Viewing posts for the category house-ing

made in the shade...or the dark, even

Thursday, dec. 24, 2009   |   12 comments

Look at our bed! It’s lost its mind!


It’s like we let it dress itself and it pulled together this insane little number and, like the over-tired parents we actually are now, we just went with it. That’s what you want to wear? On picture day? Sure, fine, whatever.

more words on: decoration, house-ing

fine dining

Saturday, dec. 5, 2009   |   32 comments

Lest you think all I’ve been doing lately is having babies and then complaining about said babies: We’ve also been decorating! (Wow. Could we be any more staid? I fear our break with the rebel alliance is now complete.)

After much consternation, and a great deal of trial-and-erroring, we’re finally done with the dining section of the house. But we sure did have to wend our way through a parade of tables and accoutrement before we got it right. (Eek! Sorry! The following epic description of this particular decorodyssey is super freakishly detailed…if you have a life to live, maybe just stick to judging the grainy, amateur photography?)


Here we see (back in the corner over there) our original square table from the Alameda flea market. Sadly, it didn’t quite cut it in the new space, what with being too small at its smallest and too big and cornery and hard to navigate when expanded. Also I didn’t love the jumble of dark and light woods going on between the table, credenza, and chairs. I don’t necessarily need everything to matchy-match, but this combo felt a little too “look what we picked up off the street on big trash day!” random.

We decided a cornerless (AKA round) table was in order, so next we Craigslisted this little number from CB2. (Marco is a master Craigslister, obsessively checking the listings multiple times each day.)


Unfortunately, this table turned out to be a little too little. Marco kind of liked it, but I felt it gave things a depressing “icky, flavored-coffee cafe” feel. Plus it didn’t have a leaf, so we would never be able to serve more than four people…not at one time, at least. And its dark wood-grained top actually exacerbated the wood-WOOD-WoOd problem.

So! Feast your eyes on our new, just-right Goldilocks table:


The table is vintage (spotted at Eames Loft by Marco’s friend Janet), and it’s in crazy-beautiful condition, all gleaming and smelling of polish and elbow grease. It comes with a built-in butterfly leaf, which means it’s stored within the table, versus in some tippy, hard-to-get-at corner of the garage. In its leafless state, it’s a good 10” wider than the CB2 table, and just that little added girth really makes it feel proportionate with the space. It was spendy at $440, but the dollars Marco made for selling the other two tables got us almost all the way there.

With the table down, all we had left to do was accessorize, which Marco and I just so happen to love to do to, perhaps to the point of unhealthiness?

Little green bud vase (with bundle of sage): Heath Ceramics. Taller white carved vase (with cheap-o Safeway flowers): Sara Paloma Pottery. The white chairs are from Crate and Barrel, and I think they provide welcome relief from all the wood. They also tie in the white-white Ikea cupboards found in the adjacent kitchen. Comfy, too!

Sadly our beloved credenza was too deep for the space — a table centered under the light fixture just doesn’t leave enough room along the side for much else. So Marco found us a new vintage credenza on Craigslist:


It’s very, very similar to our original piece, only it’s shallower by 7”, which fits the space much, much better. It weirdly was also the same steep $440 as the table, but Marco posted our original credenza on Craigslist and it got picked up as one of Apartment Therapy’s recommended buys for the week, which helped us get a tidy $460 for it. Net: $20!

Wooden iPod player: Vers Audio. Salmon-hued side lamp: Vintage, discovered by Marco in one of the antique shopies on the main drag in San Anselmo.


The white faux bois vase was a $3.99 shopportunity from Marshalls. Marco disdainfully says it “looks like celery,” but sometimes Marco is wrong? Little ceramic bull: Jonathan Adler. Bumpy white vase: Ikea.


Salty, peppery elephants: Daiso, $1!

Next up: Cuting up the Ikea-blank kitchen cabinets!

regrets, I have a few

Monday, nov. 9, 2009   |   0 comments

I know it isn’t the healthiest thing for my happy, but I just can’t seem to stop driving by the house we didn’t get, sighing and sulking over its gigantic basement and quiet street and superior school system and convenient proximity to casual carpool. I want to punch that perfect house in its stupid perfect house face!* And then french it all over.

It feels wrong, like I’m cheating on my new house. And I really do like our house. I do, I do! And I feel so lucked out over all the insane work that Marco and company did to make it so very cute. Plus we have a much bigger yard where we are now, and there’s a lot more fun stuff within walking distance, and we have the kind of neighbors who bake us banana bread and knit us baby things.

But oh! How nice it would have been to have gone home with the house that made me feel all panty and crushy and flushed? Versus this dumb nagging wallow of feeling like we settled?

Then again: I own a house! I have a healthy, dimpled baby! And a job to go back to! And I have three totally different flavors of ice cream chilling in my freezer. In short: Shut up, me.

*Credit: The entirely non-regrettable Hot Rod. Stream it up!

more words on: house-ing

horses of courses

Sunday, nov. 8, 2009   |   0 comments

Behold! Our mantle bedecked with two gigantic ceramic horse heads!

horses, of course

Don’t you love how they’re all, “I’ll just shove my head through this here semipermeable wall…Oh! Hello farmer people! What’s for dinner?”

These pretty horses used to hang out in the house of my dearest friend, Sophia, and I was always very vocal about how deeply I coveted them. So when she inexplicably found herself ready to move on (I know!), she gifted them in our direction. So stinking awesome!

