Articles on this Page
- 02/05/14--04:00: _The Life Aquatic: A...
- 02/05/14--06:00: _The Great Light Bul...
- 02/05/14--08:00: _DIY: A Storage Tray...
- 02/05/14--10:00: _Remodeling 101: Ext...
- 02/06/14--02:00: _Christine's House: ...
- 02/06/14--04:00: _5 Favorites: Bedsid...
- 02/06/14--06:00: _An Artful Sweep: Di...
- 02/06/14--08:00: _The White Album: 10...
- 02/06/14--10:00: _Trending on Gardeni...
- 02/06/14--12:00: _A Tiny Japanese Udo...
- 02/07/14--02:00: _Expert Advice: 10 T...
- 02/07/14--04:00: _High/Low: Cushy Eng...
- 02/07/14--06:00: _The Plywood Makeove...
- 02/07/14--08:00: _5 Favorites: Rope-H...
- 02/07/14--10:00: _10 Easy Pieces: The...
- 02/08/14--02:00: _Current Obsessions:...
- 02/08/14--04:00: _Tile Intel: A Budge...
- 02/10/14--02:00: _Sarah's Refined Ren...
- 02/10/14--04:00: _DIY: Easy, Colorful...
- 02/10/14--06:00: _Domestic Dispatches...
- 02/05/14--04:00: The Life Aquatic: A London Mews House for a Submariner
- 02/05/14--06:00: The Great Light Bulb Debate
- 02/05/14--08:00: DIY: A Storage Tray Made from a Single Piece of Leather
- One piece of Tooling Leather; $14.03 at Amazon or sourced from your local hardware store
- Four Metal Spring Clamps (optional); $3.11 via Amazon.
- Pair of Leather Hole Punch Pliers ($8.44 at Amazon) or a Buttonhole Leather Punch ($17.49 at Tandy Leather Factory)
- A Rivet Setter ($3.20 each), a Rivet Anvil ($2.40), and one 100-pack of medium Solid Brass Double Cap Rivets ($16.50) all available at Tandy Leather Factory
- 02/05/14--10:00: Remodeling 101: Extras Worth Considering in Your Remodel
- 02/06/14--02:00: Christine's House: Living Small in London
- 02/06/14--04:00: 5 Favorites: Bedside Shelves (in Lieu of Tables)
- 02/06/14--06:00: An Artful Sweep: Display-Worthy Household Brooms
- 02/06/14--08:00: The White Album: 10 Tiny Powder Rooms
- 02/06/14--10:00: Trending on Gardenista: 5 Ways to Survive Winter
- 02/06/14--12:00: A Tiny Japanese Udon Bar, Brit Style
- 02/07/14--02:00: Expert Advice: 10 Tips for Living in 240 Square Feet
- 02/07/14--04:00: High/Low: Cushy English-Style Sofa
- 02/07/14--06:00: The Plywood Makeover: An Artful Apartment in Melbourne
- 02/07/14--08:00: 5 Favorites: Rope-Hung Shelving
- 02/07/14--10:00: 10 Easy Pieces: The Great Slipper Debate
- 02/08/14--02:00: Current Obsessions: In the Mood for Love
- 02/08/14--04:00: Tile Intel: A Budget Remodel with Heath Seconds
- 02/10/14--02:00: Sarah's Refined Rental in St. Helena, CA
- 02/10/14--04:00: DIY: Easy, Colorful Switch Plate Covers
- Simple white switch plate covers, like Leviton's Decora Wallplate ($0.65 each) and Device Switch Wallplate ($0.53 each) from Amazon.
- A base polish for priming the switch cover: I used RGB's Base, a Formaldehyde-, Toluene-, and DBP-free polish for $18 at RGB.
- Colored nail polish in a high gloss or matte finish, plus a nail polish base: I used Illamasqua Nail Varnish ($17) and Marc Jacobs High-Shine Nail Lacquer ($18), both from Sephora.
- A 1/2 Inch Paintbrush ($3.14 for a set of three brushes at Cheap Joe's Art Stuff) or 1 Inch Foam Paintbrush ($0.88 each at MSC Direct)—or ,if you're a skilled manicurist, use the nail polish brush.
- 02/10/14--06:00: Domestic Dispatches: Death to the Double Sink
In a small London mews house (a former stables with living quarters above), architecture firm Jonathan Tuckey Design was asked to maximize both storage and living space. The challenge came from someone well accustomed to small-space living: the owner formerly worked on a submarine (leading the architects to dub the project the Submariner's House).
Tuckey’s response to the three-story Victorian's proportions was simple: introduce an open stair and built-in storage. Pushed against a wall to create as large a floor plate as possible, the new stair lends its voids to the primary spaces on each floor as it connects them vertically, from new basement to roof terrace. Walls of cupboards, designed to be seamless with the architecture, further maximize the efficiency of the setup. If this is submarine living, we’re on board.
Above: The late Victorian façade is well preserved. In the summer, the original stable doors open the ground floor to the cobblestone street of the mews.
Above: The open three-story stairwell is dramatically on view in the entry, which has a small command station, with television and outlets, just beyond the front door.
Above L: Built-in floor-to-ceiling cupboards run the length of the ground floor kitchen and dining room. Above R: The cupboards are lined with shelving of black MDF.
Above: A copper-lined pendant brings warmth to the white kitchen and dining room.
Above: A white-stained wood lattice divider keeps the stair to the second floor open to the dining room and kitchen. Behind the kitchen partition, frosted glass lights the stair to the new basement level.
Above: The stairs are made of red concrete and run along the far wall. The overhead void of the stairwell lends the kitchen an unexpected feeling of expansiveness.
Above: The red stairs run like a ribbon through the house, while the stair slats "act as both balustrade and room divider," say the architects.
Above: On the living room level (the second floor), the stairwell sits between the lattice screens.
Above: The living room sofa is built into cabinetry and bookshelves.
Above: Natural daylight, which comes into the stairwell from a floor-to-ceiling frameless window at the rear of the house, adds to the feeling of expansiveness in a small space.
Above: An office is tucked away in the back corner of the house behind the built-in sofa and shelving.
Above: The lattice rails and cement stair provide a visually interesting background to the living room while keeping the space open.
Above: On the top floor, a wood-lined bedroom rests under the eaves. A pocket door can slide out for privacy.
Above: A television is built into a bedroom wall.
Above: The connecting bathroom, with limestone bath and sink, runs along the rear of the house under the eaves.
Above: In the newly excavated basement, daylight from above lights up the hallway. The mirrored doors lead to a game room and guest room.
Above: Felt-lined walls in the basement game room slide back to reveal shelves and cupboards. The room can also be partitioned to create a small guest bedroom.
Above: The red cement from the stair above becomes the ceiling of the basement bathroom.
Above: Yellow tiles add vitality to the bathroom.
For more small-living in London, see Rehab Diaries: A Notting Hill Kitchen Extension, Natural Light Included and A Mezzanine with a View in a London Victorian.
