Salvaging the Past for the Present

I think one of the most exciting home decor/furniture/construction trends to have come about in recent years is the Salvaged Materials Movement. Side note: I’m not sure if this is really a movement, or if anyone actually calls it this, but it’s my blog and that is what I’m calling it, in fact I’m even going to give it an acronym SMM…now it’s official, right? Anyway there is nothing I love more than other people’s junk. I dumpster dive on a regular basis, you wouldn’t believe the awesome stuff people in NYC just toss out. With a little vision and ingenuity you can really transform the unwanted into the coveted.

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BIG NYC Center in Brooklyn, photo from www.bignyc.org

Here in Brooklyn (and in Queens) there’s this wondrous place that has been down with the SMM since 2004, its called Build It Green! NYC and for anyone with vision it is a damn goldmine! It’s a non-profit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials. They have everything from stained glass windows saved from an old church to gorgeous light fixtures and claw foot tubs to lumber and live edge slabs of wood. I mean when I walked in there for the first time my mind went a mile a minute, I was bursting at the seams with ideas and inspiration. It is safe to say that BIG NYC gave me some serious GirlWood (you had to have seen that coming). But of course living in a shoe box limits my ability to buy everything in sight…I really need to look into renting a storage unit.

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My very own live edge Ash slab…isn’t she beautiful?

So I focused on a single project (not an easy task for me) that I’ve been wanting to do, to make a writing desk using live edge wood. At the Brooklyn location in Gowanus I found a beautiful slab of Ash that was the perfect size for my desk and it only cost $205! It was love at first site. I took her (yup it’s a girl!) home to my parents place in Massachusetts and planned on working on her while home during Christmas, however plan got derailed when I spent my entire Christmas break sick. But I think about her everyday and I’m itching to get back up there soon to start. I will definitely take lots of photos during the process and there will be a follow up post for those that are interested in seeing this beauty live up to her full potential.

Not only does Build It Green! NYC have two amazing reuse centers, but they also support local environmental initiatives like the NYC Compost Project, BIG!Compost, BIG!Millworks, BIG!Blooms and BIG!Gives Back. For more information on Build It Green NYC and the environmental projects they support check out their website www.bignyc.org You can also follow them on Instagram @builditgreen

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Interior of Build It Green! NYC in Astoria, Queens photo from www.bignyc.org

And if you live in the area do yourself a favor and just go visit either location, Gowanus or Astoria, because all the pictures in the world cannot do this place justice.

xoxo

Fall in Love with Your Bed All Over Again

There is something about a new year that makes me want to completely makeover my apartment. But then I look at how much I splurged over the holidays on gifts (many for myself, I am very good to me) and I rethink this plan. Notice I said I rethink this plan, not toss the plan out the window. So in order to satisfy the urge to get rid of everything I own and buy all new stuff I make small tweaks here and there until I achieve the look I want. This means starting in one room and focusing on one area at time. Last week I focused on my bed. It is the focal point in my room, a blank canvas, and my home base. What I decide to do with it will help me determine what I end doing with the rest of the room.

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Stonewashed Belgian Linen Sheet Set from Restoration Hardware

In most cases if I can afford to go all out and splurge on something fantastic and timeless I will. There are, however, times where I am not able to, or times where I don’t think it is truly worth it. So let’s cuddle up and chat about beds. A good mattress is priceless so definitely splurge. Good pillows are also totally worth it, I mean you can’t put a price on a good nights sleep, ever.

Sheets. Sheets are one of those things that are worth a splurge (if you can swing it), but if you shop around you can find fantastic sheets at amazing prices. And remember if you are a real adult you need at least two sets. If I could afford the stonewashed Belgian linen sheets at Restoration Hardware, without feeling guilty, I would have them in a few colors. However, I know I can find really amazing Egyptian Cotton sheets at stores like HomeGoods and T.J. Maxx without forgoing food for the next few weeks.

