It feels like it’s been ages since you and I sat down and had some quality time together, hasn’t it? I have been slammed the past few weeks but I know that’s a terrible excuse between two friends as intimate as you and me. It’s just, well, you know, occasionally life gets in the way! It’s been difficult to carve out a few minutes and jot down some thoughts lately. I’ve been working a ton, for one, so you don’t have to worry about that. My social calendar has been surprisingly robust and you know that’s something I’ve expressed concern to you about before. Also I started this incredible new–eh, who am I kidding? There are no secrets between us. Season two of House of Cards came out. That’s where I’ve been, OK? I’ve been consumed by Kevin Spacey and his Droopy Dog impression and I know that makes me a horrible person but you’re supposed to be a safe place for me to express myself without fear of judgment or ridicule so LAY OFF. Remember when I was 7 and I told you I secretly wanted to be Donatello every time my brother and I played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but he called it first so I always had to be Raphael? You didn’t judge me then. Or how about when I was in 6th grade and after I saw While You Were Sleeping I confessed that I thought Sandra Bullock and I, if given the chance, could be great friends? I even referred to her as Sandy and still you remained impartial! So, even though I might’ve put Frank Underwood and his political shenanigans before you, I would really appreciate it if you could extend the same courtesies to me now that you gave me back then. And while I’m coming clean I might as well admit to losing a few days this week to pour over Alec Bladwin’s letter about being a white, entitled male. Whew! There. I feel better now that we’ve cleared the air. Now we can move on.
Anyhoodle, Diary, I want to tell you about a project I started. I’m excited, if not slightly terrified. Some nice, well-meaning (or perhaps misguided depending on how this whole thing goes down) people approached me about designing their new office. These people–who shall remain nameless for the time being but who gave me permission to blab about this to the entire Internet–asked me to turn a 1,500 sf loft-style apartment in Midtown into a fully function workplace and like a sack of dead squirrels against a brick wall I threw myself at the chance.
Pretty great, huh, Diary? But it’s not all shits and giggles; there are more than few challenges. First, the main working space is enormous (by New York standards). At roughly 15′ wide and 25′ long there is a ton of space the fill, and with high ceilings and open layouts loft apartments are really unforgiving when your goal is to make intimate and distinct moments. That’s right, MOMENTS. I can only be pretentious and sassy with you, my dear Diary.
The second challenge is time. Because this is a place of business I don’t have the luxury of faffing about for a week, trying to build a nightstand. I may not know a lot about professional adults but I do know they need places to hold meetings, take conference calls and do whatever else it is they do that allows them to buy $14 salads every day for lunch. I tend to (surprise surprise) be a little particular about things. If I had my druthers (side note: where did that saying even come from? Druthers? DRUTHERS. It makes me think of Sally Stuthers in drag. Not RuPaul drag but, like, Albert Nobbs drag. Yea, chew on that for a bit and try to fall asleep tonight. Oh, druthers!) anyway if I had my druthers I would look for one-of-a-kind pieces, but I’m well aware that if those druthers were indeed in my possession then there would be an office full of people sitting on milk crates for two months.
The third hurdle is cash-o-la, but that’s just the reality of any project, whether it is for yourself or someone else, so I’m not too bothered by that. It just means, as much as it makes me cringe to think about it, I’m going to have to sign up for an IKEA Family Card. Wuff. But on the bright side if I can find a few gems from the Swedish Meatball House and Table Store I will have also helped myself in the time-saving department.
The only thing I could think to do was chunk things up. I know, I know, Diary, I, too, hate spaces that are chopped and choked and don’t have a flow but I’m hoping that by doing so the larger space will feel more like a collection of smaller, more private spaces rather than just one big room with a bunch of shit in it.
Take, for instance, the living room (for lack of a better term). I normally hate the back of a couch to face the entrance of a room but here it cordons off the space nicely, as if to tell visitors and employees it is the HBIC. So I’m going with it. By the way, I guess this is as good of time as any to mention how desperately I rely on painter’s tape. I’m very tactile and it’s an enormous help to see the layout and play with it before having to make any real decisions. A godsend, I tell you.