The discussion about whether or not to switch from traditional incandescent light bulbs is over. On January 1, 2014, old-generation incandescent bulbs were put to rest. So whether you choose to stockpile the bulbs of the past or face the facts and embrace the bulbs of the future, the great light bulb debate has shifted. The question now is: what's the best of the new generation of bulbs?
Please share your favorite new-generation light bulb choices in the comments section below.
The EISA (Energy Independence and Security Act) put into place higher energy standards for light bulbs that the good old incandescent bulbs don't meet. Specifically, all screw-in light bulbs have to use 25 percent less power by 2014 and 65 percent less by 2020. From 2012 to 2013, 100- and 75-watt light bulbs were phased out. And, as of January 1, 2014, traditional 40- and 60-watt incandescent bulbs can no longer be manufactured or imported. They can continue to be sold, however, so devotees can stock up until supplies run out.
Above: The good news is that your hardware store shelves are full of options that go far beyond the coiled CFL (but aren't as 19th century as the Edison bulb). Image via Eco Evolution.
Specialty Bulbs Are Exempt
No need to panic if you have lamps or appliances that use specialty bulbs (such as globe-shaped bulbs, three-way bulbs, small refrigerator bulbs, Edison bulbs, or the Remodelista favorite silver-tipped bulbs). The specialty category of bulbs is exempt from the law. See the 1000 Bulbs Blog for a comprehensive List of Exempt Bulbs.
Above (L to R): The FEIT Original Style Vintage Bulb ($9.97), the FEIT Original Vintage Chandelier Bulb Two Pack ($5.98), and the FEIT Original Shape Vintage Style Bulb ($9.97) are all available at Home Depot.
Are Incandescent Bulbs Gone?
Incandescent bulbs (those that generate light by a filament source) aren't dead, they've just been reinvented using high-efficiency, longer-lasting halogen technology. They're a low cost, high efficiency alternative to the 40- and 60-watt incandescents we're accustomed to and come in a look that is nearly identical.
Above: Three styles of high-efficiency halogen incandescent bulbs: daylight (blue tone), warm white, and clear. Image via Bulbs.com.
What are the Alternatives?
There are three primary types of bulbs available to replace energy-sucking traditional incandescents:
1. Halogen incandescent bulbs use 28% less energy than the traditional bulb. They are the most similar in appearance and behavior and are the most affordable option.
2. LED bulbs (light emitting diodes) use 85% less energy and last upwards of 25 times longer (the LED bulb I just purchased estimates a life of 22 years) than traditional incandescents and three times longer than CFLs. Another advantage: they're fully dimmable. LEDs are more expensive at point of sale, but the cost savings in reduced energy use and replacements is said to more than make up for the price. For a comprehensive guide to LEDs, see the New York Times feature "New Reasons to Change Light Bulbs".
3. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) use 75% less energy and last about eight times longer than incandescent bulbs. Most are not dimmable and the majority still have the coil shape.
Which is best? It is a very personal choice, dependent on your views about environmental impact, the color and quality of light provided by the bulb, and the aesthetic look of the bulb (especially if it's exposed). The good news is that your hardware store lighting shelves are bursting with options.
Halogen Incandescent Bulbs
Above: Looks can be deceiving. The new GE Energy Efficient Halogen 43W Incandescent Lightbulbs look like the old generation of incandescents, but are 28% more efficient and are equivalent to 60 watts of the old style; $6.60 for a two-pack at Amazon.
Above: The Cree 9.5W Warm White LED Bulb is equivalent to a 60 watt bulb; it's dimmable and gets great ratings for its light quality; $14.89 at Amazon.
Above: What about those reflector bulbs in your ceiling? The Satco S8993 11W LED Light is a warm LED flood light equivalent to a 65 watt bulb; $23.95 at 1000Bulbs.
Above: Not a fan of the coiled CFL bulb? You are not alone. The good news is that covered options, like the Satco S7291 15 Watt A-Shape CFL, are available. This bulb is a 60 watt equivalent and emits a warm white light; $5.89 at 1000 Bulbs.
First there were leather baskets (see our recent post: Woven Leather Storage Baskets), then I spotted the custom bedside trays at various Ace Hotels and decided that the junk removed from the average pocket (keys, lint, and change) looks much better when enveloped in a nest of supple leather.
The discovery left me convinced I could replicate the look or at least, get pretty close. Read on for step-by-step instructions to make your own leather tray.
Above: Parisian blogger Pascale Mestdagh of Between the Lines created a folded leather tray made to exact measurements (Pascale offers a perfectly drawn paper template). See the full instructions and a print out of each step at Between the Lines.
Above: During a recent trip to the Spartan store in Austin, TX, I came across some attractive Leather Trays handcrafted by artist Natalie Davis, and almost bought one, but then decided to make my own version.
The Finished Project
Above: I opted for a natural tanned piece of leather, but you could also experiment with leather dyes to create a color like Natalie Davis's tray above. Photography by Izabella Simmons for Remodelista.
Step One: I first used small clamps to form the edges of the tray and make punching holes in the corners easier.
Step Two: Use a pencil to mark the position of your holes (a total of eight markings); a ruler comes in handy, too—you want each to be in the exact same spot. Then squeeze the edges of each corner together and use the leather hole puncher to cut out your holes.
Step Three: Thread a rivet through each hole and use the rivet setter to attach the two sides of the rivet together. Repeat on the other three corners—and you're done! The project was much easier and less expensive than I had anticipated.
Into easy DIY projects? Check out our latest DIY posts, including Pendant Lights Made from Drinking Straws and Dramatic Floor Stencils. And how about this DIY Block-Printed Tea Towel, guided by a printing kit?
According to architect John Deforest, a remodel should be "safe, sane, and even fun." This is the fun part.
In our book Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home, we partnered with members of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory to come up with a list of extras worth considering when remodeling your house. True, they're not inexpensive, but they're likely to be money well spent. We ourselves have lived with many of these frills, and are eyeing a few for our future remodels.
Here, 11 niceties worth considering:
A fireplace or wood stove
According to Seattle architects Malbouef Bowie, fireplaces can have enormous impact as architectural details (and wood stoves, of course, are significant, and efficient, heat sources). "You can have a really simple interior," says architect Tiffany Bowie,"and if you add a focal point, it really grabs people’s attention and interest."
Pictured here is a minimalist fireplace in a house remodeled by Carolyn Leonhardt, who recommends making "at least one spectacular change" per remodel. Read more of Leonhardt's tips in Expert Advice: 15 Secrets for Saving Money on a Remodel.
Pull-out shelving in kitchen cabinets
For storing appliances and pantry items, architect Sheila Narusawa suggests installing pull-out shelves. They bring all of the hidden items at the back into the light, making them easy to reach—and easy to put away.
Pictured above, a floor-to-ceiling cabinet with pull-out shelves in a Boston remodel by Chris Greenawalt of Bunker Workshop. See the rest of the project in Rehab Diaries: Tales from the Hood.
