Friday, April 27, 2012

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

I'm horrible at sleeping. The slightest movement--fiances a-shifting, cats a-leaping--wakes me up. This got worse since we moved into our new place. In the move, something wacky must've happened with the mattress, and ever since then I felt like I was sleeping on a slant and rolling into a pit in the middle of the bed.

OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a little. But imagine my delight when Alex decided it was high time I quit my complaining and decided to treat us to a sturdy, good ol' fashioned bed. After much research, I decided to settle on the new Bennett bed from Room & Board.

It's the perfect mix of modern, sleek, and light and rustic / sea breezy, and actually looks much nicer in person than on the website's photos. Unfortunately, the angle I can get in our cramped (and unfinished, design-wise) bedroom doesn't do it justice...

Excuse the awful picture. Not sure why our comforter looks all striated either. Why am I even bothering to post this?
This is my first platform bed. I've slept on many uncomfortable things in my life-- couches, air mattresses, hospital seats, a wooden bench while stranded in Milan's train station overnight-- so this feels like a little slice of heaven.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Vintage to Die For

Last week, I finally got around to calling a stove repair guy in here to fix the right burner on our stove, which had been out since we'd moved in. Since then, it's become a weeklong saga of The Old Stove That Is Probably Not Worth Saving.

Our apartment, like many in the Miracle Mile and Larchmont neighborhoods of LA, was built sometime in the '30s or '40s, which explains some of the uglier aspects of it, including our unfortunate yellow and black tiled bathroom, and our checkered red and white kitchen floor. It also gives our home some of its more charming aspects--the art deco details, the vintage door knobs, and the real, old school doorbell that actually chimes DING DONG! (which, for the record, always scares me half to death and makes me jump out of my skin).
cool vintage doorknobs

In keeping with the rest of the apartment, our landlord has stuck to this old Gaffers and Sattler stove harkening back to the same time period. It's a sturdy stove, no doubt. Its shortcomings (using a match to light the oven, smaller oven size and no window) are somewhat made up for by the charm the stove has. Cute and manufactured in the '40s, baking with it makes me feel like Betty Crocker sans apron. While I didn't love using it, I always liked the vintage look of it.

But as soon as Stove Guy told us we were lucky the burner wasn't working because the gasket was loose and therefore we were like two steps away from a gas leak, I was all SCREW VINTAGE. Cute's cute and all, but not worth a Sylvia Plath-like ending. Stove Guy #1 calls our landlord and we were all set to get a new stove. Whee! Stainless steel, I was imagining. Something fancy and new and Italian! That's when our landlord told us she'd called in for a second opinion. Doh. Stove Guy #2 came along -- Mexican vintage-oven-specializing genius George, who claimed that 1) he can fix our problem stove 2) he can install a pilot to save me fumbling with matches to light the oven and 3) modern stoves are 100x (100! really?) more likely to catch on fire because of all the electrical wiring involved. Apparently, he claimed, these old stoves were sturdy and reliable and that's why they work for 60+ years. Hmmm.

He comes in tomorrow to fix it, along with a visit from the gas company to inspect the safety of the oven. If we don't like it or feel like carbon monoxide is getting the best of us, we can opt for a newer unit, says our landlord, who's secretly hoping she doesn't have to buy a new stove. 'Til then, we're eating out for the week.

Vintage: It's not worth dying for.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Loving the Process

As an actor, I am so inundated with daily rejection and hope that's here one second and gone the next that it's nearly impossible to be...well, present all the time. Where will I be three years from now? On a TV show or serving grande mocha lattes to undeserving reality show stars? Will I ever make it? How did I do on that audition yesterday? Am I going to die poor because I'm not saving enough now? I spend so much time fretting over what will and what may never be (thank you, Led Zeppelin) that once in a while I need to tell my inside voices (I call them my crazies*) to SHUTTHEHELLUP while I go do some yoga and breathe and Enjoy and focus on the present moment because that's the only thing that really matters right now. How can you be present in a scene when you're thinking about tomorrow? This is where the new-age hippie dippie west-coast mindset comes in handy. Ohmmmm....

