FOURTH FLOOR WALK UP

Brooklyn based lifestyle blog by Lauren L Caron

Seattle

LIFE | End Of An Era

LIFELauren Caron4 Comments
Our apartment in Brooklyn, shot by Claire Esparros of Homepolish,  just months before we moved. 

Our apartment in Brooklyn, shot by Claire Esparros of Homepolish,  just months before we moved. 

Before our move I wrote about how I was planning to keep the blog going but wasn't quite sure if I would be changing the name. It's now been a few months and we finally made the move across the country. While I've been working on both homes trying to make them livable and comfortable, I've also been doing a lot of thinking. This move has forced me to change a lot of aspects of my life, resulting in new beginnings and bittersweet endings. After over 10 years of living New York, I can't really call it my home any longer. Even though we're still planning to keep the apartment as a secondary residence I realize that I have to develop my life in Seattle and push myself to make it more of a home than New York is now. Because of that realization, I've also decided that I have to close out this blog.  

Fourth Floor Walk Up has been a written account of my life in New York since 2009. It was with me through my twenties, my college years, our rental walk ups on the upper east side, our first (owned) apartment in Brooklyn, our relationship from bf + gf to husband + wife, and even my career growth and new business. It's been a great stretch as a personal project that has produced rewarding opportunities, both as a channel for professional and personal growth, and for that I am grateful. Yet as I partake in this new journey west, writing in Fourth Floor Walk Up no longer seems relevant. Not only am I going to shift the majority of my life out of New York, I am also moving into rental cottage that is only one floor.

On a very personal level, moving out of New York is really difficult for me and my identity as a designer and creative. I love New York, I love the inspiration and the drive it has given me over the years. It's a challenging place to live but it has also made developing my career in a sense, feel easy (or at least that's how I perceive it to be). I have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people and to learn from so many wonderful experiences. Being able to have the chance to edit out things to do and events to partake in is definitely a luxury that I understand not many cities can offer. 

My move to Seattle will be a challenge for me in the sense that I'm going to have to learn the lansdscape of the city, in regards to industry and personality. Which means, I will need to be open and present for this new home. Also, I believe in order to move forward I would have to lay the platform that is so centered around my life in New York, to rest. 

So here is it: A Layered Life, a new place to discuss and document my soon to be very complicated life. Complicated I say, because not only am I planning to build a life in the city of Seattle, but I'm also developing a business in both cities on both coasts. Union Adorn is my passion project that allows me to build a career on the work that I love. This new blog, will be a side project also driven by my passions, yet it's going to be a place where the pressure is removed. A method of practice, where I can commit to working on it daily or weekly, or perhaps monthly. Not perfect or print ready, yet it will hopefully as with everything I intend to do, be good. 

A Layered Life Logo - from my personal script. 

A Layered Life Logo - from my personal script. 

The name came about from a play on my style and design aesthetic, which has been characterized as being layered and eclectic. I am not a minimalist. I enjoy pairing contemporary and vintage pieces. I value both the modern ideas and classical school of thought and I can never leave a surface unset or vignette unstyled. 

In a blog it means categories that touch on decor, fashion, travel, shopping, and life's experiences. A format very similar to Fourth Floor Walk Up, just set for the most part, outside of New York City. With this new development I hope you'll follow me as I partake in a new chapter, era, whatever we should call it,  A Layered Life.

Thank you to those who have followed along over the years. I've always enjoyed your comments, feedback and the connections we have made.  It's been really special. 

www.alayeredlife.com

* Quick note: I'm still working out some of the kinks with the new site, so bear with me there may be some minor tweaks and changes that you may notice. And if you want to come back to Fourth Floor Walk Up, it will be here. I'm not planning to dissolve the site or let it completely. 

SPACES | A Custom Console For The Cottage

SPACESLauren CaronComment
Jack built the desk and built-ins for our Brooklyn apartment | Photograph by Claire Esparros of Homepolish.com

Jack built the desk and built-ins for our Brooklyn apartment | Photograph by Claire Esparros of Homepolish.com

Before my husband began his career in 3D animation and virtual reality, he was building in reality as a carpenter. When we first moved to New York, he took his first job in Brooklyn doing demo in Greenpoint. That job led to another, then finally to a studio in Chelsea where he was for over 4 years, working his rank up to be the lead carpenter at the shop. He enjoyed carpentry but always new this wasn't his end goal or a long term career. He much more prefers keeping it as side passion or hobby. He built several furniture items for our apartment in Brooklyn, including the built-ins, the large desk and the entry console, all of which you can see in the pictures Homepolish took.

