go bold or go home

I started repainting the apartment last winter and in the typical fashion of a color coward, I kept choosing light colors because it is a small apartment. They say light reflects light and light colors will make the room feel bigger. So that’s what I do. O. says the house looks like a baby nursery gone wrong.

I’ve decided to shed my in-the-box thinking about light colors and go bold – beginning with the entryway. O. likes the idea of a citron color to greet our visitors and I’ve always liked the color of the inside of butternut squash. These colors in venetian plaster would look vibrant and alive, the opposite of the muddy color I attempted before (seen in this post -and here is the before before photo of the entryway). I am still enamored of the idea of adding big molding to the two doors in the hallway. But what color should the molding be? The opposite exposed brick wall will be filled with family photographs all in black frames. Should the moulding be black, white, grey or something else? And what about the metal door that leads outside, that is visible from the living room,  what color should that be? These are questions, which I hope you; my designy friends can help me with by leaving your comments and valuable two cents.

my favorite yellowish citron is Frank Ochre from Malabrigo Yarns

bring on the teenagers

I actually started working on the entryway over the holiday break. It did not work out. I’m insecure about choosing paint colors. I pick colors based on nebulous notions that I think are valid at the time. A friend suggested that in order to tie the hallway together and make it warm and inviting I should pull a color from the exposed brick wall and carry it through to the other wall. I saw it in my head and it made perfect sense. I loved the idea, especially the part where she said I should add beautiful moulding to the doors and paint them a super shiny white. It all sounded so fancy and posh. I carefully photographed the brick wall using my Benjamin Moore Color Capture app and I poured over paint chips so I would get exactly the right color to pull the hallway together. Over two days, I stucco’d the hallway in that lucious earthy color. When I was finished, I tried to talk myself into liking it. I wanted to like it because I liked the idea of it. I wanted the entryway to look warm and posh and pulled together. But it did not look good, and there was no more denying it when my daughter said “Mom, it looks like the before picture”.

In order to redo stucco over top of stucco, you have to sand it with a machine. It is a messy dusty job that I was putting off doing. Then I thought of the teenagers – why not pay them to do it? With so many adults looking for work, after school jobs are a rarity. Teenagers are expensive beings that eat a lot and go to the movies in packs. It’s near impossible to get your own to do anything, but other people’s teenagers are game. Thus my daughter’s friend Will happily stepped up to the plate with the promise of some spending money and lunch.

Will's mom even sent over homemade cookies!

venetian plaster in my hallway

The hallways in our building are welcoming and warm. The walls are butter yellow venetian plaster and we have bluish grey apartment doors. When we were rebuilding, one of my fellow homesteaders made apprentices of a few of us and taught us the ancient technique of venetian plaster so that we could help her to do the hallways. She called it Stucco Veneziano and gave us all “stucco knives” imported from Italy. We “stucco’ed” all six stories of our building’s halls in this happy yellow. Our hallway stucco is 20 years old and it looks new. We’ve only refreshed it once in all that time. I will use Stucco Veneziano in my own entryway and share the plaster recipe that you can make yourself.

doorways and fresh starts

The entryway is your first impression. It should smell good when you open the door. That will be what people notice first. The entryway should be friendly and welcoming. When someone walks in, they should feel that it is a respite from the outdoors. It should feel warm and cozy when it is cold outside and cool and refreshing when it is hot. There should be a feeling of refuge as you enter, of peace and love and home.

Our entryway is the next thing to tackle in the apartment. It has been a disaster for years. The very opposite of refuge, it is a cluttered and claustrophobic space. With the New Year, it feels like a good place to make the mark for a fresh start.

My favorite entryway is my friend Anne’s. There is wallpaper in cobalt blue with a big painterly white pattern. There are framed pencil and charcoal drawings on the walls along with black and white photographs of the family. On her little table where she puts her mail and her keys, there is a bowl of opalescent stones that she got in Chinatown. They are as big as eggs and they are luminous. They call out for you to touch them, smooth them around in your hand like a worry bead as you look over your mail. I am going to copy Anne and find those opal eggs in Chinatown.

the storefront gate murals of loisaida

In late 2009 the New York City Council voted to phase out the metal roll-down gates that cover storefronts all over New York City in favor of the gates that you see covering the storefronts inside malls. They say the roll-down gates invite graffitti and are “scary”. Not surprising, the “mall-ification” of New York City continues. We have many storefront gate murals in Loisaida. Luckily we have until 2026 until they are all gone.

5C Cafe

5C Cultural Center and Cafe

loisaida gate

Big Doves Blogspot.com

children of loisaida

Summit Bar gate

Much of the public art in the community is created by Antonio Garcia, the artist known as Chico. The Summit Bar gate before the cocktail hour.

brand new bobwhites

New restaurant Bobwhite Counter commissioned their gate way before they opened.

Mut Gallery’s gate mural.

knitted wool cowls for little dogs

We have tiny dogs. When the children’s clamor for a dog became too loud to ignore and the guinea pigs as cuddly mammals no longer cut it, I had one criteria – the dog had to have miniscule poop. I was not willing to pick up big poop with my hands in public on the streets of New York City. In came the Toy Fox Terriers. They are small and they are smart, but they are shivery. They are cold even in the apartment. My daughter had the idea to knit cowls for them and came up with the easy pattern below. The dogs wear their cowls all winter in the apartment, they lounge and they sleep in them on bitter nights. They wear them instead of coats on balmy days in autumn and early spring.

We use Brown Sheep Lambs Pride Worsted yarn. It is 85% wool and 15% mohair – very good quality. It comes in tons of colors and is very inexpensive for natural fiber. This pattern is sized for very small dogs (ours are 6 and 7 pounds), so you should adjust the number of cast on stitches as needed. The fit is snug enough so that it doesn’t come off easily but loose enough that they are comfortable hanging out with their cowls on.

Cast on 26 st. on number 9 needles.

P2 K2 for 7 rows (RS – P2 K2 then WS – K2 P2)
Row 8 – decrease 1 st at beginning of row and 1 st at end of row
Row 9 – P2 K2 through row
Row 10 – increase 1st at beginning of row and 1 st at end of row
Knit 3 more rows in P2 K2 (in same rib as above)
cast off and stich together into a round cowl, sew in all loose ends.


Lolo in lounging mode

Millie – out on a fashionable stroll in Tompkins Square Park