One of my truly guilty pleasures is to spend time half-lusting, half rolling my eyes at mommy “lifestyle” blogs, which feature $300 casual linen caftans suitable for nursing or a cocktail party on Fire Island, bespoke bunk beds made out of locally-reclaimed ash wood for perfect Montessori-schooled moppets, and my favorite: Apartment tours. Usually featuring a working mother in some creative professional capacity living in an impossibly expensive city, the apartment or home tours are dappled sunlit romps through impeccably casually chic living spaces carefully designed and planned out to look “lived in,” if living in is maintaining breezy boho perfection. Forgive me if I sound bitter, I’m actually not at all. I appreciate art and design, and curated living spaces. I am just continually baffled by the perfection of these spaces, the harmony they insist is achieved through a beguiling balance of minimalism and five-person family living. Our “curated” living space is by far the largest floor plan we’ve had to work with yet, featuring two floors of space to decorate and clean. Now that we have an infant, and a growing collection of stuff, I thought I would try my hand at an apartment tour, and see how our digs compare to the other “mommy bloggers.”
We begin in the living room-slash-office. Note the carefully placed pillow on the coffee table, showing a truly “lived in” space. (Note also that I simply cannot be bothered to take a photo in focus.) The furniture is a careful mixture of cheap Overstock.com (couch), hand-me-down from long-ago roommates (desk, coffee table), found on the side of the road (chair, weird side table, magazine rack, lamp). For short, I will refer to all found on the side of the road items as FOTSOTR, because there are a ton of them. #classy.
Note my workspace, particularly the empty cereal bowl. That will be there for seven hours. My work computer is a desktop Mac too old to update, and crashes 50% of the time if I try to play iTunes and use Gmail at the same time. (See similar workspace here.) Part of the rustic charm of my work desk is the peeling green paint, carefully designed to evoke nature. We believe in organic and interactive decorating, so all power cords and plugs are left out and visible for aesthetics. Note our 2015 holiday card mouse pad, a splurge from Pinhole Press, and the decomposing photo of Ryan and I, taken three weeks into our relationship. How young we were! 22 Feels so long ago! (I was 32.)
The view from my desk, at my office mate. Look how happy she is!
Fisher Price playchairthingy: Hand-me-down; Shag rug: Ikea; Woven toy basket: FOTSOTR
Most apartment tours represent the personality of the home-dwellers through their carefully laid-out tchotchkes and art pieces. This apartment tour is no different. Note the careful veneer of dust on the peeling record cabinet and framed photograph of a tulip (photo courtesy of moi). Behind the photo is a raku vase I made 75 years ago, next to a beloved plastic antelope figurine, Poky Little Puppy mini lunchbox, weird wooden fish bottle opener, and Cincinnati snow globe.
Lunchbox and snow globe: Tag sale; Weird wooden fish: Stoned Amsterdam purchase by Ryan 12ish years ago; Record cabinet: FOTSOTR
Our dining area is a careful mix of function and clutter. Note the coffee mug, never far from my hand in the morning, and the used napkins from the night before, which we will probably reuse over dinner again since they are already on the table and I won’t be bothered to get up and get fresh napkins from the kitchen. Note also the baby monitor on the stairs in a plastic bag from the Second Mile Thrift Store, which I still have not plugged in to use and will stay on the stairs for another three days.
The artistic assemblage of photographs are all the work of my favorite photographer, Ryan Bieber, who also curated the record collection. Our art books on display are Calvin and Hobbes, because we are lovers of literature, and a children’s picture book about Billie Jean King from the 1970s (she still has a husband in the book). (See similar here.)
Kitchen table: Former roommate; Kitchen chairs: FOTSOTR; Globe: tag sale; Lamp and bunny salt and pepper shakers: FOTSOTR; Ivy’s swing chair: Hand-me-down
The kitchens are often the highlight of apartment tours, since they so often represent the true soul of the dwelling. My favorite tours show pristine, immaculately sanitized kitchens with captions that read “I LOVE to cook with my kids!” (See similar here.) Our state-of-the-art kitchen gadgets include a Crock Pot from the 1980s, a blender with TWO speeds, and a deluxe salad spinner. One of our favorite recipes, which we hope to pass onto our next little generation, is called Slop, which also makes for a lovely meal of leftover Slop the next day (with leftover napkins!) (See similar here.)
Pretty much every kitchen item: Tag sale/FOTSOTR
Ahhh, the nursery. Truly a treasure. Our daughter sleeps in our room still in a bassinet, so that both mommy and daddy can wake up every two hours to the sound of distress. So the lovely crib is used as a place to deposit the clothes from the dryer before “folding” them and “putting them away.” Note the drying nursing bras, daddy’s belt on the floor, pile of baby stuff carefully arranged on the floor next to the baby bath (an obvious place for it), and the boxes of mini blinds still unopened.
Crib: Hand-me-down; Rug: Amazon.com; Bookcase: FOTSOTR; Baby bath, baby blanket, baby clothes, everything baby: Hand-me-down and baby shower
Another view of the nursery. Because we are “think outside the box” parents, we don’t believe in a dresser for the baby, which is why all baby clothes are in baskets on an old bookcase that we FOTSOTR. Note the framed photo of Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes, to instill a powerful start for our baby. Also note the plastic deer lamp, our curious baby gift from Liz and Kamala. The drawing is an original Nyrmac, neé Camryn, a five-year-old artist selling her original work for $1 at SF Open Studios, 2009. (See similar here.)
The bedroom is a deeply personal place for expressive design. By some miracle, the FOTSOTR black dresser matches the $100 Ikea bedframe perfectly, for aesthetic cohesion. The fact that the sheets are tucked in at the bottom of the bed means the bed is MADE. The glider was purchased on Craigslist for $40, and an inventive and whimsical upturned laundry basket and pregnancy pillow make a darling footstool. The stolen receiving blanket from the hospital drapes casually over the bassinet for an unpretentious “lived-in” look. (See similar here.)
Nothing screams “We have arrived!” more than the fact that the entry to our apartment is a porch. In celebration, we splurged on a big ticket item, a $70 standing hammock from Amazon.com. It is carefully situated next to our bicycles, with what we like to call our “accent crutches” in the corner. The black cabinet was a hand-me-down, the red foot stool and creepy 1970s mounted picture of a future psycho killer were FOTSOTR.
I like to call this shot the FOTSOTR Tableaux. While we shelled out money in the high teens for the porch chairs, the rest of the items were all FOTSOTR: coat rack, coffee table, pink chair, lamp, photo matte, bolt of fabric, fabric swatches, lamp #2, umbrella and mini speakers. They are arranged in an artistic pile because I literally just found them OTSOTR the day before. (See similarly whimsical pile of stuff here.)
Whew! What a whirlwind! I hope you enjoyed my pristine apartment tour, and it gives you inspiration to arrange dirty dishes and sterilized baby bottles just so, find more creative ways to abandon clean laundry in piles, and “recycle” cloth napkins. Now, how many Pinterest boards will this populate?