Antifog bathroom mirrors
Architect Jordan Parnass suggested installing antifog bathroom mirrors; they'll save time and irritation in the morning, especially if two or more showers need to be taken. Shown above, a San Francisco bath designed by bathroom expert Malcolm Davis. He shares his tips with us in Expert Advice: 10 Essential Tips for Designing the Bathroom.
Acoustic insulation for bathrooms
As charming as open-plan loft spaces are, it's not always charming to use the bathroom in one. Ditto for Victorians or anywhere where sound carries well, such as powder room next to a dining room.
According to architects Specht Harpman, the job of an architect is to consider things like "solar position at different times of day, reflectivity of materials, acoustics, and many other items owners might not be thinking about." We agree, and think acoustic insulation, especially in the overhaul of an old space, is a smart move.
Pictured above, a guest bath in Rehab Diary: A Hardworking Brooklyn Kitchen by Architect Annabelle Selldorf. Photo by Matthew Williams.
Dimmers on the light switches
Sheila Narusawa suggests adding dimmers on all light switches. Even as a simple home improvement project, adding dimmers is a brilliant way to combat harsh overhead lighting.
Shown here, a Meljac dimmer, which we've designated The World's Most Beautiful Light Switches.
Self-closing cabinet drawers
Made LLC suggests installing self-closing cabinet drawers. Kitchens and baths look their tidiest when drawers are closed; if you have lots of hands opening (and forgetting to close) them, spring for cabinets that close themselves.
Pictured above is a Dublin kitchen by architect Peter Legge, who used self-closing drawers with rectangular cutouts in lieu of drawer handles. Find this project and more in 10 Favorites: Cutout Kitchen Cabinet Pulls.
An electronics charging station
Architect Jennifer Weiss is proactive about suggesting details that clients don't think to ask for, such as charging stations for laptops and cell phones. Virtually everyone building or remodeling a house has tech gadgets to charge and corral, and having built-in solutions adds ease and order.
Shown here is an electronics charging station incorporated into a Henrybuilt closet system.
Says designer Kriste Michelini, "If your house requires shutters, use shutters." Translation: For those who don't like curtains or shades, old-fashioned wooden shutters are a great alternative. We like the way they filter light in unexpected ways.
A designated area for your pets' things
Another suggestion from Made LLC: "Factor your pets and the way they live into your design plans!" If you don't want a cat scratcher in the middle of your hallway or a dog bed on your living room floor, take the time to think this through during your remodel.
A waist-high dog washing tub
We had one of these in my house growing up. (Actually, we had an entire room dedicated to grooming our dogs.) And it actually didn't feel like a luxury: if you bathe your dog(s) a lot, a waist-high tub will spare your back (and handily doubles as a utility sink).
Explore the dog-centric setup shown here in Only in Japan: An Architect-Designed House That Doubles as a Dog Salon.
Whenever my architect husband and I embark on a remodeling project in our modern London terraced house, we morph into truffle pigs, sniffing out storage opportunities in the most unlikely places.
And when there’s no more to be found, we create new opportunities. A little ingenuity and a great deal of flexibility means that over the years, our family of four (plus dog) has been completely satisfied with 1,500 square feet of living space. A couple of years ago, we contemplated moving to a bigger house to accommodate our growing teens. This was met with great resistance: “Why would we want to move?” they asked. “This is home.” We must be doing something right.
Above: In our dining area, we created a niche of bookshelves and benched seating (complete with underneath storage) on the back wall. Our two Eames Tables by Vitra (of different sizes) can be configured according to our needs; we use them for dining, homework, and even some sewing. One table can be brought outside easily for al fresco dining, and my beloved Ercol chairs are stackable if we need more space.
Above L: A corner of the table serves as a solo breakfast spot. Above R: The same table, set for a dinner party.
Above: Just about every inch of available space in the kitchen is lined with cabinets. N.B. The World's Best Countertop Appliance, the Zojirushi Induction Heat Rice Cooker, is the only appliance on my counter.
Above: A midcentury cabinet in the entry hall contains hats, gloves, and scarves.
Above: When not in use, our Ercol Nesting Tables nestle under one other and fit neatly beneath the Ercol stationery table. The ottoman holds storage underneath.
Above: In the living room, a set of steel Metro Shelves (commercial kitchen shelves) provides useful storage. We bought these shelves on Canal Street in New York's Chinatown when we were first married. They have been reconfigured at least eight times, including twice in this house—the best $1,000 we have ever spent.
Above L: Closets for hanging clothes have been inserted into the office; the wide doors function as bulletin boards for architectural drawings. Above R: Open shelves in the bath hold storage baskets.
Above: Even our bed is fitted into a niche. We store our luggage in the drawers underneath the bed; the headboard is comprised of cabinet doors, which conceal bookshelves. The architect in me loves the straight lines of stripes, hence the Light Grey Ticking duvet cover and Organic Aegean duvet cover by Toast.
Above L. Low Metro shelves from our original newlywed cull provide storage and serve as a room divider in our bedroom. My beloved Ercol 23 which I covered in Ian Mankin Devon Stripe is my favorite place to read. See Midcentury Slipcovered Chairs for more chair inspiration. Above R: We created a mini dresser from painted Ikea Moppe Mini Drawers with a shelf below for support and a shelf on top to hold loose items.
Above: Open storage using an Ikea system (discontinued) was a very effective and inexpensive way to put a closet in our bedroom. We use it in each of the boys' rooms and in the living room as well. Plastic storage boxes fit neatly underneath and above.
Above: Two custom-built sheds in the garden provide storage and a backdrop for the outdoor room.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on July 11, 2012 as part of our issue, The Smart Home.
The traditional bedside table is a space hog that offers little storage in return. For small spaces, consider a better bedside companion: the wall-mounted shelf.
Above: The wall-mounted Bedside Console is made of solid maple by PELLE, a Brooklyn studio run by two Yale-trained architects. Intended as a catchall for the essentials, the compact design has a drawer and book slot, as well as a lidded box. It's also made in walnut, and works well for front halls; $1,480 from PELLE (allow six to eight weeks for delivery).
Above: Perfect for tight quarters, the Kulma corner shelf maintains a low profile while taking advantage of unused space. It's handmade of oak by Helsinki designer Martina Carpelan—"kulma" means corner in Finnish; €95 directly from Carpelan.
Above: The ingenious Light Board from Berlin furniture workshop BRYK möbel is a wooden shelf that incorporates a hanging light, nicely detailed with a cloth cord and a porcelain socket. For pricing and orders, contact BRYK.
Above: A sidetable for the minimalist, The Edge by Urbancase is made of walnut and has a felt lined interior. It's 16.5 inches long and 14.5 inches deep; $450 from Urbancase.
Above: CB2's Fundamental Storage Shelf is made in India of lacquered acacia wood and is 24 inches long; $59.95.
Above: Ferm Living's wooden Studio shelf is part of a small collection of house-shaped shelves. Made in Denmark of smoked oak veneer, they come in a three sizes and five background colors (and with a roof that works as a book perch); €70.40 for the smallest, shown here. N.B.: Ferm also makes house-shaped cutting boards.
