My Kitchen Makeover: Beginnings

Posted by Jesyka D'Itri Marés on 2 Comments

At first glance, I think my kitchen can come off as “cute”, but on further inspection, there is HUGE room for improvement. I have put virtually no effort into designing this kitchen. Everything has been put together very pell-mell, and based purely on, “I like that!”, or, “that has to go there, because it won’t fit anywhere else”, if you know what I mean. Primarily, this kitchen has just been a source of headache after headache. Our landlord was forced to finally replace the old linoleum that had multiple holes in it after a city inspector came through to check out our building (His excuse was “people like this old stuff”–it was black and white checkered, which I’m sure was awesome in it’s prime, but–HOLES, people, HOLES the size of my face! Exposed to the plywood under the flooring!). But mostly, it has had the same look since we moved in, which isn’t much of a look. A year after telling our landlord we need a new garbage disposal, our sink finally started leaking, so it was finally deemed “worthy” of replacing”. Unfortunately, the leak more quickened the loosening of the already deteriorating caulking and rotted the wood under the sink, and so our sink began to, well, sink! It was like this for months, even after monthly-turned-weekly emails to my apartment manager. He kept coming over with the maintenance guy and shrugging, essentially. I expressed my concern about doing a half-assed fix, and said “this whole kitchen just needs to be replaced. There is no way to fix the sink permanently unless you replace it. There is no way  you can replace it without replacing the tile, which is cracked and moulding all around the sink. And, you should replace the cupboards as they are covered with layers of peeling paint and the wood is rotting in a few areas”. He agreed, but he didn’t think the LL would go for it. My dad finally came over to just prop the sink up with a 2″ x 4″ and a couple of wood shivs, and then re-caulk it, so it wouldn’t just randomly drop out… He also expressed mighty concern over me living in “slum-lord conditions”. Mr. Manager managed to convince Mr. Landlord to replace the sink and the tile, and requested a bid from my father; my Dad offered $1,000 to demo, haul away the debris, and re-tile and reinstall a new sink. They said it was too expensive! I’m shocked. They then rescinded on their agreement to replace the sink and the tile, and now I have a ridiculous 2×4 with some nails in it holding up my sink… I was VERY upset about this. He at least agreed to refinish the sink (needless to say, the state of the sink was nothing short of disgusting), so at least there is that, I guess… Then there is the paint situation.

OOOHHHH, the paint situation. We have had problems with the paint peeling for years now. Last year, after we were approved to rent a 3 bdm house and gave our apartment manager our 30 day notice, he came back and said that our lease was automatically renewed at the end of our last lease–However, we wrote in an email 31 days before our lease expired that we would like to go month to month, a point in the email which he either dutifully ignored or shamelessly neglected. I pointed this out to him and he never acknowledged it. I tried to get a hold of the landlord, and he also never acknowledged it. I should point out that my LL is a real estate lawyer, so he can be tricky and knows what  to say, or in this case, what not to say. By never acknowledging what we wrote in the email, or even saying that they see it there, they drove me insane. We ended up getting lawyers involved, and it was just a big mess. We decided to cut our losses because we couldn’t afford to pay a lawyer, so, typically, the little guy can never win. Back to the paint– one angle we were using to try to get out of our “lease” was that the paint was peeling from every wall and cupboard in the kitchen, and every door and trim in the house. It is considered a health hazard (obviously). So, they finally had painters come in and reluctantly bought us a hotel room for the night. I expressed that the old paint had to be removed in order to have the new paint stick–otherwise, we’d just have the same problem. Yeah… that didn’t happen. It was peeling again with-in a month. So the painters came back in, and, again, I explained that they must remove the old paint. They didn’t. So, here I am, a year later, with peeling paint for the 3rd time. I’m not letting the crappy painters come back and touch the walls of a room I’m going to be living in. I’m doing it right this time! (–also, can we talk about what a drab color that is!? These photos are very accurate to what they are in real life.. the yellowing isn’t a color balance problem, it is the paint color! What the heck were they thinking?)

