Love it & Leave it with Zipcar (Sponsored Post)

One of the most wonderful things about living in a big city is the ease of public transportation. I don’t own a car and I never, ever drive. My usual modes of transportation are my feet and the subway. But occasionally, not having a car can put a damper on my wandering side. As much as I love this city, I also love to leave it.

Enter Zipcar - the perfect solution for when I need to wander farther afield. Or run an errand. Or get away from the mass of humanity that is life in the city. It’s all the upsides of having a car at my disposal without the hassle. No alternate side of the street parking! No shoveling out from snowstorms! No dealing with the DMV!

If I imagine a perfect day, it absolutely includes browsing architectural salvage and used furniture warehouses. Before I had kids, I had plenty of opportunity to do just that and would sometimes take several day trips with the Mr. to explore new and old favorites. Sadly my littles don’t have the patience for sorting through racks of the remnants of other people’s lives so it’s fallen by the wayside. This winter has been long and I haven’t had any time to myself so I did something very naughty - I took a vacation day, got in a Zipcar and hit the road.

Zipcar made it incredibly easy. After signing up online, I received my Zipcar membership card in the mail a few days later. Once I activated that, making a reservation was as easy as picking the time and location. The cost of the reservation includes the gas and the insurance! Zipcar has a range of car types and sizes so I was able to reserve a SUV in case I found any larger pieces that wouldn’t fit easily in a smaller vehicle. The car was waiting for me a few blocks away from my house and away I went. It even had a full tank of gas ready for my adventure!

Still too early for the big outdoor markets, I headed to my very favorite spot within an hour’s drive - Englishtown Used Furniture. I literally never know what I will find when I come here - the warehouse is huge and disorganized and feels like a treasure hunt each and every time I visit. Over the years I’ve found all kinds of things from furniture to serving ware and everything in between. While it’s hard to know what will be waiting for me there, I never leave empty handed.

I was hoping to find some fun storage pieces for my office makeover but struck out on that front. Of course I did find a few special pieces I just had to bring home. An ornate gilded mirror that is almost as large as me will make a great decorative piece once it gets a makeover. I also found a vintage class photo from a Brooklyn school dating back to 1946 that will look perfect in a gallery wall in my office. These little decorative pieces make me smile thinking about my lovely little day.

Once I had scoured four corners of the store, it was time to pack it in and head back home. Dropping off was just as easy as pickup. In my case the car was located in a nearby parking garage so it was easy as handing the keys off and I was done. I wanted the car for the better part of the day so I made my reservation that way but now I know I can use Zipcar just as easily for quick jaunts to Ikea or Target when I need a car to carry my haul.

Ready for your own junking adventure? Sign up at Zipcar and receive a $25 credit torward your first trip!

These are five of my favorite spots for affordable pieces waiting reuse or rescue all within a reasonable drive from NYC. Although I will warn you: you will spend much more than an hour lost inside!

Big Reuse Brooklyn | Nonprofit store for salvaged building materials & furniture | 69 9th St, Brooklyn, NY
Every Thing Goes Furniture | Used furniture store |17 Brook St, Staten Island, NY
Recycling the Past | Architectural salvage | 381 N Main St, Barnegat, NJ
Englishtown Antiques | Used furniture and d├ęcor | 42 Main St, Englishtown, NJ
United House Wrecking, Inc. | Vintage furniture, fixtures, & garden | 535 Hope St, Stamford, CT

Disclosure: Thanks to Zipcar for making such a great getaway and for sponsoring this post. Sponsored posts like this one make this blog possible.

Ode to the Striped Umbrella

The calendar tells me the first day of Spring is this week. The weatherman tells me otherwise. Nevermind another snowstorm, I'm forging ahead with plans of spring. There is something I've wanted to treat myself to for ages - a graphic striped garden umbrella for the backyard - but it feels so wasteful. I have a perfectly functional garden umbrella that despite my best efforts of leaving it out for the past few winters is still looking just dandy. This is the very definition of a first world problem. Anyone with me?

This example from Decor Aid is summer perfection.

And of course now that I'm trying to not be such a consumerist schlub, I see them everywhere I go. Dare I say I'm smitten with striped umbrellas? Ok yes, I'm smitten.

Of course some of my favorite bloggers have a black striped umbrella already in their backyards so I probably was not so subtly influenced by their styles.  Case in point, Chris Loves Julia's deck is just amazing like everything else they do (that outdoor fireplace is giving me serious backyard envy).  And the graphic punch looks just as lovely in more humble settings like this little corner shady spot from Blissful Bee (check out the entire backyard and you'll see the rest of it is not so humble!) and this great dining space by Rambling Renovators.

Or maybe we need some international influence?  From Australia, Porchlight Interiors knocked it out of the park on the left with Ballard Designs recreating an english garden on the right.

Need I say more?

I don't know if I can go another summer without one!  I have my eye on this one which is reasonably priced but lacks any reviews.  Anyone have this model and want to vouch for it's sturdyness?

Girl Astronaut Nursery Makeover

Last month we celebrated a very joyous occasion - the arrival of a niece! Since our family is rather small, this was truly an exciting event and we were so happy to welcome her into the world. Of course no baby's arrival is complete without a tiny space to call her own. My brother and sister in law went with an astronaut theme for her nursery which I just adore.
Girl Astronaut Nursery

I helped a little with the constellation mural and a few suggestions but they did all of the hard work. I love the "after" but especially after knowing what the "before" looked like.

Pretty impressive, right?

Space Theme Nursery for GirlBook Display and Storage in Nursery
The space is small but functional, creating display and storage as well as clean open space.  Perfect for lulling baby to sleep. When she is a little older, there will be space to play as well.