For a small bedroom with a lot of good ideas, see Steal This Look: A Budget Bedroom in Brooklyn. And have a look at this Stockholm Apartment with three bunkbeds built into a small kids' room. Also don't miss 10 Secrets for a Better Night's Sleep from our wellness expert Jackie Ashton.
In my house the broom serves a dual-purpose: a standard sweeping assistant, and as a noise-canceling device (used to bang on the ceiling during our neighbors' wild parties). For the latter purpose, a wood handle is important to get the right resonance, but the real issue for me is: in a small, urban apartment where can I hide said broom? For those of us lacking a proper broom closet, utilitarian goods end up front and center. Often they're in the kitchen or hanging on a wall hook; so they better look good. Here, five brooms you won't be ashamed to put on display.
Above: From Andrée Jardin, one of our favorite broom making studios, the Complete Dustpan & Brush is designed by French bloggers Mr. & Mrs. Clynk. The set is available in Fig, Mustard, Fake Black, or Light Gray and comes with the warning, "Caution! This object can quickly become essential"; €79 from Andrée Jardin.
Above: An attractive and easily accessible broom is from US company The Laundress, the Horsehair Broom is made in Germany and sells for $60.
Above: From dip-dye specialists Lostine in Pennsylvania (remember their colorblocked cutting boards?): all-purpose household Barn Brooms made from corn husk and wood, and available in black, "tipped," or natural for $60 each.
Above: A closer look at the trio and its variations.
Above: Another model from Andrée Jardin is the Broom Design by Mr. & Mrs. Clynk, available in two 1970s-inspired colors, hot orange or teal blue; €41 at Andrée Jardin.
Above: From Swedish company Iris Hantwerk, which employs visually impaired craftspeople, the Swedish Broom has a birch handle and palmyra fiber brush; £18.50 at Objects of Use.
Read more about my noise canceling techniques in Seeking Silence: 10 Low-Tech Strategies for Coping with Urban Noise. For more display-worthy household goods, see our roundups of wooden spoons, cutting boards, and rolling pins.
I grew up in a creaky Victorian house in New England with a tiny half bath (what used to aptly be called a "water closet") slotted under the stairs; maybe that's why I'm drawn to the idea of the minuscule, no-nonsense guest bath (you can always fancy it up with a bar of nice soap and a few sprigs of greenery when the visitors arrive).
Above: A glamorous mirrored powder room in Australia by TFAD.
Above: A niche for books in the powder room of Danish artist Tenka Gammelgaard.
Above: A tiny powder room with rectangular white tiles installed vertically for visual interest; see the whole project at Rehab Diary: A Hardworking Brooklyn Kitchen by Annabelle Selldorf. Photo by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.
Above: A tiny bathroom with recessed sink in a Brazilian apartment by Paris AR.
Above: A tiled powder room with glass shelves in the Byronview Cottage in Australia.
Above: A tiny powder room with a view in Steven Harris's Kinderhook Retreat.
Above: A clever washbasin with paper towel roll holder via A2BC Architects.
Above: A tiny half bath in a Scandinavian house; see more at Swedish Guest Bathroom Under the Stairs.
Pulling together your own bathroom? See Expert Advice: Essential Tips for Designing a Bathroom. And for inspiration, go to our Bathrooms photo gallery.
It's been the winter of weird weather (drought and warmer-than-usual days here in SF, blizzards and more blizzards on the East Coast); this week on Gardenista, Michelle and Erin offer survival strategies (for wherever you live).
1.) Take a visit to the Lyman Estate Greenhouse near Boston with Justine; it's the height of camellia blooming season.
2.) Grow your own indoor garden: Janet rounds up the best 10 Bulb Vases.
3.) Create your own sanctuary with Steal This Look: English Writing Shed.
4.) Bring the outdoors in with wall-mounted Wire Pot Hangers.
5.) Take a trip to Flowerland Nursery in the East Bay (Albany, just north of Berkeley) and stock up on drought-resistant plants.
Koya, a Japanese noodle bar just off of Old Compton Street in London's Soho has us convinced that their isn't much more to life than quality udon, Ercol chairs, and chalkboards.
The restaurant is split into two: the original location—already quite compact—and an adjacent even smaller spot called Koya Bar. When the first section of the restaurant opened in 2010, local designer Michael Marriot dreamed up a series of furniture and wall menus in the new London palette of steel, light wood, and black chalkboards (see Leila's greengrocer in Bethnal Green for another example of the aesthetic). Here, a look at Marriot's custom designs and Koya's clinical-in-a-good way vibe.
Above: Koya, meaning "small house" in Japanese, is an Irish-owned Japanese noodle restaurant at 50 Frith Street in Soho.
Above: Designer Michael Marriot lined the walls with menus that alternate between oak and blackboard surfaces. The tables are surrounded by Ercol Stacking Chairs.
Above: Along the lower edge of the menu rails, stainless steel hooks are for hanging coats and bags in the small restaurant.
Above: Some oak boards are covered in Black Chalkboard Paint for changing menu items.
Above: Soy sauce decanters and bowls, chopsticks crocks and other tableware are made of ceramics with a rich brown Rockingham glaze, just like the classic Brown Betty teapot.
Location of Koya in London:
Two and a half years ago, when Gardenista editor Erin Boyle moved into the Brooklyn apartment she shares with her husband, James, they opened the door and burst into laughter. As Erin tells us, "We were coming from Providence, where our space was at least four times as big. We thought we had moved into a bathroom." Here, she gives us some tips on how they have (happily) survived life in 240 square feet. (If you missed it, we featured Erin's apartment earlier this week.)
Remodelista: How do you survive living—and often working—in such a small space?
Erin Boyle: Being extremely tidy and really conscientious about putting things away helps a lot. We don't have that much stuff, but we're really well organized and everything is put away when finished, with nothing left on the kitchen table.
Above: Wine crates for storage under the sofa.
RM: Where do you put all your stuff?
EB: We really don't have a single piece of furniture made for storing things. Instead, we have storage under the bed in the sleeping loft. There's a big zip-up Muji bag with sheets and extra bedding and a large plastic tub for some of James's stuff. And under the sofa, we use wine crates to store craft supplies, two tool boxes, and table linens. There's also a crate that's a catchall for my laptop and cords. If I'm not charging my computer, I put the cords away. I am a crazy neatnik—it's hereditary!
Above: Zip-up bags for linen storage are kept under the bed.
RM: Rules to live by in a small space?
EB: I think of them as rules to live by anywhere, and the key point is to consider very carefully your purchases. I don't buy much stuff and I don't bring much stuff into the apartment. I want everything to be special. Living on a budget and having picky taste limits what you can buy.
Above: A magnetic knife rack above the stove allows for more drawer space in the kitchen.
RM: Suggestions for working in a tiny kitchen?
