Tuesday, August 31, 2010

News from another neighborhood

Remember how I mentioned that my neighborhood has a sketchy side last week? Well, perhaps I should count my blessings that I don't live in one of the private communities on the outskirts of town. One in particular has homes like this:

Yesterday, a woman was shot on her property in that community while she was gardening! This is the same community that was in the news a while back when their community association was missing over $600,000 and their treasurer was missing for a month.

Do any of you live in a gated community? Is life there as dramatic as life at our Glenmore seems to be?

By the way, while snagging those pictures from MLS, I saw one example after another of my biggest pet peeve in real estate listings: bad photoshopping. Looking at an image that has obviously been tweaked is so distracting! I also get suspicious of the seller and agent. If you're going to turn a photo into a cartoon looking thing, are you also willing to lie about bigger items that require a lot more work?

You'd think they would have photoshopped some of the crappy furniture out. Do you think they paid a stager for the furniture placement? I really lurve the ottoman that was moved to be with the zebra chair.

All photos from MLS or Glenmore.com

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Where do you blog?

Last week, Kate from Centsational Girl suggested that design bloggers share pictures of where they blog.

This is a corner of the living room, which is the hub of activity in my small condo. The desk is from West Elm and replaced one that was far more traditional (and custom made in Italy). The Louis Ghost Chair was an impulse purchase from La Difference in Richmond, VA. The lamp was from Home Goods, and I made the drapes using curtains from ebay and two inch wide grosgrain ribbon.

I used to have my Jonathan Adler squirrel on this desk, but he's a little tipsy, so I replaced him with some little owls I won in a giveaway.

Want to see where some other bloggers write? Click on the image to check some more spaces out.

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

J. Crew Regional Warehouse sale update

Just a heads up if you're headed to the J. Crew sale today.

It is very hot in the store, so dress lightly. There are no dressing rooms, so know your sizes or wear a bathing suit or something along those lines to allow you to try on. There are no mirrors, either. I wound up asking the girls who were digging next to me to weigh in on a blazer that was a size too big. I was going to chance it, but they confirmed that it was too large.

Happy shopping! I got two dresses and a skirt from the suiting line, a winter pea coat, a wool sweater, a silk dress shirt, and a little vest for my nephew for $100 yesterday. I didn't even get to the shoes or men's sections!

$69.50 online, $8 at the J. Crew Warehouse Sale

Most of the wedding gowns I saw were $100!
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Friday, August 27, 2010

J. Crew Regional Warehouse Sale in Charlottesville

When I was in college, there was an annual J. Crew sale at the Providence Civic Center. We were handed trash bags when we arrived and we'd go through cardboard boxes of clothes to find our sizes. The prices were crazy...$10 pants one day, $15 sweaters the next. I remember going to the sale every day after class my freshman year because new boxes were always being put out.

If you live in Central VA, it might be worth your while to come to Charlottesville next week. We have a J. Crew Warehouse sale going on here! Now, obviously, we can drive down to the factory and shop (I blogged about the two stores run by the factory a few months ago), but the deals at these sales are usually pretty amazing.

The sale will run through Monday, September 6th, from 10 AM until 8 PM. The sale is in the Seminole Square Shopping Center on Route 29, in the space that used to be MacGregor Antiques (locals may remember the Leftover Luxuries sale was there last year).

Happy shopping!
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A walk around the neighborhood

Despite the fact that I look forward to having a little yard some day, I love living in the city. On walks around the neighborhood, I always find charming little scenes like this one…

The house isn't perfect by any means. No HOA is telling these people to take down those Christmas lights. Some critter took a few bites out of a corner of the bottom step. The threashhold of the door looks a little gnarly.


I love this cute house.

Of course, in a gentrifying neighborhood, there's a mishmash of homes. Some haven't changed hands in decades and are meticulously maintained by proud, older couples. Some have fallen into disrepair. Some are rentals. Some are just waiting for someone to coax them back into shape.

Every time I shake my head while walking by this house, where the backyard is a gathering spot for all sorts of random people who don't want to be observed:

I have to remember my favorite house...the one with the purple door and the sleepy cat always napping on the porch.