You might be wondering why we don’t just move. I wonder that a lot too… But the hassle and costs of moving at this point would pretty much be a pure loss for us, and it doesn’t make sense financially if we are really serious about buying a house. Tyler walks to work, which means we spend significantly less money on gas and insurance–we’re saving over $200 a month! If we were to move, it wouldn’t be an upgrade; in fact, we’d probably lose access to a parking spot at our back door and a private washer and dryer. To find something comparable, I’d be faced with mounting stairs with a toddler (and maybe another baby, at some point) and groceries, etc. Not to mention the opportunity costs of the months spent looking for a place, packing, unpacking, reorganizing, etc. So despite all of our issues with my LL, we stay, because we will lose more than they would if we moved. Also, real hardwood floors are awesome. :)

On the other hand, Mr. Manager enjoys my painting talents and would prefer me to paint over his minions, so it’s nice to live in an apartment that allows me to paint and kinda detail things out in my own style. And even though we’ve clearly had our issues, I mostly feel bad for him having to deal with our LL directly, because I get the feeling he’s a real difficult person to work for. I try to remember “don’t kill the messenger” when talking with him. He does go to bat for his tenants, for the most part. But when the LL just wants to do the bare minimum (and really, I think it’s beyond that–), there isn’t much you can do.

So, I’ve established our pretty frustrating history with our kitchen (and apartment in general). And I’ve established why we are sucking it up and staying put. And if we are going to be here for a while, I can’t live with our peeling paint anymore. And if I’m going to paint, like I said, I’m gonna do it right! And to do it right, means I need to have a plan, an inspiration, and I need to make everything as functional as possible. So, that’s where I’m at! Narrowing down a solid plan for decor, form and function. :) Stay tuned for more in my new series, My Kitchen Makeover!

Our Wedding: Bridal Party

Posted by Jesyka D'Itri Marés on 2 Comments

This is my favorite collection of photos from our wedding! I was tempted to leave this as a wordless post, because I’ve been arranging and editing these photos for so long now, I just want to hit PUBLISH! Also, I kinda feel like they speak for themselves. However, I can say a few things…
Let me tell you a little bit about our photographer, Zeke Kamm. I did not want a “wedding” photographer. Zeke is not a wedding photographer. He is a fine art and portrait photographer. I wanted the look to be editorial, and not posed. I hope I don’t sound snobby, but if I do, whatever! I can’t stand the overly posed wedding photos you see sometimes, with all the girls in the same dresses with the same hair. I’m sure some people love the uniformity of it all, but it just makes me cringe, and it certainly was not for me… Anyway, this annoyed at least half of my family. They didn’t understand what I wanted, or why I wanted it. To be fair to them, we did not get a photograph of me and my immediate family, which is something I will probably never live down… But I love the way these photos came out. Particularly the first photo in this post! The composition is so dynamic, it reminds me of a renaissance painting!
I made the headpieces for the entire bridal party, including my birdcage veil and fascinator. It cost me maybe $7 total to make. If you like birdcage veils, absolutely DO NOT buy one unless it is less than say, $10 or encrusted with flippin’ REAL diamonds. It is so insanely easy to make, and the fabric is incredibly inexpensive! I also made the necklaces and earrings the girls are wearing. I feel the Marie Antoinette inspiration came across well! More photos after the jump

Living + Workspace; a Revealing Update

Posted by Jesyka D'Itri Marés on 9 Comments

This room is not officially done yet, but boy have we made some progress! And it is about time I shared some photos, considering we started this change-over last September. It has been VERY slow going. We lived with a dining room for a coffee table for months, and I didn’t get my desk until November. We didn’t build a frame the projector screen until February (when we discovered my dad had some extra moulding lying around and we installed it in our hallway, used it for the frame here, and we’ll install some in our breakfast nook very soon!), and we didn’t paint until March! For a long while we had trouble picking paint colors for the living room; we wanted a color that would make the curtains and the couch pop, but not wash out the hutch, and not completely clash with the projector screen paint color; in the end we went with two colors! We decided to paint the wall with the windows a pale blue color. I wanted to go tonal with the deep blue of the curtains. Then,  we chose an awesome dove gray for the rest of the walls, which does clash slightly with the projector paint, in my opinion, but whatever. The walls needed to paint so badly! There were scuff marks, Laelia’s “artwork”, and filled in holes…

Left: Just before I moved out all of the office furniture from Laelia’s room. Right: After I moved out all of the office furniture from Laelia’s room, and we switched the location of the projector.

And here are some more detailed photos!

The coffee table we are using now is one that I picked up from a thrift store for $7! I’ve been meaning to give it a fresh coat of paint for a while. I’m thinking the same color as the door… There is a lot more to do, but surely we’ve come a long way! :)

Living Space to-do list:
• cord management! There is speaker wire, power cords, etc. everywhere, and it’s a huge pet peeve of mine!
• new awesome curtain rods; maybe spray paint brass
• iron curtains, and use more rings to re-hang
• replace hope chest with something shallower (8-10″ Deep)
• paint trim and heater
• finish off bookcases w/ wood trim or curtains to cover the gaps
• find and install hardware on bookcases
• rug for under the desk
• paint current coffee table, to make do until:
• buy or make new coffee table
• more artwork
• more lighting. Maybe track lighting?