On to the present, in Seattle... The house comes with a garage that has basically been split in half with the right side being storage for the apartment building nextdoor (also owned by our landlords) and the other side is for us. It's kitted out as tool shed with a workman's bench and electricity. We were really excited about this additional space for Jack to use as his workshop. The first week here he found a 1970s combo saw on Craigslist, called a Shop Smith. With that, among other tools he's accumulating, he's going to build us some custom furniture.

A panoramic of our backyard with the shed

A panoramic of our backyard with the shed

The Shop Smith Saw with the original safety goggles.

The Shop Smith Saw with the original safety goggles.

The first and most major piece is going to be our console for the living room. There's a wall in the living room that is 118" long that we're planning to position the television on. We're also planning to make this be our major gallery wall since the sofa is going to live opposite it, in front of the windows. To highlight and anchor that expansive space we decided that a lengthy console would be quite beautiful. Also knowing that we will not always have such a long wall to accommodate this design, we've planned for it to be divided into 3 pieces that go together. The central unit will be the average 60" length console, while we're adding two matching end tables that are 18" square and will coordinate with the console, set  alone, near a sofa, or as bedside tables. 

Drawing Plan of Unit

Drawing Plan of Unit

My husband's taste leans more modern than mine, and he typically likes midcentury furniture designs. I enjoy a mix so we've agreed on this unit being in that style.  The whole look will be loosely inspired by Joanna Goddard's living room that Emily Henderson designed. We love watching TV and we're not trying to hide that, but we also don't want it to be the major focus of the wall. Something similar to this set up below with a gallery wall of mixed art, the television set in front of some of it, along with a midcentury console is what we're going for. 

Joanna Goddard's living room designed by Emily Henderson

Joanna Goddard's living room designed by Emily Henderson

For the wood we went to Crosscuts in Seattle, a warehouse sized shop that has a great inventory of domestic and exotic hardwoods. We discussed possibly using walnut for this design or to go with teak again (he built our desk in teak and rosewood), but when we were there we ended up falling in love with Brazilian Cherry wood called Jatoba. It's warm and slightly more red than walnut, but also lighter and closer in tone to teak. We chose the least red pieces since I'm not typically a huge fan of red toned woods. There's just something about the grain and overall color of this wood that made both of us really excited about it (I know, total nerds). He's going to work on this on weekends so I'm pretty sure it won't be finished for some time, but I'm really looking forward to seeing it all come together! I'll probably post the updates on instagram, since I will most likely be in New York until it's finished. So keep your eyes peeled for the updates over there. 

"Plywood Heaven" | Photograph by Jack Caron © 2016 

"Plywood Heaven" | Photograph by Jack Caron © 2016 

Jatoba | Photograph by Jack Caron © 2016

Jatoba | Photograph by Jack Caron © 2016

Taken just after we cut down the plywood sheets | Photograph by Lauren L Caron © 2016

Taken just after we cut down the plywood sheets | Photograph by Lauren L Caron © 2016

SPACES | Seattle Cottage: Bathroom Updates

SPACESLauren Caron6 Comments
Seattle Cottage Bathroom | After Shot | Photograph by Lauren L Caron © 2016

Seattle Cottage Bathroom | After Shot | Photograph by Lauren L Caron © 2016

I'm pretty excited about the simple updates we made to the bathroom. It's probably the strangest room in the house with a mix of good elements and not so good elements. The floors are black and white hexagon tiles, while the sink is a sort of porcelain bowl set on top of a slate slab on the vanity. The tub and shower surround is a putty tone....

I love a luxurious bath, but for this house I think the right direction was to keep the design more conservative and traditional. I was inspired by the Georgian period baths of London and the New York baths that look like they were built in the late 30's and 40's. The details I kept in mind are mixing the finishes, adding a chair rail (I would tile if it were feasible and this wasn't a rental) and a minimal color palette of black, white and off white. 