The heads had, however, seen some action over the years, and there were some visible wears and tears from old earthquake-slash-small-children-related injuries. I was about ten million months pregnant when I finally got my hot, swollen mitts on them, and I immediately became fixated — with the special intensity of the vastly pregnant — on getting them fixed and hung before the baby came. Meanwhile we’d only just moved into our house, and the stove, dishwasher, and washer-dryer were all still yet to be installed. Also we had no heat. Nor hot water. And I was about a week shy of my due date.

So the scene was this: Dirty, sweaty, swearing Marco, feverishly trying to get these major appliances up and running. He’s racing around, the power’s going off and on, and the air is tinged with the delicate scent of what can only be described as “gas leak.” And then there’s me, sitting on the floor, quietly painting in the cracks of some ceramic horse heads with an itty, bitty brush.

It seemed important at the time?

more words on: all knocked up, house-ing

a race against time

Thursday, jun. 18, 2009   |   0 comments

It’s 3:42 in the morning and look who’s typing! [Sad, dangling-arm insomnia mime pose.]

I guess I kind of have some things on my mind?

Exhibit A: Homeownership

So we bought a house. WE BOUGHT A HOUSE! I know…so exciting! But also so, so stressful, my god, really I had no idea. The poring over listings, the touring of 100s of houses, the loan-getting, the deliberating, the bidding, the disappointing crush of getting outbid, the bidding again (and again), the negotiating, the faxing, the signing your name a thousand times, the whole “wiring your entire life savings into the void” thing (that part actually only takes a freakishly speedy five minutes — I complained to the bank teller that it should take at least three hours, just to reflect the gravity of this being probably the most gigantic transaction of my life, but no, you just sign here, sign there, and WHOOSH! My money’s gone!), the overwhelmed weeping…. Altogether, it’s like a fulltime job. A heart-wrenching, abusive job with horrible hours.

And that’s on top of the fulltime job I already have. While pregnant. And not drinking!

Had I known how much it was going to take out of me, I never, ever would have done it. But I am glad that we did. I guess? We got a good price, and a great rate, and our payments are relatively sane (for the Bay Area at least). And I really do think that if we hadn’t done it now, it never would have happened, this being the moment where all our planets — low-ish housing prices, enough savings for a down payment, gainful employment, parental aid — aligned into this one miracle opportunity.

But did I mention that the house is a fixer-upper? In the month or so since the close of escrow, we’ve upgraded the 1940s electrical system, re-piped the water-pressure-at-5%-capacity plumbing, replaced the gas-leaking deathtrap furnace with central heating, redone the sewer line, and also torn out the entire kitchen. And by “we,” I mean “Marco.”

What with me in my delicate condition, and my knowing less than zero about construction, Marco’s had to take care of everything: Lining up bids, getting permits, digging ditches, tearing down walls, putting up walls, crawling around in the crawl space, cleaning mystery feces (racoon? HUMAN?) out of the attic?!

We’ve also had a ton of help. Our friends have turned out in droves to sweat and swing hammers and measure things — it’s like a 24-7 calendar shoot over there. Rob in particular has dipped his oar in so much it makes my heart hurt with happy. And my dad! He’s been truly amazing, drawing up plans and building steps and crawling around in the horror-film crawlspace. I feel so grateful and humbled and small!

Despite all the help, things are still really and truly bananas. We’re pinching every penny, constantly examining and reexamining our budget and bank balance. And I never see Marco. He goes straight from work to the house each night, where he slaves until the wee dark hours, and he’s over there every possible working hour of every weekend.

The only time I see him is at our weekly home-birthing class. [Sound of tires screeching and records skipping and the world at large scratching its collective melon.]

Yeah. On top of all this life insanity, we’re also planning to have the baby at home. Huh?

Exhibit B: The Surprise Hippie Homebirth Plan!

I had every intention of having this baby at the hospital, I really did. As a hippie-hating Marin-reactionary, a homebirth didn’t even vaguely cross my mind. But then I accidentally saw The Business of Being Born, which brought up all these questions and half-remembered tales told by former-birth-center-receptionist and hairdresser-slash-midwife friends.

And when I brought my Qs to my OBGYN, I did not like the answers, which were brusque and dismissive and delivered with my doctor’s foot literally out the door.

So Marco and I interviewed some midwives, and really liked what they had to say. And we were impressed by how they give every question a sane, measured response, and how their appointments are at your house and they last an hour versus the 5 minutes at the OBGYN’s office. (Plus pun-lover me was ecstatic with the name of their business…ready? Wombservice!)

And WHOOSH! Suddenly we’re buying rubber sheets and a special “placenta storage” bowl.

In Summary

So here’s where we are now: Ready or not, the house will become our new home on July 12, our very last day at the apartment. Our due date is on July 22, just ten scant days later.

Kitchen floor, leveled and ready for tile
Here’s what our kitchen looks like today.

today's "birthday" outfit
And what I look like today: Profoundly pregnant and primed for popping, and officially 39 years of old.

June might just kill me
Which will be done first, the house or the time bomb in the oven?

I’m sure we’ll be fine. Provided we get the kitchen and toilet and water heater and windows installed. And the walls painted. And the floors refinished. And we pass all our inspections. And the baby doesn’t come early.

Oh my god.

more words on: all knocked up, house-ing