They’ve got some great artwork and awards so I was hoping for a few walls of shelving and framing–which is a great and cheap way to look like you’re filling the space when really it’s just smoke and mirrors. Smoke & mirrors: that’s kind of my thing. But you already knew about that, Diary. I wrote about how I wanted to be a magician when I was 11 but changed my mind only when I got a paper cut from a deck of cards.
Anydoodle, that was a few weeks ago, well before Frank Underwood took the Oath of Office of the Presidency and I became sidetracked and subsequently neglected you. Here’s where I’m at now, kitten:
All things considered I’m pleased…so far. There are a few sore thumbs standing out (curtains, anyone, hellooo) but at least it’s a space where people can conduct business and watch cat videos on YouTube without sitting on the floor.
I’ll quickly run through some of the stuff I found because although you’re just a diary I know you enjoy that kind of stuff. The big set pieces–the couch, the conference/dining table–I really went all out for, and by “all out” I mean I actually paid asking price. You know me. You know how I operate. I never pay asking, not even on a haircut, but when you’re rolling the dice with someone else’s time and money you can’t spend your weekend making offers over eBay. The couch is a tufted-back from ABC Home WHICH WAS ON SALE (otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to snag it). The table I sourced from an amazing little spot in Jersey (I mentioned it here) and although it was by far the most expensive piece it sure was worth the price! I dressed it with some Tobias chairs from IKEA (ugh) to play against the rustic texture of the wood:
But the coffee table. That is what I’m most stoked about, Diary! Last weekend, in between episodes, I willed myself out of bed, onto the train and deep into the recesses of Brooklyn to one of my favorite thrift stores. I didn’t go for anything in particular but I was feeling down about all the IKEA furniture I bought and I knew I had to add a texture other than Capitalism to the whole schematic. Well, my prayers were answered. Sandwiched in between a china cabinet and a rice cooker I found three lucite legs and some gorgeous brass cross-bracing:
That thing is sex, is it not? All yummy and vintage and unique and FORTY-FIVE DOLLARS SO TAKE THAT, SWEDES, PUT THAT IN YOUR PICKLED HERRING AND SMOKE IT. Added bonus: the glass top was only $100 from Pier 1 (who knew you could buy cheap glass tops of practically any size from Pier 1?) which brought that whole endeavor well under 200 spanks. I dressed it with some books from home so you’d think I’m extra fancy but you and I both know that’s just a monstrous lie.
As for the other stuff, the carpet is a hand-woven kilim from West Elm Daddy got at steep discount. In addition to already being on sale there was a small run along one of the edges, so I plopped the sofa on it and called it a day. The armchairs I just plain got lucky–they belong to one of the employees! I don’t know if you caught it, Diary, but the planter and palm in the corner there used to be mine. I donated it to the project to add a little umph to the room and I think it works quite nicely. (In exchange I got a new planter but more on that at a later time.) The media console is IKEA. I was angling for a beautiful vintage credenza with plans of refinishing but I couldn’t get the seller down in price so I had to let it go, sadly. As much as it kills me to admit it there are times when you need to accept defeat, and those times are usually when some asshole in Queens wants $400 for his mother’s broken, shitty sideboard. The shelving along the eastern wall is IKEA, too. It’s the one thing I don’t totally loathe because the price was right and the impact is big.
Anynoodle, that’s where I’m at. It’s a work in progress and there’s still more to come, but for now I’m content, if not happy, with the progress. I’m never satisfied and I think you understand that about me, Diary, and if you forgot I will point you to the entry I made after eating two 1-lb bags of Twizzlers during Tree of Life. And I’m sorry once again for giving you the Claire Underwood (AKA cold shoulder). I promise I’ll write in you more often and next time without all the House of Cards references.
Hearts and farts,