Gentrification is a touchy subject. I honestly didn't know I was part of it when I was moving here. I just saw some pretty buildings while driving down Main Street when I visited for my job interview here and googled to figure out if they were rentals (at the time they were. I bought my unit during a condo conversion). There are times when I love the neighborhood that surrounds my little condo community. There are times when I get frustrated by it (like when a teenager told me this was HIS neighborhood, not mine or when someone told me about catching some kids trying to steal a bike).

Is anyone else living with gentrification? How have your experiences been?
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Did you see it? Secrets of a Stylist teaser on Youtube

If you're viewing this in a reader, I'm not sure the youtube video will show up.
You might need to click through...

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The next big purchase

Earlier this year, the pending big purchase in my future was a new car. With that behind me, it's time to set my sights on something new: kitchen counters.

This purchase is going to be almost completely driven by what is best for resale. My condo is not my forever home, so resale is often a factor in my decisions. My bathroom was done mostly for me, but I knew that by upgrading it, I'd push my unit above every other unit in the complex. Remember the before pictures?

The afters are much, much better, aren't they?

So the goal is to do the same amount of improvement to the kitchen, which used to look like this:

And currently looks like this:

Oops...taken before crown was added to the top of the cabinets

I haven't even started to price out the options, but I'm wondering what your gut reactions are to the different materials out there. If you were buying a condo, what you would think about granite? Quartz (Silestone/Caesarstone)? Solid surface (Corian)? Concrete?

As a design blogger, I'd love to install marble, but I've seen so many people worry about taking care of it that I don't want to scare anyone away by using it. Marble might be for my forever home. Not for the condo.
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Art on an extreme budget

I came across a photo last night that made me remember how I managed to get art on the walls when I first moved into my condo. It was my first time living alone and I felt a lot of pressure to be thrifty. As you may recall, I lived in the unit as a renter originally and the developer of the complex converted the building to condos after I lived here for two or three years.

Around the time I moved here, I saw a picture in a shelter magazine of a fairly traditional bedroom with a very modern painting in it. I loved the juxtaposition and I stuck the page in my inspiration folder. The magazine made no reference to the art, so I couldn't track it down. I decided to copy it.

Now, this is where you'll see that all my talk about not being crafty or artsy is completely right. I now know the painting was by Terry Winters and prints were made for the 1999 Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center. Here's the original:

Here's the "copy" that little, 20-something me created. I remember laboring over this. I drew faint pencil lines to mark out where the horizontal stripes would go and then searched for round or oblong items to trace over top.

In the magazine, the painting had been mounted over a white mat (not the other way around) and I tried to replicate that...but didn't really have the budget to do it properly.

You'll noticed that I didn't have the sense to turn off the flash on the camera, either.

I have to admit, though, that despite the picture being a little tragic, it makes me smile. It's from a time when my interest in design was just emerging and my aspirations were a little different.

If you thought this was fun, you might like Jane's walk down memory lane. She recently posted pictures from her first apartment.
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Remembering an HGTV favorite

Hi, I'm Karen.

As Design Star was drawing to a close, I got to chatting with a few design enthusiast friends about design shows. With one or two exceptions, most of our favorite were off the air. One that came up was Find Your Style, which featured designer Karen McAloon.

On Find Your Style, Karen worked with homeowners to zero in on color palettes and finishes and then sent them off to shop on their own. After the homeowner placed their items in their space, Karen would tweak their selections, show them alternatives to some of their purchases, and modify the furniture placement in the room. All of this was done while telling the homeowner (and us) why the changes made good design sense.

As a renter in Boston back when the show aired, I loved it. HGTV had already started to sprinkle more and more real estate or staging shows into their schedule when Find Your Style was on the air. Many of the shows that had designers at the helm also included major demolition (Divine Design, for example). Those were fun to watch, but out of reach for many of us.

Today, I own a condo in a smaller city in the south and still think Find Your Style's format would still work for me. Since the show came up in conversation, I've been thinking about it more and more. I miss that show.