I don't really meditate tarot cards, don't worry.

*I also don't really call them my crazies. That would be crazy.

The same goes with living space. I spend so much time frittering over detail in our new nest that sometimes I forget to just live and enjoy the lovely things about our new home. It's good to step back every once in a while, put down that endless To Do list--install curtain rods, install cuter hooks, repaint the chairs, plant a window box--and just enjoy where we live, even if it is a work in progress.

I've never been one to try to remake a place all at once. I'd rather have my living space be constantly evolving and filled with objects that have meaning to me, rather than knick knacks I picked up in bulk at West Elm in order to have my room "finished." Early British designer William Morris (not the big 3 agency now merged with Endeavor) once said, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." I've tried to follow that mantra, although not always successfully. There are a few broken chairs and swag bag-comped free DVDs of schlock like "Bad Lieutenant"--the Nick Cage version--that would attest to that.

But in honor of Morris, the socialist with a knack for making homes look beeeyootiful, I'm spending some time today to revel in some of the spaces I find beautiful in my home, finished or not. And I'm proud of it, GATdammit.

First, our most used room of the house. Here's my living room when we first saw it right before moving in:

woooooooooow a living roooom

Here it is, today.


It's an oasis where I spend daytimes rehearsing acting while the cats look out the window at the street, and evenings with my beau listening to the Beach Boys' "Smile," watching The Wire or Downton Abbey, or doing the New York Times crossword on our new iPad. How decadent! How deliciously bourgeois! The giant lamp and the mid-century regency chair I found on Craigslist from a collector and reupholstered myself. The cowhide rug I found on my first ever solo vacation to Buenos Aires, Argentina. My crazy gaudy-gorgeous regency table I also scored on Craigslist for an amazing deal by a woman who needed to get rid of sharp corners in her house for the sake of her quickly-learning-to-walk toddler (it was damaged by the movers, argh). And the good ol' Ikea Expedit shelf on the left has fixed our perennial stranded doorway shoe/sock problem by adding baskets that serve as His and Hers shoe drawers.

Note the kitty in the mirror. He's so vain, he probably thinks this post is about him.
Our faux fireplace mantel is always a work in progress. I placed some stuff there while we were unpacking and it's stayed there ever since. That's a Jonathan Adler miniature whale ornament gifted to me by my good friend, Shirley. That scary line drawing print of freakish demons and naked people on horses is something that Alex loves--and that used to hate--but have grown to love in context in its place on the mantel. And that photograph to its right--you probably can't see it-- says "It's the computer that brought us together." And it was.

Alex had been wanting a record player for a while so I found this Crosley beaut on the recommendation of my friend who is a musician and has tons of style. I liked it because not only did it sound good (besides a record player, it is also a radio, CD player, and TAPE DECK--whaaa?!) and looks perfectly mid-century cute and in place with the rest of the living room.

Here's our dining room when we first saw it:

And here it is now:

Still working on it, but getting there.  It's a lovely place to have breakfast while perusing our ever-growing pile of daily Variety. The painting was done by my dad, who's a chemical engineer-turned-artist. My beloved mid century chairs are also a score from Craigslist from a collector. Even though I love them aged and how the green paint has chipped over time, they are getting creaky and will have to get replaced soon (wedding registry?). I want me some gorgeously designed Hans Wegner wishbone chairs. One of these days, too, I'll be able to swap out my imitation Ikea Docksta table for a real Saarinen tulip table. You know, when I have an extra $1800 in my pocket. Oh look at me now, I'm already thinking about the future again. Think present! Now! NOW!

I'll end on my favorite view in the apartment, which comes from our bedroom, looking out onto the garden.

It's the perfect spot to cozy up to on a rare rainy day in LA.

but I don't wanna go to school, mom!

Well, there you have it. I'm present and stuff. Now what do I have to do tomorrow? I'm gonna go make a list.