The Dean Hotel

The Dean Hotel

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Initially I was going to paint these walls a white as well, but after staring at the tub for a few days, I accepted why the color was chosen. I came to the conclusion that if I painted the walls a white, the tub would stick out like a sore thumb, which is certainly not something I wanted to happen. My genius surprise solution however, was to keep the putty (actually it was Aged Beige by Behr) color on the walls, paint all the moldings, the vanity unit and the door the White Dove. Here's the kicker, The walls below the chair rail are painted a dark charcoal gray to coordinate with the slate vanity top.

BEFORE

Before Shot | Photograph by Lauren L Caron © 2016

Before Shot | Photograph by Lauren L Caron © 2016

AFTER

Seattle Cottage Bathroom | After Shot | Photograph by Lauren L Caron © 2016

Seattle Cottage Bathroom | After Shot | Photograph by Lauren L Caron © 2016

BEFORE

Before Shot | Photograph by Lauren L Caron © 2016

Before Shot | Photograph by Lauren L Caron © 2016

AFTER

Seattle Cottage Bathroom | After Shot | Photograph by Lauren L Caron © 2016

Seattle Cottage Bathroom | After Shot | Photograph by Lauren L Caron © 2016

I convinced Jack to help with the chair rail. He finally agreed to cutting down the pieces for me... He thought it was going to be a waste to add them to the space but the way I look at it, this is a small expense for something that makes a great difference.  One thing to mention, the ceilings are low in this space, which means to retain the proper proportions in placing the chair rail we set it about 1/3 the height of the ceilings. Which should be about 28" from the floor. We ended up setting them at 29" because of how they matched up to the vanity and window moldings. You can see how the dark paint makes the radiator recede and the new Aged Beige color is a better tone than the original creamy yellow. 

The mirror was an awful plastic big box store mirror that had to go as soon as possible. Luckily, within our first week here I found an oval wood framed mirror at an antique store in Georgetown called District. We also found our barstools there, and enjoyed a great conversation with the owner. As for the hardware and light fixture, I'm thinking about mixing in brass with the existing chrome. I added the hooks I found on sale at Anthropologie. They are also selling knobs in the same style that I purchased for the cabinet, they're still on their way in the mail. The light fixture will probably end up being a flush mount with brass accents. I'm not entirely sure about what to do with the storage cabinet. I'd love to figure out something for the shelf doors. I think the cabinet is too cheap to swap them out for mirror and the ribbed glass makes it a little challenged to add a layer of vinyl.  Other additions to the space are, the shaving mirror and the glass shelf, which I swapped in for the original one. This new is a better match to the other chrome accessories. 

Seattle Cottage Bathroom | After Shot | Photograph by Lauren L Caron © 2016

Seattle Cottage Bathroom | After Shot | Photograph by Lauren L Caron © 2016

SPACES | Cottage Or Bungalow

SPACESLauren Caron4 Comments
A sketch of our little house that I did this week when I couldn't be productive doing other work. 

A sketch of our little house that I did this week when I couldn't be productive doing other work. 

One thing I really enjoy about living in an old house is the history behind it. Even when most often much of the history is left undiscovered with stories left untold, I still enjoy the hunt and any information I can gather from researching. I especially am curious about our little house in Seattle, knowing that I'll never have the full story, I am interested in learning as much as I can. One minor detail that has me going back and forth on is whether to call it a bungalow or cottage. Initially I started calling it a cottage, and that's perhaps because I'm a New Englander at heart and the architecture although craftsman-like, reminds me of Greek revival (though the column is not completely of Greek order). I can't really imagine any Greek revival style house being called a bungalow. 

Example of a modern Greek Revival style home | Dream House Plan from Southern Living | I pulled an ad out of  a magazine back in the 90s for this house, and I still want it!

Example of a modern Greek Revival style home | Dream House Plan from Southern Living | I pulled an ad out of  a magazine back in the 90s for this house, and I still want it!

A Greek Revival Cape - most likely located  in the Northeast.

A Greek Revival Cape - most likely located  in the Northeast.