Do you remember Karen? Do you remember Find Your Style? Do you miss it?
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Charlottesville's Sugarleaf Vineyards on Real Housewives of DC

For the last few months, Marc and I have been going to a different vineyard each weekend for a tasting. I generally use the Monticello Wine Trail list and recommendations from friends as a guide. As I clicked around the site last weekend, I landed on Sugarleaf Vineyards, a vineyard just south of Charlottesville. On their website, they linked to a video of some of the Real Housewives of DC cast in the Sugarleaf tasting room. Pretty neat exposure, huh? The clip reveals that one of the "Real Husbands" is a UVa graduate, as is the founder of Sugarleaf.

I haven't been to Sugarleaf (yet!), but I thought I'd share a few pictures taken last week at Veritas Vineyard, where a friend got married.

Okay, this wasn't taken at the vineyard. The ceremony was held at a nearby overlook.

Before moving to Virginia, a vineyard wedding as a foreign concept to me. I was a city girl dreamed of a city wedding. Now, I can't imagine not taking advantage of the beautiful scenery we have in this area.

Have you been to a vineyard wedding? What did you think? What's your ideal wedding location?
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The most boring light fixture in the world

Are you familiar with this style of light fixture? If your home was built in recent years, I bet you have at least a few of them in your house.

This is, quite possibly, the most boring light fixture ever created. Developers seem to love them, probably because they are so cheap. They cost $9-12 retail and I'm sure developers get them for a few dollars when they order they by the truck load.

When I moved into my place, there were three of these things. That's not many for a normal sized house, but in a 785 square foot condo, that's three too many. You may remember that I replaced the most visible one of these beauties in April. The other two were in the laundry "room" (more of a closet) and my bedroom's walk in closet. Scratch that...I think the lights in the closet are even cheaper versions of that light.

When I painted the laundry closet, I decided that the light had to go. There's nothing really wrong with it, but it is so ugly that it bothers me. So, the old one is headed for the Habitat Store as soon as I figure out what to get instead.

This is where you come in.

Should I go modern or classic? By classic, I'm thinking about "school house" style lighting.

By modern, I mean something along the lines of my dining room chandelier. Something like this:

What do you think? I like them both!

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Design Star hits and misses

I think most of us are pretty happy this morning with how Design Star turned out last night. The blogger favorite won. Congratulations to Emily Henderson! I can't wait to see her one hour special next Sunday night.

I haven't been this excited about a winner of the show since it was created. I'm wondering if others feel the same way. Which winners have you liked? Which ones did you not expect to win? To jog your memory, here are the winners from each season along with a chart of challenges and results that I found on the wikipedia page for Design Star:

Season One
David Bromstad

Season Two
Kim Myles

Season Three
Jennifer Bertrand
Curious about what happened to Jen? See RoomFu's interview with her.

Season Four

Antonio Ballatore

Here's a key to those charts:
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Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's Saturday. What are you doing?

I'm trying to figure out how to use my fancy camera.

By the way, can you believe that we are asked constantly if Baxter is an Irish Setter? Does he look like an Irish Setter to anyone? He's a very trim, deep gold golden retriever, but I think he's pretty far from a setter. Down in Virginia, these "field line" goldens aren't all that uncommon.

Interestingly, one of my favorite sources for golden retriever commentary (who actually noticed Baxter!) has found documentation that the reason goldens look like big, blond bears these days might be an "Irish setter inferiority complex". The originals looked a lot like Baxter.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

If Apartment Therapy designed a hotel...

Ace Hotels' website is full of accolades for whatever they're doing in their spaces. I'm having trouble seeing myself, or anyone who showers on a daily basis, staying in one of those "boutique" hotel rooms. What do you think of these spaces?

Ace has locations in New York, Palm Springs, Seattle, and Portland.

Of course, they're blogging. An entry about three guests getting tattoos of the hotel's logo after their two day stay was pretty interesting in a "are you kidding me?" way.

My boyfriend looked over my shoulder while I was writing this entry and asked if they were including a college co-ed with each room to entice people to stay in their dorm rooms.

I was surprised to read that Roman & Williams designed the hotel. That's the group behind the ultra hip hotel, The Standard. The firm posted pictures of the common spaces at the Ace in New York and I think they're pretty cool. The rooms don't seem to connect.

Ace Hotel Lobby, from Roman & Williams blog

Stumptown Coffee, inside Ace Hotel, from R&W blog

What do you think of these spaces?
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