EB: Tiny apartments tend to only have one small wall cabinet; we were lucky to have more. The cabinets are ugly, but they're great for storage. There's not much counter space. I have a magnetic knife rack above the stove; it's not the prettiest, but it means all the knives go up there. I also have the world's tiniest dish rack and I never let dishes stay there for long—I hate looking at drying dishes.
Above: Jars for storing dry goods.
RM: How do deal with food storage?
EB: I buy from the bulk section at the grocery store. It's a hippie grandmother thing to do, but it keeps things neat. I don't have to deal with large cereal boxes or packages. I just buy what I need and put it in a jar. Our neighborhood grocery store loves us. James and I shop there together everyday and mostly just buy on demand. We compost our scraps, so we don't have a lot of garbage.
Above: Entertaining at home. Explain Erins: "The largest group we've ever had in our apartment was nine, including me and James and a four-month-old baby. We left quickly for a walk around the neighborhood!"
RM: How do you tackle entertaining?
EB: We entertain a fair amount, mostly family and friends and the place can get crowded fast. I prepare ahead of time so that everything is ready and I'm not dancing around people. Our table only seats four so I use it as a serving board and have people eat with plates on their laps.
RM: How are you able to accomplish so much work at home?
EB: I put felt tabs on the feet of the kitchen table so I can move it around easily. When I photograph DIY projects, which I do about twice a week, I tear apart the apartment and move the table in front of the window.
Above: A hand towel serves as a bath mat.
RM: What's the bathroom like?
EB: It's really small. A regular bath mat is too big, so instead I use hand towels that fit the space and can be washed easily. And we added a clear shower curtain; everything hems you in so quickly here that the more space we can create the better.
Above: A clear shower curtain keeps the space feeling open.
RM: Decor advice for small spaces?
EB: Keep the walls white and no dark drapes or busy fabrics. The woman who lived here before us had crazy patterns, but it's such a small space that keeping things neutral has been a lifesaver for me.
RM: Any other tips?
EB: We take off our shoes because the thought of walking around New York City streets all day and then tracking the sidewalk dirt back into our apartment totally skeeves me out. If we take our shoes off by the front door they also end up getting corralled into the wooden crate we keep there, instead of getting left in the middle of the floor. I also don't have a carpet or rug; it would feel too crowded.
Above: The table prepped for guests.
RM: You're expecting a child and actually planning to move. Is there anything you'll miss?
EB: For me living here has made me realize my own resilience. Writing about it, I have learned that there are many people doing this and it's been nice to be part of a community of fellow tiny apartment dwellers. Happily, our next place likely won't be significantly bigger so we can continue the adventure!
Have a look at Erin's many Gardenista posts, shot and written in her apartment, including her Honey Garlic Elixir for warding off colds and her Clementine Rind Votives. For expert advice from another tiny house dweller, see 10 Secrets for Living in a Small Space. Also don't miss 10 Ways to Live with Less from Zero Waste Home.
On our wish lists for a while now: UK designer Matthew Hilton's Oscar sofa, a low, deep traditional-yet-modern sofa with loads of character.
Above: The Oscar Three-Seat Sofa is 86.25 inches long, 41 inches deep, and 29 inches high and is $4,620. It's available in linen, wool, and velvet in a range of colors from The Future Perfect.
Above: Made in North Carolina, the Camilla Sofa from Crate & Barrel is $1,599; it's 80 inches wide, 41.5 inches deep, and 34 inches high, and is upholstered in a poly rayon blend.
Melbourne architect Clare Cousins transformed an 800-square-foot, one bedroom apartment into an open and flexible studio and living space for a creative couple, Paul Marcus Fuog (designer and founder of Coöp) and Dan Honey (partner of Office for Good Design), and their two year old daughter. Creating a unified aesthetic with inexpensive plywood, Cousins conjured two sleeping areas (by creating a box within a box), along with a warm, utilitarian kitchen. Have a look—and if you like what you see, note that the apartment is available to rent on Air BNB.
Above: While only 800 square feet, the studio apartment—viewed here from the entry—has tall ceilings and windows on three of its four walls which contribute to the bright, expansive feel of the space. The ladder leads to a storage loft.
Above L: A plywood box within the apartment provides storage as well as two bedrooms. Above R: The master bedroom is accessed from the living room. Photography by Lisbeth Grosman via Desire to Inspire.
Above: The stacking toys on the table are wooden prototypes handmade and developed in collaboration with Balinese craftsmen as part of Field Experiments, a three month design project Fuog undertook in Bali. We like the succulents in the graniteware bowl.
Above: The dining area is situated between the living room and kitchen.
Above: The kitchen's plywood cabinets seem to grow out of the wooden floor, and are finished with a white laminate countertop that turns down the side and becomes a frame. (For another plywood counter treatment, see An Architect's Tiny Kitchen in Dublin.) The original floor boards were resanded and coated with a clear finish. Photography by Lisbeth Grosman via Desire to Inspire.
Above: An electroplated gold faucet adds an element of glamor and surprise to the modest kitchen. Like the cutout cabinet handles? See 10 Favorites: Cutout Kitchen Cabinet Pulls for more examples.
Above: More handcrafted souvenirs from Fuog's work in Bali sit on a midcentury Danish sideboard.
Above: The plywood master bedroom incorporates built-in storage and a headboard that serves as a dividing wall between the master bedroom and the child's bedroom on the other side of the box. Photography by Lisbeth Grosman via Desire to Inspire.
Above: The storage loft bridges the plywood bedrooms box and the bathroom. The white sliding door leads to the child's room, and the front door is situated under the loft.
Above: The cube within the cube: the child's room.
Above: In the bathroom, Cousins created interesting tile patterns from simple white tiles and carried over the gold hardware from the kitchen.
Above L: The apartment is in an 1898 building in the center of Melbourne. Above R: Go to Air BNB if you're interested in renting the place for the night (two night minimum), week, or month. Photography by Lisbeth Grosman via Desire to Inspire.
Traveling to Australia? Take a look at our other favorite places to sleep, eat, and visit in and around Melbourne in our City Guide.
Below: The apartment is located on Flinders Lane, a historic section of Melbourne.
For another memorable loft—with waterfall and moat—see our recent post about architect David Ling's Life on the Edge.
DiY alert: Next time you happen upon some rustic wooden planks, don't hesitate to pick them up—they make great-looking shelving when suspended from rope. Here are a few versions that are inspiring us to make our own.
Above: Rope shelving hangs from a Shaker peg rail in the kitchen of a Swedish summer cabin designed by Frag Woodall. Photo by Terence Chin.
Above: The Folklore shop in London displays merchandise on shelves suspended by rope. See our post Folklore in London: Style Plus Sustainability for more images of their inspired shelving.
Above: A rustic shelf suspended from the ceiling with knotted rope, via Inside.
Above: A tiny three-tiered shelf suspended from pink rope, via One Happy Mess.
Looking for more kitchen shelving Inspiration? Check out 10 Favorites: Rustic Open Storage Shelves in the Kitchen. And how about some advice about hanging clothes and other items? See Remodeling 101: How Shaker Peg Rails Saved My Summer.
