crammed with delight

a room in novelist umberto pasti & fashion designer stephan janson's tangier home is inspiration for what i'd like the office in the new place (or any room ever) to look like:

image from world of interiors, apr. 2007
deep red walls as background to so many intriguing and mysterious hangings and objects.  a lifetime of collecting manifested. 

naturally, if the office were adjacent to this sort of room, also from pasti & janson's home, i'd like it even more:

image from world of interiors, apr. 2007
the things i really fall in love with don't come from this continent, like the whale vertebrae on top of the armoire.  and despite being apparently windowless, this space has some kind of interesting indirect light source.

what are the chances of my generic 1970's apartment building in north carolina ever remotely looking like this?


a cheerful corner

at the yorkshire flat of british artist-designer mark hearld  (image from world of interiors, nov. 07)
 the smallest of kitchens made delightful with hand painted plates, a couple potted geraniums and abundant sunshine.


an antidote to light poisoning

as i mentioned in this post, the lighting our new apartment's kitchen is dreadful.  

fluorescent death.
with the garish fluorescent on, i felt like i was in the inside of a refrigerator, everything cold and white.  the most complementary way i could have described the kitchen is that it was amply lit, but man, it killed me to be in that kind of icy blue atmosphere.  

first, i considered trying to take down the fluorescent pillow fixture altogether but quick googling led me to believe that removal would more difficult than it would be worth in a rental.  i also looked up ideas online for creative ways to cover/disguise the long rectangle of the fixture, but again, nothing struck me as being very aesthetically pleasing or functional. 
turns out one of the easiest solutions was also one of the cheapest.  with the help of three of these inexpensive fas lights from ikea, the kitchen sitch is now much improved.  

i attached two of the fas lights to the top of the cabinetry over the sink wall.  (the fas light has optional hardware that can clamp onto a shelf, but it also comes with a little bracket that allows you to screw it onto a surface more permanently, which is what i did here.)

warmer and more atmospheric and but still lit well enough.
the cords run along the top of the cabinets and drop down into the void behind a filler piece between the cabinetry and the wall to the far left, perfectly aligned to the outlet there.  i also had an extra lamp that i placed on top of the fridge to provide more light near the washer/dryer.  


a piney picnic spot

one of my worries about leaving extra-attractive-and-scenic oak park is that our nearby walking routes in durham wouldn't be able to compete in the looks department.  turns out our new neighborhood is quite charming and even the raggedy parts are at least partially masked by the thick greenery.

an unexpected, pleasant and very nearby discovery is a little park named wrightwood which, coincidentally, was the street name of two of my six chicago addresses.  the primary view of wrightwood park from the street is of a small semi-defunct baseball diamond and off to one side is an large playground.  but just beyond the ball field, up a slight hill, is my favorite part. 

a room with trees for walls.
this magical little spot emanates that spirit of place that i continually seek.  so much of the woods in north carolina are extraordinarily dense with foliage, but this part opens up below the pine canopy like a room with very tall ceilings.  i first came upon this park as the sun was setting and the sifted low light coming through the needles made me wish that i was just arriving there for a festive picnic with friends.

the late afternoon light in early fall.
i love how the pines don't allow for much undergrowth, so the space below is airy and light.  between the tall bare trunks, you can easily see who comes and goes through the park, runners, dogs, and children, but you still feel you have your own private little space away from such activity.  these tables are at a distance from the bordering two streets so there is a great sense of quiet and relaxation here, allowing you to fully enjoy that bon vivant lifestyle to which you aspire. 

and should you be picnicking and should it begin to rain and get a little cool, you could, of course, head under the adjacent arts & crafts-style shelter and light yourself a fire in that big stone hearth and continue on enjoying your company and your bread and cheese and grapes and wine and chocolate, all the while keeping dry and warm.

the view up the hill towards the picnic shelter.  tables from previous images visible center-right.
yes?  yes.


sliding door solution

we're here!  north carolina is glorious, what can i say?  chicago, i'm sorry, but you just weren't my thing.

so it turned out to be difficult to find a living situation that suited us.  i guess september is not a hot month for rental turnover.  what was available seemed to be small, gross, generic, sketchy or some combination of those qualities.  we prevailed in the end and found an apartment that met two of our major requirements: no carpet and an in-unit washer and dryer.  

the place does have a couple major drawbacks though - one being the horrid fluorescent pillow light fixture in the kitchen which makes me want to shrivel up rather than cook.  i know that fluorescent bulbs are more efficient and "green" but honestly, the light is a killing light.  it makes everything look flat and plain and unmoody and garish and dead.  the solution to the kitchen lighting situation will definitely be the subject of its own post to follow.  

the other major offensive item were the vertical blinds.

what is particularly annoying about vertical blinds, aside from the institutional ugliness of the things, is the fact that either you're completely on display to passers by when the blind are open (we live on the first floor facing the street so that's an issue) or you're completely in the dark with no natural light coming in when they're closed.  though the large sliding door faces east, the heavy woods block most of direct sunlight until 11am or so, so the living/dining room are a bit on the dark side.  (hopefully, come winter when the leaves are off, it will be brighter in the mornings.)  

barf, without privacy and the chopped up view drives me nuts.
to solve the issue of allowing light into the space, while still affording privacy, i used the kvartal sliding track system from ikea with translucent but opaque rice paper panels in a grouping of five.  i connected two of the triple rails at full length (you can cut them down to length and ikea even sells a miter box and saw expressly for the purpose) and added five panels. 

inexpensive and so much better.  light comes in even on a cloudy day.
installation was pretty easy, though time consuming as most ikea assembly projects are.  the two rails together are about 16" longer to each side than the total width of the sliding doors.  this means that when all the way open, the panels are almost completely open to the width of the doors.

open if i so desire.  in this photo the panels could still open wider.
depending on the time of day or my mood, i can adjust how much of the outside is visible.

total versatility as each panel slides individually.

when the sun is shining and panels are closed, the rice paper glows!

on a sunny day.  (i may have look into switching out the sofa cover as i'm not loving all the horizontal line action.)
so much better now.  onto the next new apartment project.


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