Living + Workspace Series:
• (09/15/11) Living + Workspace Layouts
• (09/29/11) The Midas Touch ← mood board
• (10/04/11) Building Our Own Coffee Table
• (10/13/11) Living + Workspace; Built-in Sketches
• (11/11/11) Living + Workspace Update
• (11/14/11) Bookcases
• (11/22/11) Painting a Projector Screen
• (03/30/12) Before + After: Antique Lamp
• (04/06/12) Before + After: Front Door
• (06/19/12) Living + Workspace: Current Layout and Mood

Living + Workspace: Current Layout and Mood

Posted by Jesyka D'Itri Marés on 6 Comments

I thought I’d take a little break from the wedding posts. It has been FOR-EVER since I updated my blog with any information on our living + workspace situation. Lately, I’m wondering if there will ever be a time when I get all of this (life, work, family, blogging) down and settle into a nice routine? Anyway, I remembered about month ago how I never posted before photos of the living room! I’ll get to that, but first, lets remember what my last updated layout looked like, with a few wishful pieces thrown in there:And it’s current state:
Previous to acquiring the new-t0-us storage benches for the kitchen, we had the two armless chairs that go with our couch sitting in the breakfast nook, set in a way to look like a settee. They fit perfectly, and I was planning on designing around that until we found the benches, which just made much more sense, and could fit more people. So the chairs came out and back into the living room, with intentions of selling them on craigslist. The “chairs” are really just pieces of a sectional couch, so we just put them next to our couch, as if it were a sectional. We ended up falling in love with the new arrangement! It is so comfy, and it is the perfect length and height for the desk behind them. There is one, HUGE drawback; they are not the same color as the couch. WHYYYYYYYYYY did I insist on getting our chairs in a different color?! I’m kicking myself for this. I will see how much it will cost to have these chairs re-upholstered in the same fabric, but geesh. Anyway, this layout is going to be it, I think, unless we decide to make any major living space purchases in the next few years…

 If it is crossed out, I own it. Also, I left some of the text from what I previously wrote in a few cases.

1) IKEA SANELA Curtains: We have these in a teal blue they don’t seem to sell anymore. I’m also thinking about replacing our rods with these new more substantial rods. :)

2) IKEA LINDMON blinds: *BIG TIP* Buy these from the as-is section. We bought 9 sets of these blinds from the as-is section, most for around $10, and some for as low as $7!

3) Brass Boom Floor LampI don’t own this exact lamp, but the one I own is very similar. I bought a brass boom floor lamp about a year ago from Home Goods. Then I returned it, because it was missing arm, and all they had left were some oil rubbed bronze ones, which I reluctantly bought and it definitely really just looks black. I’ve been thinking about spray painting it brass/gold/what-have-you to brighten it up. This is low on the priority list as it looks fine as-is too.
Image: edwardian boom arm floor lamp via circa lighting.

4) My Awesome Chesterfield sofaOH this is the most expensive thing we have ever purchased for the house, and I don’t think it was even that much, considering what we got;  $900 + $200 (?) for the nail head trim. We had it made by custom sofa design, here in Los Angeles. I believe we had it made in the grade 3 fabric queen, buckwheat color. It is microfiber and, although I  usually have super crunchy mama tendencies,  I have to say this fabric is AMAZING! Everything, and I mean everything, wipes off of it. Ketchup, pen, red wine, crayon… you name it, I’ve wiped it off of this couch. I’m always astonished by how it ends up so clean! Great for a couch, great for kids.

5) Pillows: Anthropologie’s landscape pillow (on sale for $23 each!), IKEA’s felicia pillow in fuchsia, IKEA STOCKHOLM pillow, velvet pillow from World Market.

6) Coffee Table: We still haven’t made our coffee table, but we are leaning towards a design more like this, with a little shelf underneath the tabletop.

7) Faux-Marble Bust: This is not the one I own, but I love these things for some reason!

8) Saint-Raphael Travel PosterI bought this  in college when travel posters were all the rage. (I think I bought from World Market, but  there are plenty on the internet). I always wonder about keeping it, but Tyler pointed out that it totally works on this board! And it does, especially with the gold IKEA frame. I’ve always loved that tree!