If you are Japanese, removing shoes when you enter a home is second nature. The entryway is clearly delineated by a step—a threshold that marks your transition from the outer world into the home, and this is where you take off your shoes. (Traditionally, the Japanese sat and slept on tatami flooring, so shoe removal made sense.) And after living in Japan for years, and diligently slipping off my shoes, it's a custom I found hard to shake once I moved to California. Of late, I've been glad to see many more Westerners adopting the practice (if nothing else, it keeps the floors cleaner).
We suggest that if you're asking unsuspecting guests to leave behind their shoes, stock a basket with slippers that will pass muster and have a chair on hand for easy shoe removal. Here's our selection of slippers for the sartorially inclined.
Above: Handmade leather slip-on Botines, made by and available at Beatrice Valenzuela for $210. Photograph by Alder & Co. Read up on the LA tastemaker in our recent Style Counsel post: A Cult Shoemaker in Echo Park.
Above: Designed by Naoto Fukasawa, the water-resistant, surprisingly soft Siwa Paper Slippers with padded soles are $90 at Mill Mercantile.
Above: Pia Wallen's Unisex Felt Slippers are made of thick Swedish felt in black (shown) or gray; $84 from A + R Store.
Above: Handcrafted in Oregon, the Thurlow Thurmocs American Deerskin Slippers are made from American deerskin; $109 from Sir Jack's.
Above: These unisex Oymyakon Wool Slippers are woven with handspun sheep's wool in Siberia; €39.50 from This is Paper.
Above: These affordable Woven Straw Slippers make ideal guest slippers; $22.50 from Oriental Decor.
Above: Finnish Felt Slippers of lambswool with rubber soles; £55 from Baileys in the UK.
Above: Fog Linen Slippers in linen with padded leather sole are $42 from Steven Alan.The perfect pajamas to pair with your slippers? See Editors' Picks: 10 Best Pajamas for a Good Night's Sleep.
With Valentine's Day approaching, we're dedicating next week to romance with our Love in the Afternoon issue. Romance through a Remodelista lens means soaking tubs for two, romantic hotels, (ungirly) pink palettes, and lighting with a softer glow. Here are snippets of what we've been intrigued by around the web this week, including a few DIY valentines we're planning to make:
Above: Is this the world's most minimalist hair salon? Vine Hair Salon in Kobe, Japan via Yatzer.
Gearing up for V Day, Margot is reading Love Illuminated, a new book by friend and editor of the NY Times' Modern Love column, Dan Jones, in which he explores "life's most mystifying subject (with the help of 50,000 strangers)."
Admiring this list of romantic Southern travel destinations via Southern Living.
Above: Sarah recently spotted this lofty idea for a Valentine's Day DIY project via Tikkido.
Paying attention to Country Living's post detailing seven ways we could be ruining our wood floors.
Above: Revisiting a favorite DIY session of ours, the Retro Valentine's Workshop at Cookbook Grocery in LA.
For more ideas, here's a great video tutorial on making homemade valentines with children via Real Simple.
Above: Inspired by the vanilla bean twisted hearts at the LA valentine's workshop, Alexa made her own version.
Having finally received some rain here in arid California, Sarah is coveting this Scottish-made charcoal poncho (good for riding a bike in the rain).
Above: Margot is beating a path through the snow in New York to attend this weekend's Dosa sample sale in Soho featuring the Traveler 2013 collection, shown here, as well as past season bargain boxes. (At Remodelista's New York Holiday Market, a woman confided that she considered canceling a trip to Paris to be at a Dosa sale.) This one is Saturday 11-5 and Sunday 11-3 at 628 Broadway, suite 302.
Impressed by all 20 of these dramatic before and after kitchen remodels in Sunset Magazine.
This week, architect Ian Read from Medium Plenty evangelizes about Heath Ceramics tiles and gives us his tips on remodeling with the tiles—even on a budget, as he did with his own house in Oakland, CA, which he overhauled with his wife and business partner, interior designer Gretchen Krebs. Read is available for the next 48 hours to answer any and all questions. Ask away!
Oakland-based architect Ian Read was introduced to the world of Heath Ceramics’ seconds and overstock tiles (offered at 75 percent off retail prices in their Sausalito factory) when he worked with some clients on a remodel of a small guest house. When the same clients remodeled their kitchen, they collaborated with Read again to incorporate the Heath seconds into their lives a second time, sharing many bottles of wine in the process of laying out the tiles. So when it came time for Read, the founding partner of Medium Plenty and a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory, to remodel his own house, a Queen Anne cottage built in 1892, he knew exactly where to go for his kitchen and bath tiles. “Heath Ceramics is one of the few remaining midcentury potteries still in existence and learning about the care they take in how they form, glaze, trim, and fire their tiles makes them even more appealing to us,” he says. “Besides, we don’t mind using castoffs because of the surprises to be had and the price—around $5 a square foot.”
With doing comes experience (Read installed all the tiles himself in his house), so we asked him for insider tips learned on the job. Here are his top three:
1. Celebrate handmade tiles
"It's important to remember that Heath Ceramics tiles are handmade. Unlike a manufactured tile, the irregular nature of the tiles means that that there will be differences from piece to piece. You, your designer, and your installer need to understand and embrace the nature of the material or expect to be frustrated."
2. Keep an open mind when selecting tiles
"When it comes to selecting seconds and overstock tiles, prepare to be flexible. We never thought about brown hexagonal tiles for our master bathroom until we saw it available in a large quantity. Checking the website for changing availability is advised, but note that it's only available directly out of Heath's Sausalito store and stock can go quickly, so know how much you need beforehand—and make sure you include an amount for overage (additional tiles needed to make up for tile cuts or egregious flaws). When working with seconds, I would suggest buying 15 to 20 percent more."
3. Take your time with tile placement and installation
"The placement of the tiles requires more time than if you were working with manufactured tiles because irregular shapes translate into irregular spacing. Wedge spacers, a critical tool, make up for the lack of regularity in the tiles, but you also need to check your progress against a benchmark to ensure that the overall layout is even. And finally, when working with seconds or overstock tiles, there will be some pieces with irregularities that will not be to your liking; put these in more discrete locations."
Have a look at Read's results and read on for more tile intel.Unless otherwise noted, photgraphy by Melissa Kaseman.
Above: The kitchen is comprised of a tiled backsplash made of Heath Ceramics seconds, blackened plate steel shelves, and an Ikea countertop and cabinets. "I considered building my own cabinets, but the material cost alone was more than Ikea finished," he says.
Above: Metal tabs welded to the back of the 3/16-inch blackened plate-steel shelves (fabricated by Chris French Metal) were fastened to the structural framing behind the wall to make the shelves appear as if they're floating. Because the grout joint is the same thickness as the shelves, the shelves look like they slot neatly into the tiles.
Above: The glazing color of the tiles in Read's kitchen is New Crystal Blue. "Our kitchen tiles were seconds because the color variation was more than what Heath Ceramics typically allows for in variance and the shapes of the tile themselves were more irregular than the norm. There were also some surface pock marks, that we are more than happy to live with," he says. "There are different approaches to sorting the variations and you can either group like-tones or randomize them. In the kitchen we went for the randomized approach."
