Friday, May 27, 2011

Apt. #10

Remember that show on MTV, Cribs?  Today's post is not at all like that.  Except for the celebrity-host, gaudy mansion, and 15-car garage, but otherwise, just like that.

While I may not be as famous as some (or any) of the hosts on Cribs, I do know a little bit about apartments.  Since I left for college 7 years ago, I have lived in 9 different apartments, in 5 different cities.  Needless to say, craigslist has been my best friend (I may or may not have been known as the “Craigslist Queen” for a period of time).

Despite never having lived in one place for more than 9 months (I'm a landlord's worst nightmare), I still insist on putting effort into decorating every one of my apartments to suit my style.  This is most likely because - this is where you pick the right answer: (a) I believe that a person's relationship with his/her physical space can have a real impact on his/her happiness and sense of well-being, (b) I see every impossibly small, awkwardly partitioned apartment as a challenge and I will never admit defeat, (c) I can't pass up a good excuse to buy pretty things -- on discount, of course, or (d) all of the above.  Which one is right?  You'll never know.  JK.  It's (d) all of the above, duh.  (Can you tell that studying for the Bar has turned everything into a multiple choice question in my mind???  Bar-brain is taking over!)

If you haven't deserted me yet, please let me introduce you to my 10th little apartment project – our one-bedroom by the beach.  Welcome to our crib.

It is a little disturbing to me that you can basically see my entire apartment in one picture, not using a wide lens or anything...but at least I think it looks like a good place to be.  (I guess I should have warned you that if you expected this to be a grand apartment tour like you see on other blogs, you should readjust your expectations.  I make negative money, live in California, and don't have time to go out and buy flowers in preparation for blog posts, remember?)

Regardless of its size, I love this place.  It really has the best energy, or feng-shui, or whatever you want to call it.

When we moved into this apartment, I vowed not to purchase an IKEA couch.  I wanted a real couch; a nice couch.  So I got this one, from IKEA.  Ha.  I just love it though, and with the money we saved on that, I could splurge on my favorite persimmon Martini side tables from West Elm.

Oh, and I made all the pillows (with zippers!) and re-covered the ottoman (which opens for extra storage)!  The day after I finished final exams I just needed to get all my pent up creative energy out, so I made all of these in one day.  (I know, I'm crazy.  But it felt so good.)  I used the online sewing tutorials over at Design Sponge (here and here), and they were so easy to follow.  I would definitely recommend them to anyone who is a beginner sewer like me!

{orange and blue and green}

The artwork on the wall next to the couch represents my three favorite cities.  The big canvas print is something I impulsively picked up at Urban Outfitters -- it's an illustration of all of Italy's famous monuments squished together around one piazza and it reminds me of Florence.  The other two are maps of San Francisco and LA made into illustrations by Aaron Straup Cope that Brian got me as a birthday present. Here's a better view of them.

Please also note the fabulous arc lamp (registry present!) that has been my obsession for years, and the homeless surfboard.  There's another one in the closet.  Someone has to come up with a better way to store surfboards, really.

I really hate how big TVs just eat up space like a big black hole in your living room, but the white TV is a bit better.  Plus, I love it for all the mindlessness it brings to my life.  On the right of the TV is a water polo ball signed by all of Brian's former teammates.  It reminds him of his glory days.

The elephant, purchased at (where else?) Homegoods, and bedazzled by moi, is one of my favorite household accessories.  He's been with me for two years now.  Did you know that elephants with upturned trunks are supposed to bring you good luck?  I'm counting on it.

After searching at thrift stores and craigslist and the Rose Bowl Flea Market for the perfect entrance console table, I caved in and used registry money to buy this one at Crate&Barrel.  Sure, it's a little expected, but it's really perfect for the space, and it kind of feels nice to have nice things sometimes.

Also, you probably won't care at all about this, but one of my greatest successes in decorating this place was finding all five of those matching double-sided glass frames at Homegoods one day.  It's usually impossible to find multiples of anything there, but I got lucky and found five.  And they were exactly what I needed since you can see the console table from both sides.  I was seriously so happy that day that I could write a whole post about it (but I won't for your sake).  It's the small things, people.