So what’s the deal with thread count and this Egyptian Cotton I speak of? Well without getting too technical people seem to obsess over the thread count, which is both important but also not…let me explain. The thread count is often used as a way to gauge the durability and smoothness of the sheets. However this measurement of threads woven into one square inch of fabric isn’t always accurate or reliable. And it usually boils down to the quality of cotton that is used. So thread count is important, but the quality of the cotton is typically more important.

And which cotton is the best of the best? Well 100% Egyptian Cotton of course! Why? Well Egyptian Cotton’s fibers are long and produce sheets that are both thin and luxurious, but also strong and durable. Second best is 100% Pima Cotton or also known as Supima. If the label on the sheets just reads 100% Cotton it’s safe to assume that these are made from American upland cotton, which has shorter fibers and produces a rougher weaker fabric.

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White Linen Duvet and Pillow Shams at H&M Home

Now let’s talk duvets, quilts, comforters…to be honest I am not a fan of those bed in a bag comforters of any kind. I either choose a beautiful quilt or a duvet. Duvets are nice because you can easily change the look of your bed with simply buying a new one and most don’t cost that much at all. What goes inside the duvet is another story. Down comforters or down alternative comforters come in a range of prices and weights. It is best to read reviews before buying and really think about what you are looking for in terms of warmth.

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Currently I have a duvet, I was really obsessing over the linen duvets and shams at both Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware, but then I just happened to pop by H&M Home at the flagship store here in NYC and found a beautiful white linen duvet with the shams for only 50 bucks! If you haven’t checked out H&M Home you must, and if you don’t live in NYC check them out online! Now is it as luxurious as the RH version? Probably not. But for right now while I am trying to decide in which direction I want to take my bedroom it will do just fine.

The picture above is of my bed all decked out in H&M dark gray linen pillow shams, throw pillow, white linen duvet, and a light gray king sized blanket. And of course every cozy bed needs a good book on hand, I suggest Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, it’s amazing.

Now layer up and go get yourself some new bedding. Then run home make-up your new comfy bed, get cozy, and never leave…because it’s going to be a long winter.

xoxo

2015…The Year I Write More and Get Lost… Abroad

 abstract-bkgrd-holiday-lights-twinkleWell it is 2015. No flying cars, no hover boards, and my world is not all voice activated and scanned finger prints. But that is ok, too many technological advancements are not good for the soul. Technology is great don’t get me wrong, but there is fine line between being helpful and being completely dependent on technology. The moment you stop distracting yourselfI find that my smart phone, my tablet, and my laptop can often cause a great deal of distraction and noise in my life. And I am the last person that needs more distractions. In an effort to limit the noise and distraction in my life I got rid of Facebook. I also force myself to unplug completely at least once a month for at least 24 hours. I live in NYC and it is constant chaos and noise all the time, but I find that spending a day wandering around alone with no agenda, no cell phones, no tablets can be very therapeutic. It is just you, your thoughts, and this big beautiful city.

Most people don’t usually like being alone, it is hard for most folks to just be quiet and introspective, but I swear to you it is the best thing you can do. The moment you stop distracting yourself and filling the void with mindless chatter is the moment you actually begin to hear yourself and others. You will begin to understand people more, but best of all you will begin to understand yourself more. You will start to discover parts of you that you didn’t even know existed. The moment you stop distracting yourself

But I digress. Back to the point at hand, it is 2015 and there is just enough technology out there to keep me as connected as I want to be. So the other day I was sitting alone during one of my unplugged moments and thought about resolutions. I am not a fan. I feel like most resolutions are setting yourself up for failure, and really nobody needs that. Usually the resolutions people fail at most often are the ones born from self-hate, like losing weight. I am over that. I am me and I love me, all of me. Still there is something to be said for making a promise to make the new year productive, to achieve something. So I made a resolution to blog more. Girl Wood is about what gets me excited, it’s about all the stuff I love in design and decor; why wouldn’t I want to write more about that stuff? In the past I’ve let one too many distractions get in the way of something I truly enjoy, but not anymore.The moment you stop distracting yourself My other resolution is to take my first solo trip abroad. It is one thing to hang around my neighborhood solo and unplugged, but it is quite another to do this in a different country. I am ok being alone, but I think this is definitely going to push me out of my comfort zone, which is something I think we all need from time to time. I am both nervous and excited, but mostly I am just looking forward to spending some quality time with me.