Above: The Aged Iron glazed hexagonal tiles that Read used in his master bath were overage from a large run for an office project. On Read's first project working with Heath tiles, he was introduced to James "Ted" Telvert from Team Ted Tile, an installer who Heath frequently recommends to clients. "One of the tricks Ted taught me is to use a story stick, a tool that's about 3 feet long with tile sizes and grout joints marked on it," he says. "It offers a quick way to see where full tiles will land and where you'll hit corners—a critical factor with the hexagonal shape."
Above: "The main challenge with the hexagonals was getting the hang of laying out every other course, since they're staggered. Once you get started, things start to fall into place," Read says. "Corners are tricky because you always want the tiles to meet up evenly. That, too, takes some patience, not to mention a few beers."
Above: In the guest bathroom, Read worked around not having enough 2 inch high white tiles (Linen, Antique White, and Chalk) by inserting a band of 3 inch subway tiles in Parchment. "We like the way the solid band of subway tiles emphasizes the color variations in the field of 2 inch tiles," he says.
Above: Read's cat, Jack, sits on a concrete bathtub surround manufactured by Concreteworks Studio.
Above: A view of the backsplash wall in the kitchen before Read's remodel. The architect replaced the refrigerator with a cooking range to extend the illustion of one long counter run.
Above: Read's wife and business partner, designer Gretchen Krebs, pulls nails out of the floor framing of the guest bath. The entire floor had to be replaced because of rot.
Above: An architect with extensive hands-on construction experience, Read renovated most of the house on his own with Krebs. "When we bought the house, there was no electrical, plumbing, kitchen, bathrooms, heat, or gas. Over the years, nine and counting, we have remodeled the entire house, including raising it to add a floor at street level," he says. "When Gretchen was seven months pregnant, it was time to hire out the drywall and painting. On the day our daughter was born, I finished the flooring and cabinetry and even installed a sink in our master bathroom."
Love Heath Ceramics but not ready to tile? The company also makes a range of dinnerware and home accessories. See New Covetable Colors from the Chez Panisse Collection at Heath and Summer at Heath Ceramics for some of our favorites. For an ingenious tile alternative, go to DIY Walls: Tiles for Commitment Phobes. And click here for more tile sources and ideas.
I grew up in nice houses, both new and old. The downside? My father, an architect (who continues to practice well beyond retirement age), had us on the move more times than I care to remember. These houses were not always move-in ready. Things I still recall: a boyfriend having to "walk the plank" to pick me up for a date (the trenches for sewage pipes were still open and the path was literally planks of wood). Climbing up a ladder in a nightie to go to bed as the custom wood stairs had not yet arrived. Cramming for exams only to have a builder appear in the window in front of my desk as he hammered in nails (I took to studying in the car). Oh yes, and no plumbing for days. All a great character-building experience, but one that has left made me acutely aware of what it takes to renovate a house.
Which is maybe why I find myself living in a rental with my two teenaged children and husband. At one time, we owned a house in San Francisco and had an architect design plans for a second floor, but when we outgrew the space, in lieu of renovating, we sold it, left the city, and downsized to a 1,200-square-foot rental. The move was a temporary measure, but once we secured a small cottage behind our rented house for our offices and a guest room, the setup worked well and we've remained put. Of course, not being able to blow open a few walls and connect the kitchen to the garden, or having to ask our landlord for permission to do things, can be frustrating, but I've become adept at working within the rental template and creating a space that feels right for us. Here, a look at our cottage and some tips for how to make a rental your own.
Photography by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.
Above: My whole approach to our cottage has been to neutralize the space within the confines of our lease: a cosmetic (and cost-conscious) makeover. In the living room, I replaced a large brown Mission fixture on the ceiling with the white porcelain Alabax Surface Light from Schoolhouse Electric. I removed the heavy ornate black metal curtain rods and substituted simple white linen roller blinds throughout the house. That was a bit of an investment, but aesthetically and functionally much more pleasant. I resolved not to buy specifically for the rental and to look for things that will be with us for the long haul, such as the extra-long sofa (a custom Erin Martin snagged on sale) that runs the length of the room.
Above: Since I don't have much space to play with, I like to create small vignettes. The mantlepiece sees a rotation of whatever branch or flower I can find, in this case, a sprig of leaves from the walnut tree in the garden.
Above: The original interior was painted a very creamy white with just a tad too much yellow. The challenge was to find a color to match the existing white woodwork, which we didn't want to repaint. It took me several months to find the right shade (Benjamin Moore Wind's Breath with double the white), but repainting was worth the investment.
Above: I knit the chunky blanket that hangs over one of the living room chairs. Next on the list are cushion covers.
Above: I could easily be a hoarder, but living in smaller rooms means less stuff and a more rigorous approach to what comes in the house.
Above: We have lots of books, but I have learned to keep the shelves fairly open to create a sense of space. On display are four handmade boxes from de Vera.
Above: Although I prefer a neutral backdrop, I like to layer on a bit of texture. White sheepskin, Pia Wallen's reversible black and white Cross blanket, and a pink felted cushion from Canvas work in warm weather; when it's cold, I drape my chairs with black Mongolian sheep skins and a mohair blanket for a moodier look.
Above: The Caravaggio light by Cecilie Manz was the reason I rented the house. I had just seen the fixture in Copenhagen and was looking for an excuse to own it. I knew it would work well here in our dining room (it replaced a heavy Mission-style pendant that hung low on a brass chain). I had the custom table made by Ohio Design for our house in San Francisco, but after 15 years of dinners and art projects, I am planning to replace the top with a larger piece of wood. The chairs are the classic Arne Jacobsen Series 7, also bought 15 years ago, and easy to stack and store.
Above: The tray stand is made from a folding laundry basket frame picked up at the Alameda flea market with a wire tray added on top. It’s my cell phone charging station and where I put all my papers before they make it to my office space.
Above: A built-in cabinet houses my ever-growing collection of pottery that I started during my years living in Japan. I replaced the drawer and cabinet pulls with simple leather ties.
Above: Stackable Japanese ceramic bowls.
Above: The kitchen was the hardest part of the rental. While I could change the veneer of just about anything in the rest of the house (window treatments, fixtures, paint), I really had a hard time with the checker-board gray linoleum and mottled gray granite counters. My solution? Cover the counters in plywood cut to fit over the existing ones and float a tongue-and-groove oak floor over the linoleum. It transformed the space, and we were able to pull it off for under $1,000 while keeping the original kitchen intact.
Above: The new plywood counters work well with the existing white wall tiles.
Above: The kitchen is not big on storage space, so I hang as much as I can and turn it into a visual display.You can read the full kitchen remodel story and see many more details in the Remodelista book.