{On the left: a gem, just in case you thought I was forsaking my hippie NorCal roots, and a beautiful vase from Iran gifted to me from my long-time friend Sogol; on the right: bird vases from our wedding going to good use.}

Personally, I would have chosen non-pink flowers for the vases, but when your neighbor's front yard is your floral supplier, you can't be picky.

I bought a bookshelf and then filled it with BarBri books (fml).  But then I bought herbs to put on top so now I feel less awful every time I look over there.  It's been 5 days and they're still alive (great success)!

{Readers, meet Betty the Basil and Ronny the Rosemary.  Betty and Ronny, meet my Readers.}

{the dining "room"}

This dining table is one of my favorite furniture purchases ever.  I bought it on Craigslist from a stager, who had me pick it up from her warehouse in Hunter's Point in San Francisco.  For those of you who know where that is, 'nuff said.  For those of you who don't, let's just say it is THE sketchiest place you could ever imagine.  I don't even know if you could imagine the extent of the sketchiness.  Like, cars just left in the middle of the road that make you wonder if the people were kidnapped straight out of the passenger seats sketchy.  And my only protection was my friend Shahrzad, who is a wonderful friend, but let me tell you, she'd make as good of a body guard as I would a housewife.  So that was a trip.

The chairs I bought at an antique sale - they are vintage Herman Miller leather chairs.  The ones that connect on the sides.  I don't know how much they are worth, but I got them for a steal at $80 for all four!  They are also the only items of furniture that Brian has ever expressed an opinion about (he vetoed my suggestion that we sell them instead of transporting them to L.A.).  They are probably the coolest things I own.

The rug was a $20 steal at Urban Outfitters, and the bowl is Nambe (another one of my favorite registry items - thank you wedding guests)!  The pictures are both mine - one from Aruba, one from LA - which I had printed on canvas - DIY art!

{California 4 Life}

{clearly a spotlight lamp was really necessary here}

This bar is the first piece of furniture Brian and I ever bought together.  Quite fitting considering the first gift Brian ever gave me was a margarita set, eh?  We spotted it (OK, I spotted it) at a garage sale in the Marina in SF while we were on our way to brunch with some friends.  After brunch, I made Brian go back and negotiate, and we got it for a great price.   A few days later, Brian sent me a link to the Crate&Barrel website showing that the fabulous bar we had just purchased was selling there for 10 times the price!  Ya garage sales!  It all opens up and the top unfolds so that it can be a proper bar, too!

Besides drinking Dom from our fancy bar, we also like to eat.  So here is our kitchen, where our personal chef cooks us gourmet 100-calorie meals 6 times a day.

I was kidding - you got that, right?  As if I would only eat 600 calories a day.  Pshh.  Anyway, there's not much to see in our tiny kitchen, but I tried to make it look as interesting as possible.

{the essentials}

{I have a blackboard addiction.  I'll show you my wedding thank-you cards one day and you'll understand.}

{I'm a sucker for uselessly gorgeous kitchen accessories}

And this is where the magic happens.  HA.  I've been waiting to say that this whole time.  But I'm actually not going to show you much of our bedroom because (a) it's not done at all; and (b) some of us don't know each other that well yet.  

I will show you this though -- this is the view I wake up to every morning.

{hello palm tree}

Please forgive me the college-dorm-style IKEA lamp.  I need something to make me feel young, OK?

And this is my Buddhist goddess head, and her throne of books.  Mostly this is here to make you laugh.  Please observe the book titles.  This is both the most Bohemian and most conservative corner of our apartment.  Irony, my friends.

On the left is an engagement picture that I had made into a silhouette via Le Papier Studio on Etsy, and it says "I left my <3 in San Francisco" along the bottom.  I was going to use it as a guest book type thing at our wedding, but then I didn't want people to sign all over it because it was so pretty.  So now it hangs.

On the right is the nightstand that I picked up at the Crate&Barrel outlet for $15!  Yes, $15!  It's not quite the modern tree stump from West Elm that I had been dreaming of, but I'm not one to pass up a good deal.  On top is a beachy-ish lamp from Homegoods, and my "One Line a Day" diary, a gift from my lovely friend Lydia.

What to do with girly things is a big conundrum when you move in with a boy.  I've managed to (mostly) contain all of my girly knick-knacks and accessories to one area - my vanity.  Well, it's not quite a vanity.  It's actually the Sloan Leaning Desk from Crate&Barrel (geez, I'm apparently sub-consciously obsessed with that store), and then I stuck a round mirror on the wall so I can see myself while I blow dry.  I re-covered an ottoman I owned to use as a stool.  I really like how it came out, and Brian is just happy he doesn't have hairspray and foundation brushes all up in his space.