Here’s to a 2015 full of writing, new projects, solo trips and self discovery!

xoxo

Summer Nights

Ah summer…the days can be brutal, but the nights can be magical. Honestly there are few things in this world that I love more than warm summer night, chilled white wine, good friends and a beautiful outdoor space to kick back in. Unfortunately my apartment does not come with such a space, but thank god for friends with patios. Check out my round up of must haves and 3 tips for summer evening entertaining, but first go chill that wine I’ll be over later.

Tip 1: Make your outdoor space an extension of your home. Think mood lighting, rugs, and pillows a plenty!

I am a firm believer in twinkle lights. But instead of stringing up some old Christmas lights why not opt for these fun vintage looking globe light from Crate&Barrel. They create such a lovely atmosphere you will want to dine alfresco every night.

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Rugs…I know some people think its odd. However, an outdoor rug will do exactly what an indoor rug does inside; it pulls a space together. It creates a more cohesive comfortable area to relax in. Check out one of my personal favorites also from Crate&Barrel.

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If you have accepted the outdoor rug then maybe you will accept outdoor floor cushions and pillows. Remember the space is an extension of your home, you want to create an area that is inviting. Check out a few of my favorites from Pottery Barn. Now although many of the pillows and cushions for outdoors are mold, mildew,rot and fade resistant I would still take them inside if a monsoon is about to hit. Or better yet get an outdoor storage container like this one from IKEA.

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Tip 2: Invest in good quality patio furniture. It will last years and save you money in the long run. However, if it kills you to splurge on outdoor furniture IKEA does have some great options and great prices.

If you have the funds to splurge think outdoor living room with the Chatham Collection from Pottery Barn.

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Or maybe you are working with a small space, if so try the more streamlined and simple Regatta Collection from Crate&Barrel.

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Also if you are working with a small space and need extra seating only when company arrives consider these director chairs from Pier1. You can pick from three different color woods and they have some really great covers in various colors and patterns. So mix it up! And when not in use they easily fold up and can be tucked away.

 

Tip 3: Any decent outdoor summer entertaining is going to involve booze of some sort. Be prepared and organized!

If you have the space I would create the bar area away from the lounging/sitting area (but not too far away! you should never be too far away from your favorite summer beverage) Check out this efficient and handsome set up from the Regatta Collection at Crate&Barrel.

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Or if you have a huge patio and money to spare check out this gorgeous piece from Pottery Barn. Your outdoor fête will be well stocked and well organized!

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If space and money are an issue you can always create an adorable and functional bar. First buy this cart from IKEA. Then pick up a few galvanized tubs from Amazon.  And some pretty containers for garnishes and such….and BOOM! you have an instant organized adorable bar.

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As with all things design and decorating related, get creative! Check out Pinterest for some great outdoor DIY decor and more! And if you are feeling overwhelmed with options, just pick a vibe you want to convey and go from there, it will all fall into place.

Now go call some friends, fire up the grill, break out the smore’s kit, and stock that bar!!

DIY Herb Garden

There is just something about summer that makes me want to dig my hands into the cool damp soil and reap all that mamma earth has to offer (in the most environmentally conscious manner of course). But I live in a shoe box in Brooklyn, so my dreams of an English garden meets vegetable garden may need to wait. Until then there is no reason I can’t have fresh herbs at my finger tips even with limited space. Check out a few DIY Herb Gardens for us apartment dwelling city folk and get reaping! 

 

This is my personal favorite, check it out at notjustahousewife.net

 

 

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I am also a huge fan of this version seen on TidbitsandTwine.com

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If you have some extra shelf space in your apartment (I envy you if you do) you can try this idea from The Robin’s Nest

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Maybe you are short on wall space and on shelf space, if so look up! Check out these two hanging herb gardens.