Not wanting to sound completely ignorant I decided to do a little research on bungalows and cottages and what sets them apart. I also have started looking a little further into our neighborhood's history trying to find any additional information about our house that I can. This may all seem like a bore to you, but I'd be curious to find out what you believe after reading about what I've uncovered. Here's what I learned:

COTTAGES

Cottages have been around for hundreds of years, in the UK. Modern cottages have the comforts of a modern home, with electricity and indoor plumbing. Typically the major difference between a cottage and a house, today is the size of the cottage. Traditionally they were known to be only one room dwellings, but more recently their floorplan is usually one large main room with a kitchen, bathroom and one or two bedrooms. There is a little debate about whether those bedrooms must be located in the upper floor or on the main floor for it to be considered a true cottage. Often cottages have a high pitched roof, traditionally thatched. The high roof provides a large attic space, which is often turned into the sleeping quarters with many cottages having this be the second or third bedroom. When the attics have been adjusted these cottages can be marketed as 'two-story cottages'. 

English Cottage from Decorandstyle.com

English Cottage from Decorandstyle.com

Many people see cottages to be vacation homes, which I believe is a term that sprang up only in the 20th century, as middle class families were able to purchase or rent, additional may it be humble, properties outside of the city. Typically vacation or rental cottages are  located around lakes, in the woods or near beaches. 

Because cottages originated in the UK their traditional architecture supports that of the landscape in which they came. Thick walls, small windows and lower ceilings is the more common style of an English cottage. They were made to be warm and cozy and to keep out the cool damp air. Bringing in sunlight wasn't a top priority. 

Jeffrey Bilhuber's Nantucket Cottage from Architectural Digest

Jeffrey Bilhuber's Nantucket Cottage from Architectural Digest

Hampton's Cottage from Martha Stewart

Hampton's Cottage from Martha Stewart

BUNGALOWS  

Apparently, there is some debate as to whether a bungalow is or is not a type of cottage. The word 'bungalow' is an Anglo-derived term for a Bengali house. Bungalows originated in India and Bengal, with the architecture although similar in size and floorplan to a cottage, were adjusted to suit the region. Because the climate of southeast Asia is very different from that of the UK, traditional cottages do not work. Thick cottage walls only trapped hot, humid air inside the home, while being built directly on the ground meant that the house flooded during monsoon season. The bungalows are raised up from the ground level, about 3 feet or more, they also have larger windows, with wide hallways to help distribute the air throughout the home. A major distinction in style is that bungalows have steps that lead up to the front door, with a large veranda surrounding the exterior of the home so that the inhabitants can sit on the porch to catch the tropical breeze. Traditional bungalows are only single storied dwellings. 

1920s Craftsman Bungalow plans from antiquehomestyle.com

1920s Craftsman Bungalow plans from antiquehomestyle.com

Craftsman Bungalow from Arciform.com

Craftsman Bungalow from Arciform.com

After reading about these two definitions and the subtle difference between I still believe that our house blurs the lines of a cottage or bungalow. If we are going to agree that a bungalow is a style of cottage than I'm correct to call it a cottage. But if we must distinguish, there are some subtle details that make me think that it is still a close call. Here are the traits that our house has within each category.  

COTtage

  1. It has a high pitched roof 
  2. There is one large main living room, that is open to the dining room.
  3. 2 bedrooms total 
  4. I looks more English in style to me - and I really see the Greek Revival plan with the left sided door and the column holding up the front entry porch. 
  5. There is a porch, but I would not consider it a veranda, there isn't any room to sit. 

bungalow

  1. Raised off the ground by 2 feet
  2. Steps to the front door
  3. Large windows
  4. Single story building 
  5. Location - it's in Seattle, a temperate climate, never really hot but definitely humid, moist and wet!

After polling my husband and family, they've told me to call it a bungalow.  But honestly, I'm still not completely convinced...

Upon further discovery, when I was reading through my Historic Seattle pamphlet on Capital Hill, I found under the Significant Buildings list, there are 50 Decorated cottages from circa 1890. Only 10 years before our cottage was built. They also look very similar to our little home and I'm really curios to find out where they are in the neighborhood (the location is unfortunately not specified). Also typical in Capital Hill, are the "1900 Classic Box" houses which were popular between 1900 and 1920 for their ample interior space and conservative appearance. Two more traits that our house has, ample interior space (considering the overall square footage) and a conservative appearance. Unlike many of the craftsman homes in the area, it doesn't have a ton of decoration. 

One other home I found while combing the internet was this home below. A design company had recently refinished it in San Antonio, Texas. They describe this to be a craftsman bungalow, although I would attest to the bungalow title... but the porch detailing, column, and frame look very similar to our little house.