9) Corcovado Rug: We bought this during anthro’s 50% off sale items during the holidays, for a whopping $250! It was originally about $800. Super exciting for me, because I never thought I would own a rug I really loved. :)

10) Campaign Dresser: We need something to replace the hope chest under the projector screen. It is too deep, and creates a very narrow walking space into the kitchen. I would LOVE to find a shallow campaign style dresser, but we might also go with an apothecary cabinet. Whatever it is, I’m thinking about 10″ deep, and I’m hoping to find it on CL, at a thrift store, or at a flea market.
(image via: Sweet Carolina Wife)

11) Yellow Tufted Chair: This is the curb-side rescue that I still need to reupholster.

12) My grandfather’s painting.

13) Our Hutch: I’m thinking of turning this into a bar.

14) Melltorp Dining Table: We use this as our desk, and when we have parties it is where I set up the food. The problem is, when Tyler put it together he screwed the screws in too tight, and there is damage on the table top where each of the 8 screws come in. I would like to eventually paint or maybe even replace the table top.

15) Sheep Skin: We actually have the fake ones. One for each desk chair.

16) Globes: I love globes. I have one, and I want more. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to wallpaper my office w/ one wall as a map, but I still don’t think it’s the right time for that. (Although, I feel like globes and maps are trending, so I do hope I still want to do that when the opportunity finally arises.) This globe is particularly beautiful and I love the stand, and you can bet I’ll be scouring flea markets for something similar.
From bellalulu vintage on etsy.

17) Yellow Basket: I saw these at costco of all places, and I love them!

18)  PATRIK swivel chair: These were going to be tossed out at Tyler’s old work, so we took them home. I enjoy how they coordinate with our rug! The wheels do a number on our floor, so they might have to go; ideally, I’d like to just replace the bottom half.

19) Sunburst Mirror: I bought this from Target in store for $17.99. It’s totally not gold. I had to spray paint it. However, I discovered yesterday that Layla Grace carries pretty much the exact mirror. Given that the photo is essentially the same (except Target put in a digital gradient to fake out a mirror), I’m willing to bet Target knocked off the mirror that Layla Grace carries. Also, I’m willing to bet that the mirror from Layla Grace is actually gold. The mirror from LG has 17″ on Target’s mirror, but Target’s costs a whopping $290 less.
Target’s Home ORB Sunburst Metal Mirror
Layla Grace’s Sunburst Wall Mirror

20) Tree of Life Curtain: This is apparently not on sale on their website anymore, but it is from World Market. I’ve loved this print for a while, and I just realized it might actually work pretty well in this room. I can either use them on the bookcases, or make a few pillows out of them. I haven’t decided yet, so I haven’t bought them yet!

21) Zigzag Rug from Urban Outfitters: I know chevron is everywhere, and it’s one of the reasons I’ve tried to not overdo it, but I enjoy this rug, and it is a good price and would work under our desk, to save our poor floors from the chair wheels.

22) IKEA BILLY Bookcases: We have all four, two of which are the deeper 15″ ones. They all have extension units, but I’m still in the market for hardware and making them look campaign style seems pretty easy… >.>

Living + Workspace Series:
• (09/15/11) Living + Workspace Layouts
• (09/29/11) The Midas Touch ← mood board
• (10/04/11) Building Our Own Coffee Table
• (10/13/11) Living + Workspace; Built-in Sketches
• (11/11/11) Living + Workspace Update
• (11/14/11) Bookcases
• (11/22/11) Painting a Projector Screen
• (03/30/12) Before + After: Antique Lamp
• (04/06/12) Before + After: Front Door
• (06/20/12) Living + Workspace: A Revealing Update

My Wedding: Ceremony

Posted by Jesyka D'Itri Marés on 5 Comments

The night before the wedding, I stayed at cousin’s (my maid of honour!) house in Calabasas. I remember scrambling to write my vows (below), and getting very little sleep. We got ready at our aunt’s house (who lives down the street from my cousin). She is a make-up artist, which means I’ve been spoiled most of my life with awesome make-up and having a professional do my make-up for special events. A couple of family friends who are hairstylists (also for TV and movies) did my hair. Both my hair and make-up turned out pretty much exactly how I wanted it to, and I’m still so happy about it. :) A lot of other things didn’t go how I expected it to (even though I was expecting that not everything would go the way I expected…), but, thanks to my aunt and her friends, I certainly looked the way I had envisioned!
We had our ceremony in the round, surrounded by our family and friends. It felt amazing. We had an extremely short (but very sweet) ceremony! It was about 5 minutes long. This was good, because we forgot to write “please be seated” in our ceremony script, so everyone stood the entire time! Also, Tyler was extremely nervous. He still feels fond about the fact that he believes he will never have to get up and talk in front of a large crowd like that again. :) But, a word of advice if you are writing your own ceremony script! Remember to ask everyone to “please be seated”, unless, of course, you want everyone to remain standing! More photos after the jump

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