The first is easy (and cheap) enough to make, as seen on thegardenglove.com

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This one I love even though it’s not a true DIY because you buy these cool upside down pots online at boskke.com. Nevertheless if you have the means go for it! 

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Now go forth and build, plant, reap, and repeat!!

Papa, I’m Building That Table

So my woodworking obsession isn’t new. The thought of creating something and building it with my own hands has always been appealing to me. It started at a very young age. My dad and I would watch This Old House and Home Again every Sunday morning. He would go out and get the paper and bagels. I’d grab the comics and he would take the rest of it. We would make our bagels and then sit down to watch. It was our thing. And I loved it.

My interest was also fueled by my Papa. He was a master craftsman. The man could build anything, fix anything, design and create anything. His skill was unmatched. He worked his way from carpenter, to contractor, to city building inspector.  He was a hard worker with values and ethics that unfortunately seems a rarity these days. He had gained the respect of many people in his community and would never settled for shoddy work. If it wasn’t right he would tell you why, show you the correct way to fix it, and then made sure you in fact did fix it. They say they don’t make houses like they used to, that’s because they don’t make men like my Papa anymore.

My Papa as a young man. (sitting on car)

My Papa as a young man. (sitting on car)

 

Whenever I would go visit him he was always building something new. Sometimes it was a new addition to the house and other times it was just some shelving, the point is the man was constantly creating. And he was truly amazing at it. He loved what he did and I admired him for that and his work ethic. He is my biggest inspiration.

But perhaps the most  beautiful and fantastic thing he ever built was my dollhouse. This was no ordinary dollhouse. No way. Not for his only granddaughter (at the time I was the only one). This house was huge! And his attention to detail was incredible, words cannot even describe it. From the little bricks in the foundation, to the tiny wooden slats that made up the floor of the front porch. No detail was too small and “ok” was never good enough for him. He even wired it so the lights would light up and the chimney would smoke! This house was truly a labor of love and something I will cherish and have forever. (Pictures coming!)

Nana and Papa

Nana and Papa

 

Sadly my Papa passed away almost two years ago. Before he died I told him I wanted to build furniture and there were these classes I wanted to take. He was pretty sick at this point and couldn’t hear well or say too much. But he smiled and that’s all I needed to see. Last Christmas I drove my Nana to the cemetery to see him. At that point I still had not built anything or taken any classes because they were so expensive. And as I stood in front of his head stone I thought to myself, Papa wouldn’t have accepted my excuses of no time, no money, got side tracked etc. So I told him that I haven’t built anything yet, but I saw a table I love and I want to build. And I am going to do it before I go back to NYC. I am going to build that table. And so I did.

My first table, for you Papa.

My first table, for you Papa.

 

Last Weekends BKLYN Designs Exhibition

What an inspiring afternoon! I went to the exhibition on Sunday May 12th and was in awe of the talent located here in Brooklyn. So many creative craftsmen (and women) my mind was teeming with so many ideas after I left.

Some people might see such skill and become discouraged. I mean after seeing these folks it was clear I still have a ways to go, but I wasn’t discouraged by this, in fact I was so inspired it was like a push to try harder, to do more, and to take risks.

I thought everyone showing their work were amazing, but a few people stood out to me, and made me think, “This is who I want to be when I grow up.”

http://www.4kny.com – they were displaying the below gorgeous credenza. I am obsessed.

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http://aellon.com – these people had a few pieces I wanted to take home with me. Like the Wright X Back Chair. Very simple, very sexy. 

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And the Leif Stool…beautiful.

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And last but not least http://markjupiter.com/ – Loved it all. Loved his workshop and showroom. Loved him, he is an incredibly handsome  and talented man. Below are a few of his pieces starting with the Redwood Media Console.

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The Industrial Walnut Table.

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The Hangar Joist Coffee Table (somebody likes the wood and pipe look just as much as me)

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The best part of the show was that everyone involved uses eco friendly, salvaged or sustainable materials to create their pieces. And everything is made here in Brooklyn. Brilliant.