Craftsman Cottage from Tomtarrant.com

Craftsman Cottage from Tomtarrant.com

I guess what I take away from this is that there are cottages in Seattle, so not all single story buildings in the west are considered bungalows and not all bungalows nowadays are a single story. Also, that there is a lot more than just Craftsman architecture in Seattle.  In fact there are a number of Colonial style homes, and just down the street a significant building from 1916 (formally the Christian Science Church) is a truly Greek Revival in design.  My final answer, it's a COTTAGE and I believe it to be mostly in the style of a CRAFTSMAN (because of the slight details in the siding, and the molding frames) with Greek Revival influence (which probably is due to the period in which it was built).... so I'm going to have to call it what my gut wanted to call it from the start.. a Craftsman Cottage. Which means on Instagram, I'm going to freely use the hashtag #ourseattlecottage.  I am curious if anyone disagrees with me, and if so why. I'd love to your feedback!

The drawing pre-color | Lauren L Caron © 2016

The drawing pre-color | Lauren L Caron © 2016

A photograph of our home that I took the first day we moved in!

SPACES | Project Seattle Cottage, Phase 1: Desaturate

SPACESLauren Caron3 Comments
Seattle Living Room | with Light Pewter Walls

Seattle Living Room | with Light Pewter Walls

In our darling new cottage I'm planning to highlight the good old bones of the architecture and design details. In order to do so I have to wash away all of the saturated mayonnaise and lemon pudding paint colors that our landlords chose. I understand that gloss is easier to clean but when it's a yellow white, on walls with layers of old paint and wallpaper, the end result is just terrible. Since it's a rental I can't put the time, energy, or funds into sanding and skim coating the walls, but I will do the next best thing, which is to add yet another layer of paint, but this time in a matte finish. 

 Within the first three days of moving to Seattle, I purchased 4 gallons of my old standby colors, all light, neutral grays and off whites. For the bedrooms I chose Benjamin Moore China White on the walls. It's the color of old porcelain or china (hence the name) with a slight hint of gray, not cream. I love it. In the living room I chose BM Light Pewter for the walls and in the dining room, BM Classic Gray. All moldings are going to BM White Dove. All paint finishes for the walls are matte. The moldings, Pearl. 

My go-to paint colors.

My go-to paint colors.

Immediately I changed out the paint colors in the two bedrooms. They were the worst offenders. The before an after of the rooms has to be enough of an example to convince anyone to invest in a little paint. I went from one white to another, and the difference is night and day. 

One detail of note: the house is small with only a footprint of 1,000 sq ft, but the ceilings are just 2" shy of 10'. The ceiling height gives the rooms the feeling of more space and the tiniest bit of grandeur. I really want to emphasize this wonderful detail through the home. One easy way to do so, is by painting the entire wall above, below and including the picture moldings. Keeping the color consistent from floor to ceiling will visually lengthen the height of the ceilings. Often when there are picture moldings like those that are in this house, we'll paint above them a different color, usually the ceiling or trim color. In my kitchen back in NY I chose to do just that, with a white that is the match to the cabinets and trim color. In the pictures below, you can see how that little change in what I've painted extends the eye upwards.

'Master' Bedroom | Before Paint

'Master' Bedroom | Before Paint

'Master' Bedroom | After Paint - China White

'Master' Bedroom | After Paint - China White

Guest Room/Office | Before Picture 

Guest Room/Office | Before Picture 

Guest Room/Office | After Paint - China White

Guest Room/Office | After Paint - China White

Guest Room/Office | After Paint - China White

Guest Room/Office | After Paint - China White

I also painted the living room walls (top photo) but I haven't had a chance to get to the moldings yet. I was surprised to discover how cool my go to warm light gray, Light Pewter looks in this space. I think so much of it has to do with the light as well as the yellowish moldings. They're creating a lot of contrast. I know, I should have put up test swatches, but I was impatient and didn't really think it would matter too much since I've used this color in a number of spaces from bright to dim lighting. 

That room really shows off the ceiling height, especially since I also chose to hang the curtains 8" from the ceiling. The long vertical lines they create really extend the ceiling height. I have the same plans for curtains in the dining room, but these will be painfully expense since I'm choosing a custom Schumacher fabric for them (more on that coming soon.)

This check in feels a little short and not too exciting, but I have more coming. I'm trying to tackle only a few things at once. Splitting my time between coasts is definitely taking a toll on my timeline.