And now, in true Cribs fashion, I will conclude this tour by saying: Thanks for stopping by; NOW GET OUT!

(JK, you can come in any time.  Especially if you bring wine.  Or bread.)


Anonymous said...

This was so cute and fun. I loved reading about all the bargains you got and cool projects you made! There's just one lingering question- what's the story behind the license plate?


Leslie said...

Hahah, I'm with Edna!! What IS the story about the license plate??

Also: yay for you achieving life goal of having herbs!!!! I'm so happy!! I love it all and can't wait to spend many a'night on that couch :)

Ashley said...

Thanks, Edna! The license plate is from my dad's old car - they have since given up the vintage-y sunshine design for the new sleeker plates, so I consider this one a true piece of Californian history. Maybe even a cultural artifact (OK, maybe that's a little too far).

And Leslie, my couch (and air mattress sans hole) are both ready for you!

Anonymous said...

Loved reading this Ashley! Your new apartment is so adorable yet chic. I'll be moving into my first real apartment in a couple of weeks, and will use the great deals you found as inspiration while furniture hunting :)

-Sara Verhalen

Ashley said...

Thanks, Sara! And how exciting about your new apartment! I would def recommend searching on craigslist for stagers since they usually have a variety of styles of furniture and it's usually hardly used at all. And never pass up the IKEA as-is section! If you need a fun read and a little color inspiration, check out Jonathan Adler's "Happy Chic" books ( Good luck!

Kirsty {a safe mooring} said...

This is so cute. I love it. Perfect pad for a pair of newlyweds! If my flat wasn't full of my landlord's gross furniture and dominated by piles of unironed clothes, I would totally steal this idea. But it is, so I won't. Sigh.

Also spotted the Ayn Rand book - such a coincidence, the BBC just ran a really interesting and creative documentary this week about her influence on silicon valley and enron and all sorts of other stuff. All a bit intense for me but the Hubster was loving it. ( if you're interested.)

If I'm ever in L.A. I will totally bring wine AND bread. Mmm, bread...

Ashley said...

Thanks, Kirsty! I can assure you that this was the cleanest our apartment has ever been (hence why I took the opportunity to take some pictures of it haha). And thanks for the documentary rec -- probably too intense for me, too, but I'm sure Brian would LOVE to watch that!

Please do stop by if you're in LA - I'll make sure I have some cheese for our wine and bread :)

Anonymous said...

Very impressive Ashley. I was inspired by this post to come up with some of my own decorating rules. Your husband and others have often commented on my decorating prowess, so here we go...

1. You are never too old for a futon.

2. Make sure all of the furniture and picture frames are black, because one of the most important rules to decorating is to make all of the furniture match.

3. A 4' x 6' "Bigfoot Breeds with Anything" poster is a marvelous addition to any space. Who needs etsy when you have

4. The circular saw is your friend. When in doubt, try to build furniture yourself. Gloss finishes are optional: a good primer coat is all you need.

5. Make sure that bathroom candle has a source of ignition right near by. Preferably a tattered box of 250 camping matches that you bought at Rite-Aid for $1.89.

6. July is "wash the bathroom towels month."

7. Save the Ikea run for the fancy stuff (see rule #4).

8. A good pair of Coleman camp chairs will serve you well, whether camping in the Mojave or entertaining guests back at the casa. They fold up nice, have built in beverage holders and guests love that rustic wood smoke smell they pick up on camping trips!

9. Keep losing those keys? Hammer a galvanised roofing nail into the wall next to your door frame. You'll always remember to put things back the way you found 'em (unless you routinely pass out with your keys left in the door lock).

10. Linen closets are MAN closets. Where else are you going to keep all those guns and surfboards?

Yours truly,


Ashley said...

Thanks, Trey, I do what I can. And yes, I have heard the "rave reviews" of your self-made bookshelf from both Brian and Robin...quite the project haha. But I like your DIY spirit, and I'm with you on the linen closets as man closets (if only we had a linen closet!). Please just don't tell Brian where I hid his camping chairs and Bigfoot poster, k?