I helped with the constellation mural.  We tried a few different wants of painting it on but ended up figuring out that a silver sharpie (or actually 5 or 6 of them) was the best and easiest approach.  For just a few bucks, it made a great impact on the big blank wall.
Constellation Mural DIYArt for a Astronaut Theme for Baby Girl Nursery

Room Sources:

Kitchen Confessional | Learn from my mistakes

Whether you are thinking of renovating your kitchen or knee deep in demolition dust - this is the post for you! With 10 years of living in this kitchen, I can now share the ultimate in kitchen renovation lessons learned. What I wish I had done differently and what I'm so glad we did right the first time. Hopefully this scoop is helpful for your own renovations. It certainly has helped me with other projects over the years. [Check out this post for the before photos and more on the renovation.]

Let's start with the planning. When I was pouring over inspiration back then, I was told multiple times that "white kitchens are on their way out" In fact, I've seen this statement every single year since then as well. Will white kitchens one day go out of style? Never say never but white is pretty classic. I don't see it going out of style anytime soon.

Lesson #1 | Don't listen to the naysayers.  Pick what you like.

Ten years ago, soapstone was a pretty infrequently seen countertop material.  We had to go to a special supplier.  Lots of people warned me against it saying it was soft and would be trouble.  He was right,  it was softer than granite - but I knew that already as I had done my research.  I still loved the look and thought the dings and scratches would work well in an old house that has plenty of patina already. Well 10 years in, it definitely has plenty of wear but I still think it looks lovely.  It requires no maintenance whatsoever. While soapstone isn't for everyone, it was the perfect choice for us.

Lesson #2 | Even good contractors can be wrong. Do your own research.

When we were doing the layout, I was pretty against using the over the stove microwave for purely aesthetic reasons. I just didn't think it looked that great. But for a multitude of reasons we ended it going with it anyway.  Little did I know that the placement of that microwave over a hot stove creates a perfect storm for microwaves going ker-plewy.  This is our third microwave in 10 years and I don't think one is long for this world.  So not only is it generally unattractive but it has created an added expense and aggravation that is super inconvenient and hard to fix (and they always break at the MOST inopportune time - how does it know?). This is my #1 biggest mistake by far and it still makes my blood boil.  Learn from my mistakes, do not do it.

Lesson #3 | No microwaves over the stove, eveerrr!

Next up is flooring.  This isn't so much as a mistake as a warning. We went with wood flooring because this kitchen is open to the dining room and I wanted it to flow.  We have old parquet floors that are thinner than modern hardwood floors so that added a bit of complexity as well.  Ten years in and the finish is definitely past its prime. In fairness we are not careful at all - we do not baby anything in our house except the actual babies - but still, wood floors don't like water and a kitchen has water everywhere.  Considering our limited options, I think we would still have put wood floors down because I think redoing them every decade or so is totally worth it but it's a cautionary word.  If you want something that won't require work, you might want to opt for a different flooring.

Lesson #4 | Decide what items are worth maintaining and what are not and make decisions accordingly.

If you look closely you will see there are 4 different kinds of lights in this kitchen - over the island, in the ceiling, under the cabinet and in the upper cabinets.  Quite a lot for such a small space.  I'm quite sure my contractor thought I was crazy for putting so many lights in but let me tell you that it's so worth it. Having good lighting in here is SO important - do not scrimp here.  Aside from just being safer to be able to see well in here (no sliced off fingertips yet!), having options is such a pleasure.

Lesson #5 | Do not scrimp on lighting!

I think that about covers all the bigger points and takeaways but there are a couple of smaller points about my kitchen in particular that I wanted to add as well.  First about the farmhouse sink - it's still lovely to look at but it's handmade nature means it doesn't have a perfectly sloped base which results in crumbs hanging around.  Not a huge deal but considering the price of that sink, I would have expected more.  If I did it again, I would get a cheaper factory made sink and not have this issue.  Second, there are a few cabinet accessories that I really love and would absolutely recommend - the pull out garbage with the recycling bin is worth it's weight in gold.  I also love having a skinny cabinet to store cutting boards and pull out shelves in the base and pantry cabinets. Other than that, we don't have much in the way of doo-dads in there.

So what's next?  As much as I love this space and it has served us well, I'm thinking I might make a couple of minor changes to the island lights and stool sometime this year. And of course the floors will need to be redone at some point but we are waiting a few years until the kids are older to do it. Other than that, I see many more years spent at this counter pondering life's mysteries (and picking up cheerios).

I hope my kitchen confessional has been useful to someone out there. If you have any questions, just ask.

Office Shelf Off: Which One?

Warning: We interrupt this feed of normally pretty styled images for a reality check.

Don't judge me.  I used to be organized.

My office is an a sad state! I designed it before I had kids and when I had an entire empty closet to keep all my clutter.  Fast forward to today - two small humans are born and they required I give up my closet.  As a result, my office has become the dumping ground.  Can anyone relate?

It's time for a room redo here but I've been putting it off  - mostly because of lack of time.  But I spend a good bit of my week in here and it's now driving me crazyyyyy!  As you can tell, I need a lot more storage.  (or maybe a marie kondo intervention?)

So I'm thinking my old Swedish friend Ikea will help me out here but I'm torn.  I'm liking all three of the these options but they are totally different and I can't decide. Which one are you feeling? Anyone have one of these units and want to opine?

In this corner is the good ol' Fjallkinge which you may have seen in such blogs as Studio MeGee, Young House Love and Lark & Linen.  Pretty fly for white guy.

Followed by the relative unknown Veberod.  I like it's rustic farmhousy vibe and how smaller units could mean I could be more flexible with them in future but I'm worried it might be too busy in the small space.

They are pretty different styles and I'd probably go a different direction with paint and accessories depending upon the pick.

What say you wise people of the interwebs? White clean lines or rustic metal + wood?

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