Above: Since the master bedroom is small, side table lamps would make it feel cramped, and drilling holes in the wall was not an option, so I sourced some hanging bulbs and used metal prongs intended for telephone wire to attach the lamp cord to the ceiling. The side table with Tivoli radio is a stool from a children’s desk set I picked up at a local thrift store. (The desk itself is in a cupboard and is used for storing shoes.)
Above: Molding is a great way for renters to display art, hang bags, and clothes without having to hammer nails into a wall. I used S hooks and a brass ring hung from rope for suspending a white-painted canvas bag where I store off-season scarves.
Above: My secret to the rental bathroom is to make everything white. It‘s an easy way to make a space feel clean and fresh. I picked up the round straw mat on a holiday in Seville, Spain. (I love the feeling of standing barefoot on straw first thing in the morning—so much nicer than cold tiles.) I painted the wooden Ikea mirror white and the rim serves as a useful shelf for placing jewelry, etc. I removed the milky glass shades on the light above the mirror and replaced them with silver-tipped light bulbs, which not only look better but also provide nicer light.
Above: One of the great things about old houses are the built-in cabinets, like this one in the bathroom. I love good-looking bottles and packaging and will happily decant things I like to use into better-looking containers.
Above: Early in my leather-tie obsession, I replaced the plastic rings of the shower curtain with these rawhide pieces tied into knots. I also use leather lacing as napkin rings and gift ties.
Above: If we owned the cottage, I would have used the whole surface of the wall as a pinboard in my home office. Instead I hung four magnetic boards from the wall and use them as one pinboard.
Above: I bought this Brendan Ravenhill pendant light at the first Remodelista Market he took part in (and I even nailed it into the wall).
For some of the DIYs in the house, see DIY Leather Shower Curtain Rings, DIY Leather Napkin Ties, and DIY Dutch Style Knit Throw. Go to Move Over, Mrs Meyer for my homemade (and beyond easy) all-purpose cleaning solution.
These days nail polish is better than ever. The color spectrum is wider than any wall paints out there, finishes range from flat matte to enameled gloss, and many are formaldehyde- and toluene-free. (I also have a secret desire to be a nail polish color namer on the side.) All are some of the reasons I chose to borrow from the beauty cabinet to recreate a set of colored switch plate covers I had seen before. Here's the low cost and almost effortless way to turn on the brights:
Above: If you're painting more than a few covers, be prepared with a backup bottle of polish: each cover requires about four to five coats.
Above: As you might do when painting your nails, apply a primer of nail polish base to get an even surface. Then paint the cover in a light coat of color, allowing it to dry fully between each coat.
Above: The pink switch plate cover is finished in a thick, but rather matte, finish of Illamasqua's Monogomous.
Above: The yellow switch plate—set against a full gloss white wall in the bath—is Marc Jacob's Lux, a chartreuse yellow in the glossiest finish I've seen.
Shopping for colorless switch plates? Shop our previous post, 10 Easy Pieces: Switch Plate Covers. Also have a look at The World's Most Beautiful Light Switches, by way of France and Sensor Light Switches with an automatic on and off function.
The last time my husband and I stood next to one another, brushing our teeth at our separate bathroom sinks was ... never. Side by side, hawking spent toothpaste into twin basins? Whose brilliant design idea was that? I guess mine. Since we, like many Americans who've remodeled in the past 15 years, exercised our double-sink option.
Above: A London bath (to see more of the house, go to The Power of Pastels). Photo by Emma Lee for Remodelista.
It turns out there is nothing romantic—or even practical—about the side-by-side master bathroom. The bathroom is fundamentally a place to be alone. Things happen in there no one else should see. On what planet would double sinks make sense, the planet Spitron?
The American bathroom is yet another example of design obesity. We have McMansions and three-car garages and sprawling, pointless lawns that guzzle gallons of water. We have enormous walk-in closets to hold all the clothes and shoes we never wear. Once, when looking for a house to buy, I even saw one that had side-by-side toilets. (Twin toilets might make sense if you are running a summer camp or marrying into the Brady Bunch, but in normal life? It would take Sigmund Freud to parse that one.) And now we have redundant sinks in master bathrooms across the land. How did we get so carried away?
I blame the city of Philadelphia. In 1802, when Philadelphia became the first municipality in the US to install a public water system, it gave people ideas. For pipes. And running water. And separate spaces that could be designated as "bathrooms." The clever all-purpose washstand—with its splashboard, towel bar, and pitcher-and-bowl set—was headed for its own private room.
Above: The Water Monopoly in London makes reproduction plumbing fixtures like this Marble Double Basin on Legs, a reproduction of a French 1920s sink made from Calacatta Orro marble.
Within four decades, 82 more cities were supplying hissing steam-powered water through cast-iron pipes. Then the Sanitary Movement got imported from England, and by the late 1800s public health advocates were campaigning for adoption of the "water closet" (aka: the toilet) and "lavatories" (sinks).
By the early 1900s, we had hot-and-cold running taps, and commode style sinks, and pedestal sinks, and porcelain sinks, and—for rich people—marble sinks with silver-plated fixtures that cost the ungodly sum of $50.
Above: A pair of vintage sinks in a project by Sydney-based interior designer Justine Hugh-Jones.
At that point, we as a nation should have left well enough alone.
Fast forward to 2012, when I remodeled my 1,750-square-foot cottage—its first overall design overhaul since being built in 1926—and vowed not to strip the house of its vintage charm. I saved the wedding cake ceiling molding, the leaded pane sideboard, and the wavy glass casement windows.
I avoided many other remodeling pitfalls, as well. I carefully considered every bit of common wisdom and without a moment's hesitation said no to the monster kitchen island, the super-sized spa tub, and the under-counter wine cooler.
But in the bathroom, where I really desperately need a linen closet, I instead have redundant sinks.
Above: Double sinks with a pair of vintage mirrors in a project by Justine Hugh-Jones.
Is there any silver lining? I sought an architect's opinion.
"Well, with Valentine's Day approaching, it might be interesting to think of the sink in relation to the two-cushion sofa. While two cushions may look much better, they're anti-social—who wants to sit in the crack? Two sinks on the other hand, is socializing," said Oakland-based architect Jerome Buttrick, of Buttrick Wong. "It harkens back to the idea of common water sources in the village square."
"That's interesting," I said. "But I don't think I'd want to socialize with the other villagers while flossing."
"There is something to be said for having one sink," Buttrick agreed. "There's an intimacy. Just as you might share a table, a sofa, and a bed with someone, who knows what might happen if you share a sink?"
I'll tell you what will happen if you don't. You'll lament your lack of a linen closet (which, if it were 24 inches deep and 24 inches wide, would need no more space than the amount currently allotted to the second sink in my master bath), and you'll have to find somewhere else to store your extra set of bedsheets and your bath towels and the spare bath mat. At my house, you'll find them under my husband's sink.
Don't let this happen to you. Let my story be a cautionary tale. Say yes to smart design by saying no to the dumb double sink.
Read more of Michelle's Domestic Dispatches, including Remodeling 101: Could You Live Without Your Shower Curtain? and Seven Secrets to Making a Perfect Bed.