Thursday, July 24, 2014

Work in Progress: The Kitchen

The kitchen is our most problematic space. As with many families, it's also where we spend our time. It's an odd space because it's spacious but not particularly functional. There aren't even drawers in the cabinets. That seems nuts to me! We've considered buying and installing our own, but I'm not sure if they would be worth the time and effort. The dining space does triple duty as the center for eating, arts and crafts, and recycling. The countertops, as you can see, are very crowded. There's about 3 feet linear space. We don't have a lot of appliances, but clearly stuff needs to be moved elsewhere or organized differently. I've included a photo of a typical meal prep. Dishes piled high because we never seem to have time to tidy up before or after meals. Mornings are slow because bedtime is much too late...because we pick the boys up at 6 everything gets pushed back, and then we're exhausted. Between meltdowns, fights, and general crankiness, the place deteriorates rapidly. You have to be extremely disciplined in a small space, and sometimes all you want to do is collapse on the couch instead of very very quietly washing dishes at 10 pm.

Projects to tackle in the kitchen include:
  • A shelf in the living room for the speaker
  • Relocate the charging station elsewhere
  • Install shelves on the tiled wall? I'm not sure this would be allowed in a rental.
  • A smaller dish rack might force me to deal with the dishes in a more efficient manner. This would also free up counter space
  • An absorbent dish drying mat that can be rolled up and put away when not in use
  • A nicer looking compost bin
  • Uniform clear bins in the dining space for art supplies

The nicest thing about the kitchen is that it's wide enough for everyone during our hectic evenings. But it isn't wide enough to add a narrow kitchen island next to the pantry niche. How would you deal with minimal counter space, a tiny sink, and the busy messiness of family life with two parents working 9-6?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Work in Progress: Bedroom / Playroom / Storage Room

The boys' room is one of our trickiest spaces. Both bedrooms are equal in size, but this one has the apartment's only closet. It's also a tricky space because our sleeping arrangement is...complicated. For those of you who've followed our sleep trials with Leon, things are both better and mostly the same. Elias stays in the crib until around 4am, at which point he sleeps in a bed with me. We either sleep on the twin bed in his room, or we switch to the other bedroom, where Leon sleeps on a full bed.

This room is also a primary play space, although the living room is unsurprisingly more popular. But we store most of the toys here. I finally bought a toy bench from Ikea, and it has been a godsend. I call it the black hole because it holds so much including oversized items.

Finally, the room is our storage area. We added two new shelving units for stuff that belongs in a closet: linens, tools, bicycle stuff, important files, and overflow clothing. As you can see, a stroller, bike pump, and vacuum, are often shoved in the corner as well. The closet holds even more unsightly stuff as well as winter coats.

Soon we're going to get a full bed for this room because Leon, Elias, and I will sleep here while my mom takes over the other room. I've spent hours playing with the layout, which Matthew drew up in Rhino.

These are the projects I need to tackle:
  • Storage boxes need to be more uniform or complementary with the rest of the space
  • The dresser was a Craigslist bargain. I can't stand the color, so we'll either repaint or buy something else
  • A different curtain, shorter in length, or a roller blind
  • Too much blue! I swear it wasn't intentional.
  • I don't like the Poang, but it's great for getting Elias to fall asleep. I would love to replace it with a more attractive high-backed armchair.

If only! Dwell Studio Hans Chair (leather or fabric)
How have you dealt with multi-functional rooms? Do you try to keep the zones separate, or do you focus on a unifying or harmonizing scheme?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Work in Progress: More thoughts on the entryway

Image source

Image source

Image source

I like the idea of the locker or cubby entryway, but I'd also like to keep this area as open as possible. The locker aesthetic seems to skew either "school" or "cottage," which is fine, but my larger concern is unifying the entryway with the living room.

Living in a cold climate, we need the entryway to function as a mudroom and repository for bulky winter clothing as well as the usual school and household related stuff. I like the addition of the metal mailboxes in the third image, as well as the little table with a drawer and open bin for junk mail.

