After a month of dwelling in our new townhome, the place is finally beginning to feel like home. What began as a hope and prayer that the rather ubiquitous space circa 1996 would become an urban retreat has finally started to happen. Taking it room by room, and in some cases piece by piece, we have seen a huge transformation of the once dingy and dirty interior become something that we can very nearly be quite proud of. It's still certainly lacking a few more essential fixes (window screens and treatments, anyone?) but the overall look and feel is getting quite to close to what we had imagined.
Attending to the little practical solutions that make life at home a wee bit easier has indeed paid off. Among the things that I list as 'cheap fixes' is the master bedroom's bathroom flooring. Once covered in the filthy grey carpeting that existed throughout the entire second story, we did not put in the Ikea laminate tundra floors in the bathroom as we did in the rest of the house due to Ikea's own disclaimer: not suitable for wet environments. I say that while sighing a deep breath and blowing a wisp of hair off my face, for while countless pictures in the Ikea catalog and online exist of people utilizing the laminates in kitchens and bathrooms, we decided to make life a little trickier by taking them at their word. True to our tragically hip taste (aka being too poor to afford the good stuff we yearn for), my husband and I envision an overhaul of the master bathroom in the next few years at which point 'better' flooring will be utilized. At this point, however, there are bigger fish to fry, our money only stretches so far and we had a bare bathroom floor that might have given us tetanus thanks to exposed nails.
As all great architects and designers say, a tight budget and space usually lends itself to the best innovation and solution. I wonder if they would think cheap laminate tiles would fit into that equation. Nevertheless, we do so we took a trip to Lowe's to purchase a single box of laminate, adhesive-backed tiles for a quick $25 fix. To be fair, we could have spent $12 on a box of cheaper tiles, but $25 gave us a slight upgrade to 'Euro Tiles' (it's gotta be good, right?) and tiles that would slightly match the dark laminates in the adjoining hallway. The job was relatively painless, though the tiles did not succumb to the sharp razor as readily as the box suggested. Like most all household fixes, being meticulous with measurements is essential here. In two hours, our new bathroom floors were complete for the price of a dinner at the local taqueria's (and that's saying a lot if you know how dirt cheap those places are!). What's more, it was a job that even I could do once I mastered the technique of cutting the little buggers:
Turning away from the various fixes required of converting the space into a cheap modern marvel, decorating is equally as important as anything. While it's often tempting to believe that money can buy a perfect setting, Nate and I choose to believe that a little ingenuity when it comes to interior decorating can be much more rewarding and give a better overall impression than the cookie-cutter stamped versions that cost a small fortune. Couple this belief with the fact that we had to buy most furnishings all over again (yup, we parted ways with much of our furniture prior to moving from Seattle) and we had one heck of a time managing to find 'just the right stuff'. We searched high and low for our new dining table and chairs and our sofa. We agreed upon a white pedastal dining room table very much in the same vein as the comparable vintage Saarinen one that sells for over $2,000. Easy it might have been to couple its sleek 60's modernity with matching white chairs, we kept resisting despite the fact that many of them were in our price range and readily accessible (FYI Target has a great Scandinavian inspired dining chair available in numerous colors for around $70 which was so tempting). Browsing one of my favorite sites for new vintage, inmod.com , I discoverd a wealth of Eames-era style chairs including my alltime favorite Eifel (god it's pathetic that I know the designers an their work this well by now!). Still, I resisted. Nate and I originally thought of incorporating something 'green' into the mix- be it by using second-hand pieces or wood. We're really not the neo-hippie types so much as we are into the idea that practicing sustainability looks tres chic and lasts a lifetime. Still none of them floated our boat, or at least a price range that we could afford.
A meander into San Jose's antique row gave us a glimmer of hope until SMACK! We were hit with four gorgeous 60's era teak and black vinyl chairs straight out of any grandmother's house. With a few scratches on the vinyal and teak in desperate need of some loving, we snatched up the set of them at a bartering deal of far less than we might have paid for new (and far better than most new modern chairs on the market). While we haven't noticed any mark of the maker on their undersides, they are the sturdiest chairs we've ever owned (our last ones literally fell apart after 5 years). An hour spent coaxing out the gorgeous teak glow with teak oil revealed a hidden gem that tickled us silly and contrasted beautifully with the stark white table and Ikea lamp:
Buying vintage pieces evokes a sense of duty to the furnishings- a respect for their age and (in the case of our chairs) every bum that has ever sat in them as well as an obligation to keep them in the tip-top shape they are in. With more love and affection, they will survive another forty-five years if we have anything to say about it.
Lastly, our "Udachi" moment. Meaning Good Luck, I have always loved this Russian word and use it whenever I get the chance to impart some Russo-lingua into my fellow American capitalists. One thing that we recognized a need for is a new dishwasher. The current one is possibly the worst I've ever had the experience of running across, and that includes all of the city apartments I've resided in over the years. Old, noisy and incapable of actually cleaning a single dish, I began checking out dishwashers and compiling a list of 'must have's' when we find the good fortune to purchase one. Thanks to my karma-good husband and his predilection of entering into GiveAways and his absolute favorite go-to site for modern ideas and inspiration, apartmenttherapy.com , we have apparently won an outstanding new Whirlpool Resource Saving dishwasher... and not a moment too soon! When the new super efficient food-grubbing washer arrives, I will be sure to post up pictures. Until then, THANK YOU APARTMENT THERAPY! The ideas you've given us is more rewarding than most things, but a brand spanking new dishwasher might rival it!