In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

UPDATED! How Studioren can spend $1,500 and outfit her whole Brooklyn apartment, with sticking just one toe (and a small moving van) into Manhattan

The first in a series.

Studioren asked me to give her the old How To Run Your Life craigslist treatment and some design ideas for her new Brooklyn pad, the floor plan of which is above. Here's the first suite, from the top 100 posts on Craigslist in each category.

I spied those couches for a good price -- $500 for a couch and love seat. I love them but they are in Manhattan…white leather loveseat and couch. They remind me of the go-go boots my Uncle Phil’s girlfriend wore (in 1970) (she let me lace and unlace them) and I think they look fresh and clean. To wit:

Put this awesome dresser along a wall. It's a splurge at $525, but I think it's lines complement the groovy couches.

Next, the walnut bed frame is clean and gorgeous. Up close, it looks like it needs oiling or something, but I love the wood grain. It's $350.

Dig this crazy rug. It reminds me of 1st class airport lounges in the 60s-- very Catch Me If You Can -- and it’s only 60 bucks. The ad says its 10 X15 INCHES but I trust they mean feet. Very Spinal Tap.

And this side table and this lamp, for next to the bed, maybe. $40 for both. Depending on the quality of the wood, Studioren could paint the table white, grey or black or a color from the rug. Or the wall color to make it disappear.

This white table, always with a good bunch of flowers in the center, to drop your mail and keys. It can double as a buffet or dining table when necessary. $25!

And this coffee table, for the couches. It might be a bit small at 36 inches. But the color should be great with that rug and it's shiny. $35

If my math is right, all this for $1,535. (I’m guessing she already has a mattress, and I still need to find her bar stools for the breakfast bar).

So the layout: see if you can follow along with the photo above until I figure out how to transfer a drawing here.... and this is just one of several possibilities.

The couch and loveseat will make an L near the window at the bottom of the floor plan. The L will be closed to the kitchen -- that is, the love seat (or couch, whichever fits better) will have its back to the kitchen.

The dresser would go on the left wall in that grouping, essentially finishing the square. Coffee table in the obvious spot, leaning towards the love seat... an ottoman (not yet identified on craigslist) is probably needed in front of the longer couch. The lamp and corner table completes.

The rug, obviously, anchors that grouping. (If the 36 inch coffee table is just too small, go to Pier One or whereever and get a 4-foot round glass table top and pop it on the coffee table. She'll still get the shape and color but some of the fabulous shininess will be lost. sad face.)

The bed would be back on the back wall (beneath where it says K Line) -- with either the long side hard up against the back wall and the headboard on the left wall, or with the long side hard against the left wall and the headboard against the back wall.

To separate it and soften the room, hang an easy canopy from behind the headboard, across the top of the bed, and down the foot of the bed. Use some fantastic upholstery fabric -- it's usually 54 inches wide, and works well with a 60 inch wide queen-sized bed.

The white table should go next to the bed -- but not as a bedside table. Sort of centered in the room so it acts like a foyer table: fresh flowers, drop keys and mail.

Another option: keep the headboard on the left wall with the long side up against the back wall, and get a dresser (a different one, perhaps lower) for the foot of the bed to serve the same purpose as the white table.

She's going to tear down the wall between the kitchen and the living room to make a breakfast bar -- which I heartily endorse. She needs bar stools... still looking for them. I found 3 gorgeous ones but I couldn't tell if they were $150 for all three or for each. So I'm still looking, lest I bust the budget.

You're welcome. :) I'll do another suite as I find good stuff in Brooklyn (with one toe in Manhattan).
Here's the truth though: you Craigslisters are WAY more expensive in Brooklyn than down here in DC.
@studioren...leave a comment after you've looked at this so I know a) you've seen it, and b) I am on the right track


  1. Hi there Pamh,
    You are totally on get me....YAY!!! However; drum roll please, lol. Due to the recent near hysteria of the NY bedbug infestation, I'm soooo reluctant to purchase used items. I used to love going to the thrift shops (Housing Works is a fave) but am a lil wary of them now. I would love to purchase just about all of my furnishings via Craigslist, thrift shops, etc, as older furniture tends to stand the test of time. Maybe I'll get over my phobia. Anywho, as for your suggestions:
    1. Love the look of the leather, but will probably go with a microfiber. I have had bad experience with leather couches, due to my own laziness in maintaining them, but I love the look.
    2.Absolutely love the idea of a dresser as opposed to traditional media center as it would offer much needed storage.
    3. The smallish coffee table is ideal. I used to have a long rectangular coffee table that just took up way too much space, and was just a surface that collected too much junk.
    4. Not sure about the side table, as given any available surface, I tend to collect junk. Although, come to think of it, with the lamp there, I wouldn't have room for other crap. Hmmmm.
    5.Love the shiny coffee table, but think the glass top might reflect more light?
    6. As for the rug, need a lil more color, as I intend to do dark sofa/loveseat, either charcoal or chocolate. My pop of color needs to be in the rug, window sheers, etc.
    7. The bed placement is spot on where I was thinking it should go, headboard against the back wall. This way, I can see the tv from the dresser in the living area.
    8. Love the idea of the canopy as I just want to shield the bed a bit, not the entire area. You pictured it in your response to Evan, and although I'm not a handy woman,I think I can manage this with some help. Or if not exactly as your pic, these ceiling mounted rails with sheers pulled back .
    9. The white table is a good look, although it might have to be bedside for me, as I tend to be a bit on the clumsy side. I'd be knocking it over constantly.

    Thank you, gracias, ummm I don't know any other languages, lol. You have definitely given me some great ideas to work with.

  2. YAY! so pleased...i understand re bed bugs ... you'll have to be careful with Craigslist too I fear.
    And even new stuff -- they seem to be everywhere. Whatever you get, run your finger in the seams (if its upholstered) to see whether there is evidence of bed bugs. I won't go into details here. but if you google it. well. Yeck.