Although it would be a pain to drill all those holes, I also think it would be good to have painted knobs at different heights for the boys. Last winter their outerwear bin was out of control, and often jackets and mittens would be left on the floor. Let's hope we can adopt better habits this time around.

Work in Progress: The Entryway and Livingroom

Our apartment may be small and lacks storage space, but it gets a lot of light and has an open living room kitchen plan. Bedrooms are also conveniently located at either end. That said, not even 600 sq ft is challenging for a family of four plus a cat.

The first thing we did was move the bicycle from the entryway into the basement. I don't think we're technically allowed to do this, but there are other bicycles downstairs. We also brought down our sled and a large humidifer. Basically everything else we own is in the apartment.

The entryway is currently a staging ground for moving stuff either into the car or into my office. At some point we're going to have to decide on the following:
  • Two benches or one bench plus baskets and stools?
  • More wall hooks. Should we go with more of the same (Ikea Leksvik) or something exciting?
  • A high traffic runner
  • A new area rug
  • The wall behind the couch doesn't look right to me
  • Maybe another shelf on the divider wall for our wireless speaker

I've spent too many hours on Apartment Therapy. Now I've learned that we need a more efficient landing strip. We're constantly forgetting hats and extra towels for daycare because they're never corralled together. We also don't have a place for mail, so the little table ends up overflowing with paper.

How have you handled entry spaces? Is there a system that works for you?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Steven Alan Sample Sale

They forgot to include the hat in my package and there aren't any left in stock :(

Something for him, something for me

These are being sent to California, so I won't get to try out the hat until August. I waffled on buying the one with the ochre band (it sold out pretty quickly), but the black banded version at half off will do just as nicely.

If you haven't received an email from Steven Alan and would like early access to the sample sale, I think you will need to sign up for an account. I nearly bought an Ace and Jig surf dress and then I worried that it wasn't actually reversible. I've tried on the Diamond print version, which I want, and the inside print is Agave. Based on the photos, it looks like Agave's inside print is Diamond, but is it actually reversible?? I'm guessing no.

Ace&Jig Surf Dress in Agave, now $128 I would go with a medium, even the large fits on top

This is the one that I want, in the Diamond print.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Apartment brainstorming

It turns out we can't leave the country this weekend to attend a wedding in Toledo, so I've decided to spend some of my extra time brainstorming apartment ideas. I had a friend take a look at the space, and her recommendations included painting the living room white to match the kitchen, add interesting wall hooks for the entry, store the bicycle elsewhere, and buy uniform storage boxes for the shelving units.

I'm going to take photos of the place this weekend and maybe you can chime in as well. But first things first, here are a few images I've found inspiring these past few days.

Image from here
Tveit and Tornoe Dots oak wall hooks from here
Image from here
Image from here
Image from here
Our place is just under 600 square feet with a shotgun house layout. We do not have access to basement, outdoor, or balcony space, and there is only one closet in the apartment. The two bedrooms are fairly large, as is the kitchen, but the living room is narrow and tiny. Starting in September the boys and I will be sharing a room, and my mother will stay in the other room, so quite a bit of open space will be taken up by a larger family bed. It's going to be crowded, but I think we're disciplined enough to manage even with two little ones and a cat.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy Fourth!

My patriotic Ace&Jig dress

Happy Fourth of July!

We're gearing up for our trip to Toledo by way of Detroit next weekend. Speaking of curation, I'm excited to see SANAA's Glass Pavilion, especially since one of my students is writing about it. I've really enjoyed the discussion on Assembled Hazardly. If you can separate these questions from capitalism and neoliberalism--obviously I have a hard time doing this--I find we're all concerned with making sense of our place in the world.

This week marks three years since we left America, and it also marks my disengagement with a lot of the activities that used to define my sense of self. It has been both liberating and profoundly unsettling. It has also forced me to ask better questions about how my work (teaching+research) is embedded in my daily life.

Stay safe and enjoy the holiday weekend, friends.