NYC Pigeon Pendant by Three Potato Four. Check them out!


…he had just moved into his new crime fighting headquarters, a studio of mirth and baby giggles nestled high above the villainy of Manhattan’s converted bedrooms and railroad apartments, in a quiet neighborhood on the Upper East Side with his sidekick, Finn. You may remember it looked something like this, viewers:



or this:



How can a crime fighter and his super dog battle injustice and carbohydrates in a place like this?

Well, Gothamites, as the story goes our hero found his weakness before he found his strength and what began as a campaign to end the tyranny of futon couches and hand-me-down console tables really just became a half-assed attempt to throw some shit on the wall:

3 4

Fine but not great. But fear not! Imbued with fresh enthusiasm (and a lease renewal) our hero grew a pair and has continued on with his journey…the journey to make a house that’s not his own into a home. Ah HA! Take that, management companies! You may own the walls, but he will own…what’s…on the walls. OH FORGET IT.

Stay tuned for more developments!


I know, I know. I’ve been absent. I wish I could say I’ve been spending my time driving Cameron’s dad’s Ferrari and singing “Danke Schoen” to downtown Chicago but the truth is I just dropped the blog ball!

A few months after I moved, full of fiery determination and bubbling over with inspiration, I had high hopes of turning my first apartment into a home.

Then I made a big mistake. I looked at my bank account. And as soon as they came the plans to make my Upper East Side studio into a palace left. I timidly and shamefully took a step back from what I wanted out of fear. What if I only live here for a year? What if my rent jumps and I’m forced out? Is it wise to pour all my time and energy into a house that’s not my own? Will I ever get the money back that I’m putting in?

Then I had a thought: FUCK IT. You only live once, right, and if I am only here for a year or the rent increases and forces me out or a rat king rises up from the sewer and carries me on their throne of knotted tails back to their den then at least I would’ve made the most of my time. And if I’m careful with my budget and implement cunningly crafty ideas I can have the home of my dreams regardless of how much that dumb Bank of America ATM says I have to spend. I just have to be smart and stay resourceful.

And so it resumes. Operation: No Fear is in full swing and there are some very exciting changes happening!

EDITOR’S NOTE: To anyone reading this and scratching their head over the disparity in time stamps on this blog and the content in each post, well, you caught me! I’ve transferred the blog to a different platform and the only sensible thing my small, pea brain could handle is cutting and pasting each post from one to the other. At the time it seemed like the easiest way to archive it all, but now I just feel all gross and dirty.

Phew, it feels good to get that off my chest. I hate lying to you.

b1 [Converted]

Can we talk for second about how important of a role music can play in getting your shit done? The right music can easily half the time of an otherwise tedious and troublesome task. The wrong tunes and alphabetizing your spice cabinet can seem like a marathon of Shoah.

Usually I clean the house to Fleetwood. It’s melodic, sometimes wandering but always singable which is conducive to scrubbing grout. I dare you not to have a spotless tub after a few rotations of Tango In The Night. I dare you.

Right now, as I pack, it’s Born & Raised. I’m flying like a madman through all the unpleasantries of weeding out the bathroom cabinets and doing it with aplomb to Walt Grace’s Submarine Test 1967.

There’s also a little of Brandi Carlile’s Bear Creek thrown in there for when I come across a stray tuft of ubiquitous body hair and need to power through.



The Emissary garden stool is the LBD of interior design right now, like Starck’s Louis Ghost chair was a few years ago. They’re popping up everywhere: House Beautiful, Elle Decor, even Architectural Digest.

At $300 a pop they’re considered a steal by most designers, but if you’re not Richard Mishaan and you don’t have a custom tuxedo in your living room, the cost of which could snag you a new Cadillac, then spending hundreds of dollars on a piece of pottery may not fit into your budget. So what do you do when you want stay on trend and conscious of the bottom-line?

Get online.

Case in point, the Emissary stool. I was all set to plunk down $250 after announced an outdoor sale. I wavered and I waffled and I wondered and, in the end, I missed the sale. Within a weekend they shot back up to full price.

Remiss by this White People Problem and unwilling to accept defeat, I took to Google and searched for “Emissary Garden Stool”. Not after 2 pages, or 3 or 4 or even 5, but 6 I found Phil Michael Trading Company. There they were, at half the price of, with free shipping included! This had to be a scam, right? Wrong. It all had to do with operating costs.

In my search I discovered some online retailers do not keep their own goods in stock. This a term called drop shipping. When an order is placed an online retailer will transfer the order directly to the manufacturer or wholesaler, who then ships directly to the customer. The online retailer makes a profit on the difference between the retail and wholesale cost. This method can have some hiccups but generally runs smoothly and keeps overhead low, which means companies like Phil Michael can offer products at a more competitive price then big box stores, like Target.

I think the proof is in the pudding:


This will look great next to the dresser and provide another place for someone to park their messenger bag/glass of wine/butt. Win win!

With great effort comes great reward, so start believing there is always a better deal to be had and get googling!